Germany has dismantled a “deeply racist and anti-Semitic” sect that authorities say planned to indoctrinate children with Nazi ideology.
Investigators launched several searches across the country today as Berlin continues to crack down on right-wing extremism.
Police stormed 26 apartments belonging to 39 members of the neo-Nazi Artgemeinschaft network in 12 states, including Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Brandenburg.
The extremist group is made up of around 150 members and has links to several far-right groups, the Interior Ministry said. All of its sub-organizations, including the Gefaehrtschaften, Gilden, Freundeskreise and Familienwerk eV, were also banned.
“We prohibit any sectarian, deeply racist and anti-Semitic association,” said Interior Minister Nancy Faeser.
German investigators have dismantled a “deeply racist and anti-Semitic” sect 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 anti-Semitic association,” said Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (photo).
“This is a new blow to right-wing extremism and intellectual agitators who still propagate Nazi ideologies today,” she added.
“This far-right group attempted to create new enemies of the Constitution by indoctrinating children and young people.”
The neo-Nazi group uses the cover of a “pseudo-religious Germanic belief in God to spread its worldview that violates human dignity.”
“The group’s central goal was the preservation and promotion of its own ‘species,’ which can be equated with the National Socialist term ‘race,'” according to the Interior Ministry statement.
Besides the ideology of the racial doctrine, the group’s symbolism, narratives, and activities had other parallels to Nazi ideology.
The group gave its members instructions on how to choose a “good mate” from the Northern and Central European “human race” in order to pass on the “correct” genetic makeup according to racist ideology from the Association.
People of other origins were degraded, the ministry said in its press release.
Using Nazi-era literature, the association sought to convert young people to adopt its racial theories.
Police officers search a property in Essen as they carried out searches across Germany.
She also operated an online bookstore that sought to radicalize and attract non-members.
The Artgemeinschaft was founded in 1951 by the old Nazi Wilhelm Kusserow and has been a registered association since 1957. The famous neo-Nazi lawyer Jurgen Rieger led the group from 1989 until his death in 2009. The group was later taken over by Axel Schunk.
Members view the Nordic-Germanic race as superior to others. “Struggle is a part of life; it is naturally necessary for everything to become, be and disappear”, according to their “credo”.
There are few public events organized by the right-wing group, although it celebrates German-pagan holidays behind closed doors and often organizes “community days”.
The Artgemeinschaft describes itself as a “group of fighters” who “must fight for the possibilities of a species-appropriate way of life.”
They use the “Irminsul” – or “world tree” – as their symbol. It is a counter-symbol to the Christian cross used by SS genealogists during National Socialism, according to the Federal Agency for Civic Education.
Germany has banned a series of far-right groups in recent months.
Last week, he banned the local chapter of the US-based neo-Nazi group Hammerskins, known for its white supremacist rock concerts.
Last week, Germany banned the local chapter of the US-based neo-Nazi group Hammerskins, known for its white supremacist rock concerts. Pictured: Police raid right-wing group
The group is an offshoot of an American extremist group and plays a leading role across Europe.
Throughout the world, members of this association refer to themselves as “brothers” practicing their subcultural way of life. The group also considers itself the elite of the far-right skinhead scene, according to the ministry.
In Germany, the group has around 130 members. During early morning raids in 10 states, about 700 police officers searched the homes of 28 members of the group. It was not immediately clear whether any members had been arrested.
The central element of the group’s ideology is the propagation of a racial doctrine based on Nazi ideology. The aim of the Hammerskins Germany association is to consolidate its far-right worldview, particularly through concerts where it attempts to call on non-members to radicalize them, the ministry said.
According to a report presented in June by the federal domestic intelligence service BfV, there were some 38,800 people on the far-right spectrum in Germany in 2022, compared to 33,900 in 2021.
The number considered potentially violent also increased from 13,500 to 14,000.