It was a show of force for the extreme right wing in Germany unlike any other since 1945: while normal people were at work, thousands of employees (and civil servants) were driving foreigners through Chemnitz, assaulting the free press and police officers, and saluting Hitler. What does their boss say to this?
To find out, we analyzed over 3 million images of 7000 suspects. Our aim: to systematically identify and eliminate right wing extremism. CSI: Chemnitz (Soko Chemnitz) was the largest denazification operation in Germany since 1945.
The population was called upon to denounce colleagues, neighbors, and acquaintances to the CSI and collect instant cash. CSI: Chemnitz received an overwhelming amount of help with its investigation. Together, we banished problematic Germans from businesses and civil service on a large scale.
»Joseph Beuys called acts with which people creatively work towards changing social conditions an art form, a social sculpture. The CPB’s intervention allows for a new interpretation of its declared opponents in the public space: what shows up on the streets and seeks to overthrow democracy is the mob as a national-social sculpture.«
»In the vein of the Stasi, the radical leftist group Center for Political Beauty calls for denouncing protesters in order to destroy their livelihoods. A country in which such a thing is ‘art’ and whose media even cover it in a positive and uncritical fashion is sick. The criminal charges are appropriate and necessary.«
Rewards for wanted Nazis were topped up by civil society via PayPal. The most pressing question the Nazis had for the police (according to the criminal charge they filed) was this: don’t you have to pay taxes on the bounty?
By and large, informants were not flawless democrats. A Nazi buddy would snitch on his best friend for €100.
»Well, my point of view is that anyone for whom the index of CSI:Chemnitz does NOT swing all the way to the right should do some serious soul searching and think about their lack of commitment!«
»The Stasi is going arty!«
In late August 2018, the third biggest city in eastern Germany, Chemnitz, witnessed a show of force for the extreme right wing in Germany unlike any other since 1945. Hundreds of extreme right-wingers marched through the city side by side with members of the Bundestag and of various state parliaments, as well as their staff. They chanted slogans full of disdain for human beings and the constitution (“We are the fans - Adolf Hitler hooligans”), attacked journalists, and chased people through the city, undisturbed by police. The right-wing scene orchestrated a grand display of dominance and power and openly flaunted fascism.
Those who joined in these civil war-like riots wanted to be seen. We think: the open society has a right to know its enemies if they no longer hide.
For the right-wing scene, Chemnitz is the fire accelerant while government appeasement does nothing but encourage them. We therefore offered a special service to companies beset by staunch national socialists. Anyone who wanted to know if an applicant or employee had ›demonstrated‹ the power of right-wing extremism in Chemnitz had come to the right place.
Employers who harbored a concrete suspicion were able to upload a photo of their employee into our system (“Aris”). Aris is a never before seen technical solution for facial recognition. Every image was matched with over three million faces and our system reported within seconds whether the individual in question had been in Chemnitz, including relevant pictures from the riots.
For legal reasons, Aris is no longer online.
Upload facial image (profile, passport, or family photo).
Aris checks the face against the Nazi database.
Found your employee? In that case, there is a broad array of services for employers.
- really good name
- Nazi detector, remarkable precision: recognizes mood, age, and other characteristics with nearly one hundred percent accuracy and works about as accurately as the human eye of our investigators
- Don’t need this to know that Höcke is old and angry
- We are in favor of banning the use of such technologies
The German business community should play the key role in denazification. Companies like to keep a low profile on social issues. Yet, they have the greatest influence on right-wing extremism in Germany. After all, should democracy crumble, Germany as a business location will be threatened. To defend the constitution means not to give Nazis work and thereby social recognition. We need a zero tolerance strategy.
After World War II, the allies were faced with the same question: how can an ideologically contaminated population be transformed into a democratic public? Two things were crucial: 1. To identify and ostracize the main agitators, 2. To link any economic success to democratization and commitment to the constitution.
