Far-Right Hate and Extremist Groups

Germany

Editor’s Note: GPAHE’s country reports describe active far-right extremist and hate groups (including political parties that meet our criteria) to highlight the growing global threat of far-right extremism and the transnational nature of this movement. You can read more about how we classify far-right extremist groups and the purpose of these reports.

Long History of Antisemitism in Germanic Lands

Antisemitism and other forms of hatred have a centuries-long history in German-speaking parts of Europe. Pogroms against Jews reach far back, at least to the fourth century and the time of the first Christian Roman Emperor Constantine. Jews have repeatedly been targeted and killed during times of upheaval. During the Middle Ages, Jews were accused of poisoning wells and spreading the Black Death, which led to mass slaughter of German Jews in the 1300s. The history of Jews in Germanic lands is one of repeated pogroms.

Centuries later, the Nazis built on this simmering antisemitism to construct their genocidal regime, which led to the deaths of millions of Jews. The Nazi regime also targeted the Roma, the LGBTQ+ community, communists, and others for death. The concept of Aryan purity under assault from outsiders drove these murderous impulses and led to the decimation of the Jewish community in Germany. As this report concentrates on contemporary far-right German extremism, the long history of hatred for those considered non-Aryan will not be recounted here. In the post-WWII period, while Germany was occupied by the Allies in the West, denazification of the country was a key priority.

Symbols of Naziism were banned and the country was ultimately divided into West and Eastern Germany in 1949, with East Germany being under the rule of the USSR. Top Nazi officials were prosecuted in the Nuremberg trials, and many removed from government posts. But the process decelerated quickly with the rise of the Cold War and was far from thorough. Denazification was opposed by the first democratic West German government after the war headed by Konrad Adenauer (1949-1963) and many West Germans despised the process. Many former Nazi party officials remained in their posts, and some were relocated to the U.S. and Russia, both countries wanting their technical skills (some worked on American rocket programs). Denazification was more thorough in Eastern Germany, where the Soviets viewed it as key to establishing their new socialist state. In the 1950s, many former Nazis were pardoned and the process of cleansing the state largely abandoned.

The Federal Republic of Germany, established in 11 western states with a capital in Bonn, included in its constitution provisions to protect against threats to its new democracy. The path of Eastern Germany, occupied by the Soviets, was different as rule extended from Moscow until full reunification in 1990. In the West, the issue of responsibility for the Holocaust and WWII period was fraught in the first decades after the war, with many Germans framing the events as perpetrated by a small group of people and viewing the larger German population as victims of the Nazis.

Though many view Germany’s post-war history as one of rejecting and learning from its genocidal past, largely due to constitutional provisions that ban hate speech and Nazi symbology, and due to the creation of the Federal and State Offices for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutz) as domestic intelligence agencies to protect against extremist, anti-democratic activities, that is a far too simplistic analysis. How simplistic was revealed in 1965 when Albert Norden published The Brown Book: War and Nazi Criminals in the Federal Republic: State, Economy, Administration, Army, Justice, Science. The book detailed 1,800 Nazis who maintained high-ranking positions in postwar West Germany. They included 15 ministers and state secretaries, 100 admirals and generals, 828 judges, state lawyers and other legal officials, 245 high ranking staffers in the Foreign Office, embassies and consulates, 297 high-ranking police officers and even officials in the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Rather than accept reality, the book was confiscated in West Germany on a judicial order. The contents of the book received substantial attention in West Germany and other countries, but the West German government claimed at the time that it was “all falsification.” Over time it became clear that the information was correct. A similar book uncovered Nazis in high level positions in East Germany. Regardless of the disclosures, major purges of officials did not occur.

Coming to Terms with the Holocaust

It wasn’t until the 1980s that Germans began to deal seriously with their Nazi history and begin to memorialize those killed in the Holocaust. A notable event that precipitated this shift was the January 1979 airing in West Germany of the American TV mini-series Holocaust. It was watched by 20 million viewers or about half of West Germans. It brought the Holocaust to widespread public attention and was a revelatory moment for many Germans. Shocked viewers overwhelmed a panel of historians who discussed each episode with thousands of phone calls claiming this was the first time that they learned that their country had practiced genocide in WWII. The fallout initiated a period of deep introspection that led state governments to stop neglecting the sites of former concentration camps and start turning them into proper museums and places of remembrance, meant to jar visitors into thinking critically about the Nazi period.

The following decades led to a much more purposeful examination of ordinary Germans’ role in the Nazi period and the Holocaust. Even so, and much like in the U.S., the threat far-right movements posed to marginalized communities and democratic rule was largely disregarded, with the focus rather on left-wing movements, foreign terrorist organizations, and, more recently, Islamic extremists. This focus has expanded in recent years with a rise in bigotry-driven movements, domestic terrorism, hate crimes, and more recently by coup attempts to overthrow the state, all largely propelled by far-right actors. Recently, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has increased its monitoring of far-right extremists, and the state has moved to ban more and more groups and increased raids and arrests of members from various extremist groups.

Far-Right Movements Growing

Given this history, it is not surprising that Germany still has a considerable far-right extremist movement, including neo-Nazis, white supremacists, anti-Muslim groups, Reich Citizens, racist political parties, and others. And much like in the U.S. and other parts of the world, these movements are growing. In September 2023, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution said it had counted 38,800 potential far-right extremists in 2022. They estimate more than a third of them are considered “potentially violent.” Also, in 2022 far-right politically motivated crimes hit a record high. And Germany saw a three-fold increase in far-right marches in the first six months of 2023.

For the first time since  WWII, Germany also has a powerful far-right political party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), that is openly anti-immigrant and white nationalist and is finding increasing success in elections. AfD won 94 seats in the 2017 German federal election and became the third-largest party in the country, as well as the largest opposition party. AfD was the first far-right political party to have representatives elected to the Bundestag, the Federal Parliament, since WWII. Thomas Haldenwang, who heads the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, has gone on record to say that more than 10,000 of the nearly 40,000 suspected extremists his agency counted in 2022 were members of AfD. “We see a very strong current of people within this party who are opposed to our constitution,” he said in an interview in June 2023. “We see a lot of hatred and agitation against minorities of all kinds there.” The Office has put the AfD under surveillance and considers its youth chapter and some of its state chapters to be confirmed “right-wing extremists.”

The rise of the far right, as in the U.S., has been accompanied with rising violence against targeted communities and a growth in hate-driven terrorist attacks. Hate crimes against those most targeted by the far right, specifically Jews and immigrants, are on the rise. ​​Of the almost 60,000 politically motivated crimes recorded by German police in 2022, including antisemitic crimes and those targeting asylum-seekers, 41 percent were committed by far-right extremists. The number of recorded hate crimes rose by 10 percent compared to 2021 and three-quarters of them were inspired by far-right ideology.

And then there is domestic terrorism. Perhaps the most well-known case involved the National Socialist Underground (NSU), a German neo-Nazi terrorist group finally brought to justice in 2011. The NSU, which did not publicly claim credit for its actions, murdered nine immigrants of Turkish, Greek, and Kurdish descent between September 2000 and April 2006. They also murdered a policewoman, attempted to murder her colleague, and carried out a bombing in 1999 in Nuremberg and two more in 2001 and 2004 in Cologne, as well as 14 bank robberies. The Attorney General of Germany called the NSU a “right-wing extremist group whose purpose was to kill foreigners, and citizens of foreign origin.” Though NSU is mostly associated with its three principals, Uwe Mundlos, Uwe Böhnhardt, and Beate Zschäpe, who lived together and used fake names, the investigation into their activities ultimately found between 100 and 150 associates of the group. These individuals supported the core trio while they lived underground for a decade, providing them with money, fake IDs, and weapons. The group’s existence was discovered only after the deaths of Böhnhardt and Mundlos, and the subsequent arrest of Zschäpe.

The failure to ascertain that neo-Nazis were behind these attacks led to a major scandal, as it became obvious that the intelligence agencies had prejudicially determined that the murders were the result of gang rivalries. There were numerous errors surrounding the case, including the failure to realize that the same, rather obscure gun was used in all the murders, leading to unanimous support for a parliamentary inquiry into how a decades-long murder spree went unsolved. The failure to stop the NSU is widely regarded as one of the biggest failures concerning national security in modern German history.

During the investigation into how NSU was able to continue its activities for so many years, sordid details came to light, including that an officer of the Hessian State Office for the Protection of the Constitution was inside the Internet café while its Turkish owner was killed by the NSU in 2006 in Kassel. This agent, Andreas Temme, openly held extremist views, and in his home village was nicknamed, “Little Adolf.” In 2012, the President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Heinz Fromm, resigned from his post after it was revealed employees of his agency had destroyed files connected with the NSU case in what came to be seen as a “botched terrorist investigation.” The agency was ordered by the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) to forward all information relevant to these crimes, in essence taking over the investigation. Two more resignations of the presidents of the State Offices for the Protection of the Constitution in Thuringia and Saxony followed. Though there are more details to this scandal, the larger failure was that the security services simply couldn’t accept that a far-right group would perpetrate such violence, or that its own agents would harbor sympathies for far-right extremism.

“Great Replacement” Inspires Terrorism

Germany has suffered other far-right terrorist attacks besides those of the NSU. In 2019, a far-right extremist targeted a synagogue in Halle, killing two people outside the synagogue when he couldn’t gain entry. The gunman, Stephan Balliet, was targeting a Yom Kippur event at which 52 people were present. A neo-Nazi, Balliet livestreamed the attack on Twitch and left a manifesto where he expressed a desire to “Kill as many anti-Whites as possible, Jews preferred” and lauded previous racist murderers including Norwegian Anders Breivik and the shooters  in the Christchurch, N.Z., mosque attacks and the El Paso, Texas, Walmart attack.

This placed Balliet in a long line of individuals inspired to violence by the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, which alleges that white people are being forcibly displaced in their home countries by immigrants and refugees. Often, believers blame Jews and “globalists.” A 2020 attack in Hanau, Germany, inspired by the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory happened in two Shisha bars which the gunman targeted because immigrants frequented them. Nine people were murdered. There have been about a dozen mass attacks worldwide inspired by the “Great Replacement” in recent years. Though this should be a fringe theory recognized for its ability to inspire terrorism, it is extremely popular on the far right including in Germany as is attested to in the profiles of far-right hate and extremist groups below and in GPAHE country extremist reports.

Far-Right Extremism in the Military

In recent years, as in the U.S., there have been several scandals involving members of the military found to be involved in far-right extremist activities. In 2015, a soldier in Germany’s elite Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK), or Special Forces Command, was fired in the wake of a separate probe into the activities of far-right Bundeswehr soldiers. Using the codename “Hannibal,” he had built a network of chat groups that shared information and opinions about the German government’s refugee policies and what they believed was the imminent outbreak of civil war. In 2017, investigators found ammunition and signal and smoke grenades in the soldier’s house as well as hand grenade detonators. He was later sentenced to pay a fine for firearms and explosives offenses and was dismissed from the Bundeswehr. In 2017, a KSK lieutenant was discovered to be posing as a Syrian refugee and planning to carry out attacks against politicians in the hopes that it would sow fear of refugees.

That same year, another incident led to an entire KSK company being disbanded. Far-right music and Hitler salutes were reported at a farewell party for the head of the 2nd Company. A soldier was later sentenced to pay a fine for, “using the insignia of unconstitutional organizations.” Specifically, he wore a battle cry tattoo associated with Serbian extremists. Following the incident, he was dismissed from service. In 2020, another KSK officer was found to be hoarding weapons. When German police raided his home they found a cache of weapons, many of them stolen from his unit. The arsenal included a decommissioned AK-47, two kilograms of plastic explosives, a smoke grenade and more than 5,000 rounds of live ammunition. The non-military material was equally disturbing: several back issues of Der Freiwillige, a magazine published after the second world war for former members of the SS; photo and songbooks issued to the SS; and a collection of vintage postcards with slogans such as “We thank our Führer.” Much like in the U.S., where there have been several high-profile cases of active-duty military and veterans involved in far-right extremism up to and including in terrorist attacks and the January 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection, experts believe that there has been reluctance in the German government to accept that far-right extremism is a problem in the military.

