Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

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FTR #814 The National Socialist Underground File

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. The new drive is a 32-gigabyte drive that is current as of the programs and articles posted by 10/02/2014. The new drive (available for a tax-deductble contribution of $65.00 or more) contains FTR #812. The last program recorded before Mr. Emory’s illness was FTR #748.

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Side 1   Side 2    

Introduction: We’ve covered the neo-Nazi group The National Socialist Underground and its links to German intelligence for the better part of two years.

In addition to shredding files on the NSU, which was financed in considerable measure by Germany’s domestic intelligence service and elements of its military intelligence service, files on other German neo-Nazi groups have been destroyed before being properly vetted by German journalistic and legal authorities.

One of the most significant aspects of the case is the fact that powerful elements within the German government are going to extraordinary lengths to eclipse the institutional connections of the group. Turkish media were excluded from being seated at the trial of the group, many of whose victims were Turks. In addition, leading German media were left out of a “raffle” to award seating at the trial.

In addition, Germany Watch has suggested that the apparent German intelligence stewardship of the National Socialist Underground may have been a vehicle to eliminate peopel with information about the 9/11 attacks.

We now learn that the families of their victims and their attorneys have despaired, suspecting that the prosecutors have no interest in pursuing justice in the case, noting their dismissal of victims families counsel attempts at introducing evidence.

Program Highlights Include: German intelligence officers’ founding of a Ku Klux Klan chapter in Germany; contacts between associates of a German policewoman murdered by NSU and elements of the German KKK (suggesting the possibility that she may have been murdered because of those links); the fact that the NSU was much larger than previously believed; contacts between a German intelligence official who resigned because of the file shredding and members of a German Nazi band called “Landser;” discussion of the Nazi and SS roots of the modern German police establishment; indications that the scale of German intel’s financing of the neo-Nazis is on a scale that indicates institutional support for the Nazi agenda; the claim by German military intelligence elements that helped finance NSU that they kept no files on the group; the shredding of NSU files the day before they were to be turned over to German prosecutors; the claim by German intel that the shredding of the files was the work of a “single individual.”

1a. We’ve covered the neo-Nazi group The National Socialist Underground and its links to German intelligence for months.

One of the most significant aspects of the case is the fact that powerful elements within the German government are going to extraordinary lengths to eclipse the institutional connections of the group.

Turkish media were excluded from being seated at the trial of the group, many of whose victims were Turks. In addition, leading German media were left out of a “raffle” to award seating at the trial.

Germany Watch has suggested that the apparent German intelligence stewardship of the National Socialist Underground may have been a vehicle to eliminate people with information about the 9/11 attacks.

We now learn that the families of their victims and their attorneys have despaired, suspecting that the prosecutors have no interest in pursuing justice in the case, noting their dismissal of victims families counsel attempts at introducing evidence.

“Suspected Nazi Killer Still Silent in NSU Trial”; Deutsche Welle; 1/4/2014.

. . . . Chancellor Angela Merkel’s promise that the murders would be thoroughly investigated once gave them comfort, hope, and courage. But after 11 months of trial most of the plaintiffs have lost faith in a fair trial or a just sentence.Zschäpe’s self-confident, occasionally even cheerful demeanor, has played a major role in that. She has remained unmoved throughout, even when her mother and cousin testified on her behalf.

She behaves very differently towards her three defense attorneys, who always stand protectively in front of her – to make things difficult for the curious photographers – when she enters court room A 101. Zschäpe often smiles as she confers with the trio of defenders, as the visitors can clearly see from their gallery three meters above her head.

. . . . But families are also often nonplussed by the conduct of the state prosecutors when they dismiss as irrelevant their lawyers’ requests to present evidence. Sebastian Scharmer, the attorney representing the interests of the family of Mehmet Kubasik, who was murdered in Dortmund in 2006, has openly accused the prosecutors of lacking interest in investigating the murders. . . .

1b. It comes as no surprise to learn that Germany’s domestic intelligence service (Verfassungsschutz) has been funding neo-Nazis. (Observers had concluded as much in the wake of the Thuringian neo-Nazi scandal.)

The cozy relationship between German intelligence and Nazi and fascist elements looms large in the reopening of the Munich Oktoberfest bombing of 1980.

“Government Development Aid for neo-Nazis;” German-Foreign-Policy.com; 11/16/2011.

New revelations on the neo-Nazi serial murders of nine men of non-German origin and a female police officer are incriminating a German domestic intelligence agency. According to media reports, a member of a recently discovered neo-Nazi terror group presumably had contact to the Thuringia Office for the Protection of the Constitution – even after he went underground. The affair could become an “intelligence agency problem,” predicts the domestic policy spokesman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Hans-Peter Uhl. In the 1990s, under the pretext that they are very important informants, the Thuringia Office for the Protection of the Constitution had, in fact, paid amounts of DMs in the six-digits to influential right-wing extremist militants. The militants used this money to set up neo-Nazi structures in Thuringia, including the “Thüringer Heimatschutz” (Thuringia Homeland Protection), an organization of violent neo-Nazis. The members of the terror group, responsible for the murders, are not the only ones who have their origins in this organization. Leading functionaries of today’s extreme right are also coming from that organization, which has been officially disbanded, but is still at work in other structures. Today some of its militants, for example, are organizing neo-Nazi festivals with international participation aimed at networking the extreme right throughout Europe.

Covered by the Intelligence Agency

The aid furnished by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutz – VS) to the neo-Nazi scene, to set up their structures in the federal state of Thuringia, is exemplary for the aid provided throughout the 1990s. As far as has become known, this aid crystallized around two prominent militants, Thomas Dienel and Tino Brandt. Both had been informants for Thuringia’s VS. According to a study on Thuringia’s extreme right, Dienel had been considered one of the most active neo-Nazis in Thuringia, until the mid-1990s. “Explicit threats to use violence against foreigners and people with diverging opinions” were part “of his repertoire.” However, his contribution was particularly vital in the field of setting things up and organizing. He established links to influential neo-Nazis in West Germany, organized many “demonstrations and actions,” with the founding of a party [1] on April 20, 1992, he created the “first structured gathering place for young neo-Nazis” and he radicalized members of the NPD. “Therefore, he has left a trail behind that can be followed to current structures” in the neo-Nazi scene, writes the author of the study, published in 2001.[2] The media reported that in the 1990s the VS paid Dienel 25,000 DM – officially for his service as an informant. Dienel acknowledged publicly that he had sometimes coordinated his actions with the VS, for which he also had received money. The VS had also helped him in court: “They covered me.”[3] . . . Read more »

2. The scale of the funding for the group was unprecedented for payments to “informers.”

“Ger­man Intel­li­gence Agents Paid $240,000 to Neo-Nazi Informer Linked to Mur­der Suspects” [AP]; Fox News; 2/25/2013.

Germany’s domes­tic intel­li­gence agency has come under fire for pay­ing almost a quar­ter of a mil­lion dol­lars to a neo-Nazi informer linked to a far-right ter­ror group.

Oppo­si­tion law­mak­ers and anti-Nazi cam­paign­ers crit­i­cized the pay­ments made over 18 years after they were first reported Sun­day by con­ser­v­a­tive weekly Bild am Sonntag.

Offi­cials at the intel­li­gence agency declined to com­ment on the report. But the head of a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee tasked with inves­ti­gat­ing a string of mur­ders allegedly car­ried out by the group says the infor­ma­tion appears accurate.

Law­maker Sebas­t­ian Edathy told The Asso­ci­ated Press on Mon­day that the newspaper’s report matched infor­ma­tion sub­mit­ted to his committee.

Edathy said the pay­ments total­ing €180,000 ($240,000) to a man iden­ti­fied by the news­pa­per as Thomas R. were “off the scale” for an infor­mant.

3. German intelligence destroyed their files on the group the day before they were to be handed over to a prosecutor.

“Ger­man Secret Ser­vice Destroys Files on neo-Nazi Ter­ror­ist Gang the National Social­ist Underground: Vital Infor­ma­tion Was Shred­ded on the Day It Was Due to Be Handed to Fed­eral Prosecutors” by Tony Patterson; The Independent [UK]; 6/29/2012.

Germany’s equiv­a­lent of MI5 has found itself at the cen­tre of a deep­en­ing intel­li­gence ser­vice scan­dal after it was con­firmed yes­ter­day that its agents had destroyed files con­tain­ing vital infor­ma­tion about a neo-Nazi ter­ror­ist gang hours before the mate­r­ial was due to be handed to fed­eral prosecutors.

The case con­cerns the National Social­ist Under­ground, a neo-Nazi group respon­si­ble for Germany’s worst acts of far-right vio­lence since the Sec­ond World War. Its mem­bers mur­dered a police­woman, shot dead nine immi­grants, mounted two bomb attacks and robbed 14 banks to finance their operations.

Police dis­cov­ered the bod­ies of the gang’s two ring­lead­ers, Uwe Mund­los and Uwe Böhn­hardt, in a burned-out car­a­van in east­ern Ger­many last Novem­ber. Inves­ti­ga­tors estab­lished that they had com­mit­ted sui­cide after rob­bing a bank. A third mem­ber of the gang, Beate Zschäpe, was caught and arrested. She is still being questioned.

Details of the scan­dal were leaked to the Ger­man news agency DPA yes­ter­day, prompt­ing Ger­man Inte­rior Min­istry offi­cials to admit that domes­tic intel­li­gence ser­vice agents, who had been keep­ing the gang under sur­veil­lance for more than a decade, had destroyed files con­tain­ing infor­ma­tion about the group.

They revealed to a par­lia­men­tary inquiry that the agents had shred­ded the doc­u­ments on Novem­ber 11 – the day they were due to be handed to Germany’s Fed­eral Pros­e­cu­tor, who had taken over the investigation.

Jörg Zier­cke, the Pres­i­dent of Germany’s Fed­eral Crim­i­nal Bureau, also admit­ted to the inquiry that his office “had failed” over the neo-Nazi investigation.

The rev­e­la­tions increased sus­pi­cions that neo-Nazi cell mem­bers were in the pay of Ger­man intel­li­gence. In the past, the organ­i­sa­tion has made no secret of the fact that it uses secret ser­vice “moles” to infil­trate the country’s far-right groups. How­ever, keep­ing neo-Nazis on the secret ser­vice pay­roll would amount to active col­lab­o­ra­tion and imply that mem­bers of the intel­li­gence ser­vice sup­ported their crim­i­nal acts. The intel­li­gence ser­vices have admit­ted to a par­lia­men­tary inquiry that both domes­tic intel­li­gence and Ger­man mil­i­tary intel­li­gence used so-called “moles” to infil­trate the neo-Nazi organ­i­sa­tions fre­quented by NSU ring­lead­ers Mund­los and Böhnhardt. . . .

4a. A minor cor­rec­tion (sort of): accord­ing to this arti­cle, the agency didn’t destroy the files one day before they were to be handed over…instead, they are claim­ing that the files were on Novem­ber 12, 2011, one day after the informant-status of the neo-nazi pair became pub­lic OR they were destroyed in Jan­u­ary, 2011. It was all due to inno­cent con­fu­sion by a “mis­guided indi­vid­ual” that heads the agency depart­ment for procur­ing intel­li­gence sources:

“Neo-Nazi Cell Scan­dal Intel­li­gence Agency under Fire for Shred­ding Files” by Der Spiegel staff; Der Spiegel; 6/29/2012.

The offi­cial inves­ti­ga­tion into the National Social­ist Under­ground (NSU), the neo-Nazi cell which is believed to have killed at least 10 peo­ple over a period of years, has been marked by a series of embar­rass­ing fail­ures and slip-ups by the author­i­ties. But new rev­e­la­tions about the case threaten to trig­ger a major scan­dal with pos­si­ble polit­i­cal consequences.

