Right-wing Terrorism in West Germany



Race & Ethnicity Violence

The end of the Second World War did not bring the complete demise of racist and extreme right-wing groups in Germany. At the beginning of the 1980s, a surge of right-wing extremist violence targeting migrants occurs in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG).

Following the failure of the neo-Nazi German National Party (NPD) to gain entry into the Bundestag in the elections of the late 1960s, several right-wing terrorist organizations formed within the FRG. Many of them had an anti-communist orientation, seeking to undermine communist activity in West Germany and hinder political relations with the GDR. These groups included the “European Liberation Front” and the “German National Liberation Movement” as well as the “People’s Socialist Movement of Germany/Party of Labor” (VSBD/PdA), which became a gathering point for violent neo-Nazis from the mid-1970s onward.

The FRG experienced a surge of right-wing terrorist violence in the 1980s. On August 22, 1980, for example, the “German Action Group”, under the leadership of Manfred Roeder, who decades before had loyally served the Nazi regime, carried out an arson attack on a building housing asylum-seekers in Hamburg-Billbrook. The group, which in the attack fatally injured two Vietnamese– the 22-year-old Ngoc Nguyen and the 18-year-old Anh Lan Do– consisted of two men 50 years of age and a 24-year-old woman. Following the attack the city of Hamburg continued to use the shelter, which had sustained only minimal fire damage. The two victims are thus officially counted as the first victims of right-wing extremist violence in Germany since 1945. One can nonetheless assume that there was in fact a larger, unknown number of such victims, as in many prior cases, for reasons of institutional racism, the true motives for murder were not investigated or uncovered.

The extreme right perpetrated another terrorist attack on September 26, 1980 at Munich’s Oktoberfest. Gundolf Köhler detonated on the event grounds a grenade filled with TNT, packed inside a container filled with nails and screws, and was himself killed in the explosion. 13 others were killed, and over 200 were injured, many severely. Köhler was a member of the extreme right-wing group “Combat Sport Club Hoffman”. It remained unclear following the attack whether he alone planned and carried it out.

The activity of extreme right-wing groups in West Germany in the 1980s is a clear reminder that such tendencies did not first emerge in the 1990s with the formation of the right-wind terrorist organization “National Socialist Underground” (NSU) [see: Revelation of NSU murders, 2011].