The Deep State: Germany, Immigration, and the National Socialist Underground


Nearly three years ago, in Novem­ber 2011, news of a dou­ble sui­cide after a failed bank rob­bery devel­oped into one of the biggest scan­dals in post­war Ger­man his­tory.1 Even now, it remains unre­solved. For thir­teen years the two dead men, Uwe Mund­los and Uwe Böhn­hardt, had lived under­ground, together with a woman, Beate Zschäpe. The three were part of the National-Sozial­is­tis­cher Unter­grund (NSU), a fas­cist ter­ror orga­ni­za­tion which is sup­posed to have mur­dered nine migrant small entre­pre­neurs in var­i­ous Ger­man towns and a female police offi­cer, and to have been respon­si­ble for three bomb attacks and around fif­teen bank hold-ups. Although the NSU did not issue a pub­lic dec­la­ra­tion, the con­nec­tion between the nine mur­ders com­mit­ted between 2000 and 2006 as obvi­ous: the same weapon was used each time, a Ceska gun.

At the time they were called “doner mur­ders” (as in doner kebab) and the police called their spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tion team “Bospho­rus.”2 Nearly all the police depart­ments work­ing on the mur­ders focused mainly on the vic­tims and their alleged involve­ment in “orga­nized crime,” the drug trade, etc. Not only was it even­tu­ally revealed that the mur­der­ers were orga­nized Nazis, but that the killers had been sup­ported by some branches of the state appa­ra­tus and the search for the mur­der­ers had been sys­tem­at­i­cally obstructed. As one famous pub­lic tele­vi­sion news pre­sen­ter said: “One fact is estab­lished: the per­pe­tra­tors could have been stopped and the mur­ders could have been pre­vented.” She also voiced “the out­ra­geous sus­pi­cion that per­haps they were not sup­posed to be stopped.” The final report of the par­lia­men­tary inves­ti­ga­tion com­mit­tee of the Thuringia state par­lia­ment, pub­lished in August 2014, stated a “sus­pi­cion of tar­geted sab­o­tage or con­scious obstruc­tion” of the police search. The Ver­fas­sungss­chutz (VS, the Ger­man domes­tic secret ser­vice) had “at least in an indi­rect fash­ion pro­tected the cul­prits from being arrested.”

Since the sup­posed dou­ble sui­cide on the Novem­ber 4, 2011, the intel­li­gence ser­vices, the inte­rior min­istries of the fed­eral and cen­tral state, and the BKA col­lab­o­rated to cover tracks, just as they had col­lab­o­rated before to keep the exis­tence of the NSU from becom­ing pub­licly known. One day before the con­nec­tion between the NSU and the last bank rob­bery was pub­licly announced, a con­sul­ta­tion in the chan­cellery took place. Since then, the inves­ti­ga­tion has been sys­tem­at­i­cally obstructed by the destruc­tion of files, lies, and the refusal to sur­ren­der evi­dence. In the cur­rent crim­i­nal case against the alleged sole sur­vivor of the NSU (Beate Zschäpe) and five sup­port­ers at the higher regional court in Munich, the pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor wants it to be believed that the series of ter­ror acts were the work of three peo­ple (“the Trio”) and a small cir­cle of sym­pa­thiz­ers. “The inves­ti­ga­tions have found no indi­ca­tion of the par­tic­i­pa­tion of local third par­ties in the attacks or any of orga­ni­za­tional inte­gra­tion with other groups.” But it is clear that the NSU was much larger and had a net­work all over Ger­many. And it is highly unlikely that the two dead men were the only per­pe­tra­tors.

Research on the NSU has shown that the VS had the orga­nized fas­cists under sur­veil­lance the whole time, with­out pass­ing its infor­ma­tion on to the police. It had many Con­fi­den­tial Infor­mants (CIs)3 in lead­ing posi­tions in the fas­cist struc­tures – or rather, the CIs even built up large parts of these struc­tures. It is very unlikely that the secret ser­vices acted with­out con­sul­ta­tion with the gov­ern­ment – but it is cer­tain that we will never find any writ­ten order. Some­times pub­lic pros­e­cu­tors and lead­ing police offi­cials were included in the cover-up. For exam­ple, the cur­rent Pres­i­dent – at the time Vice-Pres­i­dent – of the Lan­deskrim­i­nalamt (LKA) or Crim­i­nal Police Offices of Thuringia ordered his police in 2003 to “go out there, but don’t find any­thing!” after receiv­ing a tip about Böhnhardt’s where­abouts.

Obvi­ously the Ger­man state appa­ra­tus has erected a (new?) par­al­lel struc­ture that oper­ates in accor­dance with gov­ern­ment poli­cies and out of the reach of par­lia­men­tary or legal con­trol. The National-Sozial­is­tis­cher Unter­grund was a flag­ship project of this “deep state,” sup­port­ing the new pol­icy towards migrants that started in 1998 at the insti­ga­tion of Otto Schily, then Inte­rior Min­is­ter. Since the NSU became known to the pub­lic, this appa­ra­tus has even been finan­cially and oper­a­tionally strength­ened.

The NSU com­plex gives us a glimpse of the way the Ger­man state func­tions, and can there­fore sharpen our crit­i­cism of the cap­i­tal­ist state. This is of inter­na­tional rel­e­vance for two rea­sons. First, many coun­tries, such as Hun­gary, the Czech Repub­lic, Morocco, and Rus­sia, have recently seen mobi­liza­tion, pogroms, and vio­lence against migrants. In a weaker form this has also hap­pened in Ger­many, and as usual one can see a pat­tern: the gov­ern­ment stirs up hatred, fas­cists take action (there have been at least five arson attacks in the first half of 2014). Sec­ond, many states are prepar­ing mil­i­tar­ily for mass strikes and social unrest. In accor­dance with an oper­a­tional scheme that has shaped inte­rior poli­cies in many West­ern coun­tries since the Sec­ond World War, state insti­tu­tions make use of para­mil­i­tary fas­cist struc­tures. A recent exam­ple is the rela­tion between the Greek secu­rity appa­ra­tus and the fas­cist Golden Dawn.4

The Background: The State Lays the Ground for Racism

In Octo­ber 1982 the new Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Hel­mut Kohl told Mar­garet Thatcher in a con­fi­den­tial con­ver­sa­tion that he wanted to reduce the num­ber of Turks in Ger­many by half within four years. They were “impos­si­ble to assim­i­late in their present num­ber.” A few months before this con­ver­sa­tion his pre­de­ces­sor Schmidt blared: “I won’t let any more Turks cross the bor­der.” In Octo­ber 1983, the gov­ern­ment passed a repa­tri­a­tion grant. In the fol­low­ing years, the Chris­tian Democ­rats (CDU) began a debate about the alleged ram­pant abuse of the asy­lum law. Although hate was stirred against “gyp­sies,” “negroes,” and oth­ers, in its core this racism was always aimed against “the Turks,” the largest group of immi­grants. Kohl made this clear in his con­ver­sa­tion with Thatcher: “Ger­many does not have a prob­lem with the Por­tuguese, the Ital­ians, not even the South­east Asians, because all these com­mu­ni­ties are well inte­grated. But the Turks, they come from a very dif­fer­ent cul­ture.”5

Already in the sec­ond half of the 1980s, this gov­ern­ment pol­icy was accom­pa­nied by Nazi attacks on for­eign­ers. After Ger­man reuni­fi­ca­tion this process cul­mi­nated in the racist pogroms of Ros­tock-Licht­en­hagen in August 1992.6 Less than four months later, the SPD (Social Demo­c­ra­tic Party of Ger­many) and the CDU (Chris­tian Demo­c­ra­tic Union of Ger­many) agreed to abol­ish the right of asy­lum almost com­pletely.

