Six anonymous death threats were made this week against reporters who cover Dortmund’s neo-Nazi scene. They weren’t just any kind of death threats, however, and they reflect a growing hostility towards the German press.
Sitting in front of his laptop alone at his home in Dortmund on Monday evening, Felix Huesmann was initially annoyed at what he thought was just another anonymous neo-Nazi threat against journalists, in the form of a link on his Twitter account entitled: “THE HUNT HAS BEGUN.”
Annoyance quickly turned to disbelief when he clicked on the link. “Wow – a death certificate with my name on it … To be honest, I was overwhelmed.” Huesmann, a freelance journalist in the western German city of Dortmund, told DW his gut reaction was to take a screenshot and send it to his colleagues. Five other reporters, meanwhile, had also received a similar digital certificate, adorned with a black cross and italicized writings celebrating their deaths.
One of them was Sebastian Weiermann, who like Huesmann has focused his reporting on the far-right scene in Dortmund, a known neo-Nazi stronghold: “I was at a train station on my way to a PEGIDA [anti-Islamization] demonstration in Duisburg. We had just gotten coffee, and there I see on my phone a link to my own death certificate,” he said.”At first I laughed: I was pretty sure I was still alive. And I then called my colleagues to make sure they were alive. They were, too,” said Weiermann. “But, when it sinks in, it really does makes you think.”