Mem­bers of the par­lia­men­tary inves­tiga­tive com­mit­tee reacted to the news with shock and out­rage. “Such inci­dents make it dif­fi­cult to con­vinc­ingly refute the con­spir­acy the­o­ries,” said com­mit­tee chair­man Sebas­t­ian Edathy, a mem­ber of the center-left oppo­si­tion Social Democ­rats. There has been per­sis­tent spec­u­la­tion that the domes­tic intel­li­gence ser­vice may have used mem­bers of the NSU as informants.

Other mem­bers of the com­mit­tee were equally scathing. Hart­frid Wolff of the business-friendly Free Demo­c­ra­tic Party described the inci­dent as “unbe­liev­able,” while Clemens Bin­ninger of the center-right Chris­t­ian Demo­c­ra­tic Union said it cre­ated scope “for all kinds of the­o­ries.” “Clearly the Office for the Pro­tec­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion has a lot to hide,” said Petra Pau of the far-left Left Party, which has been par­tic­u­larly crit­i­cal of the author­i­ties’ han­dling of the case.

Indi­vid­ual ‘Acted Alone’

On Thurs­day, offi­cials at the Office for the Pro­tec­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion told SPIEGEL ONLINE that the shred­ding of the doc­u­ments was unprece­dented. They insisted it was due to the mis­guided actions of an indi­vid­ual and not the result of an order to destroy the files.

Sources in the intel­li­gence com­mu­nity said that a legal inves­ti­ga­tion had been opened against an employee of the Office for the Pro­tec­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion. The offi­cer is appar­ently head of a so-called “pro­cure­ment” depart­ment, which is respon­si­ble for run­ning sources and obtain­ing infor­ma­tion from them. The agency’s man­age­ment is “appalled” and “absolutely furi­ous” about the inci­dent, sources said, adding that offi­cials were try­ing to recon­struct the files as best they could. Appar­ently seven files were destroyed.

The agency has recon­structed the time­line of the doc­u­ments’ destruc­tion. The depart­ment head sup­pos­edly received orders on Nov. 10, 2011 to search his files for the names of the three NSU mem­bers — Uwe Böhn­hardt, Uwe Mund­los and Beate Zschäpe — and look for pos­si­ble con­nec­tions to the far-right scene. Among other files, the offi­cer looked at doc­u­ments relat­ing to Oper­a­tion Rennsteig.

The oper­a­tion, whose name refers to a famous hik­ing trail in the state of Thuringia, was intended to recruit inform­ers from a far-right group called the Thüringer Heimatschutz (“Thuringian Home­land Pro­tec­tion”) dur­ing the period from 1996 to 2003. Böhn­hardt, Mund­los and Zschäpe, who all used to live in the Thuringian city of Jena, were also active in the group for a time. Both the Office for the Pro­tec­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion and Germany’s mil­i­tary intel­li­gence agency, the Mil­i­tary Coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence Ser­vice (MAD), were involved in the operation.

The depart­ment head allegedly did not find any­thing of inter­est in his files. One day later, on Nov. 11, he informed his supe­ri­ors that he had not found the names of the three sus­pected ter­ror­ists or other evi­dence in his records. At the same time, he noted that seven so-called pro­cure­ment files had been archived for too long. This type of file includes all the details about the recruit­ment of a source, includ­ing their code­name and obser­va­tions about their char­ac­ter. The agency is gen­er­ally obliged to destroy such files after a max­i­mum period of 10 years. The depart­ment head gave orders for the files to be destroyed imme­di­ately. A day later, on Nov. 12, another employee car­ried out the shred­ding as per instruc­tions.

Embar­rass­ing Revelations

The behav­ior of the depart­ment head appears odd, how­ever. He told his supe­rior offi­cer in Jan­u­ary 2012 that the seven files from Oper­a­tion Rennsteig had already been destroyed in or around Jan­u­ary 2011 because of the time limit on files. Only when Fromm, the agency head, asked follow-up ques­tions did the offi­cer admit that the files had actu­ally been destroyed on Nov. 12, 2011 — in other words, just as the cell’s con­nec­tion to the mur­der series was uncov­ered. At that time, the Fed­eral Prosecutor’s Office had taken over the inves­ti­ga­tion and requested to see all the rel­e­vant documents.

Accord­ing to sources in the intel­li­gence com­mu­nity, Oper­a­tion Rennsteig was a large-scale attempt to infil­trate the far-right scene around Thüringer Heimatschutz. Intel­li­gent agents ini­tially selected 35 “prospec­tive can­di­dates” as poten­tial sources. Eight of those peo­ple were later recruited as inform­ers, with six of them being run by the fed­eral intel­li­gence agency and the oth­ers by the state-level intel­li­gence agency in Thuringia. In addi­tion, the Office for the Pro­tec­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion drew up a list of 73 men of “mil­i­tary ser­vice age” for the Mil­i­tary Coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence Ser­vice. It is unclear what the mil­i­tary intel­li­gence agency wanted to do with the list. But it is per­haps sig­nif­i­cant that the names of Mund­los and Bön­hardt appeared on that list.

….

4b. It also sounds like the remain­ing files that are to be turned over are expected to demon­strate that the gang mem­bers were, indeed, work­ing as infor­mants, rais­ing ques­tions of just how damn­ing was the evi­dence on the destroyed files. Also note that the mil­i­tary intel­li­gence unit, MAD, which was also work­ing on “Oper­a­tion Rennsteig”, is coop­er­at­ing…they just hap­pened to not keep any files at all on the mat­ter:

“Ger­man Intel­li­gence Grants Access to Files in Neo-Nazi Probe”; Deutsche Welle; 3/7/2012.

Germany’s domes­tic intel­li­gence agency has offered the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee access to 25 files relat­ing to “Oper­a­tion Rennsteig,” which was aimed at recruit­ing infor­mants in right-wing cir­cles in the east­ern state of Thuringia between 1997 and 2003.

The oper­a­tion involved the fed­eral domes­tic intel­li­gence agency, the regional agency in Thuringia and, accord­ing to the com­mit­tee, the mil­i­tary intel­li­gence ser­vice MAD.

The files are expected to reveal that the author­i­ties were work­ing with infor­mants from the so-called National Social­ist Under­ground (NSU), an extrem­ist group that is believed to have killed 10 peo­ple with non-German back­grounds over more than a decade before their cover was blown ear­lier this year.

Last week, it became appar­ent that some of the files relat­ing to the oper­a­tion were shred­ded by the fed­eral intel­li­gence agency last year. On Mon­day, the head of the agency, Heinz Fromm, resigned his post.

Another head rolls

On Tues­day, Fromm’s coun­ter­part at Thuringia’s intel­li­gence agency, Thomas Sip­pel, also stepped down in con­nec­tion with the rev­e­la­tions. He will go into early retirement.

The chair­man of the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee, Sebas­t­ian Edathy, also urged the MAD to release their files, while the MAD insists it is coop­er­at­ing. It also said on Tues­day that it does not have “Oper­a­tion Rennsteig” files.

5. Another incidence of shredding of files on neo-Nazis has emerged, leading to the resignation of Claudia Schmid, the agency’s top Berlin official.

After the shredding of files on the National Socialist Union (which may well have been in cahoots with Germany’s domestic intelligence service), it emerges that files on Blood and Honor, another neo-Nazi organization, were shredded by an official of the Verfassungschutz.

Of possible significance is the fact that one of Schmid’s colleagues was friendly with “Landser” a German Nazi band.

“Fifth Head Rolls in NSU Investigation Affair”; The Local; 11/14/2012.

. . . . None of the files appeared to be related to the National Socialist Underground, which is suspected of killing 10 people between 2000 and 2007. Four other top Germany security officials have resigned this year due to blunders in the NSU investigation.

Claudia Schmid, head of the Berlin Office for the Protection of the Constitution, requested a transfer to another job the day after she announced that her office had illegally destroyed files on the far-right “Blood & Honour” organisation rather than presenting them to the Berlin state archive. She described the action as a “regrettable mistake.”

The head of the authority’s department on extremism, responsible for the most recent case of illegal file shredding, has also stepped down from his post. Further employees are subjects of an internal investigation for their role in destroying the files.

It is still unclear whether the destroyed files were connected to the case of the National Socialist Underground terrorist organisation, which went undetected for over a decade. However, the files did contain information on “Landser,” a neo-Nazi band with whom an authority employee was once friendly.

6. In what has become routine, it has been revealed that a German intelligence officer set up a branch of the Ku Klux Klan in Germany. This is but the latest disclosure in a series of revelations about the profound relationship between German intelligence and neo-fascists of various kinds in Germany.

Far from being “infiltrators” into these groups, the operatives appear much more like “handlers.”  German legislators have raised the very important question of the extent to which these neo-fascist groups have actually been spawned by the intelligence operatives in their ranks. We note that the German police officer murdered by the NSU was part of a milieu that included agents in the KKK of Germany.

“German Intelligence Set Up KKK Branch”; Germany Watch; 11/01/2012.

The German branch of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), was set up and led by an undercover agent of the state of Baden-Württemberg’s secret service.

According to a report in the Tagesspiegel daily newspaper, an organisation called the “European White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan–Realm of Germany” was established by a white supremacist government spy in October 2000. A short time later, the man was appointed by a KKK group in the US to the position of national leader, a “Grand Dragon”. The German branch existed until early 2003.

But that was not all. The agent was not only working for the secret service of a German state; it appears he was also operating with the official protection of one of his colleagues. An employee of the intelligence agency is suspected of having passed on to him “anonymous confidential information” in 2002. In particular, this person allegedly warned him that his phone was being tapped.

The Ku Klux Klan is one of a long line of suspicious organisations set up by German secret service agents with the help of state funds.

Investigations into the National Democratic Party (NDP) associations in the states of Thuringia and North Rhine-Westphalia had already revealed they could not have developed as they did without funding provided by the secret service. Several neo-Nazis openly boasted they had drawn funds from the intelligence service for a number of years. 

As is now customary in such episodes, authorities asserted that the case was an “isolated” one. According to Die Welt, the daily newspaper, there is “no reason to doubt that agency employees fulfil their statutory duties correctly and irreproachably, and there is no reason to believe that they lack awareness of democratic procedures”.

The close links between the state and the Ku Klux Klan raises new questions about possible links between government agencies and terrorists of the National Socialist Underground (NSU). Plenty of overlap has been discovered between the KKK and the NSU. 

Two of the three members of the NSU, Uwe Böhnhardt and Beate Zschäpe, were spotted near Jena at a cross burning attended by 20 neo-Nazis in the mid-1990s. Tschäpe even had photos of the scene and personally informed the public prosecutor about their attendance. That was before Tschäpe, Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos went into hiding and began their killing spree.

The identity of another undercover agent, operating in the KKK’s ranks under the code name “Corelli”, was discovered by police in 1998 on an address list Mundlos had hidden in a garage. But the main cause of suspicion is the fact that two members of the relatively small KKK group in Baden-Württemberg were close colleagues of the NSU’s last murder victim, policewoman Michèle Kiesewetter. Kiesewetter was shot in April 2007 and the series of NSU killings then abruptly ceased.

The murder of a German policewoman is not commensurate with the criminal operations of the NSU. All the other murders had immigrants as their victims and were obviously racially motivated. To date, there is no plausible explanation why Kiesewetter became a target of the NSU. The question arises as to whether the former KKK memberships of her squad leader and another police colleague played a role. 

