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Konrad Werner: Linke Autonomen are nothing like Nazis

They smell a bit, but lefties are not like Nazis, and burning a car is not the same as burning down a refugee shelter, whatever Frank Henkel says.

Image for Konrad Werner: Linke Autonomen are nothing like Nazis
Photo by NervousEnergy (CC BY-SA 2.0, Flickr)

The Berlin CDU, under the leadership of our Interior Minister Frank Henkel, is gearing up for an election campaign in September, and if last weekend is anything to go by, it’s going to be a bit Trumpish. Henkel has decided there’s no point wasting time in the race to the bottom of the bullshit barrel: He opened his campaign at the CDU conference by saying that if leftists really had set fire to the car belonging to the neighbour of a lawyer representing the owners of the Rigaer 94 building, then “that was the methods of the SA and the SS.” Seems like election campaigns are Facebook debates now, and Godwin’s law applies.

The militant Autonomen of Friedrichshain probably are a bit annoying. I don’t want to live in a commune like the one on Rigaer 94 – it sounds really anstrengend and messy. I like having stable wifi and my own room and bacon. And yes, it is shit throwing fireworks and rocks at the riot cops and having your car burnt out by some adolescent dicks with over-active paranoia glands (though as is the usual way, the news sites are happy to put “leftist violence” in their headlines even though their only source is the police, who have arrested one suspect for the recent car burnings so far: a former police informant who has been affiliated with both far-right and far-left extremism).

But comparing crusty punks to the SS is just as adolescent and cheap as anything a blogger with a Che Guevara pencil case might write. Especially since a court ruling found that the lefties at Rigaer 94 actually had the law on their side, and that their eviction with the help of 300 cops had been illegal.

I don’t have much to do with the far-left scene, but I know that a) Rigaer Straße, unlike a lot of places in Köpenick and Marzahn for example, is not a dangerous place for black or gay people to hang round in, and b) the militant Antifa and the Autonomen are the only ones I see out every Monday night at the Hauptbahnhof opposing the regular Nazi/NPD/Bärgida marches. I never see any normal liberal Germans like me there, or any politicians, but those angry pasty-faced kids are ALWAYS there, every single Monday, with their unhealthy skin and their Sternies and their black hoodies and their flags.

I’ve met the Antifa twice: once was last April in Lüneburg at the trial of a real SS member, Oskar Gröning, when local lefty students occupied the queue at 6am so that the relatives of Holocaust victims could get to the viewing gallery instead of the neo-Nazis. The other time was at Munich train station last September, when Bavarian Antifa were among the first volunteers to help the sudden influx of refugees (partly because they’d heard the local neo-Nazis were going to show up).

So you might scorn and snigger and despise the Autonomen and leftists and Antifa and their foolish destruction of hatchbacks, but as far as I can see they’re often the only sign of Germany’s anti-Nazi conscience. Henkel, on the other hand, is a disgrace to his party and this city and he’s already sunk the mayoral election into a pool of bullshit.

Listen to Konrad’s podcast – News des Nachrichtens with US comedian Drew Portnoy – here: