the number 13 is considered an unlucky number. Hans-Georg Maaßen cannot help the fact that he once, it was in 2012, became the 13th President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, of all people. But he can very well do something about the fact that he speaks today like one of those whom the constitution protection is supposed to be watching.
A strange attraction
He already talked like this when he was still President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. And that's what he's doing now, as a candidate for the Thuringian Bundestag CDU, continually. Back then, as President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Maaßen aroused doubts that he was taking right-wing extremist riots and right-wing agitation seriously. He played it down. He petted the AfD. He did not look after her with the necessary distance, but with a strange attraction.
Do what is forbidden elsewhere
In his Mönchengladbacher Heimatblatt, the Stadt- und Landbote Rheindahlen, he gave an interview in 2015 that ends with a remarkable sentence. At the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the then President said, “you can do what is forbidden elsewhere”. He didn't say exactly what he meant by that. But he attributed the special attraction of the protection of the constitution for applicants and employees to it. The statement was, to put it mildly, misleading; it revealed a strange and misguided understanding of office - which was later revealed in confidential conversations with AfD functionaries and in soothing public remarks about xenophobic crimes in Chemnitz.
The man with the bell tree
When he was therefore replaced after six years in 2018 and put into temporary retirement by Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer, he condemned the criticism of his behavior, his speeches and his replacement as a left-wing conspiracy against the SPD in his self-indulgent and disloyal farewell speech him. That was pretty crazy. It was so crazy that one wondered whether the successor to the office of the President for the Protection of the Constitution should not watch his predecessor. Of course, this does not require any secret service means, because Maassen runs through the country ringing the bell with the bell tree.
Maassen has just brought journalists from North German Broadcasting into the vicinity of left-wing extremists. He demanded that the editors of the ARD Tagesschau should be checked for their contacts in the left to left-wing extremist spectrum. He called for a committee of inquiry because public service broadcasting in general and the Tagesschau in particular had a clear left-wing twist. This tempts you to remark that Maaßen has a very violent right-hand twist. Certainly: Freedom of expression is a gracious fundamental right. It also applies to right-wing opinions. And as a private person, everyone enjoys freedom of expression or freedom of fools anyway. For a party member, especially for a Bundestag candidate, there are of course limits that the party may draw. And so the Maassen problem becomes a problem for Armin Laschet, the CDU chairman and candidate for chancellor of the Union.
From Hohmann to Maaßen
One can ask oneself whether Hans-Georg Maaßen is or will be for Laschet what CDU MP Martin Hohmann once was for Angela Merkel. The Hohmann problem was Merkel's first major test as the head of the Union's parliamentary group in the Bundestag: Merkel first reacted to an anti-Semitic speech by the then CDU MP on Unity Day on October 3, 2003 with his expulsion from the parliamentary group, then in 2003 with his expulsion from the parliamentary group CDU. There were quite a few votes in the group, namely 2004 votes against. But Merkel wanted to prevent the CDU from self-poisoning with brown ideas. Hohmann went to the highest court in vain to appeal against the exclusion. He stayed as a non-attached member of the Bundestag until 43 and then moved back to the federal parliament after the 2005 election - now for the AfD; he was the only one of 2017 AfD MPs with Bundestag experience. He is also running again for the next Bundestag, in 94th place on the Hessian state list. At the nomination meeting he said: "What was right in the CDU 6 years ago cannot be said today."
Rightly murmuring and trumpeting
Maassen is not an anti-Semite. But this sentence could also come from him. For a long time he was the figurehead of a very right-wing conservative association called Values Union, in which old right-wing positions of the Union are represented. Since the economist Max Otte was elected chairman of this Union of Values a few weeks ago, Maassen has suspended his membership there. For several years Otte was chairman of the board of trustees of the AfD-affiliated Desiderius Erasmus Foundation and made election recommendations for the AfD.
Theses as represented by Maaßen today were not alien to the CDU: Jörg Schönbohm, then Berlin Senator for the Interior, was the first in 1998 to warn of “foreign infiltration” because the multicultural society “approves of the abandonment of the German dominant culture in favor of parallel societies of equal rank ". Since then, the guiding culture has been on the table again and again. Friedrich Merz eagerly participated at the time; he was parliamentary group leader of the Union and in this capacity Merkel's predecessor.
Maaßen was not always as boisterous and boastful as he was when he was the President of the Protection of the Constitution and ex-President of the Protection of the Constitution. The now 58-year-old was once considered a cautious civil servant, he was the office manager of Claus Hennig Schapper, who was State Secretary under Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily. But during this time he has learned that it is better to show off than to be folded and creased. His boss Schapper, who had stoic patience, was repeatedly publicly humiliated by Schily. Maaßen drew the lesson from this that it is better to play Schily yourself: He became a law-and-order man, head of the department for immigration law and head of the counter-terrorism staff. Murat Kurnaz from Bremen, who had served innocently for four and a half years without charge in the US prison camp in Guantanamo, wanted to refuse re-entry to Germany on a frivolous and cynical reason: the man had forfeited his right of return because he had been abroad for more than six months be.
As the President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Maassen was a very self-confident president, one who gave the store some self-confidence again. He enjoyed the respect that was shown to him there - but then let himself be carried away by his own nimbus and the wind that he himself generated. A state servant became a state actor, became a secret service agent who preferred not to work in secret, but to ring the big bell.
The tin drummer of the AfD
He complained indignantly about allegedly too much democratic control of the secret service. When he was questioned before the NSA committee of inquiry in 2016, he more or less blamed the parliamentarians for a future attack: he and his secret service people, Maaßen complained, hardly ever did their investigative work with all the summons. On this occasion, Maassen also caused astonishment by explaining to the MPs that Edward Snowden could be a Russian spy.
It was becoming more and more obvious that Maaßen no longer wanted to be a contributor to the state and government policy, but wanted to make politics himself. He did it and he does it - to the detriment of the CDU. There he is the AfD's tin drummer.
I wish you a relaxing holiday season - a great refueling before an autumn, hopefully as corona-free as possible