German right-wing extremists have compiled “enemy lists” featuring the details of more than 35,000 people — but so far, authorities have warned only a handful of the potential targets, according to a German MP.
The information was revealed in response to a parliamentary question posted by German MP Martina Renner, a lawmaker for the left-wing Die Linke party, who focuses on right-wing extremism. She asked the German government how many people were on so-called enemy lists of neo-Nazi groups, and how many of them had been informed.
The results, she said, were “extremely worrying.” Investigations into prominent right-wing extremist groups including the National Socialist Underground, an alleged far-right terror cell in the German military, and the far-right prepper group Nordkreuz, had revealed the existence of a number of such lists, including contact details for the listed “enemies.”
Yet only a handful of the 35,000 people on the lists have been informed they were potential targets, a situation Renner called “completely absurd.”
“Imagine being on such a list and being left in the dark about it," she said. Her office said it could not say why authorities did not inform people they were on such lists, but it was a sign that they did not take the threat of far-right terrorism seriously enough.
“The federal government simply ignores the right-wing terrorist threat,” said Renner.
One of the lists was compiled by an alleged far-right terror cell that was uncovered in the German military in April last year. The cell’s alleged leader, a lieutenant known as Franco A., had successfully created a false identity as a Syrian refugee, and is accused of plotting “false flag” terror attacks under the guise of the refugee in order to drum up public anger towards immigrants.
When police raided the cell, they found, along with an assault-rifle case carved with a swastika, a list of 32 names of left-wing potential targets considered to be pro-migrant. Franco A. had also allegedly surveilled the Berlin headquarters of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, a leading German NGO working to combat the far-right, making sketches of the building.
Unlike the majority of names on far-right “enemy lists,” the foundation was one of the few to be notified by German authorities that its premises, and a member of its board, were potential targets.
Sofia Vester, a spokeswoman for the foundation, told VICE News that, even with the notification from the police that it was a potential target, the response from authorities was underwhelming.
“The information was basically, ‘You are on that list,’ full stop,” she said. “It wasn’t very productive and wasn’t linked to any security measures we should be taking. We were offered no additional assistance.”
She expected that the foundation and its staff would likely figure on some of the other “enemy lists” revealed to Renner, and said that those on the lists should be informed.
“Of course we would like to know if colleagues of ours are possible targets,” she said. “As a foundation we’re saying it’s the least they should do. It’s important to inform people if their names or institutions are floating around lists of known right-wing extremist groups.”
A recent assessment by the German Interior Ministry found that there had been an increase in people joining right-wing extremist groups in 2017, although recorded far-right violence had dropped from the previous year, when attacks surged in response to an influx of migrants into Germany. The report attributed the drop in attacks in part due to heavy sentences imposed by the courts.
Cover image: Martina Renner, Chairwoman of the Bundestag's NSA Investigative Committee, speaks during the debate regarding the committee's final report at the Bundestag (Federal Legislature) in Berlin, Germany, 28 June 2017. Photo by Bernd von Jutrczenka/picture alliance via Getty Images.