Tatjana Festerling (née Schimanski, 6 March 1964, Wuppertal) is a far-right activist who was a member of the organizational team of the political movement PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident). She was expelled from the PEGIDA leadership when advocating that asylum-seekers should be shot if they attempt to cross the German border.1 In her spare time, she patrols the Bulgarian-Turkish border area together with local paramilitary forces.1
Festerling attended the Fichte-Gymnasium in Hagen until 1984. After graduating from high school, she first completed a commercial apprenticeship with a local department store chain before enrolling in business administration and philosophy at the University of Hamburg in 1987. From 1994 she worked as an editor, among others for Heinrich Bauer Verlag and Deutsche Spar.2 In 1997 she also founded an advertising agency,3 in which she worked until April 2007. Most recently, she was press spokeswoman for Metronom Eisenbahngesellschaft until 2010.4 According to her own statements, she has a coaching and yoga education.5 She is an ultra-marathon runner and widely traveled.6
Festerling was a founding member of the Hamburg section of the Alternative for Germany (AfD).6 She resigned from the party, after a looming threat of expulsion for her condoning action of the Hooligans against Salafists movement. In 2015, Festerling joined PEGIDA and became the first-ever PEGIDA candidate to run for office. She contested for the mayoral election in the city of Dresden and gained 9.6% of the votes in the election held on 7 June 2015.78 Der Spiegel had described PEGIDA's decision in 2015 to invite Festerling, a woman, to work with the party founder Lutz Bachmann as an adroit move.6 In June 2016, Festerling was dismissed from the PEGIDA leadership. Bachmann stated that her behaviour 'was injurious to the organisation' as the reason for her dismissal.9
On Bulgaria's southern border Festerling, together with nationalists from the Bulgarian Military Union "Vasil Levski“ and the Shipka Bulgarian National Movement10, has patrolled in military clothes to track down refugees and hand them over to the border police.11 She sees these refugees as "ice-coldly calculating warriors of Islam who come from brutalised cultures and who do not want anything to do with our free, decadent way of life, but who deeply despise and fight them".12 In July 2016, at a rally in Leipzig, Festerling, in camouflage clothes, called on young men to go to Europe's external borders to defend them against refugees.13
In August 2017, she posted a video on her YouTube channel offering "tactical training in Bulgaria with the military veterans there".14
In October 2017, the Dresden District Court issued a penalty order for incitement and insult in a total of three cases, twice for incitement and one for insult.15 Festerling had stated, among other things: "The Muslim birth machines give birth at a devil speed" and twittered with reference to migrants: "Shoot! What else?"16 The court imposed a total fine of EUR 3,073.50 (including the procedural fee).15
In March 2018, however, Festerling made it public that she had not paid the fines imposed (120 daily rates of 25 euros each), did not want to pay and could not pay, whereupon a substitute custodial sentence had been ordered and she had been ordered by the Dresden Public Prosecutor's Office to the Chemnitz women's prison.17 She asked her supporters to make payments to the Landesjustizkasse (jurisdictional bank) in order to save her from imprisonment.17 Festerling described herself as a "victim of political persecution".18 The fundraising campaign was successful, and Festerling announced on Facebook that she would not have to go to prison after all.
- 1. a. b. Justin Huggler, "Dutch Pegida leader and expelled German deputy hunt migrants on Bulgaria border," The Telegraph, 4 July 2016, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/04/pegida-pair-hunt-migrants-with-vigilantes-on-bulgaria-border/.
- 2. "Tatjana Festerling: Neue Pegida-Frontfrau stammt aus Hagen," Westfalenpost, 14 April 2015, https://www.wp.de/staedte/hagen/neue-pegida-frontfrau-stammt-aus-hagen-id10559375.html.
- 3. "Profil," Bootsmannn Marketing und Kommunikation, accessed 23 March 2019, http://www.online-kundenzentrum.de/bootsmann/.
- 4. Thomas Mitzlaff, "Von Uelzen zu Pegida," Allgemeine Zeitung, 8 April 2015, https://www.az-online.de/uelzen/stadt-uelzen/uelzen-pegida-4889042.html.
- 5. Christina Hebel, "Zu rechts für die AfD - für Pegida gerade recht," Spiegel Online, 14 April 2015, http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/pegida-frau-tatjana-festerling-zu-rechts-fuer-die-afd-a-1028464.html.
- 6. a. b. c. Christina Hebel, "Dresdner OB-Kandidatin Festerling: Zu rechts für die AfD - für Pegida gerade recht," Der Spiegel, 14 April 2015, http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/pegida-frau-tatjana-festerling-zu-rechts-fuer-die-afd-a-1028464.html.
- 7. Lars Radau, "Pegida-Kandidatin Festerling schafft fast zehn Prozent," Der Tagesspiegel, 7 June 201, https://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/oberbuergermeisterwahl-in-dresden-pegida-kandidatin-festerling-schafft-fast-zehn-prozent/11882698.html.
- 8. Susanne Klaiber, "Ex-Pegida Frontwoman Kathrin Oertel Apologizes for Anti-Islam Statements," The Huffington Post, 6 May 2015, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/06/expegida-frontwoman-kathr_n_7225882.html.
- 9. "Bachmann stellt Vertrauensfrage," Sächsische Zeitung, 20 June 2016, https://www.saechsische.de/bachmann-stellt-vertrauensfrage-3424871.html.
- 10. Vassil Levski Military Union - Shipka Bulgarian National Movement, https://www.bnoshipka.org/en/, accessed 21 March 2019.
- 11. Christian Jakob, "Auf Flüchtlingsjagd," die tageszeitung, 8 April 2016, http://www.taz.de/Rechtsextreme-Milizen-in-Bulgarien/!5323792/.
- 12. Stefan Locke, "Ehemalige Pegida-Frontfrau verfolgt Flüchtlinge," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 1 July 2016, https://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/festerling-in-bulgarien-ehemalige-pegida-frontfrau-verfolgt-fluechtlinge-14319079.html.
- 13. Matthias Meisner, "Ausreiseverbot für niederländischen Pegida-Anführer?" Der Tagesspiegel, 6 July 2016, https://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/jagd-auf-fluechtlinge-in-bulgarien-ausreiseverbot-fuer-niederlaendischen-pegida-anfuehrer/13837286.html.
- 14. Mathias Fiedler, "Stelldichein für Neonazis," jungle.world, 8 February 2018, https://jungle.world/artikel/2018/06/stelldichein-fuer-neonazis.
- 15. a. b. "Festerling soll Haft antreten," saechsische.de, 29 March 2018, https://www.saechsische.de/festerling-soll-haft-antreten-3908051.html.
- 16. "Tatjana Festerling: Ehemalige Pegida-Frontfrau soll 120 Tage Haft antreten," FAZ.NET, 29 March 2018, https://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/tatjana-festerling-ehemalige-pegida-frontfrau-soll-ins-gefaengnis-15518379.html.
- 17. a. b. "Volksverhetzung: Ex-Pegida-Frontfrau Festerling soll in Haft," DIE WELT, 29 March 2018, https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article174998130/Volksverhetzung-Ex-Pegida-Frontfrau-Festerling-soll-in-Haft.html.
- 18. "Geldstrafe nicht gezahlt: Ehemalige Pegida-Frontfrau soll ins Gefängnis," Spiegel Online, 29 March 2018, http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/justiz/tatjana-festerling-ehemalige-pegida-frontfrau-soll-ins-gefaengnis-a-1200513.html.