Progressives protest persecution of anti-fascists in Germany

Following the conviction of four antifa activists by a court in Dresden, antifa groups have accused the German state of persecuting those who oppose fascism while proceeding far more slowly on crimes by neo-Nazi groups

June 05, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
5-06 Antifa protest - Germany (1)
An antifa demonstration demanding the release of activist Lina E. (Photo: via Siempre Antifascista)

Progressive and anti-fascist groups have condemned the persecution of antifa activists in Germany and the repression of protesters who raised their voice against the crackdown. On Saturday, June 3, security forces violently cordoned off more than 1,000 demonstrators in the city of Leipzig. They were protesting prison sentences given to antifa activist Lina E (28) and three other co-defendants—Lennart A, Jonathan Philipp M, and Jannis R—by the Higher Regional Court of Dresden on May 31. The four were charged with attacks on far-right extremists between 2018 to 2022 and running a left-wing extremist group. The court sentenced Lina E to five years and three months in prison and gave shorter sentences to the other three. Antifa groups in Germany organized protest marches against the verdict in cities, including Berlin, on May 31. Far-right groups and parties like the Alternative for Germany (AfD) welcomed the verdict.

The trial of Lina E and her co-defendants gained traction in the media as the Antifa East trial. Several progressive and anti-fascist groups, like the Green Youth in Germany and the Left Youth Front (FLM) in Slovakia, extended solidarity to the defendants. Several sections highlighted the German state’s speed in punishing those opposed to fascists and neo-Nazis while probes into crimes by far-right groups proceed slowly. 

Over the past few years, collusion between far-right criminal networks and state security services in Germany has been exposed in multiple cases, triggering widespread protests. The activities of the neo-Nazi group National Socialist Underground (NSU) caused great controversy when, in 2019, four NSU terrorists were convicted by the Munich Higher Regional Court on 10 counts of murder and other terrorist activities. By that time, it had come to light that officers from the Federal Office for Protection of the Constitution (BfV) and the police were aware of the crimes committed by the NSU and were in some way complicit in many of these crimes. 

In July 2021, 20 active and former officers from the special operations unit of the Frankfurt police were found sharing far-right symbols and hate messages in their group chats. Earlier, the federal authorities had disbanded the 2nd company of Bundeswehr’s Special Forces Command (KSK) for colluding with and covering up right-wing extremist activities. 

On June 2, German left-wing party Die Linke stated that “right-wing terrorism is on the rise. In the past year, the number of far-right-motivated crimes increased by 7% to more than 23,000.”

According to reports, Die Linke’s parliamentary group in the Saxon state parliament on Sunday requested a special meeting of the Committee on Internal Affairs to discuss the police repression of the protesters in Leipzig.