A parliamentary committee of inquiry into the NSU is now dealing with the case. But no clarification can be expected from that quarter because the investigation is systematically blocked by the authorities and the committee itself has little interest in bringing the facts to light.

Only occasionally, when it is all too obvious they are being led around by the nose, do the committee members allow some measure of the truth to surface. Responding to the new revelations about the KKK, Free Democratic Party deputy Hartfrid Wolff groaned: “Were there then any members [of the KKK] who were not in the police or secret service?” A legitimate question!

The authorities are continuing their attempt to prevent any further unravelling of the events. They have stopped referring to undeniable revelations as “mishaps”, “slips” and “isolated cases”; they append the official designation of “secret” to files that could lead to further clarification, or they destroy huge numbers of them. It is now known that far more records relating to the NSU affair have been destroyed than was initially announced. . . .

7. It should not surprise an objective observer that the NSU was far bigger than originally believed.

As preparations for the trial of a member of the group are readied, it is apparent that the German government is in damage control mode, denying Turkish media access to the courtroom in which the proceedings will take place.

Most of the victims of the group were of Turkish extraction. (Germany has a large Turkish population, as a result of the “gastarbeiter” (guest workers) brought into the country as laborers.

Suffice it to say that Turkish journalists and editors aren’t buying the official excuses proffered by German officials.

After the Bavarian authorities postponed the start of the trial to “reconsider” media access, the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey scored the German government for a “predetermined”verdict, labeling the trial a sham.

“German neo-Nazi Cell Bigger than Previously Thought” [Reuters]; Yahoo News; 3/24/2013.

A German neo-Nazi cell that waged a racist killing spree over a period of seven years without being detected by the authorities may have had a far bigger network of supporters than initially thought.

According to a report in the Bild newspaper on Sunday, security officials have compiled a list of 129 people who are suspected of helping the group, accused of murdering eight ethnic Turks, a Greek and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007.

The existence of the cell, which called itself the Nationalist Socialist Underground (NSU), only came to light by chance in late 2011 after two members committed suicide in the aftermath of a botched bank robbery and a female accomplice set fire to an apartment used by the gang.

Germans, burdened by their Nazi past, were horrified by the revelations and Chancellor Angela Merkel has publicly apologized to the families of the murder victims.

But until now, officials have put the blame on a very small group, based in the eastern city of Zwickau.

“The new number is shockingly high,” Sebastian Edathy, chairman of a special parliamentary committee set up to probe the NSU, told Bild, confirming the list. “Now we have to clear up whether any of these people knew about the crimes or were informants.” . . . .

8. As preparations for the trial of a member of the group are readied, it is apparent that the German government is in damage control mode, denying Turkish media access to the courtroom in which the proceedings will take place.

Most of the victims of the group were of Turkish extraction. (Germany has a large Turkish population, as a result of the “gastarbeiter” (guest workers) brought into the country as laborers.

“Bavarian Courts Prevent Turkish Media Reporting Nazi Case”; Germany Watch; 3/28/2013.

In an apparent attempt to prevent Turkish media reporting on the full facts of the case, Munich’s Higher Regional Court released a list of media organizations that would be given reserved seats in the upcoming trial of an alleged neo-Nazi believed to have been involved in the murder of 10 people, mostly of Turkish origin. The list doesn’t include a single Turkish media outlet.

The court is claiming it provided accreditation on a first-come, first-served basis, but international outrage is growing. Turks in Germany and in Turkey are feeling left in the cold over a series of murders of which their community was the primary target.

The trial of Beate Zschäpe, a suspected member of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) neo-Nazi terror cell (with links to German Intelligence), is expected to be the biggest in the country since the Red Army Faction trial of the mid-1970s. International attention is expected to be considerable, particularly given the xenophobic nature of the crimes and the involvement of Neo-Nazis.

This week, Turkish journalists and politicians have been demanding a guaranteed presence at the trial. Many are asking why such a small courtroom has been chosen and why an overflow room with live video isn’t being set up for journalists.

One of its primary responsibilities is to ensure that the process of truth-finding takes place with the greatest possible openness and transparency. It is incomprehensible to claim that a larger court room couldn’t have been found in Munich for the trial … indeed, it’s a shamefully inadequate excuse.

It is entirely incomprehensible that it wasn’t possible to secure even just one guaranteed seat for the Turkish media in the courtroom. . . .

. . . . Celal Özcan, the Berlin-based editor in chief of the European edition of Turkish daily Hürriyet, writes; “My newspaper, Hürriyet, called the court repeatedly before the accreditation period asking to be informed of dates so that we wouldn’t miss them. We registered on the first day of accreditation, and now we are told by the press office of the Munich Higher Regional Court that others were faster? How can that be? It is absolutely unacceptable that the Turkish media has been excluded from the courtroom. Many Turks aren’t just disappointed — they are shocked, both in Turkey and in Germany.” . . . .

9. Suffice it to say that Turkish journalists and editors aren’t buying the official excuses proffered by German officials.

After the Bavarian authorities postponed the start of the trial to “reconsider” media access, the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey scored the German government for a “predetermined”verdict, labeling the trial a sham.

“Turkish Deputy PM Speaks Out About German/Nazi Suspicions”; Germany Watch; 4/18/2013.

As we mentioned previously, the trial of a neo-Nazi in Germany was largely condemned before it started, as the Bavarian Courts had excluded Turkish media from being present at the trial – despite the fact that the trial concerns murders by the neo-Nazi group NSU of a number of Turkish people.

The neo-Nazi murder trial in Germany does not have any significance anymore for Turkey, since the result is pre-determined, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ has said.

“The ruling of the Munich State High Court will have no significance from now on for me,” Bozdağ told Anatolia news agency. “The court has not started the trial yet. But this is a court that ended the trial even before it started.”

Germany’s highest court postponed the start of the trial early this week after announcing an overhaul of disputed rules on media access.

Proceedings were to have begun on April 17 against a woman accused of being part of a Nazi cell blamed for 10 murders. But after Germany’s top court ordered the Munich judges last week to expand foreign media access to the trial, its starting date had to be put back, in a move victims groups called a “catastrophe.” . . .

. . . . Bozdağ stressed that there is an atmosphere that the trial is a show, for ‘completing routines.’

“The court chief has lost his neutrality. You cannot expect a justice from a trial whose head lost his neutrality. This trial is over for us, we are waiting the result as a mere formality.”

We are waiting for confirmation of the specifics Bozdağ refers to, however as we mentioned prviously, Germany uses this court when Nazis are on trial because members of this court are linked to the Nazi charity ‘Stille Hilfe’.

Expanding on other concerns linked to Germany, Bozdağ has called on German authorities to investigate claims that two recent fires may have been racially motivated. . . .

10. The venerable Der Spiegel informs us that a “raffle” awarding press seating to the upcoming trial of one of its members has managed to exclude many of the Federal Republic’s credible and best known publications.

Coming fresh on the heels of the (apparently deliberate and systematic) exclusion of Turkish media from the trial, this maneuver can only heighten suspicion that the powers that be in the Federal Republic do NOT want the truth to emerge.

This gambit is also noteworthy in that it strongly suggests that the German public opinion is worrisome to that country’s power brokers.

It appears that the truth about the Third Reich, its influence on the Federal Republic, and the links between the Underground Reich and that country’s security services remains eclipsed for most German citizens.

“Top Papers Left Out: Court Faces Fresh Trouble Over Press Seats”; Der Spiegel; 4/30/2013.

The Munich court where the NSU neo-Nazi terror trial is due to start on May 6 faces fresh controversy over media accreditation after several major German newspapers failed to obtain seats in a lottery of press passes. It was the second attempt to allocate seats after Turkish media had been left out in the first round.

The Munich court overseeing the biggest neo-Nazi trial in German history on Monday faced new complaints over its media accreditation process when leading German newspapers failed to obtain passes for the 50-seat press gallery.

The court postponed the start of the trial from its original date on April 17 to sort the problem out after the Federal Constitutional Court, responding to a complaint from a Turkish newspaper, ordered it to allocate seats to foreign journalists.

In an attempt to be completely fair, it decided to raffle the press passes. The venerable Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and another national broadsheet, Die Welt, failed to get press accreditation in the lottery conducted on Monday. Die Tageszeitung, another well-known German newspaper, also failed to get a seat.

All three said on Monday they were considering legal action against the allocation. Publications that obtained seats in the raffle included lesser known newspapers such as local paper Hallo Munich and women’s magazine Brigitte. . . .

11. One of the most significant aspects of the case is the fact that powerful elements within the German government are going to extraordinary lengths to eclipse the institutional connections of the group.

Turkish media were excluded from being seated at the trial of the group, many of whose victims were Turks. In addition, leading German media were left out of a “raffle” to award seating at the trial.

For more than a decade, we’ve examined the 9/11 attacks, the Nazi and fascist connections to that attack, in particular.

In our visits with Daniel Hopsicker, we have noted that Mohamed Atta was fraternizing with Germans and Austrians in South Florida, having been brought into the United States (from Germany) by the Carl Duisberg Society.

Now, Germany Watch has published an intriguing hypothesis concerning the murders committed by the group and the 9/11 attacks.

Against the background of German intelligence connections to the 9/11 attacks, the story below notes that murders 2, 3 and 4 occurred in the immediate run-up to 9/11, the fourth less than two weeks before.

The National Socialist Underground then disappeared from public view for two years.

The presence of a German intelligence officer at the scene of one of the murders (who possessed Third Reich documents as well as other Nazi paraphernalia) also is worth noting, as is the useful “amnesia” (mind control?) of one of the German police officers shot by the group.

Of course there are other possibilities for the duplicity on the part of the authorities, however the working hypothesis presented by the Germany Watch folks is more than a little intriguing.

“The Neo-Nazi Show Trial And The Timing Of The Murders”; Germany Watch; 5/5/2013.

The German show trial for the National Socialist Underground begins this week, after several false starts due to the Bavarian Court not wanting interested press at the hearings (see here).

There is a strange coincidence to the dates and places;

Murders number 2, 3, 4, and 5;

Murder of Abdurrahim Özüdoğru
On 13 June 2001, Abdurrahim Özüdoğru was killed by two shots in the head with the same silenced CZ 83 already used in the murder of Enver Şimşek. Özüdoğru, who worked as a machinist for a big company in Nuremberg (which company?) had been helping out in a tailor’s shop; the murder was discovered by a passer-by who looked through the shop window and saw the body sitting in the back of the shop, covered in blood.

Murder of Süleyman Taşköprü
On 27 June 2001 between 10:45 and 11:15 a.m, Süleyman Taşköprü, aged 31, died in his greengrocer’s shop in Hamburg-Bahrenfeld after being shot in the head three times. This was two weeks after the second murder, and the same guns as in the first case were used, a CZ 83 and a 6.35 mm gun.

Murder of Habil Kılıç
On 29 August 2001 Habil Kılıç became the fourth victim. Kılıç, aged 38, who was married and had a daughter, was shot at point-blank range in his greengrocer’s shop in Munich-Ramersdorf. This was the first of two murders in Munich.

The Theory

Are these linked to the 9/11 Hamburg cell? They all worked shop fronts, which are perfect for low level intelligence messengers, they may have been supplying something along the lines of fake ID/paperwork or weapons, or perhaps they were just messengers/couriers for German intelligence/ the Hamburg Cell Jihadis. The Hamburg Cell also frequented an extremist mosque in Munich.

