Government Development Aid for Neo-Nazis


ERFURT (Own report) - New revelations on the neo-Nazi serial murders of nine men of non-German origin and a female police officer are incriminating a German domestic intelligence agency. According to media reports, a member of a recently discovered neo-Nazi terror group presumably had contact to the Thuringia Office for the Protection of the Constitution - even after he went underground. The affair could become an "intelligence agency problem," predicts the domestic policy spokesman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Hans-Peter Uhl. In the 1990s, under the pretext that they are very important informants, the Thuringia Office for the Protection of the Constitution had, in fact, paid amounts of DMs in the six-digits to influential right-wing extremist militants. The militants used this money to set up neo-Nazi structures in Thuringia, including the "Thüringer Heimatschutz" (Thuringia Homeland Protection), an organization of violent neo-Nazis. The members of the terror group, responsible for the murders, are not the only ones who have their origins in this organization. Leading functionaries of today's extreme right are also coming from that organization, which has been officially disbanded, but is still at work in other structures. Today some of its militants, for example, are organizing neo-Nazi festivals with international participation aimed at networking the extreme right throughout Europe.

Covered by the Intelligence Agency

The aid furnished by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutz - VS) to the neo-Nazi scene, to set up their structures in the federal state of Thuringia, is exemplary for the aid provided throughout the 1990s. As far as has become known, this aid crystallized around two prominent militants, Thomas Dienel and Tino Brandt. Both had been informants for Thuringia's VS. According to a study on Thuringia's extreme right, Dienel had been considered one of the most active neo-Nazis in Thuringia, until the mid-1990s. "Explicit threats to use violence against foreigners and people with diverging opinions" were part "of his repertoire." However, his contribution was particularly vital in the field of setting things up and organizing. He established links to influential neo-Nazis in West Germany, organized many "demonstrations and actions," with the founding of a party [1] on April 20, 1992, he created the "first structured gathering place for young neo-Nazis" and he radicalized members of the NPD. "Therefore, he has left a trail behind that can be followed to current structures" in the neo-Nazi scene, writes the author of the study, published in 2001.[2] The media reported that in the 1990s the VS paid Dienel 25,000 DM - officially for his service as an informant. Dienel acknowledged publicly that he had sometimes coordinated his actions with the VS, for which he also had received money. The VS had also helped him in court: "They covered me."[3]

2,500 DM a Month

Tino Brandt told a similar story in 2001. The study, mentioned above, states that he had been one of the "major players" of the extreme right in Thuringia and a link between the various milieus. He had not only worked for one of the most important right extremist publishing houses,[4] but also held positions on Thuringia's NPD's executive board. Above all, he had been the principle organizer of the "Thüringer Heimatschutz." The "Thüringer Heimatschutz" was established in the second half of the 1990s as a leading organization of violent neo-Nazis with a membership of 150 militants, according to estimates by observers of the neo-Nazi scene. This estimate is shared by the Thuringia VS, which can also rely on the information from its undercover agent, Tino Brandt. Between 1994 and 2000, the VS had allegedly paid Tino Brandt up to 200,000 DM - in effect, a second monthly salary of more than 2,500 DM. Brandt explained that he used this money to set up neo-Nazi structures. As the author of the study explains, this support was vital for "Thuringia's right-wing extremist scene to achieve its present organizational and capability level."[5] Brandt also declared in 2001 that he had not been the only VS informant in the leadership of Thuringia's extreme right: There are several undercover agents for example on the NPD executive board and in "positions in the leadership of the comradeships."[6]

Pipe Bombs

The "Comradeship Jena" is one of Thuringia's "comradeships" - local neo-Nazi networks - that developed under these circumstances. Its militants Uwe Böhnhardt, Uwe Mundlos and Beate Zschaepe were in the process of making pipe bombs when the apartment they shared was raided and searched by the police in February 1998. They were making their bombs at a time, when Thuringia was characterized by intensified neo-Nazi violence. In 2000, this federal state was Germany's front-runner in the per-capita incidence of neo-Nazi crimes. The militants of the "Thüringer Heimatschutz," whose leader, Tino Brandt, had been on the VS payroll up to 2000, were making a particular contribution toward this notoriety. One militant from the city of Eisenach was arrested in August 2000 for inciting to attack a Turkish fast food stand. Just one month later, the bomb makers from Jena committed their first murder. They were able to go underground. It is not yet known what role the VS had played in their disappearance. According to reports, at least one member of the terrorist clique had been in contact with the authorities. It cannot be ruled out that this contact was even maintained after they had gone underground. Currently the media is discussing a string of curious circumstances - the question of whether the secret services had provided false identity documents to the terrorists; of why the police had made no arrests during the house raid and search in 1998; or even why, the authorities, during the series of murders - where the victims were almost exclusively Turks - carried out no serious investigations of the neo-Nazi scene, instead of speculating about other possible motives, such as drug scene or gang warfare.

