Recently there have been numerous attacks against politicians. Katharina Horn, the state chairwoman of the Green Party in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, sees the situation becoming massively worse. In January alone, the 26-year-old reported 80 cases.

Dresden, Rostock, Berlin – attacks on politicians are increasing. What is the situation like in your area in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania? Are you seeing a change?

Katharina Horn: Yes, quite massively. We’ve been back on the campaign trail for two weeks and it’s frightening. The inhibition threshold has definitely fallen. Fingers are pointed, subliminal threats are made…

… what does subliminal mean?

Horn: You’re right, that’s rather direct. “I know her face.” “Get the fuck out of our city.” Things like that happen. As an aside, it should be mentioned: This is also my city, this is our city, we live here together. “You stupid Greens, I won’t vote for you…” I’ve heard something like that before, but….

Wait, what does “earlier” mean to you as a 26-year-old?

Horn: For example, when I was state executive of the Green Youth from 2018 to 2021. Or even before that, when I was 18 and did a voluntary social year (FSJ) with the Green parliamentary group. In any case, what is happening now has a new quality. This is perhaps particularly true for Greifswald. Things have come to a head in local politics here.

What do you mean?

Horn: We had the first referendum on refugees. This has led to a very stark polarization. There were people who disrupted meetings and had to be taken out of the town hall by the police. Three or four years ago no one would have dared to call us “left-green neo-fascists”. That’s different now. What used to be anonymous threats are now on Facebook with real names. Or on Instagram. Or Twitter. YouTube and Telegram are particularly problematic. Wherever there are closed bubbles in the groups, hostility is particularly high.

And the situation is also getting worse in real life. At a special meeting to schedule the election of the deputy mayor at the end of January, for example. At the end of the meeting, the group I was talking about was there again. They were waiting for us as the green group in front of the town hall. One of the group, an 80-year-old, fell down the stairs in the crowd. People then claimed on social media that I had pushed him off the town hall steps. What happened next was really bad. “The crazy green bitch should go to work,” someone wrote. “The psychiatric institution is free,” read another comment.

What does that do to you?

Horn: I would be lying if I said that it leaves me completely cold. On the other hand, here and there there is a certain satisfaction when one of the attackers gets a fine again and has to pay, for example, 300 euros.

To them?

Horn: No, the state conducts the proceedings. If there is a court hearing or a penalty order is accepted, daily rates must be paid depending on income. I see this to a certain extent as a redistribution from right to left. Because even if that wasn’t the intention, the money will ultimately be used to support democracy projects. Projects for disadvantaged children, for example. In individual cases, the public prosecutor’s office decides on its use.

Will you be informed of the details?

Horn: No, I will only be informed when a case has been discontinued. Otherwise I would have to actively ask. Some time ago a journalist asked the public prosecutor’s office. In the case, a fine of 1,500 euros was imposed. I think that was a peak. Either way, I think it’s important to report every attack if possible. In February of this year alone I had to submit around 80 advertisements within three weeks.

With moderate success I assume.

Horn: How to take it. Some people suddenly write me long apologies when they receive a letter from the police or lawyer. “I’m having problems right now, that’s why I overreacted,” something like that. Another argument in favor of consistent reporting is that I actually hope that this approach will bring about a change in the long term. Overall, the law enforcement authorities are relatively poorly positioned. As far as I know, there are three people in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania who care intensively. Of course, they don’t automatically increase if there are more advertisements. But if these three people say at some point that we can’t do it anymore, that might – hopefully – put pressure on us. Therefore, I call on everyone not to simply accept the crimes.

Last year, 1,219 attacks on Green politicians were counted nationwide. AfD politicians were attacked 478 times, SPD politicians 420 times. The FDP follows with 299 attacks. Why is your party so far ahead?

Horn: Because we stand for exactly the opposite of what the AfD wants, I would say.


Horn: For confidence and for building bridges instead of clumsy agitation. For a clear stance with which we fight for a tolerant, cosmopolitan and forward-looking coexistence in our democracy. One reason for the increase in attacks is certainly the general brutalization of the political debate. Look, some time ago the CDU chairman’s house here in Greifswald was defaced. This stunned us, but we showed our solidarity. And do you know how the CDU parliamentary group leader reacted to us? “You don’t have my solidarity” – like that. Of course the AfD is clapping its hands. Something like this pushes boundaries and lowers inhibitions. In general, I see the AfD as having the most responsibility. In this specific case, the CDU is unfortunately in no way inferior to the right-wing extremist party.

The state chairman of the AfD in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Leif-Erik Holm, blames “an increasingly unobjective culture of debate” for the increasing attacks on politicians.

Horn: The AfD makes a significant contribution to this culture of debate!

However, when it comes to violent crimes against politicians, the AfD is in first place with 86 cases. The Greens follow in second place with 62 offenses. What do you say?

Horn: Violence must never be used as a means of political debate! It is right that the AfD is reporting this. Incidentally, there are other ways to represent the AfD. For example with a ban procedure. We live in a democracy and should use democratic means when dealing with right-wing parties. Above all, we should please realize that our democracy is in danger due to the current incidents. I have the impression that many people are not even aware of how politics works. Especially local politics. That these are people in voluntary work who often sacrifice their work time. It is people who make politics possible. If we consider this, it is clear what is behind the increasing attacks. The constitutional state must respond to this by all possible means!

You said earlier that you are not left indifferent by what is happening. Can you tell us how you react in this specific case? When it comes to insults, for example?

Horn: If people get in my way, I try to move on. This often eases the situation. If I’m insulted at the bakery in the morning, which happens regularly, I ignore it to a certain extent. That’s not criticism of the content, just hatred and anger. In the most serious cases – once a woman came up to me in a rage and screamed “I’ll slit your throat” – we call the police. And of course we react when certain limits are exceeded, both on the street and digitally.

In fact, the vast majority of attacks take place online. On Insta, by email or via the contact form on our website. As I said: If certain lines are exceeded, a message is displayed. Otherwise, de-escalation is best. Distraction, nice people, a good meal, a game night or scratching the cat – things like that help. And of course also that people keep thanking me. “Why are you doing this to yourself?” ask some who follow the committee meetings in the live stream.

What do you say then?

Horn: Because it’s important. You know, I’m a boat builder. I have just completed my master’s degree and am building a shipyard with three people. Part of me would like to be completely absorbed in this activity. But the other part says it’s important to be loud, to stand up, to object. Just giving people a voice. Just now.