Outrage in Germany over neo-Nazis’ political ‘kill list’

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government on Monday strongly condemned death threats against two leading Green party politicians by a neo-Nazi group, as concern mounts in Germany over a rise in right-wing extremism.

Outrage in Germany over neo-Nazis' political 'kill list'
The Greens' Cem Özdemir received a death threat in an email. Photo: DPA

Greens lawmaker Cem Özdemir, who has Turkish roots, revealed at the weekend that police were investigating an email he had received from a neo-Nazi group saying he was at the top of their kill list.

“We are currently planning how and when to execute you. At the next rally? Or will we get you outside your home?” the email read, according to the Funke newspaper group.

Fellow Greens MP Claudia Roth received a message saying she was second in line to be killed.

Both emails were sent on October 27th and signed with “Nuclear Weapon Division Germany” (AWD), apparently a German offshoot of a notorious US-based neo-Nazi group.

“The German government clearly condemns any kind of threats or violence against politicians,” Merkel's spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer told reporters.

“We cannot and will not accept these attacks on our free democratic system,” she said, vowing to use the full force of the law against the perpetrators.

Speaking at the same press conference, Interior Ministry spokesman Steve Alter said federal security services “have already had this group in their sights for some time”.

The American version of the AWD, founded in 2015-2016, has been linked to five murders in the United States, he added.

The German branch is thought to count several dozen members.

'Highly problematic political climate'

The death threats come with German politicians already on alert following the murder last June of local pro-migrant politician Walter Lübcke in the western city of Kassel, allegedly by a known neo-Nazi.

In October, two people were shot dead in a far-right attack in the eastern city of Halle where the gunman first tried and failed to storm a packed synagogue.

And in regional elections in the state of Thuringia last month, Greens co-leader Robert Habeck and a local candidate from Merkel's CDU party received death threats on the campaign trail from suspected far-right extremists.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on Monday warned of a “highly problematic coarsening” of the political climate in the country.

The government last week already proposed a raft of measures to crack down on the far-right, with a focus on targeting weapons sales and online hate speech.

During a visit to the eastern city of Zwickau on Monday, Merkel placed a single white rose at a memorial tree in honour of the victims of a neo-Nazi terror cell that killed 10 people between 2000 and 2007.

The government “would do everything in its power” to make sure “these things never happen again”, Merkel vowed.

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Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sued the German parliament for removing some of his official post-retirement perks over his links to Russian energy giants, his lawyer said Friday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Schröder, 78, has come under heavy criticism for his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin and involvement with state-backed energy companies.

The decision to suspend Schröder’s taxpayer-funded office and staff in May was “contrary to the rule of law”, Michael Nagel, told public broadcaster NDR.

Schröder “heard of everything through the media”, Nagel said, noting that the Social Democrat had asked for a hearing before the budget committee responsible but was not given the chance to express himself.

READ ALSO: Germany strips Schröder of official perks over Russia ties

Schröder’s lawyers filed the complaint with an administrative Berlin court, a spokesman for the court confirmed.

In its decision to strip him of the perks, the committee concluded that Schröder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, “no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office”.

Most of Schröder’s office staff had already quit before the final ruling was made.

Despite resigning from the board of Russian oil company Rosneft and turning down a post on the supervisory board of gas giant Gazprom in May, Schröder has maintained close ties with the Kremlin.

The former chancellor met Putin in July, after which he said Moscow was ready for a “negotiated solution” to the war in Ukraine — comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Last week, the Social Democrats concluded that Schröder would be allowed to remain a member after he was found not have breached party rules over his ties to the Russian President.

Schröder’s stance on the war and solo diplomacy has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of current Chancellor Olaf Scholz.