Leader: Michael Stürzenberger
Chairman: Karl Schmitt
Die Freiheit was founded on 28 October 2010. It was a populist, anti-immigration and anti-Muslim party that had connections to Geert Wilders (Party for Freedom), Oskar Freysinger (Swiss People’s Party), the Politically Incorrect (PI) blog and Robert B. Spencer (Jihad Watch).
Die Freiheit organised a speech by Wilders in Berlin on 2 October 2010. Michael Stürzenberger, the spokesman of the Politically Incorrect (PI) group was the provincial Bavarian Die Freiheit chairman since early 2012. In December 2013, he was elected national chairman of the party. Spencer participated in an international counter-jihad conference in Stockholm with Stürzenberger on 4 August 2012.
The 2011 Berlin state election was the first contested by the group, but it won just one percent of the popular vote. In the state election in Bavaria in 2013, the party won 5,979-second votes, just 0.1% of the vote. German intelligence agencies decided in April 2013 to monitor Die Freiheit in Munich. Stürzenberger ran unsuccessfully for the city council and the office of mayor in Munich’s municipal elections in 2014, taking just 0.5% of the mayoral vote. In 2014, he spoke at a rally with Hooligans gegen Salafisten (Hooligans against Salafists) in Hannover. In early 2015 some activists were involved with Pegida.
In December 2016 the party dissolved. There was no more need for Die Freihet as ‘all political issues and the criticism of Islam are safe in the hands of [the] AfD’ Stürzenberger said.
Managing Director: Felix Strüning
Notable members: Philipp Wolfgang Beyer, Thomas Tartsch, André Freudenberg, Rebecca Schönenbach
Founded in 2011, the group has described itself as ‘A Lobby for Liberty’ and is named after Gustav Stresemann, leader of the German People’s Party from 1918-1929.
It publishes an online magazine, Citizen Times, funded by the Middle East Fourm. However, nothing has been published since August 2016.
Felix Strüning’s Islam and The West was published by the Stresemann Foundation, written together with contributors Gavin Boby, Daniel Pipes, Nicolai Sennels and Ali Sina.
The Foundation has good links to Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa, often sharing a platform with Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff.
The Stresemann Foundation, in conjunction with the International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA), is also represented at conferences organised by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The organisation was a signatory to the ICLA’s 2012 Brussels Declaration. In the same year, it launched the Initiative for Freedom of the Press that reportedly had the backing of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In March 2013, the Foundation launched a site called ‘Islam Debate Germany’, though nothing has been posted on the site since 2015 and it is down as of April 2018.
The Stresemann Foundation has received sponsorship from Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum.
Nothing has been posted on organisational website since September 2013 and only its German site remains active.
According to a statement on Strüning’s personal site in November 2017:
“At the general meeting of the Stresemann Foundation on 24.11.2017, a new board was elected, consisting of officials of the AfD. At this point, Felix Strüning resigned from all his activities for the Stresemann Foundation and withdrew the rights of use for all texts and contents written by him.”
Rebecca Schönenbach has also withdrawn the Foundation’s rights to use her texts.
The AfD officials in question are party members Rainer Groß and Hannes Kernert. The party would decide whether the Stresemann Foundation or the Desiderius Erasmus Foundation would be the party’ official foundation (the legal association of such foundations with a party brings financial advantages, such as allowing patronage without appearing officially as a party donor). In April 2018 the two foundations announced that they would merge.
In July 2012, Conny Meier (Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa) was one of eight ‘Islam critical’ activists who claimed to be reviving the anti-Nazi resistance group, White Rose (Weiße Rose) movement, active between 1942-43.
Its main targets were the Left and Muslims.
Another of the so-called revivalists was Marc Doll, a prominent activist in Rene Stadtkewitz’s populist, anti-immigrant, anti-Islam Die Freiheit party. The ‘revived’ group remains inactive.
Co-Chair: Marie-Luise Hoffmann-Polzoni
Co-Chair: Brigitte Scholten
Treasurer: Michael Neumann
Describing itself as a ‘political union’, Women for Freedom is a German group that claims to follow in the footsteps of Mary Wollstonecraft. The focus of its work lies in campaigns against FGM (female genital mutilation) and Sharia law.
Women for Freedom were represented alongside the International Civil Liberties Alliance in Warsaw in 2013 at a conference held by the Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe. The group has, in collaboration with Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa (BPE), held several talks in Germany against Sharia law. In fact, the co-chair Marie-Luise Hoffmann-Polzoni is a member of the BPE. British counter-jihad activist Anne-Marie Waters has also written for its website.
The website was last updated in September 2016 and is down as of April 2018.