Also similar to the U.S., far-right extremists have been found active among German police forces. In 2021, it was reported that at least 272 police officers in Germany were being investigated over their alleged links to far-right groups or for committing far-right crimes. A report from the Interior Ministry the following year covering the three-year period between July 2018 and July 2021 identified 327 cases of far-right extremists working in the police, military, and intelligence services. The report found that 138 of the confirmed cases were in federal institutions, with the remaining 189 in state agencies, such as police forces and state intelligence organizations. Cited in the report was the well-known case of a former police sniper, Marko Gross, who was convicted of ownership of illegal weapons in 2019. He had organized a chat group for fellow extremists who were preparing for the day society would break down — Day X — with plans to form a small armed group. According to the report, the group included several state security service employees, some with military backgrounds. Others flagged in the report were active in far-right chat groups or had engaged in hate speech or performed “Sieg Heil” salutes, which are prohibited in Germany.

Far-Right Extremists Threaten Democracy

Far-right extremism in Germany is not just a threat in terms of hate violence and terrorist attacks; it is also a direct threat to the democratic state. One example is the assassination of Kassel District President Walter Lübcke in 2019 by an avowed neo-Nazi. Lübcke was targeted for his pro-refugee stance and support of then Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policy. In the first political assassination by a far-right actor since the Nazi regime, Lübcke was shot in the head late at night while sitting on his terrace. The confessed killer had a 20-plus-year history of violence against immigrants.

In other cases, major democratic institutions have been targeted. In August 2020, there was an attempt to storm Germany’s parliament building during protests against pandemic restrictions. In what looked like a miniature version of the soon-to-come American Capitol insurrection, demonstrators, many with far-right sympathies, broke through a cordon and ran up the steps of the parliament building before police dispersed them.

In December 2022, a much more serious attack on Germany’s democracy was uncovered, as dozens of members of a Reichsbürger (Reich Citizens) group called either Patriotic Union or the Council were arrested for elaborate plans to carry out a coup. The group was led by Prince Heinrich XIII of Reuss, a 71-year-old businessman from Frankfurt, and included many current and former public employees. This wasn’t some ragtag band; it included former military officers, judges, and public officials, all heavily armed and deep into planning the coup at the time of their arrests. On a planned “Day X,” the group intended to use their own military force, which they had developed specifically for this purpose, to violently topple the German state. The group’s ideology drew on conspiracy narratives typical of the Reichsbürger scene such as QAnon and the S.H.A.E.F. conspiracy theory, (belief that a military takeover by Donald Trump in March 2020 brought Germany back under the jurisdiction of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force laws), as well as elements of right-wing extremist ideology and New Age beliefs. Their military head was openly racist, claiming his new Armed Forces would be free of immigrants.

On December 7, 2022, some 3,000 police officers raided 162 houses, apartments, and offices, arresting 25 suspects. In total, officials confiscated more than 25,000 rounds of ammunition along with legal sporting guns, illegal pistols, cudgels, stun guns, crossbows, axes, knives and Samurai swords. They also found bullet-proof vests, night-vision goggles, and ominous lists containing the names of parliamentarians, government ministers, journalists, and doctors. Also seized were a receipt for the purchase of 120 kilograms of gold worth six million euros along with 420,000 euros in cash and literature about the Waffen SS, Hitler’s elite force that was charged with carrying out the Holocaust. Justice officials later added more suspects to their list, and as of March 2023, there were 63 men and women under arrest, including active and former Bundeswehr soldiers. It is alleged that they are all members or supporters of a terrorist organization.

Crackdowns on the Far Right

Germans are increasingly aware of the threat the far right poses. Seventy-nine percent of those polled in 2023 by the German Center for Integration and Migration Research, a state-backed think tank, said German democracy was in more danger now than it had been five years ago. And the government seems to be stepping up its game particularly against far-right extremist groups with a history of violence.

There have been several recent raids on such groups, and a series of bans of white supremacist organizations. In September 2023, German authorities banned the neo-Nazi group, “Hammerskins Deutschland” (HSD) and raided the homes of 28 members after an investigation lasting more than a year in cooperation with U.S. officials. The ban of HSD, which extends to the regional chapters of the group and a sub-organization Crew 38, was a “hard blow against organized rightwing extremism,” according to the interior minister. That same month, authorities raided dozens of locations nationwide connected to the group Artegmeinshaft, accused of spreading Nazi ideology. The headquarters of the group was searched as well as 26 homes belonging to 39 members.

The state has also moved in recent years to shut down other violent neo-Nazi groups including Gruppe Freital, whose leaders were convicted of forming a terrorist organization in 2018 and for bombing refugee homes and other violent attacks, and Gruppe S, where eight defendants currently on trial are accused of founding a terrorist organization, three of participating and one of supporting it. The group wanted to create civil war-like conditions by attacking mosques and killing or injuring as many Muslims as possible. Both far-right extremists and Reichbürger activists worked together in Gruppe S. The Hammerskins were the 20th right-wing extremist group to be made illegal in the country (a full list of banned “right-wing extremist” organizations is here).

Members of some of these groups may still be active, though underground. Given Germany’s laws against Nazi symbology and its banning of many organizations on the far right, this report most certainly undercounts the number of groups active in the country. An asterisk indicates a headquarters chapter of an organization.

German Group Descriptions

Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany, AfD)

Location:  Berlin,* Brussels,* Bad Kreuznach, Bremen, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Erfurt-Waltersleben, Hamburg, Hannover, Giessen, Magdeburg, Munich, Saarlouis, Schwerin, Stuttgart, Walkerdamm, Werder

Ideology: White Nationalist, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Muslim, Anti-LGBTQ+, Anti-Trans

The far-right political party Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany, AfD) was founded in 2013 and claimed to have a membership of 28,500 as of July 2022. As of early October 2023, AfD is polling between 19 and 23 percent nationally, higher than any of the parties in Germany’s coalition government made up of Social Democrats, the Greens, and the Free Democrats. The party originally was Euroskeptic, but over time became overtly xenophobic, racist, and anti-Muslim. The party openly engages in conspiracy theories like the dangerous “Great Replacement” and has adopted the term, remigration, the act of returning all people of non-European descent to their “home” countries — essentially ethnic cleansing. In 2016, the party adopted several anti-Muslim positions, and stated in its manifesto that “Islam does not belong to Germany. Its expansion and the ever-increasing number of Muslims in the country are viewed by the AfD as a danger to our state, our society, and our values.”

AfD’s positions are well-publicized and often made clear in the party’s campaign materials. For example, one campaign banner in 2020 read “Stop Islamization: vote AfD.” Another from 2021 posted in Sachsen-Anhalt read, “Everything for our homeland: Islam does NOT belong in Germany.” The party ran a billboard campaign that explicitly referenced the Eurabia thesis, which claims that Europe is being overrun by Muslims. The party views Germans in ethnic terms and excludes people of color from that national framing. It is rife with xenophobic rhetoric and policies. AfD emphasizes protecting sovereignty, Western identity, and German culture in what it calls a “peaceful, democratic and sovereign nation-state of the German people.” It opposes same-sex marriage and  in 2023 has become increasingly anti-LGBTQ+ in its campaign materials. In 2023, the AfD also began to target the LGBTQ+ community, claiming the community is corrupting children. A protest poster by AfD Bavaria read, “Hands off our children: ban gender propaganda.” It was targeting a drag queen story hour to be held at the Munich public library. AfD has a platform of climate change denial, accepting that the climate is changing, but denying that this change is attributable to human influences.

As of November 2023, the AfD has 78 Members of Parliament (MPs) in Germany’s Federal Parliament, as well as 244 MPs in 14 of the 16 German states (except Bremen and Schleswig-Holstein). They are also represented in the European Parliament with 11 MPs, where they are aligned with the “Identity and Democracy” faction, which is a far-right grouping in the European Parliament. Several factions of AfD have been linked to or accused of harboring connections with far-right nationalist and proscribed movements, such as the anti-Muslim movement PEGIDA, the Neue Rechte (New Right, made up of far-right extremist organizations), and the white nationalist Identitarian movement. A recent assessment by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which tracks German extremists who are a threat to the democratic system, found that there are approximately 10,000 extremists or extremist sympathizers within the AfD. AfD sued the Office over its decision to surveil the party for anti-constitutional activities, and a court decision found that the surveillance was legal because “there were sufficient indications of anti-constitutional endeavors within the party.” It also allowed the same treatment of the AfD youth wing, Junge Alternative für Deutschland (Young AfD).

In April 2023, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution listed the Youth wing as a confirmed extremist organization. In November 2023, the AfD’s Saxony-Anhalt state chapter was classified as a right-wing extremist group by Germany’s domestic intelligence service, its sister chapter in Thuringia having been so classified in 2021. At this point, AfD is seen by the intelligence services as having “definitely extremist aspirations” — the highest threat category used by the domestic intelligence service, which allows intelligence services to increase monitoring of the party branch. This means that the party is considered to be violating human dignity, the principle of democracy, and the rule of law, three pillars of the German constitution. Evidence cited by the authorities includes calling migrants “invaders,” “intruders” and “culturally alien supply migrants.” In October 2023, German police arrested Daniel Halemba, a 22-year-old AfD lawmaker recently elected to the Bavarian state parliament. He is under investigation for incitement and the use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations for his involvement in the fraternity, Burschenschaft Teutonia Prag zu Würzburg (Fraternity Teutonia Prague in Würzburg), which was raided by authorities in September due to suspicions that there could be symbols and objects associated with the Nazi Party on the group’s premises.

AfD is led by two federal co-chairs, Tino Chrupalla and Alice Weidel. In 2021, Chrupalla cited border security as his main concern and called for Germany to reinstate border controls to “curb border crime.” At the invitation of the Russian Defense Ministry in 2021, Chrupalla gave a speech in which he spoke of Allied “psychological warfare” after World War II, whose re-education allegedly had a lasting impact on German national identity. Chruppalla compared the alleged policies of the Western Allies after 1945 with Nazi propaganda. When the Russian invasion of Ukraine happened, he said, “This war also has several fathers. … Of course, the role of NATO and the role of the federal government of Germany must also be discussed here.” Weidel is a former economist and banker who, though she is in a civil union with a woman, is against same-sex marriage and supports the traditional family. Her main issue appears to be immigration, and she criticized former Chancellor Angela Merkel for destroying the country through immigration and even called her “insane.”

Statements by the AfD and its representatives often reflect an ethno-cultural concept of the nation, which is opposed to the broad understanding of the nation enshrined in Germany’s constitution, the Basic Law. Furthermore, there have been statements aimed at defaming or disparaging political opponents as well as the state and its representatives. These statements were intended to denigrate and deride the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany in general.

In 2018, the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag published a survey that found that MPs of AfD are twice as often accused in criminal investigations as MPs of other parties. That included fraud, embezzlement, perjury, tax evasion, sexual assault, and aiding and abetting dangerous bodily harm as well as hate speech or insult. Parts of the AfD openly support Russia, its foreign policy, and its allies. Some AfD members and activists were listed as keeping close ties with Russian politicians and receiving financial benefits in an Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project investigation of Russia’s International Agency for Current Policy. AfD rejects EU sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict and representatives of the party have traveled to Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine and starred in Russian TV propaganda shows. In August 2023 an investigation was published describing how money was funneled from Moscow to AfD politicians who initiated a constitutional complaint in Germany against supplying weapons to Ukraine.

Atomwaffen Division Deutschland (Atomic Weapons Division Germany, AWDD)

Location:  Unknown

Ideology: Neo-Nazi, White Nationalist

The Atomwaffen Division (AWD) was a transnational neo-Nazi terrorist organization that pushed accelerationist ideas, meaning its goal was to destroy democratic systems with violence that would hopefully trigger a race war and systems collapse. AWD was founded in the U.S, in 2017 and was implicated in five deaths in the U.S. within its first 18 months. AWD’s online channels are known for the sharing of terrorist manuals on such things as bomb making as well as threatening those they consider their enemies, particularly Jews and public officials.

