The term "Anti-Antifa" is the self-designation of several right-wing extremist groups that emerged since the mid-1990s in Germany, with the declared aim to fight against anti-fascists and left-wingers, particularly those attending counter-demonstrations at far-right rallies, but also other opponents such as left politicians, journalists or scientists. By now Anti-Antifa groups exist in many Western countries, including the US,1 Greece,2 and Spain.3 The term is also used in a broader sense, including all those right-wing extremists who attempted to promote a cross-organizational campaign to specifically combat left-wingers actively opposing fascism.
Anti-Antifa activists usually come from the violence-prone, and action-oriented right-wing extremist scene. But there is also an "intellectual Anti-Antifa," whose proponents are for a large part from the orbit of the New Right. In Germany these include, for example, Hans-Helmuth Knütter, a "leading head of the intellectual Anti-Antifa,"45 and the "Anti-Antifa academic"6 Claus Wolfschlag.
Strategies of Anti-Antifa groups include the gathering of "enemy intelligence," including the collection and publication of personal data of political opponents and the documentation of their actions and events,7 picking up on the "outing" practice of many Antifa groups. The result of these "black lists" serve to intimidate political opponents and often result in acts of violence against individuals and leftist or alternative projects. The concept exists in other countries, and is comparable to "Redwatch," an extreme right-wing website from Great Britain, or the "Research Documentation and Information Network" (Onderzoeks- Documentatie- en Informatienetwerk, ODIN) in the Netherlands.
The term "Anti-Antifa" first appeared in the August 1972 issue of the far-right monthly Nation Europa in an article "Plea for an Anti-Anti-Fascism" by Hans Georg von Schirp.8 But it was not until the mid-1990s that the term was picked up as a self-designation of right-wing extremist groups.
A forerunner of today's "Anti-Antifa" structures was the "Department for Security" (Referat für Sicherheit, RfS), founded in 1985 by Christian Malcoci, to which several leading neo-Nazi cadres belonged. The RfS was in turn one of the numerous sub-organizations of the "Committee for the Preparation of the Celebrations of Adolf Hitler's 100th Birthday" (Komitee zur Vorbereitung der Feierlichkeiten zum 100. Geburtstag Adolf Hitlers), which was brought into being by Germany's most prominent Nazis throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Michael Kühnen, and used to recruit and indoctrinate young people. The aim of the RfS was to carry out an active, nationwide "enemy reconnaissance," as well as to centralize and structure the collected data.9
The "Anti-Communist Action" (Antikommunistische Aktion, Antikom), founded in 1988, can be seen as another precursor to today's Anti-Antifa. Antikom's leader since 1991, Kai Dalek from Kronach, appeared as an "Anti-Antifa" activist in the Nuremberg area, where he observed and photographed events of political opponents. In the meantime it became known that Dalek worked for years as an informant for federal and state domestic intelligence services in the left and right-wing extremist scene.9
In 1992 the Hamburg neo-Nazi Christian Worch elaborated on the Anti-Antifa concept in the magazine Index of the far-right group "National List" (Nationale Liste).10 The term Anti-Antifa first received greater public attention when in 1993 personal data of neo-Nazi opponents, journalists and politicians from all over Germany was listed in a publication called "The Insight - The Nationalist Resistance Magazine against the Bourgeoning Red Front and Anarchist Terror" (Der Einblick - Die nationalistische Widerstandzeitschrift gegen zunehmenden Rotfront- und Anarchoterror).10 In the magazine over 250 antifascists, trade unionists, journalists as well as left and alternative meeting places were mentioned with names and addresses. In the foreword the makers spoke of "eliminating the political opponent," and causing it "restless nights." A certain Norman Kempken from Rüsselsheim had collected a large number of these addresses. The Federal Public Prosecutor's Office started an investigation and had Michael Petri and Sascha Chaves-Ramos arrested in the course of the trial. They were the operators of a phone service which had preceded the publication of The Insight, the "National Infotelephone" (Nationales Infotelefon, NIT), intended to collect for information about far-right opponents.9 But the two were released after one day, and the accusation of "forming a criminal organization" was dropped. Thus, the "Anti-Antifa" as a structure remained untouched.
Latest in the mid-1990s explicit "Anti-Antifa" groups appeared. Tino Brandt, a neo-Nazi from Thuringia and domestic intelligence informant at the time, founded in 1994 the "Anti-Antifa East Thuringia" (Anti-Antifa Ostthüringen, AAO), a short-lived “anti-antifascist” neo-Nazi group. Beate Zschäpe of the neo-Nazi terrorist group “National Socialist Underground” (Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund, NSU) participated in actions of the Anti-Antifa Ostthüringen. From the AAO emerged in 1996/1997 a loose alliance of neo-Nazi groups, named “Thuringian Homeland Protection” (Thüringer Heimatschutz, THS), in which Tino Brandt together with Ralf Wohlleben and Andre Kapke were organised. There were also contacts to the militant neo-Nazi network Blood and Honour.11 Several members of the NSU had belonged to the Jena section of the THS, the Kameradschaft Jena,12 among them the murder trio Uwe Böhnhardt, Uwe Mundlos and Beate Zschäpe, who are blamed of 10 murders between 2000 and 2007.13 These groups were all from the so-called “Free Comradeship” (Freie Kameradschaft) scene, i.e. autonomous neo-Nazi cells without official member lists, collaborating towards the common aim of a “National Resistance” (Nationaler Widerstand). Their activities certainly contributed to the increasing number of attacks and threats against leftists in East Germany, particularly politicians of the left party Die Linke.14
In mid-2002 the group "Autonomous Nationalists Berlin" (Autonome Nationalisten Berlin, ANB) emerged, which explicitly referrs to an anti-Antifa program. The ANB project, which is largely comprised of people from the "Free Comradeship" scene, has so far mainly attracted attention by attending demonstrations and distributing stickers.
