Hermann Leopold Tertsch del Valle-Lersundi (born April 9, 1958) is a Spanish far-right journalist, lawyer and politician. He is a Member of the European Parliament for the Vox party since 2019, and ever since a Vice Chairman of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group. As member of the party's Fundación Disenso, he was a driving force behind the Madrid Charter, a pamphlet aimed uniting the radical right in Spain and Latin America. Tertsch is a key player in Spanish Christofascist networks, and appears frequently as speaker at far-right events by organizations, such as the Conservative Political Action Conference and HazteOir.
Tertsch was born in Madrid on April 9, 1958, to the Spanish-Austrian Nazi politician and journalist, Ekkehard Tertsch (1906–1989), and Felisa Maria del Valle de Lersundi (1919-2011), a Spanish marquess.1 His father, Ekkehard Tertsch, had joined the Nazi party in 1933,2 and the Sturmabteilung, the paramilitary arm of the Nazi party, in 1938.3 During WWII, he served as deputy head of press of the Nazi press delegation in Madrid. The latter was under the direction of Josef Hans Lazar (1895-1961), who came to control a large part of the Spanish press during World War II.
Pictures posted by Hermann Tertsch on Twitter document that his father worked for the British Information Services Branch (ISB) from November 1945 onward.4 In February 1946, Tertsch returned to Spain where that year he founded the Spanish Economic News Service (SENS), a monthly bulletin focused on economic information about Spain, which appeared in several languages.5 Tertsch and his news service informed luminaries such as Per Jacobsson (1894-1963), head of the International Monetary Fund from 1956-1963, as the correspondence between them shows;6 and the bulletin was used i.a. by the Austrian Embassy for sourcing political reports.2 Besides, Tertsch became a correspondent for the Austrian newspaper Die Presse and, from 1949 onward, an adviser to the Austrian diplomatic mission in Spain.
Letter from 1946 confirming that Ekkehard Tertsch was employed by the British Information Services Branch (ISB).
Identification document by the British Civil Labour Service in Vienna showing that they hired Ekkehard Tertsch as subeditor immediately after the war - despite his role as major Nazi propagandist.
There is no question that Tertsch senior was a staunch Francoist. In 1965, Tertsch organized the sixth congress for the European Economic Press Union. To that end, Tertsch chose the Valle de los Caídos as venue, a monumental fascist landmark built by forced laborers in 1940, where Franco was buried after his death in 1975 until 2019.7
Although in his youth Tertsch junior was a member of the Basque Communist Party (Partido Comunista de Euskadi), he soon joined the footsteps of his father.8 Tertsch started out his journalistic career in 1978 at the Spanish Economic News Service, the news agency/bulletin of his father. Based in Vienna, Tertsch became a correspondent for Agencia EFE in 1982, covering Central and Eastern Europe. Soon after, in 1983, he began to work for El País as correspondent in Bonn and Warsaw. In that period, he focused on the transition of ex-communist countries and chronicled the Yugoslav Wars (1991-2001) with a marked anti-Serbian point of view.9 In 1993, he was appointed deputy director of El País and head of the opinion section. In 1996, he lost his role as deputy director, but maintained an opinion column until 2007, with talking points much further to the Right than the newspaper’s usual line. Besides, he became a regular guest at radio stations, such as Cadena SER, Radio Nacional de España and Onda Cero.
In his career as a correspondent he received awards, such as the International Press Club, the Continent and the Europe Prize for Journalism granted by the Council of Europe and the European Parliament. He has also received the Otto von Habsburg Prize and a civil merit medal from the Austrian Foreign Office (2006).10
Due to his family roots, Tertsch has a knack for everything Austro-Hungarian, with a portrait of Emperor Franz Joseph being prominently featured in his library. He is enthusing over the Holy Roman Empire, particularly Austria’s role in it. According to Tertsch at the Congress of Vienna “the Austrian Chancellor Klemens von Metternich reformulated the Holy Empire, and laid the foundations of an international order based on the balance of powers and alliances between powers.”11 His library sports a considerable collection of books by Russian reactionary and anti-communist writers, such as Tolstoy and Solzhenitsyn.
