The leader of the German right-wing political movement Pegida has come under fire after it was claimed he posed as Hitler in a Facebook post with the caption: “He’s back!”
Lutz Bachmann is the leader and most recognisable figurehead of the “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West” group, which has attracted up to 25,000 people to its anti-immigration marches in Dresden.
But in an online article entitled “The Two Faces of Lutz Bachmann”, the Dresden Morgenpost reproduced pictures which it claimed were from his Facebook profile showing him posing “in the style of Adolf Hitler”, as well as another from December 2012 of a Ku Klux Klan member and the slogan: “Three Ks a day keeps the minorities away.”
The images were all allegedly posted by Bachmann long before Pegida came to prominence with its first major marches in September. The leader, who insists his group’s views are “moderate”, reportedly deleted his Facebook profile after he was contacted by Morgenpost.
One of the newspaper’s readers, whose name was not revealed, provided screenshots which she claimed showed a Facebook conversation where Bachmann seemed to say there was no such thing as a “real war refugee” and describe immigrants as “cattle” and “garbage”.
“He spoke in a derogatory manner about other people who didn’t live up to his ideas,” she said. “When I challenged him, he blocked my profile.”
In pictures: Anti-Pegida protesters
In pictures: Anti-Pegida protesters
A police officer talks to a counterprotestor at the sidelines of right-wing movement 'Baergida' (Berlin Patriots against the islamization of the Occident), a Berlin version of Pegida (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident), protest in Berlin
Participants of right-wing movement 'Baergida' (Berlin Patriots against the islamization of the Occident), a Berlin version of Pegida (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident), protest in Berlin
People protest against right-wing initiative Pegida with a sign reading 'Stop agitation against Islam' in Berlin
Participants of the 'Alliance against Racism' demonstrate against right-wing initiative Pegida (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident) in Berlin. Counterdemonstrations against racism and xenophobia have been planned in Dresden, Berlin, Cologne and Stuttgart. The demonstrations staged by the anti-Islamic Pegida movement produce a series of slogans arguing that Germany is taking in too many foreigners, that the social structures are about to collapse due to the rising number of asylum-seekers, and that there is the threat of an 'Islamisation of the Occident'
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas takes part in a protest against the march of a grass-roots anti-Muslim movement in Berlin. The rise of the group, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida), has shaken Germany's political establishment
The lighting of the Brqandenburg Gate was switched off to make a statement against racism as People protest against right-wing initiative Pegida in Berlin
A left wing activist struggles with the riot police during a protest against a planed march of the Pegida movement in their first Berlin demonstration, which they have dubbed 'Baergida'
People protest against right-wing initiative Pegida in Hamburg
People protest against right-wing initiative Pegida in Munich
People protest against right-wing initiative Pegida in Stuttgart
The “Hitler” picture has since appeared on the front page of Germany’s Bild, and Bachmann has not denied that it appeared on his page.
In a statement to Bild, Bachmann said he had created the image as a homage to comedian Christoph Maria Herbst, who voiced the satirical audiobook “He’s Back” featuring Hitler returning to Earth and running through the streets of Berlin.
Bachmann said the picture had been shared by Herbst himself online and that “sometimes you just have to go along for the ride”.
And asked about the alleged comments about immigrants, Bachmann said: “We give no further comment on private matters.”
Meanwhile, the group said it would “not be silenced” after the now-usual weekly Pegida protest in Dresden was cancelled on Monday following an alleged terror threat against Bachmann.
Local police banned all rallies in the city after being informed of an apparent call for attackers to kill the leader, and co-organiser Kathrin Oertel told reporters: “[This] doesn’t mean that we will let ourselves be gagged… [or] deprived of the right to freedom of assembly and opinion”.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly condemned Pegida, but nonetheless backed its right to hold protests.
“As Chancellor, regardless of whether I like the contents, I have an immediate interest in ensuring that there can be demonstrations in every place in Germany, because it is a fundamental right,” she said.
“The great majority in Germany rejects Pegida and has taken to the streets against Pegida in recent weeks,” said German justice minister Heiko Maas, an outspoken critic of the Dresden rallies.
“That must continue to be possible, even if there were certainly good reasons for the individual decision by security authorities in Dresden.”