Does your company want to hire our employment law experts to sack an anti-democratic coward? Simply issue us with a power of attorney for a legally watertight dismissal.
Do you need a legally watertight termination for an admirer of Hitler in your company? There are two forms of termination notices for private corporations: termination based on character suitability and termination based on reputational damage.
Are you a government agency and have you given the status of civil servant to a loser crazy about totalitarianism? Civil servants are bound by a special duty of loyalty to the state. The appealable court decisions on the admissibility of dismissals in the civil service are as follows: VG Aachen | BVerG | ArbG Mannheim | RDG Baden-Württemberg. (all .zip files).
Corporate culture needs to make a stand: if you would like to commit your business to constitutional loyalty, you can find a statement of voluntary commitment here (Code of Conduct), which your employees just need to sign.
CSI: Chemnitz was also on site in Chemnitz. Thorough investigations were conducted in our eastern bureau of investigation at Rosenhof 23. But not for long...
»Smash the windows and get those pictures out! Can’t be that hard.«
»A ‘shop’ has opened in Chemnitz, which aims to denounce protesters and make them unemployed if possible. We cannot tolerate this! Anyone who finds their face on soko-chemnitz.de should keep an eye on our website, we are currently examining all legal options and will announce the next steps here.«
»That leftist filth ought to be beaten to a pulp, any one of them you can get your hands on.«
After an angry masked mob had formed in front of our bureau of investigation, we had cause to fear for our team and the inventory in light of the vigilante justice of fanatical and alarming citizens. The police did arrive, though not to protect our property or chase away the brown brothers of terror but to break into our offices and confiscate all objects.
When asked, the Saxon police were not able to indicate the legal basis for their course of action. We were told verbally that “perhaps somebody had filed a complaint” and “so we are authorized to act”. So the police decided to do the angry mob’s bidding, whose mere presence violated the Assembly Act. In Saxony, the rage of Nazis is put before artistic freedom, property rights, and valid rental contracts.
From press release No 601 (PDF) by the Saxony police
»We are currently examining whether the content and pictures on the website as well as the posters in the offices will lead to criminal charges. Violating the Kunsturhebergesetz [German copyright law for art] and libel are at issue. However, these are criminal offences prosecuted only upon request by the victim.
Furthermore, there were calls on social media to cause property damage, among other things, to the offices at Rosenhof. The police therefore decided to remove and seize the posters as a security measure. Regarding the incitements, we are conducting investigations on the suspicion of public incitements to criminal behavior.
The website in question was not authorized to give out the phone number of the Chemnitz police department. Furthermore, there is no connection between both the content of ›www.soko-chemnitz.de‹ and the posters and ongoing investigations of the Gemeinsame Ermittlungsgruppe (GEG) ›Centrum‹ (LKA Chemnitz/PD Chemnitz) concerning crimes surrounding the gatherings in question. Tips regarding criminal offences and perpetrators can still be provided to the GEG ›Centrum‹, which is working on crimes in connection with the demonstrations in Chemnitz.«
Statement by the Cabka Group, 3 Dec 2018
“Should it prove true that a Cabka employee was involved in the xenophobic marches in Chemnitz, we would be shocked and upset. In fact, we would be deeply dismayed. But would we be surprised? Honestly not, unfortunately. (...) But do we want to and do we have to tolerate this? Certainly not. Because at Cabka we stand for openness, tolerance, and diversity. We speak more than 10 languages, have locations in four countries, and operate in more than 80 countries worldwide. We want employees who appreciate differences. We want to create connections between people of all nationalities, cultures, and social backgrounds. (...) Your campaign challenges us at Cabka, as it certainly does many other employees in the region, We are grateful for that. Because you prompt us to make a public stand, to publicly answer this question: How do we deal with colleagues who see themselves as xenophobes and cultivate an ideology soaked with hatred against anyone who is different? But what is the right remedy here? We try to deal with these employees and fellow human beings in an active and responsible manner. Both for me personally and our company, public denunciation is not the appropriate response. What we will not do in any case is to silently accept xenophobia and hatred. After all, we have a responsibility towards the people in our company, who do not identify with these kinds of ideologies but may have to confront them in their everyday work. Shouldn’t we seek to lead by example and embody, wherever possible, values, goals, and tolerant coexistence? (...)”.
