The far-right extremist network Generation Identity and its allies are co-opting a protest meant to combat cuts on fuel and car subsidies to spread their hateful ideology – similar to how the truck convoy in Canada and farmers’ protests in the Netherlands were overtaken by extremists.
On January 8, 2023, German farmers, backed by the German Farmers’ Association, launched a week-long protest against government plans to abolish both a car tax exemption for farming vehicles and exemptions for diesel used in agriculture. After the first day of protests, the German government backtracked on an initial subsidy cut, but will still phase out fuel subsidies through 2026. Even though support for farmers from the German public remained high through the first day of protests, it became clear that far-right movements across the country were attempting to co-opt the protests in order to incite violence and anti-democratic action against government officials, something which Joachim Kukwird, president of the German Farmers’ Association, has strongly condemned. The white nationalist network Generation Identity, which Germany’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution designated as right-wing extremist in 2019, and other Identitarian groups have attempted to capitalize on the protest to spread anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Their efforts involve instilling their narratives, including purporting the violently racist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, into the protest, denouncing the German Farmers’ Association, mainstream political parties and its “globalist” members, and any journalists covering the protests who are cognizant of their impending extremist infiltration. Multiple articles have outlined the current, and the potential for further, infiltration of far-right movements into the protests.
A poster featuring text and imagery of a middle finger along with a man being hanged, presumably targeting the German government for stripping the agricultural subsidies. Translated: “who sells the land and catches farmers. Is it worth hanging on the gallows?” (Source: Twitter)
The far-right and white nationalist political party Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany)(AfD), which has been declared an extremist threat by German governments, has had a significant presence at the protests. AfD members have also been linked to Generation Identity. Multiple trucks were spotted bearing the logo of the party. A number of its members, such as Petr Bystron and Joachim Paul were in attendance. The AfD’s official, and government designated, right-wing extremist youth group, Junge Alternative für Deutschland (Young Alternative for Germany, JA), have also been present at the protests. Björn Höcke, currently the leader of the AfD in Thuringia, and formerly the leader of the AfD’s extremist wing Der Flügel, which was dissolved by the party after being declared right wing extremist by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, issued a rallying cry to his supporters to “meet on the streets!”
A neo-Nazi party called Der III. Weg (“Third Way”), formed by former members of the extremist NPD, issued a call for its supporters to join the protests, and banners bearing their insignia have been spotted supporting the protests. It’s also been reported that the symbol of the Landvolkewegung (Rural People’s Movement), a group once close to Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP), has been seen throughout the protests.
A banner bearing the insignia of the neo-Nazi party Der III Weg (Third Way) with the text “solidarity with the farmers” on it. (Source: Twitter)
The white nationalist Identitäre Bewegung (Identitarian Movement)(IB), and its de-facto leader, Martin Sellner, have been worryingly active during these protests. Sellner issued a statement calling for his supporters to attend the protests, but only to “bring our mobilization potential into the streets” instead of “[pushing] into the front row.” While he pledges a non-invasive role in public, Sellner and the rest of the Identitarians have been infiltrating the movement for their own extremist purposes. Sellner himself attended the protest in downtown Dresden on January 8th, where violence broke out between law enforcement and protestors and neo-Nazis. In a post on Telegram, Sellner attempted to tie the protest to the War in Ukraine and the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. Perhaps too conspicuously, Sellner posted a video fantasizing about the coming “German Maidan,” referencing a potential far-right uprising, first and foremost led by the AfD and “patriotic movements,” who would wish to use the farmers’ protests as a means to achieve their larger goals of a “great revolt.”
The Austrian Identitarian news outlet Heimatkurier (Homeland Courier), run by former IB Vienna leader Philipp Huemer, has been posting a “live ticker” on its Telegram page tracking the protests, and in another post declared that the protests were “not just about diesel – it’s about Germany.” Huemer even published an entire article discussing how the protests were relevant to their movement, including vilifying the German Farmers’ Association because of their support for the Green Party’s national conference and their “nominal demands” to the government with relation to the subsidies. Huemer also hints at the farmers’ protest being the beginning of something larger: “Will a few concessions from the government, such as a staged resignation of a minister or the chancellor actor Scholz, be enough for the demonstrators? Or do they not allow themselves to be deceived by this and insist on a fundamental political turnaround?”
He ended the article by invoking a quote by Götz Kubitschek, founder of the extremist associations Institut für Staatspolitik (Institute for State Policy, IfS) and Ein Prozent (One Percent), during a 2015 speech for the anti-Muslim group PEGIDA, saying: “Our people are far from finished, and we will all experience in the coming months what strength this people still has to resist!” Heimatkurier also published an interview describing the protest as “anti-globalist.” “Globalists,” a term often substituted for Jews, are a primary target of the Identitarian movement, who they blame for the supposed “Great Replacement” of white people across Europe. Believers of the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory have been responsible for an astounding number of mass casualty terrorist attacks around the globe, including multiple murders in Germany.
