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Germany Cracks Down on ‘Last Generation’ Climate Activists in Nationwide Raids

by Martina Igini Europe May 25th 20233 mins
Germany Cracks Down on ‘Last Generation’ Climate Activists in Nationwide Raids

Members of national student-led climate research group Last Generation are accused of supporting a criminal organisation and raising funds to finance further criminal acts, following repeated roadblocks and other disruptions aimed at raising awareness about global warming.

German authorities officers raided 15 properties linked to the Last Generation (German: Letzte Generation) climate activist group, notorious for major roadblocks and other forms of public disruptions to raise awareness about global warming, as part of an investigation into some climate campaigners, though no arrests have been made.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Bavarian prosecutors revealed that they are investigating seven group members for allegedly forming or supporting a criminal organisation and raising about €1.4 million (US$1.5 million) to finance further criminal acts. Two members are also accused of attempting to sabotage the Transalpine oil pipeline in April 2022, a “critical infrastructure” that runs across the Alps, from Italy’s Trieste to the city of Ingolstadt in Bavaria.

extinction rebellion road blockade germany

Traffic disruption tactics have been on the rise in Europe. In 2022 alone, Last Generation performed 276 road blockades across Germany. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Aimee van Baalen, a spokesperson for Last Generation, told reporters in Berlin that the police raids had hit the group and its supporters hard, but that it wouldn’t give up on its activities. 

“The German government is right now driving us toward climate hell with its eyes wide open. It is even stepping on the gas pedal,” she said. “We must continue to resist now, because we need to loudly demand that lives be protected.”

Founded by participants of a major hunger strike and public disruption that took place in the summer of 2021 in Berlin, Last Generation is a group of climate activists active in Germany, Italy, and Austria and known for its civil disobedience methods, such as road blockades – with protesters gluing themselves to roads or runways – and art desecration. The group is behind several attacks on museums, such as last year’s stunt directed at Van Gogh’s “The Sower” painting on display in Italy’s capital Rome and at Monet’s “Meules” in Potsdam, Germany.

The group’s protest methods have been controversial since the start, often drawing strong criticism and generating public outrage. 

According to the statement, the raids – which involved around 175 police officers across seven states – are connected to multiple complaints filed by members of the public since the middle of last year. They come days after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described some climate protests as “completely nutty,” adding that he did not believe anybody’s opinion on climate change could be somewhat changed through public disruptions, which instead made people angry.

Public disruption acts have been on the rise in recent years among climate activists. In January, Extinction Rebellion, a notorious climate protest group known for civil disobedience actions such as occupying roads and bridges in central London and blocking oil refineries, announced that it would “temporarily” move away from disruptive tactics and instead “prioritise attendance over arrest and over roadblocks.”

Featured image: Wikimedia Commons.

You might also like: How Young Climate Activists Are Making Their Voices Heard

About the Author

Martina Igini

Martina is the Managing Editor at Earth.Org. She holds two BA degrees, in Translation/Interpreting Studies and Journalism, and a MA in International Development from the University of Vienna. After working at the United Nations Global Communication Department in Vienna, she joined a newspaper in Italy as a reporter before moving to Hong Kong in 2020. Her interests include sustainability and the role of public policy in environmental protection with a focus on developing countries.

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