Picture of Emperor Franz Joseph on Hermann Tertsch's book shelf.
Tertsch left El País in March 2007, after disputes over the editorial line, particularly regarding Israel, whose Right Tertsch avidly supports. Shortly after, he became a political opinion writer for the rightwing monarchist newspaper ABC soon after. He was also hired by Telemadrid, and became host of the early-morning show Diario de la noche in 2008. The channel was then linked to the right-wing Partido Popular and was very critical of the government of José Luis Rodríguez of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE). Tertsch’s total salary amounted to one million euros for the approximately two years with Telemadrid.12 After a “bar fight” in a piano-bar in Madrid in December 2009, he left the role of host at Telemadrid. Since then he has appeared as a political analyst in programs such as La vuelta al mundo (“Around the World”) on Veo7 (2010-2012), or El cascabel (“The Rattlesnake”) (2013-) on 13tv, and on radio programs such as Sin Complejos on EsRadio.
After his longtime stint at El País and before his affiliation with Vox, Tertsch apparently went off the rails. He made headlines for his social media feuds, particularly directed against the Left, i.e. blaming the Podemos party of being ready to kill people. He filed an unsuccessful libel lawsuit against a comedian in 2009 who parodied some of his statements, and in 2017 was successfully convicted for defamation after having stated in an ABC article that the father of Podemos’s General Secretary, Pablo Iglesias, had killed innocent civilians.
As early as 2010, Tertsch appears in documents leaked from the database of HazteOir, a Christofascist organization and Spanish precursor of the internationally operating CitizenGo network - both early supporters of the Vox party. In those documents he is listed as go-to journalists to help the organization rally against the Zapatero government. In 2015, he appeared on a HazteOir panel titled "Gathering on Religious Freedom," alongside Miguel Vidal (host), HazteOir president Ignacio Arsuaga, Jaime Mayor Oreja, Ramón Pérez Maura, and Serafín Fanju, to "analyze the crisis of Western Christianity in the face of Islamist terrorism."13
HazteOir panel in April 2015 titled "Gathering on Religious Freedom," with Miguel Vidal (host), HazteOir president Ignacio Arsuaga, Hermann Tertsch, Jaime Mayor Oreja, Ramón Pérez Maura, and Serafín Fanju.
In 2017, Tertsch was awarded a price by HazteOir, an honor reserved for far-right hardliners. As reason, HazteOir stated that Tertsch was “a defender of freedoms ‘against what is politically correct.'” Tertsch accepted the award because it came from “an organization also persecuted for its opinions and for its defense of beliefs and values.”14
Recipients of the annual HazteOir price. From left to right: ABC cartoonist José María Nieto; Brigadier General of the Civil Guard, Arturo Espejo; Homovox founder Nathalie de Vilencourt; the journalist Hermann Tertsch; the priest Custodio Ballester; the president of HazteOir.org, Ignacio Arsuaga; the president of the Asociación de Familias Numerosas Madrid, María Menéndez; Commissioner Mario Hernández Lores; the writer Alicia Rubio.
Although it is not known when Tertsch joined the Vox party, he appeared on party events as early as 2018. He attended a major party congress with more than 9,000 attendees at the Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid on October 7, 2018, which catapulted the party into the limelight. At the event, he sat next to the writer Fernando Sánchez Dragó, and the bullfighter Morante de la Puebla.15
In April 2019, Tertsch announced his intention to run for the 2019 European Parliament election for Vox. As the party won three seats in the election, he was elected MEP. Subsequently, he was appointed fifth Vice Chairman of the rightwing to far-right European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament.16 The ECR group was founded around the Movement for European Reform after the 2009 European elections at the behest of British Conservative Party leader David Cameron. Besides Vox, the ECR group includes notably Fratelli d’Italia, the Polish PiS party, and the Sweden Democrats.
