Kontrakultur Halle ("Counter-Culture Halle") is a German neo-Nazi grouping active in the city of Halle (Saxony-Anhalt), which identifies with the Identitarian Movement. Founder of Kontrakultur Halle is the convicted right-wing extremist Mario Müller, formerly active in the youth cadre of the neo-Nazi NPD party, who currently works as a journalist for the far-right magazine Compact by Jürgen Elsässer.1 KH belongs to the "New Right", which tries to defy common perceptions of neo-Nazism in terms of looks and appearance, while behind closed doors purporting the same violent views.
The far-right expert Torsten Hahnel stated in an article by Belltower News that about two thirds of the members of Kontrakultur Halle, and of the IM in general, come from organized neo-Nazi structures, mainly from the NPD youth organization. "The Identitarian Movement as well as Kontrakultur are contact points for people from right-wing and neo-Nazi structures, who want to strategically distance themselves from these scenes."2
According to the Saxony-Anhalt domestic intelligence agency, Kontrakultur Halle (KH) is a regional division of the Identitarian Movement (IM), but was founded before the IM began to take root in Germany. Kontrakultur's approximation to the IM goes back to at least 2014, when KH members met with Identitarians in a joint summer camp.3 Like the IM, Kontrakultur is monitored by domestic intelligence in Saxony-Anhalt.4 An antifascist blog has published the names of all the identified KH members.5
The group's activities are centered in the "House of the Identitarian Movement in Halle" (Haus der identitären Bewegung in Halle), a house project which hosts neo-Nazis, far-right politicians and IM members under one roof, and sometimes is also referred to as Kontrakultur Halle.
On June 6, 2017, the house project was officially announced on the websites of the campaign "One Percent for Our Country" (Ein Prozent für unser Land) and the magazine Sezession. Both, One Percent and Sezession, are projects of the New Right publisher Götz Kubitschek, who, as the strategic head, is also largely responsible for the house project.6 Its aim is to create another contact point for the New Right alongside the "Institute for State Policy" (Institut für Staatspolitik, IfS)7 in Schnellroda and the "Library of Conservatism" (Bibliothek des Konservatismus) in Berlin. In addition to an office floor, the building houses a film studio, an event hall and a conference room. Donations were solicited for renovation, security measures and running costs.8
A building in the Steintor quarter, opposite the humanities campus of the University of Halle-Wittenberg, was chosen as the location for the right-wing extremist house project.9 The house, together with the 404 m² plot of land, is said to have cost 330,000 euros and since January 1, 2017, belongs to Helmut Englmann from Johannesberg in Bavaria. Englmann is the founder of the Titurel Foundation10, based in Bad Nauheim, Hessen, which acts as a funding instrument of the IfS.
Very little is known about the benefactor Englmann, who avoids any public appearances. Englmann wrote numerous letters to the editor for the far-right weekly Junge Freiheit and the monthly Nation und Europe. According to information from the A.I.D.A. archives, the local chapter of the neo-Nazi NPD party in Aschaffenburg-Miltenberg officially counted Englmann among its circle. A letter to the editor in Nation und Europe identifies him around 1998 as the "regional spokesman for Lower Franconia" of the extreme right-wing "Germany Movement" (Deutschland-Bewegung).8
Andreas Lichert (AfD), who is also chairman of the "Association for State Policy" (Verein für Staatspolitik), is named as the Titurel foundation's contact person.6 According to research by the Welt in the land register files, Lichert acted as the buyer's authorized representative in a purchase agreement dated April 14, 2016. Andreas Lichert, who ran as a candidate for the Hessian AfD for the 19th Bundestag, denied as late as August 2017 that he had bought the house in Saxony-Anhalt for use by the Identitarian Movement. "The 'Identitarian Movement' is neither tenant nor operator of the property," Lichert said at the time.11
In spring 2017 members of the Identitarian Movement moved into the house. According to observers from Halle, the IM first made its public appearance in the city in 2015, when members distributed leaflets in front of the market church. The group attracted nationwide attention when, two days before the state elections in Saxony-Anhalt in 2016, they bricked up the entrance to a house in Halle where the campaign "I live here, i vote here" was organizing a test vote for people who live permanently in Germany but are not eligible to vote there.12 They had blocked another "polling station" with chains, Kontrakultur Halle stated at the time. On their Facebook page KH published a picture of the action and a press review with links to media reports. Three months after the action, the Halle public prosecutor's office dropped the investigation because the perpetrators could not be identified.13
The house also serves as the headquarters of an advertising agency called Mosaik Kommunikation. At first sight, the company website makes a professional impression, without any visible connection to the IM, but offers the entire spectrum of marketing tools used by the movement: from web design and textile design to film production and social media appearances. Andreas Lichert's "Lichert GmbH" acts as the corporate umbrella for the advertising agency. The web domain of the agency is registered to Simon Kaupert, the source code of the site points to two other businesses "Kontrast Werbedesign" and "Mosaik Werbedesign" that no longer, or not yet, exist. Both domains are registered to the co-head of the Austrian Identitarian leader Martin Sellner.8 It can be assumed that the agency is mainly used to bill activist and contract work with partners like One Percent, but also the AfD. In 2016, for example, Kaupert and Sellner produced a video for the AfD Bitterfeld, and later Identitarian filmmakers were also seen at an AfD meeting in the state parliament.14 Nevertheless, it cannot be ruled out that the advertising agency also handles projects outside the far right, which may be financially beneficial for the IM.
