State, Media Cover Up Murders of Immigrants
Editor’s Note: This article is essential reading for anyone interested in the connection between neo-Nazis and Western intelligence agencies. It explains why intelligence agencies are so eager to fund and plan fascist terror, and why reformist calls to ban the neo-Nazi groups are both naive and dangerous. The only way to stop the Nazis once and for all is to smash the system that shelters and supports them — capitalism — and establish in its place direct democracy within a socialist framework.
— Nina Westbury
The following article is translated from Spartakist No. 191 (January 2012), newspaper of our comrades of the Spartakist-Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands.
In early November, it was revealed that a Nazi terror group, calling itself the “National Socialist Underground” (NSU), had murdered eight immigrants of Turkish and Kurdish descent and one of Greek origin between 2000 and 2006. A single pistol was used in all the murders. Enver Simsek, Abdurrahim Özüdogru, Süleyman Tasköprü, Habil Kilic, Mehmet Turgut, Ismail Yasar, Theodoros Boulgarides, Mehmet Kubasik and Halit Yozgat were executed outright in plain view of the bourgeois state. The same Nazi killers are also responsible for a 2004 bomb attack on Cologne’s Keupstrasse, a street with mostly immigrant residents, which left 22 people injured, some of them severely.
Now there are reports of links between the NSU and the Nazi milieu both in Ludwigshafen, where an arson attack in 2008 killed eight residents of Turkish origin, and in the Saarland town of Völklingen, where over the last five years there have been countless arson attacks on immigrants’ homes that have injured 20 people. Ties between the Verfassungsschutz [VS, domestic intelligence service] and the Nazi murder gangs have come to light, and there is enormous anger—not only among ethnic minorities—over the deep involvement of the bourgeois state in the murderous Nazi terror.
Only last summer, the mass murder of social-democratic youth and others in Norway by the fascist Anders Breivik was dismissed as “the deed of an individual,” and Breivik was declared “insane.” In the Italian city of Florence, a fascist recently murdered two Senegalese street vendors and injured three other immigrants. Here too, the mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, spoke of the “insane act of an individual,” although the murderer was at least associated with the fascist Ezra Pound group. Back in 1980, the state presented a fascist attack on Oktoberfest that killed 13 people and injured 211 as the act of an “insane individual” while dismissing any link to the Nazi “Hoffmann gun club.” We wrote in Spartakist No. 33 (November 1980), “The top priority was to return to business as usual in the election campaign: the fascist German past has been ‘dealt with,’ the ‘real’ terror comes from the left—against the state.”
In the context of the ongoing and deepening financial crisis, rightist populist and fascist parties have been growing throughout Europe. Using anti-Muslim demagoguery and racist terror, these parties are attempting to redirect the anger over the capitalist crisis toward minorities. On the other hand, there has been massive resistance by the working class in a number of countries to the attacks of the capitalists, who are shifting the costs of the crisis on to the shoulders of the working people. The capitalist state protects the fascists as shock troops should the normal mechanisms of bourgeois democracy—deception, bribery and police terror—no longer suffice to contain the working class and guarantee bourgeois order.
In the last few decades, the bourgeoisie has mainly used the fascists’ murderous terror to push and orchestrate racist campaigns. The brazen announcement by the NPD [the fascist National Democratic Party of Germany] that it intends to mobilize on May Day this year in Dortmund, where these Nazi thugs attacked a DGB [Confederation of German Trade Unions] demonstration two years ago, underlines the fact that the fascists are the mortal enemies of the entire workers movement. The fascists must be stopped by mobilizations of the working class at the head of all their potential victims, mobilizations that are independent of the bourgeoisie and its state. This struggle must be an integral part of the fight to smash capitalism, which breeds fascism.
Nazi State Informants
The Nazis Beate Zschäpe, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt, who supposedly formed the core of the NSU (which now is said to have some 20 supporters), were part of the Jena section of the fascist “Thuringia Home Defense.” This group, in turn, was built by Tino Brandt, a V-Mann [informant] for the Verfassungsschutz and NPD vice chairman for the state of Thuringia. Through this VS informant alone, 200,000 deutschmarks in state funds had been funneled to the Nazi milieu by 2001.
