A German detective hired to protect the life of a high-profile Jewish figure has been demoted to a police officer for sending multiple antisemitic and pro-Nazi messages.
Growing threats from the far-right in Germany mean that Charlotte Knobloch, 90, president of the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria and former chair of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, has often needed two bodyguards when attending events.
But one man hired to protect her in recent years, Munich detective, Michael R, whose name is protected under Germany’s privacy laws, sent antisemitic messages on an internal police WhatsApp group with seven other officers.
Last week, a judge at the Munich Administrative Court ordered his demotion, but the Munich Police Headquarters said it wants to remove the officer from service entirely.
“Trust has been irrevocably destroyed,” it said.
When he was her bodyguard, Michael R, 43, would sign off his messages “Sieg Heil!”, and once said he would prefer to meet his boss at Dachau, not Auschwitz or Flossenbürg, as it meant he would be home sooner.
He also sent a message to his police colleagues saying: “I sh*t in front of her door, nice and brown, with flags.”
In another text, he wrote that thanks to corona “we could open up a concentration camp again”.
And in a series of voice messages, the man, who has also been a bodyguard for footballers Jerome Boateng and Stefan Effenberg, also imitated Adolf Hitler.
His lawyer Michael Gimpel said he had been looking for a “verbal outlet”from his work, and denied that he was antisemitic.
In a statement from the Jewish Community in Upper Bavaria and Munich where she has served since 1985, Knobloch said: “ I was horrified to learn of the accusations against a former bodyguard who apparently made antisemitic and hateful remarks in conversations with co-workers as well as giving dubious testimony about his time in my security detail while in court.”
“Even though this particular assignment happened some time ago, news of his transgression has affected me on a very personal level, as it pertains not only to my own safety, but to my relationship with the police as a whole.”
“In a democracy, the police can do their work because the citizens place their trust in them. In my youth, Jews would associate police uniforms not with safety but, on the contrary, with mortal danger.”
However, she also said that while her trust had been misplaced in this instance, it had not altered her relationship with the officers who protect her today.
“I know and appreciate what they continue to do for me. They are judged by their own work, not by the deeds of a co-worker with an irreparably broken moral compass.”
She added that she was grateful to the Munich police for “its decisive response to the misconduct displayed by the officer in question, and I remain hopeful that the police’s internal control mechanisms will continue to prove effective in the future. Only by securing these high standards can police effectively preserve trust – instead of destroying it.”
Knobloch, a former vice-president of the World Jewish Congress, was made an honorary citizen of Munich in 2005 for her contribution to Jewish life in the city. And in 2014, she was the first-ever recipient of the Distinguished Service Award by the Obermayer German-Jewish History Awards.
But she has also experienced public denigration in Germany.
In an open letter to the Mindener Tageblatt newspaper, in July 2009, Holocaust denier Ursula Haverbeck wrote “she should not interfere in German domestic affairs”.
“You do not have to live in Germany - in this evil land, where, as you say, six million of you were gassed.”
“Prepare yourself for the day of truth. It is near and unstoppable.”