Co-Founder, President: Willi Schwend
Notable Members: Liz Schmidt, Willi Schwend (Co-Founder, President), Eckhardt Kiwitt, Gerhard Lipp, Dieter Moll, Rene Stadtkewitz, Wilfried Puhl-Schmidt, Conny Axel Meier (General Managing Director), Achim Swietlik (Berlin branch president), Thomas Böhm BPE-Geschäftsführer (runs Journalistenwatch.com)
Founded on 17 May 2008 by the merger of Bundesverband der Bürgerbewegungen (BDB) and Pax Europa, the BPE is a populist, non-party citizens’ movement and think-tank that campaigns against the supposed Islamisation of Germany and Europe.
It organised an anti-Islam conference in Berlin on 3 October 2009 and co-organised a pro-Geert Wilders demonstration outside the Dutch embassy in Berlin in 2010.
The BPE works closely with the anti-Muslim Politically Incorrect (PI) blog and has close links with Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands. It publishes the irregular BürgerForum (founded June 2009) online newsletter.
The BPE awards a prize, named after educationalist Hiltrud Schröter. Winners have included:
One of its leading supporters, Rainer Grell, had a high position in the Baden-Württemberg interior ministry and developed the nationwide notorious ‘Muslimtest’, an interview guideline for foreigners wanting German citizenship.
BPE has links with Pegida and Morris Barsoum, one of its members, spoke at a Pegida event in Dresden on 16 March 2015.
BPE has been frequently represented by Liz Schmidt at conferences of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe as part of the International Civil Liberties Alliance counter-jihad network.
BPE remains active, for example, recently gaining attention in 2017 after an executive committee member, Alexander Heumann, came out in defence of a father in Rendsburg who prevented his child from going on a school trip to a mosque. Heumann called the mosque ‘the largest architectural stain in the whole of northern Germany’.
Leader: Jörg Meuthen
Deputy Leaders: Alexander Gauland, Beatrix von Storch
Alternative for Germany (AfD) is a right-wing populist, eurosceptic and anti-immigrant party founded in 2013.
Initially, it gathered activists from different backgrounds, such as the neo-liberal right, national conservatives and the far right. For instance, in September 2013, René Stadtkewitz, then-leader of Die Freiheit, urged his followers to support the AfD. But constant infighting has meant that thousands of conservatives and neo-liberal members have left the party and only four of the original founders remain.
The AfD split in July 2015 over then spokesperson and subsequent leader Frauke Petry moving the party in an increasingly anti-immigrant direction, causing founder Bernd Lucke and his supporters to leave and form the Alliance for Progress and Renewal. As a result, five of the party’s seven MEPs left.
In February 2016, the AfD announced a cooperation pact with the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ).
Directly after the election in 2017, Frauke Petry left a press conference and declared that she would not become a member of the AfD’s Bundestag fraction. She subsequently left the party and now sits as an independent MP.
The party failed to gain a presence in the federal German parliament in the 2013 elections but had members in more than half of Germany’s regional state assemblies. It came fifth in the May 2014 European elections and gained seven seats in the European Parliament.
In 2016, delegates backed an election manifesto that said Islam was not compatible with the German constitution and called for a ban on minarets and the burqa, and for Muslim believers to be denied equal rights to practice their religion.
In the 2017 federal elections, the AfD became Germany’s third largest party with 12.6% of the vote.
In the AfD’s worldview, immigration in general – but refugees in particular – are a deadly threat to German society, particularly those from non-European backgrounds and Muslims. Beatrix von Storch, for instance, posted on Facebook that shooting at refugees, including women and children who are about to cross the border, was a legitimate and necessary act.
Leader: Markus Beisicht
A network of populist conservative regional and local parties, Pro Bürgerbewegung included Pro Deutschland (prior to its dissolution), Pro Berlin, Pro Köln and Pro NRW [North Rhine Westphalia].
Pro Bürgerbewegung is anti-Muslim. Patrik Brinkmann is said to have donated €5 million to Pro NRW in 2010 and was also the international secretary of Pro Bürgerbewegung until 2011.
Pro Köln, Pro NRW and the pan-European Cities Against Islamisation (CAI) co-organised an Anti-Islamisierungs Kongress (Stop Islamisation Conference) in Cologne on 20 September 2008. Pro has close links with Vlaams Belang (VB) in Belgium. The party has been endorsed by the Freedom Party of Austria.
In 2011, the party won 1.2% of the vote, failing to pass the five percent threshold required to win seats in the House of Representatives. In November 2017 it announced its dissolution, with its former members and representatives receiving an invitation to join the Alternative fur Deutschland party.
Federal Chairman: Manfred Rouhs
BPD was founded on 20 January 2005 as a populist and anti-Muslim party by members of Bürgerbewegung pro Köln. The Berlin-based pro Deutschland had close links with Vlaams Belang (VB) in Belgium. BPD claimed several hundred members and published a newsletter, Pro Deutschland. The group had strong links with Pegida.
