Stasi Supported West German Neo-Nazi Groups

Roger Boyes,
The Times, UK,
August 14, 2000

The Stasi, the East German secret police, supported and sponsored neo-Nazi groups in the West throughout the 1970s and 1980s, German newspapers reported yesterday.

The prime aim of the Stasi, according to documents found in the Gauck archives, which guard the communist secret police files, was to destabilise West Germany.

In cities with large concentrations of guest workers – mainly Turkish and Italian immigrants – thousands of leaflets were circulated bearing the headline: “Germans defend yourselves!” Using phrases reminiscent of the Hitler era, the leaflets urged West Germans to drive foreigners out of their country. The leaflets, crafted by the Stasi, bore the signature German People’s Union – DVU – which is a real, far-right party with headquarters in Munich.

The subversion began in 1961 when Israel started its trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi war criminal responsible for the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews. The East German police dreamt up an operation called “Forget Me Not,” which was intended to stir neo-Nazi violence in West Germany and make plain to the world the links between new and old Nazis.

Chain letters, composed in East Berlin, were circulated in West Germany: “The Eichmann trial is an attempt by the Jewish underworld to taint our honour. We have taken up the struggle again. Our comrades are already launching a counter-attack against the Jews.”

The Stasi followed up this campaign with hate letters aimed at German Jews: “Obviously you Jews have not understood that you must disappear from West Germany.” The East German establishment considered these campaigns to be a success.

Anxious West Germans started to write letters to the East German press. The West German Foreign Minister at the time, Gerhard Schroder, was even forced to make a statement denying that Bonn was lurching towards National Socialism.

By the 1970s the campaign was under the supervision of the spymaster Markus Wolf. It was decided – according to an anonymous Stasi major quoted by Welt am Sonntag – to take an active part in helping the paramilitary Hoffman Combat Sport Group, essentially an organisation of armed neo-Nazis.

The East Germans encouraged members of the group to go for training with the Palestine Liberation Organisation in Lebanon. In 1982 one of the group killed a Jewish publisher, Schlomo Lewin, in the West German town of Erlangen.

“In these groups we had a particularly dense network of informers,” the Stasi major said. “They ensured that the activities of the far Right were always pointed in the correct direction and never against East Germany.”

Above all, the Stasi operations allowed East Germany to present itself as an “anti-fascist state,” morally superior to West Germany.