On April 23rd, suspected left-wing extremists organized attacks on Thor Steinar clothing stores in six German cities. The presumed motive the attacks is that the brand is popular with right-wing extremists. In several cases, there was damage to property—and in one of the attacks, a saleswoman was brutally beaten.
The apparently coordinated offensive hit stores in Erfurt, Magdeburg, Schwerin, Halle, Dresden, and Berlin. The most violent was the attack on the Erfurt store, in which a 32-year-old saleswoman was overpowered from behind by a masked perpetrator during what she assumed was a sales talk with a woman in the group. Meanwhile, two other masked individuals sprayed the store with tar paint. The woman who served as a decoy was also masked and beat the sales clerk with a baton. Before leaving the store, one of the perpetrators sprayed the saleswoman in the face, presumably with pepper spray. The 32-year-old mother was treated in hospital as a result. She told Junge Freiheit about her ordeal:
I did not feel the pain, but only the contempt and brutality that they displayed. I didn’t notice any sounds, I didn’t hear a word, for me the room was empty, completely empty. At some point I just thought, okay, you have a child, you have to survive this.
The other raids were less physically violent. In Magdeburg, four perpetrators forced their way into a store and sprayed butyric acid (a non-toxic eye, nose, and throat irritant) in the store, contaminating a saleswoman in the process. In Schwerin, a man forced his way into the store and sprayed butyric acid inside and tar paint outside. In Halle, two suspected perpetrators failed to break through a locked door, while in Berlin and Dresden there were ultimately no attacks, but sales clerks reported seeing suspicious people observing the stores.
The fact that the coordinated action was against Thor Steinar stores suggests that it was an attack from the left-wing extremist arena. In an interview with Junge Freiheit, the stores’ manager spoke of a “new dimension of violence,” while rejecting any affiliation with right-wing extremism.
Despite the deployment of helicopters and dog squads, however, the perpetrators managed to escape in all cases. Police in Erfurt and Magdeburg made the incidents public via press release; elsewhere, police only confirmed that incidents had occurred when asked specifically.
Georg Pazdeski from the Berlin AfD reacted on Twitter, writing “Left-wing extremists attack a shop in Erfurt and brutally beat up a woman because the “Thor Steinar” shop sells clothing. Left-wing extremism threatens our democracy, when will #Faeser finally understand that?” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has made “going after right-wing extremism” her priority in office.
Germany’s far-left scene has been radicalizing for years. Last summer, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution warned that “serious bodily harm to victims, including possible death, is being condoned” among left-wing extremists. The State Protection Service has taken over the investigation of the recent attacks.