Right-wing German political candidate attacked by knife-wielding man stealing campaign posters

 June 6, 2024

For the second time in a matter of days, a member of a right-wing political party in Germany has been injured in what appears to be a politically motivated knife attack.

On Tuesday, Alternative for Germany (AfD) council candidate Heinrich Koch, 62, was sliced on the ear and abdomen with a boxcutter knife wielded by a younger assailant after he was caught and confronted over defacing and stealing AfD campaign posters in Mannheim, Breitbart reported.

Just days earlier in the same city, an Afghan migrant launched a knife attack against several members of a right-wing, anti-Islamification party and caused fatal stabbing injuries to a police officer who intervened.

Police downplay overt political motivations

According to the German outlet Die Welt, Koch was at a central market Tuesday evening when he spotted a trio of vandals tearing down AfD campaign posters and attempted to chase them down and confront them, only to receive non-life-threatening cuts to his ear and abdomen that required stitches from a boxcutter or "carpet knife" wielded by one of the poster thieves.

The attacker was apprehended by police a short time later, who cited "clear indications of a mental illness during the arrest" as the reason for the assailant being taken to a psychiatric hospital instead of jail.

The police also downplayed the seemingly apparent political motivations of the knife-wielding man ripping down and defacing AfD campaign posters. They told the media, "According to the current state of investigation, there are no concrete indications that the suspect had recognized the attack that the victims are an AfD politician."

Attack on AfD candidate broadly condemned

German media outlet Bild reported that the AfD blamed the attack on Koch on "left-wing extremists" and party chairman Markus Frohnmaier said of a surge of targeted attacks against party candidates and members, "We are scared and dismayed."

Alice Weidel, an AfD co-leader, decried the assault in an X post as "a horrifying act that leaves one speechless" and wished the injured Koch a speedy recovery.

For what it is worth, the attack was also condemned by members of political parties opposed to AfD, including CDU member and Mannheim Mayor Christian Specht, who said, "This cowardly act is abominable and justifiable by nothing. Anyone who attacks election candidates questions our free, equal, general, immediate, and secret elections -- and thus the basis of our democracy."

That condemnation was echoed by Green party and Bundestag member Franziska Brantner, who said, "I have learned about the brutal attack on an AfD community candidate in Mannheim with horror. The escalation of violence against politicians from all parties that we have seen in recent weeks cannot be justified in any way."

Political violence on the rise in Germany, especially against AfD members

EuroNews reported that AfD spokesman Tino Chrupalla said in a statement following the attack on candidate Koch, "Our members and representatives are the most frequent victims of political violence and destruction. That cannot stop us."

There is some truth to that assertion, as Politico reported that AfD members were the victims of violent attacks at least 86 times last year, according to statistics, with the majority of the perpetrators of that violence being identified as leftist extremists.

By comparison, members of the left-wing Greens, the second-most targeted political party, were violently attacked at least 62 times last year, though no information was provided on the ideology of their assailants.

According to Reuters, politically motivated violence and physical attacks against politicians and party members have more than doubled in Germany since 2019. The outlet noted that the right-wing AfD is expected to perform well in upcoming local and European elections, which likely explains why its members have been increasingly targeted in violent acts.

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