- Target Audience
- Violent extremistsFormersGeneral public
- key themes association
- Deradicalisation/disengagementViolent right-wing extremism
- Peer Reviewed practice
EXIT-Germany is an initiative to help anyone who wants to break with right-wing-extremism and to start a new life.
EXIT-Germany is an initiative assisting individuals, who want to leave the extreme right-wing movement and start a new life.
EXIT-Germany was founded by criminologist and former police detective Bernd Wagner and former neo-Nazi leader Ingo Hasselbach.
EXIT-Germany has been working since summer 2000 to provide assistance to dropouts from extreme and violent right-wing environments.
‘Operation Trojan T-Shirt’ evolved in cooperation with an advertisement agency in order to target the neo-Nazi scene directly. On August 6th 2011 t-shirts showing a skull with the text ‘Hardcore Rebels’ and a flag of the Free Forces (militant neo-Nazi groups copying left wing strategies and methods) were distributed for free at a rightwing rock festival (‘Rock for Germany’) in Gera, which was organized by the nationalist party NPD in Thuringia.
The surprise effect became visible after having washed the T-shirt once. Our message appeared: ‘What your T-shirt can do, you also can do – We help you to free yourself from rightwing extremism. EXIT-Germany’. The goal was to increase the awareness and popularity of EXIT-Germany in the scene and to particularly target the youths that have not yet firmly settled in the rightwing extremist scene.
We are very well aware of the fact that this project does not have an immediate effect, however after the operation the number of persons contacting EXIT and asking for help to leave the movement tripled. In addition, when thinking about leaving the scene, a right-wing extremist might remember us later on.
Our “Operation Trojan T-shirt” has been the most successful project in a range of Trojan flyers, postcards and podcasts distributed by EXIT.
The idea was to produce a T-shirt with a message that would appeal superficially to right-wing extremists, but that would later reveal a hidden message after its first wash.
The extremist, within the privacy of their own household and away from the oppressive peer presence of other right-wing extremists, would get to see a message encouraging them to seek help to exit the far-right scene.
Hundreds of free T-shirts handed out at a right-wing rock festival in the eastern German state of Thuringia contained a secret surprise. Upon washing, the original graphic faded to reveal a clandestine message.
- The number of right-wingers that contact the group for consultation about exiting the scene. With some funding coming from the federal government, the organisation needs to be transparent in the success rate and costs of re-radicalising neo-Nazis.
- High public awareness for EXIT and its activities using asymmetrical, disruptive tactics. Awareness outside the neo-Nazi scene is particularly important from a fundraising point of view – donations are what allows the organisation to carry out more activities.