Tertsch sits on the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), the Delegation to the EU-Mexico Joint Parliamentary Committee (D-MX), and the Delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (DLAT), serving as vice-chair in the later body.17
From October 27 to 29, 2019, Tertsch joined an unofficial delegation of around 30 MEPs to meet India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The delegation was made up mostly of MEPs representing European right-wing to far-right parties, including the Alternative für Deutschland (Germany), Rassemblement National (France), Law and Justice (Poland), the Brexit Party (UK), Vlaams Belang (Belgium) and the Vox party (Spain).18
Unofficial delegation of around 30 Members of the European Parliament to meet India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The delegation was made up mostly of MEPs representing European right-wing to far-right parties
After the Socialist Pedro Sánchez was elected Prime Minister in the November 2019 general election in Spain, Tertsch, who just had returned from Bolivia in January 2020, asked for a military coup in the country to abort what he framed as an "obvious putschist process seeking the demolition of Spain as a nation,” and requested the intervention of the army on social media.19 Incidentally, later that year dozens of retired high-ranking officers wrote a letter to King Felipe VI, as leader of the Spanish Armed Forces, to intervene against the PSOE-Podemos government.
Logo of the Fundación Disenso
When in July 2020 Vox set up a think tank, Fundación Disenso, Tertsch became a leading member (at least until late 2021), with Santiago Abascal, Vox’s leader, serving as president.20 The name “Disenso” came from a group of the late 80s and 90s in Madrid that brought together students from universities with a neo-fascist and “anti-establishment” tendency, affiliated with the likeminded Bases Autónomas (BBAA).21 Labeled “anarcho-Nazi,” the early Disenso group ultimately merged into the Coordinadora de Estudiantes Nacional-Revolucionarios (CENR).22
Immediately before the foundation, in February 2020, Abascal had traveled to the United States together with Iván Espinosa de los Monteros, parliamentary spokesman for Vox, and they visited several think tanks related to the Republican Party, including the Heritage Foundation, the International Republican Institute, and the American Conservative Union - suggesting that they may have been advised to set up such structure on that trip. Both, Espinosa and his Opus Dei-educated23 wife, Rocío Monasterio, have been identified as El Yunque members,24 the latter also serving as head of the Vox section in Madrid as well as spokesperson for HazteOir.
After the US trip, at a Vox congress in Vistalegre on March 8, 2020, Abascal expressed his intention to create a party think tank in order to broaden the outreach of the party in other social spheres and to expand its base. Established on July 2 that year, the organization was set out to offer improved political and leadership training to party officials, many of whom had just arrived in politics with little experience, as well as holding events, seminars and online courses for party cadets an laymen alike.25 Besides, it churns out studies and reports concerned with right-wing wedge issues of the day, particularly in its online magazine, La Gaceta de la Iberosfera. Although the composition of the board has been changing over the years, Abascal remains president of the think tank, while Jorge Martín Frías serves as attorney, who previously was attached to the right-wing Partido Popular - as were several of Tertsch’s extended family members (see below).
Hermann Tertsch and Santiago Abascal at the European Parliament in January 2020.
In 2020, Tertsch was one of the initiators of the Madrid Charter,26 a pamphlet concocted by Fundación Disenso, aiming to unite the radical right in Spain and Latin America against “narco-communism, the left and organized crime.”27
Delegates of Vox traveled throughout Latin America to promote and collect signatures for the manifesto, meeting with politicians in Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru. While promoting the charter in Ecuador, Tertsch said that signatures were necessary to counter “narcosocialism,” arguing that “[a]ll Latin American countries are threatened by the same totalitarian project funded mainly by Venezuelan oil and drug trafficking,” which Tertsch said was guided by Cuba.28 According to an article by Swissinfo28 :
Tertsch was in Ecuador together with the vice president of Vox, Víctor González Coello de Portugal, on the occasion of the investiture of the center-right [Ecuadorian President] Guillermo Lasso, who has been supported by the Spanish right. Also at the ceremony were former president José María Aznar (96-2004) and the leader of the [Spanish] Popular Party, Pablo Casado, as private guests. The official delegation was headed by King Felipe VI, accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya … Vox politicians remained in Ecuador to meet with the new defense minister, Fernando Donoso, former vice president Otto Sonnenholzner, and representatives of the Social Christian Party, Sociedad Unida Más Acción (SUMA), and others. … “We are very happy. Sonneholzner and the Defense Minister have signed, and we have recruited a lot of people from SUMA and the PSC,” he [Tertsch] highlighted about the initiative.
