The German government has dismantled a ‘deeply racist and anti-Semitic’ cult that planned to indoctrinate children with Nazi ideology.
Investigators launched several raids across the country today as Berlin continues its clamp down on right-wing extremism.
Officers stormed 26 apartments belonging to 39 members of the neo-Nazi Artgemeinschaft network in 12 states including Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Brandenburg.
The extremist group is made up of about 150 members and has links to several far-right groups, said the interior ministry. All of its sub-organisations, including the Gefaehrtschaften, Gilden, Freundeskreise, and Familienwerk e.V., were also banned.
‘We are banning a sectarian, deeply racist and antisemitic association,’ said Interior Minister Nancy Faeser.
German investigators have dismantled a ‘deeply racist and anti-Semitic’ cult that planned to indoctrinate children with Nazi ideology. Pictured: An officer with a hydraulic door opener in Essen, Germany, today
‘We are banning a sectarian, deeply racist and antisemitic association,’ said Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (pictured)
‘This is a further blow against right-wing extremism and against the intellectual agitators who still spread Nazi ideologies today,’ she added.
‘This far-right group tried to raise new enemies of the constitution through the disgusting indoctrination of children and youths.’
The neo-Nazi group uses the cover of a ‘pseudo-religious Germanic belief in God to spread their worldview which violates human dignity’.
‘The group’s central goal was the preservation and promotion of one’s own ‘kind,’ which can be equated with the National Socialist term ‘race’,’ according to the interior ministry’s statement.
In addition to the ideology of racial doctrine, the symbolism, narratives and activities of the group showed further parallels to the Nazis’ ideology.
The group gave its members instructions on how to choose a ‘proper spouse’ within the Northern and Central European ‘human kind’ in order to pass on the ‘correct’ genetic makeup according to the association’s racist ideology.
People of other origins were degraded, the ministry said in its statement.
Using Nazi-era literature, the association sought to convert the young to adopt its race theories.
Police officers are seen searching a property in Essen as they carried out raids across Germany
It also ran an online bookstore that sought to radicalise and attract non-members.
The Artgemeinschaft was founded in 1951 by old Nazi Wilhelm Kusserow and has been a registered association since 1957. Well-known neo-Nazi lawyer Jurgen Rieger ran the group from 1989 until his death in 2009. The group was then taken over by Axel Schunk.
The members see the Nordic-Germanic race as superior to others. ‘Struggle is part of life; it is naturally necessary for all becoming, being and passing away,’ according to their ‘creed’.
There are few public events organised by the right-wing group, although it celebrates Germanic-pagan festivals behind closed doors and often organises ‘community days’.
The Artgemeinschaft describes itself as a ‘fighting group’ that ‘has to fight for the possibilities of a species-appropriate lifestyle.’
They use the ‘Irminsul’ – or the ‘world tree’ – as their symbol. It is a counter-symbol to the Christian cross used by SS genealogists during National Socialism, according to Federal Agency for Civic Education.
Germany has banned a series of right-wing extremist groups in recent months.
Last week, it outlawed the local chapter of the US-based Hammerskins neo-Nazi group known for its white supremacist rock concerts.
Last week, Germany outlawed the local chapter of the US-based Hammerskins neo-Nazi group known for its white supremacist rock concerts. Pictured: Police carry out a raid on the right-wing group
The group is an offshoot of an American ring-wing extremist group and plays a prominent role across Europe.
Worldwide, members of this association refer to themselves as ‘brothers’ practicing their subcultural way of life. The group also sees itself as the elite of the right-wing extremist skinhead scene, according to the ministry.
In Germany, the grouping comprises around 130 members. During the early morning raids in 10 states, around 700 police officers searched homes of 28 group members. It was not immediately clear if any members were detained.
The core element of the group’s ideology is the propagation of a racial doctrine based on Nazi ideology. The purpose of the association Hammerskins Germany is to consolidate its right-wing extremist worldview, particularly through concerts where it tries to appeal to non-members to radicalise them, the ministry said.
There were some 38,800 people in the right-wing extremist spectrum in Germany in 2022, according to a report presented by the BfV federal domestic intelligence agency in June – up from 33,900 in 2021.
The number considered potentially violent also rose from 13,500 to 14,000.