The American group disbanded in March 2020, with some members reconstituting as the National Socialist Order, but many international chapters continue to function. Close contact with German members had already been established. For example, in 2019, an Atomwaffen Division Deutschland (AWDD) member visited his American compatriots and participated in an armed training camp. AWDD, the German offshoot of AWD, announced its founding in a video at the beginning of 2018. After AWD dissolved, AWDD issued a statement that it continued to be active.

On a Telegram channel created on March 18, 2020, DWSD published, among other things, a “German translation of the Nuclear Weapons Division Program” and two audio recordings in German and English. In a now-deleted audio file posted on March 18, 2020, with the comment “official[s] statement from DWSD regarding the dissolution of the American Cells,” a distorted voice can be heard saying in German, “This is a message from Atomwaffen Division Deutschland. We are very sad about what happened to our American comrades, that they were forced to disband their cells. But we here in Germany have remained practically untouched. We have successfully managed to arm people for a coming war and freedom from the greedy hands of the system and we want to continue to do so. So we stay here. Clearly. Atomwaffen Division remains active in Germany. Sieg Heil.”

A day later, the group published a 12-page document entitled “Atomwaffen Division Deutschland Program,” which contained ideological as well as strategic materials and listed “rules of conduct,” “recruiting requirements,” and National Socialist “compulsory reading,” which included Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and American neo-Nazi James Mason’s book Siege. The document mirrored an American version but added “compulsory reading” from German National Socialist texts. Several times, Jews are named as the enemy: “We are not only in a dangerous fight against the Jews, but also against our own people.” The group advocates terrorist acts in the form of “lone wolves,” “small cells,” and “leaderless resistance activities.”

AWDD is mainly active in online chat groups where members continue to push accelerationist ideas, but its online posts do spill into the real world. While the group has been disseminating antisemitic and racist posts online, in which it calls for the murder of Jews and Muslims, almost identical AWDD slogans and images have been disseminated on flyers in several German cities and references to their materials have appeared in emails.

AWDD has a long history of violence. In 2019, German lawmaker Cem Özdemir and former co-leader of the Green Party was threatened with “execution” in a message from AWDD. It was discovered that he was at the top of an assassination hit list. Other German politicians were similarly threatened by AWDD in 2019.  In April 2022, the German government began cracking down on the movement, and after raids across the country, announced the arrest of four white supremacists believed to have links to at least four groups, the U.S.-based Atomwaffen Division, the transnational racist skinhead group Combat 18, the fight club Knockout 51, and the neo-Nazi Sonderkommando 1418.

In 2022, as German security authorities took measures against suspected members of the group, they arrested two members who reportedly were planning terrorist attacks. After months of surveillance, on June 3, 2022, the police arrested a 17-year-old neo-Nazi, Lutias F. (name withheld by German authorities), in Potsdam who was active in a chatroom called “Totenwaffen” (deadly weapons) and allegedly had prepared for terrorist attacks. He is said to have obtained instructions on how to build weapons, ammunition, and explosive devices and chemicals for building explosive devices, and to have built explosive and incendiary devices himself and carried out initial blast tests. His tagline on the unmoderated Russian social media site VK was “cover the world in a bloodbath.” Another AWDD member, 21-year-old Marvin E., received a nearly four-year jail sentence on similar charges.

Bismarcks Erben/Vaterländischer Hilfsdienst (Bismarck’s Heirs, BE/Patriotic Relief Service, VHD) 

Location:  Dresden Region,*  Königsberg, Szczecin, Berlin, Magdeburg, Poznań, Wroclaw, Münster, Koblenz, Altona, Hanover, Cassel, Dresden, Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Strasbourg, Metz, Gdansk, Frankfurt am Main, Leipzig, Allenstein, Saarbrücken, Munich, Würzburg, Nuremberg

Ideology: White Nationalist, Antigovernment

Bismarcks Erben (BE), which also goes by the names “Vaterländischer Hilfsdienst” (Patriotic Relief Service, VHD), “Prussian Institute,” and “Ewiger Bund (Eternal Covenant),” was founded in 2018. It is part of the Reichsbürger (Citizens of the Reich) movement, which rejects the modern German state, and insists an earlier German Reich still exists. They would like to return Germany’s territorial boundaries to what they were in 1914, hence the group has chapters in once German-dominated areas of Poland such as Gdansk. They view the Federal Republic of Germany as an administrative unit still occupied by Allied powers, meaning the U.S., the UK and France. For them, the German Empire founded in 1871 still exists and so do Germany’s pre-WW2 borders.

VHD is probably one of the Reich Citizens movement’s largest groupings in terms of members, and one of the most active in the real world. Their websites are filled with “constitutional” gobbledygook that tries to make their points that an older Reich still exists. For example, the “so-called Federal Constitutional Court determined in 1973 that the German Reich survived the collapse in 1945 and did not perish with the surrender of the Wehrmacht or with the exercise of foreign state power. The German Reich continues to exist, still has legal capacity, but is not able to act as a whole state due to a lack of organization, in particular due to the lack of institutionalized organs itself…On the world website bundestag.de there is talk of the international law subject German Reich and this clearly means the German Reich with the constitution of 1871.” Thus, they believe that the legal system of the German Empire of 1871 is still in force, and all that is needed to revive it is to appoint a member of the Hohenzollern royal dynasty as emperor. This could then end the First World War, which they believe continues to this day, and return Germany and its borders to the status quo before 1918. They want to create their own new administrative structures including a police system. The VHD, which is named after the historical organization of the same name, is divided into 24 Army Corps Districts (AKB) that organize themselves via their own Telegram groups.

VHD instead sees itself as vital to the “reorganization of the fatherland,” and “the restoration of the state’s ability to act.” Since the group doesn’t believe in the legitimacy of the Federal Republic, VHD contends that “state organs capable of acting are needed to end the state of war and siege” from 1918. The VHD has a racialized view of German citizenship. It sees its task as “registering and [collecting] Germans with a nationality” in a “federal state” and making them subject to the “German Emperor,” which would require providing proof of the individual’s German descent.

In 2021, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution reported that “the Vaterländischer Hilfsdienst (VHD, fatherland aid services), a subdivision of the ‘Reichsbürger’ grouping known as Bismarcks Erben (Bismarck’s heirs) has attempted to establish its own news service called VHD Aktuell.” Besides media and online activities, the group’s meetings often take place at popular destinations and are dedicated to a specific theme. For example, one event, so-called “monument actions,” was held in July 2022 at the Bismarck Tower in Berg to highlight the former strongman for whom the group is named. Due to the group’s many real-world events and virtual activities, it has succeeded in building up its organization and expanding its following. The group’s Youtube channel was taken offline due to an unknown violation of the company’s terms of service in October 2022.

Blood & Honour Division Deutschland (B&HDD)/Combat 18 (C-18)

Location:  Unknown (Before the group was banned in 2000, it had 20 chapters across Germany)

Ideology: Neo-Nazi

Blood & Honour Division Germany (B&HDD) – together with the neo-Nazi skinhead group Hammerskins, which also has a German division – are the main international neo-Nazi skinhead organizations in Germany, best known for organizing hate music concerts and for engaging in violence. Founded in 1992, the group originally functioned as a “protection force” for the British National Party and then formed offshoots in several countries. Starting in 1994, Blood & Honour and its affiliate Combat 18 (C18), which is a cipher for “Kampfgruppe Adolf Hitler,” (Combat Group Adolf Hitler) organized in Germany, as the “authentic” German Blood & Honour in the international Blood & Honour network. BHDD and the German branch of C18 were banned by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in September 2000.

The German network organized illegal concerts with neo-Nazi bands and distributed skinhead music with extremist content through its mail-order business. Militant publications and fanzines called for attacks. B&HDD made enormous profits from its music business as demand for its music was high and B&HDD had a virtual monopoly on the racist music scene. The group also built up an international supply network. Illegal CDs were recorded in one country, mixed in another, pressed somewhere else, and then distributed. This distribution structure also made it possible to transfer other goods, such as weapons and drugs.

Despite the ban, the group continues to function underground with affiliate bands, companies, and people who are part of the B&H scene, and associates have been prosecuted recently for violating the ban. The group’s supporters are ardent neo-Nazis who hope for a coming race war to cleanse the country. The network distributes German propaganda calling for “leaderless resistance” and commemorating, among others, former members of the Waffen SS. Music from affiliated bands continues to be used to recruit young people willing to use violence for the network.

The political goals of B&H are outlined in its “25-point program” based on the party program of Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP). The organization has a set of rules, fixed structures, and an exclusive claim to the “Combat 18” label. As its program outlines, there are mandatory meetings, membership fees, and prescribed clothing, as well as specific functions for roles such as section leader or treasurer. There are full members and prospects. The pamphlet of guidelines is emblazoned with the organizational symbol of the C18 dragon. This identifying symbol is found internationally in all division insignia and on members’ clothing.

From 1994 until 2000, B&H Germany was led by Stephan “Pinocchio” Lange. Countless activists of B&HDD and C18 have been involved in violent crimes over the years. According to a report by ZDF-heute, 20 people from the terrorist National Socialist Underground’s network, which perpetrated a series of racist murders that killed 10 people between 2000 and 2007, belonged to the German Blood & Honour network. In 2019, Kassel District President Walter Lübcke was murdered by Stephan Ernst, who had contacts with B&HDD and C18.

 

In August 2022, the State Protection Chamber of the Munich I Regional Court sentenced nine members of Blood & Honour Division Germany to suspended sentences and fines for violating a ban on association. The court determined that the convicted persons had attempted to revive B&HDD by setting up a “division” active at the federal level as well as “sections” in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, and Thuringia. The main perpetrator and five others received suspended sentences of between eight months and one year and 10 months.

COMPACT-Magazin GmbH

Location:  Falkensee

Ideology: Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Muslim, Anti-LGBTQ+, Conspiracy

COMPACT-Magazin GmbH is a far-right multimedia company. In addition to its main product, the monthly magazine COMPACT-Magazin, which started December 2010, COMPACT has its own website, an Internet video channel, and a presence on social media. Their online TV show, “COMPACT. Der Tag,” is broadcast Monday through Friday. The company’s editor-in-chief is Jürgen Elsässer, and the publisher is Kai Homilius Verlag. From 1975 to 2008, Elsässer was an author, editor and co-publisher of various left-leaning publications including Arbeiterkampf, Bahamas, Jungle World, Junge Welt, Konkret, and Neues Deutschland. Starting in the early 2000s, he pushed anti-imperialist positions within the German radical left. But by the time of the global financial crisis of 2008, he was increasingly more interested in right-wing populism, and more recently, has moved even further to the far right.

Since 2015, COMPACT has served as the mouthpiece of the far-right political party Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the anti-Muslim PEGIDA movement. Its publications regularly disseminate conspiracy theories, historical revisionism, and antisemitic content. A recent issue was titled, “The Great Reset: the devilish plan of the global elites,” pushing a conspiracy theory that global elites connected to the World Economic Forum plan to reorder societies. COMPACT rails against parliamentary democracy and especially the federal government. Conspiracy narratives are instrumentalized by COMPACT to discredit democratic institutions and the concept of an open, pluralistic society. On its landing page in November 2023, the magazine calls those concerned about climate change “climate terrorists,” demonizes Muslims, rails against asylum seekers, and details a recent COMPACT conference that featured as its main speaker the co-group chairman of the AfD in the Magdeburg state parliament Oliver Kirchner. The magazine has run dozens of articles attacking the LGBTQ+ community and recently opined that, “Homosexuality is not a Western value, but an outgrowth of hippie hedonism,” in an article that went on to suggest that Germany follow Hungary’s lead and “show the LGBT lobby boundaries.”

