Entgrenzter Rechtsextremismus?

12.3.2015

Armin Pfahl-Traughber: Abstract

zum Vertiefungsangebot "Rechtsterrorismus als internationales Problem" im Rahmen der Fachtagung "Entgrenzter Rechtsextremismus? Internationale Perspektiven und Gegenstrategien" der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung in München, 09.-10.02.2015.

The NSU (Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund – National Socialist Underground), a group of three neo-Nazis, committed several serious crimes with a mostly xenophobic background between 1998 and 2011: at least ten murders and two bomb attacks.
  1. The NSU remained undetected by the security agencies, i.e. police and domestic intelligence services, for a long time, which is due to a combination of several factors: In this context, mistakes in analysis outweigh the lack of co-operation.

  2. The NSU has a few things in common with terrorism in general as known before or former right-wing terrorism in Germany, but there are a lot of differences. Its distinguishing features can be seen from a comparing perspective.

  3. The NSU terrorists moved in circles affiliated with the neo-Nazi Skinhead scene and were likewise in contact with adherents of the international "Blood & Honour" network. So it makes sense to adopt a transnational point of view.

  4. The following statements describe the distinguishing features of NSU right-wing terrorism in a German and an international context. The reference to common features, however, does not necessarily claim that crimes were taken as examples and/or imitated.

  5. Also former German right-wing terrorist groups such as the "Deutsche Aktionsgruppen" ("German Action Groups") had carried out attacks with xenophobic motives in 1980, but had not intended (in spite of two deaths as a result of arson) to systematically and purposefully kill people.

  6. The killing of an individual in a face to face situation is a particularity in the history of German right-wing terrorism (exception: in 1980, murder of a Jewish publisher and his partner).

  7. No exception, but the rule is the absence of a claim of responsibility for the crimes. Whereas left-wing terrorists used to issue statements claiming responsibility, right-wing terrorists thought that the selection of their victims or of the scenes of their crimes would speak for itself.

  8. A fact distinctive of the NSU, however, was that they did not correct the mistaken perception of their murders by media and security agencies as non-political crimes by giving hints (e.g. slogans or symbols) at the scenes of their crimes.

  9. So the NSU terror can be referred to as "terrorism without communication", thus failing to comply with a major characteristic of terrorism. However, it was supposedly planned to claim responsibility for the murders at a later time, which is suggested by the existence of the "Pink Panther" DVD.

  10. So, against a German background, there are certain particularities distinctive of the NSU, which had made its detection difficult, but would not have rendered it impossible. If the international context had been taken into account, it would have been possible to gain more intelligence giving new leads and allowing further hypotheses.

  11. In Germany, media, political circles, and security agencies repeatedly referred to the NSU as a "Braune Armee Fraktion" (Brown Army Faction), a term conveying their wrong idea of right-wing terrorism as a particularly well-staffed and well-structured group.

  12. Strategic statements of violence-oriented right-wing extremism in the UK (Blood and Honour) and the US (Louis Bean), however, had long since argued for "leaderless resistance" by autonomously acting and small (in terms of personnel) "cells".

  13. That is exactly the organisational form the NSU had chosen, however as a single cell without a major network of cells throughout the country. In documents found by the authorities, one of the perpetrators (Uwe Mundlos), however, expressed his hope that similar cells might follow.

  14. As for shots on people in series with a xenophobic background, there had also been a similar case abroad: In 1990/1991, the "Laser Man" (John Ausonius) in Sweden shot at eleven people from migrant backgrounds in the Stockholm and Uppsala area with the intention of killing them.

  15. Even with regard to the NSU attack in Cologne in 2004, there had been a similar case abroad: The "London Nail Bomber" (David Copeland) in the UK carried out three attacks aimed at London's gay, migrant and black communities by placing nail bombs in streets and public spaces in 1999.

  16. In an international context, the NSU murders must still be viewed as a particularity considering their dimension. But there are not only the examples mentioned above which have made such a form of right-wing terrorism appear as a real possibility.

  17. This impression is also supported by the intensity of violence which characterises the neo-Nazi scene in terms of ideology and in the media: In statements, song texts and videos, they do not subscribe to violence in the category of a fair struggle any more, but in that of existential destruction.

  18. Right-wing terrorism and terrorism in general will probably hardly ever appear in the form of large well-staffed and structured organisations in future. The forms of the lone actor, also known as lone wolf, and of the "leaderless resistance" cell will rather dominate. Up to now, many details and also motives in connection with the NSU murders are still undiscovered or unexplained (e.g. the sometimes large or short time intervals between the crimes). So many questions, also for analysis, remain to be answered.
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