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Migration and Home Affairs
Target Audience
key themes association
Deradicalisation/disengagementViolent right-wing extremism
Peer Reviewed practice


ZDK Society Democratic Culture

ZDK Society Democratic Culture champions the fundamental values of freedom and dignity throughout Germany. Our initiatives serve to prevent and raise awareness of violence and extremism.

We challenge terrorist and radical ideological movements like right-wing extremism and Islamism that counter fundamental freedoms and human rights. Our mission is the idea of a functioning liberal, democratic, humane, and inclusive democracy.

The ZDK Society Democratic Culture was founded in 2003, developing from the Centre for Democratic Culture (ZDK) that was founded in Berlin in 1997. The society is led by graduate criminologist Dr Bernd Wagner.

Type of Organisation: NGO

Project description

EXIT-Germany is an initiative assisting individuals, who want to leave the extreme right-wing movement and start a new life. Being the first to start such an endeavour in Germany, EXIT-Germany constitutes one of the most experienced and successful programmes in deradicalisation and exit-assistance in the world.

EXIT-Germany has been continuously working to help individuals from all backgrounds, but mainly from highly radicalised milieus (group leaders, terrorists, party leaders) to leave the movement and to develop methods and programmes in the field.

EXIT-Germany helps individuals who want to leave the right-wing radical milieu to develop new perspectives outside the right-wing environment. We arrange contacts, provide practical aid and answer questions regarding personal safety, social problems and individual reappraisal.

The essential core of EXIT-Germany’s philosophy is that the critical reassessment of the person’s past and the dismantling of the radical ideology are absolutely necessary to leave a radical milieu. EXIT-Germany does not actively search for dropouts since the initiative to leave the scene comes from individuals themselves. Anyone can contact us via phone, email, text message and/or mail.

An ‘exit’ is considered completed by us when a critical reflection, reassessment as well as successful challenge of the old ideology have taken place. Thus, ‘exit’ to us means more than simply leaving a party or group. It also goes beyond changing the aesthetics of expression or refraining from violence. An exit is successful when the fundamental ideologies and purposes of the previous actions have been resolved.

EXIT-Germany also counsels families affected by right-wing extremism and analyses critical situations. We create new scenarios to make opportunities available and counter helplessness and anxieties.

Likewise we help to disentangle family members from the scene. We establish contacts to former right-wing extremists and accompany the process to motivate right-wing adolescents in avoiding or leaving the movement. We counsel teachers, police officers, institutions, individuals and anyone who is in need of advice.

We also counsel institutions, communities, governments and individuals in setting up de-radicalisation and disengagement programmes and strategies. We’ve worked – nationally and internationally – with smaller municipalities like the county Dahme-Spreewald as well as large cities such as Dortmund. The counselling ranges from individual assessments to formulation and execution of strategies and projects.


EXIT-Germany relies on innovative communication strategies to reach its target group, and constantly designs new campaigns, such as the Trojan T-Shirtor the 'Nazis against Nazis' walkathon or Ausstieg – (K)ein Weg zurück.

In addition to numerous flyers, booklets, videos, and academic articles we also are involved in expert hearings, policy recommendations and educational work. For more information, please visit

Exhibition: Under the skin – Former neo-Nazis and their symbols. For more than two years, photographer Jakob Ganslmeier accompanied the work of EXIT-Germany as well as the formers in their drop-out process. The project is a combination of photographs and interviews designed to make the process of profound change visible. He photographed and documented the visible drop-out process, conducted interviews with formers and employees of EXIT-Germany, attended tattoo removals or cover-ups.

Journal EXIT-Deutschland

The journal EXIT-Deutschland (JEX) is a regularly published journal in the German-speaking area for scientific interdisciplinary exchange with practice on deradicalisation, extremism and democratic culture with scientific claim.

Contributions to the topics: Standards and Risk Management.