Note: Pictures like these were posted by the employee on Facebook on a regular work day during working hours (and not set to private):
The criminal charges against the performance read like an impressive compendium of the impact of political art, because it is not only companies that apparently take appropriate action.
6 months of thinking, 3 months of research, 1 big team and at the end just one question: Who were the Nazis in Chemnitz? With 1552 participants we had been able to identify a majority of them. But just not all of them.
So we asked ourselves: Would it be possible to use the knowledge we gained to catch all of the rotten rest of them? With experts in facial recognition, artificial intelligence, and algorithms, we pursued a particular goal on the website: Nazis should disclose everything they know about other Nazis without realizing it.
The most important element of the CSI search page was the least conspicuous: the search function. It was secretly the main objective. By using the search function staunch national socialists revealed their entire network to us in the course of just a few days.
The term ‘honeypot’ denotes a device intended to distract an attacker or enemy from the actual target or lure them into an area that would have not otherwise have interested them, e.g. in the form of a dummy target. A honeypot can be used both to distract and a bear.
Every visitor of the search page was presented with a random sample of 20 profiles per category. Many of the brown bullies then immediately used the search function and usually typed in their own name. Like with any other online search engine, the search data was logged following data protection guidelines and assigned to a pseudonymized user ID. Next, over 62 percent of the relevant user group browsed our databases for family members before searching for an average of 6.72 friends and acquaintances. Depending on the query, we displayed a new sample on a subsequent visit (yes, that's why we only showed 20 profiles at a time and asked for the page to be reloaded). The search queries did not only bring a whole lot of complete names to light but also probability values: anyone who typed in a name of the 1500 ‘protesters’ known to us was more likely to know other participants as well. The data sets offered the unique opportunity to explore the “Chemnitz Network”. Via network analysis and data visualization, friend circles, nodes, hangers-on, and whereabouts became fairly easy to visualize. The initial searches were frequency weighted and the displayed samples were constantly updated based on this data. Those who were searched more often were also displayed more often.
For further investigations, »CSI: Chemnitz« submitted the treasure trove of data on the extreme right-wing network with all relevant information (names, IP address, search terms, automatic weighting) to the state (in the form of the Saxony Police, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, and the LKA 532 Berlin (State Security Division Right-Wing Crime). Search queries deemed irrelevant were deleted immediately after entry.
Much to our surprise, the Nazis liked our high-profile manhunt from day one. They were so proud to have been identified by us that they used their CSI mugshots as profile pictures. This is not what seeing reason and feeling remorse look like. They even made a show of our right-wing extremism barometer. Those identified evidently seem to think: the more right-wing the better.
Our investigations revealed tons of criminal offenses, for example the Hitler salute: a punishable offense in Germany. Other crimes included but were not limited to “especially serious breach of peace” (Section 125a of the German Criminal Code), “forming terrorist organisations“ (Section 129a), “incitement of masses” (Section 130), and “dangerous bodily harm” (Section 224). All our charges in that respect were dismissed. This is one of the explanations (in German) – reading it will make you lose all faith in the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Chemnitz:
Why the public manhunt for Nazis?
We personalize the horror. We put a face to evil. We want to pull right-wing extremism in Germany out of anonymity. We help law enforcement agencies to fully investigate the crimes of Chemnitz: Who chanted “We are the fans – Adolf-Hitler Hooligans”? Who intimidated, hunted, and assaulted the press? Who harassed police officers and threw them to the ground with a single stroke?