In January 1998, a bomb factory was found during a police raid in a garage Zschäpe had rented. Shortly thereafter an arrest warrant was issued, and the three fascists went underground. Between 1998 and 1999, they were tracked down by Thuringia police investigators, but as the radio station MDR reported (18 November 2011), the work of a special task force of the State Office of Criminal Investigation (LKA) was stopped and the investigators were withdrawn. When the LKA officers involved objected, there was a discussion between “high-level representatives of the Interior Ministry” and the cops. In the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (12 November 2011), the Christian Democratic (CDU) interior minister for Thuringia, Jörg Geibert, reported that there was a 2001 note in a case file by an LKA investigator stating that one of the three Nazis was protected by a government agency and was a VS asset.
When the 21-year-old Halit Yozgat was murdered in Kassel on 6 April 2006, a VS employee who had regularly visited Yozgat’s Internet café was at the scene. This VS agent, Andreas Temme, disappeared furtively from the crime scene but was tracked down on the basis of DNA evidence. A well-known Nazi who went by the nickname of “little Adolf” in his hometown of Hofgeismar, Temme was promptly released. The lie was then spread that he had left the café a minute before the murder. The public prosecutor dropped the investigations in 2007, and Temme is now working for a municipal government in Hesse. The series of murders supposedly stopped after that—or in any case, the Nazi killers didn’t use the same pistol any more. Now the March 2006 murder of a 68-year-old Turkish immigrant, who was shot directly in the head in front of a mosque in Rheda-Wiedenbrück, is being examined.
When two of the NSU Nazi killers were threatened with arrest following a bank robbery on November 4, they allegedly committed suicide. Besides the guns used to kill the nine immigrants and a policewoman, illegal “genuine” identification was also found in their possession. This ID could only have been issued by state authorities. Zschäpe turned herself in on November 8.
Although the VS claims that the number of informants in the NPD was significantly reduced after the failure of 2003 proceedings to ban the NPD, Der Spiegel (11 December 2011) reported that 130 are still active today. The system of informants funnels funds to the Nazis estimated at millions of euros (not to mention official state subsidies that in 2005 amounted to 1.2 million euros for the NPD and 1.3 million euros for the [fascist] Republikaner Party). According to the Federal Office for Political Education, “no more than 15 percent of the leadership of the NPD are informants, about 30 out of 200” (Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, 2005). With unusual candor, the Federal Constitutional Court cited the NPD’s “lack of Staatsfreiheit” [i.e., its lack of independence from the state] to justify discontinuing the proceedings to ban it.
But it is not only at this level that the bourgeois state is responsible for Nazi terror. For many years, the police investigations into the series of murders and the press campaigns accompanying them covered up their racist character and blamed the victims for the crimes. Indeed, the Nazi murders were used to incite racial hatred and embolden the genocidal scum. The description of the murders in the bourgeois press as “Döner murders” [referring to a common Turkish dish] itself speaks volumes about the racist contempt of this capitalist society for ethnic minorities. Just a year ago, Der Spiegel (21 February 2011) was fulminating against “an alliance of Turkish nationalists, gangsters and secret service agents” who were supposedly behind the murders. The very title of this article, “Murky Parallel Worlds,” was an anti-Muslim battle cry.
Although the only connection between the victims was their non-German descent, politics dictated that there was never any search for Nazis. In contrast, after the bomb attack on Keupstrasse, the Kölner Stadtanzeiger (9 June 2004) reported: “At least one person thinks he’s got the answer. ‘I presume it was the right-wing extremists—because of the European elections on Sunday,’ speculates a guest in the ‘Paradise Café,’ which is directly adjacent to the scene of the incident. Amazingly, this café was completely undamaged. ‘It certainly can’t have been Al-Qaida,’ says another guest. ‘Only Muslims live on Keupstrasse’.” The racist names of the special police commissions, “Bosporus” and “Ali Baba,” were an expression of their program. The victims of the Nazis were slanderously treated as possible drug dealers, and the Kurdish PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party] and the “Turkish mafia” were race-baited and investigated as suspects. When the policewoman was murdered by Nazis in 2007, suspicion was directed at the “Sinti-Roma [gypsy] milieu.”
