Dietmar Munier (*February 7, 1954, Hanover) is the owner of a far-right publishing empire in Germany, known for disseminating right-wing extremist and historical revisionist literature.1
He is CEO and co-owner of the publishing group and mail order business Lesen & Schenken, which comprises other publishers such as Arndt, Orion-Heimreiter, Bonus, Pour le Mérite, Edition Zeitgeschichte and the Landwehr-Verlag. Lesen & Schenken publishes several far-right magazines, among them the Deutsche Militärzeitung and Zuerst!. The publishing group produces about 50 books, calendars, posters, CDs and DVDs annually, and distributes a broad range of militaria as well as neo-pagan devotional objects.
Dietmar Munier is married to Gerlind Munier (*October 1, 1969, as Gerlind Mörig).2 She is the co-owner, and, together with her husband, was for many years the managing director of the publishing empire.3 Munier lives with his wife in seclusion on the premises of the publishing house in Martensrade, a town in the district of Plön with about 1,000 inhabitants. Jens Lütke, a functionary of the far-right NPD party, also lives there.4^
In 1969, Munier joined the Gemeinschaft Junges Ostpreußen (GJO), the youth organization of the Landsmannschaft Ostpreußen ("Homeland Association of East Prussia"), an association of Eastern Prussian expellees founded 1948 in Hamburg and known catch-basin for revisionists and Nazis.
In 1971, Munier joined the Junge Nationaldemokraten ("Young National Democrats," later "Young Nationalists"), the youth organization of the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), without becoming a member of the party. However, he became district chairman in the county Grafschaft Bentheim (Lower Saxony) and deputy state chairman in Schleswig-Holstein for some time.^
In 1973, Munier founded the publishing house Sturmwind-Verlag and led the business from a store in Kiel. During his military service, he sublet the premises to Holocaust denier and publisher Thies Christophersen (1918-1997), a former SS special leader at Auschwitz and author of the "Auschwitz Lie," banned in the Federal Republic, who ran his Nordwind-Verlag (f. 1975) from there for a while. But Munier terminated the contract after a few months due to differences over the content of the assortment.5
Thies Christopherson and other neo-Nazis perform the Nazi salute at a meeting in 1974.
Afterwards, Munier ran a bookstore named Sturmwind at the store. With changing addresses due to repeated terminations, he operated bookstores in Kiel under the names Rathaus-Buchhandlung and Buchhandlung am Dreiecksplatz until 1993.^
Bund Volkstreuer Jugend
In the late 1970s Munier had a leadership role in the neo-Nazi youth group Bund Volkstreuer Jugend ("Youth League Faithful to the People," BVJ).6 Little is known about the organization, which was founded by the Austrian neo-Nazi Walter Ochsenberger in 1975, and was based in Lochau, Austria.7 Together with Gunnar Pahl, Munier headed a German BVJ branch, his position being designated as co-leader of the "BVJ-Gau Nordmark" at the time.8 Leading members, such as Gunnar Pahl and Thomas Günter Lange, were also members of Gary Lauck's NSDAP/AO.9 Ochsenberger has been repeatedly convicted for Nazi revivalism, and had lived for some time in hiding in Spain, where he had tangible links to CEDADE.10 It was presumably the BVJ which was behind a series of "Educational Writings for the Youth Faithful to the People" (Ausbildungsschriften der Volkstreuen Jugend) that appeared in the early 1970s, intended to introduce young members to Nazi lore, often in the form of poems and songs.
It has been mentioned that the BVJ stood in the tradition of the Bund Heimattreuer Jugend ("League of Youth Faithful to the Homeland," BHJ), however, there are no details how they related to each other.9 The BHJ also sported the Odal rune as a logo until the late 1980s, and had a similar orientation as the BDJ.
Picture of a holiday camp (undated) by the Bund Volkstreuer Jugend in a 1972 issue of the "Educational Writings for the Youth Faithful to the People" (Ausbildungsschriften der Volkstreuen Jugend)
1972 issue of the "Educational Writings" of the Volkstreue Jugend.
