Monday night a member of Alternative for Germany (AfD), the right-wing party that opposes immigration, was knocked unconscious in the street and suffered serious injuries. Frank Magnitz, the AfD’s Bremen chairman, suffered a serious head wound after he was attacked by three men. Initially, the party released a statement saying he had been hit with a large piece of wood and then kicked when he was on the ground. Police said they were investigating the crime as a politically motivated attack, however, yesterday police changed their tune. A video of the incident showed something different from what the party press release described. From Deutsche Welle:
According to Magnitz, 66, he was attacked from behind with a piece of wood around 5:30 p.m. while taking a shortcut behind the Bremen City Theater to his car in a nearby parking garage…
On Wednesday, however, prosecutors in Bremen questioned whether Magnitz was assaulted in exactly the manner he described. A spokesman told German news agency DPA that CCTV footage of the attack showed Magnitz being elbowed once, then falling over as his attackers ran away.
Bremen police have said that the attack was “lightning quick,” and that they were investigating charges of grievous bodily harm, saying they had no photographic evidence that Magnitz was kicked while already down.
Magnitz admitted yesterday that he doesn’t recall the attack himself. The information about the wooden plank released by his party came from a man who helped him in the street. That witness has apparently now disappeared. So, it seems the initial reports were wrong and it remains unclear at the moment whether this was a politically motivated attack or just a random street attack by people who didn’t recognize Magnitz. But before you jump to the conclusion that the party is being paranoid, it’s worth noting that just last week another group of three men allegedly set off an explosive device in front of an AfD office:
On Friday, prosecutors said they suspected the three men were behind the attack, but added that they would not request their detention because there was insufficient grounds to do so.
“The attack against the AfD office in Döbeln is extraordinary given that the explosion meant accepting that people could be harmed,” the state police said. A task force for investigating extremism and terrorism, it added, was probing Thursday’s incident…
Saxony’s Interior Minister Roland Wöller said the state would not tolerate such attacks and pledged a severe response.
“We are dealing with a completely new level of violence against politicians,” he said.
In the wake of the violence, there have been condemnations from members of other parties and calls for calm. The media in Germany isn’t very fond of the AfD party in general but political violence is something which can spiral out of control if it’s ignored or normalized.