Through his activities and connections, Elsässer functions as a central node between the New Right, German intellectuals pushing xenophobic and other extremist ideas, and far-right extremist parties. The magazine has shared a slogan with the AfD and even hosted party events. An example of this is COMPACT’s growing cooperation with the far-right extremist regional party “Frei Sachsen” (Free Saxons). In December 2021, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution listed the magazine as right-wing extremist for its antisemitism, Islamophobia, and contempt for the democratic principles of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The magazine’s domain was temporarily seized by a German court in January 2018 after Compact failed to pay litigation fees. A journalist had obtained a preliminary injunction against Compact for suggesting that the journalist had known about terrorist attacks in advance. In 2016, the magazine was awarded the tongue-in-cheek “Goldener Aluhut” (Golden Tin Foil Hat) for its conspiracy-mongering. In August 2020, the magazine’s Facebook and Instagram accounts were banned. Facebook said that it prohibits “organizations and individuals from using our services if they systematically attack people based on characteristics such as origin, gender and nationality. Therefore, we have removed Compact magazine.”

The magazine is decidedly pro-Putin. After the Russian attack on Ukraine in February 2022, COMPACT wrote that Putin was “hated by the West because he represents a counter-model. He is a patriot and not a hater of the fatherland, he rejects multi-culti and gendering.” In March 2022, the magazine published a special issue with the title “Enemy Image Russia” to provide information about the “background of the current sentiment” against Moscow. COMPACT takes an extreme pro-Russian and anti-American position in all its publications and outlets.

The group also functions as an advocacy organization. The company participates in demonstrations, plans its own activist actions, and engages in multimedia campaigns. Its major emphasis as of late are rising energy and living costs that it blames on the West’s support for Ukraine. In 2022, Compact ran a large-scale campaign with the slogan “Peace with Russia,” which it sees as preferable to Germany’s support of Ukraine. The campaign included a dedicated website, a special publication, large posters, and various event appearances by Elsässer.

Der III. Weg (Third Way)

Location:  Weidenthal,* Anhalt, Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Burgenlandkreis, Harz, Leipzig/Nordsachsen, Sauerland/Siegerland, Oberfranken, and Westsachsen

Ideology: Neo-Nazi, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Muslim, Anti-LGBTQ+

Der III.Weg (Third Way) is a neo-Nazi party that was founded in 2013, and as of 2023, has about 700 members. “The Third Way” is characterized by its willingness to engage in violence and incite others to violence, often targeting refugees as a perceived enemy. As early as 2015, the party would publicly advertise locations of asylum shelters, fueling protests and violence against refugees. The party’s actions include participating in citizens’ meetings, distributing inflammatory materials, and organizing protests against refugee homes. It has also been involved in campaigns against pandemic measures and has tried to co-opt the Querdenken, or “lateral thinking,” movement, a conspiratorial group that was opposed to pandemic measures. Links and photos from Der III. Weg are shared on neo-Nazi Active Club channels from Eastern Europe to the West Coast of the U.S.

Der III. Weg frequently holds rallies that harken to the Nazi era. On May 1, 2019, it held a march in Plauen, Saxony, with torches, drums and gallows. It put up posters during the 2022 federal election campaign that read, “Hang the Greens.” In Würzburg, they put three body bags on the street, in front of the pictures of three people running for the position of Chancellor. The party caused a stir when it called for border patrols against refugees in Brandenburg. The party has posted stickers reading “Stop Homo Propaganda” and calling Israel a “Terror State.”

Der III. Weg advocates for a far-right state and society, propagandizing for elements of National Socialism. Its 10-Point Program is based on the ideas of the Nazi Party and calls for a “German socialism.” The party attempts to whitewash the crimes of the Nazi era. The party states: “Der III. Weg (The Third Way) aims to be national, revolutionary and socialist. As only these three terms combined form a holistic effect that unites the political, social and mental life to a synthesis, which is the basis for a useful and essential social order of the German people. Our identity, the identity of each member of our party, is characterized as national and socialist. And is manifested in revolutionary acting, in each area of social life.”

The group is also noted as being one of the most supportive of the far-right battalions fighting on the pro-Ukrainian side. The party’s supporters have shown commitment in providing aid to nationalists in Ukraine in the wake of the Russian war of aggression since February 2022. Under the slogan “Nationalists help nationalists,” donations were collected and materials (no weapons) were delivered. With its clearly pro-Ukrainian stance, Der III. Weg occupies a special position in German far-right extremism, the majority of whom are decidedly pro-Russian.

Under the leadership of Federal Chairman Matthias Fischer, elected in 2022, Der III. Weg continued to organize. They established two new chapters in Baden-Württemberg and Saxony-Anhalt, and say on their website that they have 24 official chapters as of 2023. It is unclear if these are operational or not. This development was accompanied by the opening of three new party and citizens’ offices.

Members of the party have been involved in criminality. In 2023, a Munich High Court sentenced the party’s deputy national chairman for incitement and death threats to a fine of 8,400 euros. The subject of the proceedings was a 2021 campaign the party had in Bavaria and Saxony that featured campaign posters with the slogan “Hang The Greens!”

Die Heimat (Homeland/formerly Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands, National Democratic Party of Germany, NPD)

Location:  Berlin,* Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony, Mecklenburg-VorPommern, North Rheinland-Westfalen, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate

Ideology: White Nationalist, Neo-Nazi, Anti-Roma, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Muslim, Antigovernment

Die Heimat (Homeland), formerly the National Democratic Party (NPD), was founded in 1964 to merge together small far-right extremist parties such as Deutsche Reichspartei (Reich’s Party of Germany). Under its then-chairman Adolf von Thadden, the party won nearly 10 percent of the vote in Baden-Württemberg, but, in 1969, it failed to pass the five percent bar to get into the federal parliament. For the next 25 years, the party suffered constant infighting and decline.

In the mid-1990s, the NPD began to accept openly neo-Nazi members, and from 1998 onward, under then-Chairman Udo Voigt, who has been charged twice for incitement for distributing racist materials, it began again to increase its vote share, particularly in Eastern Germany. In 2004, the NPD won seats in the state parliament of Saxony, and in 2006 it won seats in the state parliament of Mecklenburg-VorPommern. Chairman Holger Apfel, who held office from 2011 to 2013, propagated a strategy of “serious radicalism,” but was controversial within the party. Apfel later left the party and published a very critical book about it, titled Irrtum NPD (Error NPD).

In the 2014 European parliamentary elections, the NPD won seats for the first time due to the elimination of the five and three percent thresholds and Voigt was an MEP from 2014 to 2019. This success was short lived, and in the Saxon state parliament election that same year, NPD narrowly failed to win a seat. In November 2014, Frank Franz, who was only 35 years old, was elected federal chairman and still leads the party. In September 2016, the NPD achieved only three percent of the vote share in the state election in Mecklenburg-VorPommern, losing its last state parliamentary seat.

Die Heimat rejects liberal democracy and wants to void the Basic Law, Germany’s Constitution, in particular the clauses that assert that every human being has dignity as an individual and without preconditions. The NPD wants to create an authoritarian state. The NPD distinguishes itself primarily through xenophobia, racism and antisemitism. In view of its many references to the ideology of the Nazi Party, the NPD is essentially national socialist.

Following the party’s consistently poor performance in elections in recent years, several reforms have been orchestrated to streamline the organization, gain wider acceptance, and increase its activities outside of elections. These have included efforts to increase networking with other stakeholders on the far-right. The NPD is thus making it clear that it no longer wishes to be seen primarily as an electoral entity, but rather as a partner in far-right extremist activities. Its recent campaign posters have included the slogans, “White Lives Matter!,” “Money for Granny, Not Sinti and Roma,” and “Stop the Invasion: Migration Kills.”

There have been attempts by the government to ban the party, the first having failed in 2003. A second attempt began in 2015, and the first three days of hearings before the Federal Constitutional Court took place in March 2016. On January 17, 2017, the application was rejected by the court as unfounded. Although the NPD is anti-constitutional, it is currently viewed to be too small to be a threat to the free democratic basic order.

Over the years, individual members of the NPD have been involved in numerous violent and other crimes. The most high-profile incident was undoubtedly when Udo Pastörs, an NPD division chairman, spoke in 2009 of a “financial building of this Jewish republic” and of “seed cannons” in connection with people of Turkish origin. At the time, a radio editor of the Norddeutscher Rundfunk sent the recording of the speech to the Saarbrücken Public Prosecutor’s Office. A few months later, Pastörs was sentenced to a 10-months suspended sentence and a fine of 6,000 euros for sedition. According to the judges, he had incited hatred against people of Jewish faith and Turkish descent. Another NPD leader, Andreas Theißen, forcibly pushed a cameraman during the 2006 state election, who was slightly injured. He was sentenced to 1,000 euros fine for bodily injury and coercion. Michael Grewe, another NPD leader, was given in 2007 a suspended sentence of one year and five months for bodily injury and serious breach of the peace, in addition to 150 hours of community service. Lutz Giesen, an NPD activist, has a criminal record for dangerous bodily injury, blackmail, serious theft, resistance to enforcement officers, community coercion, trespassing and sedition. The list of offenses committed by NPD activists over the years is much longer.

As of 2023, the party had three thousand members. At a federal party conference in Riesa, Saxony, on June 3, 2023, most delegates decided to rename the party Die Heimat. Junge Nationaliste (Young Nationalists, JN) is the official youth organization of Die Heimat, founded in 1969. Nationaldemokratischer Hochschulbund (National Democratic University Association, NHB) is the university arm of the party; however, it appears to have been inactive for some years. “Ring Nationaler Frauen” (National Women’s Ring, RNF) is its women’s division.

DIE RECHTE (The Right)

Location:  Dortmund*

Ideology: Neo-Nazi, White Nationalist, Anti-Immigrant

Formed in 2012, the political party DIE RECHTE is above all a gathering place for neo-Nazis, many of whom were members of the now banned Dortmund, Hamm, and Aachen-based Kameradschaften (Camaraderie) groups, local racist, anti-immigrant organizations that focused on German ethnic purity. The party is led by neo-Nazi Christian Worch. As of 2023, the party has almost 300 members and is mainly active in the States of Nordrhein-Westfalen and Niedersachsen. They hold demonstrations, vigils, and concerts. Since their founding, they have engaged in anti-immigrant activities, targeting asylum seekers and places where they are housed. Their most basic demands are reducing the number of asylum seekers, ending toleration for refugees, and accelerating deportations of these populations. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution sees DIE RECHTE as having an “ideological kinship to historical National Socialism.”

DIE RECHTE uses the privileges political parties enjoy to spread hateful propaganda without facing the same consequences citizens would. Most members do not conceive of DIE RECHTE as a political party, but rather as an organization for pushing their hateful ideas. The party is openly antisemitic, as can be seen in party materials. Members take part in historically revisionist events including the annual demonstrations on the anniversary of the Allied bombing of Dresden, where far-right groups demonstrate to shift attention to the Allied “genocide” instead of the Holocaust. In February 2022, members of the Dortmund chapter protested in Dresden with a banner that read, “Bomb Holocaust,” thus undermining the seriousness of the actual Holocaust and attempting to portray Germans, instead of Jews, as victims in WWII.  That same month, members from Dortmund traveled to the “Lukov March” in Sofia, Bulgaria, which celebrates Nazi collaborator and former Bulgarian Minister of War Hristo Lukov. A 2019 edition of their magazine Reconquista was blatantly antisemitic, saying, “people of Jewish descent or religion […] have always been behind all fronts at the same time,” during WWII “both sat at the cabinet tables of London, Paris and Washington as well as in the Central Committee of the KPDSU” and today are responsible for refugee migration as well as for Islamist terrorism. The party has repeatedly defended Holocaust denier Ursula Haverbeck, even running her for office in the 2019 European elections while she was imprisoned for her activities.

Members of the party have also participated in extremist MMA events called “Kampf der Nibelungen,” where members of the transnational neo-Nazi network of Active Clubs are also on hand. They have other international connections. In 2022, the DIE RECHTE held a congress for the far-right extremist alliance “Fortress Europe” in Dortmund. Extremists traveled from Hungary, Bulgaria, France, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands to participate, showing the breadth of DIE RECHTE’s connections to other European neo-Nazis and far-right extremists. Matthias Deyda, acting as foreign representative for the party, attended an international right-wing extremist conference in Paris on May 8, 2022 that was also attended by numerous right-wing extremist organizations from several European countries.

