On the testimony of informer and THS founder Tino Brandt – and on the question what the domestic secret service did and did not want to know.
The concluding day of Tino Brandt’s testimony again showed the NSU secret service scandal in its full dimension. From 1995 until 2001 when was uncovered as an informer, Brandt was the “best”, “most important”, “top” source for the service. During that time, the slimy informant, who still stands by his Nazi ideology, learned to give out just enough facts that they could count as “information” while at the same time being careful to limit what he divulged so as not to endanger the local or larger Nazi scenes. Quite to the contrary, he received at least 140.000 € from the service, most of which he used to build up the Nazi organizations led by him.
Wohlleben defense attorney took obvious pleasure in asking what these payments to Brandt had been used for: yes, Brandt confirmed, they had been used to pay dues for members of the Nazi party NPD in order to gain majorities in the Thuringia NPD and establish certain political standpoints within the party. These answers are of little use to the Wohlleben defense, but of potential use to the NPD in its defense in the current proceedings to abolish the party, which again shows the bond Wohlleben and his defense share with the NPD. Of course the fact that the radicalization of the party was partly the work of informers will play a role in these proceedings. It was obvious that Brandt enjoyed being able to do politics again.
He also reported that the service had told him from the beginning that it was not interested in crimes committed by Nazis, but only in demonstrations, leading personnel and the like. He had provided only information which the service could also have gained via other sources. This is quite believable – the entire case file of the proceedings in Munich show that none of the information given by Brandt led to the uncovering of crimes, let alone to an arrest. Even the information that Zschäpe, Böhnhardt and Mundlos would call him at a specific phone box at a specific time – information which would have enabled telephone surveillance leading directly to “the Three” – did not lead to any concrete measures aiming at an arrest.
Brandt now claims that he and his comrades had only conducted political activities by legal means. This is an obvious lie: Already involved in the German-wide network of militant neo-Nazis “Gesinnungsgemeinschaft der neuen Front” (“Community of Conviction for the New Front”), Brandt founded and led first the “Anti-Antifa Eastern Thuringia”, then the “Thuringia Home Guard”. These organizations collected addresses of perceived or actual political enemies, conducted hateful propaganda and used violence against their opponents on a massive scale. Another informer stated that Brandt had been called “Brandtstifter” (“fire starter”, a pun on his last name) by many in the scene. Brandt himself is obviously still full of pride when discussing firearms training in South Africa or France.
The court did not ask Brandt many questions. It was content with having him report on collection of money for the three who had gone underground and on the appointment for phone call detailed above. The federal prosecution, as was to be expected, did not ask a single question, keeping to its usual strategy of conducting the trial on the basis of its indictment as quietly as possible and without any criticism of the secret service and/or the police.
Only victims’ counsel succeeded in showing that in the witness chair sat a staunch Nazi reporting only what he wanted to and trying to give everyone the roundabout. These efforts are often criticized as making a conviction for Zschäpe harder to achieve. Such dangers are likely much overstated, and more importantly, an easy conviction of Zschäpe is not worth the price of letting responsible politicians and administrators as well as additional NSU supporters and members of the hook.
The question remain how Brandt could remain in the employ of the secret service for such a long time and only report on worthless trivia. One likely explanation is the political situation in Thuringia at the time. The administration, above all the ministry of the interior, was aggressively anti-communist. A police unit tasking with investigating Nazi crimes and also having an eye on the organizations behind those crimes was dissolved. The danger of Nazi groups was systematically trivialized, anti-fascist groups were persecuted. It was not the Nazi murderers to be who were perceived as disturbing, but Pastor Lothar König and his “Young Parish” who for many years were attacked by the “Thuringia Home Guard.” The fire bombings and pogroms against “non-Germans” were used as an argument for abolishing the right to asylum.
This type of politics continues until today, as shown not only in the nonsensical trial against pastor König for his tireless work against the Nazi march in Dresden. The domestic secret service agencies continue to recruit a large number of informers and through them to pay Nazi groups large sums of money. The racist policies to keep refugees out of the country continue unabated. One answer to the NSU’s crimes and the involvement of the State therein would be to finally allow all persons living in Germany to vote in German elections. This would be one first consequence to be drawn from that scandal, one real consequence rather than just Sunday speeches and reforms giving further powers to the very agencies that have already proven unable to do anything worthwhile with the powers they already have.
But the German state only actually combats political murder when this is in keeping with mainstream opinion. Criminal proceedings against the organizations supporting the NSU are on hold while there is a discussion of marking the ID cards of suspected “islamists” to keep them from moving the country.
Hundreds of “Nongermans” were killed by Nazis and racist in the last thirty years, were beaten to death, burned to death, shot, hundreds more were severely injured. But for the German state, the migrants themselves are still the real danger.