The organisation had district-based groups, most of them very weak, across Germany.
In January 2017 Claus Buff won a seat in the local council of Bonn (having got in as a substitute). In November 2017 the party announced its dissolution, with its former members and representatives receiving an invitation to join the Alternative for Germany party.
National Secretary: Lars Seidensticker
Founded in January 2007, Pro Berlin is a populist and anti-Islam party, which campaigns against the supposed Islamisation of Berlin. It shares offices in Berlin with Bürgerbewegung pro Deutschland. It holds regular rallies and protests against immigration and ‘Islamisation’. Patrik Brinkmann was its leader until 2011.
According to their website, they had been active since summer 2010. It received 2.6% of the vote in the 2011 Berlin election.
Following the dissolution of the BPD in November 2017 the Burgerbewegung pro Berlin site implied that it too had been dissolved.
As of April 2018, it’s site simply displays a quote from the poet Ulrich von Hutten, “Ich hab’s gewagt!” (I dared it!), further suggesting the branch has folded.
Chairman: Michael Gabel
Founded in 1996, pro Köln is a populist and anti-Islam party, which campaigns against the Islamisation of Cologne. It is an offshoot of the extreme right-wing German League for People and Homeland. The far-right publisher Manfred Rouhs and the lawyer Markus Beisicht have been active in the association from its start.
Pro Köln has links with the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) and Vlaams Belang (VB) in Belgium, which supported pro Köln’s demonstration, on 16 June 2007, against a mosque in Cologne. Pro Köln claims to have 200 members.
From 2004-2010 the North Rhine-Westphalian domestic intelligence service observed the party and recorded it in its annual reports on the basis of suspicion of right-wing extremist and anti-constitutional aspirations. Pro Köln filed a suit against the state in October 2005, seeking to have mention of the party removed from the annual report, though the court ruled that there was a sufficient factual basis for the suspicions. Since 2011 the intelligence service has stated the indications for anti-constitutional aspirations went beyond mere suspicion. According to its observations, the movement violates the human rights as specified in the German constitution.
Following the dissolution of the BPD in November 2017 the Burgerbewegung pro Köln site stated it supported the decision but that its own local political work would continue. However, as of April 2018, their sites are down.
Chairman: Markus Beisicht
Founded in 2007, this is a populist and anti-Muslim party, which campaigns against the supposed Islamisation of North Rhine Westphalia.
The Cologne-based pro NRW has ties with the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) and Vlaams Belang (VB) in Belgium. It claims to have some 900 members.
Despite the BPD dissolution announcement, there is no indication pro NRW will cease its activities and its website remains active as of April 2018.
Patrik Brinkmann is a Swedish-German millionaire businessman who sought to fund and establish an anti-Muslim party in Germany as part of a broader pan-European network of anti-Muslim populist parties.
Brinkmann founded the Continent Europe Foundation (KES) think tank in 2004, whose aim was to unify the European far right.
He is closely associated with two far-right parties in Germany: the National Democratic Party (NPD) and the German People’s Union (DVU) which was absorbed into the NPD in 2011.
He was the former leader of Bürgerbewegung pro Berlin and International Secretary for Pro Bürgerbewegung until 2011.
From 2011, Brinkmann stopped his political activities to focus on business engagements. Since 2014 he has divided his time between Berlin and Budapest.
Brinkman has very close ties with alt-right figure Daniel Friberg, via Swedish mining company Wiking Mineral. Brinkmann also has long-standing connections with the European far right and especially close ties with leading Dutch anti-Muslim politician, Geert Wilders. In November 2017 the newspapers Aftonbladet and Svensk Dagbladet revealed that Brinkmann and Wiking Mineral had been financing Friberg since 2013.
Felix Strüning is a German political analyst who previously headed the Stresemann Foundation, funded by Daniel Pipes’ Middle Eastern Forum. He has good links to Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff and Burgerbewegung Pax Europa, Gavin Boby, Ali Sina and Nicolai Sennels.
Stefan Herre founded the Politically Incorrect (PI) blog in 2004 and, since 2012, has been an Advisory Board member for Stop Islamization of Nations (SION).
René Stadtkewitz is one of the leading political figures on the German counter-jihad scene and has many international links. He has been described as the ‘German Geert Wilders’.
Together with Marc Doll and Stefan Koenig, he launched the Die Freiheit party which first ran in the 2011 election for the Berlin House of Representatives. In this election, Stadtkewitz took 2.9% of the primary vote in his ward.
More recently, Stadtkewitz has receded from the public eye. Die Freiheit was dissolved in December 2016 and he no longer appears to be chairman of Burgerbewegung Pax Europa (BPE), of which he became National Chair in 2014.