NPD Reinforcement

The public had become increasingly aware of the massive amount of VS undercover agents in neo-Nazi structures - even beyond Thuringia - since 2002. At the time proceedings to outlaw the NPD failed, because too many high-ranking NPD functionaries, upon whose testimonies the proceedings for banning the NPD were based, were secret service undercover agents. Experts have strongly criticized the use of undercover agents. They shed "an ominous light on VS activities," writes the Institute for Linguistic and Social Research in Duisburg (DISS). At best, it furnishes "dubious" information, "that had been preemptively filtered by the NPD's leadership," leading to "the reinforcement of the NPD,"[7] because, among other things, certainly some of the government payroll contacts had contributed a portion of the money to the party. Besides, it cannot be ruled out that, at least in some cases involving undercover agents, the prosecution of illegal hate propaganda had been treated indulgently. Apparently, the use of undercover agents persists to this day, permitting the conclusion that renewed demands for a court order banning the NPD, will be turned down, with allusion to VS contacts within the leadership of the NPD. Experts estimate that several thousand undercover agents of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution are operating in the various scenes classified "unconstitutional" - "particularly many of them in the extreme rightist milieu."[8]

Pan-European Neo-Nazi Cooperation

The efforts in the 1990s to develop the neo-Nazi scene in Thuringia are still bearing fruit. Not only was the former leader of the "Thüringer Heimatschutz," Tino Brandt, on the state's payroll, pivotal militants of today's structures originate from the "Thüringer Heimatschutz" and its direct entourage. This includes the functionaries of Thuringia's NPD and other structures. Comrades of the terrorists Boehnhardt and Mundlos are organizing major events such as the "Thuringia National[ist] Youth Day" or the "Festival of Peoples" - festivities reinforcing the right-wing scene and international neo-Nazi networking - as in the case of the "Festival of Peoples."[9] Over the past few years, extreme rightist militants from many European countries came to these events in Thuringia to strengthen their relations with German neo-Nazis and reinforce their common policies. It is unknown, how many German VS undercover agents have been involved, and how much state financing, officially paid as espionage fees, had been used for these events. Fact is that in the neo-Nazi scene, the tradition of the "Thüringer Heimatschutz" - which was state financed via its leader - is still revered today. Officially, the organization was disbanded at the beginning of the last decade. But neo-Nazis were using its banner to decorate a rightwing rock festival in Thuringia, as late as 2008.

[1] Dabei handelte es sich um die Deutsche Nationale Partei (DNP).
[2] Carsten Hübner: Rechtsextremismus in Thüringen - eine Bestandsaufnahme, in: Jens F. Dwars, Mathias Günther: Das braune Herz Deutschlands. Rechtsextremismus in Thüringen, Jena 2001.
[3] In 2000, concerning Dienel the weekly magazine, Der Spiegel reported that "in the Fall of 1997, in coordination with and financed by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Dienel initiated a leafleting campaign to discredit the incumbent Regional Vice Chairman of the Trade, Banking and Insurance Union. A suit before the Constitutional Court since 1992 to have Dienel's civil rights revoked was taken care of by his mentors four years later. "They covered me," alleges Dienel" - Man hat mich gedeckt; 02.10.2000
[4] Brandt was an employee of "Nation und Europa" publishing house in Coburg, which published for decades the monthly "Nation und Europa," one of the most influential extreme rightist magazines in Germany.
[5] Carsten Hübner: Rechtsextremismus in Thüringen - eine Bestandsaufnahme, in: Jens F. Dwars, Mathias Günther: Das braune Herz Deutschlands. Rechtsextremismus in Thüringen, Jena 2001.
[6] Tino Brandt als VS-Spitzel enttarnt; Der Rechte Rand Nr. 71, Juli/August 2001. Brandt also reported that he had been regularly warned about planned buggings: "When we were told, for example, next week, no contact by cell phone, we knew that another service or the state security would be listening in on our telephone conversations."
[7] V-Leute bei der NPD;
[8] Neonazis - vom Staat finanziert. AZ-Interview mit Rolf Gössner; Abendzeitung München 15.11.2011
[9] Andreas Speit: Die Thüringer Nazi-Connection; 14.11.2011