In 1977, Munier hosted a camping weekend with paramilitary training in the name of the neo-Nazi group Wehrwolf Kiel/Volkstreue Jugend.6^
In 1980, Munier became a shareholder of the far-right publishing house Arndt-Verlag,6 founded in 1963 by Heinz von Arndt, who was a member of the neo-Nazi Deutsche Reichspartei and later of the NPD party. The publishing house originally operated from Vaterstetten,11 but with Munier's involvement, it moved headquarters to Kiel, Munier's hometown back then.1213
In 1983, Munier took over the leadership of the Arndt-Verlag from the previous director Karl Höffkes. Munier built Arndt into one of the largest and most important right-wing extremist publishing houses in Germany, and later integrated it as a subsidiary into his publishing group Lesen & Schenken.14
Arndt's publications include many historical revisionist writings, xenophobic pamphlets and pseudo-scientific works by authors, such as Günter Deckert, Franz W. Seidler, Viktor Suvorov, James Bacque, David Irving, Carl-Friedrich Berg, Helmut Schröcke, as well as reprints of writings from the Nazi era, for example by the Nazi poet Erwin Guido Kolbenheyer.15
In 1992, the far-right journalist Thorsten Thaler (b. 1963) was editor-in-chief of the Arndt-Verlag.
In 1996, the Arndt-Verlag published a book entitled "Documents of Polish Atrocities" (Dokumente polnischer Grausamkeiten), which was advertised in various expellee newspapers, such as Der Schlesier. The ad text said: "This documentation from official sources details the boundless tortures to which Germans were subjected under Polish violence between 1919 and 1939, whether in Posen and West Prussia, in Upper Silesia or Central Poland." The subtitle of the book read: "Published by order of the Foreign Office on the basis of documentary evidence." This prompted the current Foreign Office to sue the Arndt-Verlag, since this could give the impression that the publisher of the collection of documents was the current Foreign Office under the then Federal Minister Klaus Kinkel. The Foreign Office prevailed, and the Arndt-Verlag had to cease and desist from using that subtitle,16 however, lost another lawsuit in which it claimed the copyright for the text of the book.^
Also in 1983, Munier took over the publishing house Orion-Heimreiter-Verlag, which had existed since the 1960s.17 It was preceded by the Heimreiter-Verlag, founded in the 1950s,18 and run by the Sudeten German writer and Nazi functionary Ernst Frank (1900-1982), which was particularly close to the Witikobund, a revisionist Sudeten German expellee organization. Munier took over some title rights of the defunct publishing house. The Orion-Verlag was known for publishing Nazi-affine soldiers' accounts.19^
In the 1990s, Munier founded several associations and companies active in territories that Germany had lost after World War II, which aimed at resettling neo-Nazis, revisionists aspiring a Greater Germanic Reich, and Russian Germans on land and real estate bought in these areas. Munier stated that the aim was to "create new facts in order to open up a German perspective for our eastern province."20^
Aktion Deutsches Königsberg
Munier presenting plans for his settlement.
To that end, Munier founded the association Aktion Deutsches Königsberg ("Action German Königsberg," ADK) in 1991, which demanded the repopulation of the former German East Prussia with Germans. Königsberg was the name for the historic Prussian city that is now Kaliningrad, Russia. The ADK was under the patronage of the revisionist history professor Hellmut Diwald (1924-1993), a well-known ideologue of the New Right, some of whose books were published by the Arndt-Verlag. According to Thomas Pfeiffer, "He was closely involved in networks at the interface between right-wing extremism and established conservatism, and, without being a party member, was one of the intellectual protégés of the Republikaner party."21
The organization became known through the neo-Nazi terrorist and holocaust denier Manfred Roeder, who in 1995 had given a controversial lecture at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College in Hamburg.22 Roeder had started a settlement project with his organization "German-Russian Joint Efforts" (Deutsch-Russisches Gemeinschaftswerk) in Gavrilovo (former Herzogsrode/Gaweiten), 30 km away from Yasnaya Polyana (formerly Trakehnen) where one of Munier's settlements was located. From 1993 to 1996, Roeder traveled several times to Gavrilovo, where he oversaw the building of three houses. Roeder, through contacts in the Bundeswehr, got hold of decommissioned Bundeswehr vehicles, which were delivered to Gavrilovo.20 The taz reported at the time that the decommissioned vehicles were destined for the ADK.23 However, in 1996, Roeder's entry visa was not renewed.^
Schulverein zur Förderung der Rußlanddeutschen in Ostpreußen
In 1992 the association Russlanddeutscher Kulturverein Trakehnen ("Russian-German Cultural Association Trakehnen") in Yasnaya Polyana followed, which in 1993 became the Schulverein zur Förderung der Rußlanddeutschen in Ostpreußen e. V. ("School Association for the Support of Russian Germans in Eastern Prussia," SFRO), based in Husum.
