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Meeting of the »Artgemeinschaft« in the summer of 2006 (screenshot from a propaganda video on Youtube)

Photo: Walhalla / YouTube

Just over a week after the ban on the neo-Nazi »Hammerskins«, the Federal Ministry of the Interior is taking action against another right-wing extremist organization. Since the early morning, police officers have been searching the homes of 39 members of the völkisch-racist association "Die Artgemeinschaft – Germanische Glaubens-Gemeinschaft wesensgerechter Lebensgestaltung" (The Community of Species – Germanic Religious Community of Essential Life).

The raid covers 26 search locations in twelve federal states – including Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse and Thuringia as well as North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saxony-Anhalt.

On the instructions of Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD), prohibition orders against the sect-like association and its sub-organizations are enforced and the association's assets are confiscated. The troupe's website was banned. The association "Familienwerk", which was associated with the »Artgemeinschaft«, was also banned, it served to provide financial support for large families from the völkisch scene.

The Ministry of the Interior justifies the bans by saying that the "community of species" is directed against the constitutional order and the idea of international understanding.

The organization is one of the oldest right-wing extremist associations in Germany. On its website, the association openly propagated its völkisch-racist ideology and presented itself as combative. "The moral law in us," it said, commanded "defensiveness to the point of contempt for death against every enemy of family, clan, country, people, Germanic nature and Germanic faith." The troupe's "Confession" stated: "Struggle is part of life. It is necessary for all becoming, being and passing away.«

The racist sect was founded in the fifties, and since 1957 it has been operating as a "registered association" based in Berlin. The first leader was the right-wing esoteric student councillor Wilhelm Kusserow, and at the end of the eighties the neo-Nazi and later NPD deputy Jürgen Rieger took over power in the »Artgemeinschaft«.

Most recently, 43-year-old Sabrina S. from Bavaria led the club. The chairman of the »Familienwerk« was the neo-Nazi Jens B. from the Burgenlandkreis in Saxony-Anhalt. Until a few months ago, he was also a member of the board of directors of the »Artgemeinschaft«.

As the Bavarian Office for the Protection of the Constitution wrote in its last annual report, the right-wing extremist association functioned as an "important interface for the all-German neo-Nazi scene." The "species community" is based on the "superiority of a Nordic-Germanic 'human species'" and is oriented "to the worldview of historical National Socialism".

In order to protect the Germanic "human species" from mixing with other "human species", the group imposed rules on its followers that were reminiscent of the "Aryan" mania of the Nazis in the "Third Reich". Thus, the association demanded compliance with the "moral law" of the "ancestors", which requires a "choice of spouse of the same kind" as a "guarantee for children of the same kind".

Jews denigrated as "sons of the devil"

According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the ideology of the "species community" includes not only racist but also völkisch, social Darwinist and anti-Semitic elements. Last year, for example, she spread a cartoon on her Telegram channel in which Jews were denigrated as "sons of the devil".

The security authorities attribute around 90 members to the »Artgemeinschaft«, with a hard core of about 40 völkisch activists. At large events such as "solstice celebrations", "Yule festivals" or other "community days", however, up to 300 visitors, including children and young people, sometimes came together, according to official findings.

The völkisch troupe, which was divided into "companionships", "guilds" and "circles of friends", held its supra-regional meetings regularly on the grounds of a holiday hotel in the southern Harz in Thuringia.

Propaganda videos on the Internet show what happened at the meetings of the "art community". There you can see how cult followers gather with their children for the "dance around the quest tree" or form a circle around a large fire, while a woman shouts in a trembling voice: "Let the flame blaze through the smoke, commit the old, holy custom!"

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Propaganda brochure of the »Artgemeinschaft« (screenshot from the association's own online shop)

Photo: Die Artgemeinschaft

As a counter-symbol to the Christian cross, the "species community" used the "Irminsul" symbol from Germanic mythology. The annual count of the troupe was not based on the birth of Christ, in its calendar it is currently "3823 AD" – "after Stonehenge".

In the club's own online shop, »Artgemeinschaft« followers were able to stock up on matching accessories. For example, with the hand-embroidered aphorism "German also in faith" for 24 euros, the brochure "German Table Sayings for Clan and Community" for 12.90 euros or the "Chocolate Solstice Sage" for 9.95 euros - a völkisch version of the Advent calendar.

In particular, the attempts of the "species community" to indoctrinate and possibly radicalize children and adolescents caused increasing concern among the security authorities.

Militant neo-Nazis with connections to right-wing terrorist circles repeatedly sought to be close to the racist organization: André E., for example, who was convicted of supporting the NSU terrorist cell, took part in at least two meetings of the "Artgemeinschaft" – in June 2003 and June 2004, together with his wife and brother, according to the findings of the Lower Saxony Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

The former NPD politician and confidant of the NSU terrorists, Ralf Wohlleben, also moved in the orbit of the "art community": After his release from pre-trial detention, he found temporary shelter with Jens B. in Saxony-Anhalt, the then head of the association. Wohlleben was sentenced to ten years in prison for aiding and abetting murder in nine cases.

The right-wing extremist murderer Stephan Ernst, who shot CDU politician Walter Lübcke in 2019, was also a supporter of the "species community" – at least temporarily, according to the findings of the security authorities. According to investigative files, investigators discovered 19 issues of the association's newspaper »Nordische Zeitung« during a house search.

In addition, his name appeared on an internal list of the »Artgemeinschaft«, which was available to the Hessian Office for the Protection of the Constitution – but with the addition »no more payments«. From when to when Ernst was active in the völkischer Verein, the investigators could not conclusively clarify at that time.

The »Artgemeinschaft« can appeal against its ban to the Federal Administrative Court.