Why don't our police become like an army?

Brown civil servant : Right-wing extremists in security agencies threaten democracy

What about the democratic constitution of the police, the judiciary, the armed forces and the protection of the constitution? Has social polarization also affected those institutions that are supposed to serve the state and thus the well-being of all - regardless of the person? It's not a topic like any other. Because it is about the institutions and their functionaries, whose central tasks are to protect the democratic constitutional state and the people who live here.

To this end, the legislature, parliament, the executive and their representatives have given extensive powers and instruments: police officers and soldiers are allowed to carry weapons and use them in an emergency, judges can order deprivation of liberty and impose prison sentences, police and the protection of the constitution can monitor and take them into custody as a preventive measure under the new police duties laws.

When the basic democratic order seems defenseless

With these words begins the book we published "Extreme Security". We ask how much we have to worry about who is protecting the basic democratic order - when it suddenly seems defenseless. What about the state security officer who gets an autograph from the singer during a raid on a neo-Nazi band known as a criminal organization?

What about the police instructor who asks his students during shooting training to learn to aim - because of the "many guests" in Germany? With the public prosecutor, who is supposed to process a complaint about anti-Semitic death threats - and instead advises the son of the threatened family not to take a “provocative” public against right-wing extremism? The Bundeswehr soldier who sings Nazi songs in the living room and goes to neo-Nazi marches in his free time? Or even with the longstanding head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution?

One of the reasons to investigate this question was a few years ago: in 2016, when the number of right-wing acts of violence had returned to the level of the early 1990s and tens of thousands of angry right-wing citizens took to the streets every week in Dresden and “No to the home” initiatives Republic, the right-wing terrorist "Gruppe Freital" was arrested in the small Saxon town of Freital - on the intervention of the Federal Prosecutor General.

She had carried out five attacks on refugees, local politicians and alternative housing projects in just six months. There was also a suspicion in the room: Police officers are said to have provided the neo-Nazis with information and warned against measures by colleagues.

Saxony's Vice-Prime Minister Martin Dulig (SPD) made himself extremely unpopular with the police with his assumption, expressed in a “Zeit” interview, that there “sympathies for Pegida and the AfD are greater than the population average”. Dulig said: “Our police officers are the representatives of our state. As employers, we can expect that they have internalized the basic elements of political education. ”Dulig referred to the police - and Saxony.

A nationwide phenomenon since the AfD entered parliament

Since the AfD moved into all state parliaments and the Bundestag, we have been dealing with a nationwide phenomenon. One in all areas of security architecture. Experts and practitioners have long been arguing about whether the police are a “mirror image of society” and whether the Bundeswehr is increasingly being infiltrated by right wing structures.

Especially for the interior ministers of the federal states and the federal government and also the defense ministry, it is practical that there is a lack of figures. With every new scandal and every revelation you can appease the "unfortunate individual cases" with the same standard formulation.

Just like the incumbent Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU). At the end of June 2019, he presented the 2018 report on the protection of the constitution to the public. The 388-page document does not contain a line about networks of right-wing extremists in the police, the German armed forces and other security agencies. The CSU politician doesn't say a word about it when he appears before the federal press conference. When asked, the home minister first emphasizes the loyalty of his civil servants to the constitution.

It is true that the Federal Police - Seehofer only wants to speak to almost 40,000 officers on behalf of the authority subordinate to him - is “sometimes a right-wing extremist phenomenon”. But it is only a matter of cases in the alcohol range. In specific cases, “acts without regard to the person”, “zero tolerance” applies. There could be no question of a “mass phenomenon”.

New cases are added almost daily, which are stereotypically downplayed to individual cases. A few days ago, for example, the Leipzig city magazine "Kreuzer" researched that a Saxon prison officer was involved in the attack by more than 200 hooded hooligans in January 2016 in the Connewitz district, which is considered an alternative to the left.

He was allowed to serve in prison for three years after that before he was suspended. In Hesse, the public prosecutor is investigating half a dozen police students who are said to have glorified the Holocaust and shared racist calls for murder in a chat group.

The scientists Tobias Singelnstein and Christoph Kopke warn: “We can see the legal development that our society is going through in the police as if under a magnifying glass. This is not primarily due to the fact that a large number of racist or right-wing extremists now go to the police. But that there has always been a proportion of people in the police who have such attitudes. In the meantime, however, they express themselves more openly. "

Caesura after the murder of Lübcke?

This should not only worry those who are confronted with unreasonable police checks more often than others due to their skin color and (supposed) origin, but all of us. Because not only, but at the latest with the murder of a neo-Nazi of Walter Lübcke, the long-time district president of Kassel, in June 2019, we should be sure that there are no police officers, no Bundeswehr soldiers, no public prosecutors and no constitutional protection employees among those who do them Glorify the cold-blooded execution of the Christian Democratic politician in social networks as a “courageous beacon”.