All this served to sow hatred and distrust between immigrants of different nationalities and origins while vilifying them all as potential criminals. Racism is also being fueled by the “war on terror,” which places the whole Muslim population in the crosshairs of the state as potential terrorists. The capitalists and their state fan racism not just to create scapegoats for the social misery of capitalism but centrally to divide the multiethnic proletariat. Thus, workers of German descent are pitted against workers from Turkey, while the ban of the PKK and dozens of Kurdish associations also pits Turkish against Kurdish workers.
It is essential that the working class and its unions mobilize against every form of racist discrimination. This starts with the struggle for full citizenship rights for all who have made it here. Down with all “foreigner laws”! Down with the anti-terror laws, down with [anti-terrorist] paragraphs 129a and 129b! It’s also necessary to fight the ban of the PKK and of all Kurdish associations along with the ban on leftist Turkish organizations, such as the DHKP-C [Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front] and the THKP-C [Turkish People’s Liberation Party-Front].
Social Democracy Whitewashes Capitalist State
This cover-up of Nazi murders is not an isolated case. We recall the 1996 arson attack against a hostel in Lübeck housing asylum seekers, which killed seven children and three adults. It took protest campaigns to halt the deportation of the survivors. Instead of going after the four German Nazis who were high-profile suspects, the state dragged Safwan Eid, a Lebanese man who survived the attack, through the courts for years before he finally attained his freedom.
Then there was a fire in Ludwigshafen on 3 February 2008, in which four women and five children of Turkish origin perished. Although many indications pointed to a Nazi arson attack, the minister-president of Rhineland-Westfalia, Kurt Beck of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), was able to establish immediately that there was no racist motive. Six months later, the investigation was discontinued. Further arson attacks on the homes of ethnic minorities followed.
Nazis have been murdering immigrants, leftists and others for decades in this country. In most of these murders, the state has covered up the Nazi links. According to the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, named after the Angolan contract worker beaten to death by Nazis in Eberswalde on 25 November 1990, there were 182 known victims of Nazi violence between 1990 and 2009, yet the official statistics speak of 47. The true figure is certainly even higher.
In view of the state’s involvement, the bourgeois parties—with the crucial support of the bourgeois workers parties, the SPD and Left Party—are at pains to reestablish the national unity of “all democrats” and the country’s reputation abroad. At a special session, the Bundestag [German parliament] passed a hypocritical resolution in which it wept crocodile tears for the murder victims, promised an “analysis of the mistakes” and demanded that consideration be given to banning the NPD. In his speech, [Left Party leader] Gregor Gysi hailed the resolution (the first time that the Left Party has been allowed to join in submitting a motion), stating “that in spite of our diverse opinions on many questions, we say to the rightist terrorists in Germany: You will fail with all of us working together from the CSU to the left.” This demonstrates the role of the social democracy—i.e., the SPD and the Left Party, which as bourgeois workers parties are based in the working class but have an entirely bourgeois program. These parties chain workers, immigrants and youth to this capitalist system, which breeds the Nazis, and subordinate them politically to the bourgeois state, which protects and supports the Nazis.
The Left Party and the SPD are now calling for an investigation, with the Left Party even demanding the dissolution of the Verfassungsschutz. But they act as if the bourgeois state has made a “mistake” that can be corrected. This lie is intended to whitewash the bourgeois state and their own role as its administrators. Thus, neither the SPD nor the Left Party and their hangers-on mentions that as interior minister between 1998 and 2005, Otto Schily from the SPD was top boss of the Verfassungsschutz, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the police when these agencies were supplying an official passport to one of the NSU murderers, covering the Nazis’ bloody tracks with “false inquiries” and who knows what else. And in 2001 the SPD/Green government launched the “war on terror,” intensifying the anti-Muslim racism that nurtures the Nazis.
