The Eisenach police are investigating a freelance photographer for “Recherche Nord”. He documented Nazi symbolism at right-wing rock concerts.

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The photographer documented right-wing rock concerts at the “Flieder Volkshaus” in Eisenach. Photo: Martin WichmannTV/dpa/Picture Alliance

In Thuringia, police investigate freelance media portal photographer North Research. He is accused, among other things, of publishing prohibited symbols. He documented right-wing rock concerts in Eisenach, including Nazi tattoos of neo-Nazis. According to the photographer, the police had interfered with his work and had previously threatened to find “ways and means” against him. The MDR was the first to report on the case.

Published for years Photographs and investigations of neo-Nazi meetings. Journalists work with major media outlets and photographs and information can also be found periodically in the taz.

The independent photographer André Aden has also been known for years as a specialized journalist. In the summer of 2023, among other things, he was in Eisenach several times. In the so-called “Flieder Volkshaus” he documented right-wing rock concerts a total of four times between May and July 2023. The house is also the Thuringian headquarters of the party “Die Heimat”, former NPD.

According to Aden, between 60 and 120 people attended the concerts, including neo-Nazis from some banned organizations such as “Combat 18” or the so-called “Hammerskins.” In his observation, the police did not recognize or punish clearly unconstitutional symbolism.

Contextualization in image captions

He offered the images to various media. You were published on the portal by North Research posted, the police officers' faces were pixelated. The photos show a neo-Nazi with a tattoo of an SS rune, the Odal and Wolfsangel rune or a hand with signet rings with an SS skull. The legends clarified the context on several occasions and explicitly stated that the symbols were punishable, but that the police present had not opposed them.

The Eisenach police have been accused for years of not taking consistent action against the activities of the “Flieder Volkshaus”. Aden says that due to the unclear situation at the scene, he always called the Eisenach police station. Police were apparently still upset by the reports.

Aden told the taz that the police had threatened him for being a journalist. On July 8, 2023, on the sidelines of a right-wing rock concert, a senior Eisenach police officer told him that he was “critical” of the information. This would put the work of the police “in a bad situation.” Although his journalistic work cannot be prevented due to his status as a journalist, there are other “ways and means.”

A few months later, Aden was informed of the investigations that the Eisenach criminal police were carrying out against him. A copy of the police letter is available to the taz. Consequently, Aden is accused of violating the Art Copyright Law and using symbols of unconstitutional organizations. He took photographs of the participants and their tattoos against their will. Spicy: Apparently the accusation is not based on a complaint by neo-Nazis. According to the MDR, the police are investigating this case “on their own initiative”, that is, regardless of whether the person concerned has filed a complaint.

The right to photograph prohibited symbols.

At the time of going to press, the press office of the Thuringian State Police Directorate had not responded to taz's request.

Lotta Kampmann North Research He described the investigation against the photographer as “strange.” He criticized the police's understanding of the law and spoke of a serious attack on the press law. “The police should really defend the democratic constitutional state and not, as in this case, undermine it further,” Kampmann said.

A spokesperson for Reporters Without Borders (RSF) explained that photojournalists generally have the right to photograph banned symbols and use them to illustrate reports on far-right gatherings. The image of these license plates is not punishable if, for example, it is used for “civic education” or “reporting on current events.” (Article 86a, paragraph 3 corresponds to the exceptions to Article 86, paragraphs 4 and 5).

If it turns out that the authorities take criminal action against the publication of a series of photographs from “Recherche Nord”, RSF believes it would be “terrifying” and “very worrying”.