Text on the key witness Johannes Domhöver in the Antifa East Trial – Ermittlungsausschuss Dresden, February 2023
Johannes Domhöver has spent twelve days testifying against his former comrades at the Dresden Higher Regional Court (OLG). The price he has to pay is a trial day before the Regional Court of Meinigen on February 27. On the occasion of this, this is our text about his testimony in Dresden.¹ We have been dealing with the Antifa Ost trial for over two years now. In the following we will go back over it again. First, we will give an overview of Johannes Domhöver’s statements. After that we will classify what he said. We will close the text with reflections on collective responsibility and patriarchal violence. Have fun!
Facts about Johannes:
– Height 1,96m
– Birth date 09.06.1992
– grew up in Franconia, lived in Nuremberg and Berlin. Spent time in Leipzig and lived in Warsaw
– worked as security at several clubs in Berlin and at the Fusion festival
– Appearance: siehe Fotos
The statement of Domhöver
Johannes Domhöver was approached by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfVS) in Warsaw in March 2022. In an initial conversation, it was opened to him that the BfVS would make him an offer in his current situation to refer him to the State Criminal Police Office of Saxony (LKA) as a witness. The decision to do so was made quickly: after two days, he met with the BfVS again and discussed further cooperation.²
The decisive factor for his cooperation with the state, according to Domhöver, was that he saw no way „back.“ Thus, Domhöver stated that the situation with the left-wing scene seemed to him to be absolutely muddled. He described the reasons for this as constant disagreements. In his interpretation, there were different views on a more or less trivial problem, which he would have discussed if only someone had talked to him. Since no one did, he would have seen no reason to approach the scene. Of course, this is nonsense, and we don’t buy it. He consistently ignores the causes of his situation in order to present himself as a victim. Neither the sexualized violence he perpetrated nor the attempts of a confrontation occur in his version of the story.
By the end of April 2022, the BfVS had met with Johannes Domhöver 6 times, and in the course of the talks they assessed his suitability as a state witness: how much knowledge did he have? Was he generally suitable for witness protection? Even as late as April, Domhöver was then terminated from his job at a kindergarten because of anonymous parental complaints. In his explanations, Domhöver said that the dismissal was the fault of those who had outed him. On the Internet, his name had now been linked to the accusations of rape. His reasoning does not add up for us. The sexual offence proceedings against him had already been dropped in March 2022³ so Domhöver could have defended himself against anonymous Internet accusations. Maybe the dear Polish kindergarten parents didn’t like a kindergarten teacher with an antifascist past? That plays no role in Domhöver’s statements. He knows who he wants to blame. Finished. By chance, the dismissal meets perfectly with the hearing by the BfVS. Oops. Stupid coincidence?
It needs little imagination to think of what the cops will present to their witness. Until the end of his testimony in front of the Dresden Higher Regional Court, he must have talked 7 times with the Saxony LKA about the „Antifa Ost“ case, 2 times with the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) about the § 129a case in Frankfurt am Main/ Leipzig⁴ and 6 times right at the beginning of his recruitment with the BfVS. In all statements, he did not answer all questions, because the answers to some of them would incriminate himself. According to the interrogator Daniel Mathe (Soko LinX, Saxony LKA), he wanted to discuss those with his lawyer first. No matter how, further statements from him will not be included in the proceedings at the Dresden Higher Regional Court. There, the search for evidence is as good as completed.
We are disappointed by Domhöver’s statements on the trial. We would have expected more from a key witness. He was able to name persons and describe processes for only one of the alleged criminal acts, „Eisenach 2“.⁵ He had to guess about all the other acts charged at the OLG. Well, this should not mislead over the fact that his statements could mean sentences of several years in prison for the defendants. In addition, there are more investigative proceedings to which Domhöver has provided new material apart from the „Antifa Ost“ proceedings.
Domhöver gave a comprehensive account of the „Eisenach 2“ crime complex as far as he could: he described how he had been approached for the action, with whom he had communicated about it in Berlin, and how the trip to Eisenach on the evening of December 14, 2019 had gone. He named persons as far as he knew them. His task on the spot is said to have been to spy on the neo-Nazi Leon Ringl⁶, who left his pub, the „Bulls Eye“, late at night and made his way home with his friends. When that was done, Domhöver drove off as planned, according to his statements, but quickly realized that something must have gone wrong with the action. In a chat conversation the next day, he said, he was then informed of the arrests that had been made that evening.
