Bremen is Emerging as a Hot Spot of Left-Wing Militancy in Germany
Police in Bremen, Germany, responded to the headquarters of multinational technology corporation OHB SE around midday on Friday following the discovery of a suspicious device in the facility’s parking lot. This sparked a larger police operation to cordon off and sweep the area for additional threats, which eventually led them to a second similar device. Detectives and explosives specialists describe both as “improvised incendiary devices” (IIDs).
A claim for the attempted arson attack was published on an international anti-authoritarian website popular with anarchists and the far-left. The claim states that “several cars” were burned during the operation, assuming its success despite the fact that police have not reported any property damage. Nonetheless, the claim appears to be authentic.
A Growing Trend of Arson Attacks in Bremen
(Motor pool of Bremen Police’s riot squad, targeted by IIDs, June 2021)
Along with other German cities such as Berlin and Leipzig, Bremen has seen considerable amounts of militant activity from anarchists and extra-parliamentary left-wing movements such as autonomists. As in Berlin and Leipzig, this rise in activity in Bremen comes amidst state policies to evict buildings squatted by the far-left/anarchists, increasing confrontation between the right and the left in German society, and the imposition of lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly regarding the eviction of squats, there has been an increase in attacks on police stations and motor pools across Germany in solidarity with certain squats, such as Liebig34 in Berlin, evicted in October 2020. (In addition to attacks on police in solidarity with Liebig34, private luxury vehicles, construction equipment and vans belonging to Amazon have also been torched ahead of and following the eviction in solidarity with the squat’s occupants.)
Former Head of the State Criminal Police Office, Daniel Heinke, describes these call-and-answer attacks in “solidarity” with other squats as “resonance crimes.” Such attacks are not limited geographically in the reach of their resonance, and it is in fact quite common for German left-wing/anarchist (LW/A) militants to carry out attacks in solidarity with aligned movements in Greece, for example, and vice versa. The Amazon van arson was in solidarity with the recently evicted squat in Thessaloniki, Terra Incognita, as well as Liebig34.
(German police evicting Liebig34, October 2020)
Bremen began 2020 with such an attack on a police station. Police discovered a stone gate damaged by a deliberate act of arson in January of last year, which was the second attack on Bremen police facilities in six months. The previous July, autonomist militants torched two police vehicles, causing approximately €100,000 worth of damage.
(From the June 2021 attack)
In June of this year, unknown militants fire-bombed a riot police motor pool in Bremen, destroying three vans and a bus. In their claim, the unnamed perpetrators state that the attack was in retaliation for the death of a 19-year-old Yazidi man from Iraq who died while in police custody in the German town of Delmenhorst. That attack caused approximately €200,000 in damage to police property.
Bremen began distinguishing itself as a preserve of left-wing militancy a few years ago when train tracks outside of the city were targeted by arson in an attack coordinated across ten German cities under the auspices, “Shutdown G20: Take Hamburg Offline!” In 2019, assailants in Bremen shocked many Germans with a violent attack on a member of the far-right political party, Alternative für Deutschland, in which the victim alleges he was knocked unconscious with a piece of wood and kicked repeatedly. Though his injuries were serious, his claims of being assaulted with a blunt weapon were not substantiated by investigators.
Claim: Attempted Arson Attack on OHB SE
(Police in front of OHB SE headquarters in Bremen)
The latest such attempted attack came just after noon on November 26th, when German police were called to Manfred-Fuchs-Platz, a stone’s throw from University Bremen’s main campus, after someone discovered a suspicious device in the parking lot of aerospace technology firm OHB SE’s main headquarters. The area was subsequently closed off and searched for additional threats, during which bomb specialists discovered a second object, described like the first as an “improvised incendiary device”. Neither were detonated, and both were removed for further investigation.
A claim for the placement of both devices appeared on an international anti-authoritarian website used by anarchists and the far-left. Though the author/s misjudged the success of their attack in the communique, there are few reasons to doubt its authenticity. As to why OHB SE was targeted, the claim singles out OHB SE’s defense contracts with both the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) and the European Border and Coastguard Agency (Frontex).
The company OHB SE is one of the largest players in the aerospace sector with its headquarters in Bremen but earns its money from the dead with which the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) and Frontex pave their way. In 2001, OHB advanced to become one of the largest players in the satellite and space technology industry when it won a tender for a contract worth € 320 million from the German Armed Forces "for the development, construction, launch and operation of the radar-based reconnaissance system SAR-Lupe". This should enable the Bundeswehr to independently obtain military espionage information regardless of weather conditions.
The claim briefly diverts from the author/s’ indictment of OHB SE and specifically attacks the historical record of successive German national militaries, adding that in recent years, “hardly a week goes by in which another right-wing extremist network in the Bundeswehr is uncovered or tons of ammunition disappear only to reappear in those networks.” In June 2021, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point published a report, “The Insider Threat: Far-Right Extremism in the German Police and Military,” which detailed multiple such cases of right-wing extremism within the Bundeswehr referenced in the attack claim. The claim alleges OHB is “actively involved” with what the author/s describe as an extreme right-wing organization and accuses the former of providing the Bundeswehr with “the instruments they need to kill”.
The claim then turns to OHB’s relationship with Frontex. It emphasizes ongoing accusations from Members of the European Parliament and human rights organizations that the border agency ignored the Hellenic Coast Guard’s pushbacks of motorless boats carrying migrants in the Aegean Sea, or even actively participated in pushbacks themselves. Similarly, the claim accuses Frontex of handing captured migrant vessels over to the Libyan Coast Guard, “which has been known for years to detain, torture and murder refugees in Libya with EU funds. Frontex is only able to track these boats because it uses spy satellites manufactured and in some cases even operated by OHB,” according to the claim’s author/s.
Finally the author/s take a swipe at the German government, accusing it of allowing itself “to be blackmailed by dictators from Turkey, Belarus or Hungary in order not to have to take in any more people,” noting the hundreds of asylum-seekers, mostly from Iraq, still languishing on the border between Belarus and Poland. The communique then laments the present sense of liberal optimism in Germany following the formation of a largely left-wing coalition after Federal elections were held in September. “We do not want to and will not continue to stand idly by and watch this manifestation of German and European values!”
The communique concludes:
We have chosen OHB as a target, because we see the necessity to mark in public as well as to inflict economic damage on actors who present themselves in civilian garb, while at the same time they are (co-)responsible for the deaths of thousands. At the same time, we want to send a clear signal to the management and the workers at OHB that we are aware of the links to the Bundeswehr and Frontex and want to show them what price they have to pay for this.
Hereby we also want to explicitly call on others to do the same! Organize yourselves, prepare yourselves and attack companies like OHB, but also Rheinmetall and KMW or the Bundeswehr itself!
Fight fire with fire!
No peace to war, no peace with Germany!
Had this attack on OHB succeeded, it probably would have had a similar effect as the June 2021 attack on the riot police motor pool, though police in Bremen have not yet said anything specific about the devices themselves, nor the nature of their placement. In the June attack, the apparent objective was to cause as much damage to the police motor pool as possible, which the perpetrators of that attack can be said to have met quite successfully using relatively simple means.
It is likely that we will continue to see similar attacks in Bremen in the near future.