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Cablegate: German Public Stunned by Attack On Police Chief

VZCZCXRO9513
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHYG
DE RUEHMZ #0402/01 3531001
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181001Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL MUNICH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4602
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEU/EU INTEREST COLLECTIVE
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MUNICH 000402

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GM
SUBJECT: GERMAN PUBLIC STUNNED BY ATTACK ON POLICE CHIEF

REFS: A) Berlin Political Squib of 12/16/2008 (NOTAL), B) Leipzig
21

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) Summary: German officials, the public, and the media are
up in arms over the near-fatal stabbing of Alois Mannichl, the
Passau (Bavaria) police chief, on the doorstep of his home on
December 13 (REF A). Despite no arrest in the case yet, there are
calls for a ban on the neo-Nazi NPD party, which is implicated in
the attack. If confirmed as a right-wing attack, it would represent
a new and dangerous tactic of bringing violence into the private
sphere of prominent persons. As neo-Nazi attacks rise nationwide
(REF B), especially and surprisingly more so in western Germany,
Bavarian politicians are using the case to argue that a "return to
the center" is the best way to fight the fringes. End Summary.

STRONG POLITICAL REACTION, DESPITE NO HARD PROOF
--------------------------------------------- ---

2. (SBU) Passau Police Chief Alois Mannichl reported that, when the
perpetrator attacked, he said, "Greetings from the national
resistance. You'll trample on the graves of our comrades no
longer." Investigators suggested that this was a general reference
to the police chief's determination to fight the right-wing scene in
Passau and specifically to his removing a swastika from the coffin
during the burial of a former Nazi last summer. Indications are
that the perpetrator was from the far right, neo-Nazi scene, but the
police have no absolute proof yet and are investigating in all
directions, according to Waldemar Kindler, President of the Bavarian
State Police, who spoke with P/E chief on December 17

3. (SBU) With no suspects yet in custody and no hard proof of a
neo-Nazi connection, Kindler was circumspect. He acknowledged the
very sensitive nature of the allegations against the neo-Nazis and
their political party, the National Democratic Party (NPD), and the
very strong national reactions that the attack had already generated
in the public, media and among politicians. He carefully pointed
out that the perpetrator could have been a neo-Nazi, as Chief
Mannichl believes it was, or someone from the far Left, or even
someone from the victim's circle of acquaintances or related to
another case. The NPD leadership has denied involvement in the
case, Kindler said, but he added that party members had indeed
called for the removal of Mannichl and had incited hatred directed
towards him.

4. (U) Not waiting for an arrest, the Bavarian Landtag passed a
unanimous resolution on December 16 that ordered Kindler's office to
develop by February a two-part concept to fight right-wing
extremism. As an immediate measure, Kindler said he would likely
propose stricter laws against injuring police officers. More
broadly, he expects to focus on prevention and programs for people
ready to quit the extremist scene.

MORE AND NEW KINDS OF ATTACKS
-----------------------------

5. (U) German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said the attack
appeared to mark a new level of violence by the far-right. If
confirmed with an arrest, it would show that adherents to the scene
are no longer afraid to bring violence into the private sphere of
prominent persons. The Bavarian Interior Ministry has confirmed
that violent acts committed by neo-Nazis have more than doubled in
the Passau region this year to 83, up from 40 in 2007. Passau is
just over the border from the region of Upper Austria, where police
point out there is also a notorious and active right-wing scene.
Police have registered about 950 attacks by far-right extremists
across Germany in 2008, including one killing. In absolute terms,
the majority of these attacks have been in the States of the former
West Germany, not the East, a point that German commentators are
currently emphazing.

WHAT NEXT? A BAN ON THE NPD?
----------------------------

6. (U) Although there has been no link established yet between the
right wing radical party (NPD) and the Passau case, the attack
rekindled calls for banning the party. This would start a
Germany-wide debate and touch on fundamental historical and
political issues, and do so in the year of celebrating the 20th
anniversary of the fall of the Wall and reunification of Germany. A
previous attempt in 2002 to ban the NPD party was rejected by the
Federal Constitutional Court as unconstitutional on technical
grounds. The NPD, a fringe group, reportedly has about 7,300
members, and it is the most radical of the extreme right parties in
Germany with a platform which is openly anti-foreigner, racist and

MUNICH 00000402 002 OF 002


anti-Semitic. Kindler pointed out that although the NPD got only
1.2 percent of the vote in the September 2008 Bavarian Landtag
elections, he believes there is sympathy for its politics among
young people who do not vote.

COMMENT
-------

7. (SBU) Horst Seehofer, Minister President of Bavaria, is riding a
wave at the moment and this incident could help him promote the idea
that voters should support the traditional, democratic center party
in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union (CSU). He will surely
continue to argue that a strong center is the best way to neutralize
the fringes. The Parliamentary Control Commission, tasked with
monitoring the intelligence services, received a briefing about NPD
activities in the Passau region on December 17 from the Federal
Office for the Protection of the Constitution. We expect a debate
about a ban to continue in the German political and public
consciousness for some time.


8. (U) Consulate General Munich coordinated this report with
Embassy Berlin. Track Munich reporting at
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Germ any.

NELSON

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