Defendants in Stuttgart-Stammheim: Did the "Group S." want to overthrow the state and social system?
Photo: Pool / Getty Images
The "soul brother" has a whimper.
Two law enforcement officers lead Tony E. to the witness stand and remove his handcuffs.
He has his big appearance today in the hall of the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court on the premises of the high-security wing in Stammheim.
It is his chance to convince the judges of his version.
The prosecution assumes that E. wanted to start a civil war with the "Group S." and to establish a state and social system based on his inhuman ideas.
Tony E. was, according to the Attorney General, the "right hand" of ringleader Werner S., his "soul brother";
willing to sacrifice his or her life for the goals of the group.
The State Security Senate has already indicated that although it sees the place and time of the establishment differently than the prosecution, it also assumes that the "Group S." was actually a terrorist group.
Everyday caregiver "with a lot of joy"
Tony E. blowing his nose.
He's wearing a blue shirt and a blue jacket over it.
In front of him he lays a thick pile of papers, typed and printed on both sides.
To his right, his defender Heiko Hofstätter sits down.
"Statement on the person and the matter," reads E.
His lecture will last several hours and will not be finished on that day.
One or the other will consider him a "traitor," says Tony E. addressed to the eleven co-defendants.
He can only "decisively negate" that, emphasizes E. "There is nothing to reveal." It is the prologue of a confession with which he wants to put himself in a good light.
Tony E., born in Nordhausen in Thuringia, last residing in Wriedel in the Lüneburg Heath, is 41 years old, father of two young sons and a trained industrial clerk with a professional rollercoaster: first he was a contract soldier, then he worked as a self-employed insurance broker, shop detective, security guard and as an employee in an office.
He also worked as a doorman and security employee and, after his parental leave, trained as a day-to-day carer.
Until his arrest, he worked for an outpatient nursing service, "with a lot of joy," as he says.
From "lateral thinker" to "free spirit"
His wife was exposed to hostility after his imprisonment and had doubts about whom she had apparently married;
in the meantime she has filed for divorce.
E. but describes himself as a "balanced contemporary", altruistic, reliable, faithful to principles, words and values;
as loyal, socially competent and full of positive attitudes towards life with a tendency to give too hastily a leap of faith to people with "the same attitude".
He sees himself as a "lateral thinker," says E., but since Corona this term has had a negative connotation, so it would be better to use: "free spirit"
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E. does not have a criminal record, but is a right-wing extremist.
According to the Federal Prosecutor's Office, his concepts of the enemy are clearly defined: people of the Jewish faith, dark-skinned people, asylum seekers and politicians who disagree with him.
Right-wing extremist ideas were seized on his cell phone, including inhuman caricatures, swastikas and documents denying the Holocaust.
Follower of the Reich Citizen Scene
He regrets "sharp-tongued remarks" that he has made in the past, stressed E. in court.
He doesn't say what exactly he means.
As someone who knows the system of the GDR as well as that of the FRG, from 2014 onwards he "moved Germany's development profoundly."
With "all vehemence", however, he distances himself from terrorism and National Socialism.
He condemns attacks like the one in Hanau, but also the Islamist attacks on the Berlin Christmas market or in Würzburg in June.
E. belongs to the conviction of the Federal Prosecutor's office of the Reich citizen scene.
He was a leading member of the right-wing extremist group "Freikorps Heimatschutz Division 2016" and a supporter of other groups such as the "Brotherhood of Germany", a vigilante-like association of right-wing extremists, bouncers, hooligans and martial artists.
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In court, E. lists his friendships with people with a migrant background and raves about how much he likes to shop with Pakistani people, get hair done by Orientals, eat with Asian people and go to the Thai massage.
While in custody, he helped fellow prisoners to write letters.
He had "a problem with increasing Islamization" and feared a threat to Germany and Europe, but he was still a supporter of democracy.
He tries hard to sound believable and he enjoys showing off his eloquence.
In the chat there was a Hitler ban
E. Klein talks about his contact with the alleged initiator of the "Group S.", Werner S.
In the beginning they only had conversations on the phone, "it was about dogs and politics".
Attack plans and weapons were not an issue.
They only met in person for the first time in July 2019.
Tony E. is said to have used various messenger services to exchange ideas with Werner S. and others about plans to overthrow the state system.
The rules were strict: no pictures of weapons or Adolf Hitler, no Nazi sayings or appeals.
The code words for weapons were "e-bike", "battery" or "hardware".
Tony E. claims that he was not interested in the content of the various chat groups. E. played down the first meeting with other, later supporters of the "Group S." at the end of September 2019 at the "Hummelgautsche" barbecue area in the Schwäbisch-Franconian Forest Nature Park.
Due to the rising alcohol level, no conversation was possible on the first evening.
Even the next day, nothing really was discussed.
"Look deep in the eyes"
At the meeting in Minden in February 2020, S. set the tone, says E. On the way to the meeting, he announced that he would "ask all participants a question and look them deep in the eye." E. does not want to have asked. He also claims to have been "irritated" when S. told the troops that they had long since left the stage to make a difference with posters and flyers. E. speaks of a "change of mood" and a changed "atmosphere". Paul-Ludwig U., the questionable key witness in these proceedings, finally triggered a debate by calling out that mosques should be set on fire. However, there was no approval for this.
Rather, after a round of rolls with meat and cheese, S. asked twice who had how much money and who could get weapons.
Nothing more happened.
His description massively contradicts the accusations of the Federal Prosecutor's Office, who attribute the preparation of serious acts of violence that endanger the state to the right-wing dozen.
According to the prosecutors, there was a real threat of terrorism: the men are said to have planned attacks on politicians, asylum seekers and Muslims in order to kill as many people as possible and spark a civil war.
When Tony E. is on page 57 of his statement, the chairman of the Senate interrupts him.
One of the other defendants is not doing well.
The hearing will end for that day.
The remaining 29 pages are likely to hit other people involved in the process as well.