As a recent slew of high-profile constitutional crises by President Trump dominate US and international news, a white supremacist “false flag” terrorist plot emanating from within the German military has continued to unfold since late April. Outside of Germany, the story has received little attention, despite shocking revelations that high-ranking German politicians were targeted for assassination to influence the upcoming federal elections scheduled for September 2017.
On May 9, 2017, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported that federal prosecutors had arrested Maximilian T., the second German soldier accused of plotting to commit the false flag terrorist attack. The plot was first disclosed on April 27, 2017, when authorities announced the arrests of Franco A., a soldier in the army, and Matthias F. who is a university student. Prosecutors described the three suspects as “pro-Nazi” individuals who were all “ready to kill for their cause.”
According to prosecutors, the two Nazi lieutenants are accused of drafting a hit list to stage a politically motivated mass shooting in Germany that would then be “interpreted by the public as a radical Islamist terrorist attack by a recognized refugee.” To carry out the false-flag terrorist plot, Franco A. allegedly defrauded authorities and was then successfully granted asylum. The second soldier, who was stationed on the border at a joint French-German base in Illkirch, is accused of deceiving officials to provide cover for Franco’s fabricated Syrian refugee backstory.
The investigation currently spans three countries in total — Germany, France and also Austria — where Franco A. is accused of hiding an illegal gun at the Vienna international airport in a bathroom for people with disabilities. Austrian police discovered the weapon in early January 2017. University student Matthias F. was arrested after investigators caught him hoarding 1,000 rounds of ammunition stolen from the military in preparation of the mass shootings by Nazis.
The false flag Nazi terrorist plot bears striking resemblance to tactics used by Daesh terrorists of the so-called Islamic State in Paris. Terrorist French-borne nationals with Daesh had also posed as Syrians by leaving fake passports at the scene of the attacks in hopes of inciting a violent, hateful backlash against refugees. Daesh also counterfeits Syrian passports to sell on the black market.
Germany’s Military Has Long Overlooked Nazism Within Its Ranks
While in university, Franco A. wrote a Master’s thesis that reads as a master-race manifesto advancing Nazi ideologies and racial purity. The racist pro-Hitler thesis was accepted by his military professor at Universität der Bundeswehr München where Franco A. subsequently received his Master’s degree.
Due to his white supremacist thesis, Franco A. has been compared to white supremacist Anders Breivik who bombed government offices in Stockholm during July 2011. Two hours later while dressed as a Swedish police officer, Breivik further committed a mass shooting at a liberal summer camp for teenagers in Utøya. In the end, Breivik — who was described as a lone wolf terrorist, even though those who attract that label are typically radicalized online by others — murdered 77 people in total.
In Franco A.’s case, investigators also found several items from the Nazi-era Wehrmacht forces at the barracks of Franco A’s garrison, including a prominently visible display of a Nazi soldier mural painted next to a hung Wehrmacht machine gun in one of the living quarters for Bundeswehr soldiers. A week later, on May 5, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced the military was conducting searches of every German base after finding even more Nazi-related paraphernalia in another barracks south of Stuttgart near the Swiss border.
In Germany, it is legal to possess any of these items so long as they do not contain swastikas.
The Bundeswehr — the unified armed forces of Germany — has a sordid history of allowing the use of Wehrmacht articles, including Nazi uniforms, worn by its own leaders and post-war German chancellors such as Helmut Schmidt. Seven decades later, the names of prominent Nazi-era officials still adorn the official titles of numerous German military bases.
Franco’s base in Illkirch has come under particular scrutiny and repeated investigation for outlawed Nazi activities. In one widely reported case, German soldiers at Illkirch lit a giant swastika that was four meters (13 feet) in width to celebrate the German soccer team FC Bayern München winning the 2012 European Champion’s League.
“We are training individuals with weapons and it is right that we are held to a higher standard,” Defense Minister von der Leyen told the newspaper Bild Am Sonntag about the terrorist plot.