The former RAF terrorist and today right-wing extremist Horst Mahler appeared at the 1999 annual conference of the SFRO and gave a lecture on "the future prospects of northern East Prussia." That year, Mahler also represented Munier's publishing house in a case where German authorities (Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Schriften) demanded a ban of some of Munier's publications.24
From left to right: Horst Mahler, Franz Schönhuber and Udo Voigt at a press conference "Yes to Germany - Yes to the NPD" in September 2000.
Gesellschaft für Siedlungsförderung in Trakehnen
Besides aforementioned associations, a company was founded in 1993 that managed the building projects on the land acquired, the Gesellschaft für Siedlungsförderung in Trakehnen m.b.H. ("Society to Support Settlements in Trakehnen," GST).
According to its own information, since 1993 the GST built two villages for Russian Germans in Jasnaja Poljana and Szirgupönen (1938 to 1946: Amtshagen, from 1946: Dalneye).25 The SFRO ran a school there, where the children acquire Nazi ideas in addition to the German language.26 Teachers there included27:
- Richard Edmonds, founding member of the far-right British National Party (BNP)
- Herbert Fritz, writer for Gerhard Frey's far-right National-Zeitung and advisor to the Nazi-apologist Arbeitsgemeinschaft für demokratische Politik (AfP)
- Götz Eberbach, speaker of the "Mutual Aid Association of Soldiers of the Former Waffen-SS" (HIAG).
Munier's Amtshagen settlement in 1997
From the Russian side, Munier's activities were viewed rather critically; in 1996, the Russian authorities issued an entry ban against Munier.24 In 2007, Alexander Mantei took over as CEO of the GST from Munier, and, as of 2021, he still holds that position.28^
Lesen & Schenken
In March 1995, Munier founded the publishing group and mail order business Lesen & Schenken.29 Over the years, Lesen & Schenken has grown into a mail order empire. Its annual catalogue, sometimes 130 pages thick,30 offers everything a neo-Nazi could ever want: books, CDs, DVDs, calendars, militaria, flags, maps, figurines, jewelry, neo-pagan objects, and many other things. Today, Lesen & Schenken also offers all those items via an online shop.31
Items offered in the 2011 catalogue of Dietmar Munier's publishing group Lesen & Schenken.
Items offered in the 2011 catalogue of Dietmar Munier's publishing group Lesen & Schenken.
From 1996 onward, the far-right military historian Olaf Rose worked as an editor for Munier's publishing group for several years.32 By then, Rose was already firmly anchored in the German neo-Nazi scene. Since 1991, Rose has been a member of the board of the right-wing extremist cultural association "Society for Free Journalism" (Gesellschaft für Freie Publizistik). Together with Alain de Benoist, Reinhold Oberlercher and Franz Schönhuber, he also edited the journal Opposition and was an author and member of the editorial board of the magazine Deutsche Geschichte, published by Verlagsgesellschaft Berg.33 Rose, together with Thomas Sattelberg, seem to be the most important liaison persons of the neo-Nazi NPD party with the neofascist Italian CasaPound movement. Both are also the main heads behind a far-right house project in the Eastern German city of Pirna, called Haus Montag Pirna (HMP).^
In 2003, Munier took over the military magazine Deutsche Militärzeitschrift ("German Military News," DMZ), which had already existed since 1995. The magazine is geared at military fans, detailing historic and modern military units and defense technology while, at the same time having clearly revisionist tendencies. These reach from trivialization to glorification of the Wehrmacht and Waffen SS. In one publication the DMZ denounced the "Soviet myth" that Germans, and especially “Waffen SS tank divisions” were defeated during the Battle of Kursk, in another one DMZ praises the "Atlantic Wall” as “strategically important fortress" with no mention that it was built by slave laborers overseen by the Todt Organization.