Once the 9/11 operation was underway, German intelligence cleaned house. The “NSU” vanished for 2 years just a little over a week before 9/11, with no more linked murders in that 2 year period. Repeat – the last murder was just over a week before 9/11, whilst one murder was Hamburg and one was Munich. If the NSU murders were normal far right extremists sending a message to asylum seekers, where’s the message? There was none.

So, then two and a half years later in Rostock-Toitenwinkel, 25 February 2004, between 10:10 and 10:20, Mehmet Turgut was shot three times in the head and neck with a silenced CZ 83 and died instantaneously. Turgut, who had been living illegally in Hamburg, was in Rostock on a visit and had been asked by an acquaintance to open up a doner kebab shop that day. He was clearly targeted and enticed to be there that day and time. That is NOT a random far right killing.

Because of Turgut’s link to Hamburg, Rostock police made the connection to the third victim, Süleyman Taşköprü, thus establishing the term doner murders.

On 6 April 2006, just two days after the murder of Mehmet Kubaşık, Halit Yozgat became the last victim of the murder series. Yozgat, who ran an internet café in Kassel, Hesse, was also shot in the head with a silenced gun. On the occasion of this murder an agent of the Hessian Office for the BfV Protection of the Constitution was present. The agent claimed first to have left the premises shortly before the murder, but later changed his statement when presented with evidence of witnesses who had seen him present when the murder happened. His involvement with the case gave rise to suspicions that a German agency might be linked to the murders.

When this BfV officer was investigated, various Nazi paraphernalia was present in his apartment, including some documents from the Third Reich, though it is not publicly known what these docs referred to. Is he really a Nazi, or is that being used to make out he is an extremist infiltrator of German intelligence – that he was linked to the murder through his Nazi affiliates, rather than being present at the murder BECAUSE he was working for German intelligence?? . . .

12. A recent book by a former official of the BKA, the German federal police (equivalent of the FBI) focuses on the Nazi and SS origins of that agency. (33 of 48 top BKA officials at the agency’s inception had backgrounds as SS leaders.)

Supplemented by an internal colloquium, the inquiry notes the postwar Nazi networking within the BKA and the effect this appears to have had on postwar German law enforcement, particularly with regard to policy toward right-wing extremists, anti-immigrant xenophobia and anti-Semitism.

Worth remembering in this regard is the concept of bureaucratic inertia. Government bureaucracies manifest that inertia, and the contemporary German collusion with Nazi elements must be viewed against the background of the Nazi/SS genesis of the BKA.

We should not fail to note that the SS/Nazi officials heading the BKA would undoubtedly have answered to former Gestapo chief Heinrich Mueller, security director for the Bormann Capital Network and the Underground Reich.

German Police Begins Banishing Long Shadow of Nazi Past; Deutsche Welle; 2012.

A Federal Crime Office investigation into how former SS officers remained at its helm well into the 1960s is well underway, providing new insights into how Nazis were reintegrated into mainstream society.

The ties between some BKA founders and Nazis are no longer disputed. . . .

. . . A total of three colloquia focusing on the role of ex-Nazi police officers who founded the BKA in 1951 and made up the core of its leadership into the 1970s, was launched by the BKA in the summer. The agency has opened its archives to an inter-disciplinary team of renowned researchers.

The founding core of the BKA included some 48 members of the Nazi security forces known as the Reichskriminalpolizei, or Kripo. They became part of a new Criminal Police Force in the postwar British Occupied Zone, which later evolved into the BKA. According to Ziercke, of the 48, 33 had been SS leaders. . . .

. . . .At the end of the 1950s, nearly all of the BKA leadership positions were still filled with ex-Nazis or SS leaders. According to Ziercke, the police organization was rife with cliques and internal connections leading back to the Nazi era that helped with re-commissioning.

The BKA’s investigation aims to examine the question of whether the Nazis’ notions on crime fighting were carried on after the war. . . .

. . . . But then came the publication of a book by a former BKA employee Dieter Schenk. Titled “The Brown Roots of the BKA,” the book argues that the organization had been founded by active Nazis.

Whether the BKA founders were Nazis or merely careerists is something discussed in the Schenk book as well as the current colloquia. More important, according to Schenk, is his belief that the political leanings of the BKA founders can still be felt in its policy, “in the half-heartedness with which it has fought against the radical right, anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant” elements in the country. . . .

 

Discussion

7 comments for “FTR #814 The National Socialist Underground File”

  1. http://www.jpost.com/landedpages/printarticle.aspx?id=380148
    October 29, 2014 Wednesday 5 Heshvan 5775 23:04 IST print gohome
    The Jerusalem Post – Israel News

    German ‘Nazi’ classroom under investigation
    By JPOST.COM STAFF
    10/29/2014

    According to media reports, the ninth-graders have taken to popular messaging app WhatsApp to promote Nazi slogans.

    A school district in Germany has caused quite the media stir this week after images of students saluting with Hitler-like mustaches surfaced in an influential publication.

    German newspaper Bild broke the story on Tuesday, revealing that members of a high school class were communicating using the notorious Nazi salute and other 1930s-Germany rhetoric.

    According to local media reports, the ninth-graders have taken to popular messaging app WhatsApp to promote Nazi slogans, anti-Semitic jokes and other offensive content. Twenty-nine students are part of the group.

    The school kids reportedly greet one another with the ‘Hiel Hitler’ sign, a symbol that has come to define the Third Reich’s reign over 70 years ago.

    The case has grabbed the attention of the cops, who have launched an investigation into the school. A police spokesperson said they were mulling legal action against the teens.

    As for the school district’s knowledge of the controversial activity – a spokesperson from the Education Ministry stated that if the report turned out to be true, they would show no tolerance.

    Posted by Vanfield | October 29, 2014, 10:11 pm
  2. http://www.thelocal.de/20141113/neo-nazi-to-face-child-sex-abuse-charges-tino-brandt-nsu-thuringia

    Neo-Nazi to face child sex abuse charges

    Far-right extremist and former informant for the security services Tino Brandt will face charges of serious sexual abuse of children.

    State prosecutors in Gera, Thuringia, said that Brandt, 39, would answer 157 charges for acts that took place between 2011 and 2014.

    “This means that he himself had sexual contact with children and young people,” a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said.

    Brandt is accused of having supplied minors to adults for sex in exchange for money in 45 cases.

    As leader of the “Thuringia Homeland Defence” group, Brandt had contact with the National Socialist Underground members Uwe Mundlos, Uwe Böhnhardt and Beate Zschäpe before they began their serial murders.

    News of the charges against Brandt came just one day after his handler from the Office for Constitutional Protection (Verfassungsschutz) had given evidence at Zschäpe’s trial.

    Prosecutors said that there was no connection to his political opinions in the present charges.

    They added that Brandt, who has been in custody since June during the investigation, had co-operated with the investigation and admitted to some of the allegations.

    Posted by Tiffany Sunderson | November 17, 2014, 4:49 pm
  3. Oh great. The CDU is at risk of getting out-Nazi-ed by the AfD in the realm of cuddling up to growing anti-Muslim far right movements. And the temptations for the CDU to catch up with the AfD in this area are clearly only going to grow:

    Merkel in dilemma as German anti-Islam marches gain support

    By Stephen Brown

    BERLIN Sun Dec 14, 2014 12:55pm EST

    (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces challenges from allies and rivals to confront a rising tide of anti-immigrant sentiment driving increasingly popular anti-Islam marches in the city of Dresden every Monday.

    With thousands expected at the next march, Merkel is in a dilemma. Her security officials are warning of an increase in hate crimes, while opinion polls show support for the marchers’ calls for a tougher German immigration policy.

    “There is a visible rise in xenophobic crime countrywide,” police chief Holger Muench told Welt am Sonntag, which like most German Sunday newspapers focused on Monday’s march by a group calling itself PEGIDA – an acronym for “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West”.

    There has been a spike in both anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic sentiment this year, with right-wingers joining football hooligans to fight Salafist Muslims and a spate of attacks on Jews. At the same time, with record levels of immigration, Germany has become Europe’s biggest recipient of asylum-seekers.

    Merkel said on Friday there was “no place in Germany” for hatred of Muslims or any other minority.

    But her Social Democrat (SPD) coalition allies, the opposition Greens and the fast-growing Eurosceptic party Alternative for Germany (AfD) all seem to have spotted a chance to undermine the popular chancellor, whose approval rating was 76 percent in a poll in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

    But her Christian Democrats’ (CDU) mixed response to PEGIDA – some CDU officials urged understanding for the motivation of the marchers, while the SPD simply blasted the organizers as “Nazis in pinstripes” – means she risks being outmaneuvered.

    The marches have already spawned copycat protests in cities to the west like Duesseldorf, which have larger immigrant populations than Dresden, home to very few of Germany’s 4 million Muslims.

    Hajo Funke, a Berlin professor, said many of the estimated 10,000 people who marched last week voiced vague “discontent with society and their own lives”, while the organizers played on fears of armed insurgents like Islamic State and al Qaeda.

    Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said there was no risk Germany would be “Islamized” but saw an “overlap” between PEGIDA and the AfD, which is trying to establish itself as a law-and-order party. The AfD has spotted this too and one of its leaders, Alexander Gauland, plans to be in Dresden on Monday.

    “We are the natural allies of this movement,” said Gauland.

    This could trigger fresh debate about how to deal with the AfD, which the CDU has so far dismissed as a fringe group which quietly recruits right-wing extremists.

    “We are the natural allies of this movement,” said AfD deputy leader (and former CDU official) Alexander Gauland. Well, you can’t argue with that!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 16, 2014, 12:12 pm
  4. Here’s something to keep in mind involving any future terror attacks perpetrated by Syrian refugees who are only identified by their fingerprints after the fact and can’t actually be found or even verified as having ever existed: it’s probably a good time to suspect neo-Nazis:

    The Independent

    German lieutenant who posed as refugee in ‘false flag’ terror plot could be part of neo-Nazi army network

    Swastika carved into gun found in suspect’s room, along with Nazi-era memorabilia

    Lizzie Dearden
    Wednesday May 3, 2017 10:11 BST

    A cell of suspected right-wing extremists operating within the German army are being investigated as the probe into an alleged terror plot widens.

    Prosecutors are investigating a group of up to five people surrounding a soldier accused of posing as a Syrian refugee to carry out a “false flag” attack.

    The suspect, named only as Franco A, was arrested after police traced a loaded gun he stashed at Vienna International Airport but investigations at his barracks have revealed signs of a wider network.

    An assault rifle case carved with a swastika was found in his room, where the letters HH [Heil Hitler] were inscribed on the wall and a Nazi-era pamphlet depicting a Wehrmacht soldier was discovered.

    Germany’s RND media group published photos of the evidence, which forms part of a report drawn up by the ministry of defence.

    Gerd Hoofe, the defence secretary, said there were also “indications of possible ammunition loss or theft” at Franco A’s barracks in Illkirch-Graffenstaden, France.

    He did not raise any alarm over extremism in the army, despite writing a master’s thesis on “political change and subversion strategy” at a French university in 2014 that was found to contain far-right thinking.

    Franco A appeared at his barracks on time and completed all courses, even while dashing back to Bavaria to collect welfare payments as part of his double life as a refugee.

    The lieutenant registered in Giessen, Hesse, on 30 December 2015 – as Germany was overwhelmed by the arrival of almost a million asylum seekers – then submitted an asylum application at Zirndorf in Bavaria in January last year.

    He created a fake persona under the name David Benjamin, telling immigration officials he was a Damascus fruit seller from a Christian family with French roots, German media reported.

    No doubts appear to have been raised over the credibility of the 28-year-old’s background, despite him speaking mainly French with a smattering of Arabic from a language course.

