German police say a far-right German MP whose party claimed he was ‘beaten almost to death’ by a hooded gang, was injured in a fall after being elbowed once.
Frank Magnitz, who leads the Bremen branch of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, courted the press at his sick bed in Bremen, showing his scars after the attack on Wednesday.
His party recounted how he ‘blacked out’ after being clobbered with a plank of wood and was repeatedly kicked on the ground in an assassination attempt.
But Bremen police say CCTV footage shows Magnitz receiving an elbow to the face before he fell to the ground, while the three men scarpered.
Frank Magnitz, an MP for the far-right Alternative for Germany party and chairman of the Bremen branch, was attacked by three masked men on Monday evening
Magnitz refused to blame ‘the left’ or ‘Antifa’ for the beating as he recovered in hospital, saying that ‘it may have been a robbery’
Blood is pictured on the ground close to where Magnitz was found in central Bremen following the attack by three hooded men
The police said the attack was ‘lightning quick’ but that there was no evidence Magnitz was repeatedly kicked on the floor, DW reported.
Magnitz refused to immediately blame ‘the left’ or ‘Antifa’ for the attack as he spoke to Germany’s Bild newspaper from his hospital bed on Tuesday.
That is not the conclusion of the Bremen police, however, who are investigating the assault as a politically motivated incident.
In a brief interview with the newspaper, Magnitz explained the extent of his injuries – saying his entire left side hurts and his forehead has been split open to the bone by a vicious blow.
He said that doctors have prescribed him bed rest and are keeping him readily supplied with painkillers until his wounds heal.
Magnitz said he feels fine while recovering in hospital, but revealed he is uncertain about going out again in the dark.
‘I will change my behaviour in public and be more careful in the future,’ he said.
The assault on Magnitz drew condemnation from across the German political spectrum, including from Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Party leader Joerg Meuthen said the 66-year-old was ‘beaten almost to death’ in a ‘cowardly and sickening’ attack.
Bremen police said they believe the attack was politically motivated and called for witnesses to the incident, which took place around 5.20pm on Monday near a theatre in central Bremen.
AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland speaks during a press conference in Berlin yesterday, where he claimed other parties were to blame for the attack as they compared his party to the Nazis
Police officers stand close to a theatre in central Bremen where Mr Magnitz was found lying unconscious after being beaten over the head
Mr Magnitz had reportedly been attending a new year’s reception at a Bremen newspaper when he was attacked near this theatre
Two construction workers who were loading a car nearby found him lying on the ground and called an ambulance
‘They hit him with a piece of wood until he was unconscious and then kicked him on the ground,’ AfD said in a statement, adding that ‘today is a dark day for democracy in Germany.’
The party said Magnitz was ambushed after he left a Bremen newspaper’s new year’s reception.
‘It was clearly an attempt to murder Mr. Magnitz,’ AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland told reporters in Berlin.
‘This is the result of the ostracism and agitation AfD faces,’ he said, suggesting other parties were partly responsible for the attack because they had compared AfD to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party.
Magnitz is associated with the extreme right of the party, including its firebrand leader in the eastern state of Thuringia, Bjoern Hoecke.
Magnitz told the dpa news agency he had been told he would need to remain hospitalized until the weekend and had little memory of the attack.
He added that while he had received threats, he hadn’t considered any of them concrete.
Chancellor Angela Merkel led cross-party condemnations of the assault, as her spokesman Steffen Seibert wrote on Twitter that the ‘brutal attack’ was ‘to be condemned sharply’.
‘Hopefully the police will succeed in catching the perpetrators quickly,’ he wrote.
Two workers loading a truck close to the scene of the attack found Mr Magnitz and called an ambulance (pictured, police officers inspect the scene)
Mr Magnitz told police that he had received threats in the buildup to the attack, but didn’t consider any of them concrete
An alleyway leading to the theatre which is where Mr Magnitz was attacked on Monday night
Johannes Kahrs, an MP from the Social Democrats, junior partners in the ruling coalition, said ‘violence is never acceptable’ and that ‘extremism in any form is rubbish’. He wished Magnitz a quick recovery.
Cem Ozdemir of the opposition Greens party said he hoped those responsible could be ‘found and convicted soon’ and that, even against a far-right party, ‘nothing justifies violence’.
‘Those who fight hate with hate only allow hate to win in the end,’ said the politician of Turkish origin.
AfD is represented in all of Germany’s 16 state parliaments. It entered the national parliament in 2017 and is currently the biggest opposition party there. It views the country’s established political parties with contempt, and the feeling is mutual.
The party took 10 percent of the vote in Bremen in the 2017 national election, below its nationwide result of 12.6 percent.
Bremen is not considered an AfD stronghold, unlike three states in Germany’s ex-communist east that hold regional votes in September and October.
The party claims there have been ‘hundreds’ of attacks against its officers and members since its founding in 2013.
Last week, an explosive device detonated in a rubbish bin damaged an AfD office in Saxony. Three suspects were detained.
And last weekend in Lower Saxony, the home of a local AfD politician was targeted with graffiti and a party office was attacked with a paint bomb.