At the time of writing, Tino Chrupalla, the co-leader of the German Alternative für Deutschland party (AfD) is under observation at a hospital, after what appears to have been a potential attack with a needle-like object. The German authorities are still investigating the incident, but it is as of yet unclear what precisely happened.
Even if there was no political motivation behind the attack, it serves as a reminder of the increase in Left-wing political violence occurring across Germany. Overall, Left- and Right-wing extremism in Germany show a similar number of incidents, but in recent years the Left has begun to move from ‘general’ violence (for example at demonstrations) to more specific targeting of individuals.
In May 2023, a local court in Dresden sentenced the Left-wing extremist Lina E. to five years in prison. The 28-year-old student and a few others founded a group with the specific goal to “hunt Nazis” and beat them up. At least 13 people were injured by this violent gang, including two victims who almost got killed. The group became known as the ‘hammer gang’ since they used said tool to attack those whom they believed to be Nazis. As the court states, whether the victims were in fact members of Nazi movements remained unclear.
The case itself was less remarkable than was its reception by elements of the German media, which seemed to be confused as to why a group of people who want to harm alleged Right-wing extremists should be persecuted at all. A prominent member of the public broadcaster ZDF tweeted that “an easy way not to become the victim of Left wing violence is not to be a Nazi”. During the reading of the verdict, there was applause and standing ovations for Ms. E., who used the occasion to thank her supporters.
Another recent victim is Augsburger AfD politician Andreas Jurca, brutally beaten up in August, says Schoellhammer.
Yet the tactic may backfire, he adds: “When the Bavarian politician Hubert Aiwanger and his small party of ‘Free Voters’ became the victim of a failed smear campaign by a German newspaper a few weeks ago, their numbers hit record highs in the polls.”
Worth reading in full.