    The ruse was only discovered when Franco A was arrested in Austria after returning to retrieve an unregistered 7.65mm pistol from a toilet at Vienna International Airport in February.

    A fingerprint check revealed his fake identity as a Syrian refugee, but when “David Benjamin” failed to answer a court summons in Austria, a wider investigation was triggered.

    He had a list of five potential targets for the attack, the Tagesspiegel newspaper reported, including former President Joachim Gauck, justice minister Heiko Maas, a prominent left-wing politician and the Berlin Center for Political Beauty.

    If the plan had succeeded, his fingerprints would have registered on the refugee records system and led investigators to his false identity as a Syrian asylum seeker, turning fresh scrutiny on migrants in Germany.

    “These findings, as well as other evidence, point towards a xenophobic motive for the soldier’s suspected plan to commit an attack using a weapon deposited at Vienna airport,” prosecutors said.

    A 24-year-old student suspected of being an accomplice in the plot, Mathias F, has also being arrested, with explosives found at his home.

    Germany’s federal prosecutor’s office has taken over the terror investigation, which has sparked probes in the office for migration, interior ministry and military.

    Ursula von der Leyen, the defence minister, cancelled a scheduled visit to the US on Tuesday and summoned military commanders to discuss the plot and other recent scandals including sexual abuse and hazing at another military base.

    After attacking “weak leadership” she ordered the most senior 100 generals and admirals to attend a meeting in Berlin on Thursday.

    “We have to ask systematically how someone with such clear right-wing extremist views, who writes a master’s paper with clearly nationalistic ideas … could continue to pursue a career in the Bundeswehr,” Ms von der Leyen told reporters.

    She plans to travel to Illkirch for an update on the investigation as some politicians pushed back against her criticism of the military.

    Henning Otte, a fellow member of Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU lawmaker and head of the parliamentary defence committee, told Reuters the military had “no fundamental problem with radicalism or abuses”.

    But Germany’s military intelligence agency has recorded 275 suspected case of right-wing extremists in the military’s ranks, including some dating back to 2011 and 53 cases first identified this year.

    “If the plan had succeeded, his fingerprints would have registered on the refugee records system and led investigators to his false identity as a Syrian asylum seeker, turning fresh scrutiny on migrants in Germany.”

    That was the plan: frame a Christian Syrian refugee for the killing a variety of left-wing politicians:


    He had a list of five potential targets for the attack, the Tagesspiegel newspaper reported, including former President Joachim Gauck, justice minister Heiko Maas, a prominent left-wing politician and the Berlin Center for Political Beauty.

    That was the plan…the incredibly brazen plan that didn’t raise an alarms despite the fact that the guy wrote a masters thesis about “political change and subversion strategy” that contained far-right ideas and the guy didn’t even speak Arabic:


    He did not raise any alarm over extremism in the army, despite writing a master’s thesis on “political change and subversion strategy” at a French university in 2014 that was found to contain far-right thinking.

    He created a fake persona under the name David Benjamin, telling immigration officials he was a Damascus fruit seller from a Christian family with French roots, German media reported.

    No doubts appear to have been raised over the credibility of the 28-year-old’s background, despite him speaking mainly French with a smattering of Arabic from a language course.

    The ruse was only discovered when Franco A was arrested in Austria after returning to retrieve an unregistered 7.65mm pistol from a toilet at Vienna International Airport in February.

    And that incredibly brazen plan apparently almost worked and involved an entire cell of far-right extremist:


    Prosecutors are investigating a group of up to five people surrounding a soldier accused of posing as a Syrian refugee to carry out a “false flag” attack.

    The suspect, named only as Franco A, was arrested after police traced a loaded gun he stashed at Vienna International Airport but investigations at his barracks have revealed signs of a wider network.

    An assault rifle case carved with a swastika was found in his room, where the letters HH [Heil Hitler] were inscribed on the wall and a Nazi-era pamphlet depicting a Wehrmacht soldier was discovered.

    So what’s next for Germany’s investigators now that there’s signs of a wider network of far-right extremists who are actively planning false-flag terror plots? Well, the plan appears to be to search all barracks and hope that the neo-Nazis don’t hide their neo-Nazi-ness after Nazi memorabilia was just found at a second military barracks, this time in southwest Germany:

    Newsweek

    Nazi Memorabilia Discovery at German Barracks Prompts Nationwide Search

    By Isabelle Gerretsen On 5/8/17 at 6:49 AM

    Germany has ordered a nationwide search of every army barracks after inspectors found Nazi memorabilia at a garrison.

    Volker Wieker, inspector general of the Bundeswehr, the association representing German soldiers’ interests, ordered the inquiry after pictures of soldiers from the Wehrmacht, the army which served Adolf Hitler, and several Nazi-era helmets were found at a barracks in Donaueschingen in southwest Germany.

    A spokesperson for the German defense ministry said Wieker had “instructed that all properties be inspected to see whether rules on dealing with heritage with regard to the Wehrmacht and National Socialism are being observed,” German newspaper Bild reported.

    The discovery comes amid growing concerns that far-right extremism has infiltrated the German forces.

    Last week, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen summoned an emergency meeting of Germany’s top military officials to discuss “where leadership and accountability have failed” after an army lieutenant with far-right views was arrested on suspicion of plotting a racist attack.

    The 28-year-old German soldier, who was based at a garrison in Illkirch in northeastern France, managed to successfully register for refugee status in Syria in 2015, despite the fact that he couldn’t speak Arabic and was not of Syrian origin. Police said he was motivated by a “xenophobic background” to carry out a “serious crime endangering state security.”

    Von der Leyen struck a harsh tone following the arrest, criticizing the German army of suffering from an “attitude problem,” a “misunderstood esprit de corps” and “weak leadership at different levels” on German news channel ZDF, Deutsche Welle reported.

    Her comments angered military officials and several politicians who accused her of using the scandal to smear the entire German army. The chair of the Bundeswehr, Andre Wüstner, told the Passauer Neue Presse. newspaper that the criticism left the military feeling “outraged and bewildered” and that von der Leyen was “massively damaging the Bundeswehr.”

    The minister apologized for her comments following the backlash but warned that the government should be prepared for similar incidents coming to light. While visiting the lieutenant’s barracks on Wednesday, she stressed that Germany would not tolerate any veneration of the traditions and customs of the Wehrmacht.

    “Volker Wieker, inspector general of the Bundeswehr, the association representing German soldiers’ interests, ordered the inquiry after pictures of soldiers from the Wehrmacht, the army which served Adolf Hitler, and several Nazi-era helmets were found at a barracks in Donaueschingen in southwest Germany.

    Well, at least Germany’s military is conducting some sort of review. But isn’t there a more proactive approach the Germany military could take? After all, the exposed terror plot was only discovered after police traced a loaded gun “Franco A” stashed at Vienna International Airport back to the fake Syrian refugee persona. And if any military on the planet needs to worry about neo-Nazis infiltrating their ranks and acquiring valuable skills, it’s the German military.

    And yes, there is a more proactive approach that could be taken. But isn’t taken for some reason and hasn’t been taken for a long time

    Deutsche Welle

    The Bundeswehr’s image problem – is it overrun with right-wing extremists?

    The case of a German lieutenant suspected of planning a right-wing terror attack has unsettled both political and army leaders. The question of whether the Bundeswehr is a right-wing haven is as old as the army itself.

    Volker Wagener
    03.05.2017

    André E. had only spent a few days with the German army in the Thuringian city of Gotha when he told his supervising officer straight up: “I identify as a National Socialist.” Based on his appearance, it wasn’t exactly a secret. He sported a tattoo with the motto of the Hitler Youth, “Blut und Ehre” (blood and honor), because, as he said, he has so much admiration for the SS.

    André E. was in training for 10 more months, learning how to shoot an assault rifle and throw hand grenades. This all happened 17 years ago, but André E. is not just any neo-Nazi. He is one of the accused in the Munich trial against the right-wing extremist group, the National Socialist Underground, or NSU. The terrorist group stands accused of bombing attacks and 10 murders. Why did the Bundeswehr not stop him?

    Failure of military counterintelligence?

    The case of Michael L. also continues to plague the Bundeswehr and the Defense Ministry, especially in light of the latest scandal around an extreme right-wing officer who was allegedly planning a terror attack. In 2012, reservist Michael L., then 35, was serving as an officer in Kunduz, Afghanistan. In 2008, he had enquired about becoming a member of the far-right party, the NPD, in the city of Kassel. He was also a member of a nationalist group known as the “Freier Widerstand Kassel” (Free Resistance Kassel). The state of Hesse had classed the organization as a neo-Nazi group. Despite his history, Michael L. made it to Afghanistan, something that Germany’s military counterintelligence service, MAD, should have prevented. MAD is supposed to vet all soldiers before they serve in foreign missions. So why did Michael L. slip through?

    A long history of image problems

    Ever since it was founded in 1955, the German army has struggled with the image of being a haven for right-wing extremists. And it’s no wonder. At the end of the 1950s, the army hired 300 officers from the Waffen-SS, Hitler’s elite fighting force. More than 12,000 Wehrmacht officers were serving in the Bundeswehr – as well as over 40 Nazi generals. The Bundeswehr was tainted with this “brown legacy” from its inception, and its relationship to the new concept of the “citizen in uniform” was correspondingly ambivalent. Under Defense Minister Franz-Josef Strauß (CSU, 1956 – 62), army barracks were named after Nazi generals; those involved in the resistance attempt to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944, were labeled “traitors”; and questions about war crimes were mostly taboo.

    In the 1960s, the “conscientious fulfillment of duty” was still regarded as the highest of all virtues for a soldier. But General Heinz Karst, who was in charge of army training at the time, nevertheless declared that freedom and democracy were “not the last values.”

    At the same time, there was growing criticism about “excessive parliamentary control” over the young army. In the 1970s, Bundeswehr academies were supposed to help stamp out the last of the old mentality.

    But the first generation of young officers rejected reforms and were opposed to Willy Brandt’s policy of detente. At the start of the 1980s, Defense Minister Hans Apel (SPD) was met with protests when he said that which could not be denied: “The armed forces were in part enmeshed with National Socialism and its guilt…a regime of injustice like the Third Reich cannot form the basis of tradition.”

    Too lax on extremism?

    And yet, the Bundeswehr remains attractive for right-wing extremists even today. Most of the cases that come to light have to do with what are called propaganda crimes: calls of “Sieg Heil” or swastika graffiti. According to MAD, neo-Nazi sentiment is most prevalent among 18- to 25-year-olds, drawn by the lure of weaponry and the hierarchies within the army. But once identified, neo-Nazis cannot simply be thrown out of the army; courts have to confirm the presence of right-wing extremism.

    It’s not that there are a lack of clues, rather that they are often discovered when it’s too late, or by coincidence. The failure of MAD in connection with the NSU murders suspect raises the prospect that extremist tendencies were noticed, but that other soldiers and supervisors either didn’t react, or reacted too mildly.

    Neo-Nazi network?

    As a result of all these “discoveries”, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has canceled her planned trip to the United States. It’s an unusual reaction, and indicative of how seriously she is taking the situation. Observers are not ruling out the possibility that there is a neo-Nazi network within the armed forces. Some say that scrapping conscription is to blame. The Bundeswehr is lacking in “normal people,” said Michael Wolffsohn, a former historian at the Bundeswehr Academy in Munich. Without conscription, the army has become overrun with extremists, eager to learn how to use weapons, he said.

    “It’s not that there are a lack of clues, rather that they are often discovered when it’s too late, or by coincidence. The failure of MAD in connection with the NSU murders suspect raises the prospect that extremist tendencies were noticed, but that other soldiers and supervisors either didn’t react, or reacted too mildly.”

