Criminal Mahler (2017): Right to "Spread National Socialist Ideas"?
Photo: Balazs Mohai / AP
Recent German history has produced a number of bizarre résumés, but the political biography of Horst Mahler stands out among them: he was a prominent lawyer, founder of the RAF, NPD member, Holocaust denier and prisoner.
His time in prison ends this Tuesday. After more than ten years, the prison in Brandenburg an der Havel has released him.
Mahler is now 84 years old and in poor health, both of his lower legs were amputated.
A retreat into private life is still not in sight.
But a legal dispute in which it should be about fundamental issues.
Mahler has been in prison since 2009 for countless incidents of sedition.
To this day, the right-wing extremist mainly uses the Internet to spread his views.
The Munich II public prosecutor's office wants to put him in his place in the future: They have applied for so-called management supervision, Mahler should only be allowed to publish in compliance with strict guidelines.
The constitution also applies to constitutional enemies
The order, which Mahler himself published on his homepage, has it all: He should not only get a probation officer and always inform him of his place of residence.
Mahler would also have to submit all texts and other messages to the Brandenburg State Criminal Police Office a week before publication.
If he does not do this, he faces another prison sentence.
Is that censorship, an interference with the fundamental right to freedom of expression?
At least that is obviously Mahler's position.
On his homepage he refers to a decision of the Federal Constitutional Court, according to which "a legally convicted criminal is no more prohibited than a 'free' citizen from writing and disseminating right-wing extremist or National Socialist ideas".
What he is probably saying: Enemies of the constitution can invoke the constitution, the basic rights are also there for Nazis.
The prosecutors do not deny this - but insist that their approach is legally compliant.
The instructions therefore do not include a "general ban on publication", and it is also a matter of "a purely reporting obligation": Mahler's freedom of expression is unimpaired, and his texts will not require any government approval or control in the future either.
Mahler could also publish criminal statements in the future, the state security would only know about it beforehand.
The public prosecutor's office assumes, however, that it would not even come about with the help of their instructions: Since the security authorities would find out about potential crimes seven days in advance, Mahler would be less at risk of "getting carried away with committing such offenses" .
It was only a few weeks ago that Mahler did not want to forego the dissemination of anti-Semitic articles: in his statement on the current legal dispute on his website, he raved about "the nature of foreign Jewish rule over the German people".
Mahler was once known nationwide as a radical leftist: The rhetorically talented lawyer was a member of the SPD and the Socialist German Student Union (SDS) before he founded the RAF in 1970 together with Ulrike Meinhof, Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin.
From 1973 to 1980 he was imprisoned for robbing banks and founding a criminal organization.
In the eighties Mahler first sympathized with the Greens, then called for the election of the FDP and finally turned to the NPD in the nineties.
He became a member, defended the party in the first prohibition proceedings before the Federal Constitutional Court, finally resigned and radicalized himself further.
Left-wing extremist Mahler (M.) in court in 1972 with his lawyers Hans-Christian Ströbele and Otto Schily
Photo: Chris Hoffmann / dpa
In recent years the imprisoned Mahler has become a kind of figurehead for the extreme right, who celebrated him as a "political prisoner".
It was only in August that neo-Nazis in Henningsdorf, Brandenburg, demanded "Freedom for Horst Mahler" - although it had long been clear that his release from prison was imminent.
The outcome of the current legal dispute will probably only be clarified in a few weeks or months: A negotiation planned for the beginning of October on the intended management supervision broke because Mahler had submitted an application for bias in time.
According to a spokesman for the Potsdam Regional Court, it is unclear when this decision will be made and when the negotiation due to supervision will begin.
At least that long, Mahler does not have to show anyone his pamphlets.
However, if the public prosecutor's office finally gets through with its demand for strict conditions, Mahler would be under management supervision for five years.
Then he could not express his views again without correspondence with the LKA in 2025 at the earliest - shortly before his 90th birthday.
Icon: The mirror