A protester holds a sign reading 'never again is now' in front of German parliament Bundestag, during a demonstration against the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in Berlin, Germany, 21 January 2024. EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER


German news outlet backtracks on story that sparked mass protests


German non-profit news group Correctiv has apparently backtracked on its report about a “conspiratorial” Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) meeting where a number of politicians and others allegedly discussed the deportation of two million migrants from Germany.

Correctiv‘s “revelation” of the seemingly clandestine gathering in November, picked up across national media, led to the eruption of mass protests all over the country over the weekend of January 19-21.

Anette Dowideit, the deputy editor-in-chief of Correctiv, said on January 28 that pivotal accusations regarding the issue did not occur as generally reported.

She said the event was not “secretive” as such and no participant ever referred to deportations or to the Wannsee Conference, the plan by high-ranking Nazi officials during the Second World War to deport and murder Jewish people.

Such terms were “an interpretation” by the wider media, Dowideit claimed.

According to her, it was other outlets that used the word “deportations”. Dowideit made the claim in a debate with journalist Sabine Rennefanz, who criticised politicians for calling the AfD “Nazis” and thus, according to her, trivialised “real” National Socialism.

“I think that was also a problem that some people had with Correctiv‘s reporting, that it was then placed right in the vicinity of the Wannsee Conference in 1942, where the mass killing of Jews was decided,” Rennefanz said.

Dowideit interrupted her. “But we didn’t write that, did we?” adding there had never been any talk of “deportation”.

That seemed to go against what appears on the Correctiv website, where in the English version of the introduction, the text reads: “Their agenda? Nothing less than the fine tuning of a plan for the forced deportations of millions of people currently living in Germany.”

It then states the meeting was attended by “two dozen of them, a mix of AfD members” and others.

Further down the page, anti-migration activist Martin Sellner’s plans are apparently compared with the Nazis’ plans in 1940 to “deport” four million Jews to Madagascar, under the subheading “A Nazi Utopia”.

It claims the gathering took place in a “countryside hotel near Potsdam”.

Collectiv adds: “Perhaps it is also a coincidence that the organisers chose this villa for their conspiratorial meeting: Less than eight kilometres away from the hotel is the house of the Wannsee Conference, where the Nazis co-ordinated the systematic extermination of the Jews.”

The report goes on: “It is unclear whether Sellner had this historical parallel in mind when devising his plan.”

It is claimed AfD and other political party members met with right-wing activists alongside Sellner, the former leader of the Identitarian Movement in Austria.

He said the group’s discussion was about “remigration” and insisted stories claiming “deportations” were talked about are not true.

Still, “remigration” is considered by most to be a term that relates to the forcible return of “migrants” to their countries of origin.

Sellner, who referred to the entire media issue as “a left-wing conspiracy theory”, claimed the event was more about considering “regime change”.

He has been banned by most social media platforms and Berlin has now imposed an entry block on the Austrian and he will be barred if he attempts to cross the border into Germany.

Sellner said that is against the law and claimed he is one of the few foreigners forbidden to enter Germany, unlike, he said, many criminals and terrorists.