Besides, the charter has been signed by well-known far-right politicians, such as Santiago Abascal; far-right Prime Minister of Italy, Giorgia Meloni; former Colombian president Andrés Pastrana and Eduardo Bolsonaro, who at the time doubled as spokesperson of Steve Bannon’s The Movement in Latin America.
The Madrid Charter from October 26, 2020
In September 2021, a meeting with members of Vox and the National Action Party of Mexico (PAN), including Tertsch and Abascal, took place, which included a Legionaries of Christ priest.29 The 15 senators and three deputies from PAN, coordinated by Julen Rementería, came together to sign the Madrid Charter.30
Meeting of politicians of the Spanish Vox party with members of Mexico's National Action Party, including a Legionaries of Christ priest, to sign the Madrid Charter in September 2021.
In 2021, Tertsch was awarded the Polish Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit by the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, of the Christian right PiS party in honor of his “activities for the Polish community in Canada.”31
In February 2022, Tertsch appeared at a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Florida. There exists a picture from the event that show him together with Giorgia Meloni of the far-right Fratelli d'Italia party, a few months before she was elected Prime Minister of Italy. Meloni has been an avid supporter of Vox, as Fratelli d'Italia's sister party in Spain, for which she gave a Goebbels-like speech in June 2022.32 Another picture from the same event shows him alongside Eduardo Bolsonaro, Eduardo Verástegui, Mark E. Green and Joseph Humire.
Giorgia Meloni and Hermann Tertsch at CPAC Florida in February 2022.
CPAC 2022 in Florida. From left to right: Mark E. Green, Eduardo Bolsonaro, Joseph Humire, Hermann Tertsch and Eduardo Verástegui.
At the National Conservatism Conference from March 23 to 24, 2022, in Brussels, Belgium, Tertsch participated in a panel discussion titled "EU as a Sovereign."33 NatCon is far-right conference organized by the Edmund Burke Foundation, a think-tank led by Yoram Hazony.
Tertsch took part in a panel discussion of another CPAC iteration in Budapest, Hungary, from May 4 to 5, 2023, titled "Future of Europe panel discussion."36
Tertsch’s extended family has ties to almost all important Spanish parties. Through his mother’s sister, Luisa María del Valle de Lersundi, he is a cousin of two very prominent politicians of the right-wing Partido Popular party: Loyola de Palacio (1950-2006), rumored to be an Opus Dei member;37 and Ana de Palacio, a former MEP, top lawyer, and member of a plethora of Transatlanticist think tanks.
Another member of the de Palacio family clan, Carlos Sánchez-Reyes de Palacio, was a one-time editor of Ekkehard Tertsch’s Spanish Economic News Service and Informe Económico Internacional Urgente.38 In the 1980s and 1990s, Sánchez-Reyes was a member of the Castilla y Léon state parliament for the Democratic and Social Center (CDS). After a hiatus, Sánchez-Reyes, who joined Podemos in January 2015, returned to politics, presenting himself as a parliamentary candidate for Palencia in the general elections that year, but did not obtain a seat.
- 1“Felisa María Del Valle de Lersundi y Del Valle,” Geni, accessed March 15, 2023, https://www.geni.com/people/Felisa-Mar%C3%ADa-del-Valle-de-Lersundi-y-del-Valle/6000000026665584762.
- 2 a b Stefan Müller, David Schriffl, and Adamantios Skordos, Heimliche Freunde: Die Beziehungen Österreichs zu den Diktaturen Südeuropas nach 1945: Spanien, Portugal, Griechenland (Wien: Böhlau Verlag, 2016), 27, https://www.google.de/books/edition/Heimliche_Freunde/DzlKDAAAQBAJ.
