The press spokesman and board member of the far-right AfD party in Saxony, Andreas Albrecht Harlaß, has been connected to several neo-Nazi groups and contexts.
On his Facebook page Harlaß is regularly posting pictures of his devotional objects of the NS era: a picture of a Black Sun carved in stone on his chimney or pictures of his pagan yule chandelier, a present that in the Third Reich was given to high-ranking SS officers, and is now a sought-after collectible in the scene.
The Artaman League
Originally established in the mid-1920s the Artaman League was an agrarian völkish movement active during the interwar period that eventually was absorbed by the Hitler Youth.2 Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler and Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höß had both been members of the League.
After the war former Artaman League members loosely regrouped and up from September 1966 started to publish the “Artam Newsletter” (Artam-Rundbrief). The publication later changed its name to “Artam Pages” (Artam-Blätter) issued by the “Friendship Circle of the Artaman League” (Freundeskreis der Artamanen), which regularly met at federal meetings in Oberwesel until the group dissolved in 2001 and merged with the “Federal Bund Circle” (Überbündischer Kreis).3
Since the early 1990s, far-right environmentalists have taken advantage of cheap farmland that became available after the reunification of East and West Germany, establishing themselves first in Mecklenburg “in an effort to reinvigorate the traditions of the Artaman League.”4
In 1992, a group of youngsters from these settlements turned to the aging Artaman League veterans and subsequently presented the so-called “Koppelow Concept” at a federal meeting, Koppelow being the name of a model village of the original interwar Artaman League.5
There were reportedly between ten and 20 young people that were interested in the proposal to establish “an organically growing settlement of culturally conscious people in the heart of Germany.”5
They all came from different völkish youth associations such as the “German Wandervogel” (Deutsch-Wandervogel), the “Traveling Journeymen” (Fahrende Gesellen), the “Free Union” (Freibund) and the “Folkloristic Youth of Lower Saxony” (Niedersächsische Volkstumsjugend).6
Nowadays “settlers” come from heterogeneous groups such as the “Free Comradeships” (Freie Kameradschaften), the NPD, or even religious-esoteric organizations.7 They are focusing on specific areas for establishing their “colonies,” usually where right-wing sentiments are already prevalent.
In contrast to most neo-Nazi and hooligan groups they perceive themselves as an elite within the far-right.8 Marius Hellwig of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation said about the Neo-Artamans:
“They are no bullies, wear no tattoos, do not show Nazi flags. They behave inconspicuously and well-behaved.”9
Meaning of the Emblem
The Artaman emblem contains a combined rune, which consists of the “man” rune and the “ar” rune. “Man” means “man” and “Ar” means “field,” symbolizing man being the guardian of the land, in other words a blood and soil mentality. The eight stars represent the polar star and the seven stars of the Big Dipper.
The runes used in the emblem are taken from the Armanen runes, a series of 18 runes introduced by Austrian mystic and Germanic revivalist Guido von List in “The Secret of the Runes” (1906 ), closely based on the historical rune system Younger Futhark. The Armanen runes were a part of the Nazi Party’s system of esoteric symbolism. The name Armanen runes associates the runes with the postulated Armanen, whom von List saw as ancient Aryan priest-kings.
Another distinguishing mark of the Artaman League is the so-called Irminsul, the “World Tree,” a symbol already used by the “Research Association for German Ancestral Heritage” (Forschungsgemeinschaft Deutsches Ahnenerbe), founded by Heinrich Himmler as the SS’ main eugenicist research institution.10 Andreas Harlaß also posted a picture with an Irminsul on Facebook.11
- 1. Maik Baumgärtner ad Jesko Wrede, “Wer trägt die schwarze Fahne dort …” Völkische und neurechte Gruppen im Fahrwasser der Bündischen Jugend (Braunschweig: Bildungsvereinigung Arbeit und Leben Niedersachsen Ost, 20099, 115.
- 2. In 1942 the Reichsjugendführer approved “in appreciation of the merit of the Artaman Movement” that the old Artaman badge (blue shield with the combined rune and eight stars) could be worn on the Hitler Youth uniform by former members of the NS-Bund der Artamanen and the Bund Artamanen e.V.
- 3. Gideon Botsch, “Artamanen,” In: Wolfgang Benz (Edit.): Handbuch des Antisemitismus. Judenfeindschaft in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Band 5: Organisationen, Institutionen, Bewegungen (Berlin: De Gruyter Saur, 2012), 44–46.
- 4. Kate Connolly, “German far-right extremists tap into green movement for support,” The Guardian, April 28, 2012, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/apr/28/germany-far-right-green-movement.
- 5. a. b. Up from a certain point the Artaman League decided to deposit the income of its members in a common fund, with the exception of a small allowance. These funds were used to buy up large, run-down estates and make them viable over a transitional period of several years, to later divide them into individual farms averaging 15 hectares, which would then become the properties of individual families. In Koppelow, Mecklenburg, 38 families were settled after four years of developing local estates. See: Ulrich Linse, Zurück, o Mensch, zur Mutter Erde (München, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1983), 327–339.
- 6. Ibid., 118.
- 7. Ibid., 10.
- 8. Andrea Röpke, “Braune Biokost - Rechte Siedler im Nordosten,” NDR, August 24, 2012, https://web.archive.org/web/20170118063538/https://www.ndr.de/nachrichten/dossiers/der_norden_schaut_hin/brauneoekologen113_page-1.html.
- 9. Edith Kresta, “Rückwärtsgewandte Siedler: Die rechte Landlust,” taz, January 15, 2017, https://taz.de/Rueckwaertsgewandte-Siedler/!5370963/.
- 10. Andreas Förster, “Siedler auf befreiter Scholle,” Der Freitag, September 23, 2015, https://www.freitag.de/autoren/der-freitag/siedler-auf-befreiter-scholle.
- 11. Facebook post by Andreas Harlaß, April 18, 2019, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2288199148105769.