DIE RECHTE also tries to intimidate and threaten opponents of the party, including politicians, journalists, citizens, and as government officials. The intimidation usually does not rise to the level of criminal liability, though it is still terrifying. Several members of the party have been sentenced for a wide array of criminal offenses in recent years. Regardless of this activity, the party is in decline and most of its branches at the state level exist on paper only. In 2023, the party’s branch in North Rhine-Westphalia, which is dominated by neo-Nazis, was the only one engaged in any real-world activities. Some local chapters in North Rhine-Westphalia announced their dissolution in February 2023, so the future of DIE RECHTE is unclear at the moment.

Ein Prozent e.V. (One Percent)

Location:  Dresden

Ideology: White Nationalist, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Muslim, Anti-LGBTQ+

Ein Prozent, meaning “One Percent,” short for “One Percent of Our Country,” which is the small percentage of Germans they claim they need support from to change the country in their direction, is an online Identitarian media outlet founded in 2015 in the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis in Germany. The idea for the organization was developed at the right-wing magazine Sezession. Ein Prozent also receives journalistic support from the Brandenburg-based COMPACT magazine. On their website, they tout themselves as a “citizens’ initiative” that “protest[s] against the irresponsible policies of mass immigration.” In reality, they peddle and enable extreme racism. Ein Prozent has historically been well-funded, with the organization showing on its website that it received donations from almost 50,000 people in 2018, allowing them to spend more than 400,000 euros on their projects.

Ein Prozent was co-founded by Götz Kubitschek, a former reserve officer in the German army, who served in Bosnia and was almost removed from the military for his involvement in extremist politics. He was initially discharged for participating in “right-wing extremist endeavors,” but the removal was overturned after a court appeal. Kubitschek is closely affiliated with the far-right political party Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD), the anti-Muslim group PEGIDA, and owns a publishing house (Antaios) that put out a collection of far-right and antisemitic essays. Ein Prozent was also co-founded by fellow German Karl Albrecht Schachtschneider, a strong critic of the European Union, and Jürgen Elsässer, editor of the anti-Muslim COMPACT magazine, who is an admirer of Serbian hardliner Slobodan Milošević who was convicted of war crimes for ethnic cleaning of non-Serbs, and an outspoken supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. It’s reported that the AfD, the Identitarian Movement, and the Institute for State Policy (IfS) all played a role in Ein Prozent’s founding.

The group’s current figurehead, Philipp Stein, entered into politics through the far-right fraternity Germania, which is known for its chauvinism. He is also the owner of a small publishing house called “Jungeuropa Verlag,” (Young Europe Publishing House) founded in 2016, which republishes works by far-right actors and historical Nazi material such as “Estonians and Latvians in the Waffen-SS” and “French in the Waffen-SS.” Stein has been documented attending conferences and other events organized by the far-right and neo-Nazis. In 2017, he attended a conference hosted by Blocco Studentesco, which is the youth organization of the Italian neo-Nazi outfit CasaPound. The conference was also attended by members of the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, French religious nationalist group Action Française, and AfD member John Hoewer, who has spoken at several rallies organized by Ein Prozent. Fellow Germania alum Philip Thaler, who is one of the leaders of the Ein Prozent-funded Identitarian YouTube channel “Laut Gedacht” (Thinking Out Loud), and Michael Schäfer, who used to be a leader in the neo-Nazi group Wernigerode Action Front (WAF) and a member of the German Klu Klux Klan, were also present.

Ein Prozent’s activities have often supported violence and racism. In May 2016, a refugee from Iraq living in Arnsdorf, Germany, was shackled to a tree after allegedly stealing items from a supermarket (A video later circulated showing no robbery had taken place). His attackers were criminally accused of deprivation of liberty, and Ein Prozent promptly offered them 20,000 euros for legal support. Both the prosecution and witnesses received death threats, and the victim was soon found dead in a forest nearby, the cause unknown. The trial involving the alleged attackers was subsequently, and controversially, suspended due to “insignificance and a lack of public interest.” In 2017, Ein Prozent “monitored” the German general election under the pretense that “electoral flaws would distort the result for the AfD.” In 2020, Ein Prozent held more than 80 right-wing cultural events across Germany. According to their website, they have spent more than two million euros on their activities since they were founded.

Ein Prozent eventually faced some consequences for their hateful advocacy. In 2019, Ein Prozent was suspended from Facebook and Instagram for its links to the Identitarian movement. They sued Facebook, but the case was dismissed by a German court on the grounds that “social networks may exclude associations classified by [the networks] as ‘hate organizations.’” Facebook partly relied on the fact that Ein Prozent had financially supported the Austrian chapter of Generation Identity after Facebook listed the group as a hate organization. The court found that Facebook’s determination that Ein Prozent is “aimed at attacking people based on their ethnic origin or religious belief is justified.”

The next year, in 2020, Ein Prozent released the violently racist video game “Heimat Defender” (Homeland Defender), developed by “Kvltgames” (pronounced “cult games”) that allows players to play various prominent Identitarians as characters such as Martin Sellner, Alexander Kleine (“Alex Malenki,” see below), and “Dark Knight,” who bears a close resemblance to Ein Prozent co-founder Götz Kubitschek, and kill members of anti-fascist groups. Ein Prozent attempted to dub their hateful game as a “patriotic counter signal” to a perceived leftist shift in the gaming industry, but only succeeded in being deplatformed from YouTube and Paypal, after GPAHE alerted the platforms to their activities, because of the game’s violent hatred. They are currently advertising the release of the game’s sequel, made by the same developer, called “The Great Rebellion,” to be released in late 2023. It is supposedly based in the same world, where players will have to battle the same enemy, the “Globohomo Corporation,” a reference to a perceived global conspiracy to promote the so-called “LGBTQ+ agenda” and subsequently force youth to identity as such. As of October 2023, the video game already had its own Twitter account with over 1,300 followers and was even verified through Twitter Blue. A teaser for the game is posted on the Kvltgames YouTube channel, which was created in April 2023. Ein Prozent continues to be platformed on Twitter with more than 19,000 followers.

First Class Crew Steeler Jungs (Steeler Boys, FCCSJ)

Location:  Essen

Ideology: White Nationalist, Neo-Nazi, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Muslim

First Class Crew Steeler Jungs (Steeler Boys, FCCSJ) are a vigilante-like neo-Nazi group that has been active in the Steele district of Essen since sometime in 2017. Their main activism consists of taking so-called “walks.” The group members are muscular and heavily tattooed and they gather in a neighborhood to show their presence and suggest their dominance, calling these activities “civilian defense.” The group is clearly neo-Nazi, sharing pictures of Hitler, swastikas, and other Nazi symbols on their numerous accounts on the unregulated Russian social media platform VK. They display open hatred for immigrants, Muslims, and Jews.

FCCSJ’s activities were severely impacted by the pandemic measures put in place in 2020, which kept them at home. The group also faced difficulties due to the Federal Ministry of the Interior’s moves in 2021 against the motorcycle club “Bandidos MC Federation West Central,” since FCCSJ’s leader was at the same time president of the Bandidos sub-group in Essen-East. The federal government banned the Bandidos West Central “due to violent crimes as well as the possession and sale of illegal weapons and drugs.” When the authorities raided the Essen East branch in January 2022, which was still active despite the ban, the police found several kilograms of illegal drugs, 50,000 euros in cash, a cannabis grow operation, illegal firearms, and a weapons workshop.

The group is led by Christian “Bifi” Willing. From an Instagram post, it’s clear that Willing is committed to maintaining a muscular physique and that he is tattooed with the lettering of the Hooligan troupe Alte Garde Essen, the biker club Bandidos MC, and the martial arts club Guerreros Fight Club. It is not clear if this group is an organized crime outfit disguised as a neo-Nazi group, or the other way around. But due to the reported criminal activities, it has been dubbed one arm of a “neo-Nazi Mafia” given its overlap with the Bandidos and their connections to violent crimes, drug, and arms trafficking.

Freie Sachsen (Free Saxons)

Location:  Chemnitz

Ideology:  Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Muslim, Antigovernment, Conspiracy

Founded in 2021, the regional far-right extremist party “Freie Sachsen” (Free Saxons) has approximately 1,000 members, though its main Telegram channel has more than 150,000 followers. The party’s chairman is Martin Kohlmann and it has two vice chairs, Stefan Hartung and Andreas Hoffmann. The Free Saxons are a secessionist movement that seeks to restore the former Saxon Royal Family at least as an important player in Saxony’s politics, and leave the Federal Republic if necessary. They consider Germany’s asylum and refugee policies to be a “demographic catastrophe” and are currently attempting to stop the building of a mosque in Dresden. The party largely functions as a networking node for protest movements in Saxony, and they frequently march alongside other far-right extremist groups, including COMPACT and Die Heimat. The party rarely organizes major demonstrations and rallies, but rather tries to connect with the local population through small and decentralized meetings and events.

In June 2022, the Saxon Office for the Protection of the Constitution announced that it now classified the party as “right-wing extremist” and “anti-constitutional,” and thus under surveillance. The party is particularly concerned that it may well be banned.

In terms of its policy preferences, the Free Saxons emphasize attacks on the federal government due to its pandemic measures, migration policies, and the energy and economic crisis caused, they argue, by supporting the Ukranians against Russia. The attacks delegitimize democratic processes, institutions, and decision-makers, calling the government an “eco-dictatorship” or a “corona dictatorship.” They view the Berlin government as paternalistic and not working in the best interests of Saxons, a key demand being increased autonomy for Saxony, and calling for withdrawal from the Federal Republic of Germany, or Säxit. Through its online channels and, since May 2022 via the party’s magazine Aufgewacht (Awake), it has been spreading a mixture of various conspiracy theories about the pandemic, the Russian war against Ukraine and the “Great Reset,” a conspiracy that alleges global elites through the World Economic Forum plan to reorder society. The party is openly pro-Russia, using slogans such as “Long live the Saxon-Russian friendship” and “Peace with Russia” in their propaganda. They argue for “remigration” of immigrants, the return of all migrants of non-European descent to their “home” countries, essentially an ethnic cleansing, and against pandemic measures, “Säxit! Out from the Corona dictatorship.”

Through their Telegram channels, they report on their weekly Monday walks in Saxony and call on citizens to join them. In addition, the party distributes images and video recordings of their activities, in which the party’s symbols are displayed. These posts convey an exaggerated impression of the party’s number of supporters. The party’s public appearances are almost exclusively limited to Saxony, but its online reach has an influence on far-right activities and allies in other German states.

Geeinte deutsche Völker und Stämme (United German Peoples and Tribes, GdVuSt)

Location:  Berlin,* Osnabrück

Ideology: White Nationalist, Antisemitic, Antigovernment

Geeinte deutsche Völker und Stämme (United German Peoples and Tribes, GdVuS), a racist and antisemitic association of Reichsbürger (Citizens of the Reich) activists, was banned in Germany in March 2020 along with its sub-organization “Osnabrücker Landmark” (Osnabrück landmark). The GdVuSt operated nationwide and had its headquarters in Berlin. The GdVuSt was founded in 2016, and after being banned, attempted to form a successor organization.

The group was led by Heike Werding, a well-known figure in the Reich Citizens movement, who was sentenced in November 2022 for violating the ban among other offenses. The GdVuSt held a special position in the relatively decentralized Reich citizens movement. It was highly organized and had wide influence and reach. The group produced and disseminated numerous videos of seminars and lectures explaining its racist and antisemitic ideas, thereby gaining a broad following within the movement. The GdVuSt argued, much like American sovereign citizens, that the Federal Republic had no legitimacy and was only a corporate construct. Their deeply antisemitic views laid control of the Federal Republic at the hands of Jews.

According to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution the publications of GdVuSt violated the fundamental rights and the human dignity of others. They expressed their intolerance towards democracy through racism, antisemitism and historical revisionism, violating the German constitution. GdVuSt denies the legitimacy of the Federal Republic of Germany and strives for its own “natural state” legal system, calling the Federal Republic “lowest form of government” and “trade construct.” The Federal Office also said that members of the group do not shy away from committing crimes, often making “drastic threats against public officials and their families including threatening to cut off fingers. These were conveyed through letters that also demanded large sums in the form of “penalty fees.”

