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Foiling far-right property deals in Germany

September 28, 2020

Blocking far-right real estate purchases and neo-Nazi rock concerts across eastern Germany has become the joint goal of its five regional states. Their interior ministers say local officials need prior warning and help.

The Reichs flag flown out of an apartment window
Image: Imago/J. Tack

Interior ministers of Germany's five eastern states vowed joint efforts Monday to prevent far-right extremists scouring the property and rental markets. The aim is to set up an early-warning system to stop the spread of far-right networks.

"Extreme right-wing thinking doesn't stop at the regional borders,” said Thuringia's Interior Minster Georg Maier, saying states needed information exchanges and to encourage landlords to "more closely” check potential tenants.

"Where real estate ends up being run by right-wing extremists, structures solidify and networks are created", said Maier.

In 2011, Germany was stunned by disclosures on the NSU terror group, responsible for 10 racist murders. The three central members operated in seclusion, first from Chemnitz in Saxony state.

Read more: How the German media failed the victims of far-right NSU terror

Saxony-Anhalt's Holger Stahlknecht of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) said far-right preppers and so-called "Reichsbürger" had to be deterred from settling at a new locations. Reichsbürger reject the legitimacy of Germany's government and insists the borders of 1937 still exist.

Germany's domestic intelligence service, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, noted that the extreme right-wing had acquired 27 properties last year in Saxony alone. 

Relocating rock concerts

Saxony Interior Minister Roland Wöller said organizers of far-right rock concerts — operating under Germany's liberal freedom of assembly law — often relocated events at short notice. The tactic aims to make policing more difficult.

The task, said Wöller, was to bolster small, rural authorities which typically handle applications to hold such gatherings. Getting an overview quickly was necessary.

Read more: Groups stand up to far-right in eastern Germany

Banning far-right concerts or neo-Nazi festivals was not the method of choice, added Georg Maier, but rather specially designed stipulations issued by local authorities.

Brandenburg state Interior Minister Michael Stübgen, also of Merkel's CDU, said sharing information on far-right trends and structures was "absolutely necessary."

ipj/rt (KNA, epd, dpa)