Chemnitz was an attack on the values of enlightenment. It is the prosecution of what transpired in Chemnitz that decides how well democracy is able to defend itself. The right-wingers count on nobody stepping in anymore. You can hit them where it hurts if you do.
What is the justification for this?
Where the state fails, civil society must help out. The state failed to account for the events in Chemnitz, also politically, which is exemplified by the Minister-President of Saxony asking an urban population if “one could agree” that Hitler salutes weren’t “quite alright”. The funding of the right-wing scene by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (domestic intelligence agency) must end. The right-wing scene must now be pursued with full force. We are in the penultimate stage of a seizure of power. The only way forward is a zero-tolerance strategy. Acquiescence only emboldens right-wing extremists.
What if right-wing extremists would do this?
The right-wingers have been doing this for decades, but for a different purpose. Their data collection has one primary goal: to lock up or even kill political opponents after seizing power. Right-wing extremism is neither a part of democratic discourse nor is it socially acceptable.
What is the difference between the AfD naming and shaming teachers online and CSI: Chemnitz?
The AfD website is doxing teachers loyal to the constitution. Civil servants have a special duty of loyalty to the state. We are doxing anti-constitutional racists. But let’s be honest: they are doxing themselves. Proudly right-wing, they call themselves “Honara” (‘“Hooligans, Nazis, and Racists”) and spread their admiration for Hitler on Facebook. The right-wing scene feels well protected and very openly pursues the goal of a nationalist, fascist state.
But isn’t it still denunciation?
Denunciation is a term that loses its meaning without the backing of state power. CSI: Chemnitz did offer to cooperate with the Saxony Police but unfortunately not vice versa. Art has no power base of its own, perhaps with the exception of the power of fantasy and ambiguity. The CPB is not a state, which could harass its citizens. We do fight more uncompromisingly for human rights. But who or what is supposed to be “denounced” here? Where is our coercive power? “Denunciation” draws its terrible meaning from the possibility of unforgiving, totalitarian violence.
»You leftist Nazis are still doing too well, but not for much longer!«
»Are you teh new Gestapo? Your operation is unconstitutional and violates the Basic Law. Demonstrating isnt a crime. Do you want to denounce citizens who peacefully protested the Merkel regime (...)?«
»You deadbeats, spoons up your assho !!!!!!!!!!!!! Y’all just know a trouble-free life on track !!!!!!!!!!! If you was realistic !!!!!!!!!!! youd see that a lot of things are going wrong in society !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You snowflakes, you !!!! When injustice becomes justice then resistance becomes a duty! !!!!!!!!!!!! No matter how«
»I cannot imagine greater bastards than you all. On a human level, a political, in general.«
»This is a face we should remember. Those who divide society here and thereby provoke a civil war must be punished with an iron hand.«
»This is a grave attack on our liberal democratic order and therefore, in my opinion, a case that must be examined by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution #AfD #PoliticalBeauty«
»The Center for Political Beauty is a totalitarian group that should be banned.«
»This massive assault on personality rights has nothing to do with a ‘provocative action’, which is still covered by artistic freedom, as the media and DIE LINKE have trivializingly commented. These are Stasi methods, which expose the so-called ‘art group’ ‘Center for Political Beauty’ for that they are: left-wing fascist.«
»What we are dealing with here is assumption of authority, publicly inciting denunciation and damage to property, sedition, data protection violations, and unauthorized use of other people’s images. All of these aren’t provocations but solid criminal offenses. People who do such things aren’t artists or activists, they are criminals.«
»This is fertile ground for denunciation. And where are you data protection activists and upstanding democrats, who usually suck up to the mainstream and otherwise chime in right away, where are you now?«
»It was the same thing with the Red Army Faction (...).«
»Mental exercise: If the criminal ‘CSI: Chemnitz’ of the Center for Political Beauty was art, then can a murder be art, too?«
Björn Höcke has praised the Center for Political Beauty as a »terrorist group«. Get close to the action and become an accomplice to a terrorist organization so far sadly recognized only by Höcke, Erdogan, and the Free State of Thuringia! As an accomplice you will make an invaluable contribution to inciting public unrest in the service of aggressive humanism. Nowhere else will you receive more unrest and dissent for every donated Euro.