GdVuSt developed its own legal system, viewing the German democratic state as a fabrication. They produced their own identification documents and other official forms. They disseminated their views in brochures, workshops, and on the Internet. In January 2017, the GdVuSt established the “Highest Court of United Peoples and Tribes” in Berlin in order to comply with their alleged “creative and Christian mission” towards their ancestors and children. State territories were to be “reactivated” and brought under the group’s administration. The “natural state” was to be formed from these “reactivated communities.” GdVuSt members would be the sovereigns of the “reactivated municipalities,” often giving themselves elaborate and fancy titles. They sent “reactivation letters” to legitimately elected officials notifying them that they were no longer in charge and that sovereignty of the state had been transferred to GdVuSt. At other times, they sent threatening letters to public officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2017.

Until the ban, GdVuSt was a registered association, and as of 2023 still had about 20 members, though the organization no longer officially exists. In May 2022, multiple properties of the GdVuSt were searched by the authorities. At the time it was banned, the group had about 120 members. With the nationwide ban of the GdVuSt in March 2020, the Federal Minister of the Interior initiated a crackdown on Reichsbürgers. In May 2022, several GdVuSt properties were raided in simultaneously in Berlin, Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Brandenburg, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Schleswig-Holstein, Saxony and Thuringia. Firearms, baseball bats, propaganda materials and small amounts of narcotics were seized.

An arrest warrant was executed against the central leaders of the group. In November 2022, the State Protection Chamber of the Regional Court of Lower Saxony sentenced Werding to three and a half years’ imprisonment for violating the ban on the “association in combination with the use and dissemination of propaganda material of unconstitutional organizations, incitement of the people and misuse of professional titles.” During raids on the group’s leaders, 19 firearms were seized, including two shotguns, one carbine, one other long gun, one shotgun with sawed-off barrel, one homemade gun, one air pistol, five air rifles, three crossbows, two alarm guns, and two air guns.

In July 2023, despite the ban, several individuals were suspected of continuing to operate the group. After performing raids, the Potsdam Public Prosecutor’s Office was investigating at least six additional suspects. The raids confiscated, among other things, member lists, rules of conduct, flyers, certificates and stamps produced by remaining members. The public prosecutor’s office is examining whether it is a violation of the ban on unification.

Hammerskins Berlin (HSB)/Hammerskins Deutschland (HSD)/Crew 38

Location:  Berlin,* Brandenburg, Bremen, Mecklenburg, Pomerania, Saargau, Bavaria, Franconia, Westwall, Württemberg, Westphalia and Rhineland

Ideology:  White Nationalist, Neo-Nazi

Founded in 1992, the Hammerskins Berlin (HSB) are the first German offshoot to be established as part of the international neo-Nazi skinhead organization, Hammerskin Nation (HSN), founded in the U.S. in 1988. The Hammerskins are one of the oldest and most enduring neo-Nazi organizations in Germany. The first chapter emerged in Berlin in 1992, followed by Saxony a year later. Since then, the chapters Bremen, Mecklenburg, Pomerania, Saargau, Bavaria, Franconia, Westwall, Württemberg, Brandenburg, Westphalia, and Rhineland have also been founded. Their network, which has existed for over 30 years, sees itself as a “brotherhood” and “elite” of the neo-Nazi scene. The organization is part of an international community that calls itself “Hammerskin Nation” (HSN) and is active mainly in Europe, the United States, and New Zealand. Hammerskins aim for a racially pure worldwide community of white nationalist forces.

In September 2023, the group was banned by the German government and the homes of 28 members across Germany were raided, with police seizing far-right “devotional objects” as well as cash. The ban also encompasses its offshoot Crew 38. German authorities worked with their American counterparts in the effort.

For many years, HSB provided overall leadership of the group in Germany and directed its activities. HSB formed a centralized, top-down organization, but lost their leadership role in the 2000s. The chapter was barely active until around 2010. The group had a resurgence and is thought to have about 130 members as of 2023. According to federal officials, HSD was divided into 13 regional chapters that in some cases used names referring back to Nazi Germany. The chapters have a fixed hierarchical structure. First come states, and then several regional groups, so-called chapters, which operate independently of one another. In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, the “Westphalia Chapter” and “Rhineland Chapter” were active prior to the ban. The chapters operated across the country in a structure similar to biker gangs. Like biker gangs, new members were required to complete several initiation steps before becoming fully patched through its probate organization, Crew 38. German officials have also said that the group had set up Germany’s biggest far-right martial arts event, called Fight of the Nibelungs, which has been banned since 2019.

Rules for members are outlined in the 1998 Hammerskin Constitution, which each chapter can supplement in order to adapt it to the circumstances of their respective country. For example, the rules of the German Hammerskins state that each member must visit the “brothers” in the U.S. at least once. Such visits usually take place during annual Hammerfests, which usually feature racist bands, held in the U.S. Only initiates are welcome at these gatherings.

HSN and all its national chapters believe in the slogan penned by American neo-Nazi terrorist David Lane, called the 14 Words: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children.” HSD has engaged in paramilitary and other training to prepare for what they call “Day X,” when they will take power and exact revenge against Jews and other enemies of the group. This isn’t pure fantasy. In November 2019, Malte Redeker, European head of the Hammerskins attended the now banned extremist martial arts event “Kampf der Nibelungen” (KdN) in Austria. He explained to the 400 or so people present that martial arts were key to the movement, “It’s important for psychology, for the added value on the street, for self-confidence, for the physical condition and for the much-invoked hour, Day X, it’s necessary to be able to defend yourself.”

Hammerskins have long been heavily involved in setting up neo-Nazi music labels, selling antisemitic records, and organizing clandestine music events. The group has, for example, been linked to a venue called Hate Bar in the western German state of Saarland, where police made arrests for the showcasing of banned symbols in 2023. Music bands active in the neo-Nazi movement, including “Deutsch Stolz Treue (German Proud and Loyal),” “Legion of Thor” and “Kraft durch Froide (Power through Froide)” are closely connected to the Hammerskins. The music labels Front Records, GKS/Frontmusik, and Wewelsburg Records all belong to the Hammerskin network. Along with “PC Records” from Chemnitz and “OPOS Records” from southern Brandenburg, they are among the most important producers and distributors of neo-Nazi music. HSD is responsible for the production of numerous hate music CDs, banned in Germany, which led to prosecutions for distributing hate material against individual members.

Identitäre Bewegung Deutschland (German Identitarian Movement, IBD)

Location:  Paderborn*

Ideology:  Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Muslim, White Nationalist

The Identitarian Movement Germany (IBD) is one branch of the white nationalist, transnational Identitarian movement. The group stands against any non-white immigration to Europe and would like to deport immigrants from Germany, including descendants of non-European migrants, essentially an ethnic cleansing. The Identitarian movement’s core belief is in the white supremacist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, which argues that white people are being intentionally “replaced” in their home countries by immigrants and refugees. This plan is often laid at the hands of “globalists” or Jews. Their primary focus is the threat posed by “Islamization.” In 2019, it was decided that Identitarians can be monitored by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) because the “positions of the IBD are not compatible with the Basic Law” and the movement “ultimately aims to exclude people of non-European origin from democratic participation and to discriminate against them in a way that infringes their human dignity.” In 2021, German officials estimated 500 members in the group.

IBD is not just a group, but an enterprise that includes the media agency Okzident Media (Occident Media), a financial services company Schanze Eins (Jump One,) as well as businesses including Phalanx Europa Kohorte and Phalanx Europa. Philip Thaler heads the group. Thaler is also one of the leaders of the Ein Prozent-funded Identitarian YouTube channel “Laut Gedacht” (Thinking Out Loud). On the Laut Gedacht channel, which regularly garners up to 200,000 views per video, Thaler and a co-host Alexander Kleine, AKA “Malenki,” push their racist beliefs, but also have openly targeted environmental activist Greta Thunberg, including instances where they mocked her voice, and praised other far-right political figures such as Hungary’s Viktor Orban. According to media reports, COMPACT Mazin has helped raise over 100 thousand euros for the Identitarian Movement.

The IBD believes in the concept of “ethnopluralism,” which advocates that a country and society should be ethnically and culturally homogeneous, in this case ethnically German only. Minorities, refugees, and others have no place in their envisioned society. The IBD thus rejects the human rights guaranteed in the German Basic Law, especially human dignity and the prohibition of discrimination. The slogans “remigration” and “reconquista (reconquest)” are characteristic of the IBD, the latter referring to the centuries-long process that led to the expulsion of the Moors from the Iberian peninsula. It sells merchandise with the slogan, “Islamists Not Welcome,” “White Boy Summer,” and “Stop the Great Replacement.”

Between 2000 and early 2022, most German Identitarians focused on protesting pandemic measures. As that issue receded along with the pandemic, IBD shifted its focus back to immigration, holding several protests against migrants and refugees, some on German borders. It has also pursued the creation of what it calls “free spaces” in the form of housing or other locations that can be used to foster a far-right “counterculture.” In Saxony- Anhalt, IBD activists created a communal housing project. A similar effort, called the “House Project,” established in Steyregg, Austria, has served as a venue for events as well as a place of political exchange for actors from across the New Right since its inception in 2021. IBD makes intensive use of social media, especially YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Telegram.

According to Germany’s Ministry of the Interior, the authorities registered a total of 114 crimes related to the Identitarian Movement in Germany between April 2017 and August 2018, largely related to stickering, graffiti, and holding unregistered meetings. In Munich, right-wing extremist incidents occurred in August 2018, which led to the police initiating investigations for sedition and the use of prohibited symbols. A movement activist attacked two police officers with pepper spray in 2017 in front of the House of the Identitarian Movement in Halle and was sentenced in 2020 to an eight-month suspended sentence.

Institut für Staatspolitik (Institute for State Policy, IfS)

Location:  Schnellroda,* Berlin 

Ideology:  White Nationalist, Antisemitic, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Muslim

The Institut für Staatspolitik (IfS) was founded in May 2000 as an officially registered private association (Verein für Staatspolitik e.V.). In 2021, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the State Constitutional Protection of Saxony-Anhalt classified the group as “right-wing extremist” and anti-constitutional. The Saxony-Anhalt authorities also consider it to hold “racist and biological perspectives.” It is located in a manor home in Saxony-Anhalt that also houses the magazine Sezession and the publishing house, Verlag Antaios. In March 2023, the institute failed before the Magdeburg Administrative Court to have IfS removed from this classification, the court ruling affirming the group pursues a racist “concept of ethnic descent.” They are openly anti-immigrant, describing migrants as coming “from completely different cultures, have completely different ethical standards, which includes the lack of appreciation of the state, threaten legal peace and despise the German majority society.”

Co-founder and leader Götz Kubitschek is the most prominent representative of the IfS. Erik Lehnert is the chairman of the group. The IfS sees itself as the leading think tank for the ideas and advocacy of the German New Right and is very close to the Alternative for Germany political party. According to Kubitschek, IfS’ mission is to lead a “spiritual civil war” around the “existence of the nation.” IfS publishes the journal Sezession, with a circulation of around 3,000, as well as several books and other materials through Antaios Verlag, or the Antaios Publishing House. Many of IfS’ founding principals were associated with the far-right weekly newspaper Junge Freiheit, including Kubitschek and Karlheinz Weißmann, who were members of the white nationalist student fraternity Deutsche Gildenschaft (German Guild). IfS advocates anti-egalitarian and anti-liberal positions and engages in conspiracy mongering, writing extensively about the dangers of the “Great Reset.” It disparages democracy and separation of powers. In a 2007 interview with the far-right National Democratic Party’s newspaper Deutsche Stimme, Kubitschek declared, “The state in which we live promotes a development that does not serve the German nation…It prevents the German nation from finding its way back to itself after the catastrophe of 1945.”

Besides publishing, IfS organizes events and congresses, some lasting several days and called “academies” that are seen as mandatory events for far-right activists, including members of AfD and advocates of the Identitarian movement. Former NPD members such as Florian Röpke, Arne Schimmer, and others have or had direct connections to the IfS. Like most Identitarians, IfS advocates ethnopluralism, the idea that countries should be dominated by homogenous, and in Europe, ethnically-white populations. In addition, the IfS also pushes historical revisionist positions. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution found in 2021 that some of IfS’s material included antisemitic “stereotypes” when, for example, “the image of an influential Jewish minority is drawn” or “the existence of ‘Israeli lobby groups’ is claimed.”