The state racism was bloody, but it was not quan­ti­ta­tively suc­cess­ful in deport­ing large num­bers or dis­cour­ag­ing immi­gra­tion. At the begin­ning of Kohl’s Chan­cellery there were 4.6 mil­lion for­eign­ers in Ger­many; when it ended in 1998 there were 7.3 mil­lion. Con­se­quently, inte­rior pol­icy focused on “police pen­e­tra­tion” of “par­al­lel soci­eties” after the Ros­tock pogroms and espe­cially under the Schröder gov­ern­ment. Inte­rior min­is­ter Kan­ther and his suc­ces­sor Schily imposed the def­i­n­i­tion of immi­gra­tion as “crim­i­nally orga­nized” through­out Europe. This pol­icy, too, was pri­mar­ily directed not against “new­com­ers” but against the “Turks” who already live here. Small busi­nesses owned by migrants are gen­er­ally sus­pected of involve­ment in orga­nized crime. Even before 9/11, the finan­cial trans­ac­tions and phone calls of whole com­mu­ni­ties were screened and ana­lyzed on sus­pi­cion of orga­nized crime and traf­fick­ing. In par­tic­u­lar, the inves­ti­ga­tions tar­geted small busi­nesses fre­quented by large num­bers of peo­ple: cof­fee shops, inter­net cafes, kiosks, and so forth. From these places migrants can trans­fer money to another coun­try with­out the involve­ment of banks, using the Hawala sys­tem.7 “Police pen­e­tra­tion” reached its cli­max with the search for the Ceska killers: the “BOA Bospho­rus” orga­nized the largest drag­net among migrant com­mu­ni­ties in the his­tory of Ger­many: mas­sive sur­veil­lance of phone calls, mobile phones, money trans­fers, hotel book­ings, rental car use, etc.

The Nazis

Although the global eco­nomic cri­sis of the early 1990s reached Ger­many a bit later than else­where because of the “reuni­fi­ca­tion boom,” it was rel­a­tively more sev­ere. Unem­ploy­ment dou­bled, “flood­gates opened wide” in the fac­to­ries. The unions sup­ported the cri­sis pol­icy of employ­ers with new col­lec­tive agree­ments to ensure “job secu­rity” and com­pany agree­ments imple­ment­ing “work­ing time accounts” over a full year. The work­ers were left alone in their defen­sive strug­gles, even though some were quite mil­i­tant and cre­ative. The (rad­i­cal) Left was pre­oc­cu­pied with the strug­gle against fas­cism and racism. They no longer analysed racism as a gov­ern­men­tal pol­icy, but as a “pop­u­lar pas­sion.” Any­one who tries to fight against eth­nic racism in all its shades but omits the dimen­sion of social racism remains tooth­less at best: in the worst case s/he becomes an agent of state racism.8 Jacques Ran­cière described it this way: “The racism we have today is a cold racism, an intel­lec­tual con­struc­tion. It is pri­mar­ily a cre­ation of the state… [It is] a logic of the state and not a pop­u­lar pas­sion. And this state logic is pri­mar­ily sup­ported not by, who knows what, back­ward social groups, but by a sub­stan­tial part of the intel­lec­tual elite.” Ran­cière con­cludes that the “‘Left­ist’ cri­tique” has adopted the “same con­ceit” as the right wing (“racism is a pop­u­lar pas­sion” which the state has to fight with increas­ingly tougher laws). They “build the legit­i­macy of a new form of racism: state racism and ‘Left­ist’ intel­lec­tual racism.”9 After that shift, there was a strong ten­dency for antifas­cist activ­i­ties to focus on the socially deprived and their prim­i­tive racism, and the state became increas­ingly attrac­tive as an ally. From the mid-90s onward, it funded most of these anti-racist ini­tia­tives. All these changes were com­pleted by the self-dis­arm­ing of most of the rad­i­cal Left, which started adopt­ing the aim of “strength­en­ing civil soci­ety” at the same time as it removed all ref­er­ences to class strug­gle.

The most impor­tant NSU mem­bers were born in the mid-1970s in East Ger­many and were polit­i­cally social­ized in the “asy­lum debate” in the early 90s. It was a phase of mas­sive de-indus­tri­al­iza­tion and high unem­ploy­ment in the East of Ger­many. The young Nazis learned that they could use vio­lence against migrants and left­ist youth with­out being pros­e­cuted by the state. They real­ized that they could change soci­ety through mil­i­tant action.

In West Ger­many a new youth cul­ture grew in the ’80s as well: right-wing skin­heads. The skin­head scene in the East and in the West was held together by alco­hol, exces­sive vio­lence, con­certs, and the dis­tri­b­u­tion of ille­gal videos and CDs. This music busi­ness allowed them to set up their own financ­ing. Still, a large part of their money was orga­nized through petty crime. From the begin­ning, many Nazis were involved in pros­ti­tu­tion, and arms and drug traf­fick­ing. Later they became heav­ily involved with biker gangs and secu­rity firms, which are boom­ing due to the the pri­va­ti­za­tion of state func­tions.

In the mid-90s var­i­ous mil­i­tant groups and other groups from the rightwing music scene united under the ban­ner of the Blood & Hon­our net­work (B&H).10 Soon after the Ger­man Nazi scene orga­nized inter­na­tion­ally, mak­ing con­tacts world­wide and build­ing an infra­struc­ture that stretched from CD pro­duc­tion to arms deal­ing and shoot­ing ranges. At that time the police could no longer coun­te­nance Nazi vio­lence, and the Nazis had to hide their actions. In that con­text, the B&H/Com­bat 18 con­cept of clan­des­tine strug­gle and small, inde­pen­dent ter­ror­ist groups (“lead­er­less resis­tance”) helped them reor­ga­nize.

In the for­mer East Ger­man state of Thuringia, the Nazi scene was built up by “Freie Kam­er­ad­schaften,”11 the Thüringer Heimatschutz (THS),12 Blood & Hon­our, and the Ku Klux Klan. This is the envi­ron­ment that gave birth to the National-Sozial­is­tis­cher Unter­grund. The “Kam­er­ad­schaft Jena” con­sisted of Ralf Wohlleben, Hol­ger Ger­lach, André Kapke, Böhn­hardt, Mund­los, and Zschäpe. From 1995 onwards they were filed as “rightwing extrem­ists” in the VS Infor­ma­tion Sys­tem. Orga­nized in the THS, they prac­tised the use of explo­sives and firearms, and com­mit­ted their first attacks. The other mem­bers of the “Kam­er­ad­schaft Jena” remained active in the scene after the Trio went under­ground in 1998. And they sup­ported their com­rades: Hol­ger Ger­lach gave them his driver’s licence, pass­port, and birth cer­tifi­cate, and he rented motorhomes for them. Kapke and Wohlleben orga­nized weapons and pass­ports. Those two orga­nized the largest right-wing rock fes­ti­val in Ger­many and main­tained inter­na­tional con­tacts. In 1998 Wohlleben became a mem­ber of the NPD, the largest neo-Nazi party at the time. Over time he became its deputy chair­man in Thuringia. With the help of this net­work, Böhn­hart, Mund­los and Zschäpe could move under­ground and com­mit their attacks, prob­a­bly with local sup­port.

