FECL 12 (February 1993):


German prosecution authorities are facing growing criticism for their peculiar lack of initiative in combatting violent racist crimes against foreigners. Recent revelations in the Land of Baden-Württemberg are a further indication, that criminal investigation offices have other priorities: harmless non-conformist grassrout groups in the university towns of Freiburg and Tübingen were infiltrated at great expenses by covert agents of the Baden-Württemberg Landeskriminalamt (LKA: the Land's office of criminal investigation). For more than a year, the covert agents spied on groups and individuals not suspected of any crime. The operation was justified on the grounds of dismantling the alleged remains of the "Red Army Fraction" (RAF: the former Baader-Meinhoff group).

The operation was uncovered in Juli 1992 in Tübingen, when one of two covert agents spying on such groups as the Nicaragua-group of the protestant student organisation "Evangelische Studentengemeinde", and an "action alliance" against the economic world summit meeting in Munich and a deportation camp for rejected asylum seekers in Baden-Württemberg, "cracked" and revealed his true activity to his left wing girl friend, whom he had got with child.

The LKA had provided the two agents with complete false identities, including detailed biographies and genuine jobs in an institution assisting physically handicapped persons. The agents graduously gained the confidence of the groups concerned by participating as modest and always helpful activists in their activities and by building up intimate friendships with some of their members. Thus, they developed a network of working contacts and personal relations that graduously covered the whole range of the non-party left spectrum of Tübingen, which enabled them to provide detailed weekly information to the LKA not only on the current activities of the groups concerned and their links with other groups, but also on the private life of many of their members.

In an effort to justify the LKA operation, the Land's Interior Minister, Mr. Birzele (SPD) contended that the groups concerned had never been a target, but that the investigation was from the very beginning limited to specifically selected "target persons". In order to get access to these "target persons" the covert agents had first tried to gain the confidence of "contact persons" who were not themselves suspected. According to the LKA, there are "factual indications, that certain persons ... have contacts with imprisoned terrorist criminals in Germany and abroad and that these activities and contacts presumably serve the building up demanded by the RAF of an 'anti-imperialist front in Western Europe'".

A number of individuals in Tübingen actually do have contacts with RAF-detainees, but they label the LKA's allegations as "demagogical", arguing that they have always publicly declared themselves for such contacts with prisoners and that police had censored all the mail of the detainees and had been present at all visits. Thus, it was a mystery, what more the LKA could hope to reveal by using intelligence means with regard to the particular issue of RAF.

The Interior Minister further claimed that the covert operation had been decided at a conference of the interior ministers of the German Länder after the assassination of Mr. Rohwedder, a high-ranking federal official.

Speakers of the targeted groups, however, point at the fact that Mr. Rohwedder was well and alive in February 1991, when the agents began their mission.

In their view, the Tübingen case is just one more example for the systematic use of propagandistic terms as "leftist-extremist-terrorist scene", "the orbit of terrorism", and "sympathisers". They all aim at justifying in front of public opinion ever more unrestricted police control of criminally non-suspect citizens.

The differenciation between "target persons" and "contact persons" is seen by the groups concerned as a deliberate deception of public opinion: To begin with, some individuals arbitrarily are declared "target persons" in order to allow the penetration by intelligence services of their whole sphere of human relations and political contacts. Thus, in a second stage, all people living and working in this "social environment", themselves become a target of the investigation or its findings.

In his book "The Anti-Terrorism System" the German lawyer and police expert Rolf Gössner characterises the logic of this process as follows: "the focal point of the new structural development in the domain of security policy is not judicial judgement or conviction, but the penetration by executive bodies of the state of militant resistance circles and their forefronts and orbits. The main objective with this is social diagnosis and 'crisis prevention', the setting up of operative access by the means and methods of secret policing..."

Some 80 persons in Tübingen have meanwhile demanded insight into their personal files at the LKA. The demand was refused immediately by the Minister of the Interior.

When launched in February 1991, the covert operation lacked any legal base. But recently, in the wake of new federal legislation pertaining to "organised crime" and police-intelligence cooperation (see FECL No.4 p.3) a new police law has been introduced in Baden-Württemberg permitting the unrestricted and pro-active use of intelligence methods (audio- and video surveillance and covert agents) even against non-suspect third persons. "Operation Tübingen" is thus legalised post eventum.

Nicholas Busch


Sources: Infobüro Tübingen: Innenminister Birzele lügt und vertuscht - Staatsschutzagenten in der Tübinger Linken, in Gläsernes Rathaus 9/92; Verdeckte Ermittler in Tübingen, paper by Nicaragua Arbeitskreis der Evangelischen StudentInnengemeinde and others, December 1992; Das Anti-Terror-System - Politische Justiz im präventiven Sicherheitsstaat, by Rolf Gössner, VSA-Verlag, Hamburg 1991.
Contact: Martin Struppe, Lammstr.16, W-7400 Tübingen 2