Fascist rampage in Germany exposes ties between right-wing extremists and the state

After neo-Nazis rioted on Sunday and Monday in the east German city of Chemnitz almost undisturbed by the police, and attacked people they identified as foreigners, more and more details have come to light about the close coordination and cooperation between the right-wing extremists, the police and the state apparatus.

On Thursday, an official from Dresden Prison was suspended, suspected of having passed on the arrest warrant for a 22-year-old Iraqi to right-wing extremists. The Iraqi is accused of stabbing a 35-year-old man on Sunday on the street near the city festival in Chemnitz.

The arrest warrant was published by Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann, numerous far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) politicians and the “Pro Chemnitz” initiative, which organized the right-wing march on Monday evening in Chemnitz. Another right-wing politician who published the arrest warrant on the Internet is Jan Timke, a federal police officer and member of the right-wing populist electoral association “Bürger in Wut” (Angry Citizens).

According to a report by the Berlin Tagesspiegel, the two-page document contains the full names of the victim, the alleged perpetrator and the judge. Also mentioned is the place of residence of the alleged perpetrator, but only the street; the names of witnesses were blacked out in first published versions. Later, however, the arrest warrant appeared on the Internet without anything blacked out, including the complete address of the alleged perpetrator and the names of the witnesses.

Apparently, the official who passed on the arrest warrant to the right-wing extremists sought to further fuel agitation against supposedly violent refugees and immigrants and incite the neo-Nazi mob to carry out vigilante attacks. Ronald Gläser, the deputy chairman of the AfD parliamentary group in the Berlin House of Representatives (state legislature), tweeted the arrest warrant with the words: “indict, convict, punish, deport.” The far-right blog Journalistenwatch published the arrest warrant with the comment, “Chemnitz killer is rejected asylum seeker with 'considerable criminal convictions'.”

It is still unclear what exactly happened in Chemnitz Saturday night. According to the police, “several people of different nationalities” were involved in a dispute following the city festival. Several people then fled the crime scene. A short time later, the Iraqi mentioned in the warrant and a 23-year-old Syrian were arrested. Both men are accused of having stabbed the 35-year-old several times “without justification.”

According to various media outlets, the victim was carpenter Daniel H., a Cuban-German who grew up in Chemnitz and held left-wing political views. According to a report by Spiegel Online, Daniel H. had liked pages of the Left Party and various anti-fascist groups. In one comment, he wrote positively about the anti-fascist fashion label Storch Heinar, and in a post about “Nazis are mad” shirts, he commented with the words, “I would also like one, in Chemnitz there are still too many of the nut cases.”

The Freie Presse, the largest subscription newspaper in Saxony, quoted from a Facebook post by Daniel W, a good friend of Daniel H.: “I ask you one thing, don't let your grief become anger and hatred. These right-wingers, who use this as a platform, with whom we had to fight earlier, because they did not regard us as German enough. Anyone who knew Daniel H. knows that this would not have been what he wanted. Don't let yourself be used, but mourn.”

Against the backdrop of recent events, and the way in which the alleged knife attack on a left-leaning worker with an immigrant background is being politically exploited, it would be politically naïve to exclude the participation of right-wing extremists or elements in the state apparatus. In Saxony in particular, the security services have repeatedly used their close ties with right-wing extremist circles to pursue reactionary political goals.

When two bomb attacks were carried out on September 26, 2016, on the Fatih Mosque and the International Congress Centre in Dresden, counterfeit letters accepting responsibility by the Dresden Antifa and the Anti-Einheitsfeier-Alliance 3oct were published on the website “linksunten.indymedia.org”, which has since been banned by the Federal Ministry of the Interior. Later, it turned out that a speaker of the right-wing Pegida movement, which was in part built up by the Saxony State Agency for Civic Education, and has close ties to the Saxony police and the intelligence services, was behind the attacks.

In spring of 2017, it became known that Franco A., a right-wing professional army officer, had hoarded weapons and registered in Bavaria as a Syrian refugee, where he received protection status despite his full-time service with the Bundeswehr. There is a suspicion that he, together with at least two other accomplices—one of them, Maximilian T., who is now working as a personal advisor for the AfD member of parliament Jan Nolte—planned attacks on high-ranking politicians and institutions such as the Central Council of Muslims and the Central Council of Jews in Germany, to then blame them on refugees to stir up right-wing and xenophobic sentiments.

On Thursday, new details about the role of the secret service (BfV) in the 19 December 2016, truck attack of at Berlin Breitscheidplatz came to light. According to research by broadcaster ARD’s political magazine Kontraste, the rbb and the Berliner Morgenpost, the secret service had apparently tried to ensure that the fact that the BfV had placed an undercover informant in the vicinity of the assassin Anis Amri did not become public.

The document, which Kontraste was able to review, says: “Public knowledge of the use of sources must be avoided for reasons of source protection” and “further inflaming the topic must be prevented.” Anis Amri, who committed the attack, had been driven to Berlin by an undercover informant from the North Rhine-Westphalian state secret service. The same undercover informant is said to have repeatedly incited Amri to act.

Like the attack in Berlin, the events in Chemnitz are being used to intensify the xenophobic anti-refugee campaign and to strengthen the extreme right. Neo-Nazis who publicly give the Hitler salute and roar “foreigners out” are considered by the media to be “concerned citizens”. Representatives of the right-wing extremist AfD are granted even more airtime on talk shows and news broadcasts to justify the neo-Nazi riots in Chemnitz. And politicians from the establishment parties, who pretended to be shocked immediately after the riots, are singing the same tune.

On Thursday, Saxony state premier Michael Kretschmer (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) and Chemnitz mayor Barbara Ludwig (Social Democratic Party, SPD) organized a so-called civil dialogue in Chemnitz, in which they played down the violent actions of the right-wing extremists. Ludwig expressed understanding “for the anger and consternation” in Chemnitz and, in the style of the AfD, Kretschmer added, “When you describe that as 'rabble-rousing through the city' or a 'pogrom', then it does not apply to what happened there. That is totally exaggerated. That's nonsense.”

After the right-wing extremist mob was able to march through Chemnitz almost undisturbed by the police on Sunday and Monday, thousands of police are now being concentrated in Chemnitz. The target is not the fascists, but the workers and young people seeking to oppose them. A “Rock Against the Right” concert with well-known bands like the Toten Hosen and Kraftklub is planned for next Monday, with tens of thousands expected. On the first day, more than 12,000 people signed up to participate in the event. In Berlin, more than 10,000 workers and young people protested on Thursday under the slogan “Take to the streets against right-wing violence.”