Three recent strategies of Germany’s right-wing extremists

Germany’s right-wing extremists, in general, and the more violent Neo-Nazis had yet another successful year in 2023 – on election booths and otherwise. Take for example, the month of June 2023. During the month of June (2023) – in a single month – Germany registered 1,407 right-wing violent offences.

They included: 

  • two attempted homicides; 
  • 59 bodily injuries; 
  • one case of arson; 
  • dangerous interferences with ship, air, rail, and road traffic;
  • three incidents of resisting arrest; 
  • in other 55 cases, a xenophobic and racist motivation was found; and, 
  • 130 crimes were classified as anti-Semitic

Yet, among the many things that Germany’s right-wing extremists do, there are three new strategies that have been employed in recent times.

The first strategy is the recruitment of women; the second strategy is that of Landnahmethe establishment of geographical areas for white German Aryans only; and the third strategy is the use of online platforms to mobilize people for right-wing action.

Strategy 1: Recruiting Women and Children

Under this strategy, far-right women – known as Combat Girls – and the inclusion of children has been fostered into right-wing activities. This strategy has paid off. As of 2023, there were more extremely right-wing women on the political scene. However, they are still a minority in the otherwise male-dominated German right-wing. 

Still, there is, nevertheless, one marked exception from being purely male. This is what might best be called, esoteric right-wing extremists. Esoteric right-wing extremism carries connotations to alien conspiracies, New Ageism, occultism, and Savitri Devi’s Esoteric Hitlerism. It is a kind of esotericism, seen as an inner tradition that is concerned with a spiritual dimension of reality linked to authoritarian right-wing ideologies. 

Esoteric Neo-Nazis is a rather bizarre mix of occultism, Nazism, Aryanism, the mythical Nordic race, blue-eyed Celtics, Hitler as the last avatar, religious Nazism, the black sun, Benito Mussolini as Messiah, the SS living underground in Swabia, UFOs, the white race-based Teutonic Artgemeinschaft, elements of New Ageism, paganism, fascist mystics, etc.

German esoteric right-wing extremists are ideologically close to those fancying rightist conspiracy fantasies. They received a boost during conspiratorial COVID-19 protests where women were clearly noticeable. 

Women played a significant role during German COVID-19 – anti-government and anti-democracy – rallies. They did so as participants, as speakers, and as organizers. 

Beyond all that, right-wing strategies also focused on so-called “free learning groups” or Freie Lerngruppen. In these, too, women played an active role. Unlike the traditional Nazism of the 1930s, today’s right-wing extremists give women a special role. Paradoxically, women are still seen as working in the domestic home.

Still, the traditional gender role dominates as “the” overarching right-wing dogma. The belief is that inside the family, it is the role of women to support the family, while representing traditional family values. Yet, right-wing wives and mothers are also seen as the extreme right’s next generation. Outside of the traditional family environment, women are engaged in setting up right-wing neighborhood associations and infiltrating local schools while spreading right-wing ideologies. 

The same goes for workplaces. Women are – rather strategically – also used to ensure the acceptance of anti-democratic worldviews in the wider community. 

Worse, children living in far-right families are – at least partly – seen as the second and third generations. In some cases, they have been born into a reactionary nationalistic parallel world – a right-wing extremists’ milieu with right-wing filter bubbles. They have, for example, grown up under the influence of  anti-human Neo-Nazi music. They have taken part in right-wing meetings and camps of the so-called Wehrsportgruppen

Their lives are accompanied by fascist, anti-Semitic, dehumanizing, and racist images, books, pamphlets, videos, internet chat groups, songs, etc. In short, they are socialized as teenagers and young adults inside a right-wing milieu in which – all too often – they have become politically active themselves.

Increasingly, children from far-right families see day-care centers and schools as ideological battlegrounds. Of particular problem is the fact that right-wing kindergarten and schoolteachers take the opportunity to influence children. 

Strategy 2: Right-Wing Landnahme

Another German right-wing strategy involves the purchase of real estate to setup right-wing centers. 

