It was just one shot, but it shocked the whole Republic. On the night of June 2, the Kassel government president Walter Lübcke died on the terrace of his house in Wolfhagen in Hesse with a bullet in his head. The alleged perpetrator was the neo-Nazi Stephan Ernst, a multiple criminal, politically motivated perpetrator of violence. For the first time in the history of the Federal Republic, a right-wing extremist carried out a deadly assassination attempt on a politician. Brown terrorism reached a new level of escalation, although that was hardly imaginable after the NSU murders.
And that wasn’t the only moment of shock. The parliamentary arm of right-wing extremism, the particularly radical AfD associations in Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia, achieved enormous success in the state elections. And in the police, the individual cases of right-wing activities are increasing.
What is the dimension of terror?
Violence from the right has reached a level in 2019 that is hardly inferior to Islamist terror. It has become harder than ever since World War II that racist madness and violence mutate into a global phenomenon. The Australian Brenton Tarrant attack on two mosques in New Zealand in March (51 dead) prompted the American Patrick Crusius to massacre in El Paso (22 dead) in August and the German Jew-hater Stephan Balliet to attack a fully occupied synagogue in October in Halle. This attack failed, in his anger Balliet shot two passersby.
The three terrorists see themselves as end-time fighters against an allegedly threatening superiority of Muslims, migrants, and Jews. Gun fan Roland K. was similarly fanatical. In July in the Hessian town of Wächtersbach, he shot an Eritrean man out of hatred of migrants and then killed himself. And Stephan Ernst belongs in this series, even if he did not kill a Muslim, no migrant, no Jew.
The murderous hatred of the neo-Nazis for Walter Lübcke exemplifies that racist violence does not only apply to the classic victims, but to liberal democracy itself. Ernst killed the CDU man Lübcke because he allegedly contributed to the flooding of Germany by refugees – and in 2015 dared to recommend racists to leave Germany if they did not represent its values.
With the statement, Lübcke was not only targeted by the neo-Nazis. In 2015, a shit storm broke out over the CDU politician – which was repeated when Lübcke was dead. The victim was once again massively insulted in the so-called social media. And with him the main enemy of the racists, Chancellor Angela Merkel. Up to death threats.
How deep does right-wing extremism penetrate into society?
At first glance, people like Stephan Ernst, Roland K. and Stephan Balliet look like crazy outsiders. But in spirit they have many sympathizers. And they are obviously becoming more. The shame line between ordinary people and the tough scene, which had previously only been of limited use – be reminded of the applauding citizens of the racist riots in Hoyerswerda and Rostock in the early 1990s – is becoming increasingly porous.
This was particularly evident in the elections in Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia in 2019. Although the AfD is dominated there by the party’s internal extremist group “The Wing”, the party achieved high results. 23.5 percent in Brandenburg, just under 27.5 percent in Saxony and 23.4 percent in Thuringia.
The fact that the AfD in Bremen came to only 6.1 percent is one of the many indications that the party is much more attractive in eastern Germany. In the European elections, an indicator of the strength of the AfD in the whole of the Federal Republic, it was almost eleven percent. And thus significantly less than in the 2017 federal election (12.6 percent), but in absolute numbers still more than four million voters – who voted for the party, although AfD patriarch Alexander Gauland in the previous year called the Nazi regime ” Vogelschiss ”had played down.
Six million murdered Jews, another million victims of brown state terror and aggression – just a bit of filth for Gauland. This breach of taboo exceeded the nationalistic-nationalistic slogans of “wing” spokesmen such as Björn Höcke and Andreas Kalbitz. She indignantly rejects the fact that the AfD could be jointly responsible for the actions of Stephan Ernst, Roland K. and Stephan Balliet.
Are the Right Infiltrating the Country?
Such a blanket prophecy would be an exaggeration. But there is evidence that is worrying. It starts with the police. Three active SEK officers and a former member of the special unit are arrested in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in June. The suspicion: ammunition was put aside and left to right-wing extremists who are connected to the chat group “Nordkreuz”. “Nordkreuz” includes two terrorist suspects, against whom the Attorney General is investigating because they are said to have planned attacks on the left for a “Day X”.
And the ramifications reach as far as Lieutenant General Franco A., who is said to have planned assassinations of prominent politicians such as Heiko Maas and Claudia Roth and who pretended to be a Syrian refugee – apparently to disguise the attacks as crimes by Islamist migrants and to show racist resentment among the population to fire.