The Informants System

The Ger­man State is directly involved in orga­nized fas­cist struc­tures. But the direct and exten­sive involve­ment in the Thüringer Heimatschutz and the National-Sozial­is­tis­cher Unter­grund stands out. In and around these groups the VS posi­tioned more than two dozen Con­fi­den­tial Infor­mants, or CIs. These CIs were not used to catch vio­lent Nazis like the Trio, instead they orga­nized the mil­i­tant Nazi scene in Ger­many, devel­op­ing it ide­o­log­i­cally and mil­i­tar­ily. The VS recruited mostly very young fas­cists and made them into lead­ers of the scene. In an inter­nal doc­u­ment of 1997, the Bun­deskrim­i­nalamt (Fed­eral Crim­i­nal Police Office, or the BKA) called these CIs “incen­di­aries” in the Nazi scene.13 It saw “the dan­ger that the CIs egged each other on to big­ger actions” and found it ques­tion­able “whether some actions would have hap­pened with­out the inno­v­a­tive activ­i­ties of the CIs.” There are many state­ments by for­mer CIs descriv­ing how they dis­cussed their polit­i­cal actions with their han­dlers. In some of those cases the han­dlers pre­vented their CIs from leav­ing the scene or told them to appear more aggres­sive. For the Ger­man intel­li­gence agen­cies, main­tain­ing CIs is more impor­tant than law enforce­ment. They pro­tected them from the police in mul­ti­ple cases so that they could oper­ate undis­turbed. In the mid-90s there was a brief debate about this prob­lem, because it became known that CIs of the Ger­man intel­li­gence agen­cies fought and killed as mer­ce­nar­ies in the Yugosla­vian civil war.

In 1996 the Fed­eral Inte­rior Min­istry began Oper­a­tion Rennsteig: the Bun­de­samt für Ver­fas­sungschutz (BfV, fed­eral domes­tic secret ser­vice), Mil­itärischer Abschir­m­di­enst (MAD, Ger­man mil­i­tary intel­li­gence agency), and local VS agen­cies of Thuringia and Bavaria coor­di­nated their intel­li­gence activ­i­ties relat­ing to the THS and the NSU, at least until 2003. They dis­cussed the recruit­ment of infor­mants but also how they could achieve dis­cur­sive hege­mony within “civil soci­ety.” Oper­a­tion Rennsteig marks a turn­ing point in Ger­man inte­rior pol­icy, which really took hold when Otto Schily, a for­mer ’60s stu­dent rad­i­cal and defense lawyer of the Red Army Fac­tion, became inte­rior min­is­ter in 1998. There was an unseen exten­sion of the secu­rity appa­ra­tus and an adjust­ment of the focus of the intel­li­gence agen­cies. To adapt them­selves to the new inter­na­tional con­stel­la­tion (Yugosla­vian wars, the first attack on the World Trade Cen­ter in 1993), they cen­tral­ized the Ger­man intel­li­gence struc­ture and uni­fied the han­dling of the Nazi scene. In this process they also expanded intel­li­gence activ­i­ties within the Nazi scene. All this hap­pened at the same time as the shift in “for­eign­ers pol­icy” from the attempt at “reduc­tion” under Kohl to the “fight against par­al­lel soci­eties in our midst” under Schily.

Every­one involved in Oper­a­tion Rennsteig knew that it was an explo­sive and not entirely legal oper­a­tion. Most of the files con­cern­ing recruit­ment and han­dling were incom­plete, some CIs were not even reg­is­tered. Between Novem­ber 12, 2011 and the sum­mer of 2012, 310 case files were destroyed in the BfV alone. They tried to destroy every­thing con­nected with Oper­a­tion Rennsteig, CI “Tarif,” and other impor­tant CIs around the NSU. Again, the com­mands were com­ing from the top of the hier­ar­chy. A few days after the first destruc­tion of files, the Fed­eral Inte­rior Min­istry gave the order to con­tinue the destruc­tion. Not only did they destroy phys­i­cal files, they also manip­u­lated com­puter files and deleted the phone data of CIs in con­tact with the NSU.

Who Was in Control?

When more and more high-level CIs in the NSU’s imme­di­ate envi­ron­ment were exposed, they began to tell the fairy tale of “CIs out of con­trol.” This was just the secret service’s next smoke­screen, after such cover sto­ries as “we didn’t know any­thing” and “we were badly coor­di­nated” col­lapsed when Oper­a­tion Rennsteig became pub­licly known. It is a lie, but many on the Left believe it because it fits into their pic­ture that “the Nazis can do what they want with the state.” It is there­fore worth tak­ing a closer look at this point.

Who are CIs? The ser­vices usu­ally try to recruit peo­ple with prob­lems: prison, debts, and per­sonal crises. These peo­ple then receive an allowance that can amount to a nor­mal monthly income for impor­tant CIs. CIs get sup­port for their polit­i­cal actions and warn­ings before a house search. On the other hand, there is a lot of con­trol: sur­veil­lance of all tele­phones, track­ing of move­ments, some­times direct shad­ow­ing. In order to cross­check the reports, the VS runs more CIs than it would oth­er­wise need. Time and again there are meet­ings of Nazi cadres with four or five CIs sit­ting around the table. There were sev­eral CIs within the NSU struc­ture who did not know about each other. The great major­ity of them did what the VS wanted them to do — pass­ing on infor­ma­tion, betray­ing every­thing and every­one, while also directly sup­port­ing armed strug­gle by pro­vid­ing pass­ports, logis­tics, pro­pa­ganda and weapons.

Some exam­ples of CIs in the NSU struc­ture:

  • Tino Brandt, the chief of the THS, was the best paid CI of the Thuringia VS from 1994 to 2001; he helped the Trio go under­ground, and after­ward pro­vided pass­ports and money.
  • Thomas Starke (LKA CI in Berlin from 2000 to 2011) orga­nized weapons and the Trio’s first hide­out, and he deliv­ered explo­sives before they went under­ground. He gave clues as to where they could be found in 2002, but these were “not inves­ti­gated.”
  • Thomas Richter was CI “Corelli” for the BfV from 1994 to 2012; after this became pub­lic he was kept hid­den by the agency and was found dead in April 2014. He had “imme­di­ate con­tact” with Mund­los as early as 1995, and was the link between the NSU and the KKK and co-founder of the anti-antifa.
  • Andreas Rach­hausen – “GP Alex” – brought back the get­away car the three had used for going under­ground in Jan­u­ary 1998, when Rach­hausen was already a CI.
  • Ralf Marschner was CI “Primus” for the BfV from 1992 until about 2001. He rented motorhomes through his build­ing com­pany at exactly the time when two of the mur­ders occurred.
  • Carsten Szczepan­ski tried to build up a Ger­man branch of the KKK in the early 1990s, while mon­i­tored by the VS. Between 1993 and 2000, he was impris­oned for a bru­tal attempted mur­der. In prison he co-edited the Nazi mag­a­zine “Weißer Wolf” (White Wolf), which prop­a­gated the con­cept of lead­er­less resis­tance and sent greet­ings “to the NSU” even then. He became a CI in prison. For his work he received many prison priv­i­leges (besides lots of money). He sup­plied much infor­ma­tion, for exam­ple that Jan Werner had orga­nized the Trio’s weapons. Imme­di­ately after his release he tried to set up a ter­ror cell like Com­bat 18. When his cover blew in 2000, the VS got him a new iden­tity and sent him abroad.
  • Michael von Dolsperg, (for­merly See), a mem­ber of Com­bat 18, close to the THS. From 1995 to 2001 he was a BfV CI with the code name “Tarif.” He was rewarded with at least 66,000 D-Mark. After 1994 he was edi­tor of the mag­a­zine “Son­neban­ner,” which pro­posed “going under­ground” and “form­ing inde­pen­dent cells.” We know that some of its arti­cles were dis­cussed by Mund­los, Böhn­hardt, Zschäpe and their close con­tacts. Dolsperg pro­duced a total of 19 issues. In an inter­view he claimed that “the BfV got all issues in advance.”14 This is not the only case where the VS partly financed and “fine-tuned” the con­tents of a Nazi mag­a­zine. In Thuringia, the VS was con­sulted for anti-antifas­cist leaflets and did the proof­read­ing.15 In 1998 Kapke asked Dolsperg if he could provide hous­ing for the Trio in hid­ing. Dolps­berg refused after his han­dler advised him to do so.

