Activists block a street during a climate protest in Berlin, Germany, 25 April 2023. EPA-EFE/CLEMENS BILAN


German climate activists ‘should be labelled criminal organisation’


The well-known climate activists Letzte Generation should be regarded as a criminal group of “mafia-like clans” that threaten democracy and “merely wants to make loot”, according to Hans-Georg Maaßen, the former head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency.

Writing in the German weekly conservative newspaper Junge Freiheit, Maaßen – until 2018 the president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, or Bundesverfassungsschutz – said the group, also known as Last Generation, should be considered a “criminal organisation”.

His comments came on the same day German police carried out a major operation against members of the activist organisation. Last Generation has made headlines worldwide with high-profile protests including attacks on famous works of art.

“Many lawyers share the opinion that the group is a criminal organisation,” Maaßen wrote, adding their actions should result in “numerous criminal proceedings”.

In 2022, Last Generation orchestrated 276 road blockades in Germany, while in Rome, members threw soup at a van Gogh painting called The Sower. In the same vein, among other instances of art being targeted, protestors with the group hurled mashed potatoes at a Monet painting hanging in Potsdam.

Maaßen claimed courts and politicians are changing attitudes regarding the climate activists’ protests, citing what he said were a number of criminal offences connected to Last Generation.

“It is long overdue to treat the ‘Last Generation’ as a criminal organisation,” he wrote, adding: “But that is not enough.

“For the ‘Last Generation’ is not only a criminal organisation in the sense of general criminal law, which acts like mafia-like clans and merely wants to make loot. With their crimes, they pursue political goals that endanger the free democratic basic order.

“These perpetrators want a different state in which climate protection has absolute priority and democracy or the rule of law no longer matters. This must be prevented.”

His comments came as German police on Wednesday raided the homes of alleged Last Generation members in several federal states and arrested seven people, two of whom are suspected of sabotaging an oil pipeline.

The seven are all accused of organising a fundraising campaign to finance further alleged crimes by advertising on their homepage, through which some 1.4 million euros was raised in donations.

Rainer Wendt, head of the German police union, welcomed the investigation saying: “The population suffers from the street terror of these self-proclaimed climate saviours.”

The latest action by police follows raids in December last year in 11 locations in Germany that authorities believe were linked to the group. A prosecutor at the time said he also considered Last Generation a criminal organisation in regards to the alleged oil refinery sabotage near the Polish border.