Right-wing prepper group “nordkreuz”: affected persons continue to grope in the dark

After two years, people on the "Nordkreuz" enemies list are now being notified after all. With a mysterious letter.

The Minister of the Interior of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lorenz Caffier, comments on "Nordkreuz" in June Photo: dpa

Lorenz Caffier (CDU), the interior minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, announced his change of heart via press release. His state criminal investigation office will now inform "persons from evidence of the GBA proceedings," it says. The State Criminal Police Office had sent the first letters to about 1,200 persons and institutions "because of the public need for information that has apparently arisen in the meantime." What he means by this unwieldy message that Caffier had sent out on Monday: the proceedings against members of the right-wing prepper group "Nordkreuz".

As the letters (a pdf file of the letter can be found here) reach the people concerned, the taz receives a call from Rostock. The recipient of a letter asks: What have these defendants collected about me? And: Am I in danger? He does not turn to the taz so that we can report. He just doesn’t know where else to go with his questions.

For almost two years, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office has been investigating a criminal police officer and a lawyer from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, who are alleged to have planned to kill politicians, activists and committed people from the left-wing spectrum. The case is about right-wing extremist terror. The taz has since reported on the accused and their network of preppers preparing for Day X. Among other things, they had organized themselves in chat groups. During the investigation, a list of materials was found, including body bags and quicklime. The founder of these groups is also under investigation, in a separate trial. He is currently in pre-trial detention for hoarding more than 60,000 rounds of ammunition and at least one illegal weapon.

During raids in August 2017, the investigators of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office had found two folders, in which the accused lawyer and the criminal investigator had collected printouts from websites, researched people. The investigators had already recommended at that time to inform the persons concerned.

Data of around 25,000 people

How does one deal with those affected, whose personal data is on enemy lists? The NSU core trio had created a list of enemies. Franco A., the Bundeswehr soldier who, disguised as a Syrian refugee, is said to have planned to carry out attacks, is said to have created one. The name of the murdered CDU politician Walter Lubcke was also found on a list.

Should those affected be informed about this or does this unnecessarily unsettle them? Who could take on such a task?

In total, data on around 25,000 people was found among the "Nordkreuz" defendants. The majority of this comes from the hack of an online mail order company that circulates in many places. According to taz information, the defendants themselves collected data on a three-digit number of people. They come from their direct environment. 29 of these people from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania were questioned a few weeks ago by the Federal Criminal Police Office as witnesses, including members of the state parliament and people who are involved in helping refugees. They added handwritten data to information from the Internet, such as dates of birth or registration addresses.

Two weeks ago, Konstantin von Notz, vice chairman of the Green Party in the Bundestag, proposed in the taz newspaper an offer of help for those affected. Now he concretizes: "The Federal Ministry of the Interior must finally document that it takes the enormous challenges posed by militant right-wing extremism seriously and combats them resolutely." He speaks of a task force that should be based in the Federal Ministry of the Interior. All information, including that from the states, should converge there.

Lorenz Caffier, the interior minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, is thus taking precisely that step with the letters to those affected; he is providing information in order to remove uncertainty. In doing so, he could set an example.

Information policy a "bad joke

The letter sent in the name of LKA Director Ingolf Mager, however, reads unwieldy and cloistered. In the course of an investigation by the Attorney General against two suspects from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, "collections of material" on persons and institutions had been found. "This includes personal data about you." The defendants are also suspected of "preparing a serious act of violence that threatens the state," the statement adds.

Later it says: "At the present stage of the investigation, there are (…) no indications that specific criminal acts were or are planned against you." However, there is not a word about which investigation proceedings are involved, just as little as about who the defendants are. So if you haven’t happened to follow the media reports on the "Nordkreuz" preppers, the "Hannibal" network and the recently found ammunition depots, you don’t get a clue as to the context in which data was collected about you. And which ones.

It is not mentioned that the defendants had already researched addresses of other persons concerned. taz research had even revealed that a floor plan of a private apartment appears in the collection, which the police state protection had made years ago. It is the apartment of a man who was briefly under police protection in 2015 because of a death threat. This is the kind of sensitive data investigators find. From this overall context, the taz also calls the collection an enemies list. In the letter, the head of the LKA quotes the Federal Criminal Police Office instead: "The term ‘enemies’ list’ or even ‘death list’, which is currently widespread in the media and public discussion, must therefore be consistently rejected."

State parliament member Peter Ritter of the Left Party also received the letter from the LKA. He calls the Interior Minister’s information policy a "bad joke" and a "complete disaster." At the same time as the letters, the Ministry of the Interior also sent out the answer to a small question by Ritter on the enemy lists. It is available to the taz.

Caffier sees no reason for alarm

In it, the state interior ministry informs that one of the two suspects "made corresponding queries in the residents’ registration system of the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in the months of February and March 2017." It is the accused criminal police officer who is said to have used his office computer for these queries. The Ministry of the Interior informs that "endangerment aspects were rather excluded". However, it also confirms that the investigating Federal Criminal Police Office had suggested informing those concerned only days after the enemy lists were found. That was two years ago.

As recently as January, one of Caffier’s state secretaries had told the Interior Committee in Schwerin that media reports about any lists of names must be "inaccurate and simply false".

Even now, Caffier sees no cause for alarm. In the answer to the small question, his ministry writes that such collections are a normal procedure: "There is a largely uniform assessment that the (pure) collection of information on people who think differently is not unusual in the area of political debate, especially in the right-wing and left-wing extremist areas. This is not usually accompanied by an immediate threat situation."

The people who now learn that they find themselves in a data collection of right-wingers have for the most part been involved in civil society. In associations, parties, with social welfare organizations. For Lorenz Caffier, this is apparently a "political dispute" of left and right.