Par­al­lel to the story about “CIs out of con­trol,” the intel­li­gence agen­cies cre­ated another one: “too much chaos in the intel­li­gence appa­ra­tus.” To sup­port this leg­end they put on dis­play all the inter­nal con­flicts between the var­i­ous law enforce­ment and intel­li­gence agen­cies, cases of “con­flict­ing author­i­ties” and the com­pe­ti­tion between dif­fer­ent agen­cies. One high­point was the scan­dal around Roewer, the for­mer Pres­i­dent of the local VS agency in Thuringia.16 All this show of con­fu­sion was used to make the NSU a pre­text for the enhance­ment of the secu­rity appa­ra­tus.

1998: The So-called Disappearance of the Underground

In Jan­u­ary 1998, the LKA found pipe bombs and explo­sives in a garage rented by Zschäpe in Jena. The VS had known about these explo­sives all along. Nonethe­less, Böhn­hardt was able to leave undis­turbed in his car dur­ing the raid. It took days until the police issued a war­rant for the Trio because all those respon­si­ble were on sick leave, on vaca­tion, or oth­er­wise unavail­able. Obvi­ously they wanted the Trio to go under­ground. Already in Novem­ber 2011, the famous Ger­man feuil­leton­ist Nils Minkmar described the nature of the “under­ground” as fol­lows: “They didn’t have to hide very deep, it was more like snor­kel­ing in a bath­tub: They used to have a social life in Zwickau, kept in con­tact with a wide cir­cle of sup­port­ers and attended demon­stra­tions, con­certs and other events. Many did know where the three were hid­ing. And if the right wing scene in Ger­many has a prob­lem, it is cer­tainly not that it is extremely sealed off, but that it is heav­ily inter­spersed with CIs.” In fact, today we know that the three oper­ated in an envi­ron­ment that was struc­tured and mon­i­tored by the VS; most of their main sup­port­ers were CIs. After search­ing the garage, the police even found two address lists belong­ing to Mund­los con­tain­ing 50 names, includ­ing at least five CIs.17 The lists dis­played the national net­work of the NSU, with con­tacts in Chem­nitz, Jena, Halle, Ros­tock, Nurem­berg, Straub­ing, Regens­burg, Lud­wigs­burg. Offi­cially, the police never ana­lyzed the lists or used them for inves­ti­ga­tion pur­poses!

2000: The Extremism Doctrine and the Beginning of the Murders

Two and a half years later, on Sep­tem­ber 9, 2000, the Ceska mur­ders began with the death of Enver Sim­sek. In early sum­mer the BfV had informed the inte­rior min­istry that “a few groups” were try­ing to get the “struc­ture and the equip­ment” to “attack cer­tain tar­gets.” These groups were espe­cially active in the states of Berlin and Bran­den­burg, Sax­ony, Sax­ony-Anhalt and Lower Sax­ony. The BfV also kept an eye on the Trio — after they went under­ground they were closely watched by the unit for right-wing ter­ror­ism (!). Nev­er­the­less the BfV claimed that these small Nazi groups had “no polit­i­cal con­cept for armed strug­gle,” although they actively prop­a­gated such con­cepts by sup­port­ing news­pa­pers such as the “Son­nen­ban­ner.” Fed­eral Inte­rior Min­is­ter Schily used this infor­ma­tion to make a press state­ment in which he warned of the “dan­ger of Antifa actions rad­i­cal­iz­ing indi­vid­ual right-wing extrem­ists. These mil­i­tant right-wing extrem­ists or small groups could decide to retal­i­ate.”

The strat­egy was to build up fas­cist struc­tures and to blame the rad­i­cal left for their exis­tence in the pub­lic dis­course, employ­ing the extrem­ism doc­trine.18 The film Youth Extrem­ism in the Heart of Ger­many, made by the Thuringian VS in May 2000, is a clear exam­ple. At the begin­ning it states that fas­cist and antifas­cist “sce­nes need each other, they can­not live with­out each other” and that “vio­lence as a means to an end is accepted in the left-wing scene.” It describes the fas­cists with the usual clichés: unem­ployed, une­d­u­cated, dis­or­ga­nized, com­mit­ting crimes when drunk. Roewer, the pres­i­dent of the VS, explains the high num­ber of right offenses “solely with the fact that scrawl­ing swastikas, roar­ing Sieg Heil … are offenses in Ger­many … because of that the sta­tis­tics appear very high with over 1,000 crimes per year, but nearly all are pro­pa­ganda offences.” The THS is men­tioned pos­i­tively, Kapke and Tino Brandt are allowed to speak: “the Anti-Antifa Ost­thürin­gen was formed in response to vio­lence from the left, to bring those per­pe­tra­tors to light,” and “We are rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the National Demo­c­ra­tic Party of Ger­many in Jena … We are fun­da­men­tally opposed to vio­lence.”

2003-2005: The Manhunt is Discontinued; Bomb Attack in Cologne

In 2003 four immi­grants from Turkey had already been killed. Evi­dence piled up that the mur­ders could have a right-wing extrem­ist back­ground. In March 2003 the Ital­ian secret ser­vice gave the VS evi­dence of a net­work of Euro­pean Nazis that pre­pared mur­ders of immi­grants. The FBI had analysed the mur­ders and regarded “hatred of Turks” as a motive for the mur­ders. In Baden-Würt­tem­berg CI “Erbse” revealed that there was a Nazi group called NSU and one mem­ber was called “Mund­los:” the han­dler was advised to destroy this infor­ma­tion. It was decided to let the Trio dis­ap­pear.

In June 2004, a nail bomb exploded in the Keup­straße in Cologne. The attack resem­bled other right-wing attacks, for exam­ple the Lon­don nail bomb­ings by the Nazi David Copeland five years ear­lier. But the Fed­eral Inte­rior Min­is­ter Schily announced two days later: “The find­ings of our law enforce­ment agen­cies do not indi­cate a ter­ror­ist back­ground, but a crim­i­nal one.” He def­i­nitely knew bet­ter!

The shops and restau­rants in the Keup­straße are almost exclu­sively run by immi­grants. Many of these shops are very suc­cess­ful; some busi­ness­peo­ple even joined in an ini­tia­tive to become active in local pol­i­tics with their own demands. The attack ended these attempts. The uncer­tainty as to who was behind the attack and the crack­down by the police on the vic­tims directly after cre­ated great dis­trust in the Keup­straße, which is still felt to this day.

The Keup­straße bomb­ing and its after­math exem­plify the struc­tural inter­ac­tion of state insti­tu­tions with the fas­cist ter­ror: first the attack ter­ror­izes the immi­grants, then they are harassed by the police and the media. This harass­ment makes the inten­tions of the NSU a real­ity: “for­eign prof­i­teers” and “for­eign mafias” were marked and cut off from the Ger­man “Volk­skör­per” (“Ger­man people’s body”).

2006-2007: Murders of Migrants Stop, Police Officer Kiesewetter is Murdered

In April 2006 two peo­ple were killed within three days: kiosk owner Mehmet Kubasik in Dort­mund and Halit Yoz­gat in his inter­net café in Kas­sel. The body count of the Ceska mur­ders went up to nine. The vic­tims’ rel­a­tives orga­nized joint demon­stra­tions in Kas­sel and Dort­mund, shout­ing the slo­gan “No tenth vic­tim!” After the demon­stra­tions the series of mur­ders stopped.