    Yep, the NSU murder suspect, André E., basically trained as an open neo-Nazi. And nobody cared:

    André E. had only spent a few days with the German army in the Thuringian city of Gotha when he told his supervising officer straight up: “I identify as a National Socialist.” Based on his appearance, it wasn’t exactly a secret. He sported a tattoo with the motto of the Hitler Youth, “Blut und Ehre” (blood and honor), because, as he said, he has so much admiration for the SS.

    André E. was in training for 10 more months, learning how to shoot an assault rifle and throw hand grenades. This all happened 17 years ago, but André E. is not just any neo-Nazi. He is one of the accused in the Munich trial against the right-wing extremist group, the National Socialist Underground, or NSU. The terrorist group stands accused of bombing attacks and 10 murders. Why did the Bundeswehr not stop him?

    And sure, that was 17 years ago, but it’s not like there haven’t been plenty of incidents since, including the newly exposed terror plot. And while it’s suggested that dropping the conscription policy has led to a concentration of far-right extremists populating the military’s ranks, note that there was indeed conscription 17 years ago (it was ended in 2011) and André E. was still allowed to train as an open neo-Nazi, so it’s not like this is purely an issue with dropping the conscription policy. At the same, if dropping conscription did indeed make the problem worse, well, we probably shouldn’t be surprised if there are a lot more “André E.”s hiding in plain sight.

    So we’ll see what, if anything, is discovered by Germany’s full-scale barracks search. At least now that this plot has been exposed it should at least give pause to any groups planning similar false-flag terror attacks in the works. In the mean time, lazy neo-Nazi networks in the German military that don’t bother to hide the Nazi memorabilia in their barracks in time had better watch out! Maybe. Or, as the whole NSU scandal has taught us about these, maybe they have nothing to worry about, which is party of why this whole situation is so worrying.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 8, 2017, 5:49 pm
  5. This is getting interesting: The head of Germany’s intelligence, Hans-Georg Maaße (Maassen), is about to be fired following allegations of ties to the AfD. Maaße faced scrutiny over possible far right sympathies after he asserted that there was “no evidence” of a “manhunt” against foreigners after dismissed days of neo-Nazi riots in the city of Chemnitz. He also questions the authenticity of video footage showing the anti-immigrant riots, suggesting they could be faked. He was also charged with sharing confidential government reports with the AfD and advising the party on how to avoid surveillance:

    Politico.eu

    Merkel to fire Germany’s intelligence chief: report

    Hans-Georg Maaßen is facing growing pressure over his comments on far-right violence in Chemnitz.

    By Judith Mischke

    9/17/18, 12:54 PM CET

    Updated 9/17/18, 3:47 PM CET

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel will oust the country’s head of intelligence, after an ongoing scandal over his response to the Chemnitz riots and his alleged ties to the far-right party Alternative for Germany have prompted calls for his dismissal, according to reports.

    Merkel made the decision to get rid of Hans-Georg Maaßen at an extraordinary meeting last Thursday alongside Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and Social Democrat leader Andrea Nahles, Die Welt reported Monday, citing government sources.

    Maaßen has come under fire in recent weeks for allegedly sharing confidential government reports with the AfD and advising the anti-immigration party on how to avoid being put under surveillance by his agency. He also faced heavy blowback for questioning the authenticity of video footage from the anti-immigrant riots in Chemnitz, and claiming there was “no evidence” of a “manhunt” against foreigners.

    Maaßen has admitted meeting with members of the party, but denies he provided advice.

    The fate of the intelligence chief has divided political opinion. While Seehofer, who leads Bavaria’s Christian Social Union — which is gearing up for an election next month — previously voiced confidence in Maaßen’s leadership and claimed he does not “see any reason for staff changes,” the Social Democrats and the Greens have been vocal in calling for his dismissal.

    ———-

    “Merkel to fire Germany’s intelligence chief: report” by Judith Mischke; Politico.eu, 09/17/2018

    “Maaßen has come under fire in recent weeks for allegedly sharing confidential government reports with the AfD and advising the anti-immigration party on how to avoid being put under surveillance by his agency. He also faced heavy blowback for questioning the authenticity of video footage from the anti-immigrant riots in Chemnitz, and claiming there was “no evidence” of a “manhunt” against foreigners.”

    Yep, the head of Germany’s intelligence appears to have ties to neo-Nazis. That’s not wildly alarming or anything.

    And as the following article notes, this wasn’t the first time Maassen’s ties to the far right have been questioned. A former leader of the AfD’s youth wing wrote a book this year – “Inside AFD: The report of a drop-out” – that claimed that Maassen had advised ex-AfD leader Frauke Petry on how the party could avoid being put under surveillance by his office:

    Reuters

    Hans-Georg Maassen: the spy who went out into the heat

    Paul Carrel
    September 9, 2018 / 11:08 AM

    BERLIN (Reuters) – Spies usually operate in the shadows. Hans-Georg Maassen, chief of Germany’s domestic spy agency, has done just the opposite and taken center-stage in a heated debate about the far-right that is shaking Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to its core.

    In comments to Friday’s edition of mass-selling daily Bild, Maassen said he was skeptical about reports that migrants had been hounded in the city of Chemnitz after the fatal stabbing of a German man there, for which two asylum seekers were arrested.

    The violence in the eastern city has shaken Germany deeply. But Maassen said his BfV domestic intelligence agency had “no reliable information about such hunts taking place”, and that a video circulating showing that happening could have been faked.

    Those comments put him at odds with Merkel, who said images from Chemnitz “very clearly” showed hate. She has also accused the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party of using violent protests over the stabbing to stir up ethnic tension.

    The upshot is that senior politicians are calling for 55-year-old Maassen to go. He will likely have to explain himself to a parliamentary committee this week. His own stance toward the far-right is also being questioned.

    Questions have been raised before about how aggressively Maassen has taken on the far-right, including the AfD, which he has resisted putting under surveillance.

    A former leader of the AfD’s youth wing, Franziska Schreiber, wrote in her book published this year – “Inside AFD: The report of a drop-out” – that Maassen had advised ex-AfD leader Frauke Petry on how the party could avoid being put under surveillance by his office. He has denied giving such counsel.

    POLITICAL FALLOUT

    A trained lawyer who forged his career in the Interior Ministry, Maassen has generally stayed out of the spotlight during his six years in charge of the BfV, though he has clashed with other more circumspect government officials for calling out Russia as the likely culprit behind cyber attacks on Germany.

    In a 2016 interview with Reuters, Maassen said far-right extremists in Germany were increasingly ready to commit violent acts – a risk he has since flagged again.

    On Friday, Maassen’s BfV intelligence agency said it would make further checks on information available about the Chemnitz protests as “there are always fake news and attempts at disinformation” on social media.

    “Checks, in particular with regard to possible ‘hounding’ of migrants by right-wing extremists, will continue,” it added.

    Maassen’s Chemnitz comments have aggravated tensions about whether politicians and the authorities are being too complacent in the face of rising xenophobia in Germany, where many thought the lessons of its Nazi history had long been learned.

    The remarks have also split Berlin’s political class and re-opened fissures over immigration in Merkel’s ‘grand coalition’, only two months after she closed a painful row with her Bavarian sister party on the same issue.

    Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), has backed Maassen. Alexander Gauland, co-leader of the anti-immigrant AfD, told the Bild am Sonntag: “All accusations against him are politically motivated.”

    But Malu Dreyer, a senior figure in the Social Democrats, junior partner in Merkel’s coalition, said he had created uncertainty and “destroyed” trust in the state. “So I do not think he is still the right man for this position,” she added.

    ———-

    “Hans-Georg Maassen: the spy who went out into the heat” by Paul Carrel; Reuters; 09/09/2018

    “The violence in the eastern city has shaken Germany deeply. But Maassen said his BfV domestic intelligence agency had “no reliable information about such hunts taking place”, and that a video circulating showing that happening could have been faked.”

    There was “no reliable information about such hunts taking place”…except for the videos of people being hunted down, which could have been faked. Yep, it sure sounds like Germany has a Nazi-sympathizer problem…in the top office of the BfV. But we already knew that. Or at least should have suspected it following the publication of book that made exactly these claims:


    Those comments put him at odds with Merkel, who said images from Chemnitz “very clearly” showed hate. She has also accused the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party of using violent protests over the stabbing to stir up ethnic tension.

    The upshot is that senior politicians are calling for 55-year-old Maassen to go. He will likely have to explain himself to a parliamentary committee this week. His own stance toward the far-right is also being questioned.

    Questions have been raised before about how aggressively Maassen has taken on the far-right, including the AfD, which he has resisted putting under surveillance.

    A former leader of the AfD’s youth wing, Franziska Schreiber, wrote in her book published this year – “Inside AFD: The report of a drop-out” – that Maassen had advised ex-AfD leader Frauke Petry on how the party could avoid being put under surveillance by his office. He has denied giving such counsel.

    And that book is part of what makes Massen’s recent comments so amazing: he was already under scrutiny for alleged far right ties before he made these recent comments about the Chemnitz riots.

    It’s also interesting to note that Maassen apparently clashed with government officials over the decision of the BfV to blame Russia for the Bundestag hacks of 2015:


    POLITICAL FALLOUT

    A trained lawyer who forged his career in the Interior Ministry, Maassen has generally stayed out of the spotlight during his six years in charge of the BfV, though he has clashed with other more circumspect government officials for calling out Russia as the likely culprit behind cyber attacks on Germany.

    In a 2016 interview with Reuters, Maassen said far-right extremists in Germany were increasingly ready to commit violent acts – a risk he has since flagged again.

    On Friday, Maassen’s BfV intelligence agency said it would make further checks on information available about the Chemnitz protests as “there are always fake news and attempts at disinformation” on social media.

    “Checks, in particular with regard to possible ‘hounding’ of migrants by right-wing extremists, will continue,” it added.

    Recall that it was the BfV’s initial public attribution of the Bundestag hack to the Russian government in January of 2016 that represented the first instance of “Fancy Bear” being declared a Russian government hacking entity, as opposed to just being a sophisticated entity presumed to be operating out of Russia. This was followed by another BfV report in May of 2016 officially blaming the Russian military intelligence for the hacks. Also recall that it was that 2015 Bundestag hack where the X-Agent malware was used with a hard-coded 176.31.112.10 command and control server IP address that traced back to a server that was vulnerable to the Heartbleed attack. This was same IP address was hard-coded into the X-Agent malware found in the DNC’s servers, which always seemed like a remarkably suspicious ‘clue’ because the DNC server hacks were supposed to have taken place until March/April of 2016, after the BfV blamed the Russian government for the Bundestag hacks. So it’s worth noting that Maasen was the head of the BfV during this period when the agency made the formal attribution of Fancy Bear to the Russian military intelligence which was important for establishing the initial accusation of Russian government hackers targeting the DNC later in 2016.

    So how many times has Maassen met with the AfD? According to the following article, Maassen himself admits to 5 personal meetings with AfD members, which he tries to frame as not being very many given that he’s had 237 personal conversations with politicians since he took over the post in 2012. But as the article notes, the AfD didn’t actually enter Germany’s parliament until September of 2017, so 5 personal meetings with AfD since then is about one every couple of months or so on average. Is that a lot? It seems like a lot of neo-Nazi meetings. And while some of the information he passed along to AfD members during these meetings allegedly included numbers of the number of Islamist extremists in the country, it also sounds like Maassen shared with the AfD numbers of the BfV’s budget, which is reportedly secret and can only be discussed among very few Bundestag members in the parliament’s confidential committee:

    Deutsche Welle

    German spy chief passed info to AfD: report

    Hans-Georg Maassen, president of Germany’s domestic intelligence service, allegedly passed on sensitive data from a report to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). The spy chief has already faced calls to resign.