A particularly active group called "Anti-Antifa Nuremberg" (AAN) is mentioned for the first time in a 2006 report of Bavaria's domestic intelligence agency.15 It was made responsible for a series of assaults in the region against Antifa activists and citizens standing up against right-wing extremism. Cars were damaged, houses were daubed, windows were smashed, even a dead rabbit was dropped in a mailbox. In Fürth, unknown persons published a leaflet and defamed a teacher as a left-wing extremist.16 Names, pictures and addresses of those affected have been published on the now defunct website of the AAN. One of the AAN members, Sebastian Schmaus, even got hold of a seat in the Nuremberg city council for the "Citizens' Initiative Stop Foreigners" (Bürgerinitiative Ausländerstopp, BIA).9
In March 2010, supporters of the "Anti-Antifa Wetzlar" threw a Molotov cocktail at the house of a church employee who had openly criticized right-wing extremism. The Limburg Regional Court sentenced the perpetrators to several years in prison for attempted murder.17
In August 2020, sympathizers of the Anti-Antifa took part in a mass demonstration of Corona deniers, among them hardcore neo-Nazis, Reich Citizens (Reichsbürger), Identitarians, anti-vaxxers, adherents to the Qanon conspiracy theory, and other proponents lured into the "crossfront" under an anti-scientific and conspiracist umbrella.18
Members of the Anti-Antifa at the August 29-20, 2020, Querdenken demonstration.
- 1. Philadelphia Anti-Antifa (Blog), https://phillyantifamadlibs.wordpress.com/about/.
- 2. Anti-Antifa Hellas (Blog), https://anti-antifa-hellas.blogspot.com.
- 3. Barcelona Anti Antifa on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Barcelona-Anti-Antifa-706915639389368/.
- 4. Anton Maegerle, "Martin Dietzsch: Bonn im Visier. Die Rechtsextremen und die Bundestagswahl ’98," in: Tribüne 36, Nr. 141, 1997, p. 66.
- 5. Anton Maegerle, "Rechtsextremistische Gewalt und Terror," in Thomas Grumke and Bernd Wagner (Ed.), Handbuch Rechtsradikalismus. Personen – Organisationen – Netzwerke. Vom Neonazismus bis in die Mitte der Gesellschaft (Opladen: Leske und Budrich, 2002), 161-162.
- 6. Clemens Heni, Salonfähigkeit der neuen Rechten: "Nationale Identität", Antisemitismus und Antiamerikanismus in der politischen Kultur der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 1970-2005: Henning Eichberg als Exempel (Tectum Verlag, 2007), 409.
- 7. "'Anti-Antifa'-Akte mit über 150 Dresdner Personen," AMAL, January 22, 2007, https://web.archive.org/web/20071213193138/http://www.amal-sachsen.de/news.php?article=379.
- 8. Anton Maegerle, Vom Obersalzberg bis zum NSU. Die extreme Rechte und die politische Kultur der Bundesrepublik 1988-2013 (Berlin: Edition Critic, 2013), 82.
- 9. a. b. c. d. Jonas Miller, "Anti-Antifa Nürnberg: Bedrohungen, Angriffe, Anschläge," Zeit Online, January 25, 2013, https://blog.zeit.de/stoerungsmelder/2013/01/25/anti-antifa-nurnberg-bedrohungen-angriffe-anschlage_11186.
- 10. a. b. "Glossar," Bundeszantrale für politische Bildung, https://web.archive.org/web/20090815141139/http://www.bpb.de/themen/CNCDW9,2,0,Glossar.html.
- 11. Andrea Röpke, "Im Untergrund, aber nicht allein," April 30, 2012, https://www.bpb.de/apuz/133374/im-untergrund-aber-nicht-allein?p=0.
- 12. Sebastian Haak, "Böhnhardt-Kumpel Tino Brandt: Wegen Kindesmissbrauchs verurteilt," Südkurier, October 14, 2016, https://www.suedkurier.de/ueberregional/panorama/Boehnhardt-Kumpel-Tino-Brandt-Wegen-Kindesmissbrauchs-verurteilt;art409965,8951450.
- 13. “Beschlussempfehlung und Bericht des 2. Untersuchungsausschusses nach Artikel 44 des Grundgesetzes,” Deutscher Bundestag, Drucksache 17/14600, August 22, 2013, p. 476, https://dipbt.bundestag.de/doc/btd/17/146/1714600.pdf.
- 14. "Pflastersteine und Morddrohungen," Dokumentationsarchiv (Blog), July 23, 2007, https://web.archive.org/web/20081010201718/http://dokmz.wordpress.com/2007/07/23/pflastersteine-und-morddrohungen/.
- 15. "Verfassungsschutzbericht Bayern 2006," Bayerisches Staatsministerium des Innern, 2007, p. 124, https://verfassungsschutzberichte.de/bayern/2006.
- 16. "Neue Attacke von Neonazis in Fürth?" Nordbayern, November 29, 2012, https://www.nordbayern.de/region/fuerth/neue-attacke-von-neonazis-in-furth-1.2542290.
- 17. "Deutschland: Vier Neonazis wegen Brandanschlag in Hessen verurteilt, Focus, February 2, 2011, https://www.focus.de/panorama/vermischtes/deutschland-vier-neonazis-wegen-brandanschlag-in-hessen-verurteilt_aid_596056.html.
- 18. "Hygienedemos in Berlin: So ein Volk," Panorama, Der Spiegel, September 1, 2020, https://www.spiegel.de/panorama/spiegel-tv-ueber-hygiene-demos-in-berlin-was-fuer-ein-volk-a-e1c7c825-4deb-4982-8c25-67eb920812b0.