»We need an art-prohibited zone in Chemnitz!«
»Maybe they don’t have a clean slate, no idea. But much worse, dirtier a d more dangerous are SUCH SHAMUSES! THESE were the same people who had their neighbors taken away. . BECAUSE THEY WERE JEWS. . today almost EVERYBODY is called a Nazi, Fascist or whatever! I wouldn’t want to live WITH SUCH FELLOW CITIZANS, even less than with Neos!«
»Completely implausible. Everybody and his dog from all over the world has searched for people, typed in their siblings, colleagues, etc, who never attended a demonstration. Nobody can make any use of this data chaos«
»Center for Political Beauty comrade Ulbricht would’ve been proud«
»The so-called CfPB is a servant of Zion (one of the lesser ones)«
»You are worse than the Gestapo. Shame on you, you have learned nothing from history.«
I call this political persecution. But if it’s against the right this is totally ok, or what? What is next? Reeducatino camps? Political realignment in the name of “leftist justice”
I would like to know whether the author had the same opinion if this was concerning of Antifa.
»Beware the beginnings
Proper courts, not the people, sit in judgment on people in this country. We cannot allow that some mob, who thinks of themselves as “artists”, doxes people. This is how every regime of terror begins, left or right-wing.«
»What is happening here is clearly criminal.«
»This denunciation platform has nothing to do with performance art. This is pure libel. Saxony bashing and ideology snooping have found a sad climax here.«
»No further proof is needed that an insidious, veritable manhunt is taking place here under the guise of performance art, aiming to destroy political dissidents. This sedition is obviously being supported by the state government, as the logo “So geht Sächsisch” is used openly. Apparently, the operators of this page have collected, gathered, personal data in secret, which are now published partially anonymized. These are inhuman Stasi methods!«
»Anything is possible with these idiots.«
»The Office for the Protection of the Constitution should take courses with you ...«
»Germany – a country full of art experts, lawyers, and football coaches.«
»This is what political beauty looks like. Right on the nose.«
»And once again I tip my hat to the Center for Political Beauty for another controversial example of civil disobedience and anti-fascist resistance. You are so beautiful."
An art action exposing all sectors of society. Wonderful, frightening, polarizing and provoking exactly what art is supposed to provoke: Thought"
»The Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote something about “this is how you stir up hate”... Stir up hate among Nazis? For real?«
»Outing fascists and publicly naming and shaming them is always, I repeat, always right. For that reason: fullest support for the performance of @politicalbeauty, even though I am not always happy with their wording. #Chemnitz #SokoChemnitz«
»The most beautiful thing about the performances of @politicalbeauty is the helplessness of the audience:
„No, it is art!“
„No, denunciation! Nazi methods!“
„No, it’s genius!“
Thank you for the opportunity to be confused! #SokoChemnitz«
»You guys are really courageous to take on the fascist pigs head-on. My deep respect for that. One can take a leaf out of your book. I hope that these people won’t be also openly violent towards your publicly appearing members now. Fantastic work!«
Business Insider German Neo-Nazis Fell for Art Project and Outed Themselves
»The breaking of taboos and the pushing of boundaries are the hallmarks of the CPB, which is stepping into the huge void left by artists like Joseph Beuys and Christoph Schlingensief.«
»’Honeypot' is the name of a method used to both distract and trap a target – Nazis, in this case. In the case of 'CSI: Chemnitz,' the trap seems to have successfully snapped shut.«
»The latest performance 'CSI: Chemnitz' by the artist collective Center for Political Beauty (CPB) once again lays its hands on the moral foundations of our society and shakes them up.
