The rise of Neo-Nazism is pervasive.
Excerpted from Deutsche Welle 6.17.2019
A suspected neo-Nazi’s arrest in the Kassel politician’s murder case has focused concerns on far-right terrorism in Germany. The city is home to an extremist scene and was the location of a notorious National Socialist Underground (NSU) murder in 2006.
The implication of a Sunday arrest, coincidentally made on the third anniversary of the killing of British MP Jo Cox by a far-right extremist in the UK, is that the Walter Lübcke case would mark the first time in decades that an active politician was killed by a terrorist in Germany.
The manner of the killing — a close-range shot to the head — also recalled the series of killings by the only neo-Nazi terrorist group that has so far been discovered and investigated by German security forces: the National Socialist Underground (NSU).
Over a seven-year period, the NSU carried out nine murders of people with immigrant backgrounds, using a single Ceska handgun. The last two murders happened over a three-day period in Dortmund and Kassel in April 2006.
Germany’s federal prosecutors have taken over the investigation into the murder of Walter Lübcke, indicating that the killing of the Kassel district president on June 2 is being treated as a politically-motivated terrorist act.
A number of German outlets have reported details of the alleged far-right ties of the suspect arrested in the city of Kassel in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Monday that the 45-year-old man, named only as Stephan E., had a long criminal record, had already issued death threats via his YouTube channel, and that weapons were found during the search of his home.
According to the paper, Stephan E. had written a comment on YouTube in 2018 under his alias Game Over that read “Either this government abdicates soon or there will be deaths.”
Citing sources within security forces, the paper, along with public broadcasters NDR and WDR, said the suspect had been active in extreme-right groups, including the domestic neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD) and a group known as the Autonomen Nationalisten (Autonomous Nationalists), a pan-European neo-Nazi group that has adopted some Antifa and far-left tactics.
Stephan E. is also believed to have been sentenced to six years in prison for an attempted bomb attack on a refugee home in 1995. He was also reported to have taken part in an attack on a trade union demonstration in 2009.
Officially, however, the federal prosecutors were giving little away about the investigation surrounding the suspect. Press spokesman Markus Schmitt appeared briefly before the cameras in Karlsruhe on Monday afternoon to confirm that the murder was being treated as a far-right extremist crime. He added that there was no indication yet that the suspect indeed belonged to a particular neo-Nazi terrorist cell, but that police were investigating whether others may have been involved.
The neo-Nazis of Kassel and Dortmund
Hendrik Puls, researcher of the far-right scene and an academic advisor to the NSU investigative committee established by the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia, sees Lübcke’s murder in the context of the neo-Nazi scene that sprang up in the cities of Dortmund and Kassel in the mid-1990s, inspired by the British neo-Nazi group Combat 18.
“That’s the first thing I thought of [when I heard of Lübcke’s case],” Puls told DW. “This is a region that is tightly connected to the activities of Combat 18, both currently and historically.”
In the mid- to late 1990s, Puls explained, Combat 18 and its associated groups began “propagating armed struggle,” for instance by publishing magazines that included bomb-making instructions as well as sharing strategies for armed struggle.