Prosecutors have remained largely mum on the possibility of a wider network of terrorist conspirators inside the Bundeswehr, but they said their investigation is still ongoing and it is not known yet how many soldiers were either aware or involved. Many in the media, however, have begun asking whether or not the Bundeswehr is currently a hotbed of German radicalization for nationalist extremists involved in contemplating acts of white nationalist terrorism.
Subsequently, there has been a media rush in recent weeks to interview former neo-Nazis discharged from the military for their nationalist extremism.
Outrage Mounts in Response to Failures of German Intelligence Agencies
Outrage is also mounting from liberals in the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), whose politicians are prominently featured in the terrorist hit list. Many left-wing opposition parties are now rallying to demand explanations as to why it took the government so long to uncover a plot from avid “pro-Nazi” soldiers openly hiding within their own ranks.
SPD lawmakers held hearings in parliament the following day where Defense Minister von der Leyen from the ruling conservative Christian Democratic Union party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced intense questioning. “Both [accused soldiers] were on the radar, both had been noticed,” remarked opposition SPD lawmaker Rainer Arnold, who chairs the defense committee in parliament.
“The fact that the [German intelligence agency Militärische Abschirmdienst] closes its files on far-right activity instead of looking closely at what people are doing is a serious mistake,” Arnold added. Currently, up to 300 German service members are under investigation for “far-right actions” — a category that includes criminal acts of Nazism.
Quickly lost abroad were additional reports from the Kölner Stadt-Anzeige on May 9, 2017 — the same day when the second Nazi soldier’s arrest was announced. One high-ranking chief counter-intelligence officer for the Militärische Abschirmdienst (MAD), Hendrik Rottmann, publically tweeted out the illegal Nazi-era phrase “Deutschland erwache!” without quotes on his personal account in late January 2017. Rottmann quickly deleted the criminal tweet that same day after receiving comments from unsympathetic followers and even journalists.
The mayor of Köln and a Bundestag lawmaker both filed complaints with German prosecutors against Rottmann and notified Defense Minister after having viewed the screenshots.
The banned Nazi-era phrase tweeted out by Rottmann translates to “Germany, wake up!” and was prominently featured on the imperial Roman banners of Hitler’s paramilitary Sturmabteilung (SA). Known as the “Brownshirts” outside Germany, the SA repeatedly attempted a series of failed violent coups against the Weimer Republic since 1923. The illegal phrase is widely recognized by Germans as a criminal call for militant Nazi insurrection to overthrow the federal government.
To make matters worse, one of the primary duties of the German intelligence headquarters in Köln where Rottmann works is to monitor and counteract nationalist extremism among German service members to prevent Nazi infiltration.
The situation parallels the infiltration in the United States of neo-Nazis and other white supremacists, including members of the Ku Klux Klan, inside US law enforcement and the military. The FBI, itself, has quietly released findings about such infiltration within its agency and others. Previous reports have further documented that far-right extremist movements on Twitter have grown seven times larger since 2012. Meanwhile, white supremacists on Twitter consistently generate more daily tweets and followers than Daesh terrorists of the so-called Islamic State.
Despite Being Criminalized, Use of Genocidal Nazi Call to Action Persists
The majority of Twitter users posting the illegal “Deutschland erwache!” phrase are neo-Nazis inside Germany or the US and Japan. The users guard their personal anonymity while freely operating online. The term “Deutschland erwache!” is also, however, casually used by many supporters and party officials in the Holocaust-denying Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) political party in Germany.
MAD Intelligence Chief Rottmann represented the AfD as a local city councilman in Köln before officials expelled him over the recent revelations. Simple Twitter searches demonstrate several public tweets of “Deutschland erwache!” from AfD supporters since the story originally broke on April 27 — which includes accounts followed by official AfD politicians, their local factions, and AfD campaign accounts that retweet and promote the party accounts for electioneering.
In fact, official AfD Twitter accounts often have to respond on their own posts to AfD supporters — informing them that posting the Nazi expression online is still illegal. Violators are kindly asked to delete their tweet so both avoid legal troubles.
