In the middle of Germany: The Anastasia cult: What makes the mixture of eco-esotericism and racial madness dangerous
In the middle of Germany, the Anastasia movement is trying to gain a foothold: a mixture of nature-loving esotericism and right-wing ideas. But who are the masterminds behind the Volkish ideology, and what makes it so dangerous?
If you get lost on the simply built website Familienlandsitz.com, you will be welcomed by a scenic idyll in wax-mark style. A rainbow beam of white spring clouds hits a small bast hut, around which a narrow stream winds. The picture spreads childlike cheerfulness, selection options such as “Energy of Life”, “Creation” and “New Civilization” complete the esoteric overall impression.
Which brings you to the core of the problem. Because the site is not run by a philanthropic guru, but by a man named Frank Willy Ludwig. A few clicks further, the harmless wax paint begins to quickly blur. Ludwig is considered to be one of the central figures of the controversial “Anastasia Movement”, which was investigated by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. It has been trying for a long time, especially in the north of Brandenburg, but also in other parts of Germany such as Bavaria and Thuringia.
The Anastasia movement is derived from a series of novels by the Russian author Vladimir Megre. Megre describes his fictional encounter with the fictional character Anastasia, describes her supernatural abilities such as clairvoyance and telepathy. “The supporters of the Anastasia movement believe that these skills are also in them if they follow the ideology,” explains extremism researcher Florian Hartleb to FOCUS Online.
“The ten volumes of Megres are a mixture of natural esotericism paired with folk-right ideas”, Hartleb describes the ideology of the Anastasia cult. “Jews are programmed bio-robots and would have brought the press in various countries under control,” he quotes excerpts of conspiracy myths from the novels. The pseudoscientific telegony, a radicalization of racial doctrine from the Nazi era, also has a prominent place in the Anastasia books. The same applies to social Darwinist and anti-democratic theses.
Anastasia cult: eco-esotericism mixes with right-wing ideas
Frank Ludwig translated the books Megres into German between the late 1990s and the early 2000s, which is one of the reasons why it enjoys cult status within the scene. On another of his websites he appears under the name “Urahnenerbe Germania”. Instead of bright cheerfulness, ethnic emblems in the form of swastikas and victory runas are displayed here. Ludwig only dissociates himself half-heartedly from his right attitude here, if at all. In fact, it literally refers to the former National Socialist “Research Association for German Ahnenerbe”, which was founded by Hitler’s SS chief Heinrich Himmler.
His “project”, he claims on his website, is, however, “more of a scientific and not of a political nature” and should therefore not be “confused” with the former NS organization. Meanwhile lie the “BR” Recordings that show Ludwig in 2017 at an Anastasia festival in Beichlingen in Thuringia, where he openly philosophizes about his crude racial fantasies.
But where do eco-esotericism and right-wing indoctrination mix with Anastasia? The principle of self-management and self-sufficiency is particularly important when exercising. With your own independence you want to stand against “dark forces” and arm the “omnipresent world conspiracy”, reports Hartleb.
The link between national love for nature and right-wing ideology is anything but new: “Even the NPD coined the saying ‘environmental protection is homeland protection’.”
“Goldenes Grabow” a meeting place for rights
Change of location. It is a two-hour drive from Liepe in eastern Brandenburg to Grabow in the west. Iris and Markus Krause live there. A little outside of the 680 soul village, the couple maintains the “Golden Grabow”. Behind the name hides a country estate with six families who lead their everyday life there independently in the sense of the Anastasia ideology.
Here, too, the website is flowery, advertising the idyllic life on your own plot and your own festivities. It is also said that anyone who wants to move here must first live on a trial basis.
But similar to the case of Frank Ludwig, the “Golden Grabow” hides brown ideas behind harmless closeness to nature. Like research of the “RBB” Markus Krause already appeared in 2006 and 2010 in Dresden at events of the right-wing extremist “Young Landsmannschaft Ostdeutschland” on. Pictures from then even show him next to the former NPD boss Udo Pasteurs.
The fact that the Krauses make no secret of their xenophobia was also revealed in 2015, when the refugee crisis in Germany reached its peak. In the large hall of the village pub in Grabow there was a citizens’ meeting at which Iris Krause warned the community of the dangers of male young immigrants, recalls a participant from then in relation to FOCUS Online. “Afterwards there were violent objections from the community,” the participant continues.
In fact, video recordings of the evening in question are circulating online. However, you can see how the pastor of the village is verbally harshly attacked by those present when he points out the “fascist background” of the lecture to the community. The mood in the village: apparently divided.
The Krauses even spoke of their own “village defense” that evening, “should politicians, officials and soldiers no longer want to serve”.
Apparently not the only incident in 2015. According to reports by right-wing extremism researcher and journalist Andrea Röpke, an event of the “Jugendbund Sturmvogel”, a split from the banned right-wing extremist “Wiking-Jugend”, took place on the grounds of the “Golden Grabow”.
At the same time, however, the village community mainly saw the esoteric facade of the Anastasia movement in Grabow. The participant of the village evening reports that he has been to a Krause event twice. He was invited personally.
At the Anastasia Festival 2015 with its 700 participants, there was nothing to be seen of right-wing ideologies. However, he was surprised at a lecture on the subject of school. “The public school system was strictly rejected there; instead, alternative school concepts were discussed,” he reports.
As the “RBB” reported a little more than two months ago, three school-age children from two of the Anastasia families in Grabow are currently not going to school. The authorities are alarmed.
Anastasia movement in Brandenburg: 84 hectares of land are owned
It is no coincidence that most of the 17 Anastasia settlements are in structurally weaker regions of Germany, says extremism expert Hartleb. It is the same in Grabow. There the movement would usually meet little resistance and could often spread almost undisturbed. The green esoteric paint offers additional protection and conceals the actual core of the movement.
The extent of this strategy is particularly evident in Grabow, where the population has been declining for years. According to information from the “RBB”, Iris and Markus Krause have acquired at least 84 hectares of land there since 2014. On their own website, the couple claims to finance the purchase through loans and private donations.
According to research by the “RBB”, Markus Krause’s role as a publicly appointed surveyor in the state of Brandenburg could also be “helpful” when awarding the land. Information about when and where a property is for sale can easily be obtained in this function.
When asked by FOCUS Online whether the state of Brandenburg knew about Krause’s connections to the right-wing scene, the Ministry of the Interior stated in writing: “Markus K. was heard about his connections to right-wing groups that were portrayed in the media.” The findings would be included in an ongoing evaluation of the “RBB” reports.
Meanwhile, the Anastasia meetings are apparently going on in the corona pandemic. Again “Tagesspiegel” reports, followers agreed to meet last Monday via the secret telegram group “Familienlandsitz & Siedlungsforum” for a winter solstice celebration on a farm near Putlitz in Prignitz, Brandenburg. The invitation to almost 3,000 chat subscribers was only sent at short notice on the weekend, writes the newspaper.
In the meantime, even the Brandenburg constitutional protection authorities have set their sights on Anastasia’s supporters. The Ministry of the Interior told FOCUS Online that the constitutional protection authority is currently intensively examining the extremist developments, particularly with a focus on right-wing extremist and anti-Semitic tendencies as well as references to the Reich citizen milieu. The settlement projects would also be examined in this context.