    Date 13.09.2018
    Author Ben Knight

    The relationship between Germany’s domestic spy chief, Hans-Georg Maassen, and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) came under renewed scrutiny on Thursday, when it was revealed that the head of the domestic intelligence service, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), had passed on information from his yearly report to the far-right populist party ahead of its publication.

    AfD Bundestag member Stephan Brandner confirmed to public broadcaster ARD that Maassen had given him “numbers from the report” at a personal meeting on June 13, five weeks before it was released.

    “We talked about different figures that are in there,” Brandner told ARD, including the number of Islamist extremists in the country. The BfV is tasked with tracking extremist groups inside Germany and determining whether they represent a danger, and brings out a report on its findings every summer.

    Maassen has already faced intense pressure after an interview in which he questioned whether videos showing far-right violence in Chemnitz were authentic, directly contradicting Chancellor Angela Merkel’s statements.

    Even before Thursday’s revelation, opposition parties had called on Maassen to resign over suspicions that he harbors right-wing sympathies and has a too-close relationship with the AfD. But until now he has been backed by his boss, conservative Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.

    In a speech to the Bundestag on Thursday morning, Seehofer reiterated his support for the BfV president, and it now appears that Maassen’s future could become a new crisis point for Merkel’s government: Merkel, Seehofer, and Social Democrat leader Andrea Nahles held a special crisis meeting to discuss the issue. The group said that any decision on Maassen’s future would not be made before next Tuesday.

    Routine information

    Maassen quickly rejected any wrongdoing. In a statement to DW, the BfV press office said he had received “express instructions” from the Interior Ministry, which is responsible for the BfV, to speak to parliamentarians from all political parties, and to inform them regularly about potential national security threats.

    “The [ARD report] gives the impression that information or documents were passed on without a legal foundation,” the statement said. “This is of course not the case.” The BfV press office would not comment on the exact content of the conversation with Brandner, on the grounds that these conversations are confidential.

    The DPA news agency reported on Thursday that Maassen had had all of 237 personal conversations with politicians since he took over the post in 2012, only five of which had been with members of the AfD. The party, however, was only formed in 2013 and only entered the Bundestag after the last election in 2017.

    Time to go?

    Even voices from the governing parties have joined in calls for Maassen’s dismissal. Lars Klingbeil, general secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), junior partner in Angela Merkel’s governing coalition, tweeted on Thursday afternoon that, “for the SPD leadership it is completely clear that Maassen must go. Merkel must act now.”

    Konstantin von Notz, interior policy spokesman for the opposition Green party, took a more nuanced view. While acknowledging that the meeting between Brandner and Maassen was unusual, the revelation that he may have passed on figures about Islamists was less interesting than the fact that the pair had apparently discussed the BfV’s budget.

    “This is secret, and can only be discussed among very few Bundestag members in the parliament’s confidential committee,” he told DW.

    The pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) has also made its mind up about Maassen. The party’s interior policy spokesman, Konstantin Kuhle, told DPA on Thursday that the BfV head was “not neutral” about the AfD, and thus had to go, because of the “general impression after the events of the last few weeks and months.”

    ———-

    “German spy chief passed info to AfD: report” by Ben Knight; Deutsche Welle; 09/13/2018

    “The relationship between Germany’s domestic spy chief, Hans-Georg Maassen, and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) came under renewed scrutiny on Thursday, when it was revealed that the head of the domestic intelligence service, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), had passed on information from his yearly report to the far-right populist party ahead of its publication.

    The AfD got information from Maasen from the BfV’s annual report ahead of its publication. That sure was considerate of him. And this was confirmed by AfD Bundestag member Stephan Brandner:


    AfD Bundestag member Stephan Brandner confirmed to public broadcaster ARD that Maassen had given him “numbers from the report” at a personal meeting on June 13, five weeks before it was released.

    “We talked about different figures that are in there,” Brandner told ARD, including the number of Islamist extremists in the country. The BfV is tasked with tracking extremist groups inside Germany and determining whether they represent a danger, and brings out a report on its findings every summer.

    Maassen has already faced intense pressure after an interview in which he questioned whether videos showing far-right violence in Chemnitz were authentic, directly contradicting Chancellor Angela Merkel’s statements.

    Even before Thursday’s revelation, opposition parties had called on Maassen to resign over suspicions that he harbors right-wing sympathies and has a too-close relationship with the AfD. But until now he has been backed by his boss, conservative Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.

    In a speech to the Bundestag on Thursday morning, Seehofer reiterated his support for the BfV president, and it now appears that Maassen’s future could become a new crisis point for Merkel’s government: Merkel, Seehofer, and Social Democrat leader Andrea Nahles held a special crisis meeting to discuss the issue. The group said that any decision on Maassen’s future would not be made before next Tuesday.

    Maassen tried to defend himself by out out that he’s supposed to speak to members of all political parties and keep them informed. He also tried to characterize his 5 personal meetings with AfD members out of a total of 237 meetings he’s had since 2012 as indicating no particular special interest in the AfD. But as the article points out, the AfD has only been in parliament since 2017 (September of 2017, to be precise):


    Routine information

    Maassen quickly rejected any wrongdoing. In a statement to DW, the BfV press office said he had received “express instructions” from the Interior Ministry, which is responsible for the BfV, to speak to parliamentarians from all political parties, and to inform them regularly about potential national security threats.

    “The [ARD report] gives the impression that information or documents were passed on without a legal foundation,” the statement said. “This is of course not the case.” The BfV press office would not comment on the exact content of the conversation with Brandner, on the grounds that these conversations are confidential.

    The DPA news agency reported on Thursday that Maassen had had all of 237 personal conversations with politicians since he took over the post in 2012, only five of which had been with members of the AfD. The party, however, was only formed in 2013 and only entered the Bundestag after the last election in 2017.

    But perhaps that most scandalous part of Maassen passing along information to the AfD is the the allegations that he passed top secret BfV budget information, which is something very few Bundestag members in the parliament’s confidential committee:


    Time to go?

    Even voices from the governing parties have joined in calls for Maassen’s dismissal. Lars Klingbeil, general secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), junior partner in Angela Merkel’s governing coalition, tweeted on Thursday afternoon that, “for the SPD leadership it is completely clear that Maassen must go. Merkel must act now.”

    Konstantin von Notz, interior policy spokesman for the opposition Green party, took a more nuanced view. While acknowledging that the meeting between Brandner and Maassen was unusual, the revelation that he may have passed on figures about Islamists was less interesting than the fact that the pair had apparently discussed the BfV’s budget.

    “This is secret, and can only be discussed among very few Bundestag members in the parliament’s confidential committee,” he told DW.

    The pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) has also made its mind up about Maassen. The party’s interior policy spokesman, Konstantin Kuhle, told DPA on Thursday that the BfV head was “not neutral” about the AfD, and thus had to go, because of the “general impression after the events of the last few weeks and months.”

    Also keep in mind that this budget information presumably wasn’t just like the BfV’s total budget. It was probably like the budget for different areas of the BfV. So did he pass along budget information on things like the budget for monitoring far right groups like the AfD or Pegida? That’s unclear, but based on everything we’ve seen it would almost be surprising at this point if he didn’t.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 17, 2018, 11:21 am
  6. Here’s an update on the scandal in Germany over the apparent secret support of the far right by Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of the BfV which is part of the Interior Ministry: So Maassen was indeed fired from the job. But it’s a firing that comes in the form of a promotion to a better-paid position of state secretary in the Interior Ministry. It turns out the head of the Interior Ministry, Horst Seehofer, balked at completely letting Maassen go, so promoting him out of the BfV was seen as the only viable compromise position.

    Seehofer also happens to be the leader of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), the right-wing sister party to Merkel’s CDU. And as the following article notes, the CSU is as risk of losing its long-standing majority in Bavaria largely due to the rise of the AfD in the upcoming state elections on October 14. And Maassen is, of course, now a hero of the AfD and far right in general.

    So it’s looking like the ruling German coalition is giving Maassen extra lenient treatment as a means of placating the CSU’s concerns over pissing off right-wing voters. But the ruling coalition isn’t just the CDU and CSU. The center-left SPD is also part of this coalition and the decision to promote Maassen is not surprisingly angering SPD voters and potentially driving them toward other parties like the Greens.

    Despite these intra-coalition tensions there’s still no desire on the part of either the CDU or SPD leadership to break the coalition and call snap elections because polls currently show that both parties would lose voters to the AfD and Greens. And that ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ situation is why the row over what to do about Maassen is putting the ruling coalition into what is being described as a permanent crisis mode:

    Reuters

    Merkel coalition slides into ‘permanent crisis mode’ with spy row

    Paul Carrel
    September 19, 2018 / 8:17 AM / Updated

    BERLIN (Reuters) – A clumsy compromise to end a row over the fate of Germany’s spy chief has exposed a cruel fact: the parties in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s right-left coalition are loveless partners in a dysfunctional relationship that none of them can afford to quit.

    The coalition leaders sought on Tuesday to end a scandal that had rumbled on for 11 days by agreeing to replace the head of the BfV domestic intelligence agency, who has faced accusations of harboring far-right sympathies.

    Their solution – promoting spymaster Hans-Georg Maassen to a better paid position at the Interior Ministry – has only inflamed tensions among the rank-and-file of the ruling parties, whose leaders are united by fear more than collective purpose.

    The scandal, the latest in a series of setbacks to shake the six-month-old coalition, threatens to erode further the German ruling elite’s authority and may point to years of policy drift just as Germany and Europe are crying out for firm leadership.

    Merkel is yet to address the criticism that the coalition lacks direction.

    Polls show both Merkel’s conservative bloc and its junior coalition partner, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), would bleed votes to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the ecologist Greens in any new elections.

    That leaves their leaders hanging on to the awkward right-left ‘grand coalition’ as Merkel, serving her fourth and likely final term as chancellor, tries to secure her legacy as a stateswoman and the SPD struggles to remain relevant to voters.

    “The grand coalition is like a dead marriage where the spouses have too many intertwined assets to be able to separate without heavy losses,” said Josef Joffe, publisher-editor of weekly Die Zeit.

    “They would be trounced in snap elections. Nor can they recruit more docile partners among the four opposition parties.”

    The Maassen scandal comes only two months after Merkel closed a painful row with her Bavarian CSU allies on immigration – an issue that goes back to her 2015 decision to leave open Germany’s borders to refugees fleeing war in the Middle East.

    The SPD had wanted Maassen removed after he questioned the authenticity of video footage showing far-right radicals hounding migrants in the eastern German city of Chemnitz.

    But Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, leader of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), stood behind Maassen.

    By promoting the spymaster to the post of state secretary in his Interior Ministry, Seehofer found a solution that satisfied the SPD’s demand for Maassen’s removal from the BfV but left the coalition looking lame.

    “The only thing that is still grand in this coalition is the absolute determination to carry on muddling through,” mass-selling daily Bild wrote in an editorial.

    “PERMANENT CRISIS MODE”

    Speaking at the sidelines of a European Union meeting in Salzburg, Merkel defended the Maassen deal as a “right and important” decision.

    Merkel stressed that Maassen would not be in charge of domestic security issues in his new position.

    The SPD had accused the former spymaster of having too close ties to the anti-immigration AfD party.

    The grand coalition only took office in March, nearly six months after last year’s election, as there was effectively no other viable governing option following the collapse of talks between Merkel’s conservatives and two smaller parties.

