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Blockbuster Story: Germany Reopens Oktoberfest Bombing Probe



COMMENT: While the world awaits the out­come of the Greek ref­er­en­dum on the EU bailout pack­age, a block­buster sto­ry from Der Spiegel has been eclipsed.

Ger­man offi­cials have reopened the inves­ti­ga­tion into the Munich Okto­ber­fest bomb­ing of 1980, blamed on a “lone nut,” Gun­dolf Kohler. Far from being a lone nut, Kohler actu­al­ly had pro­found links to a num­ber of Ger­man Nazi orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing the Wehrsport­gruppe Hoff­man, as well as to the post­war fas­cist inter­na­tion­al.

In FTR #333 [2], we exam­ined infor­ma­tion con­nect­ing Kohler with the Wehrport­gruppe Hoff­man, head­ed up by Karl-Heinz Hoff­man. Among the rea­sons the bomb­ing inves­ti­ga­tion stalled appears to have been due to the fact that for­mer BND agent Hans Lange­mann pro­vid­ed an ali­bi for Hoff­man, while work­ing for the Ver­fas­sungschutz, the Fed­er­al Repub­lic’s domes­tic intel­li­gence ser­vice.

The BND is, of course, the third incar­na­tion of  the Rein­hard Gehlen spy out­fit [3], the Third Reich’s East­ern Front intel­li­gence ser­vice which mor­phed into the CIA’s depart­ment of Russ­ian and East­ern Euro­pean affairs and the de-fac­to NATO intel­li­gence group for the same area. BND retained all of its Nazi char­ac­ter, employ­ing SS war crim­i­nals of the high­est mag­ni­tude. While work­ing for BND, Lange­mann was the secu­ri­ty direc­tor for the Munich Olympics of 1972, which did­n’t turn out to be very secure at all when the Black Sep­tem­ber orga­ni­za­tion slaugh­tered Israeli ath­letes.

In AFA #22 [4], we exam­ined Lange­man­n’s role as Olympics secu­ri­ty direc­tor. In addi­tion we exam­ined a report in the Ger­man mag­a­zine Konkret that Lange­mann and Hans Koll­mar, the direc­tor of the BKA at the time, were involved in stag­ing ter­ror­ist inci­dents to be blamed on the left. (The BKA is the Ger­man equiv­a­lent of the FBI.)

The Spiegel arti­cle notes that the CSU head at the time–Franz Josef Strauss–dismissed any notion that right wingers might have been behind the attack. (The CSU is the Bavar­i­an part­ner to the CDU, con­sid­er­ably far­ther to the right than the CDU.) Strauss him­self has strong links to the Under­ground Reich [5].

It is pro­found­ly sig­nif­i­cant that the bombing–blamed by Strauss and asso­ciates on the left–happened just before crit­i­cal Ger­man elec­tions! Strauss appears to have played an active role in help­ing to obscure the real per­pe­tra­tors of the crime.

In addi­tion to Kohler’s links to the Hoff­man orga­ni­za­tion and oth­er Ger­man Nazi groups, there is a fas­ci­nat­ing evi­den­tiary trib­u­tary lead­ing in the direc­tion of the P‑2 milieu and Klaus Bar­bi­e’s “Bride­grooms of Death.” Pri­or to the Okto­ber­fest bomb­ing, Hoff­man appears to have met with Joachim Fiebelko­rn, part of Bar­bi­e’s “Coca Fascisti” at the direc­tion of Stephano Delle Chi­aie. Delle Chi­aie was one of the mas­ter­minds of Ital­ian ter­ror­ism, and Fiebelko­rn was an infor­mant for sev­er­al intel­li­gence ser­vices, includ­ing the DEA. (This milieu is described at length and detail in AFA #19 [6].)

Kudos to DER SPIEGEL for break­ing this sto­ry! Kudos to the Ger­man author­i­ties for man­i­fest­ing the courage and char­ac­ter to reopen this inves­ti­ga­tion into one of the dark­est cor­ners of Ger­many’s recent past!

“Okto­ber­fest Bomb­ing Under Review: Offi­cials Ignored Right-Wing Extrem­ist Links” by Tobias von Hey­mann and Peter Wen­sier­s­ki; Der Spiegel; 10/25–2011. [7]

EXCERPT: Thir­ty-one years after the 1980 Okto­ber­fest bomb attack, offi­cials have reopened the case. Pre­vi­ous­ly unknown doc­u­ments reviewed by SPIEGEL show that the per­pe­tra­tor, alleged­ly a lone wolf, was involved with the neo-Nazi scene and Bavar­i­an con­ser­v­a­tives. But the unwel­come clues were like­ly ignored. . . .

. . . Ear­ly in the case, there had been spec­u­la­tion about Köh­ler’s right-wing extrem­ist back­ground. And last year seri­ous doubts emerged as to whether the 21-year-old was tru­ly alone at the scene of the crime on Sept. 26, 1980. But the ques­tion of why the author­i­ties nev­er com­plete­ly solved the case remains unan­swered to this day. Could it have been that the par­ty in pow­er in Bavaria at the time, the con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian Social Union (CSU), had no inter­est in see­ing the case solved?