The mur­der in Kas­sel showed clearly that the VS wanted to sab­o­tage all inves­ti­ga­tions – and that this was a deci­sion from the top of the hier­ar­chy: at the time of the mur­der the Hes­sian VS offi­cer Andreas Temme was present in Yozgat’s inter­net café. Temme was known as a gun fanatic and col­lected fas­cist lit­er­a­ture. He was the only per­son present at the mur­der scene and did not come for­ward to the police. At that time he was the han­dler of a fas­cist CI with whom he had a long phone call an hour before the mur­der. The police saw Temme as a sus­pect for the entire Ceska series. Nev­er­the­less, the Hes­sian VS refused to give the police any infor­ma­tion; oth­er­wise some­one “would just have to put a dead body near a CIs or a han­dler” to “par­a­lyze the whole VS.” The dis­pute between the police and the VS was taken up to the Hes­sian inte­rior min­is­ter Bouffier, who stopped the inves­ti­ga­tions after con­sul­ta­tion with the BfV.

Just over a year later, on April 25, 2007, the police offi­cer Michèle Kiesewet­ter was shot in her police car. Her col­league Mar­tin Arnold, sit­ting next to her, sur­vived a head­shot. After four and a half years the inves­ti­ga­tions still had not got­ten any­where. After the NSU became pub­licly known, politi­cians and the pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor insisted obsti­nately that Kiesewet­ter had been mur­dered by chance and that Böhn­hardt and Mund­los had been the sole per­pe­tra­tors. But that story does not add up!19 In the case of Kiesewet­ter, the poor per­for­mance of the inves­ti­ga­tion teams can­not be explained by “racism.” The mur­der vic­tim was part of the police. Why the need for a cover-up?

After the mur­der in Heil­bronn, it became quiet around the NSU. Four and a half years later, sud­denly there were two bank rob­beries that were attrib­uted to the NSU. After the sec­ond of these failed, Böhn­hard and Mund­los allegedly com­mit­ted sui­cide and the NSU became a mat­ter of pub­lic knowl­edge.

Germany’s “Security Structure” and the Nazis

One has to make use of the far right, no mat­ter how reac­tionary they are… After­wards it is always pos­si­ble to get rid of them ele­gantly… One must not be squea­mish with aux­il­iary forces.
– Franz Joseph Strauß20

Since at least the dis­clo­sures start­ing in Italy in the sec­ond half of 1990, it has been known that NATO keeps armed fas­cist troops as a reserve inter­ven­tion force. Only states with such a “stay-behind” struc­ture could become NATO mem­bers after the Sec­ond World War. In case of a Soviet occu­pa­tion this reserve was sup­posed to fight as a guer­rilla force behind the front (hence the name stay-behind). But it also had to pre­vent Com­mu­nist Party elec­tion vic­to­ries and other forms of rad­i­cal social change. In West Ger­many the stay-behind troops were called Tech­nis­cher Dienst (tech­ni­cal ser­vices) and were built up by Nazi war crim­i­nals such as Klaus Bar­bie under US lead­er­ship. This became pub­licly known for the first time in 1952.21

Accord­ing to a Ger­man gov­ern­ment report of Decem­ber 1990, in which the exis­tence of stay-behind struc­tures was admit­ted, “prepa­ra­tions for the defence of the state” were made in coop­er­a­tion with the Bun­desnachrich­t­en­di­enst (BND, Ger­man for­eign intel­li­gence agency) from 1956 onwards. Heinz Lem­bke was part of these struc­tures. He deliv­ered weapons to the Wehrsport­gruppe Hoff­mann22 in the ’70s. Lembke’s huge arse­nal was dis­cov­ered inci­den­tally by forestry work­ers in 1981. The night after Lem­bke agreed to dis­close who had pulled the strings, he was found hanged in his cell.

The stay-behind struc­tures obvi­ously changed their char­ac­ter in the 70s and 80s (in Italy they were called Gladio and took part in some­thing they must have under­stood as a civil war from 1969 to 1989.) In the 1990s they changed their direc­tion again: now Islamism was the main enemy – it was per­haps at this point that new per­son­nel were recruited. The thread con­nect­ing them: fas­cist groups as reserve inter­ven­tion forces.

Chris­tian Menhorn’s tes­ti­mony at the penul­ti­mate ses­sion of the BUA23 is typ­i­cal of the secret ser­vices’ self-con­fi­dence. Men­horn was respon­si­ble for the THS at the time. He appeared as the best-informed VS ana­lyst. He gave the BUA mem­bers the impres­sion that he knew a lot more about the Nazi scene than they did and rep­ri­manded them repeat­edly. The ques­tions put to him cen­tered on why the VS pre­vented any men­tion of the Trio in a joint inter­nal paper by the VS and BKA. Men­horn said that the VS, in oppo­si­tion to the BKA, knew that the Trio was “irrel­e­vant.” That was after the first mur­ders had already hap­pened. When he was asked for the rea­sons for this fatal denial, his imme­di­ate reply was very brief but still revealed what the VS did at that time: “We adjusted our infor­ma­tion.”24

Men­horn, Richard Kaldrack (alias; Marschner’s han­dler), Thomas Richter, Mirko Hesse, Mar­tin Thein (Dolsperg’s han­dler) and Gor­dian Meyer-Plath, Scepanski’s han­dler and head of the Sax­ony VS, are all part of a new gen­er­a­tion, born in 1966 or later, who came straight from school or uni­ver­sity and started work­ing for the VS. They all stand for the extrem­ism doc­trine; some of them have used it for an aca­d­e­mic career. Thein for exam­ple has pub­lished books on Ultras and “fan cul­ture” with left­wing pub­lish­ers. It is very unlikely that those agents/handlers, who were very young at the time, could have taken impor­tant deci­sions (not stop­ping the Trio, giv­ing them arms, keep­ing infor­ma­tion from the police … ) with­out con­sul­ta­tion with the hier­ar­chy. They were instructed by old hands like Nor­bert Wießner, Peter Nocken and Lothar Lin­gen (alias), who won their wings fight­ing the Red Army Fac­tion. Lin­gen set up a depart­ment in the BfV exclu­sively for “right ter­ror” at the begin­ning of the 90s. He could be called the high­est-rank­ing agent/handler: it was he who coor­di­nated the destruc­tion of files after the exis­tence of the NSU became pub­lic knowl­edge.

Behind them there was a strate­gic level of a very few high offi­cials whose careers swung between the inte­rior min­istry, the chan­cellery and the top lev­els of the ser­vices (e.g. Han­ning and Fritsche).

Intelligence, Nazis, and the War

Since the mid-90s Ger­many has almost always been at war. The biggest mis­sions were those in Yugoslavia since 1995 and in Afghanistan since 2002. The role of intel­li­gence became far more impor­tant, play­ing a greater role in secur­ing Ger­man ter­ri­tory, hold­ing down the domes­tic oppo­si­tion to the war, and mon­i­tor­ing the Bun­deswehr (Ger­man army) sol­diers. To these ends it uses intel­li­gence oper­a­tions against oppo­nents of the war, it infil­trates Islamist groups, and it coop­er­ates with neo-fas­cist sol­diers and mer­ce­nar­ies.

Many Ger­man and Aus­trian Nazis fought in the Yugosla­vian civil wars, espe­cially on the Croa­t­ian side. This involve­ment was orga­nized by con­tacts in the “Freien Kam­er­ad­schaften” and was known to the Ger­man gov­ern­ment all along. At the same time, the Ger­man gov­ern­ment ignored the embargo and sent mil­i­tary instruc­tors to Croa­tia. August Han­ning (see below) told the BUA that they were fight­ing against the Islamists since the mid-90s – and could not be both­ered with the Nazis. They were focused on the “pres­ence of al-Qaeda ter­ror­ist groups” and not on the extreme right-wing ter­ror­ists in Bosnia. What this state­ment obscures, of course, is that they had pre­vi­ously had strongly sup­ported the Islamist mili­tias, when these were not yet called “al-Qaeda.”