Performances of the Center for Political Beauty regularly get under the skin and possibly cross the bounds of good taste. But they also force recipients to take a stand, and that is urgently necessary in light of recent events.«
»They out those who oppose human rights and democracy. This is right for at least three reasons: First and foremost, opposition to fascism is morally imperative. Second, knowledge of potential Nazi thugs helps protect those who may unwittingly surround them, as work colleagues, neighbors, or team mates in a soccer club. Third, the pillory functions as public ostracism and thus fulfills a contribution to curbing right-wing ideology and machinations.«
»Of course, the whole thing was not really a call to "snitch" on right-wing extremists. (...) This is a group of artists whose actions were never what they initially claimed to be. The criticism is that a private group of artists was able to collect more data about the far-right scene in three days than the Office for the Protection of the Constitution did in three months.«
»The CPB’s performances are almost classics of anti-fascist iconography.
The self-stylization of Philipp Ruch and his partisans is possibly more than just pose. It sends a message: antifascism is a heroic act.«
»'CSI: Chemnitz' vividly illustrates the current helplessness in our social ‘against-one-another’ – and the need to exchange platitudes for real arguments.«
»The group has played the media, right-wingers, and security authorities. It has initiated an important debate about right-wing extremism in Germany and shown that it is ignored far too much by authorities and the media.«
»You can learn how the CPB works by looking at “CSI: Chemnitz", how the group manages to make every new performance suddenly crash into German reality at high speed. (...) It is irritating that the demand (humanity) and the methods of the CPB are diametrically opposed to each other, not only in the doxing campaign of "Soko Chemnitz". Actually, one should therefore wait and formulate their opinion only at the end of a performance. But hardly anyone can hold out for that. What is displayed simply seems too crass.«
»Denunciation, even if it targets despicable characters, is a kind of vigilante justice over the phone. That is not compatible with democratic values. As a matter of principle, the Bundesrepublik does not fight its enemies with dubious methods.«
»The campaign of the "Center for Political Beauty" is an act of hubris. The CPB has found a self-righteous answer to the question of how to deal with criminals suspected of being right-wing extremists. (...) Against the supposedly inactive rule of law, the political activists offer industrious research. The pillory campaign flirts with a propaganda of action, which desperately wants to break the chains of symbolic restrictions. Soko-chemnitz.de may not least be an indication of slander as a socially effective poison.«
»The moral and intellectual superiority of the collective drips from every line, and like every operation of the Center for Political Beauty, "CSI: Chemnitz" is primarily designed as a media spectacle.«
»Today's artists learn from Stalin. Suppression, surveillance, slander, these are the stylistic devices of the new creativity. If you want to be hip and successful today, do as the despot did: he harasses a chosen victim until enough gawkers and confidants are gathered and the mood is ripe for a show trial. This is then the climax of the artistic achievement: publicly marketed, media-fueled humiliation.«
»The people from the Center for Political Beauty may be fighting for the right cause. Nevertheless, they are completely wrong with their campaign.
Pillory remains pillory, denunciation remains denunciation. That's why the project should be stopped immediately.«
»Is this a ‘revolt of the respectable’ against the right-wing mob or a step towards 1933? Is it allowed to fight Nazis with Nazi methods? In any case, it is one of the most provocative art performances of the year.«
»The performance’s arrogance is hurtful. On the one hand, it insinuates that the right-wingers are simply stupid and have been spoofed by every trick in the book. On the other hand, it expresses the superiority of those from the capital, who whack some East German rednecks over the head and watch from a serene distance as they subsequently tear each other apart.«
»An important lesson is the freedom of art, so that politicians will never again be tempted to determine what they define as agreeable, so as to illustrate their politics, while other art forms are suppressed or even persecuted by state security, like the Center for Political Beauty."«
»That Ruch has made this very goal, once pursued by the Stasi to eliminate opponents of the regime, the subject of what he considers an art performance, shows that we live in times when moral depravity is considered art.«