Thus, it’s simply sickening to witness the immense hypocrisy shown by SPD spokesman Frank-Walter Steinmeier when he stated: “It is the task of the state—this is beyond debate—to ensure that citizens can live in safety. Our state has failed shamefully in key functions, and that must have consequences.” As head of the chancellor’s office, Steinmeier was responsible for keeping Murat Kurnaz, a German citizen, locked up in the U.S. torture hell of Guantánamo from 2002 to 2006. Steinmeier chaired a “high-level discussion” involving the heads of the VS, BND [foreign intelligence service], BKA and others that rejected the U.S. government’s 2002 offer to extradite Kurnaz to Germany. In 2007, Steinmeier stated to Der Spiegel: “I would not decide differently today.”
When the Left Party was a part of the Berlin government, the police were deployed to brutally clear a path for NPD marches. These efforts often failed because of the courageous resistance of leftist demonstrators, who blocked the Nazi mobilizations and were then subjected to trumped-up charges. Last spring, Berlin’s interior ministry and the police conspired with the NPD to conceal the fascists’ planned march through the heart of Kreuzberg, a Berlin district where many immigrants and leftists live. When some information leaked to the public, the Berlin cops violently wielded batons and pepper spray to protect some 100 Nazis from the 500 or so leftists who stood in their way and stopped them. Thirty-eight leftists were arrested. This provocation was intended to terrorize and intimidate immigrant workers and the whole working population of the city, who are suffering under the Berlin government’s assaults on social services.
No to Suicidal Appeals to Ban the Nazis!
In lockstep with the SPD and Left Party, the reformist DKP [German Communist Party] is also beating the drums to ban the NPD. It demands “implementation of the ban on fascism anchored in the Constitution and penal code” and calls for “banning the NPD” (Junge Welt, 1 December 2011). The aim of the constitution of this capitalist state is to defend private ownership of the means of production by the capitalist class. Appeals to the bourgeois state to ban the Nazis merely serve to strengthen the state and give it even more powers. In view of the all-round involvement of state authorities in Nazi terror, such appeals are not just a mockery but also represent a deadly threat to leftists, since it is against them that laws against “extremism” will be used. Meanwhile, the chummy relations between the state and the fascists will remain unchanged.
Thus, a Kurdish demonstration planned for November 26 in Berlin was banned because it was supposedly “a propaganda event on the occasion of the anniversary of the founding of the Kurdish separatist organization PKK.” The PKK has now been banned in Germany for 18 years, as a result of which countless Kurds have been dragged before the courts and numerous cultural associations have also been banned. At the time, the ban on the PKK was introduced under the cover of a ban on the fascist FAP outfit, whose members were able to reorganize unhindered in the NPD, etc.
The example of Dortmund shows how appeals for bans demobilize and politically disarm the workers. Before the May Day demo in 2009, the DGB district chairman, Eberhard Weber, had appealed to the police to protect the demo from the Nazis. When it became known on May Day that 300 Nazi thugs were on their way, the DGB leadership had the demo of 2,500 people simply march away, criminally leaving the contingents of Turkish and Kurdish workers at the back of the demo pretty much on their own to fend off the Nazis. Cops brutally attacked those workers who were trying to defend the DGB demo. TV footage showed a worker being pinned to the ground and kicked in the head by a cop in riot gear. The NPD’s threat to once again march in Dortmund this May Day confirms the warning in our article, “Nazi Thugs Attack DGB May Day Demos” (Spartakist No. 178, July 2009): “The workers are chained to the state of the class enemy, thereby encouraging the Nazis to carry out new, more audacious provocations.”
