Background Report: The Association for Threatened Peoples (Gesellschaft fuer bedrohte Voelker - GfbV)

The German Association for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) which describes itself as a ,,human rights organisation" campaigns for the world-wide enforcement of the rights of ethnic groups and the ,,Right to Homeland" (Heimat). It co-operates with leading organisations influencing German foreign policy, such as the League of Expellees and the Federalist Union of European Peoples' Organisations. It is closely allied with expansionary German foreign policy under the pretext of ,,advancement of human rights". According to the GfbV's proposals ,,fundamental human rights" should be enforced by ,,standing, operationally prepared, military strike forces".

The GfbV was founded in 1970 and with around 8,300 members and 25,000 supporters claims to be ,,the largest human rights organisation in Germany after Amnesty International". Over and above this there are, as parts of GfbV International, sections in Austria, Luxembourg, The Autonomous Region of South Tyrol, Switzerland and Bosnia Herzogovina - as well as a contact bureau in Paris. Since 19993 GfbV has enjoyed advisory status on the Economic and Social Committee of the United Nations. The founder and political head of GfbV is Tilman Zuelch who has been General Secretary since May 2000 and is President of GfbV International. Last year he received the badge of the German League of Expellees for his ,,efforts on behalf of the human rights of German expellees". This year he was decorated by the German Federal President, Rau, with the Federal Service Cross for his ,,consistent striving for human rights".

,,Ethnocide" and ,,Language Murder"

The political work of the GfbV is drawn from German Folk (Volk) ideology. Threatened and persecuted individuals are not at the centre of its concerns although GfbV calls itself a human rights organisation. As indicated by its title, the individual is of concern as a member of a distinct community - that is a ,,people" (Volk). GfbV campaigns loud and long ,,against every attempt to destroy a people - its security, life, right to property and development, religion, its linguistic and cultural identity". In the view of GfbV the ,,Volk" (people) is the essential form of organisation for humanity, a quasi natural ,,community" which basically creates human beings from its collective, group humanity. Humans who become estranged from their part in the continued existence of their ,,original folk" (language, culture, religion etc) lose their ,,identity" and with it an essential part of their humanity.

Consequently the GfbV combats every form of the rising tendency throughout the world towards the assimilation of ,,peoples, ethnic and religious communities" into other population groups. ,,The destruction of the alien" begins with the destruction of languages and culture. This is termed ,,ethnocide" and ,,cultural genocide". ,,To create or to tolerate an atmosphere in which a language cannot survive is language murder". In the eyes of GfbV France is somewhat guilty of this because of its insufficient fostering of regional dialects. France is therefore guilt of ,,continuing ethnocide".

The Most Threatened People: The Germans

The GfbV sees history as, in the main, the history of peoples, particularly in the history of continuing genocide. It maintains ,,Since the end of the Second World War whole groups of peoples have been expelled and repeatedly given over to genocide in an unending sequence". The genocide theory of the GfbV goes along with a far reaching relativisation of the real, German mass atrocities, especially the Holocaust. Thus, for the GfbV, the German people becomes one of the most threatened peoples. ,,In world history the expulsion of Germans from Eastern Europe in the years 1945 to 1948 is the worst case. More than twelve million then lost their homes and three million their lives". Zuelch, the political leader of GfbV complains that the Holocaust wasgiven too great a prominence during ,,The Tribunal of the Victors". ,,The war crimes of the allied governments" and ,,the crime of expulsion of the Eastern and Sudeten Germans (..) which fulfil today's definition of genocide, remain unatoned".

In the meantime Zuelch has become a member of the Advisory Committee of the League of German Expellees for the construction of a ,,Centre against Expulsion" in Berlin. He campaigns jointly with the League of Expellees for the endowment of this centre which should promote ,,The Right to Homeland". ,,This centre in Berlin" Zuelch says ,,is of great importance for the victims of today's expulsions because the European governments are not fighting these crimes, nor are they campaigning vigorously for the return of those who have been driven out".

The last annual meeting of GfbV in 2001 called on the various organisations of German expellees to unite and demanded that the Federal Government must ,,undertake political steps at an international level so that (...) laws and regulations by which the expulsion of Germans after the Second World War was retrospectively legalised must be repealed by the EU candidate countries in Eastern and Middle Europe. They must be acknowledged as an historical injustice and be remedied".

People (Volk) not Human Being (Mensch)

In this close co-operation with the German expellees, a series of contacts and groupings have come to light which place the GfbV clearly in the tradition of ,,folkish" and National Socialist ideology. Around the year 1995 it became known that the former Nazi administrator of the Kolomea ghetto in Poland was working for the Advisory Board of GfbV. He was implicated in co-responsibility for the deaths of 30,000 Jews. The well-known, extreme right periodical ,,Young Freedom" expressly praised the ,,folkish" policy of the GfbV which described itself as ,,the organiser and supporter of threatened nationalities and original peoples (Stammesvoelker), as well as of ethnic minorities". In the ,,national revolutionary" periodical ,,We Ourselves" the Deputy Leader of GfbV and Chief Editor of its periodical ,,Pogrom", Andreas Selemci, wrote an article with the title ,,Suffer Expulsion no longer!" The masthead motto of this paper is ,,Who speaks not of the peoples (Voelker) should stay silent about human beings (Menschen)". It campaigns for ,,national identities" in ,,small, ethnically homogenous units", following the principles of the GfbV.