  • B. Wagner (2020): “Ich will raus” – Deradikalisierung und Ausstiegsarbeit mit Rechtsextremisten. In: Dierk Borstel und Kemal Bozay (Hg.): Kultur der Anerkennung statt Menschenfeindlichkeit. Antworten für die pädagogische und politische Praxis. Weinheim, Basel: Beltz Juventa, S. 269–308.
  • B. Wagner, U. Krause, F. Wichmann, F. Benneckenstein (2020) Jubiläumsheft 20 Jahre EXIT-Deutschland. ZDK Gesellschaft Demokratische Kultur gGmbH, Berlin. Jubiläumsheft_20Jahre EXIT-Deutschland.pdf
  • B. Wagner (2020) Die Botschaft: Ehemalige Rechtsextreme in der schulischen Bildung – Eine Erfahrungsskizze. In: Frühere Extremisten in der schulischen Präventionsarbeit. Perspektiven aus Wissenschaft und Praxis. Bonn. Online abrufbar unter
  • B. Wagner (2020): Rechtsradikalismus in der Spät-DDR. In: Uwe Backes und Steffen Kailitz (Hg.): Sachsen – Eine Hochburg des Rechtsextremismus? 1. Auflage. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht (Schriften des Hannah-Arendt-Instituts für Totalitarismusforschung, Band 066), S. 21–43.
  • B. Wagner, T. Fischer (2019) Risiko Radikalität. Bewerten im Beratungsalltag. Handreichung für soziale und psychologische Berufe. Edition Widerschein, Schriftenreihe Zentrum Demokratische Kultur, Berlin. Mehr erfahren
  • U. Krause; F. Wichmann (2019) Kein EXIT ohne EXIT – Ausgestiegene über EXIT-Deutschland. Begleitpublikation zum EXIT Salon “Radikal anders”. ZDK Gesellschaft Demokratische Kultur gGmbH, Berlin. Download PDF
  • M. Logvinov (2019) Risikoeinschätzung Radikalisierter und Risikomanagement in der Fallarbeit Prognoseinstrumente und ihre Relevanz aus praktischer Sicht. Schriftenreihe Zentrum Demokratische Kultur, Edition Widerschein, Berlin. Mehr erfahren
  • M. Logvinov; T. Fischer (2019) Risiko- und Gefahrenbewertung im Umgang mit politisch-ideologisch-religiös radikalen Personen. Edition Widerschein, Schriftenreihe Zentrum Demokratische Kultur, Berlin. Mehr erfahren
  • B. Wagner; F. Wichmann (2019) EXIT-Deutschland/HAYAT-Deutschland – Ausgangspunkte, Prinzipien und Richtpunkte der Aktivitäten von aus extremistischen Kontexten Ausgestiegener in der Counter- und Formaten der Bildungsarbeit. EXIT-Deutschland 2019 (aktualisierte Fassung Oktober 2019). Bildungsarbeit Ausgestiegener in der Counter- und Formaten der Bildungsarbeit .pdf
  • F. Benneckenstein, M. Scheffler, S. Rochow, F. Wichmann (2018) Wenn aus Vorurteilen Urteile werden und Urteilen Konsequenzen folgen. Perspektiven auf den Ausstieg. In: Ausstiege aus dem Extremismus im Prisma diverser Perspektiven. Journal EXIT-Deutschland, Berlin. Online abrufbar
  • F. Wichmann; F. Benneckenstein (2017) Einmal Nazi, immer Nazi? Arbeit und Erfahrungen von EXIT-Deutschland in der Ausstiegsbegleitung In: Nie wieder. Schon wieder. Immer noch. Rechtsextremismus in Deutschland seit 1945, Katalog zur Ausstellung 29.11.2017–02.04.2018, Herausgegeben von Winfried Nerdinger in Zusammenarbeit mit Mirjana Grdanjski und Ulla-Britta Vollhardt, Metropol Verlag, Berlin.
  • Wagner, Bernd (2014) Rechtsradikalismus in der Spät-DDR Zur militant-nazistischen Radikalisierung in der DDR-Gesellschaft (Dissertation). Edition Widerschein, Berlin.
  • Wagner, Wichmann, Krause (2014) AUSSTIEGSBLÄTTER – Hinweise zum Ausstieg mit EXIT-Deutschland Hg. ZDK Gesellschaft Demokratische Kultur gGmbH, Berlin.

B. Wagner; RECHTSRADIKALISMUS Junge Rechtsradikale im Strafverfahren Auflagen und Weisungen – Möglichkeiten und Grenzen in der Deradikalisierung Hg. ZDK Gesellschaft Demokratische Kultur gGmbH, Berlin 2014.

Bernd Wagner (2015): Right-wing radicalism – Young right-wing radicals in criminal proceedings – Possibilities and limitations of de-radicalisation. Berlin. Edition widerschein.

We are happy to share our experience - for example in reports on dropouts. Here we have a collection of videos on this topic that might be interesting. Counteraction-to-manifestations-of-neo-Nazism
Preventing Terrorism and Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism: A Community-Policing Approach. Published by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Vienna, February 2014. OSCE 2014

Contact details


ZDK Gesellschaft Demokratische Kultur gGmbH
10249 Berlin,

Contact person: Fabian Wichmann
Telephone: (+49) (0) 17 724 04 806
Email | Website

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26 MAY 2021
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