In addition, rooms of the far-right house project are used by an advertising agency, the right-wing fashion label Radical Ésthetique and the One Percent initiative, which was founded in 2015 and considers itself a "right-wing NGO." Former chairman of NPD's youth cadre, Michael Schäfer, is reportedly an employee in the One Percent offices there.15 The AfD member Hans-Thomas Tillschneider maintains an office on the first floor of the house. An office of Götz Kubitschek's Antaios publishing house was also allocated.16
Several times there have been clashes between residents of the house and counter-demonstrators. Behind the front door of the house project batons are stored, the windows are double-glazed, and the doors reinforced with steel struts. Several surveillance cameras are attached to the house.17
According to Der Freitag, Halle has turned into a kind of "model region" for formal and informal cooperation between different groups of the new-right spectrum, including the Identitarian Movement, the Institute for State Policy, the "Fraternity Halle-Leoben Germania" (HLB) and an "unprecedented number of AfD politicians with a direct mandate."18 David Begrich from the "Working Group Right-Wing Extremism" (Arbeitssstelle Rechtsextremismus) also concedes that the Halle project has a "model character."16 According to Christoph D. Richter of Deutschlandfunk, the Halle club house is currently the most important project for the Identitarian Movement in the German-speaking world. The house wants to be "a kind of hipster club for the right-wing Tinder generation."16
Azov Battalion (Ukraine)
Kontrakultur Halle is intensively networking with likeminded organizations abroad, notably the Ukrainian neo-Nazi Azov Battalion. Azov is a volunteer battalion subordinated to the Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior, which first appeared as a paramilitary force in the Euromaidan regime change operation. Kontrakultur figurehead Mario Müller can be seen on a picture with fighters of the Azov Battalion in 2014.
Anna Muylina, a Ukrainian woman with excellent contacts to the Azov Battalion lived temporarily in Halle. While Muylina's Facebook profile seems relatively inconspicuous, her profile on the VK network shows her attitude all the more clearly. There she posted, for example, a photo of a historical edition of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, and a submission by the Russian National Socialist Black Metal band Wotan-Jugend, posing with a Hitler salute. Although from Russia, the band is supporting the anti-Russian Azov Battalion and the equally radical Misanthropic Division. In 2015, the Chemnitz right-rock label PC-Records advertised its new batch of Azov t-shirts on Facebook. Muylina was tagged by Mario Müller in the post, and Muylina stated that she can contact her "friends from the Azov PR team" about the t-shirt promo action.8
An ideological as well as esthetical role model for Kontrakultur Halle, and the Identitarian Movement in general, is the openly fascist CasaPound movement from Italy. Time and again, Kontrakultur members show off merchandise from the CasaPound environment. In October 2017, Melanie Schmitz from Essen, member of the the Identitarian grouping Kontrakultur Halle, wore a patch of the official CasaPound band Zetazeroalfa in a photo. Philip Thaler, also a Kontrakultur member, wore a t-shirt of the neo-Nazi Italian band Bronson in a video, which is also deemed close to CasaPound.19
In 2017, several people from the Kontrakultur Halle orbit were participating in a conference organized by the neofascist Italian movement CasaPound. Among them Philip Stein, the project manager of the xenophobic petition and campaign platform One Percent, which has an office in the Kontrakultur club house. Stein is also owner of the publishing house Jungeuropa, which reissues New Right classics.20 Also the Kontrakultur Halle member Philip Thaler was at the CasaPound conference, who, together with Alexander Kleine, runs a YouTube channel called “Thought Aloud” (Laut Gedacht), a far-right commentary on current news.21 Among others, the channel is financed by the One Percent campaign that Stein manages.22
- In July 2014, Identitarians from Northern Germany had a network meeting with Kontrakultur under the headline "Metapolitics - The Battlefield of Ideas."3 As can be seen on the teaser image of the video they produced of this event, neo-Nazi paraphernalia such as Thor's hammer go side by side with the more modern branding of the Identitarian Movement.