Excitement also caused the behavior of nine Brandenburg police officers who posed in Cottbus in front of the mighty right-hand graffiti “Stop End of Terrain”. And who apparently ended the assignment to paint over the smeared wall with a provocation. The letters “DC” remained, which is the abbreviation of the right-hand group “Defend Cottbus”. Disciplinary proceedings are now pending against the officials.
It also seems problematic that in the election in Thuringia five police officers ran for the AfD’s national list. They represented the largest professional group. Although the Thuringian AfD is led by Björn Höcke, who made a significant contribution with xenophobic tirades to the fact that the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) classified the “wing” as a “suspected case” in January. There were “sufficiently strong indications that it is an extremist endeavor,” said BfV President Thomas Haldenwang. The five policemen obviously didn’t care.
How do rights nest?
The right spectrum is also trying a kind of grass roots revolution beyond the police. The President of the German Fire Brigade Association, Hartmut Ziebs, warns of a “right-wing national infiltration” of the fire fighters. The top firefighter in the republic is drawing the anger of the right. Ziebs is insulted and threatened in hate mail.
The AfD also wants to get involved in shooting clubs. The parliamentary group sent propaganda material to almost all of the 1,300 member fraternities belonging to the Federation of German Historical Shooters. The right-wing populists are agitating against a tightening of arms law. Among other things, the proposed rule request from the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, with which the Federal Government wants to prevent the acquisition of weapons by extremists, is rejected.
However, the AfD tactics to adapt to the shooters meet with resistance. The party stands for “xenophobia and hatred,” said deputy federal rifle master Walter Finke recently told the newspaper “Neue Westfälische”. The shooters had nothing to do with that.
The Lübcke murder case also shows how attractive the shooting clubs are to the right. Stephan Ernst and his alleged accomplice Markus H. were active in a Hessian rifle club. And the neo-Nazis went to another one to practice shooting there.
What’s to come in 2020?
The mixed scene of neo-Nazis, hooligans, rockers, radical AfDlers, identities, “concerned citizens” and other rights as well as parts of the imperial citizen scene will continue to grow together. The milieus agree in spirit. And the faction of the violent neo-Nazis will continue to try to put on rock concerts and martial arts events for the longed-for civil war against democrats, Jews, Muslims, migrants. That Slipping militant right-wing extremists into terror beforehand also remains a unfortunately realistic option.
The tactically more cautious right-wing populists, on the other hand, are betting on penetrating deeper into the conservative bourgeoisie. To this end, legal intellectuals, from Götz Kubitschek to the weekly newspaper “Junge Freiheit”, will produce even more arguments that repackage racism and nationalism.
But the right wing as a whole will have to face harder headwinds in 2020. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution will probably keep an eye on the AfD and its particularly radical circles. It would come as no surprise that the “wing” and the “Young Alternative” (JA) remain suspected cases or even upgraded to classic objects of observation, given the increasing radicalization in the party. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution, as reported, has already added more than 8,000 members of “Flügel” and “JA” to the extreme right-wing spectrum in its annual balance sheet – which grew by a third to more than 32,000 people.
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the Federal Criminal Police Office are also upgrading their personnel so that they can better counter the right-wing danger. This is especially true when looking at the Internet. And tougher rights to arms and other extremists are to be made more difficult to access shooting equipment by means of a tightened gun law. The NPD is also at risk of financial collapse by withdrawing partial government funding. The application from the Bundestag, Bundesrat and Federal Government lies with the Federal Constitutional Court. A negotiation next year is likely. In addition, the interior ministers are discussing a ban on militant groups such as Combat 18. Already this name, which means “Adolf Hitler combat group”, testifies to the dangerous mix of fanaticism and the willingness to use violence.
2020 should also be the year of major terror processes. Federal Lieutenant Colonel Franco A. will have to answer to the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court for his plans to assassinate. There is probably also a trial against Stephan Ernst and his accomplices over the murder of Walter Lübcke. The fanatical Jew-hater Stephan Balliet is said to be on the dock in the Naumburg Higher Regional Court because of the attack in Halle.
How far the fear of right-wing terror creeps into society is also shown by the case of prominent and politically committed pianist Igor Levit, who received a death threat in November by email. Levit wrote in Tagesspiegel on Sunday that he was afraid – “not for me, but for this country. My country. Our country.”