Junge Alternative für Deutschland (Young Alternative for Germany, JA)

Location:  Berlin,* Baden-Wurttemberg, Bavaria, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hessen, Mecklenburg-VorPommern, NiederSachsen, NordRhein-Westfalen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland, Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, Thüringen 

Ideology:  Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Muslim, Antisemitic, Anti-LGBTQ+

Founded in 2013, the Junge Alternative für Deutschland (JA, Young Alternative for Germany) is the far-right, political party Alternative for Germany’s youth organization. It is headed by Hannes Gnauck, who is a former member of the military, an MP and Chairman of JA. In 2023, JA had 16 regional associations in each German state and claimed some 2,000 members. JA’s main political aim is maintaining the ethnic purity of the German people and excluding people of other ethnicities from the country wherever possible, a position clearly in opposition with Germany’s Basic Law’s human rights provisions.

In 2019, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution found JA to be a “suspected case” of right-wing extremism due to its “migration and especially Islamophobic attitude.” After antisemitic Twitter and Instagram posts about “locusts from high finance […], which bleed our country bleed bit by little by bit” were put up by JA Baden-Württemberg, the Baden-Württemberg Office for the Protection of the Constitution wrote that the material “looks at an antisemitic, conspiracy-theoretical worldview.” Leading JA functionaries regularly express racist and white nationalist views despite the fact that a court in 2022 affirmed the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution’s decision to put the group under surveillance after finding it to be at least partly extremist. In April 2023, the group was designated officially as “right-wing extremist,” though the AfD is challenging the designation in court.

JA is tightly connected to organizations and individuals who are part of the New Right, including far-right extremist outfits that argue for an ethnically homogenous Germany, like Ein Prozent, COMPACT Magazin, the Institut für Staatspolitik, as well as Phalanx Europa and the Identitarian movement. In many ways, JA is more radical than AfD, having deep contacts with extremists in other countries including the True Finns and UK Independence Party. Several JA activists are also members of new right-wing or right-wing extremist organizations, others are loosely associated with such groups.  In 2021, AfD’s working group on the protection of the constitution recommended to the federal board of the AfD that they toss out the JA’s federal chairman Marvin Neumann. Neumann had previously published racist tweets; among other things, he had written that Black people should not be Germans. Neumann, who was elected as one of two federal chairmen in April 2021, resigned from the party in May 2021, and thus also gave up his JA office.

In 2022, Gnauck took over even though he had been classified as an extremist for incitement against foreigners by Germany’s military intelligence office, called the Military Shielding Service. Since 2020, the Bundeswehr has banned Gnauck from wearing military uniforms and he may only enter the barracks upon request. In a district council debate, he spoke of a “socially-destroying asylum machine” and the “hellish symbiosis of economic elites, radical leftists and vicarious agents of the migration lobby.” Not shy about his political affiliations, Gnauck has talked about his donations to Ein Prozent and the “Film Art Collective” of Identitarian Simon Kaupert.

The result of JA’s October 2022 national executive elections, held in Apolda, confirmed JA’s move even further to the far right.  JA’s new national executive reflects the dominance of the “patriotic solidarity” faction within the JA, which is the most far-right. The “Patriotic Solidarity” (solidarischer Patriotismus) camp within the JA is racist and ethno-nationalist, promotes the idea of the white supremacist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, and overlaps in many areas with right-wing extremism. These views are reflected in JA’s recent propaganda, including posters that read, “Disgusting racism”? Our recommendation: Strike! It is ok to be white.” The group has also begun to demonize the LGBTQ+ community. In October 2022, they used flyers during a Berlin protest against LGBTQ+ content in kindergartens that read, “Prevent Pedo-Daycare.”

Junge Nationalisten (Young Nationalists, JN) 

Location:  Riesa

Ideology:  White Nationalist, Neo-Nazi, Anti-LGBTQ+

The Junge Nationalisten (Young Nationalists, JN) were founded in 1969 as the youth arm of the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party, recently renamed Die Heimat. Led by Sebastian Weigler, as of October 2023 they have about 230 members. In January 2018, the Young National Democrats renamed themselves “Young Nationalists.” In a 2018 interview with the NPD party newspaper Deutsche Stimme, the new JN federal chairman Christian Häger explained that the previous name no longer corresponded to “today’s zeitgeist” and that they had learned from new groups, including the Identitarian Movement, that their new name should positively bring back the term “nationalism.”

JN is organized into regional “bases” that feed up into state and regional groupings. The main focus is on Berlin, Brandenburg, and Saxony. The JN sees itself as a nationalist, völkisch, meaning a belief in the superiority of ethnic Germans, and Europe-wide networked youth movement. It is openly antisemitic. JN works to introduce young people and children to right-wing extremist ideas through activities that initially seem apolitical. Under the guise of youth activities, JA carries out a targeted ideologization of the participants. With the National Education Circle (NBK), which existed from 2008 to 2011, the JN also had a university organization active in four federal states, which also at times took part in university elections, usually unsuccessfully. JN regularly organizes training courses and workshops. Their main goal is to develop a far-right counterculture, and through their outreach, they link their party’s ideas and actions with the larger far-right extremist scene.

JN is very active internationally, and in May 2019, they organized a European congress in Riesa, Norway, that was attended by representatives of many other like-minded European groups. In September 2019, a meeting was held at the German border near Zittau with representatives from Poland and the Czech Republic. In February 2023, JN members attended the “Day of Honour” in Budapest and stated that “During our visit, a meeting with our friends from @legio.hungaria was indispensable.” Legio Hungaria is a white supremacist and antisemitic organization.

JN is committed to Die Heimat’s basic program but represents these positions much more aggressively, which is evident both during demonstrations and in their ideological statements. The youth organization criticizes those in Die Heimat who have made electoral success, the so-called “fight for parliaments,” the primary goal of the movement. The JN describe themselves as anti-imperialist and, in a 2018 policy paper, refer to Israel as the “enemy of all peoples” and a “parasitic state.” In their policy paper “Nationality = Nationality?” published in January 2021, Jews are declared incompatible with the peoples of Europe. It states, “For through the continuing cult of guilt, as well as through the extolling of the Jewish communities, which have as little to do with the Nordic-Germanic nature of Europe as the Arabs, this influence is fomented.”

During the pandemic, JN called for neighborhood assistance for those most at risk for COVID, using the campaign slogan “We help where the state fails.” They also have a campaign against the “Great Reset,” a conspiracy theory that claims that global elites and, in particular, the World Economic Forum have plans to reorder society. Called “Gegengift2022” (Antidote2022) campaign, JN held demonstrations, made videos, passed out leaflets, and spread propaganda about the conspiracy. Recently the group has also taken to anti-LGBTQ+ protests, with a poster reading, “Anne becomes Frank, that is sick! Against gender craziness.”

Königreich Deutschland (Kingdom of Germany, KRD)

Location:  Wittenberg,* Wolfsgrün, Bärwalde, Halsbrücke  

Ideology:  Antisemitic, Antigovernment, Conspiracy

The Reichsbürger (Reich Citizen) and Selbstverwalter (Sovereigntist) group Königreich Deutschland (Kingdom of Germany, KRD) was founded in Wittenberg in 2012. The KRD is a personality cult centered around its founder and leader Peter Fitzek. He says the group wants to establish a form of government that will unite, “the forms of a direct ascending democracy in the organizational form of a Soviet republic with a constitutional electoral monarchy.” The group creates its own “institutions,” including a KRD-owned “Heilfürsorge (health system),” “Rentenkasse (pension fund),” and a “Königliche Reichsbank (bank).” These are intended to serve as the basis of their new regime. Considering the group a threat, KRD is under surveillance by the German authorities.

The group’s founding was documented in a video that is described on the website of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. It featured a man on a stage in front of a grand piano and heavy candlesticks wearing an ermine coat. Around him are supporters festively dressed in clothes that feature the new country’s insignia. The man in the ermine coat then reads a “foundation certificate.” To the sound of Strauss’s “So sprach Zarathustra” (Thus Spoke Zarathustra), he kneels before a crown and lays a sword in front of it. Later, sitting on a kind of throne, he receives the tributes of the subjects of his new state. As ridiculous as this all sounds, the participants are completely serious.

Fitzek appointed himself “supreme sovereign” of this new “state.” KRD also gave itself a 70-page “constitution” that lays out its “fundamental rights,” “civic rights,” the “organization of state organs and institutions of public life, rights of citizens” and the “monetary, currency and financial constitution.” They issue fake IDs, fake passports, fake license plates, fake money, and fake founding documents. Their fictitious government will be a “constitutional elective monarchy” with a “King of Germany” elected for life. Until the formation of a “Council of State,” as laid out in the KRD constitution and the election of the first king, Fitzek will be “Supreme Sovereign” and assume all governmental responsibilities.

The group falsely suggests that its supporters can evade the application of German laws by “converting” to the KRD and thus, among other things, exempt themselves from tax liability, a position very similar to the American Sovereign Citizens movement that also makes fictitious claims about ways to exempt a person from the application of American law. KRD is clearly antigovernment as its whole purpose is to displace the Federal Republic. According to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, there is an antisemitic aspect to KRD in how they describe that a “banking cartel” is destroying the Federal Republic, which is one of the things KRD claims it will be able to remove itself from. The group claims that the “debt money and interest system in connection with the creation of money out of nothing” is one of the central pillars of the “destructive system” that keeps “all the peoples of this earth in debt and thus in dependence.” They argued that the “banking cartel” redistributes money from “industrious people” to itself.

KRD supporters are promised supposed advantages by “exiting” the German state, but given that KRD is mainly financed by payments and donations from its members, as well as from fees for their seminars, joining KRD isn’t cheap. Those interested in joining KRD must first apply for a “nationality” and then take an expensive citizenship test. They must declare to share KRD’s “vision” of a “better and fairer world.” KRD also scams members by demanding euros for its currency, the “Neue Deutsche Mark” (also called E-Mark), which cannot then be converted back to euros. With the help of all this income, KRD has acquired quite a bit of property. They own a “seminar and health center” in Wolfsgrün, a “Gemeinwohldorf” (common village) in Bärwalde, and a 121-hectare “autonomous royal manor” in Halsbrücke.

In 2022, KRD claimed to have more than 5,600 members, calling around 770 of them as its “state people.” This makes KRD one of the largest Reichsbürger and Sovereigntist groups in Germany. Its future is in doubt as Fitzek was sentenced in July 2023 to eight months in prison without probation for intentional bodily harm and insult. The charges resulted from an incident in 2022 when Fitzek pushed a woman against a door during an argument in a service building in Wittenberg and kicked her with his foot. Two members of the German Armed Forces who were providing assistance were verbally attacked by Fitzek. Fitzek had already served three months in prison for traffic offenses, and in 2017, Fitzek was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison for operating a bank without a license and embezzling his clients’ money, though that conviction was later quashed. Fitzek now calls himself Peter I of the Kingdom of Germany.

PEGIDA – Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident 

Location:  Dresden

Ideology:  Anti-Muslim, Anti-Immigrant

PEGIDA, founded in October 2014 in Dresden, is a pan-European, anti-Muslim, far-right extremist political movement. The German branch believes that Germany is being Islamicised and defines itself in opposition to Islamic extremism. PEGIDA is best known for holding mass demonstrations against Muslim immigration in Dresden’s downtown area. In its early years, these protests were huge and one in early 2015, spurred on by the country’s refugee crisis, attracted up to 20,000 protestors. That makes it one of  the largest far-right events in the country since the Second World War. PEGIDA chapters spread to other parts of Germany and branches of PEGIDA can be found in many European countries. The UK branch was launched by anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson.