From 2004 until February 2011, the DMZ's editor-in-chief was the former author of Junge Freiheit, Manuel Ochsenreiter (1976-2021), followed by Guido Kraus,34 while Ochsenreiter remained editor of the magazine.^
Cover of Der Freiwillige from a 2002 issue.
Since mid-2012, the offshoot DMZ-Zeitgeschichte has existed.35 In 2014, Der Freiwillige ("The Volunteer"), a bi-monthly magazine founded by former Waffen-SS members in 1956, merged with Munier's DMZ-Zeitgeschichte. Munier had proposed the merger in a letter to the former editor of Der Freiwillige, Patrick Agte (born 1965), and Guido Kraus, who subsequently became the editor-in-chief.36
Der Freiwillige had first appeared as the organ of the "Mutual Aid Association of Soldiers of the Former Waffen-SS" (Hilfsgemeinschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit der Soldaten der ehemaligen Waffen-SS, HIAG). Its last editor, Patrick Agte, is a full member of the "Order of the Knight's Cross Bearers" (Ordensgemeinschaft der Ritterkreuzträger) and a at times member of the NPD state executive board in Rhineland-Palatinate.37
DMZ-Zeitgeschichte is explicitly aimed at a readership with a Nazi affinity. According to its own advertising, it sees itself as a "specialist magazine about the Waffen-SS."37 Like the DMZ, it has been published by the Verlag Deutsche Militärzeitschrift (VDMZ; P.O. Box address in Selent, Schleswig-Holstein), which belongs to Munier's publishing group Lesen & Schenken.
Every year DMZ-Zeitgeschichte produces a picture calendar named "Men of the Waffen-SS." Each month portrays a Waffen-SS member with a picture and a biography, including convicted war criminals. Anton Maegerle reported that in March 2015, it pictured former Danish SS-Obersturmführer Sören Kam, who had been sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for murder in Denmark after the end of WWII. Until his death in 2015, Kam was on the list of the world's most wanted Nazi criminals, however, since 1956 lived as a German citizen under his real name duly registered in Kempten, Bavaria.37^
Logo of the Zuerst! magazine
In November 2009, the far-right monthly Nation und Europa discontinued after 59 years. At the end of 2009, Munier bought the publishing house (Nation Europa Verlag), discontinued the journal, and replaced it with the monthly magazine Zuerst! - Deutsches Nachrichtenmagazin ("First!- German News Magazine"). The title of the magazine, according to the publisher's own advertising, meant that "Germany should remain German."38 Initially, the magazine’s editor-in-chief became the historian and former head of the cultural department at the newspaper Welt, Günther Deschner. Deschner was a member of the editorial staff of Nouvelle École in the 1980s, the mouthpiece of the far-right French organization Groupement de Recherche et d'Études pour la Civilisation Européenne (GRECE), whose founder, Alain de Benoist, subsequently contributed several articles to Zuerst!.39
Editorial meeting of the far-right monthly Zuerst! with Manuel Ochsenreiter (very left), Günther Deschner (fourth from left) Dietmar Munier (second from right). Screenshot from a 2010 3sat documentary.
In March 2011, Manuel Ochsenreiter became editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine Zuerst!, however kept on working as an editor for the DMZ. That year, the revenue of Munier's publishing empire was estimated at three million euros.36^
Front page of Der Schlesier from May 20, 2011.