It was less than two weeks before the Oct. 5, 1980 Ger­man par­lia­men­tary elec­tion, and the CSU and its then Bavar­i­an state gov­er­nor and chan­cel­lor can­di­date, Franz Josef Strauss, were not inter­est­ed in right-wing extrem­ist ter­ror­ism. In their world­view, the threat always came from the left. . . .

. . . The author­i­ties also showed lit­tle inter­est in Köh­ler’s involve­ment in the Wehrsport­gruppe (Mil­i­tary Sports Group, WSG) para­mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion run by the neo-Nazi Karl-Heinz Hoff­mann, or that he had attend­ed one of their meet­ings “some­time in the past.” At the time, right-wing extrem­ist activ­i­ties were being down­played by those at the very top of the polit­i­cal lad­der in Bavaria. Speak­ing in the state par­lia­ment in March 1979, Strauss said: “Don’t make fools of your­selves by attribut­ing sig­nif­i­cance to cer­tain groups — you men­tioned Hoff­man­n’s Wehrsport­gruppe Hoff­mann today — that they have nev­er had, do not have and will nev­er acquire in Bavaria.” . . .

. . . In ear­ly August 1980, a few weeks before the attack, the stu­dent spoke with close friends about the Bun­destag elec­tion sched­uled for that Octo­ber. He want­ed to vote for Strauss, he said, but added that it was also impor­tant for the NPD to receive more votes. In the end, he said, only vio­lence could pro­duce change. It was about time, he said, for some­one besides the left to stage an attack, name­ly the right.

In the con­ver­sa­tion, Köh­ler also said that it might be a good idea to com­mit a bomb­ing attack in Bonn, Ham­burg or Munich. The attack, he added, “could be blamed on the left, and then Strauss will be elect­ed.”

Neo-fas­cists in Italy had already done some­thing sim­i­lar. Only eight weeks ear­li­er, a bomb attack had dev­as­tat­ed the train sta­tion in Bologna, killing 85 and injur­ing 200. The right-wing extrem­ist attack was ini­tial­ly por­trayed as the work of left­ist ter­ror­ists. The strat­e­gy appar­ent­ly fas­ci­nat­ed Köh­ler and oth­er right-wing rad­i­cals in Ger­many. They envi­sioned a series of bomb­ings that would spark fear through­out the coun­try, set­ting the scene for the estab­lish­ment of a new Nazi dic­ta­tor­ship.

A Meet­ing in Italy

Anoth­er clue also rais­es ques­tions about the back­ground of the Okto­ber­fest attack. A few weeks ear­li­er, Köh­ler’s idol Hoff­mann appar­ent­ly met in Italy with the inter­na­tion­al­ly feared neo-fas­cist Joachim Fiebelko­rn. The neo-Nazi from the town of Epp­stein in the Taunus Moun­tains near Frank­furt was an infor­mant for the Ger­man Fed­er­al Crim­i­nal Police Office (BKA) and a num­ber of intel­li­gence agen­cies. He also helped Klaus Bar­bie, the for­mer head of the Gestapo in Lyon, build a para­mil­i­tary com­bat group in Bolivia. Accord­ing to pre­vi­ous­ly unknown Stasi doc­u­ments, Fiebelko­rn, “at the instruc­tion of Chi­aie,” had met with “Karl-Heinz Hoff­mann in Rome on July 13, 1980,” as well as with French and Ital­ian right-wing extrem­ists.

The Ital­ian neo-fas­cist Ste­fano delle Chi­aie was viewed as one of the lead­ing inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ists of the day, a sort of right-wing coun­ter­part to the left-wing ter­ror­ist “Car­los.” West­ern intel­li­gence agen­cies held Chi­aie and his vary­ing ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions, like “Ordine Nuo­vo,” respon­si­ble for anti-com­mu­nist attacks on sev­er­al con­ti­nents in the 1970s and 1980s.
. . .

. . . . Four youths told police that they had seen Köh­ler with sev­er­al young men wear­ing Ger­man armed forces parkas short­ly before the attack. They drew sketch­es of Köh­ler and his pos­si­ble accom­plices that large­ly coin­cid­ed with the state­ments made by anoth­er wit­ness. But the inves­ti­ga­tors also showed lit­tle inter­est in this pos­si­ble lead.

The SPD/FDP fed­er­al gov­ern­ment had want­ed to send inves­ti­ga­tors to the crime scene that night, but the Bavar­i­ans put them off. Strauss appeared at the There­sien­wiese fes­ti­val grounds late that night. The Bun­destag elec­tion cam­paign was in full swing, and the Bavar­i­an can­di­date for the chan­cel­lor­ship prompt­ly went on the offen­sive and tried to blame the left for the attack. . . .