At its national conference in May 2016, the AfD party adopted a platform to ban mosques and place an immediate halt on immigration in Germany. The following year during its next conference in April, the AfD kicked out its less extreme leaders while reaffirming its platform ahead of federal elections this September.
In national polls conducted during 2016, it was reported that more than half of Germans within the country agree with the statement, “Islam does not belong in Germany,” which was normalized by the AfD as an officially adopted party slogan. The anti-Muslim sentiment was fairly popular with German voters on the left, too.
Some of the most significant AfD controversies over the last year have included blocking Holocaust education program funds for German schoolchildren, actively recruiting neo-Nazis into a local AfD faction to support the party in German state elections, and drafting legislation to deport all refugees and asylum seekers inside Germany back to their hostile nations of origin after mass imprisonments. One AfD lawmaker warned Germans of the “Warsaw ghetto” plan since resigning.
The AfD has now entered 13 out of 16 Landtags after securing seats consecutively in each German state election since the party was formed in 2013. This represents an unprecedented accomplishment for any German far-right party since the end of World War II in 1945. The AfD is also widely expected to enter national parliament after federal elections later this September. If the AfD enters the Bundestag, its lawmakers can then introduce and vote upon legislation for the entire country with their fellow German parliamentarians.
The effects are already being felt, however, as racist sites making erroneous factual claims in Germany impact the federal election with “criminal incitement” against Africans, Muslims, migrants and refugees.
Germany’s Weakened Judiciary Means Fewer Prosecutions of Far-Right Extremists
Mark Zuckerberg is currently defending himself against a €50 million lawsuit from the German government. Germany alleges Zuckerberg is criminally liable for “hate speech” from inactions that foster illegal harassment and abuse on Facebook. This includes allowing abusive online accounts of German white supremacists — or their illegal content — to flourish inside the country despite incessant warnings. Germany states that Zuckerberg will not respond to their endless requests.
Although many of these acts are illegal inside Germany, successful prosecutions of far-right extremists have dropped significantly.
These failures include repeated attempts over the past two decades to ban the National Democratic Party (NPD) party, which commits crude public displays of Nazism in its public demos and marches. In particular, the NPD is notorious for denouncing commemorations of Holocaust victims.
Concurrently, many refugees and asylum seekers residing in designated housing have complained about a lack of security or responsiveness from the German police and other authorities.
Violent hate crimes inside Germany have reached unprecedented rates since 2014. More than 3,500 incidents of violent attacks targeted against refugees, migrants and their housing or shelters were documented inside Germany during 2016 alone — which amounts to nearly 10 such malicious attacks occurring within the country each and every day.
Human rights observers and commentators in the German media have now begun referring to the nation’s judiciary as weak and largely ineffective in the face of increasing hate crimes and a far-right extremist resurgence. A similar trend has also been noted in the US, where anti-Muslim hate crimes have reportedly increased by 57 percent in 2016.
Meanwhile, the Southern Poverty Law Center has successfully won lawsuits against neo-Nazis directing their followers to commit crimes as an “online army primed to attack with the click of a mouse,” including organized campaigns of criminal harassment and stalking.
In response to national outcry during a recent interview with the German broadcaster ARD, Christian Weißgerber, a veteran and former neo-Nazi, ridiculed the notion that anyone within the German military or intelligence agencies would be unaware of how widespread the problem truly is. “The Bundeswehr has been aware for a long time that many of its soldiers are sympathetic toward nationalist and racist politics or have even openly represented them,” Weißgerber said.
Weißgerber himself was dishonorably discharged from the German military for overt nationalist extremism. “It seems a bit laughable that everyone is suddenly pretending this is something new,” he quipped about the developing terrorist plot by white nationalist soldiers. “It’s almost funny that the Bundeswehr is now pretending as if they only just recently had to start monitoring their own soldiers.”
As of late, the German public has started to view nationalist extremism and Nazis with a renewed sense of threat. Many are left wondering just how strong a grip Merkel’s ruling government has upon German security, in addition to questioning the loyalty of their own service members and chief intelligence officers.