Domhöver stated that he had regularly attended training sessions in Leipzig, where attacks on political opponents were practiced in various scenarios. Two training sessions in larger groups had also taken place. However, he had never participated in attacks in the rehearsed variant and also had no knowledge of whether other participants had actually implemented them. Together with parts of the defendants at the OLG, he had participated in so-called „excursions“ for several years in different lineups. He had spied out the train journeys of neo-Nazis to demonstrations, so that they could later be attacked at train stations. In doing so, Domhöver heavily incriminated Lina in particular, as he assigned her a leading role in the planning and communication of the group, thus confirming the construct of the Attorney General’s Office (GBA) that she was a „ringleader.“ He said he had less contact with the other defendants and also got to know them much later. Nevertheless, Domhöver provides the GBA with the information about her criminal association that it has lacked for two years.⁷
Militant politics „…by Domhöver“
Domhöver’s whole appearance gave us the impression that there was someone sitting in front of us who was quite deeply involved in leftist contexts, but who knew little about „our“ contents and their consequences for our actions. Surely Domhöver has heard the ideas of the abolition of patriarchy/capitalism, maybe he even dealt with it theoretically, but he didn’t really understand it.
His remarks about what politics was for him show this quite well. He said: „Militant politics for me is the general term for political practice and their goals“. Ideological differences were of little importance for it. For Domhöver, militancy is apparently something that alone has a value or meaning in itself. According to his views, this means that he is not interested in anything that remains below hitting and breaking things.
He testified that he changed is mind in politcal practice, away from street rioting to clandestinely organized attacks on neo-Nazis. This change resulted of his arrest and later conviction during the riots at the opening of the European Central Bank (ECB). The personal risk of being caught was too high for him in the case of militant actions at demonstrations etc. Content considerations played no role in his rethinking. Political content didn’t matter to him when he was choosing his accomplices: whether a person was an anarchist or a communist, a feminist or an „Anti-German“ was not important. Perhaps, he says, he is not political enough for making such differences.
In action, everyone becomes a whole, a collective „we“ that can be constructed through militaristic confrontation with the cops. After he was cashed and sentenced by the cops in Frankfurt am Main, he had to look for new ways in order not to fall out of the militant circles. Not surprisingly, for a guy with an affinity for martial arts and his physique, the confrontation with neo-Nazis was obvious.
At least Domhöver seemed to be able to distinguish between sense and nonsense. Thus he also stated that it was quite important to him which Nazis should be attacked. According to his own statement, simply harassing any „Thor Steinar“ wearers (german neo-nazi clothing brand)
did not seem to him to be precise enough. This was the last glimmer of political content that escaped his mouth in court. However, even here he could not act as he would have liked, because there was still the probation from his sentence from the ECB riot open.
So Domhöver began to thoroughly familiarize himself with scouting (observing arrivals and departures at Nazi demonstrations, etc.). He did not want to risk a prison sentence under any circumstances, he even expressed fear of being sentenced during his hearing in in court. In discussions with others, he claims to have pointed out that the intended actions were by no means so safe. DNA, for example, might just be as easily transferable in fights as when you throw a stone. Therefore, he dealt with his safety in detail: how to travel by train from where to when in order not to be targeted, not to leave any cigarette butts anywhere, to always communicate only according to high standards, to shake off possible pursuers by making detours, and so on. In court, he even said, with some condescension, that others were less adept at clandestinity than he was. So, all in all, a reliable and trustworthy comrade?
For us, no. First of all, Domhöver made several devastating mistakes that led the cops to him without him having to talk to them about it. He got flashed by a radar control on his way to an action and immediately on his way back. His email inbox could be decrypted by the cops and who knows what other mistakes he made. Apart from that, we have more important objections to his behavior. First, militancy and clandestine organizing are not ends in themselves: nothing we do for its own sake. They are only the means imposed on us by neo-Nazis who declare hegemony on East German streets, cops who clear occupations, and bosses who don’t give up their means of production. If you don’t want to go to jail or to confrontations, you don’t have to do it. There are numerous and beautiful other forms to say „fuck you“ to the system surrounding us: from political theater to the cooking crew, sea rescue to education, trade union work and more.⁸ Who has decided for themselves that imprisonment due to political actions is not too tragic and therefore to enter, congratulations. But that doesn’t make the person one inch cooler or more important than those who participate in other organizing efforts.
This division between cool crimes and boring, „legalistic“ practice at Domhöver, is infantile as can be. Left-wing radical practice can’t just be about breaking windows. Given this approach, we are also not surprised that at a certain point Domhöver became disillusioned with the actions in which he participated. He probably had the impression that the actions had been much less effective than he had previously assumed. As if a few spanked neo-Nazis alone were the solution for right-wing politics in Germany. It is precisely the separation into one side and the other that ensures the isolation of militant and clandestine organizing, where they should actually come together with other forms of resistance. Instead, they take the wrong path of militaristic logic, which is only about inflicting even more blatant injuries and damage on the enemy.
