A few days ago it was widely reported that a right-wing group in Canada wanted to build a German colony of like-minded people. The people in the region are horrified. They fear for their reputation.
By Antje Passenheim, ARD studio New York
There is a lot of nature. There is good salmon. There are 14 inhabitants per square kilometer. And now there is great concern on Cape Breton, says local journalist Joan Baxter. “People are really panicking,” she says. A “Spiegel” report on the machinations of dubious immigrants shocked Canadians and Germans in this Atlantic corner of the province of Nova Scotia. Baxter translated it for the “Halifax Examiner”.
She felt the same way as most: “I knew absolutely nothing about the fact that there are Germans with right-wing minds here who buy and sell the properties.” But little by little, residents can confirm that something strange was going on on the seminar site of the so-called “knowledge factory”.
Akademie founder speaks of “states of war” in Germany
The right-wing academy was founded by doom prophet Andreas Popp and his partner Eva Herman. The former spokeswoman for the Tagesschau has drifted into the right milieu. Together they spread their worldviews via a video channel. “We all suffer from this hybrid warfare that we have to experience at the moment,” says Popp. “We are almost at war.”
Several times a year, they invite you to seminars in their so-called refuge in Cape Breton. Renate Sedlmeier also heard about it. She is a licensed immigration consultant for the German-Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Toronto. A person who took part told her that “it is all a bit strange that everything is dubious”.
The message was conveyed: it was time to leave Germany, where everything was only going to get worse. How bad, Popp explains on his channel: “We have a blackout to be expected. We are currently being invaded by the Arab side.” Herman adds: “And that’s not just Arabic, it’s an Arab-African-Asian invasion.”
Ideological influence included
The trips are booked with seminars and accommodation – and all-round support. Sedlmeier repeatedly hears from participants that it feels “like a coffee trip” – a coffee trip where people talk about property purchases and immigration. The sellers are included, right ideas included.
The properties are mercilessly overpriced, says journalist Baxter. “I can track what these people’s properties are worth. And I hear they sell the country at horrendous, inflated prices to those poor, naive Germans – I say victims – who dream of emigrating to Canada.”
Strict immigration rules in Canada
Add to that the false promise that immigrating to Canada is easy. Expert Sedlmeier had to bring some disappointments down to earth. “Everyone has to abide by the visa and immigration requirements. If the applicant doesn’t qualify, he won’t come in.”
It is unclear how many newcomers the group around Herman and Popp has already recruited. The Cape Breton natural paradise has always attracted many Germans. The climate is mild and dry, property taxes are low. With the plane you are in seven hours from Frankfurt in Halifax.
The resident Canadians have always wanted to integrate German immigrants, says Baxter. “This is highly emotional. My German neighbors and friends fear that their reputation will suffer as a result of all of this. And Cape Breton fears for its reputation as a wonderful place to live there.”
Deny Herman and Popp
Everyone now hoped that the authorities on both sides would do what they could to investigate. However, Herman and Popp denied the allegations. In a letter on their website, they threatened to take legal action. They also sent the letter to the “Halifax Examiner”. But he held out – and did not delete the article from his side. The travel business and the seminars of the “knowledge factory” at least paralyzed the corona pandemic.