FRONTLINE: German neo-Nazis and the far right
Stream or tune in Tuesday, June 29, 2021 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV + Thursday July 1 at 10 p.m. on KPBS 2
–FRONTLINE investigates the rise of neo-Nazi ideology and far-right extremism in today’s Germany–
Attempted massacre of worshipers in a synagogue on Yom Kippur. The assassination of a pro-refugee politician. A mass shootout targeting Muslims. Extremists, many of them ex-servicemen, plan a civil war, create death lists and stockpile weapons and body bags.
Decades after the Holocaust, new FRONTLINE documentary investigates the rise of neo-Nazi ideology and far-right extremism in Germany today – including within the military and the country’s police force – and why authorities are struggling to stem the growing problem.
“The image that Germany gives to the outside world is that Germany has learned a lesson from World War II, Germany is now a responsible country, Germany takes care of its people – among them, the Jewish people ” Christina Feist, who was worshiping at a synagogue in Halle, Germany, when a gunman tried to break down the door, then shot and killed two people outside, FRONTLINE said. “But what is happening is anti-Semitism is walking the streets in broad daylight, and no one seems to care.”
“German neo-Nazis and the far right” will be presented on Tuesday, June 29. From journalist, producer and director Evan Williams, who has covered the far right in Europe for nearly a decade, the documentary examines how, over the past five years, Germany has faced a wave of violence against Jews. , Muslims, immigrants and left-wing politicians.
The documentary is supported by Exploring Hate, a cross-platform public media initiative by WNET in New York City aimed at providing an in-depth understanding of the rising tide of hate, hate crimes, anti-Semitism and racism. Exploring Hate reporting also appears in the national news programs AMANPOUR AND COMPANY and PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND, as well as the regional news and public affairs programs of WNET, MetroFocus and NJ Spotlight News.
Speaking to victims of attacks and threats, government officials, politicians, online radicalization experts and suspected perpetrators, Williams examines what is behind this wave of hate – and asks if the authorities are doing enough to deal with it.
“Right-wing extremism is the most vital threat we face right now in the Federal Republic of Germany”, says Stephan Kramer, the intelligence chief of the state of Thuringia. “We have around 35,000 people considered right-wing extremists all over Germany; 13-14,000, coarsely spoken, considered aggressive and violent. But the problem is, it’s like with an iceberg, you just see a little tip on the surface, and the rest is underneath.
“[There’s] this enormous interest of Germany for this terrorist subculture ”, Miro Dittrich, an analyst who has studied how the Halle synagogue attacker radicalized online, told FRONTLINE. “And so far, I haven’t seen any real interest on the part of the German security forces in looking at these people. And I think it’s really dangerous, because it wasn’t a surprise that it happened then. And I still see a lot of interest from these people in having more attacks. “
As the documentary reports, in Germany it is illegal to post Nazi content and deny that the Holocaust happened. But experts Williams interview say it’s become nearly impossible to control social media – and interest in such content is only growing.
“We’ve learned the very hard way, to put it very diplomatically, that we haven’t looked at the right platforms, in the right places on the Internet to increase the chances of identifying people who could… become a deadly threat. “ Kramer said of the Halle shooting. “You can’t completely monitor the Internet. We, of course, try to be part of Internet communities, and try to identify people, but it’s very difficult.
“We regularly see anti-Semitic displays and animations with gas chambers, severed heads of politicians being baked. We see classic Nazi propaganda. But we also see conspiracy theories that have a pseudo-scientific veneer and, in this way, deny the Holocaust ”, Says Christoph Hebbecker, a public prosecutor who four years ago set up the country’s first police unit dedicated to digital hate crimes. “It’s getting even bigger. I think we’re going to see some serious problems… It won’t stop at words.
The film examines the murder of nine people in Hanau, Germany, including six Muslims and all of immigrant background, by a gunman who posted an anti-immigrant manifesto online two weeks before – and even sent links to his website for government officials.
“No one reacted. Nobody. And that lack of response claimed the lives of nine people. New,” said Armin Kurtović, whose son, Hamza Kurtović, was among those killed. “And to put that behind us – I’m sorry, that doesn’t work.” Someone has to accept responsibility.
“German Neo-Nazis and the Far Right” explores what it’s like to live as a target for far-right extremists. Williams speaks with local politician Katharina König-Preuss, who has been a member of the Thuringian state parliament in Germany for 15 years – and who has received a flood of far-right death threats because of her public stance against extremism.
“I have received letters telling me that I will be murdered, and when will it happen”, says König-Preuss. “I have received emails explaining how they want to torture me and what they think should happen to me.”
She did not ask for police protection, believing that far-right sympathizers have infiltrated the German police and army. As the film explores, a series of high-profile trials across Germany have revealed links between police and former and serving military personnel and alleged plans of far-right violence.
“In recent years, there have been fundamental changes within the far right. We have a significant increase in right-wing crime and violence, we are seeing more and more of these crimes committed using weapons and explosives. There is a change in the culprits. There are more and more people from the security services, current military or police and retirees. says Martina Renner, who sits on a German parliamentary committee looking into extremism and the government’s response to it.
Captivating and alarming, “German Neo-Nazis and the Far Right” is a powerful look at Germany’s efforts to come to terms with its past – and its present.
“I am not afraid that the vast majority of the military are considered or should be considered part of these networks. This is not the case,” Kramer said. “But we have some serious numbers that we should be worried about … And if we don’t identify the people who are among those who pose a threat, we will get a very, possibly a very bad wake-up call which is probably even deadlier than those that we already have.
Watch on your schedule:
“German Neo-Nazis and the Far Right” will air Tuesday, June 29 at 10-9 a.m. on PBS and will also be available to stream on pbs.org/frontline, YouTube and the PBS video app.
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A FRONTLINE production with Mongoose Pictures. The correspondent, producer and director is Evan Williams. The main producer is Dan Edge. The executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath.
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