Fear of jail
Domhöver seems to have been very afraid of jail and other repression. Whoever has decided for themselves that they do not want to end up in jail under any circumstances, has damn well nothing to do with contexts that force a corresponding policy. Repression is the „logical“ consequence and when it comes down to it, everyone involved has to be willing to stand up for it. It’s not about fantasizing about superheroes: of course, fear and insecurity always play a big role and nobody is immune to it. Or rather, especially those who think nothing can harm them, we prefer to meet with great caution. So we should deal with where fears exist and how we can face them together.
The mutual assurance that things will go on, even if the cops are successful for once; that actions will not loose their cause just because something goes wrong, is a better protection against repression than tedious, technical preparation. These kind of disccusions mean we care for one another, and they should play a major role in groups!⁹
On the other hand, we’re pretty sure that anyone who’s in, because it’s cool to put on a mask and hand out a few fists against the proclaimed enemy, runs a high risk of ending up where Domhöver is now: as a traitor in the witness protection program. So this has to be clarified beforehand: are people in because they are interested in the political confrontation? Do they all know why what is being done and with what goal? Or are those people in because they want to be „one of the cool ones“? To be clear: militancy is not about coolness, a criminal lifestyle or street credibility!
Logically, this consideration also means that certain other things are no longer possible. Maybe I don’t always have all my senses together under drug influence and talk too much. Then I have to stop doing drugs if I want to take action. Maybe I get too conspicuous for the cops in contexts that are very present in public. This could endanger other contexts they shouldn’t know about. These are the basic conditions of clandestinity. But, and this is our last point on this, this should never play out the way Domhöver described himself in court. He had largely eliminated the involvement with politics in his everyday life. But all the everyday stuff, from the kitchen sink to the office desk, is political. There is no place where we can leave out the struggle against oppression and exploitation. This is as essential as it is simple. Our struggle must always be directed at all of that. Just going out for action is not enough.
Living a bourgeois life during the day and seeking confrontation with the cops at night, much like Domhöver described his lifestyle, seems rather daring, to say the least. At this point the next separation in his statements shows up, this time not between militant and peaceful, but between political and private life. A seperation made as if the last 50 years of feminist politics were non-existent.
Answers to betrayal and sexualized violence?
The reactions to the news that Domhöver is now working with the cops were understandably hateful. Even we, who are stuck in the comfortable role of bystanders, were horrified by the idea that a longtime „comrade-in-arms“ could switch sides. After everything that was already clear – rape, threats, blackmail against his own comrades – his defection to the cops is only logical. As stated above, we think Domhöver is a spineless asshole. But we don’t want to make him out as an exceptional individual case.
There are enough comrades who are similar to as we have described Domhöver above: with a big mouth and little to nothing behind it. Comrades who imagine that their private stuff has nothing to do with politics. Comrades who talk to the cops.¹⁰ And comrades who commit sexualized violence. In this matter, Domhöver shows us once again that there are no scene standards that everyone just has to learn by heart in order to be better people. Instead, we have to go into the confrontation again and again, defend our principles, discuss and spread them.
We want groups, structures and individuals to take responsibility for the current total loss in the Antifa Ost procedure. In our perception, the procedure and everything around it, has produced an extreme amount of paralysis, resignation and little that is pleasant. It is up to the people who knew him and who made politics with Domhöver to face this responsibility. To stand up for your own mess should be an important aspect in life! We explicitly demand this from people who, in the Domhöver case, must reproach themselves for having defended, covered up and relativized his sexualized violence. We oppose Domhöver, who wanted to pull himself out of the shit individually by talking to the cops, with a collective organization. Ultimately, it’s about creating groups, structures and contexts that collectively oppose the whole shit without undercutting individuals.
It doesn’t help to just run around pointing fingers, but we have to work together to prevent the next outcall. We can only do this by changing our groups and structures in the long term. One characteristic of discussions about sexualized violence is that they are extremely short-lived. For a few weeks, sometimes even a few months, everyone revolves around the perpetrator(s) and outrages to the best of their knowledge. Again and again, the perpetrators are threatened with violence as revenge, as was the case with Domhöver. Then, once again, peace reigns in the graveyard. This sequence of events is not only due to the general attention span, but can also be analyzed as part of patriarchal defense. Those who profit from the patriarchal actual state, whether consciously or unconsciously, also have an interest in not changing too much.¹¹
To counter this short-termism, we need long-term engagement with patriarchal oppression, structures that can enforce that engagement, and proactive agreements to deal with sexualized violence. Not only when it is too late, but even before assaults happen, we should exchange ideas. Unfortunately, they happen every day. Understanding that would mean not siding with the „infallible,“ but developing a way to deal with the fact that most people – most cis men in particular – cross the boundaries of others and commit sexualized violence in the course of their lives.
Because most assaults come from cis men, the movement must also come from this direction. Victims and their supporters can accuse, demand, and distance themselves as much as they want, but they cannot end the patriarchal status quo unless the other side moves. A starting point for this could be the profeminist men’s movement that developed around the „Men’s Newsletter“¹² in the 1990s. So for cis men getting into action would mean taking on a little extra work….
