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Chemnitz, Corona, anti-Semitism: The many missteps of Hans-Georg Maassen

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“My tweets are carefully prepared,” said Hans-Georg Maassen in an interview with “Welt am Sonntag” in August 2019. “For me, a tweet is something like a press release. You should think twice before you press send,” added the former head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution in an interview.

As Maassen’s Twitter follower, one should therefore assume that the 60-year-old is also behind what he writes, shares and comments on. It is all the more surprising that the CDU politician repeatedly deleted tweets after public criticism, most recently on Monday afternoon. But by then the renewed debate about the political views of Hans-Georg Maassen had long been underway.

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Last week, the ex-head of the German domestic secret service gave an interview to the right-wing publicist Alexander Wallasch and commented on racism towards white people. Not recognizing this is “an expression of a green-red racial doctrine, according to which whites are regarded as an inferior race and that Arab and African men must therefore be brought into the country,” said Maassen.

At the weekend, the former president of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution finally praised the YouTube channel “Heretics of Modern Times” run by conspiracy ideologists. The operators of the project belong to the Reichsbürger spectrum. “These smart and brave young people are our future,” Maassen wrote on Twitter. After public criticism of the questionable advertising hailed on Monday, he deleted his post without comment.

His role in the Murat Kurnaz case

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In the summer of 2012, Hans-Georg Maassen was appointed President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution at the suggestion of the then Federal Minister of the Interior, Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU). “The most important thing is to regain trust in the Office for the Protection of the Constitution,” said Maassen when he took office. Even then, the personnel was not without controversy.

The decisive factor for the criticism was above all the role of the lawyer in the affair surrounding the Bremen Guantánamo prisoner Murat Kurnaz. In the BND investigative committee, Maassen had provided the federal government with the legal assessment not to work for Kurnaz’s release.

investigations against journalists

Three years later, the President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution caused a scandal with several reports of suspected treason. As a result of the investigation, investigations were carried out against two journalists from the blog “netzpolitik.org” who were known by name. The ads were perceived as an attack on freedom of the press, but Maassen said he hadn’t originally placed the ads against the bloggers.

At the same time, the files of the case showed that Maassen, as a lawyer, should have known that the case was directed against the journalists. Among others, today’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) then called for Maassen’s resignation.

Former AfD boss Frauke Petry during a session in the German Bundestag, of which she is no longer a member.
© dpa/Wolfgang Kumm

Regular meetings with Frauke Petry

In the summer of 2018, a book by AfD ex-trainee Franziska Schreiber revealed that Maaßen is said to have met Frauke Petry, then head of the AfD, on a regular basis. As President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, he also gave advice on how the right-wing populist party could avoid being observed by the authorities. Maassen denied the alleged tips, but at the same time admitted to having met Petry.

Doubts about the video of riots in Chemnitz

A little later, the lawyer stumbles across another controversy and is relieved of his position as head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. In an interview with the Bild newspaper, Maaßen denied, despite clear video recordings, that there had been “hunts” against people with a migration background in Chemnitz, Saxony.

The authenticity of the video material was subsequently confirmed, as was the fact that, according to a report by the Saxon State Criminal Police Office, right-wing extremists were said to have met specifically for “hunting”. The controversy over Maassen’s removal from office almost brought the then grand coalition to a rupture. In November 2018, Maassen was finally placed on temporary retirement.

Proximity to Corona deniers

A few months later, the now 60-year-old tries to get close to the ultra-conservative “Union of Values” for the first time, later he joins the splinter group within the Union as a member. Since then, Maaßen has repeatedly attracted attention with right-wing conservative statements. Among other things, he shared a video of the doctor Sucharit Bhakdi on social media, who became known for anti-Semitic statements and his proximity to corona deniers.

Guest in right formats

At the same time, Maaßen was a guest in right-wing formats such as Peter Weber’s “Hello Opinion” or shared the conspiracy ideology of the “Great Reset”. In May 2021, climate activist Luisa Neubauer accused Maassen on “Anne Will” that the former president of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution was spreading “anti-Semitic and racist content”. He denied the allegations.

Others agreed with Neubauer. Among them the President of the Thuringian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Stephan J. Kramer, who accused Maassen of using “classic anti-Semitic stereotypes”. The renowned right-wing extremism researcher Matthias Quent came to a similar conclusion in an analysis. Thuringia’s Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (left) compared the actions of Hans-Georg Maassen with that of AfD right-wing extremist Björn Höcke.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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