Far-right extremists in Chemnitz planned to ‘hunt’ foreigners, new probe reveals

A police report highlights new evidence that the hunting down of foreigners - which was disputed - did take place in Chemnitz in eastern Germany a year ago.

Far-right extremists in Chemnitz planned to ‘hunt’ foreigners, new probe reveals
Supporters of the right-wing extremist movement Pro Chemnitz at a rally in the city on Sunday. Photo: DPA

The investigation into the unrest in Chemnitz in August 2018 shows that extremists made plans to “hunt” migrants and people who appeared to be foreign, German media has reported. 

According to police documents seen by the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, and broadcasters WDR and NDR, the Saxony Criminal Police Office tracked down chat messages exchanged between known members of Chemnitz's extremist far-right scene between August 26th and 28th.

Police found that these individuals agreed on “hunts” and also boasted about having achieved what they set out to do.

Violent demonstrations where footage appeared to show extremists chasing after non-white people grabbed headlines around the world, marking Chemnitz as a neo-Nazi stronghold where foreigners are unwelcome. 

However, a nationwide debate over whether or not foreigners had been targeted was sparked. 

The events almost toppled the coalition government in Berlin, as high profile figures, including the former head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency Hans-Georg Maaßen questioned if “Hetzjagd” – the hunting down of foreigners – had actually taken place.

The demonstrations began after a German man was stabbed to death during a festival to mark the city's 875th anniversary. Last week a Syrian man was sentenced to jail for manslaughter. An Iraqi man is still at large. 

READ ALSO: Dashed hopes boost far-right in eastern Germany 30 years after fall of Berlin Wall

'Great readiness to use violence'

The new evidence comes a year after the riots took place and just days before voters in Saxony go to the polls in a state election in which the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) is expected to make gains.

According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the police report says the unrest involved a “great readiness to use violence against police officials, people with actual or apparent migration backgrounds, political opponents and journalists”.

Furthermore, the documents show that those extremists involved in the chat used the word “hunt” (Jagd) on several occasions.

As the events in Chemnitz unfolded, individuals also described through messages how they wanted to violently attack people from immigrant backgrounds, or boasted about having successfully hunted down people they thought were migrants.

The chats suggest that “the actual implementation of violent criminal acts against foreigners” took place, according to the report.

Authorities are continuing investigations into the events in Chemnitz.

READ ALSO: Chemnitz: Portrait of a city shaken by anti-foreigner riots

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Saxony’s Covid rules get mixed reaction from the vaccine hesitant

The eastern German state of Saxony may have ordered tough restrictions on the unvaccinated to push them to get the Covid-19 jab, but shop assistant Sabine Lonnatzsch, 59, is unmoved.

People queue at a vaccination centre in Radeberg, eastern Germany, to get a Covid vaccination without an appointment, on November 8th.
People queue at a vaccination centre in Radeberg, eastern Germany, to get a Covid vaccination without an appointment, on November 8th. Photo: TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP

The new rules are “discriminatory” because they are “pushing the unvaccinated further into a corner,” she says. 

Lonnatzsch won’t change her mind about getting inoculated – she just won’t go to restaurants or events anymore.

“I’ve had corona cases in my family and in my eyes it is nothing more than a bad flu,” she says.

With Covid-19 infections rocketing in Germany, Saxony this week became the first to largely exclude unvaccinated people from indoor dining, cinemas and bars.

READ ALSO: Germany divided over Covid restrictions for the unvaccinated 

The new rules, likely to be emulated by other states in the coming weeks, are designed not only to reduce the spread of Covid-19 but also to encourage more people to get inoculated.

But Lonnatzsch is not the only one resisting the jab in the town of Radeberg in Bautzen district, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country at just 45.7 percent.

The clothing store No 1 Mode where she works has a sign in the window that lets customers know that all are welcome – regardless of vaccination status.

‘Bad for business’

Across the town square, the co-owner of Cafe Roethig also has no plans to get the vaccine. Like many people in the region, Carola Roethig, 58, is “not convinced” by the jab because “it was developed in such a short space of time”.

The district of Bautzen has one of the highest incidence rates in the country at 645.3 cases per 100,000 people, but Roethig is not worried about catching the virus.

People queue at a vaccination centre in Radeberg, Saxony.
People queue at a vaccination centre in Radeberg, Saxony. Photo: TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP

The new rules are “definitely bad for business,” she says at the cafe’s bakery counter, which is lined with untouched fresh cakes, tarts and iced donuts.

“Many of our customers are not vaccinated, so we are losing income, because fewer people are coming in,” she says.


The rules are also bad for her personal life.

“I’m not allowed to go to a restaurant in the evening and have a nice dinner with my husband. I don’t think it is right,” says Roethig.

Outside the cafe, 40-year-old Susan feels the same.

“Nothing would convince me” to get the jab, she says, without giving her last name.

“I see no sense in it because (vaccinated people) can still get the disease and infect others.”

Vaccine push

The new rules come as new infections surge in Germany, with the national incidence rate reaching 213.7 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven
days on Tuesday – a record since the pandemic began.

The political parties looking to form a coalition government after September’s election have so far ruled out compulsory vaccinations and general
lockdowns to tackle the surge.

But with just 67 percent of the population fully jabbed, ministers say encouraging more people to get vaccinated is key to bringing the numbers down.

Outside Radeberg town hall, a modest queue of people formed for a vaccination event organised to encourage more people to get the jab.

Kitchen assistant Mirmirza Kabirzada, 36, had previously hesitated because “I heard that many people died in Norway and others got a fever, so I was a little bit afraid”.

But with the numbers rising so dramatically, “now I realised this is very important,” he says.

AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine has been linked to very rare and potentially fatal blood clots, but experts agree that the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Intensive care nurse Nicole Wieberneit, 39, is waiting in line to get her booster.

She is optimistic that the new rules will encourage more people to get vaccinated.

“When it becomes about the freedom to travel, to go out to eat, I think more people will come forward. Freedom is very important to people in Saxony,” she says.