The government-designated, right-wing extremist group Ein Prozent, whose primary purpose is to mobilize the movement and fund smaller Identitarian organizations, has been attempting to spread Identitarian rhetoric in the face of these protests. In one post, Ein Prozent provides a plan for its supporters to infiltrate the protests, saying that if they “identify ourselves as protestors with our Ein Prozent material, then we will be let through.” Further, they set up both a solidarity fund and handed out pamphlets advertising the organization. Following the first day of protests, Ein Prozent released a short article titled “How can the farmers’ protest lead to success?” where they outlined “mass migration” as an overarching issue before denouncing “farmers’ associations and CDU (center-right party Christian Democratic Union) politicians” as “false friends” for the movement. They also encouraged their supporters to disobey politicians and law enforcement officers on “where and how to protest,” since they believe compliance with the law would lead to an unsuccessful campaign.
A translated screenshot of Ein Prozent’s message to their followers detailing how far-right movements can gain “success” from the farmers’ protests (Source: Telegram)
The Austrian InfoDIREKT Magazine, recently endorsed by Ein Prozent and host to content by numerous Identitarians such as Martin Sellner, Patrick Lenart, Ein Prozent figurehead Philip Stein, Götz Kubitschek, Alex Malenki, and Philip Thaler, has taken an interest in the protests. The magazine posted an article detailing how to make the farmers’ protests successful which is filled with Identitarian talking points, including: “the influx of foreigners, the constant participation in the war, the heating hammer, the destruction of industry in the name of the new climate religion, [and] the massive inflation.” InfoDIREKT attempted to downplay any proof of designated right-wing extremists being involved in the protest, denouncing the Office for the Protection of the Constitution’s designations of “Nazi” and “right-wing extremism clubs” as protecting “the government and the equally globalist CSU/CDU (Christian Social Union and Christian Democratic Union political parties).” They also targeted journalists, claiming that they have “exposed themselves as a gap and lying press,” and therefore “no one with a brain or heart still believes the globalist one-size-fits-all role.” The farmer’s association, who have repeatedly tried to distance themselves from extremist presence at the protests, are seen by InfoDIREKT as the “establishment’s calming pill.”
Simon Kaupert of Film Art Collective poses with the “ok” hand symbol, which is used by white supremacists to signify to others their political persuasion (Source: Twitter)
The Identitarian production company Filmkunstkollektiv (Film Art Collective) run by Simon Kaupert, also endorsed by Ein Prozent, has been assisting the Identitarians in capturing protest footage and spreading propaganda. Simon Kaupert has described the German administration and government as “parasites.” Film Art Collective’s expressed purpose, in fact, is to capture “aesthetic resistance,” including a large “remigration” (i.e., ethnic cleansing of all non-whites from Europe) demonstration that took place in Vienna, Austria, in July 2023. They created a protest map for their followers in an attempt to help mobilized Identitarians find their closest protest locations, and shared an article by Freilich Magazin talking about it.
The farmers’ protests across Germany have garnered significant transnational support from the far-right, albeit only for anti-democratic sentiment rather than the tax subsidies, demonstrating how the far-right cares only for the proliferation of their own ideology rather than the core issues of the protests. Dutch Identitarian Eva Vlaadingerbroek posted a message on her Telegram page claiming that the farmers were “one of the few groups in society with enough manpower to put up a real fight against the globalists who wants (sic) to radically change our way of life. If they fall, you’re next. Support them.”
American far-right news outlet Breitbart published an article echoing Identitarian rhetoric about the protests being against the German government’s “globalist agenda” and compared it to farmers’ protests in the Netherlands, which was a “similar rebellion against the Great Reset-style agenda” of the Dutch government. The “Great Reset” is a conspiracy theory based on the misinterpretation or distortion of the initiative of the same name enacted by the World Economic Forum (WEF), and has been parroted by prominent American conspiracists such as Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, and commenters from the Daily Wire and Fox News. Trump ally and far-right commentator Jack Posobiec shared footage of Polish truck drivers joining the protest, saying “you know you done messed up when the Poles and Germans are joining up against you.”
Canadian far-right and conspiratorial news outlets Rebel News and True North both covered the farmers’ protests, with True North comparing the farmers to those involved in the Canadian so-called “Freedom Convoy,” which gained infamy for its acceptance of extremist and neo-Nazi involvement. Also in Canada, white supremacist movement Diagolon members Morgan May and Alex Vriend (The Ferryman’s Toll) both shared posts in support of the farmers’ protest against the “globalists.”
Just as Philipp Huemer said, protestors swayed by Identitarian rhetoric may “insist on a fundamental political turnaround,” even if the farmers’ initial demands are met. One thing is clear – the Identitarians will use the protests as a springboard for their own agenda, no matter the cost to the farmers or their reputations.