- In mid-January 2017 several members of Kontrakultur Halle (Philip Thaler, Florian Müller, Mario Müller, Andreas Karsten, Melanie Schmitz, Dorian Schubert) stayed in Paris where they took part in a demonstration of the Génération Identitaire on January 14.8
- On 21 and 22 April 2017 the congress "Europe - Comunita di popoli civilta" took place in the headquarters of CasaPound in Rome. As photos prove, besides John Hoewer, speaker for interior affairs of the AfD faction in the Landtag of Saxony-Anhalt, also the Identitarian cadre Philip Thaler of Kontrakultur Halle took part in the conference.19
- In May 2017, Kontrakultur members Melanie Schmitz, Mario Müller, Dorian Schubert, Andreas Karsten and Philip Thaler traveled to Prague on the invitation of the Czech Identitarian branch "Generace Identity."8
- In July 2017, a leaflet from the Identitarian house project was circulated on social networks, where it presented itself as a "patriotic house project" with leisure events and book evenings. It promoted a "cultural evening" in the house together with the Saxony-Anhalt AfD MPs Hagen Kohl, Jan Wenzel Schmidt and Hans-Thomas Tillschneider.23
- In October 2017, head of the Austrian Identitarian Movement, Martin Sellner, was visiting the club house Kontrakultur Halle, and made a vlog about his visit.24
- On June 8, 2018, the Ukrainian neo-Nazi leader Olena Semenyaka was invited by Kontrakultur Halle to an “Ukrainian Evening,” where she spoke on the topic of "identity, geopolitics, perspectives" and, according to information from the Identitarians, introduced the concept of Intermarium to the audience.
- On March 6, 2020, Mario Müller, together with three other right-wing extremists, has been spotted on the island of Lesbos, where they were pretending to be journalists. It is not known what exactly they did on the island, but it is likely that they joined other neo-Nazis in their actions against refugees. A companion of Müller, the NPD politician Jonathan Stumpf from Mannheim, was attacked and injured at the head.
- 1. Nik Afanasjef and Eva Müller-Foell, "Rechte „Identitäre“ zeigen Präsenz: Das unheimliche Haus von Halle," taz, November 1, 2017, https://taz.de/Rechte-Identitaere-zeigen-Praesenz/!5456925/.
- 2. Kira Ayyadi, "'Kontrakultur' Halle: Eine rechtsextreme Marketing-Agentur," Belltower News, May 30, 2017, https://www.belltower.news/kontrakultur-halle-eine-rechtsextreme-marketing-agentur-44088/.
- 3. a. b. "Kontrakultur Sommerlager 2014," Kontra Kultur on YouTube, September 9, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ti33JxHhSb8.
- 4. Verfassungsschutzbericht 2016, Landesamt für Verfassungsschutz Sachsen-Anhalt, November 10, 2017, p. 50 ff.
- 5. “Kontrakultur Halle,” Hosen Runter (Blog), https://hosenrunter.noblogs.org/personen/kontrakultur-halle/#Mario%20Alexander%20M%C3%BCller.
- 6. a. b. Fabian Hillebrand, "Scheitel statt Irokesenschnitt: Ein rechtes Hausprojekt in Halle," Neues Deutschland, June 20, 2017, https://www.neues-deutschland.de/artikel/1054630.scheitel-statt-irokesenschnitt-ein-rechtes-hausprojekt-in-halle.html.
- 7. Institut für Staatspolitik, http://staatspolitik.de/.