PEGIDA’s popularity coincided with the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which entered Germany’s national Parliament for the first time in 2017 on an anti-immigrant platform. PEGIDA had previously been declared extremist and put under observation in other areas, and in 2021, Intelligence services in Saxony said they would be increasing their surveillance of PEGIDA as the group had become “extremist” and “anti-constitutional.” PEGIDA has developed “an increasingly right-wing extremist orientation,” the Saxony State Office for the Protection of the Constitution said in a statement.

Lutz Bachmann, who founded the group and remains one of its most prominent members, has faced multiple convictions for sedition, and has been convicted for incitement. Forced to step down in 2015 for posing as Adolf Hitler in a Facebook post, Bachmann was later reinstated as the group’s frontman. In 2019, Dresden police opened an investigation into a speech by Bachmann, where he used Nazi slogans to describe his opponents and openly called for them to be killed. His calls were enthusiastically greeted with cries of “hang them.”

In the speech, Bachmann called environmentalists, as well as Green and Left Party politicians, “Volksschädlinge,” a Nazi term meaning “parasites of the people” and “disgusting maggots.” He described those he vilified as “extremist garbage,” saying they were standing on the “degenerate side” of the trench that now runs through the heart of German society. He went on to say that such politicians and environmentalists should be pushed into that trench and buried.

In 2019, state prosecutors in Dresden announced that they had begun investigations into PEGIDA activists for publicly condoning criminal activities. They left the door open to possible charges of incitement to violence and disparaging the name of a deceased person. The move came in reaction to interviews conducted by German public television channel ARD at a weekly anti-immigrant PEGIDA rally. Reporters asked supporters about their thoughts on the June murder of regional Christian Democratic Union (CDU) politician Walter Lübcke and broadcast their reactions to a national audience. Several PEGIDA supporters who spoke with reporters were dismissive of the slain politician. One man, sporting an Alternative for Germany (AfD) T-shirt and key lanyard, called him a “traitor to his people.” Another called the murder “a normal human reaction,” adding: “What comes around goes around.” “You have to thank Mrs. Merkel for Lübcke,” another person claimed. “She stoked violence against politicians; she’s responsible.”

In 2020, thousands of people gathered for the group’s 200th demonstration in Dresden. PEGIDA supporters, including Björn Höcke of the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD), were on hand. As one of the AfD’s most contentious figures, Höcke has been accused of using Nazi rhetoric in his speeches. In 2016, he said in a speech that: “Without them (PEGIDA), the AfD would not be where it is.” Höcke continues to speak at PEGIDA events, most recently in November 2023.

During the pandemic, PEGIDA adapted its street protests by shifting their protests online. In April and May 2020, PEGIDA mobilized to hold weekly “virtual marches” live streamed via YouTube. Gathering the movement leadership, guest speakers, and roughly 2,000 YouTube followers, the virtual protest events featured the same political ideas as the street demonstrations. Leading activists even found a way to accommodate the classical march by displaying a high-speed video of a past march in Dresden.

Among those rounded up for an attempted coup in late 2022 from the Reich Citizens group Patriotic Union were supporters of PEGIDA. This had no effect on the group which held mass protests in the Summer of 2023.

In February 2023, a mini-scandal erupted in Canada when German PEGIDA activist and AfD member Christine Anderson was given an award by the Calgary Petroleum Club. Anderson is known for pushing conspiracy theories about COVID vaccines and the World Economic Forum, in addition to xenophobic messaging. She was also a vocal supporter of the so-called “freedom convoy” that shut down international border crossings and Canada’s capital. Videos of Anderson rebuking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his March 2022, visit to the European Parliament were widely shared in Canadian right-wing social media spheres. After her visit to Calgary, Anderson met with a trio of Conservative Party MPs in Ontario: Dean Allison, Colin Carrie and Leslyn Lewis, and with accelerationist group Diagolon.

In August 2023, Saxony state officials reported being worried that the AfD and PEGIDA were giving the state a bad name.

PI NEWS (Politically Incorrect News, PIN)

Location:  Unknown

Ideology:  Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Muslim, White Nationalist

The blog Politically Incorrect News (PIN) was founded in 2004 by Stefan Herre, but its current leadership is unknown. PIN is a far-right website with a wide reach that distributes the materials of many far-right extremist individuals and groups. It is one of the oldest German far-right sites known for spreading hate speech against Muslims and migrants in Germany, and stoking fear of Islam. PIN is monitored by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which considers it “proven extremist.” About half of its authors use a pseudonym, and in the comment sections are often more extreme than its own posts. Articles are sorted into categories such as “Asylum Madness,” “Migrant Violence” or “Islamization of Germany.” Asylum seekers are defamed as “invaders,” “Rapefugees,” or “Merkel’s Ficki-Ficki specialists.” PIN promotes the material of other extremist groups, including COMPACT Magazin videos and literature from the publishing house, Verlag Antaios. They also cover far-right events including recently the Institut für Staatspolitik’s 2023 “Summerfest.”

PIN believes European states should be ethnically homogeneous. This was exemplified in a post published about the 2021 European soccer championship: “If one sees the teams of Western European countries, including the German team, enter the pitch, one is immediately reminded of the re-ethnicization policy in these countries. One cannot suppress this thought in view of the countless Arabs, Turks and black Africans who cavort on the pitch there. (…) the Umvolkung [repopulators, .ie. immigrants] always run into the stadium.” Criticism of the state’s pandemic measures was also popular on PIN. With warnings of a “vaccination terror,” the assertion of a “Corona dictatorship” or the designation of state measures as a “declaration of civil war against millions of Germans,” PIN used the corona pandemic to delegitimize German democracy. The site also repeatedly took up the conspiracy theory of the “Great Reset,” which claims globalists are intent on reordering the world. But PIN is characterized above all by a strong hostility towards Islam and Muslims, as well as hostility toward migration. This is clear from article titles like, “Can the repopulation still be stopped?” or “Refugees as a Political Weapon.” PIN supporters also march in far-right rallies carrying banners that read, “Stop the Islamization of Europe.”

In a particularly notorious incident in October 2015, PIN published a short text that misquoted politician Walter Lübcke, who was later assassinated by a far-right extremist in 2019. The site also posted the address and phone number of Lübcke’s office. Below that, in the comments, Lübcke’s private address appeared several times, with suggestions that people “stop by there.” After Lübcke’s death, PIN distributed video excerpts from one of Lübcke’s speeches tagged with “filed under traitor to the people.” In the weeks that followed, hundreds of German and non-German commentators posted violent fantasies and calls for murder. They stylized Lübcke as a prime example of German politicians who want to implement the secret plans of the “globalists” and the “New World Order” to “replace” the white inhabitants with fanatical Muslims. As supposed proof of this, a photograph appeared showing Lübcke visiting the Jewish Community of Kassel. After Lübcke was murdered, the confessed perpetrator claimed to have acted out of political outrage over Lübcke’s 2015 remarks. In January 2021, after the killer was sentenced, a longtime writer for PIN wrote that he felt “no sympathy whatsoever” for Lübcke, because, “Since when is hate forbidden and a crime? Thoughts are free.”

In its guidelines, PIN describes itself as pro-American, but its position on Ukraine is pro-Russian. In various articles, the site praises Russia’s supposed restraint in the conduct of the war and portrays the Ukrainians as the actual aggressors. Its landing page in the last year directly linked  to the Russian propaganda site, Russia Today Germany.

Reichsbürger/Selbstverwalter Movements (Citizens of the Reich/Sovereigntists Movements)

Location:  Country-wide

Ideology:  Antigoverment, Conspiracy, Antisemitic

The Reichsbürger and Sovereigntist movements encapsulate a broad range of individuals and organizations that share some beliefs, but also differ in various ways. The movement is made up of small to large groupings, virtual networks, and affiliated individuals. It is largely unorganized, except for the groups described in this report, and thus should be viewed more as a movement or network. Much of the movement’s organizing is done online and its favorite symbol is the flag of the former German Empire, which features three stripes in black, white and red.

Generally, members of this movement deny the existence of the Federal Republic of Germany and reject its legal system. Reichsbürgers believe that some kind of German Reich still legally exists, and thus the Federal Republic of Germany is illegitimate and not really Germany’s ruling regime. By contrast, Sovereigntists believe that they are not subject to any governing authorities and that by making a declaration they can effectively secede and therefore not be bound by any current laws. In 2022, the government determined that the entire movement comprised about 23,000 individuals nationwide, up from 21,000 the year before. Several organizations that adhere to these beliefs are profiled below.

Some Reichsbürgers have gone so far as to form their own governments in exile, proclaim their own kingdoms, and print their own identity cards in the black-white-red colors of the former German empire. Or they have sought to overwhelm the authorities with what is called in the U.S. “paper terrorism,” filing a seemingly endless slew of pseudo-legal documents, treatises, protestations, and petitions. Others have taken up arms. Elements of their ideology and strategy can be found in the US, Canada, and Australia and other countries among “sovereign citizens,” an American-founded movement whose adherent are convinced that laws don’t apply to them.

Reichsbürgers and Selbstverwalter are extremely active on social media platforms, especially Telegram. In 2022, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) found that, “Reichsbürgerer and Sovereignists used Telegram mainly for internal communication and sharing files within the channels. They referred to external platforms to a comparatively lesser extent and used Telegram as a closed online space.” They make great use of Telegram’s blogging tool Telegra.ph and, on mainstream social media, YouTube was a favorite.

The Reichsbürger ideology was born in the post-World War II era in Germany, when former members of the Nazi military, the Wehrmacht, refused to accept the downfall of the German Reich. The term first appeared in a domestic intelligence report in 1995 after a right-wing extremist started offering courses on how to be a Reichsbürger. But for several years, German officials did very little to address the threat. This changed in 2016 when a Reichsbürger in Bavaria shot a policeman to death. Another 2016 incident involving the eviction of Reichsbürger ended with the extremist shooting and injuring two officers.

That isn’t the only violence coming from this highly armed movement. During a traffic stop in February 2022, a member of the Reichsbürger and Selbstverwalter scene ran over a police officer with his car, injuring the officer severely. In April 2022, a man known to be a Reichsbürger fired a weapon at police while they were searching his home for weapons, injuring two of them. Also problematic, many public officials have been found to be involved in the movement, including police officers. In 2016, a Bavarian officer was suspended from duty because of his connections to one of the Reichsbürger movements. There have been similar allegations against other police officers in different states as well. The affinity for weapons of many Reichsbürger and Selbstverwalter poses a significant threat. By the end of 2022, the weapons permits of at least 1,100 adherents of this movement had been revoked under Germany’s strict gun laws. As of the end of 2022, about 400 Reichsbürgers and Selbstverwalters still had at least one weapons permit.

These movements are dangerous, not just in terms of violence but also as a threat to the Federal Republic itself. The best example of this is one group, Patriotic Union or the Council, led by Prince Heinrich XIII of Reuss, a 71-year-old businessman from Frankfurt, which included many current and former public employees. They sought to overthrow the German government and replace it with themselves. On a planned “Day X,” the group intended to use their own military wing, which they had developed specifically for this purpose, to violently topple the German state. The group pushes conspiracy narratives typical of the Reichsbürger scene such as QAnon and the S.H.A.E.F. conspiracy theory, which claimed that the 2021 vote was invalid because Germany was still under occupation and ruled by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. Their military head was openly racist, claiming his new Armed Forces would be free of immigrants. This organization included former military officers, judges, and public officials, all heavily armed and deep into planning the coup at the time of their arrests in December 2022.

On December 7, 2022, some 3,000 police officers raided 162 houses, apartments, and offices, arresting 25 suspects. In total, officials confiscated more than 25,000 rounds of ammunition along with legal sporting guns, illegal pistols, cudgels, stun guns, crossbows, axes, knives, and Samurai swords. They also found bullet-proof vests and night-vision goggles, and lists containing the names of parliamentarians, government ministers, journalists and doctors. A receipt for the purchase of 120 kilograms of gold worth 6 million euros along with 420,000 euros in cash. Literature about the Waffen SS, Hitler’s elite force that was charged with carrying out the Holocaust. Justice officials later added more suspects to their list, and as of March 2023, there were 63 men and women, including active and former Bundeswehr soldiers. It is alleged that they are all members or supporters of a terrorist organization.

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