These wars were quite lucra­tive for some Nazis. Nor­mally they got no pay but they were allowed to loot. They took part in “eth­nic cleans­ing.” The reg­u­lar Croa­t­ian army and the pro­fes­sional mer­ce­nar­ies25 con­quered a town and marked the houses of “Serbs.” Then the Nazis were allowed to ‎plun­der and mur­der. After their return to Ger­many some Nazis could build up com­pa­nies (and get lead­ing posi­tions in the NPD and other orga­ni­za­tions).

The Bun­deswehr has been called an “expe­di­tionary force” since 2006. It became an all-vol­un­teer mil­i­tary in July 2011 and can also be used inside Ger­many. So far, Ger­many has had lit­tle direct expe­ri­ence of the “pri­va­ti­za­tion of war­fare,” but the Bun­deswehr is actively try­ing to elim­i­nate this “short­com­ing,” seek­ing to cre­ate its own pri­vate shadow armies with the sup­port of the Fed­eral Employ­ment Agency. (This agency finances the train­ing and “cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of safety per­son­nel for inter­na­tional assign­ments”).

Operational Cores and Control from Above

You can see that the struc­ture that led the NSU is still intact by look­ing at the sys­tem­atic action to destroy impor­tant files. The heads of the agen­cies were imme­di­ately oper­a­tionally active. On a strate­gic level they set the course for the fur­ther upgrade of the law enforce­ment agen­cies with tar­geted pub­lic rela­tions work. In total five pres­i­dents of VS agen­cies were forced to resign. These res­ig­na­tions were intended “to provide breath­ing space for the Min­is­ter of the Inte­rior,” as one of these direc­tors put it. But above all the res­ig­na­tions were sup­posed to allow the the oper­a­tional work to con­tinue undis­turbed. The “deep state” – this dense web of intel­li­gence agen­cies, mil­i­tary, and police that sup­ports gov­ern­ment actions and imple­ments its reg­u­la­tions with extra-legal means, “free­lance” employ­ees and “aux­il­iary forces” – must not become vis­i­ble.

August Han­ning is cer­tainly one of the strate­gic coor­di­na­tors of this struc­ture. From 1986 to 1990 he was Secu­rity Offi­cer in the embassy in East Berlin, among other things respon­si­ble for pris­oner ran­som. In 1990 he moved to the Ger­man chan­cellery and in 1998 he became pres­i­dent of the BND. Under his lead­er­ship the BND assisted in abduc­tions and tor­ture by the CIA. Among other things, Han­ning argued against the return of Guan­tanamo pris­oner Murat Kur­naz, although he knew of his inno­cence.26 He became sec­re­tary of state in the inte­rior min­istry late in 2005. Dur­ing his exam­i­na­tion before the BUA he said in rela­tion to the NSU com­plex that “the secu­rity struc­ture of Ger­many has proved itself.”

Another impor­tant fig­ure is Klaus-Dieter Fritsche (CSU). Since the begin­ning of this year he has been fed­eral gov­ern­ment com­mis­sioner for the fed­eral intel­li­gence ser­vices, a newly cre­ated post. He is at the height of his career now. In 2009 he suc­ceeded Han­ning as Inte­rior Min­istry Sec­re­tary of State: in this capac­ity he was known as “Germany’s most pow­er­ful offi­cial” and “the secret inte­rior min­is­ter.” Pre­vi­ously he was intel­li­gence coor­di­na­tor at the fed­eral chan­cellery and before that, from 1996 to 2005, he was vice-pres­i­dent of the BfV with respon­si­bil­ity for the man­age­ment of CIs like Corelli, Tarif and Primus. At the BUA he expressed the self-image of the “deep state” clearly: “secrets that could affect the government’s abil­ity to act if revealed, must not be revealed… the inter­ests of the state are more impor­tant than a par­lia­men­tary inves­ti­ga­tion.”

This “deep state” has a long tra­di­tion in Ger­many: it sur­vived both 1933 and 1945. In 1933 the Nazis could smash the (Com­mu­nist) oppo­si­tion quickly, because the polit­i­cal police had pre­vi­ously cre­ated files about them which they imme­di­ately made avail­able to the Nazi gov­ern­ment. After 1945 the secret ser­vices, police agen­cies, and the admin­is­tra­tive appa­ra­tus con­tin­ued with essen­tially the same per­son­nel. The BND, the VS and the stay-behind struc­tures were made up of old Nazis. But today this com­plex runs across party lines. In the case of the NSU, both CDU and SPD Inte­rior Min­is­ters of the states played a role. BKA chief Zier­cke is mem­ber of the SPD, while the pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor is from the FDP [Free Demo­c­ra­tic Party, a lib­eral party]. In Thuringia, inte­rior min­is­ters openly fought antifas­cist activ­i­ties in coop­er­a­tion with the VS whether they were from the SPD or the CDU, and so on.

The VS was an impor­tant tool in the domes­tic pol­icy of all pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments. In the mid-50s it helped to ban the Com­mu­nist Party; in the 60s it worked with intel­li­gence oper­a­tions and agent-provo­ca­teurs against the youth move­ment. At the begin­ning of the 70s it helped the Brandt gov­ern­ment to imple­ment “pro­fes­sional bans”: 3.5 mil­lion appli­cants for civil ser­vice were audited, 11,000 appli­cants were banned from work as civil ser­vants. There were unof­fi­cial dis­ci­pli­nary pro­ce­dures and dis­missals, too.

These struc­tures sur­vived the col­lapse of the East­ern Bloc: the secu­rity ser­vices were even able to use them to expand their sphere of influ­ence. This was rein­forced by 9/11: Dur­ing the war on ter­ror intel­li­gence agen­cies world­wide had a mas­sive boost, sim­i­lar to that of the Cold War. The United States enhanced its secu­rity appa­ra­tus with the Patriot Acts to ensure “home­land secu­rity.” In Ger­many, the Joint Coun­ter-Ter­ror­ism Cen­tre was founded in 2004 to coor­di­nate BKA, BND, VS and the LKAs. The BKA Act of 2009 pro­vides the BKA with means “to respond to threats of inter­na­tional ter­ror­ism,” which were pre­vi­ously only avail­able to the police author­i­ties of the states (com­puter and net­work sur­veil­lance, drag­nets, use of under­cover inves­ti­ga­tors, audio and video sur­veil­lance of hous­ing and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions). In addi­tion, the BKA can now inves­ti­gate with­out con­crete sus­pi­cion on its own ini­tia­tive, with­out the approval of an pros­e­cu­tor.

The devel­op­ment of the scan­dals sur­round­ing the NSU and the sur­veil­lance of the NSA and its west­ern part­ners (which include the Ger­man agen­cies) has made clear that the power of the ‘deep state’ in Ger­many is stronger than was expected. It was never touched and has sur­vived all scan­dals. Across party lines, par­lia­men­tary inves­ti­ga­tion is con­ducted with spe­cial con­sid­er­a­tion for raison détat. This ensures that the deep state is not affected and that police and intel­li­gence agen­cies con­tinue to be empow­ered, pro­vided with addi­tional rights and encour­aged to coop­er­ate more closely. Because of this, the Bun­destag inves­ti­ga­tion com­mit­tee arrived at the non-fac­tual con­clu­sions that there is “no evi­dence to show that any author­ity was involved in the crimes (of the NSU) in any man­ner, or sup­ported or approved them” and that there was no evi­dence “that before Novem­ber 4, 2011 any author­ity had knowl­edge” of the NSU or its deeds or “helped it to escape the grasp of the inves­ti­gat­ing author­i­ties.”27

This raison détat also includes the PdL (Partei die Linke – Left Party), which par­tic­i­pated “con­struc­tively” in the BUA and sup­ported its final report. The PdL is the left-wing oppo­si­tion party in Ger­many. It was formed in 2007 through a merger of the suc­ces­sor of the SED (state party of for­mer East Ger­many) and the Left oppo­si­tion in the SPD. It is increas­ingly sup­ported by sec­tions of the rad­i­cal left. So far, the VS had spied on the PdL. As part of the final dec­la­ra­tion of the BUA the PdL has been assured that it will be no longer mon­i­tored by the secret ser­vices.

