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An Outside Analysis of Right-Wing Extremism in the FRG (November 30, 1980)

A terror attack allegedly carried out by right-wing extremists killed 13 people and wounded another 200 at Munich’s Oktoberfest in 1980. The attack prompted a thorough analysis of the rise of right-wing radicalism in the Federal Republic. Right-wing radicalism covered a broad spectrum from the reactionary National Democratic Party to neo-Nazi youth gangs. The following article appeared in the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

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Is Right-Wing Extremism Being Underestimated in the Federal Republic of Germany?
The Munich Bombing Was a Sign

On the evening of September 26, just before 10:30 PM, a deadly bomb exploded amidst the festive, beer-induced party atmosphere of Munich’s Oktoberfest. The bomb attack took place directly in front of the main entrance to the Oktoberfest grounds, where approximately 200,000 people were gathered at that moment; it cost thirteen people their lives and injured more than two hundred others, some seriously. The circumstances surrounding this bloody event have yet to be thoroughly clarified. It was clear from the beginning that it was a terrorist attack, and it was only a matter of hours before the bureau of investigation discovered clues pointing to a suspect in the right-wing extremist scene. According to Federal Prosecutor General [Kurt] Rebmann, who is leading the investigation, there is now virtually no doubt that the bomb was planted by 22-year-old geology student Gundolf Köhler, who was himself torn to pieces in the blast. Traces of paint and metal particles were found in the basement of Köhler’s parents’ home in Donaueschingen, greatly compounding suspicions that the explosives had been assembled there. Köhler had had at least temporary contact with the right-wing extremist “Defense Sport Group Hoffmann” [Wehrsportgruppe Hoffmann], which was banned at the beginning of this year. Karl-Heinz Hoffmann, the leader of this group, which gained press notoriety above all through its paramilitary field exercises and Nazi slogans, was arrested after the attack, along with six of his supporters. They were released shortly thereafter, however, because there was not enough evidence linking them to the Munich bombing.

Unanswered Questions

Above all, two key questions remain unanswered: Did the alleged perpetrator Gundolf Köhler act alone or in collaboration with accomplices, and what was the precise motive for the bloody attack? The bureau of criminal investigation still favors the hypothesis that Köhler, the suspected perpetrator, did not act entirely alone, although no concrete evidence in support of this theory has been presented. As far as the motive is concerned, speculations range from deliberate suicide – Gundolf Köhler was mired in personal difficulties – to a far-reaching, right-wing extremist terrorist conspiracy against German democracy in the heated lead-up to the Bundestag elections. By now, reports and statements treat it as a virtually incontrovertible truth that the Munich blood bath had its roots in the right-wing extremist scene, although the parents of the alleged perpetrator have protested, somewhat justifiably, that the press is labeling him guilty beyond doubt before a formal verdict has been rendered.

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