Germany’s right-wing extremists and Neo-Nazis – like Knockout 51, for example – call this völkische Landnahme. It is a kind of Aryan mini-Volksgemeinschaft. These are Nazi-like semi-militaristic, authoritarian, anti-democratic, anti-Semitic, and “white-race-only” communities

Not only did the crypto-fascistic Reichsbürger acquired real estate in 2023 but other extreme right-wing groups and individuals have also bought real estate, rented, and leased properties. Neo-Nazi Landnahme benefits Germany’s right-wing extremists in the East as well as in the West. These properties are mainly used for four purposes:

  1. physical and ideological training facilities;
  2. for commercial activities to finance right-wing extremists activities;
  3. as right-wing and Neo-Nazi concert venues and music halls; and, 
  4. simply as living spaces where right-wing extremists and Neo-Nazis can gather.

Also under this right-wing strategy, pubs, bars, and restaurants are targeted which are then turned into meeting places by right-wing extremists. Yet, it has been observed – for some time – that West-German neo-Nazis seem to be targeting real estate in East-Germany – which, are, in general, cheaper compared to those in West-Germany. 

In many cases, individual Neo-Nazis have succeeded in acquiring real estate to be used for ideological and political purposes as well as for private residences. Both are connected. In the background lingers the old Neo-Nazi networks of ideologically active extremists – often formed in East-Germany after German Unification during the 1990s.

From these compounds, right-wing extremists are getting involved locally, often in village life and in social clubs. The strategy is that once right-wing extremists have established themselves inside a village, they start to engage in their more ideological work – convincing locals to join the right-wing course.

Yet, in those places, villages, and communities where there are already right-wing extremists, there are – and this is the second part of this strategy – further moves and further settlements to expand the right-wing Landnahme

Since German Unification in the 1990s, right-wing extremists have targeted remote rural areas – often in East-Germany. Their strategy appears to be to select geographical areas in which a strong democratic traditions have not been established. Right-wing extremists Landnahme becomes a serious factor in these areas. In the wake of such right-wing strategies, ‘Aryan zones of dominance’ emerge. These nationalistic “whites only!” zones are no longer accessible to Germany’s extreme right defined as the enemy

These are, for example, non-Aryans, political opponents, democrats, feminists, trade unionists, the hated environmentalist The Greens, etc. Through Landnahme, these districts become “no go” areas for migrants and virtually for anyone not German-looking – as imagined by Neo-Nazis.  

In East-Germany’s Eschede in Lower Saxony, for example, members of a Neo-Nazi party called The Homeland – formerly known by its true Neo-Nazi name of NPD – bought a local farming estate. Immediately, the farm was named The Heimathof – the homeland yard – serving as a regional meeting place for Neo-Nazis. In addition to right-wing party meetings and assemblies, in-house parties and training courses are also held in those areas that have fallen under Landnahme.

Beyond that, there is also the extreme right-wing esoteric Anastasia group. It belongs to the group of what became known as Neo-Nazi Völkischen Siedler

The term völkisch does not refer to Volk. It also does not carry any connotations to “Folk”. Instead, the term völkisch always means the fascistic, extremely anti-Semitic, Aryan – Bio-Germans – and Juden reine Volksgemeinschaft – freed of Jews. 

In some cases of right-wing extremist Landnahme – literally: taking the land – real estate is used without any external impact. It is used as a hiding place and as an armed and fortified bunker. 

In other cases, the strategy is to be visible in a local community, usually by pretending to be good neighbors (first) and after that, the strategy is to infiltrate local politics. This marks the Völkischen Siedler strategy.

Meanwhile, in the East-German town of Wienrode (Saxony-Anhalt) for example, right-wing detachments called Anastasia and Weda Elysia bought a local pub to be run as a café – but in fact was a front for their new base to spread right-wing extremist ideologies. 

Strategy 3: the use of right-wing online platforms for rallies and attacks

Beyond that, a preferred media to spread Neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic ideology remains online platforms like Telegram. Telegram continues to be the most important medium for right-wing extremists. Yet, the entire spectrum of the extreme right is represented in social media. The right-wing strategy is to use online platforms – Facebook, Instagram and X (formerly Twitter), Reddit, TikTok, and YouTube – to target specific groups susceptible to right-wing propaganda. 

The right-wing strategy is to look for local contacts and to find like-minded people to spread false information. The extremely right-wing narratives being spread on Telegram are often a right-wing response to democratic attitudes.