The Nazi scene is hardly affected: the unmask­ing of the NSU has not weak­ened it, instead many are encour­aged to pur­sue their goals at gun­point. They are arm­ing them­selves. In 2012, there were 350 cases of gun use reg­is­tered. That was a peak, but in 2013, the use of firearms by Nazis increased fur­ther. Refugee shel­ters are attacked much more fre­quently again.

There is no rea­son to believe that we could take action against the brown plague via the state. At the trial in Munich, the pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor is doing a polit­i­cal job, try­ing to deal with the case accord­ing to the rul­ing doc­trine.

A weak­ness of large parts of the “left” oppo­si­tion and the rad­i­cal Left becomes appar­ent: after the pogroms of the early ’90s many aban­doned the work­ing class as a rev­o­lu­tion­ary force. They could there­fore only turn to “civil soci­ety” and thus ulti­mately the state as an ally against the Nazis. This ally sup­ported fas­cist struc­tures and helped to estab­lish them, while at the same time it gave the left-wing oppo­si­tion the oppor­tu­nity to turn itself into a force sup­port­ive of the state. This fact paral­y­ses many Antifa and other left­wing groups. Instead of nam­ing the state’s role in the NSU com­plex, they focus on the inves­ti­ga­tion com­mit­tees and the trial, they lose them­selves in the details which are pro­duced there. There were no sig­nif­i­cant move­ments on the streets when the NSU became pub­lic. All this allows the state appa­ra­tus to min­i­mize the NSU – but many peo­ple still feel the hor­ror.


NSU timeline:

1993/1994 Foun­da­tion of the “Kam­er­ad­schaft Jena”
1996 Foun­da­tion of the Thüringer Heimatschutz (THS)
1996-1998 Small actions with dummy bombs and deac­ti­vated bombs
1/26/1998 Raid on the garage of Zschäpe; the Trio (Zschäpe, Mund­los, Böhn­hardt) goes under­ground
1998-2011 Numer­ous bank rob­beries
07/27/2000 Bomb attack on east­ern Euro­pean, mostly Jew­ish migrants in Düs­sel­dorf
09/09/2000 Mur­der of Enver Şimşek in Nürn­berg
01/19/2001 Bomb attack in the Prob­steigasse in Cologne
6/13/2001 Mur­der of Abdur­rahim Özü­doğru in Nürn­berg
6/27/2001 Mur­der of Süley­man Taşköprü in Ham­burg
8/29/2001 Mur­der of Habil Kılıç in Munich
2/25/2004 Mur­der of Mehmet Turgut in Ros­tock
06/09/2004 Bomb attack on the Keup­straße in Cologne
06/09/2005 Mur­der of İsmail Yaşar in Nürn­berg
6/15/2005 Mur­der of Theodoros Boul­gar­ides in Munich
04/04/2006 Mur­der of Mehmet Kubaşık in Dort­mund
04/06/2006 Mur­der of Halit Yoz­gat in Kas­sel
4/25/2007 Mur­der of the police offi­cer Michèle Kiesewet­ter
11/04/2011 The NSU becomes pub­licly known


List of Abbreviations

VS = Ger­man domes­tic secret ser­vice

BfV = Fed­eral office of the domes­tic secret ser­vice

MAD = Ger­man mil­i­tary intel­li­gence agency

BND = Ger­man for­eign intel­li­gence agency

BUA = Par­lia­men­tary inves­ti­ga­tion com­mit­tee

NSU = National Social­ist Under­ground

B&H = Blood & Hon­our

Trio = Böhn­hardt, Mund­los, Zschäpe

BAW = Ger­man pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor

BOA = Spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tion team

LKA = The “Crim­i­nal Police Offices” of Germany’s 16 fed­eral states (Län­der). Each incor­po­rates a ‘state secu­rity’ divi­sion.

BKA = Fed­eral equiv­a­lent of the LKA, with repon­si­bil­ity for “national secu­rity,” “coun­ter-ter­ror­ism,” etc.

THS = Thüringer Heimatschutz (Thuringia Home­land Pro­tec­tion): coor­di­nat­ing net­work of the neo-Nazi Freie Kam­er­ad­schaften groups in Thuringia, east­ern Ger­many. See also foot­notes 9 and 10.

  1. What fol­lows is based on four arti­cles pre­vi­ously pub­lished in Wild­cat. These in turn were based on the research of antifas­cist groups, on news­pa­per arti­cles, on the reports from par­lia­men­tary inves­ti­ga­tion com­mit­tees and on books. We use a lot of names of Ger­man Nazis, Ger­man towns, Ger­man cops and politi­cians. Most do not have any mean­ing out­side of Ger­many. But we hope that in the “Age of Google” they can help you if you want to check the facts or go deeper.  

  2. We will refer to some of the Ger­man secu­rity agen­cies. There are three intel­li­gence agen­cies in Ger­many. The Bun­desnachrich­t­en­di­enst (BND; Fed­eral Intel­li­gence Ser­vice) is the for­eign intel­li­gence agency of Ger­many, directly sub­or­di­nated to the Chancellor’s Office. The Mil­itärischer Abschir­m­di­enst (Mil­i­tary Coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence Ser­vice, MAD) is a fed­eral intel­li­gence agency and is respon­si­ble for mil­i­tary coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence. The third agency, Germany’s domes­tic intel­li­gence ser­vice, is called “Ver­fas­sungss­chutz” and has a fed­er­ated struc­ture. Aside from the fed­eral “Bun­de­samt für Verfassungsschutz”(BfV; Fed­eral Office for the Pro­tec­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion) there are also 16 so called Lan­desämter für Ver­fas­sungss­chutz (LfV; State Author­i­ties for the Pro­tec­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion) – one for each state – which are inde­pen­dent of the BfV. They are tasked with intel­li­gence-gath­er­ing on threats against the state order and with coun­ter-intel­li­gence. 

  3. In the lan­guage of the Ger­man police and intel­li­gence, con­fi­den­tial infor­mants are called “V-Leute” or “V-Män­ner.” The V stands for Ver­trauen, which means con­fi­dence. 

  4. Wild­cat has pub­lished an arti­cle about the Golden Dawn in Greece, “Fas­cists in Greece: From the streets into par­lia­ment and back.” 

  5. Claus Heck­ing, “Britis­che Geheim­pro­tokolle: Kohl wollte offen­bar jeden zweiten Türken loswer­den,” Spiegel Online, August 1, 2013. 

  6. There were many racist pogroms in Ger­many at the begin­ning of the 90s. The first peak was in Sep­tem­ber 1991 in Hoy­er­swerda, a town in north­east­ern Sax­ony. On four nights there were attacks against a hostel mainly used by Mozam­bi­can con­tract work­ers. The sec­ond peak was the pogroms in Ros­tock-Licht­en­hagen in Meck­len­burg-Vor­pom­mern: Between August 22 and 24, 1992, vio­lent xeno­pho­bic riots took place; these were the worst mob attacks against migrants in post­war Ger­many. There were also arson attacks against Turk­ish houses in which eight peo­ple died.There are two Wild­cat arti­cles in Eng­lish about these pogroms and their con­se­quences, “Ros­tock, or: How the New Ger­many is being gov­erned,” from Wild­cat 60, 1992; and “Cri­tique of autonomous anti-fas­cism,” from Wild­cat 57, 1991. 

