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), 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.