- 8. a. b. c. d. e. f. "Ein Identitäres Haus für die Kontrakultur Halle: Kubitscheks Traum vom Nazikiez," Sachsen-Anhalt Rechtsaußen, June 18, 2017, https://lsa-rechtsaussen.net/ein-identitaeres-haus-fuer-die-kontrakultur-halle/.
- 9. Jan Petter, "In Halle wollen rechte Hipster ein Hausprojekt etablieren," Bento, https://www.bento.de/politik/identitaere-in-halle-kaempfen-studenten-gegen-ein-rechtes-hausprojekt-a-00000000-0003-0001-0000-000001506142.
- 10. Titurel Stiftung, http://titurelstiftung.de/.
- 11. "AfD-Kandidat: Haus für "Identitäre" gekauft?," Volksstimme.de, August 28, 2017, https://www.volksstimme.de/sachsen-anhalt/afd-kandidat-haus-fuer-identitaere-gekauft.
- 12. "Bundestagswahl 2017: Migranten fordern Wahlrecht für alle," Volksstimme.de, August 17, 2017, https://www.volksstimme.de/sachsen-anhalt/bundestagswahl-2017-migranten-fordern-wahlrecht-fuer-alle.
- 13. "Identitäre Bewegung: Rechtsextreme Gruppe bekennt sich zu Mauerbau-Aktion," Zeit Online, March 11, 2016, https://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/zeitgeschehen/2016-03/sachsen-anhalt-landtagswahl-migranten-probe-wahllokal-halle-zugemauert.
- 14. "AfD Sachsen-Anhalt, neonazistische Burschenschaften und Identitäre Bewegung," Sachsen-Anhalt Rechtsaussen, June 16, 2016, https://lsa-rechtsaussen.net/afd-sachsen-anhalt-neonazistische-burschenschaften-und-identitaere-bewegung/.
- 15. Christian Fuchs and Astrid Geisler, "AfD-Wahlkampf: Heimliche Wahlhelfer der AfD," Zeit Online, October 2, 2017, https://www.zeit.de/politik/deutschland/2017-09/afd-wahlkampf-identitaere-bewegung-ein-prozent-wahlkampfhilfe/komplettansicht.
- 16. a. b. c. Christoph D. Richter, "Rechtes Hausprojekt in Halle: AfD und Identitäre unter einem Dach," Deutschlandfunk, November 4, 2017, https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/rechtes-hausprojekt-in-halle-afd-und-identitaere-unter.1773.de.html?dram:article_id=399843.
- 17. Oliver Müller-Loray, "Identitäre Bewegung in Halle: Ärger über Kameraüberwachung von rechts," Mitteldeutsche Zeitung, July 28,2017, https://www.mz-web.de/halle-saale/identitaere-bewegung-in-halle-aerger-ueber-kameraueberwachung-von-rechts-28428252.
- 18. "Zentrum der Neuen Rechten," Der Freitag, May 22, 2017, https://www.freitag.de/autoren/fpeter/zentrum-der-neuen-rechten.
- 19. a. b. "Das braune Netzwerk rund um die Identitäre Bewegung," Identitäre in Bochum (Blog), https://identitaereinbochum.noblogs.org/netzwerke/.
- 20. "AfD und Ein Prozent: Zu Gast bei Faschisten-Konferenz," Sachsen-Anhalt Rechtsaussen, May 22, 2017, https://lsa-rechtsaussen.net/zu-gast-bei-faschisten-konferenz/.
- 21. Laut Gedacht on YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCII9X0AMyy21VRwSVBjeBrw.
- 22. Marcel Laskus, “‘Ein Prozent’ und die Neuen Rechten: Im Hinterland, rechts außen,” MDR, September 28, 2016, https://web.archive.org/web/20170801123437/http://www.mdr.de/sachsen/ein-prozent-in-oybin-100_page-1_zc-43c28d56.html.
- 23. André Seifert, "Das identitäre Haus in Halle und wie die Stadt damit umgeht," Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, November 8, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20171108205740/http://www.mdr.de/nachrichten/politik/regional/identitaere-bewegung-halle-100.html.
- 24. "Kontra Kultur Halle - Die Hausbewohner und Aktivisten," Martin Sellner on YouTube, October 31, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3GTkDceMw0.