- forming groups to confront their own masculinities
- leave space(s) to those who are permanently (negatively) affected by patriarchy
- push their own feminist education
- take other cis-men into responsibility and express confrontation and criticism
…to spare FLINTA* from more extra work.
Nevertheless, we as a group would like to see that the confrontation with patriarchy does not end with an ever smaller division along identity. We also need the spaces in which we all argue, discuss and become active together.
In surroundings, where there are no consolidated feminist groups, where there is no feminist understanding of social behaviour and no feminist critique of domination, cis-men, respectively assholes, can continue to pull off their patriarchal bunching.
This bunching behavior will be the reason for the next outcall.
The fight against patriarchy always means the fight against capitalism. A liberated society includes all people.
See also two other text we wrote and translated:
¹ Announcement of the court: https://gerichte.thueringen.de/media/tmmjv_gerichte/Oberlandesgericht/Aktuelles/Verhandlungstermine/Dokumente/pressemitteilungen_lgmgn_02-23.pdf Domhöver was sentenced to one and a half year in prison, suspended for four years probation.
² To believe Domhöver’s statement would mean believing in lies. Quite obviously, we should treat his testimony with suspicion. With this in mind, we report here what he testified in court and evaluate it for us. Obviously, there is another possible interpretation to each of his statements. In addition, of course, we can’t even classify how his current demeanor does or doesn’t match his past behavior, how he has evolved, and so on. For a detailed description of the statements of the key witness Domhöver and the complex of facts we refer to the reports 60 to 63 and 66 to 70 of the Solibündnis Antifa Ost.We unfortunately do not know yet when they will appear, but that they will.
³ In addition, the text „On the sexual offence proceedings against the key witness Johannes Domhöver“ https://de.indymedia.org/node/212459 (only German; The text gives some insight from the perspective of one person Domhöver did sexualized violence to. It states that the accusations against Domhöver where dropped in March and May 2022. It also gave the information, that a leftist lawyer was involved in this as he worked for Domhöver because of the accusations under § 129, forming a criminal group. This led to some discussions about what kinds of criminal cases leftist lawyers should take or not.)
⁴ On the § 129a proceedings FFM/Leipzig: https://www.129a.info
⁵ Cf. section „Eisenach II crime complex“ in the interim status report of the „Soli Antifa Ost“
https://www.soli-antifa-ost.org/zwischenstand-03-22/ (Only German; Eisenach is a city in Thuringia very much dominated by rightwing and fascist groups. On the 14th of December a group of antifascists entered a pub lead by the wellknown Neonazi Leon Ringl and attacked him and the guests. Afterwards some of them were detained by the Police.)
⁶ Info on Leon Ringl can be found here: https://www.soli-antifa-ost.org/neonazis/
(German only; As sad above Leon Ringl is an important figure in the Neonazi movement in Eastern Germany, organizing concerts, a regular training group for Martial Arts and getting involved with the Atomwaffen Divison from the US. He is in jail since 2022, accused for forming a criminal and supporting a terrorist group.)
⁷ Cf. press release of the defense on the start of the trial: https://www.soli-antifa-ost.org/pressemitteilung-der-verteidigung-der-angeklagten-im-antifa-ost-verfahren-zum-prozessauftakt-am-08-09-2021/ (German only; As the trial in Dresden began the prosecutor held little information about the accused groups structure which was perfectly symbolized by an empty folder in the files.)
⁸ Even trade unionists or sea rescuers go to jail for good reasons and in full awareness of what they are doing, of course. Civil rights in Germany still allow certain forms of organization in groups and trade unions. That can change, and then militancy and clandestine organizing will be the order of the day for everyone else. Therefore, it is up to all of us to deal with this consequence!
⁹ „Let’s take care of each other, so we can be dangerous together.“ – Call Day X Leipzig
https://knack.news/4616 (German only; The texts takes a stand to care for each other in political practices instead of having an untender relation and calls to action on the Day X after the end of the trial in Dresden.)
¹⁰ A few sad lessons from Switzerland: https://barrikade.info/article/4348 (German only; It is a text about a former comrade who testified about other comrades who therefore had to flee from the law. They are accused to set some military vehicles and an emergency radio station on fire.)
¹¹ Quite nicely this phenomenon is discussed here: https://soundcloud.com/black-mojito/keine-sicheren-raume-diskussion-about-blank and also https://www.mixcloud.com/MONAliesA_Leipzig/keine-sicheren-r%C3%A4ume-fight-law-and-order-und-wie-wehren-wir-uns-gegen-sexistische-gewalt/ (German only; Group discussion on sexual violence and how to take a stand against it.)
¹² The Männerrundbrief was a newspaper from autonomous, critical masculinity groups of the 1990s https://maennerrundbrief.noblogs.org/ (German only)