- 3Antonio Maestre, Franquismo S.A. (Ediciones AKAL, 2019). (electronic version)
- 4Tweet by Hermann Tertsch, January 28, 2020, https://twitter.com/hermanntertsch/status/1222244204287614976/photo/3.
- 5José Apezarena, Periodismo al oído: los confidenciales : de las cartas manuscritas a Internet (Random House Mondadori, 2005), 152, https://books.google.de/books?id=PGMFv6W7ECYC&pg=PA152.
- 6Oscar Calvo-Gonzalez, “The Political Economy of Conditional Foreign Aid to Spain, 1950-1963: Relief of Input Bottlenecks, Economic Policy Change and Political Credibility” (Dissertation, London, London School of Economics and Political Science, 2002), 163, 264.
- 7“Hermann Tertsch és fill d’un nazi protegit pel règim franquista,” Nació, May 26, 2013, https://www.naciodigital.cat/noticia/55229/hermann-tertsch-es-fill-nazi-protegit-regim-franquista.
- 8“Vox ficha al periodista Hermann Tertsch para las elecciones europeas,” La Vanguardia, April 21, 2019, https://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20190421/461767134013/vox-elecciones-europeas-hermann-tertsch-jorge-buxade.html.
- 9Alejandro Pizarroso Quintero, Nuevas guerras, vieja propaganda: de Vietnam a Irak (Universitat de València, 2005), 209, https://books.google.de/books?id=Xp4P-9wQbTQC&pg=PA209.
- 10“El periodista y escritor Hermann Tertsch, nuevo director y presentador de «Diario de la noche»,” ABC, June 3, 2008, https://www.abc.es/espana/abci-periodista-y-escritor-hermann-tertsch-nuevo-director-y-presentador-diario-noche-200806030300-1641910722919_noticia.html
- 11Toni García Muñiz, “La biblioteca austrohúngara de Hermann Tertsch,” Madrilánea (blog), December 11, 2014, https://madrilanea.com/2014/12/11/la-biblioteca-austrohungara-de-hermann-tertsch/.
- 12Marcos Pinheiro, “Hermann Tertsch, un experto en polémicas que será la cara de la extrema derecha española en Europa,” elDiario.es, April 21, 2019, https://www.eldiario.es/politica/hermann-terscht-polemicas-espanola-europa_1_1164112.html.
- 13HazteOir.org, 09-04-2015 Tertulia Sobre Libertad Religiosa, April 9, 2015, photo, April 9, 2015, https://www.flickr.com/photos/hazteoir/17089123962/.
- 14J.T, “HazteOir da un premio a Hermann Tertsch por ir contra lo ‘políticamente correcto,’” elDiario.es, November 21, 2017, https://www.eldiario.es/rastreador/hazteoir-hermann-tertsch-politicamente-correcto_132_3046951.html.
- 15Kike Para, “Fotos: El acto de Vox en Vistalegre, en imágenes,” El País, October 7, 2018, sec. Politica, https://elpais.com/elpais/2018/10/07/album/1538922497_866967.html.
- 16Eduardo Loren, “Hermann Tertsch, nombrado vicepresidente del grupo de los ultras polacos y los nacionalistas flamencos,” ElHuffPost, June 19, 2019, https://www.huffingtonpost.es/entry/hermann-tertsch-nombrado-vicepresidente-del-grupo-de-los-ultras-polacos-y-los-nacionalistas-flamencos_es_5d0a6a80e4b0e560b70d4e02.html.
- 17“Hermann Tertsch,” European Parliament, accessed March 16, 2023, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/197831/HERMANN_TERTSCH/home.
- 18Anita Joshua, “Europe’s MPs Are Welcome, Not India’s,” The Telegraph, October 28, 2019, https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/europes-mps-are-welcome-not-indias/cid/1715095.
- 19“Hermann Tertsch Pide La Intervención Del Ejército y Espinosa No Lo Desautoriza,” El Plural, January 5, 2020, https://www.elplural.com/politica/espana/hermann-tertsch-pide-intervencion-ejercito-espinosa-no-lo-desautoriza_230695102.
