Anonymous Takes on Neo-Nazi Groups

Patrick Glennon

A campaign poster for "Operation Blitzkrieg."

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No stranger to controversy, the elusive and disperse “hacktivist” group Anonymous has set its sights on a new foe—German neo-Nazis.Hackers identifying themselves as Anonymous have set up a German-only website that hosts leaked information pertaining to the country’s far-Right scene.The website, named “Operation Blitzkrieg,” boasts a wide swath of internal data and private information, including the names of people who have patronized online Nazi-affiliated stores, subscribers to Germany’s far-right weekly Junge Freiheit and donors to the fringe National Democratic Party (NPD).While the bulk of the data is about German neo-Nazis, information on white supremacists from a handful of other nations has also appeared on the site, including details on individuals from Italy, Brazil, Slovenia, Belgium, Britain, Canada and the United States.U.S. groups with material in the leaked data include Blood and Honour, the American Nazi Party and Ohio White Pride.
The hacker collective’s activity comes in the wake of increased public attention toward neo-Nazism in Germany. In November, a terror cell calling itself the National Socialist Underground (NSU) was discovered in Zwickau, a provincial town located on the German-Czech border.German authorities traced 13 years of crime to the NSU, including a racially motivated series of homicides known as the döner murders.Following the discovery of the terror cell, calls to outlaw the far-Right NPD echoed within the Bundestag, as politicians from across the spectrum spoke out against the party.(In a post published last month, I profiled the NPD  and the movement to ban the controversial party. Proponents of the ban have run into difficulty lately, as Der Spiegel recently learned that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution—Germany’s intelligence agency—has 130 paid informants in the party, some of whom possess senior positions. These agents would have to be deactivated before a move to ban the party could occur, a decision that would eliminate valuable intelligence sources).Along with regularly assaulting foreigners, minorities and homosexuals, neo-Nazis are responsible for an estimated 100 attacks on Germany’s Left Party from January 2010 to summer 2011, including physical confrontations with representatives, vandalism and arson.A few weeks ago, a handful of German activists launched Operation Blitzkrieg to target the increasingly publicized neo-Nazi scene, which is particularly vibrant in the former East Germany.Though popular opinion in Germany is opposed to rightwing extremism, Anonymous has nonetheless faced criticism for its tactics.From its inception, Anonymous has grown increasingly militant. Campaigns based on  denial-of-service (DOS) attacks—a strategy that temporarily shuts down websites—have evolved into more controversial campaigns that take private information and release it to the public.Many, including prominent German journalists, denounce the public release of private information, arguing that most of it is likely of dubious significance.The group, however, seems unphased by the criticism. An unnamed representative of the collective told Der Spiegel that “[t]here’s more to come,” adding that Operation Blitzkrieg was under expansion and that prominent neo-Nazi organizations from multiple countries could expect their private information to be leaked in the coming months.
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Patrick Glennon is a writer and musician living in Chicago. He received his B.A. in History from Skidmore College and currently works as Communications Manager for the Michael Forti for Cook County Court campaign and as the web intern at In These Times.
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