Against the Criminalization of Communists

[This article was written and translated from its original German by our Comrade Klaus Markstein. While it is mostly relevant to our comrades and allies in Germany, it still highlights some of the dangers communists must face within the legal systems of the entire imperialist core.]

“When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews, I remained silent;
I was not a Jew.
When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.”

– Martin Niemöller

On August 3rd, 2021, a court case took place in Meiningen which was of major significance to all progressive-minded people in Germany. Former chairman of the MLPD (Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany), Stefan Engel, filed a lawsuit against his classification as a terrorist suspect. What does it mean to be a “terrorist suspect”? First we must look at the background of the case.


In 2018, Stefan Engel was one of many patrons of the “3. Rebellisches Musikfestival” (“3. Rebellious Music Festival”), at which anti-fascist and progressive artists performed. Among those invited was also the Turkish band, Grup Yorum. It has connections to revolutionary Turkish movements which are banned in Germany. The band itself is not a banned organization. Still, the local police used this band’s invitation to justify sending a letter to Engel, announcing that they would take measures against anyone participating in the festival in order to prevent support of terrorism. The court later determined that, with this letter, Engel had been categorized as “terrorist suspect.” Even after the performance ban of Grup Yorum had been nullified by the administrative court of Meiningen, Engel’s “terrorist suspect” categorization remained for the next three years.

Such a classification carries far-reaching consequences. In the case of Stefan Engel, his bank accounts have been frozen and he was put on the wanted list on behalf of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. What is strange is that Engel is the only patron of the Rebellious Music Festival who had been classified as terrorist suspect (for example, also among the patrons was the famous German rapper Max Herre).

Court Decision
The administrative court of Meiningen eventually decided on the 3rd of August that Engel’s classification as a terrorist suspect was completely unjustified. It didn’t meet the legal basis at all. Engel had never committed a crime and at no point in time had there been any security risk.

The court proceedings were accompanied by a solidarity rally and a demonstration throughout the city of Meiningen. About 200 people from various progressive organizations had arrived in order to show their support. Everybody knew that this was not only about a single person. This court decision determines whether or not progressive people in Germany can be arbitrarily deprived of their rights.

The decision in favor of Stefan Engel is thus significant. The revolutionary movement in Germany may breathe a brief sigh of relief, but under no circumstances may it rest on this decision alone. Many questions remain unanswered; for example, how deeply were members of the federal and the state government involved in these events? Or, was there a greater political plan behind all of this?

Despite the looming questions on this case, the LLCO still warmly congratulates the MLPD and all their supporters on this success!

Original source: http://deutsch.llco.org/gegen-die-kriminalisierung-von-kommunisten/ (LLCO – German)

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