The strategy is to become established and then to form right-wing networks that extend far beyond the digital world. The extreme right-wing that meets via Telegram also seeks to entice people to participate in right-wing rallies. To achieve this, the right organizes online meetings but also real-life events and actual meetings – often camouflaged as leisure activities and simple discussion groups. 

Moreover, the strategy of using right-wing online platforms assists the setting up of, for example, a Stolzmonat or pride month. It argues that the diversity indicated by the rainbow flag should be replaced with the nationalistic German flag. Put simply, right-wing extremists like to mock queer people. 

Right-wing propaganda strategy for a Stolzmonat started online. It mobilized a mob. After that it moved to offline – real activities like rallies. Meanwhile, in the West-German city of Koblenz (Rhineland-Palatinate), right-wing extremists gathered to run a Nationalstolz [national pride] instead of a “gay pride” rally. Right-wing online strategies also focus on the mobilizations of racists often activating old Neo-Nazi networks as well as the setting up of new networks. 

In 2023, Germany’s extreme right-wing once again stepped up with their preferred hot button issues of migration and asylum. In many places, these far right mobilizations led to racist rallies frequently in front of the accommodation of refugees – a preferred target ever since pogrom-style hunting of migrants in Hoyerswerda in 1991

Meanwhile, in the East-German region of Saxony, the extreme right was able to reactivate old – post-unification (1990s) – networks – now via right-wing online platforms – that had received a boost in the wake of rampant racism that followed the intake of refugees in 2015

In several places there were violent attacks against refugees. In July 2023, in East-Germany’s Sebnitz (Saxony), a group of masked Neo-Nazis were able to gain access and attacked a house in which refugees lived. 

At the beginning of the year 2023, in East-Germany’s Upahl (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) Neo-Nazis held rallies against a planned accommodation for refugees for several weeks. During a meeting of the local district council in nearby Grevesmühlen, a right-wing mob consisting of several hundred people gathered in front of the venue. Some of them tried to break into the building but police intervention quickly prevented this. The right-wing engineered racist atmosphere in Upahl continues to this day. The online and offline strategies of creating an atmosphere of fear against refugees – spiced up with violence – continue to work for right-wing extremists and Neo-Nazis.

This strategy becomes even more dangerous when right-wing online strategies move offline as many right-wing extremists are well armed. For example, nationwide police raids against the Reichsbürger – at the end of 2022 – showed not only the militancy and the armament of the Reichsbürger, but also uncovered their detailed strategy to overthrow Germany’s democratic government. 

The existence and actual extent of right-wing and Neo-Nazi terrorist structures – whether in online chats or in terms of factual get-togethers – makes a mockery of the hallucination that Germany’s right-wing extremists and Neo-Nazis operate as so-called Lone Wolves

Yet, there is no Lone Wolf when it comes to Neo-Nazi. Not even in Germany’s worst Neo-Nazi killer mob – the NSU which had a 129 member strong network including the likes of André Eminger, Holger Gerlach, Carsten Schultze, master ideologue Ralf Wohlleben, as well as one of the networks key operatives – Andreas Temme – also known as Klein Adolf or little Hitler. German right-wing terrorism has never operated as a lone wolf. The New York Times was correct when saying, there are no lone wolves.

Here and there, Neo-Nazis operate in groups – whether in online chat groups or in actual meetings, camps for war games – called Wehrsport. This holds true from Germany’s worst Neo-Nazi killers the NSU network, to the misogynistic Incel terrorism, to Italian neo-fascism, to an extremely violent German Neo-Nazis squad called Hammerskins who have a global Hammerskin network.

In 2023, there were also countless racist, Neo-Nazi, and anti-Semitic crimes. To name just a few examples, German concentration camp memorials reported an increase in right-wing extremists attacks in 2023 involving swastika graffiti and damages. In the first three quarters of 2023, German authorities registered 1515 right-wing extremists attacks against refugees.

Among the three key strategies used in 2023, the most prevalent strategy is that of Landnahme – the taking of land. Yet, Landnahme does by no means indicate that Germany’s right-wing extremists have removed themselves from online platforms – on the contrary.

Cover photo source.

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