And not make the murderer and his helpers responsible for the attack, but rather the federal government's refugee policy and create lists of other potential victims.

However, there is no such certainty. This has become clear since the repeated death threats against the Frankfurt lawyer and co-plaintiff in the NSU trial (“National Socialist Underground”) Seda Basay-Yildiz and her family by a group called “NSU 2.0”. Because the trace to the alleged perpetrators leads to a service computer of the 1st police station of the Frankfurt police. Basay-Yildiz appeals in the preface to the book: “We have a structural problem with the police. Anyone who still speaks of individual cases today has not understood anything. "

Monitor editor-in-chief Georg Restle doubts that the murder of Kassel regional president Lübcke led to a turning point. In an interview with the media magazine "Journalist", he says that as long as there is no serious will to provide information and investigations against right-wing or even right-wing extremist networks in his own ranks, "the turning point for me will remain primarily a rhetorical".

[Heike Kleffner is a freelance journalist and managing director of the Federal Association of Advice Centers for those affected by right-wing, racist and anti-Semitic violence. Matthias Meisner is editor of the Tagesspiegel. Together, the two publish the book “Extreme Security - Right-Wing Radicals in Police, Constitutional Protection, Bundeswehr and Justice”, which will be published by Herder Verlag on September 18 (320 pages, 24 euros). Also involved in the anthology from Tagesspiegel: Maria Fiedler, Robert Kiesel, Sebastian Leber and Jost Müller-Neuhof. The book premiere with numerous authors and domestic politicians from the Bundestag will take place on September 25 at 7 p.m. in the taz canteen, Friedrichstrasse 21 in Berlin. Registration: [email protected]]

Right-wing extremist networks in which former SEK officials and Bundeswehr soldiers are active have compiled data from more than 25,000 so-called political opponents. The question of who has access to the most sensitive information and whose hands it ends up is not just an issue for data protection officers.

It has also become a question of security for all those whose political opinion makes them potentially enemy images of the extreme right: For example, in the conflict over the alternative music festival "Fusion" in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, it became known that the personal telephone numbers and home addresses of organizers and private festival files, of all people, had been passed on to a former police officer and former deputy AfD district chairman who had been convicted of bodily harm and had been transferred to a criminal offense and who worked as a lecturer in operational training at the Neubrandenburg police college.

Right-wing extremists on the march through the institutions

Is the state no longer under control? Are right-wing extremists on the march through the institutions? Are some of them preparing for a day X, then even want to use the weapon?

Have the AfD's electoral successes in the federal, state and local levels and the social polarization that is reflected in it contributed to the fact that rights in the police, the armed forces, the protection of the constitution and the judiciary are networked even better than years ago? In summary, the answer to these questions is yes. Without putting every single state employee under general suspicion.

So far, the extent of the problem has not been adequately measured: The first published research results on right-wing extremist networks in the armed forces and police - especially by the "taz" - led to skepticism among politicians and journalist colleagues alike and the sloppy assumption that there would be a few "harmless weirdos “Reinterpreted as a dangerous neonazine network.

In the meantime, the public has learned that SEK officials, former Bundeswehr officers and active reservists were planning the internment of political opponents in the form of local politicians from Rostock, Schwerin and the surrounding area for one day, hoarding tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition and 200 body bags and slaked lime ordered.

As a precautionary measure, supposed "enemies" are made responsible for the impending collapse: Refugees and migrants, politicians from the Left Party to the Union, provided they support the course of Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU).

In WhatsApp groups, tweets and Facebook postings, they are robbed of their individuality and human dignity with attributions such as “invaders”, “traitors” or “pests” to such an extent that the paths from the hateful entry “Merkel on the gallows” in the social network to getting shorter and shorter for political murder.

Police officers, it should be mentioned explicitly, are also among the victims when neo-Nazis open war against the democratic rule of law: At least six police officers have been shot by neo-Nazi perpetrators since 1990. In the meantime, critical officials fear that even on day X, as “sympathizers of the system”, they too could belong to those who are put up against the wall by their own colleagues.
Sometimes it seems that dramatic things have to happen before authorities are really awake and responsive. In Bavaria, since October 19, 2016, the authorities have no longer viewed the Reich Citizens' Movement as an out-of-the-way phenomenon and spinning, but as a real danger. At that time, a citizen of the Reich shot a SEK officer in Georgensgmünd in Central Franconia. Since then, they have been thoroughly disarmed.

Support critical public servants

We don't want to keep our fingers crossed about police officers, soldiers and representatives of the judiciary, but rather initiate an urgently needed debate. And above all to strengthen the back of those who ring the alarm bells in their police stations, precincts, federal military units and constitutional protection departments and are bullied and marginalized as nests polluters, who as superiors insist on democratic education and want to aggressively deal with the issue of institutional racism.

We would like to thank all whistleblowers from civil society for their watchful eye. A democratic society needs a police force and an army that have the trust of all citizens.

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