After the death of Hans Joachim Ilgner (1933-2010), the last publisher of the weekly newspaper Der Schlesier ("The Silesian"), which had been published since 1948, it was taken over by Munier. Published by Munier's Lesen & Schenken, the newspaper changed its language to German, and, with a new layout, is available in regular newspaper shops since March 2011.40 In addition, there is now a Facebook presence.41 The domestic intelligence service of North Rhine-Westphalia writes on its website: "The main subject areas of the publication are classical historical and territorial revisionism, aspects of which include the denial of guilt of the Nazi regime at the outbreak of World War II (war guilt lie) and the relativization of the crimes of the Third Reich (historical revisionism)."42 As of 2017, editor-in-chief of Der Schlesier is Olaf Haselhorst.43^
Pour le Mérite
In 2011, Munier added one more publisher to his portfolio, Pour le Mérite, based in Martensrade in Schleswig-Holstein, where Munier owns a private estate. It publishes historical revisionist writings denying Germany's responsibility for WWII, or that war crimes were committed by the Wehrmacht, for example Franz W. Seidler's "Crimes Against The Wehrmacht" (Verbrechen an der Wehrmacht), or "War atrocities of the Red Army 1941/42" (Kriegsgreuel der Roten Armee 1941/42). There is also a wide range of revanchist writings and books on the expulsion of Germans from East Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia and the Sudetenland, such as works by Heinz Schön, Hugo Wellems, or Bolko Freiherr von Richthofen. Works on contemporary politics by Gustav Sichelschmidt, Dietrich Schuler, and Paul Stahlhofen, among others, talk of "cultural decline," "over-alienation," and "denationalization," euphemistic buzzwords barely covering their inherent racism.
In 2012, Munier hosted a midsummer celebration on his private estate in Martensrade, to which the Canadian holocaust denier Ernst Zündel (1939-2007) was invited. In February 2007, Zündel had been sentenced to several years in prison for incitement, and had left Mannheim prison in 2010.44
In June 2013, the Schleswig-Holstein Administrative Court ruled in summary proceedings that Lesen & Schenken could no longer be mentioned by name as a "suspected case" in the 2012 domestic intelligence report of Schleswig-Holstein, i.e. a case that grants domestic intelligence to surveil the publisher's activities.45
Alexander Dugin (right) and Manuel Ochsenreiter (left). Posted on Facebook on May 18, 2015.
In 2015, Arndt-Verlag’s subsidiary Bonus published one of Alexander Dugin’s books, “Conflicts of the Future - The Return of Geopolitics.”46 The appendix contains several interviews led by Manuel Ochsenreiter with the Russian fascist ideologue, covering topics such as the Syrian crisis, the confrontation between Putin and the West, the Ukrainian Civil War and the NSA scandal. Manuel Ochsenreiter called Dugin a “long-standing and fatherly friend.”47^
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- 16. "Antwort der Bundesregierung auf die Kleine Anfrage der Abgeordneten Ulla Jelpke und der Gruppe der PDS — Drucksache 13/8120 — Die Vertriebenenzeitung „Der Schlesier", das „Ostpreußenblatt" und die NS-Propaganda," Drucksache 13/8231, Deutscher Bundestag, July 15, 1997, https://dserver.bundestag.de/btd/13/082/1308231.pdf.
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- 20. a. b. Olaf Ihlau, "Russlanddeutsche: 'Mich kriegt hier keiner weg,'" Der Spiegel, December 14, 1997, https://magazin.spiegel.de/EpubDelivery/spiegel/pdf/8842841.
- 21. Thomas Pfeiffer, Medien einer neuen sozialen Bewegung von rechts (PhD thesis) (Bochum: Ruhr-Universität Bochum, 200), 152.
- 22. "'Porno-Anwalt' als Größe der Neonazis," Bergsträßer Anzeiger, July 7, 2007, https://web.archive.org/web/20160328134741/http://www.morgenweb.de/pdf/ba/175_Schlagzeilen.pdf.
- 23. Annette Rogalla, "Bundeswehr rüstete Neonazis aus," taz, December 9, 1997, https://taz.de/!1369463/.
- 24. a. b. "Zusammenkunft 'unter Gleichgesinnten,'" redok, April 27, 2007, https://web.archive.org/web/20080217012021/http://www.redok.de/content/view/654/36/.
- 25. Thoralf Plath, "Braune Trakehner wollen Königsberg zurückerobern," Berliner Zeitung, Dezember 11, 1997, https://www.berliner-zeitung.de/braune-trakehner-wollen-koenigsberg-zurueckerobern-li.8556?pid=true.