The pseudo-Trotskyist SAV [Sozialistische Alternative, associated with Socialist Alternative in the U.S.] appeals to the bourgeois police by pointing out that Nazis also killed a cop: “Every civil servant in uniform must ask himself why he follows commands to protect Nazis who resort to such terror but attacks antifascists” (sozialismus.info, 14 November 2011). The illusions in the possible antifascism of the police being sown today by the SAV resemble those of the SPD at the time of the Weimar Republic. In his groundbreaking 1932 work, “What Next? Vital Questions for the German Proletariat,” Trotsky explained:
“In case of actual danger, the Social Democracy banks not on the ‘Iron Front’ but on the Prussian police. It is reckoning without its host! The fact that the police was originally recruited in large numbers from among Social Democratic workers is absolutely meaningless. Consciousness is determined by environment even in this instance. The worker who becomes a policeman in the service of the capitalist state, is a bourgeois cop, not a worker. Of late years these policemen have had to do much more fighting with revolutionary workers than with Nazi students. Such training does not fail to leave its effects. And above all: every policeman knows that though governments may change, the police remain.”
In Avanti (1 December 2011), the Revolutionär Sozialistischer Bund (RSB) pays lip service to opposing illusions in the bourgeois state, only to promote them in the same breath: “It is useless to hope that the state organs of repression should fight fascism. What we need is not a ban of the NPD but the dissolution of the Verfassungsschutz. If one in seven NPD functionaries is an agent of the Verfassungsschutz—which is also probably true of other Nazi structures—then its dissolution would plunge the NPD into a deep existential crisis.” Of course, the Verfassungsschutz is a rightly hated organization of informants whose filthy business is directed against leftists and the workers movement, to which end it collaborates with the Nazis. But wanting to weaken the NPD by dissolving the Verfassungsschutz is only another variant of deceiving the workers into believing that the Nazis can be stopped short of the independent mobilization of labor.
The bourgeois state as a whole does not act to “preserve free civil rights” but rather the rule of the capitalist class. Lenin had leftists like the RSB in mind when he polemicized in The State and Revolution in 1917:
“According to Marx, the state is an organ of class rule, an organ for the oppression of one class by another; it is the creation of ‘order,’ which legalises and perpetuates this oppression by moderating the conflict between the classes. In the opinion of the petty-bourgeois politicians, however, order means the reconciliation of classes, and not the oppression of one class by another; to alleviate the conflict means reconciling classes and not depriving the oppressed classes of definite means and methods of struggle to overthrow the oppressors.”
The bourgeoisie needs the Nazis as a means of pressure and terror, keeping them in reserve. That is why the bourgeois state, as the organ of capitalist class rule, tries to make it impossible for the oppressed class, the proletariat, to smash its reserve army, its Nazis.
The Class Continuity of the Fourth Reich
It would be totally illusory to believe that the bourgeois state would renounce spying on its “own” populace, especially the left and the working class. Even if the VS were dissolved—which is a long way off in spite of the blatant evidence of VS-Nazi plots—the same dirty work would be carried out by the same people under a different cover, as the very history of the police, BKA, BND and VS proves. After the Red Army’s heroic victory that smashed the Third Reich, the capitalist state was rebuilt in West Germany with the same people who had served the Third Reich. The BND was formed out of Reinhard Gehlen’s Nazi espionage organization “Foreign Armies East,” and the whole pack—the BKA, police and VS—were established with cadres from the SS, Gestapo, SD [Security Service], etc.
When the Nazis seized power in 1933, they were also largely able to take over the existing capitalist state of the Weimar Republic—police, army, civil service. This continuity is a class continuity, i.e., from the Second Kaiserreich [empire] through the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich to today’s Fourth Reich, the bourgeoisie has ruled continuously through its state. The exception was East Germany, where the bourgeoisie was expropriated after the Second World War and the DDR bureaucratically deformed workers state established.
Sometimes the left does write about the Nazi past of the BND, VS, etc. For instance, under the social-patriotic headline, “Disgrace for Germany,” one can read in Junge Welt (24 November 2011), “According to serious research, 500 to 800 Nazi activists were working in the offices of the Verfassungsschutz. Some of them carried out frightful crimes.” But the collaboration of the VS with the NSU and the NPD is presented solely as a remnant of the Nazi-era mentality: “The main cause of the failure is rather to be attributed to the ideology and mindset of the employees of the organs of repression. This is expressed in an underestimation of the rightist danger, has historical roots and still has an impact generations later.” Thus, the material basis of this continuity, i.e., the continued rule of capitalism, is covered up.