    After the Maassen deal, pressure is growing in the SPD for its leaders to reconsider the coalition or else deliver results that will win back working class voters who are turning to the far right or left, and middle class voters moving to the Greens.

    “Patience in the SPD with this grand coalition is extremely thin,” said Ralf Stegner, a senior SPD official.

    Even SPD Secretary General Lars Klingbeil questioned Maassen’s promotion, adding: “We must finally get out of this permanent crisis mode.”

    SPD leader Andrea Nahles said the party should remain in the coalition but added that Seehofer’s decision to transfer Maassen to his ministry was a “further burden” for cooperation.

    In a letter to party members, she added: “The SPD shouldn’t sacrifice this government because Horst Seehofer employs a civil servant whom we consider to be unsuitable.”

    Merkel’s 2015 decision on refugees has proved to be the defining moment of her leadership and one that still haunts her as the CSU, fearful of losing votes to the AfD in Bavaria’s state election on Oct. 14, tries to sound tough on immigration.

    The CSU is likely to lose its absolute majority in Bavaria, which could make it an even more difficult partner for Merkel.

    Nationally, the conservative bloc is polling around 30 percent, down from 33 percent in last September’s election. The SPD is on about 18 percent, down from 20.5 percent. The AfD is polling around 15 percent, with the Greens close behind.

    ———-

    “Merkel coalition slides into ‘permanent crisis mode’ with spy row” by Paul Carrel; Reuters; 09/19/2018

    “Their solution – promoting spymaster Hans-Georg Maassen to a better paid position at the Interior Ministry – has only inflamed tensions among the rank-and-file of the ruling parties, whose leaders are united by fear more than collective purpose.”

    Better pay at the same agency. It’s quite a ‘firing’, thanks to the intervention of Interior Ministry chief Horst Seehofer of the CSU:


    The Maassen scandal comes only two months after Merkel closed a painful row with her Bavarian CSU allies on immigration – an issue that goes back to her 2015 decision to leave open Germany’s borders to refugees fleeing war in the Middle East.

    The SPD had wanted Maassen removed after he questioned the authenticity of video footage showing far-right radicals hounding migrants in the eastern German city of Chemnitz.

    But Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, leader of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), stood behind Maassen.

    By promoting the spymaster to the post of state secretary in his Interior Ministry, Seehofer found a solution that satisfied the SPD’s demand for Maassen’s removal from the BfV but left the coalition looking lame.

    “The only thing that is still grand in this coalition is the absolute determination to carry on muddling through,” mass-selling daily Bild wrote in an editorial.

    This, in turns, has raised pressure within the SPD to either reconsider their current coalition – triggering elections – or else somehow deliver on policies that will stop the bleeding of voters:


    “PERMANENT CRISIS MODE”

    Speaking at the sidelines of a European Union meeting in Salzburg, Merkel defended the Maassen deal as a “right and important” decision.

    Merkel stressed that Maassen would not be in charge of domestic security issues in his new position.

    The SPD had accused the former spymaster of having too close ties to the anti-immigration AfD party.

    The grand coalition only took office in March, nearly six months after last year’s election, as there was effectively no other viable governing option following the collapse of talks between Merkel’s conservatives and two smaller parties.

    After the Maassen deal, pressure is growing in the SPD for its leaders to reconsider the coalition or else deliver results that will win back working class voters who are turning to the far right or left, and middle class voters moving to the Greens.

    But based on current polls that show both the CDU and SPD would lose voters to the AfD and Greens in any future elections, the SPD can’t simply pull out of the coalition at this point without expecting losses. So they’re basically stuck:


    Polls show both Merkel’s conservative bloc and its junior coalition partner, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), would bleed votes to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the ecologist Greens in any new elections.

    That leaves their leaders hanging on to the awkward right-left ‘grand coalition’ as Merkel, serving her fourth and likely final term as chancellor, tries to secure her legacy as a stateswoman and the SPD struggles to remain relevant to voters.

    “The grand coalition is like a dead marriage where the spouses have too many intertwined assets to be able to separate without heavy losses,” said Josef Joffe, publisher-editor of weekly Die Zeit.

    “They would be trounced in snap elections. Nor can they recruit more docile partners among the four opposition parties.”

    And at the same time the SPD views the demoralizing nature of the promotion of Maassen as a threat to its electoral chances, the Seehofer and the CSU can point to the state elections next month and the rising appeal of the AfD, and the risk that their appeal would only grow if Maassen was forced out entirely, as a political justification for the decision to basically give Maassen a promotion:


    Merkel’s 2015 decision on refugees has proved to be the defining moment of her leadership and one that still haunts her as the CSU, fearful of losing votes to the AfD in Bavaria’s state election on Oct. 14, tries to sound tough on immigration.

    The CSU is likely to lose its absolute majority in Bavaria, which could make it an even more difficult partner for Merkel.

    Nationally, the conservative bloc is polling around 30 percent, down from 33 percent in last September’s election. The SPD is on about 18 percent, down from 20.5 percent. The AfD is polling around 15 percent, with the Greens close behind.

    And that electoral urgency to placate the far right, at the cost of alienating the left, highlights the growing polarization of Germany’s political landscape.

    So just how big are the electoral risks facing the CSU in the upcoming state elections? As the following article describes, there’s no risk that the AfD will overtake the CSU in Bavaria. Support for the CSU stood at 35 percent in recent polls, compared to the 47.7 percent it won in 2013 during the last regional election. And the AfD is currently polling at 11 percent, giving it enough support to enter the Bavarian state parliament for the first time. So there’s been a double-digit drop in support for the CSU and almost all of that drop appears to be explained by a rise in support for the AfD:

    The Independent

    Merkel allies face losses as voters flee to far-right AfD ahead of German local elections

    Populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party campaigns against refugees

    Samuel Osborne
    September 17, 2018, 16:55

    Angela Merkel’s conservative allies in the German state of Bavaria are facing losses in regional elections as their support is eroded by far-right populists.

    The Christian Social Union (CSU), which has enjoyed six decades of dominance in the state, is predicted to suffer heavy losses in the vote on 14 October.

    A recent opinion poll predicted the CSU could lose nearly 13 per centage points as voters flock to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD).

    CSU leaders have lurched to the right in response to the AfD’s gains – nearly collapsing the coalition government – before changing course in an attempt to reclaim the centre ground.

    The party is part of Germany’s grand coalition with its sister party, Ms Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CD) and the centre-left Social Democrats (SDP).

    Support for the CSU stood at 35 per cent in the infratest-dimap poll, compared to the 47.7 per cent it won in the last regional election in 2013.

    The poll showed the AfD on 11 per cent, which would be enough to enter the Bavarian state parliament for the first time.

    “The polls this week weren’t pretty,” Bavaria’s governor, Markus Soeder, said at the start of a day-long party congress aimed at rallying conservatives a month before the election. “But they are a chance for a wake-up call.”

    Among the reasons cited for the electoral decline of the CSU are the rise of the AfD, which has campaigned staunchly against the influx of refugees and migrants in recent years, and a series of gaffes by Horst Seehofer, the head of the party.

    Both Mr Soeder and Mr Seehofer, who is Germany’s interior minister, made impassioned speeches to their supporters calling for measures to prevent a repeat of the one-million-strong wave of migrants who entered Germany in 2015.

    “Those who are not entitled to protection have to return to their countries of origin, because … no country on this planet can take in unlimited numbers of refugees and migrants,” Mr Seehofer told hundreds of delegates at the congress.

    However, both men also reiterated their opposition to extremism amid calls for better scrutiny of the AfD after some of its leaders joined far-right activists in the eastern city of Chemnitz in protests sparked by the arrest of two migrant suspects in a fatal stabbing.

    Mr Seehofer, who has been at odds with Ms Merkel since her decision to open Germany’s borders to over a million refugees and migrants, insisted his party stands for liberal values and would not tolerate antisemitism, xenophobia or right-wing extremism.

    ———-

    “Merkel allies face losses as voters flee to far-right AfD ahead of German local elections” by Samuel Osborne; The Independent; 09/17/2018

    “The Christian Social Union (CSU), which has enjoyed six decades of dominance in the state, is predicted to suffer heavy losses in the vote on 14 October.”

    So some degree of heavy losses for the CSU in the state elections in a few weeks is already a given. It’s just a question of how heavy those losses will be and how much of that translates into support for the AfD. And thus far, it’s looking like the CSU’s losses are the AfD’s gains:


    A recent opinion poll predicted the CSU could lose nearly 13 per centage points as voters flock to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD).

    CSU leaders have lurched to the right in response to the AfD’s gains – nearly collapsing the coalition government – before changing course in an attempt to reclaim the centre ground.

    The party is part of Germany’s grand coalition with its sister party, Ms Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CD) and the centre-left Social Democrats (SDP).

    Support for the CSU stood at 35 per cent in the infratest-dimap poll, compared to the 47.7 per cent it won in the last regional election in 2013.

    The poll showed the AfD on 11 per cent, which would be enough to enter the Bavarian state parliament for the first time.

    And note how the CSU’s electoral success, or lack thereof, appears to be a kind of test on whether or not Germany’s conservatives can successfully articulate a policy regarding refugees and immigrants that is simultaneously pro- and anti-refugee, essentially making the argument that Germany needs to temporarily accept refugees while for humanitarian purposes while generally voicing opposition to the refugee policy and general and demanding that it not be repeated:


    Both Mr Soeder and Mr Seehofer, who is Germany’s interior minister, made impassioned speeches to their supporters calling for measures to prevent a repeat of the one-million-strong wave of migrants who entered Germany in 2015.

    “Those who are not entitled to protection have to return to their countries of origin, because … no country on this planet can take in unlimited numbers of refugees and migrants,” Mr Seehofer told hundreds of delegates at the congress.

    However, both men also reiterated their opposition to extremism amid calls for better scrutiny of the AfD after some of its leaders joined far-right activists in the eastern city of Chemnitz in protests sparked by the arrest of two migrant suspects in a fatal stabbing.

    Mr Seehofer, who has been at odds with Ms Merkel since her decision to open Germany’s borders to over a million refugees and migrants, insisted his party stands for liberal values and would not tolerate antisemitism, xenophobia or right-wing extremism.

    Will such an approach work for Bavaria’s voters? We’ll see, but if not and if the AfD surprises to the upside, we should probably expect parties like the CDU and CSU to start sound a lot more like the AfD going forward. Might there be another promotion for Hans-Georg Maassen too?

    It’s also worth recalling that a member of the CSU is poised to become the new president of the European Commission in 2019 at the end of Jean-Claude Juncker’s term. Manfred Weber, the CSU politician who is also the head of the right-wing faction of the EU parliament, is seen as the likely person Germany is going to try get in that position and, according to EU custom, it’s seen as Germany’s ‘turn’ to put someone in a top-level EU position so if Germany wants to give Weber that position it will likely happen. And if the CSU ends up veering much further to the right that’s inevitably going to impact Weber’s decisions at the EU-wide level. It’s a reminder that the way the EU works, Germany’s problems are Europe’s problems, and right now Germany has a problem with a far right sympathizer at the head of the domestic intelligence office and it responded by giving the guy a promotion due to political concerns would only make the far right even stronger.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 20, 2018, 12:23 pm
  7. @Pterrafractyl–

    It will be interesting to see how Germany’s formal diplomatic recognition of the Knights of Malta plays out in this political landscape, bearing in mind that Bavaria–home turf of the CSU–is heavily Catholic.

    https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/news/detail/7730/

    Background on the Knights of Malta here: http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-610-the-knights-of-malta-revisited/

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | September 20, 2018, 2:50 pm

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