Richard Cottrell

German Gladio redux: Neo-Nazi murder scandal engulfs Merkel’s government

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By Richard Cottrell

Contributing writer for End the Lie

Germany’s equivalent of the FBI, together with the national police force (BKA), is gripped by the biggest scandal to strike these services since the Baader-Meinhof crisis thirty years ago.

The chief of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV, internal intelligence) has resigned in a strange case that once again points to security agencies stirring synthetic violence for political ends.

In short, the vintage stripe of NATO’s Gladio secret army operation (see my new book below for more).

The departure of 62-year-old Heinz Fromm as Germany’s domestic spy chief is no more than a token gesture. He’ll be replaced safely enough by an identical clone. Names change, ingrained habits don’t. That is the long-running story of BfV, as we will discover in a moment.

What is indisputable is that a string of murders committed by an alleged gang of neo-Nazis were allowed to go undetected for thirteen years. A serious charge, of course, but a far larger one is the admission that government agents had been planted within the ranks of a known terror organization on the highest orders, but did nothing to apprehend the culprits.

Herr Fromm has gone quietly amid the usual mutterings that “a complete re-think” is needed on the failures of the security services. This is simply humbug.

He knew perfectly well that BfV underlings destroyed all incriminating files which pointed to official condolence of a death squad operating on German soil, specifically to erase contaminating evidence of an inside job.

The now infamous Operation Rennsteig was apparently a sting operation that planted eight informers inside the a neo-Nazi group calling itself the Thüringer Heimatschutz (meaning, “Thuringian Homeland Protection” or, ironically enough, “Thuringian Homeland Security”). The operation – conducted in Germany’s smallest state, located in the central belt of the country – extended over six years, from 1997 to 2003.

An outcrop of this same cell calling itself the ‘National Socialist Underground’ is blamed for the murder of eight Turkish shop owners and a ninth, a Greek, as well as  a policewoman, in a reign of terror played out over thirteen years. Other victims were injured by homemade explosive devices.

Now that the whitewash windmill is working at full tilt, we hear the same dreary excuses that “no one could have known” when in fact the national intelligence operation and their cohorts in the police force knew all along who was responsible for the killings.

One high-profile head offered up on a silver platter is no compensation for deaths of innocents which were undoubtedly intended to provoke and inflame the mood of Germany’s huge Turkish gastarbeiter (guest worker) community, which accounts for roughly 5% of the total population.

The Turkish community leader Kenan Kolat could not be blamed for describing the intelligence authorities as in “hopeless shambles.”

“Our faith in the German security services has dropped to nearly zero,” he said, adding that the scandal demonstrated clearly that “the state and certain organs of the state are blind to the extreme right.”

The political overtones to the case are certainly far more serious than the German media presently admits.

Last year the Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan personally expressed his concerns to Reich Chancellor Angela Merkel concerning the unsolved murders of Turks.  Erdogan pointed specifically at “neo-Nazis” (relying on his own well-tuned eyes and ears in Berlin) but he also inferred that the police were not really trying to track down the criminals.

Now we know why.

The smoking gun is the revelation that four key files were destroyed on November 11, 2011, supposedly out of some bureaucratic tidying up because the time limit for retaining personal data had passed.

While this certainly fits the mindset of grinding German bureaucracy, it is more than a coincidence that the files went to the shredder on precisely the same day that a connection was “established” between the neo-Nazi group and the shop-keeper murders.

The case was exposed to the daylight when two members of the NSU were found dead, one supposedly having shot his comrade before killing himself. A third female member of the band turned herself in.

Thus the incriminating fingerprints of the police and the intelligence agency were quietly expunged from the affair, or so it was clearly intended. The office also destroyed at least four files on its informants within the neo-Nazi group which bore strong links to the terror group.

This case looks very much like the tip of a towering iceberg of conspiracy, deception and thorough-going incompetence.

