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An Antifa flag. Black Lives Matter demonstration in Cologne, Germany, June 6, 2020. Photo credit: Mika Baumeister
Berlin

German taxpayers fund left-wing extremist clubs

Left-wing extremist groups in Germany are subsidized by the state. Every now and then, the real extent of this phenomenon is expressed in numbers: For example, in 2018 an AfD inquiry to the federal government revealed some hard facts.

Published: February 24, 2021, 10:17 am

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    The Amadeu Antonio Foundation, headed by the former Stasi informant Anetta Kahane, has received more than 3,5 million euros in state funding since 2010 .

    These financial blessings are extended to other associations and institutions, with federal programs paying for clubs such as Demokratie leben! [Democracy lives!] Sometimes left-wing clubs do not receive the tax money directly. This is the case with the Peng! Collective, which sees itself as “an explosive mixture of activism, hacking and art in the fight against the barbarism of our time”.

    With the term “barbarism”, the “artists” include, for example, the politics of the AfD, asylum measures or allegedly “historically burdened” streets and monuments. And their “subversive art of action” is sometimes as crude as the message of their political demands.

    In 2015, the group called on Germans to become “escape helpers” and smuggle illegal immigrants into the country. Not that this issue is a contentious one in the least: Last year, half of the asylum seekers were unable to provide documents to prove their personal information when they entered Germany. “In 2020, the proportion of first-time asylum applicants aged 18 and over without identity papers was 51,8 percent,” the dpa news agency reported. The information was contained in a response from the Federal Ministry of the Interior to a request from the FDP parliamentary group’s migration policy spokeswoman, Linda Teuteberg. Compared to 2019, that represents an increase.

    When the presentation of identity documents was statistically recorded for the first time in 2017, 61 percent could only give verbal information about their identity. Teuteberg admitted that many asylum seekers destroyed their ID cards because they figured that this would give them a better chance of being recognized in Germany.

    The high number of migrants without ID presents the authorities with major challenges, because asylum should only be given to people “who need protection from political persecution”. But in January 2019 it became known that false oral identity information from asylum seekers had no consequences for their proceedings anyway. Only the submission of false or foreign documents is punishable by law.

    In 2016, a Peng! member pelted the two AfD politicians Beatrix von Storch and Albrecht Glaser with cream cake. Two years later, the Berlin public prosecutor was still busy with the self-proclaimed “antagonists of advertising agencies”.

    Before the federal election in 20217, Peng! advertised the satirical campaign “VoteBuddy” to bring foreigners who are not eligible to vote together with Germans who are not willing to vote. The latter would then leave their postal votes to those not entitled to vote. The authorities could not find any attempted or actual election fraud however since this was difficult to prove.

    In addition to these high-profile campaigns, the collective members are also content with less provocative, but probably financially more lucrative appearances and campaigns. A current request from AfD MP Joana Cotar to the federal government, which the Junge Freiheit has received, revealed that Peng! had received tax funds in the six-digit euro range since 2015.

    According to the Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters (CDU), these did not flow directly to the club, but through federally funded institutions. For example, between 2015 and 2017 the German Federal Cultural Foundation supported a cooperation between Schauspiel Dortmund and Peng! with 150 000 euros under the title “The Populists – A PR Agency for Civil Society”. The Chemnitz exhibition “Gegenwarten”, in which around twenty local artists and Peng! also participated, received more than 450 000 euros. In addition, other sums between 500 and 7 500 euros flowed into the pockets of the group.

    The Federal Government argues that the selection of the funded projects is based “on the advice and recommendations of independent specialist juries”. Their “independence” will also be guaranteed for future funding, they claimed. But shortly before the exhibition “Antifa – Myth & Reality” started in Chemnitz last August, the group announced that they had given 10 000 euros to left-wing extremists. In fact, Peng! used part of the tax money subsidy for “Gegenwarten” to “buy” ten items worth 1 000 euros each from left-wing extremist groups. The aim was to draw attention to the chronic financial shortage of the “civil society” initiatives in the eastern federal states.

    AfD politician Cotar criticized the government for attempting to “disguise its support for the radical left with the help of ‘independent specialist juries’”. This is absurd, she said. “It is simply unacceptable that a government should financially support groups that openly call for violations of the law and attack those who think differently.”

    Left-wing clubs do not need to worry about a lack of financial support in the future either because the Democracy Promotion Act will be launched in the coming months. In addition, there are dozens of other measures in the fight against alleged right-wing extremism and racism, with one billion euros from 2021 to 2024.

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