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Red Flag: Neo-Nazis in Neukölln, again?

A far-right party called The Third Way has flooded the neighbourhood with flyers. In his latest column, Nathaniel Flakin explains why we can’t rely on the police to stop them.

Image for Red Flag: Neo-Nazis in Neukölln, again?

A far-right party called The Third Way has flooded Neukölln’s postboxes with flyers. In his latest column, Nathaniel Flakin explains why we can’t rely on the police to stop them. Photo: IMAGO / snapshot

This magazine has reported about right-wing terror in Neukölln. So what a surprise to open my postbox and find a flyer against “left-wing terror” in the Kiez. What, exactly, has the terrifying Antifa been up to?

After reading the high-gloss flier from the small neo-Nazi party Der III. Weg (The Third Path) several times, I’m still not sure what I am supposed to be worried about. There was no mention of arson or attempted murder — as local Nazis stand accused of. They write: “numerous attacks against property and people are almost a daily occurrence.” Are they, though?

They mention “serious crimes” that took place when the police evicted left-wing spaces like the anarchist bar Syndikat or the Friedel54. Which ones? The latter action was in 2017, and none of the tabloids reported on any crimes. In fact, the closest thing I could find to a crime was deliberate misinformation by the police on Twitter about a door handle that was supposedly boobytrapped with an electric current. The Third Path nonetheless decries attacks against “patriotic Germans, housing companies and police” in my neighbourhood

I imagine when people in Neukölln hear the words “terror” and “housing companies,” most will picture rents that have doubled in the last 10 years, heating breaking down in the winter or the terrible violence of an eviction. This kind of terror is never far away. But the neo-Nazis are saying that the real problem is … a paintball thrown at the window of realty speculators?

The Third Path is a small neo-Nazi party founded in 2013 by “free nationalists” and former functionaries of the NPD, who thought that party was too soft. Germany’s internal secret service estimates they have 550 members. Their former organisation, known as the Free Network South, was prohibited in 2014. But now that they are an officially registered party, the hurdles for a legal ban are much higher. Apparently they have been handing out fliers across Neukölln in recent weeks.

The Third Way: For and against capitalism

The name refers to a “third way” between capitalism and communism. This is what Nazis have historically always promised. When they come into power, though, they inevitably create a kind of turbo-capitalism — big monopolies made fantastical profits under the Nazis’ “national socialism.” To make their program of authoritarian capitalism more appealing, some Nazis talk about a “national revolution” and “German socialism.”

It’s interesting to note that centrists in the 1990s like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton picked the same term.  

Image for Red Flag: Neo-Nazis in Neukölln, again?

This flyer claiming “numerous attacks against property and people are almost a daily occurrence” landed in Nathaniel Flakin’s postbox. Photo: Nathaniel Flakin

I studied The Third Way’s website so you don’t have to. Their “10-point program” against the Covid pandemic includes both lifting restrictions to help the economy and also and “nationalising healthcare” and “nationalising all pharmaceutical companies.” Weren’t they, just a second ago, worried that left-wing extremists were attacking private property?

Going back to Mussolini and Hitler, Nazis have always defended a convoluted mix of pro-capitalism and anti-capitalism. This is because Nazis base themselves on people who are stuck in the middle between the capitalists and the working class — the small-business owners and low-level professionals who dream of rising into the ruling class, but are constantly terrified of sinking into the ranks of the proletariat. The Belgian-Jewish Marxist Abraham Leon, before he was murdered in Auschwitz, explained why these layers are so susceptible to antisemitism:

“[The petty bourgeoisie] wants to be anticapitalist without ceasing to be capitalist. It wants to destroy the “bad” character of capitalism, that is to say, the tendencies which are ruining it, while preserving the “good” character of capitalism which permits it to live and get rich. But since there does not exist a capitalism which has the “good” tendencies without also possessing the “bad,” the petty bourgeoisie is forced to dream it up. […] “Jewish capitalism” can best represent the myth of “bad capitalism.”

This sociological diagnosis is something that gets confirmed again and again throughout history. When right-wing fanatics stormed the U.S. Capitol in January, following antisemitic and other right-wing myths, it turns out that a lot of them were small-business owners with a history of financial trouble. They can’t blame capitalism for their woes, so they look to “globalists” and a “Jewish conspiracy” and increasingly bizarre ideas.

Neukölln: We have to do this ourselves

A handful of “German revolutionaries” distributed fliers across North Neukölln. People have so much to be worried about: the pandemic, a worrying economic situation, and an absolutely terrifying environmental outlook. But these “revolutionaries” seem to be only concerned with protecting property and supporting the police.

It is hard to imagine them winning much support with this campaign. In fact, the neighbourhood has filled with counter-fliers explaining that The Third Path is a “pseudo-socialist neo-Nazi party.” If you’ve gotten such Nazi material, or if you’ve seen the people handing it out, you can report it to the Register Berlin for Neukölln.

Unfortunately, we cannot expect much help from the police. There are enough cases of right-wing extremism in the Berlin police to make anyone suspicious. And both Nazis that are suspected of attempting to murder the family of a local politician from the The Left party have both been released on parole.

Germany’s secret services are, if anything, even worse. They are tasked with observing fascist parties. But when the state tried to prohibit the NPD in the early 2000s, it was revealed that every seventh official in the NPD was on the state’s payroll. The leader of the Thüringer Heimatschutz, which was the starting point for the terrorist group National Socialist Underground, received over €200,000 from state coffers. It is entirely possible these Nazi fliers are being funded with tax money.

As Berliners like to say: allet muss man selber machen! If you want something done, you have to do it yourself. This applies doubly and triply to antifascism. We can’t count on police to stop this Nazi campaign. We have to rely on our own forces as Neuköllner:innen.

Red Flag is a weekly political column by Nathaniel Flakin.