“A few years ago I would have said: we are not the Weimar Republic. (…) But now I am seriously concerned about democracy in our country.” This is what Stephan Kramer, head of the Thuringian Constitutional Protection, says in a recent report by the German private broadcaster ProSieben.
“Right. German. Radical.”
Anyone who watches the two-hour broadcast knows what the constitutional protector is talking about. With his TV documentary “Right. German. Radical.” the reporter Thilo Mischke landed a research coup. For a year and a half, Mischke was on the far-right scene. He has attended events, spoken to exponents and experts, and in between has also done an undercover research. The result is a report with depth of field, whereby classifications and analyses are made only on the margins. But this is not a defect in this case: the collected material speaks for itself.
“You’re going out of the cover”
You can see the well-known pictures: gatherings, camps, far-right marches, right-wing rock concerts and, of course, many tattooed neo-Nazis. That alone would not be much new. It is becoming more shocking when public demonstrations are shown with whipped-up, hate-distorted, slogans shouting ‘ordinary citizens’. “You go out of your cover, you’re more confident,” says constitutional defender Stephan Kramer. The reportage shows images of a new self-image of the far-right, who see themselves as the mouthpiece of popular anger, which goes hand in hand with an oppressive new normal.
The longing for the far right
But it is above all the conversations of the reporter with individual representatives, the externally rather quiet, unspectacular scenes that get stuck. Thilo Mischke knows how to make people speak in his direct way. For example, where Mischke meets a young 17-year-old who is regarded as one of the hopefuls of the far-right and desperately wants a right-wing revolution. Sometimes the reporter visibly struggles to compend when he asks where this yearning for the far right comes from. Talking to the young man, for example, when he says, “Our motto is to be for life.” Mischke pauses: “For every life?”. “Yes, of course, for every life,” the man replies. “Also for Jewish life?” Answer: “No comment.” So one can also express such a pure National Socialist attitude.
The proximity to the AfD
The documentary film becomes really explosive, especially when it comes to the proximity of right-wing extremists to the Alternative for Germany (AfD). Two representatives of the neo-Nazi micro-group “Die Rechte” in Dortmund make it clear that the AfD is not a competitor for them. Instead, they see a work-sharing approach and are “thankful” for the AfD, because “it opens the window far into the middle of the bourgeoisie. (…) The margins merge anyway.”
The reporter never gives himself neutral in the conversations. So he asks the two Dortmunders what would happen to him as a clear opponent of their ideology if they ever come to power. Then he would “not be so comfortable in Germany anymore,” the two gentlemen said eloquently. But, depending on the situation, they may also allow a little freedom of expression.
The re-polished Youtuber
The climax of the documentary follows towards the end. It is about a young influencer and Youtuber, who has become a poster child of the extreme right with her overtly xenophobic films on the net, felt close to the AfD and was also courted accordingly. But during filming something happens that is difficult to classify: the young woman says quite suddenly, in tears and in front of the camera, that she feels exploited and misunderstood by the extremists. A little later, she was even willing to help expose the AfD by meeting with a senior AfD official and exposing her to absolutely anti-human expressions. The film does not mention the name, but it is the press spokesman of the AfD parliamentary group, Christian Lüth, who was sacked before the broadcast, after he had already been released in May because of another sensitive statement.
The monstrosities of the AfD press secretary
The conversation was secretly recorded and filmed in February 2020. Since the microphone in the back of the AfD man apparently did not work properly, the male voice was re-voiced and underpinned with the lettering “Memory Protocol”. This is tricky, but ProSieben, when asked by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, assured that the station had “affidavits from people who would have listened to it.” Meanwhile, Christian Lüth has also confirmed his secretly recorded statements according to German media and described them as “inexcusable”. But he or the AfD are not far-right. He also called his statements “ironic.” In the original tone, this “irony” reads as follows:
Christian Lüth: “The worse Germany is, the better for the AfD. This is, of course, shit, even for our children. But we probably get that. If all went well now, the AfD would be at three percent. That is why we need to consider a tactic between: how badly can Germany be? And: How much can we provoke? And in between we have to communicate. Very difficult.”
The influencer: “Above all, it sounds like it’s in your interest for more migrants to come.”
Christian Lüth: “Yes, because then the AfD will be better off. We can still shoot everyone afterwards. This is not an issue at all. Or gasse, or as you like. I don’t care! But now that the borders are still open, we have to make sure that as long as the AfD is still a bit unstable and a few idiots are running around anti-Semitically, we have to make sure that Germany is doing badly.”
A heavy burden on German democracy
This conversation is devastating for Alexander Gauland, one of the two faction leaders of the AfD in the Bundestag and honorary chairman of the party. It is also documented that Lüth and Gauland spoke briefly on the phone during this conversation. So the two were very close. The NZZ also reported on 02.10.2020 that Gauland had built fully on Lüth during media work. The public, writes the NZZ, “rightly wonders whether the group leadership, who worked closely with Lüth, really did not know who the spirit child was her spokesman.”
The whole documentary, not only this secretly recorded conversation, impressively underlines the not entirely new finding that there are only gradual differences between neo-Nazi and other far-right groups and parts of the AfD. The fact that such a party represents 88 out of 709 members of the German Bundestag and 282 out of a total of 1868 parliamentary seats in the federal states does not seem to be a problem for most Germans.