,,Europe of the Regions" and ,,Peoples' Group Rights"

GfbV maintains particularly close contacts with the Federal Union of European Peoples' Groups (FUEV). The headquarters of FUEV is in Germany and was conclusively connected with the reawakening of German ,,Folkdom" (Volkstum) and minority activities after the Second World War. Several of its founders are former National Socialist racists. FUEV maintains direct contact with the Foreign Office and is funded by the Federal Republic of Germany.

The issue of the GfbV periodical ,,Pogrom" appeared in December 1993/January 1994 with the thematic emphasis ,,Guard Europe's Diversity - The Situation of Nationalities and Minorities". The FUEV, which also appears in the publication, provided one of the articles on this theme, along the lines of a policy based on ,,ethnic groups" (Volksgruppen).

Wolfgang Mayr (founder member of GfbV South Tyrol, who is crucial for the development of the theme of ,,ethnic groups" within GfbV International) complains in his article about the lack of progress for laws and rights for ,,national groupings". ,,One hundred million Europeans belong to over two hundred national groups and minorities. That is one seventh of the European population. This one seventh is certainly discriminated against and excluded." It has not been possible to establish legally binding ,,people's group laws" because ,,states like France, England, Greece and Turkey were slowing the process down".

In a further article he praised the former South Tyrol MEP of the Green Party, Alexander Langer who supported ,,ethnically motivated" war. (,,Ethno-national tensions could not simply be tackled negatively. They possessed much vitality and authenticity.") Langer supported a ,,Europe of the Regions" and of ,,Ethnic Group Rights". ,,As a constituent element and as a condition of entry into the EU, states must accept cross-border EU Regions and an enforceable charter for 'people's groups' as well as a binding minimum commitment to decentralisation - for example autonomy and regionalism".

,,The Yearning for 'folkish' Self Determination"

The South Tyrol Section of GfbV International is particularly active in the policy of ,,peoples' groups". It is entrusted with the area ,,Ethnic Minorities in Europe". This GfbV section works closely with the FUEV and the ,,South Tyrol People's Group Institute" (led by former FUEV President, Professor Chhristoph Pan). Professor Pan believes that the Institute can make ,,a constructive contribution to the solution of the ethnic minorities question in Europe". He advocates ,,the development of a European system for the protection of minorities" above all with the appropriate organs of the European institutions and Parliament. In 1983 the Institute founded a centre for Austrian ethnic groups which was to serve as an ,,embassy" for ethnic groups, jointly serving all the autochthonous groups of Austria.

With the support of the South Tyrol Regional Government and the Region Trentino-South Tyrol, the GfbV carried out far-reaching propaganda for the ,,right of self determination of peoples and ethnic groups", ,,protection for ethnic groups" and the ,,Right to Homeland". In its publication GfbV demanded the ,,systematic and comprehensive codification of a world wide valid system for the Right to Homeland, enforceable at law". To this end GfbV's instructional material for schools should make it clear to the pupils ,,how important collective rights are for ethnic groups and the central importance of protecting the linguistic diversity of Europe".

The ,,ethnic group" propaganda is illustrated with reports from and about ,,threatened peoples" and ,,ethnic groups" worldwide. The line taken over Chechnya says that the escalating use of force arises from ,,the colonial behaviour and thinking of the Russians" whilst the Chechens are reacting to an attempt to ,,overthrow their culture". In the first war resistance was supported by the longing for ethnic self-determination, by belief in God and in themselves. The contrast between the hungry, immoral Russian soldiers and the steadfast fighters who fired every shot with the cry ,,Allah Akhbar" could not be greater.

(Sections here omitted on ,,China of the Regions" and the GfbV campaign for the UN Court of Criminal Justice.)

GfbV website
South Tyrol People's Group Institute
Minorities in flight. War-Expulsion-Exile. Instruction unit of GfbV South Tyrol and Paedogic Institute of Bozen
Wehrturm als Stolz. (Third Genocide in Chechnya)
For a world without genocide. Discussion paper by GfbV on reform of United Nations
Protect Europe's Diversity ,,Pogrom" No 174 Dec 1993/Jan 1994
Andreas Selemci ,,Suffer Expulsion no more!" ,,Wir Selbst" No 1-2/1999
Military Operations for Minorities. ,,Junge Freiheit" 26/02/1999
Junge Welt 29/10/1999