- 20“Detalle de Fundaciones: Dissenso,” Ministerio de Justicia, August 12, 2021, https://web.archive.org/web/20210812064213/https://fundosbuscador.mjusticia.gob.es/fundosbuscador/DetalleFundacion.action?idFundacion=18352.
- 21Ferran Sales, “La Plataforma ‘ultra’ Bases Autónomas Acuerda Disolverse,” El Pais, February 11, 1990, https://web.archive.org/web/20190430112511/https://elpais.com/diario/1990/02/11/espana/634690811_850215.html.
- 22Josep Herrera, “Vox crea ‘Disenso’ una fundación de ideas al estilo FAES,” Las Repúblicas, September 4, 2020, https://www.lasrepublicas.com/2020/09/04/vox-crea-disenso-su-fundacion-de-ideas-para-el-partido-al-estilo-faes/.
- 23“El casoplón de Rocío Monasterio: sus lujos tras la expulsión de su familia de Cuba por explotar a los obreros,” Los Replicantes, March 20, 2021, https://www.losreplicantes.com/articulos/rocio-monasterio-casoplon-origen-de-su-fortuna/.
- 24Amelia Martínez-Lobo, “De los neocón a los neonazis,” RLS Madrid, June 22, 2021, https://www.rosalux.eu/es/article/1978.de-los-neocón-a-los-neonazis.html.
- 25Juan Francisco Albert, “Disenso: el ‘think tank’ de Vox para la batalla cultural,” Al Descubierto, September 9, 2020, https://aldescubierto.org/2020/09/09/disenso-el-think-thank-de-vox-para-la-batalla-cultural2/.
- 26“Carta de Madrid” (Fundación Disenso, October 26, 2020), https://fundaciondisenso.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/CARTA-DE-MADRID-1.pdf.
- 27Andrés Almeida and Franscisco Velásquez, “Quiénes son los amigos internacionales de José Antonio Kast,” Interferencia, October 24, 2021, https://interferencia.cl/articulos/quienes-son-los-amigos-internacionales-de-jose-antonio-kast.
- 28 a b “Vox alerta en Ecuador contra expansión del ‘narcosocialismo’ en la Iberosfera,” SWI swissinfo.ch, May 28, 2021, https://www.swissinfo.ch/spa/ecuador-espa%C3%B1a_vox-alerta-en-ecuador-contra-expansi%C3%B3n-del--narcosocialismo--en-la-iberosfera/46660248.
- 29“‘Legionario de Cristo en la reunión con líder de Vox y panistas,’” agendapropia.mx (blog), September 10, 2021, https://agendapropia.mx/datos-duros/legionario-de-cristo-en-la-reunion-con-lider-de-vox-y-panistas/.
- 30“PAN Se Adhiere a Vox Para Frenar El Avance Del Comunismo,” Agencia EFE, September 3, 2021, https://web.archive.org/web/20220213183606/https://www.efe.com/efe/usa/mexico/pan-se-adhiere-a-vox-para-frenar-el-avance-del-comunismo/50000100-4621440.
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- 32“Meloni in Andalusia per Sostenere Vox, Dal Palco Arringa La Folla in Spagnolo,” Corriere della Sera YouTube channel, June 13, 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMad7nLO3OM.
- 33“Schedule,” National Conservatism Conference, Brussels 2022, accessed June 11, 2023, https://nationalconservatism.org/natcon-brussels-2022/schedule/.
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- 36“Agenda,” CPAC Hungary, May 2023, https://www.cpachungary.com/en/agenda.
- 37“Loyola de Palacio,” The Independent, December 15, 2006, https://web.archive.org/web/20070108183125/http://news.independent.co.uk/people/obituaries/article2076116.ece.
- 38“Momentos Colegiales - Homenaje Colegial 2012,” Ecova, August 6, 2012, https://www.ecova.es/noticias_de_ecova/394/MOMENTOS_COLEGIALES.html.