Germany: The NSU investigation committee and the Left Party

The Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into the far-right National Socialist Underground (NSU) finished its work last week. It not only cast a spotlight on the close links between the state and the far-right scene in Germany, but also revealed the character of the Left Party as a right-wing, establishment party that views every crisis of the bourgeois state as an opportunity to more closely integrate itself into it.

In the committee, it not only worked closely with all the other parties in the Bundestag (parliament), but also built up its ties with the intelligence community itself.

The racist murders of 2000 to 2007 attributed to the far-right NSU terrorist cell have undermined the confidence of broad layers of the population in the state and its security organs. The facts about the murders that have reached the public via the committee show that the NSU acted under the surveillance of the security agencies. This immediately raised suspicions that these agencies were at least partially informed or even involved.

It is now clear that at least two-dozen undercover agents of the secret services, the Military Counterintelligence Agency (MAD) and the Berlin State Criminal Police Office (LKA) were operating around the NSU. By his own admission, S. Thomas, a long-time informant for the Berlin LKA, supplied the terrorist trio with explosives. Ralf Wohlleben, who was accused in the Munich NSU trial of having procured the murder weapon, is suspected of being an undercover agent. Beate Zschäpe, the only survivor of the trio and the main defendant in the trial, is known to have been approached to work for the security services.

On Tuesday, the political magazine Report Mainz reported an official secret document about the NSU, showing that the neo-Nazi trio was classified as a terrorist group by the security agencies in April 2000—a few months before the first known murder in Munich in September of the same year.

In the April 28, 2000, document, sent from the Saxon State Office for the Protection of the Constitution (as the secret service is known) to then-Saxony interior minister Klaus Hardraht (Christian Democratic Union, CDU), it states the purpose of the group (i.e., the NSU) is “to commit serious crimes against the free democratic order”. The trio demonstrated “a significant increase in intensity up to serious crimes”.

Instead of investigating these links and the crucial question of how far a far-right “state within a state” was involved in building, arming, protecting, and covering up for the NSU, the Left Party, like all the other bourgeois parties in the investigation committee, worked to obscure the connections between the state and the NSU.

Petra Pau, sitting in the committee for the Left Party, summarised what the Left Party considered to be its task: “There is a lot of room for conspiracy theories. And repeatedly, the intelligence services play a role. And each file destroyed after the event and each piece of information that is withheld naturally nourishes conspiracy theories. Just as do the memories of the history of the Western intelligence agencies. I mention here only one, Gladio.” Then she added: “Nevertheless we, the Left Party in the Bundestag committee never agreed to it.”

In other words, the Left Party refuses explicitly to investigate the connections of the German secret service and the state apparatus to the right-wing extremist scene.

“Gladio” is not a conspiracy but a secret paramilitary organisation of the CIA, MI6 and NATO, linked to right-wing terrorism and killings in several European countries, including Germany. The existence of “Gladio” or “stay-behind” structures in Germany was confirmed just a few days ago by the federal government, in response to a parliamentary question by the Left Party.

According to the government, in the late 1950s, the stay-behind organisation of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) had at times “about 75 full-time employees” and up to 500 “intelligence connections” before it was dissolved in 1991.

The bourgeois state is not just “blind in the right eye,” as the Left Party sometimes claims. Its close ties to the far-right scene arise directly from its role as an instrument of rule of the bourgeoisie. Under conditions of an intensification of the class struggle, the ruling elite increasingly relies on right-wing and fascist elements to suppress the working class.

The Left Party’s dismissal of the close links between the security agencies and far-right forces as a “conspiracy” shows that it is willing to cooperate with the most right-wing elements to defend the bourgeois state against opposition from the working class. With the statement that it will not embark on conspiracy theories, it has made itself an accomplice to the very real conspiracy of the far right.

Together with the other parties represented in the committee, and in close cooperation with the security services, it has helped to control what information did or did not become public. The arrogance of the authorities and of the witnesses, who treated the committee with scorn, did not detract from this collaboration.

The climax of this cooperation between the Left Party and the security apparatus occurred in March, when the Left Party invited the head of the secret service, Hans Georg Maaßen, to participate in a public discussion (see “Germany’s Left Party closes ranks with German intelligence”).

At this event, Pau reported frankly how the security agencies had made her “a silent participant in the secret.” She had viewed secret data and documents at the intelligence headquarters in Berlin-Treptow, about which she could never talk “with anyone.”

Through its collaboration with the Secret Service, the Left Party is responding to increasing social tensions. It is alarmed by the growing mistrust of the intelligence services, police and the whole bourgeois order.

In an interview last Sunday, Pau said, “So far, we were dealing with a quite unprecedented series of terrorist murders, attacks and robberies, in which the rule of law has failed completely. The actions were racially motivated. The investigation also displayed racist tendencies. The body politic and the security authorities have discredited themselves.”

The Left Party considers itself duty-bound to defend the bourgeois state, which it admits is “discredited,” and the security authorities, with which the Left Party collaborates even though it acknowledges they are “racist.”

“The broader question is how one regards the principle of the rule of law. It has historically been a positive response to vigilantism and lawlessness. Therefore, you have to defend it, improve it,” declared Pau, adding: “This link between the delegates of the CDU / CSU [Christian Democrats] and the Left Party has held so far, and it will also hold in the [Bundestag] committee.”

The Left Party and its allies in the CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP and the Greens are using the NSU scandal to centraliise the security apparatus and make it more effective. According to Pau, the committee’s final report will include a “chapter of recommendations” on the question “what should be politically, legally and practically changed.”

The character of these “recommendations” was made clear by committee chair Sebastian Edathy (SPD) in an interview with the Bild newspaper.

“The 36 security agencies of the federal and state governments urgently need to improve their communications, and we need more qualified staff,” he said. “The authorities must fight against right-wing extremism with the same determination shown in the fight against Islamist extremists, following the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York City on September 11, 2001.”

Just as Washington used the September 11, 2001, events to pursue imperialist wars and attack democratic rights by claiming it was waging a “war on terror”, the ruling elite in Germany is using the NSU scandal to massively strengthen the state apparatus. The aim of this policy, as in the United States, is to suppress the growing social resistance of the working class.

The Left Party plays a crucial role in helping the state seek expanded powers. With its rhetoric of “fighting the right wing,” it tries to conceal the real aims of the “reform” of the security apparatus. At the same time, it sees these “reforms” as a possibility to integrate itself, and the wealthy middle class layers for whom it speaks, in the state’s surveillance apparatus.

At the event with Maaßen in January, Jan Korte, who represents the Left Party in the parliamentary Home Affairs Committee, proposed “open working institutions, foundations and academics” that could take over tasks from the secret services.

These proposals, and the role of the Left Party in the NSU committee, show that in reality, the title “Left Party” conceals a right-wing political force. Amid massive social tensions in Germany and throughout Europe, it is becoming ever more deeply integrated into the bourgeois state and its apparatus of repression.