  7. The Hawala sys­tem is an infor­mal value-trans­fer sys­tem based on a huge net­work of money bro­kers. This net­work makes it pos­si­ble to send money to an acquain­tance in a cheap and con­fi­den­tial way. There are no promis­sory instru­ments exchanged between the hawala bro­kers: the sys­tem is solely based on trust between the bro­kers. 

  8. By social racism we mean racism against peo­ple from lower social strata, peo­ple who don’t inte­grate well in soci­ety, peo­ple liv­ing from ben­e­fits, etc. Éti­enne Bal­ibar uses a sim­i­lar con­cept in Éti­enne Bal­ibar and Immanuel Waller­stein, Race, Nation, Class: Ambigu­ous Iden­ti­ties (Lon­don: Verso, 1991).  

  9. All quotes from a lec­ture by Jacques Ran­cière in 2010, printed in Ger­man trans­la­tion in ak 555, Novem­ber 19, 2010. The Eng­lish trans­la­tion is avail­able at: 

  10. Blood & Hon­our is a neo-Nazi music pro­mo­tion net­work and polit­i­cal group founded in the United King­dom in 1987. Com­bat 18 was founded in 1992 as its mil­i­tant arm. 

  11. In the early 90s the mil­i­tant neo-Nazi scene began to orga­nize in groups called Freie Kam­er­ad­schaften (free asso­ci­a­tions, free cama­raderie). These have no for­mal mem­ber­ship and no cen­tral­ized national struc­ture, but keep in close con­tact. Over 150 such Kam­er­ad­schaften exist in Ger­many. 

  12. The Thüringer Heimatschutz (THS) was a coor­di­nat­ing net­work of the Freie Kam­er­ad­schaften in Thuringia with up to 170 mem­bers. Its head Tino Brandt was a paid CI for VS in Thuringia. 

  13. Von Baumgärt­ner, Maik; Röbel, Sven; Stark, Hol­ger, Innere Sicher­heit: Der Brand­s­tifter-Effekt,” Der Spiegel 45, Novem­ber 5, 2012; “Der »Brand­s­tifter-Effekt« des Ver­fas­sungss­chutzes,” Antifaschis­tis­ches Infoblatt, March 8, 2014. 

  14. Der Spiegel, Sep­tem­ber 2014. 

  15. Der Thüringer NSU-Unter­suchungsauss­chuss,” Antifaschis­tis­ches Infoblatt 101 / 4.2013, 28.01.2014. 

  16. From 1994 to 2000 Hel­mut Roewer was pres­i­dent of the Thuringia Ver­fas­sungss­chutz. He is famous for his exces­sive lead­er­ship of the VS, involv­ing pros­ti­tutes and spiked hel­mets. In sum­mer 2000 he had to resign because it came to light that he financed impor­tant mil­i­tant Nazis not only with help of the ‘nor­mal’ VS struc­tures but also with a sys­tem of front com­pa­nies. Exactly who got the money remains unclear. Roewer him­self said some time ago that the Thuringia Ver­fas­sungss­chutz funded the neo-Nazi scene with 1.5 mil­lion DM. Today Roewer pub­lishes with the right wing Ares-Ver­lag. 

  17. Von Maik Baumgärt­ner, Hubert Gude und Sven Röbel, “Ermit­tlungspanne: Fah­n­der werteten NSU-“Garagenliste” nicht richtig aus,” Spiegel Online, Feb­ru­ary 14, 2014; Wolf Wet­zel, “Die Gara­gen­liste – die Gold Card des Nation­al­sozial­is­tis­chen Untergrundes/NSU,” Eyes Wide Shut, Novem­ber 16, 2011. 

  18. The “extrem­ism doc­trine” is the state doc­trine in the Fed­eral Repub­lic of Ger­many, which says that the democ­racy of the Weimar repub­lic (1918-1933) was destroyed by the vio­lent extrem­ism of the right and the left. The term was coined in the 1970s by the VS. Before the 1970s it was called “rad­i­cal­ism,” but had to be changed because in the 60s “rad­i­cal” became a pos­i­tive term. 

  19. Why would Böhn­hardt and Mund­los go all the way to Heil­bronn to kill at ran­dom a police offi­cer who was also from Thuringia? A police offi­cer whose imme­di­ate supe­rior was a mem­ber of the KKK? Kiesewetter’s uncle is a police offi­cer involved in fas­cist struc­tures him­self; he said to the police in 2007 that the mur­der of his niece was con­nected to the Ceska mur­ders. The police offi­cers inves­ti­gat­ing Heil­bronn con­cluded from eye­wit­ness accounts that there were six per­pe­tra­tors and made com­pos­ite sketches, but those were not used in the inves­ti­ga­tion, etc. 

  20. Franz Josef Strauß was a Ger­man politi­cian. He was the chair­man of the CSU (inde­pen­dent party in Bavaria, but in an elec­toral union with the CDU), a mem­ber of the fed­eral cab­i­net in var­i­ous posi­tions and for a long time min­is­ter-pres­i­dent of Bavaria. Dur­ing his polit­i­cal career Strauss was a con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure, a law-and-order politi­cian, well con­nected to the intel­li­gence agen­cies and often lean­ing to the far right. He was involve­ment in sev­eral large-scale scan­dals. 

  21. See Daniele Ganser, Nato’s Secret Armies: Oper­a­tion Gladio and Ter­ror­ism in West­ern Europe (Cass: New York, 2004). 

  22. The Wehrsport­gruppe Hoff­mann was one of the largest para­mil­i­tary groups in Ger­many. It was founded by Karl-Heinz Hoff­mann in 1973 and pro­hib­ited in 1980. Part of the group sub­se­quently went to Lebanon to receive mil­i­tary train­ing. In Sep­tem­ber 1980 a bomb exploded at the Okto­ber­fest in Munich, killing 13 peo­ple. The alleged indi­vid­ual per­pe­tra­tor Gun­dolf Köh­ler, who died in the explo­sion, was a mem­ber of the Wehrsport­gruppe Hoff­mann. 

  23. Before that, the BUA had not paid atten­tion to the BfV. The del­e­gates had not even known about its depart­ment for right-wing ter­ror­ism. 

  24. Hajo Funke, Abbruch der Unter­suchung auf hal­ber Strecke. Das vorzeit­ige Ende der öffentlichen Ermit­tlung des NSU Unter­suchungsauss­chusses des Bun­destags

  25. U.S. com­pa­nies heav­ily involved in the con­quest of Kra­jna. 

  26. Murat Kur­naz is a Turk­ish cit­i­zen and res­i­dent of Ger­many. He was arrested was arrested in Pak­istan late in 2001 then impris­oned at Guan­tanamo Bay for five years. From 2002 onwards the USA was ready to return Kur­naz to Ger­many, but the Ger­man gov­ern­ment declined that offer. Accord­ing to the Ger­man gov­ern­ment Kur­naz had lost his res­i­dency per­mit because he had left Ger­many for more than 6 months with­out notice. Kur­naz couldn’t return to Ger­many until a court ruled that he still had his res­i­dency per­mit because in Guan­tanamo he was unable to apply for an exten­sion of his “leave to remain.” 

  27. From the final report of the par­lia­men­tary inves­ti­ga­tion com­mit­tee. Avail­able at: 

Author of the article

reports on class struggles all over the world, focusing on the experiences and discussions of the workers themselves. Originally founded as Karlsruher Stadtzeitung in the late 1970s, Wildcat is not a party organization; it is a group of people from different cities mostly in Germany that aims to engage in, support, and advance everyday struggles in factories, offices, hospitals, and neighborhoods. Some of their work has been translated into English, and can be accessed on their website.