Two additional important points refute the notion that this is a question merely of aftereffects. First, the collaboration between the secret services and the fascists, the state cover-ups of fascist terror and state protection of fascist mobilizations are not purely German phenomena. Rather, these practices were and are features of all modern capitalist states, including the World War II-era Axis powers, the countries they victimized and the bourgeois-democratic Allies. Whether in Britain or the U.S., Germany or Italy: Everywhere the fascists terrorize leftists and ethnic minorities, and everywhere the cops protect fascist mobilizations and bludgeon their opponents.
Second, with the expropriation of the bourgeoisie in the DDR, the root cause of fascism—capitalism—was removed. Unlike in West Germany, the state there wasn’t erected by the Nazi criminals. Historically progressive, the DDR’s planned economy made it possible to achieve enormous social gains, such as the eradication of homelessness and joblessness; universal access to health care, care for the elderly and kindergartens; virtually full employment for women, etc. However, political power in the DDR, as in the Soviet Union on which it was modeled, was in the hands of a bureaucratic caste, which spread the lie that socialism can be built separately in each individual country.
Capitalist Reunification Fueled Nazi Terror
“Resurgent fascism is still an extremist fringe phenomenon. It would again threaten all mankind as soon as the first crises in a reunified Grossdeutschland. Today, however, the SPD/SDP is the chief instrument to bring about such a Greater Germany. Throttling the hydra-headed fascist monster now is to blunt this Social Democratic penetration.”—Spartakist No. 66, 3 January 1990 [reprinted in Special Supplement to Workers Vanguard, 12 January 1990]
In fact, in the south of the DDR, the SPD was demonstrating with counterrevolutionary nationalist slogans calling for “Germany One Fatherland” alongside Nazis who had purged the demos of communists.
As a result of the counterrevolutions in East Europe and the former Soviet Union from 1990 to 1992, social immiseration was accompanied by a murderous rise in nationalism and Nazi terror. In Germany in the summer of 1992, following months of racist hysteria against refugees, a pogrom in Rostock-Lichtenhagen was sanctioned by the state. A raging Nazi mob terrorized a refugee hostel and then tried to immolate the refugees, all under the eyes of the nearby police (see Spartakist No. 97, September 1992, or WV No. 558, 4 September 1992). At the same time, the SPD party leadership, with the significant participation of [former SPD chairman and cofounder of the Left Party] Oskar Lafontaine, voted for the Petersberg Resolutions, which in practice abolished the right to asylum. The Nazi arson murders in Mölln and Solingen followed. During our struggle in 1989-90 against capitalist reunification and for the revolutionary reunification of Germany through proletarian political revolution in the DDR and socialist revolution in West Germany, we warned against precisely these consequences.
Today, the Nazis have the weight of a fly in comparison with the trade unions, which include millions of German, ex-Yugoslav, Kurdish and Turkish workers, along with their children and grandchildren. In the highly indebted EU countries, such as Greece, Ireland, etc., the German bourgeoisie in collaboration with the local bourgeoisies is forcing brutal austerity measures down the throats of working people. It is only a matter of time before the crisis reaches Germany again, and the attacks intensify. While this will call forth defensive struggles by the working class, it will also put wind in the sails of racist demagogues and the Nazis. The Nazi spawn must be crushed while they are still relatively small!
The unions must mobilize their members at the head of all the potential victims of the fascists to smash Nazi provocations in disciplined united-front actions, independent of the capitalists and their state. Ethnically integrated workers defense groups are needed to defend the trade unions and their rallies, strikes and facilities, as well as to defend heavily immigrant districts. Because capitalist misery spawns this scum, the struggle against Nazi terror must be inextricably linked to the struggle to smash capitalism through socialist revolution. This requires breaking with the social-democratic politics of appeals to the state and forging a multiethnic revolutionary workers party as part of a reforged Fourth International.