While only three figures could be firmly connected with the murders and the Constitution Office, it emerges that a much bigger deal was shaping up out of sight. The BfV was also responsible for recruiting 73 “military age personnel” on behalf of their colleagues in the Military Counter-Intelligence Service (known as MAD).

What was the purpose of this exclusive legion unless it was further operations charged with infiltrating and steering terrorist cells? The Bild newspaper said the shredded files named the 73 obviously under-cover agents infiltrating the far right scene. Two of them were the NSU members who were later found dead.

There has never been a better illustration of German Gladio redux, bearing in mind that BfV was always among the core management organizations of Gladio activities stretching back to the origins of NATO’s secret army in Germany.

BfV has rarely known a quiet moment since its incorporation in 1950. It was immediately flooded with veteran Nazis recruited by Hitler’s legendary Eastern Front spy chief General Reinhard Gehlen.

Gehlen himself was the chosen pick of US authorities to become chief of BND, the exterior intelligence service. BfV picked up the overspill from this lush river of Nazis.

Of BfV – and indeed the full gamut of German security services – it can truly said that neo-Fascism came with the milk.

In one famous episode, BfV’s first chief, Otto John, a legendary survivor of the 1944 Hitler bomb plot, suddenly decamped to the GDR in 1954 for motives which have never been satisfactorily explained.

John insisted he was kidnapped by the KGB but it is far more likely he was involved in the “red on black game” played between the two German states. He was convicted of treason but went to his grave strongly protesting innocence.

The triumvirate of BfV, BND and the national police authorities stand accused of constantly under-stating or ignoring neo-Right fundamentalism in Germany, fending off Turkish premier Erdogan’s claims of New-Nazi violence as wide of the mark because the shop murders were written off as “criminally inspired burglaries.”

Two more prize heads are set to roll. One of these belongs to Jeorg Zierke, head of the Bundeskriminalamt national police for the past twelve years. He says he’ll be “looking into” the failures at BfV.  More likely, he will be contemplating his retirement papers.

Another is that of the hapless Interior Minister Hans-Pieter Friedrich, who seems to have quietly dozed in his office since he got the job in March last year.

In response to public clamor he responded that he simply “could not imagine” wild neo-Nazi fanatics running around Germany with evil intent when every visitor to a large German city will read the warning scrawled on any vacant wall in no time at all.

Of course ministers usually get to see what their hirelings select for them. But it is hard to see what the minister responsible for all Germany’s police security agencies can now do now, in the wake of Rennsteig-gate, other than resign in disgrace forthwith.

There are two important backdrops to this story. One is the growing angst among Germans at the growing throng of foreigners in their midst, almost 16 million of non-ethnic descent.  The ethnic birth rate is frozen while immigrants cheerfully procreate. This is the taboo subject that Germans are reluctant to discuss, while aiming salvoes at lazy Greeks – who in fact work for longer hours and for much less pay than Germans.

The second is the hangover of the Rote Armee Fraktion (the Red Army Faction generally better known as the Baader-Meinhof gang). This has left an indelible impression on German security services that the threat to internal stability in Germany arises from the Left (plus of course Islamic militants) instead of Far Right extremists.

Rennsteig-gate supplies one important clue that leopards don’t change their spots.  The RAF years were characterized by synthetic violence over-lying the urban guerilla protest movements. Of these Baader-Meinhof are inscribed on the tablets of history while the far larger and more violent Revolutionary Cells never yielded a single important captive in twenty years of operations against the state.

Now that we see synthetic terrorism is back in fashion, we gain a far clearer image of who was actually conducting operations behind the scenes during the “years of lead” in Germany.

Richard Cottrell is a writer, journalist and former European MP (Conservative). His new book Gladio: NATO’s Dagger At The Heart Of Europe is now available from Progressive Press. You may order it using the link below (or by clicking here – Gladio, NATO’s Dagger at the Heart of Europe: The Pentagon-Nazi-Mafia Terror Axis):

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Edited by End the Lie

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