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- 27. Stephan Braun & Daniel Hörsch, Rechte Netzwerke - eine Gefahr (Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag, 2004), 110–111.
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- 29. "Lesen & Schenken Verlagsauslieferung und Versandgesellschaft mbH, Martensrade," Company House, https://www.companyhouse.de/Lesen-Schenken-Verlagsauslieferung-und-Versandgesellschaft-mbH-Martensrade.
- 30. "Lesen & Schenken GmbH - Katalog 2011," Lesen & Schenken on issuu, November 4, 2010, https://issuu.com/lesenundschenken/docs/katalog2011/22.
- 31. Lesen & Schenken, https://lesenundschenken.de/.
- 32. Tomas Sager and Jan Spreuk, "Das Aus für Dr. Rose," Lotta Nr.13, Summer 2003, https://web.archive.org/web/20070125105308/http://projekte.free.de/lotta/pdf/13/rose2.pdf.
- 33. Kevin Londer, "Zwischen Lokalgeschichte und der extremen Rechten: Der Herner Stadtarchivar Dr. Olaf Rose," Lotta Nr.12, Spring 2003, https://web.archive.org/web/20060517101140/http://projekte.free.de/lotta/pdf/12/rose.pdf.
- 34. "Über uns » Guido," Deutsche Militärzeitschrift, https://archive.ph/20120728123908/http://www.d-mz.de/uber-uns/guido.
- 35. Lenard Suermann, "'Die braune Presse' – ein Portrait der Zeitschrift 'DMZ Zeitgeschichte' aus dem Verlag Lesen & Schenken von Dietmar Munier," Der Rechte Rand, Nr. 143, July/August 2013, p. 9.
- 36. a. b. "Neues von der Waffen-SS," taz, March 27, 2014, https://taz.de/!373751/.
- 37. a. b. c. Anton, Maegerle, "Was liest der rechte Rand? Der Blätterwald," Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, December 23, 2016, https://www.bpb.de/politik/extremismus/rechtsextremismus/239620/der-rechte-rand-publikationen.
- 38. Christian Meyer, Das Feindbild der „multikulturellen Gesellschaft“ in der „Jungen Freiheit“ und der „Nation und Europa“ (PhD thesis) (Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin, 2013), 41-42.
- 39. Peter Dudek and Hans-Gerd Jaschke, Jugend rechtsaußen (Bensheim: Päd. Extra Buchverlag, 1982), 154.
- 40. Anton Maegerle, "Vertriebenenblatt jetzt bei Munier," Blick nach rechts, February 11, 2011, https://www.bnr.de/content/vertriebenenblatt-jetzt-bei-munier,
- 41. Der Schlesier on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Der.Schlesier.
- 42. "Der Schlesier," Ministerium des Innern des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, http://www.mik.nrw.de/verfassungsschutz/rechtsextremismus/medien/presse-und-verlage/der-schlesier.html.
- 43. Facebook post by Der Schlesier, March 2, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/Der.Schlesier/posts/1385091054895264.
- 44. Jan Peter Reschke and Stefan Schölermann, " Rechte feiern Sonnenwende," NDR, June 26, 2012, https://web.archive.org/web/20120916234243/http://www.ndr.de/regional/schleswig-holstein/rechtesh119.html.
- 45. "Verwaltungsgericht Schleswig: Verfassungsschutzbericht 2012 darf einstweilen nur eingeschränkt weiterverbreitet werden," Schleswig-Holsteinisches Oberverwaltungsgericht, June 26, 2013, https://web.archive.org/web/20130629183151/http://www.schleswig-holstein.de/OVG/DE/Service/Presse/Pressemitteilungen/26062013_VG_Verfassungsschutzbericht.html.
- 46. Alexander Dugin, Konflikte der Zukunft: Die Rückkehr der Geopolitik (Bonus-Verlag, 2015), ISBN: 9783887412913.
- 47. Christian Fuchs, Paul Middelhoff, Fritz Zimmermann, “Putins AfD-Truppe,” Zeit Online, August 16, 2017, https://www.zeit.de/2017/34/osteuropa-wahlbeobachtung-afd-wladimir-putin/seite-2.