- The leader of Germany’s largest anti-blockade movement “Querdenken-711” has asked supporters to stop protesting before the spring.
- Prior to Michael Ballweg’s announcement, German media reported that he shared profits from Querdenken goods and directed donations to the campaign to his personal bank account.
- Ballweg has never registered the organization as an association, company or foundation, and is exempt from issuing donation invoices.
- Querdenken 711 organized the largest anti-blockade protest in Europe and attracted the attention of the international media. Some experts believe that the protest was an infiltration of far-right extremists.
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The leaders of the German anti-blockade movement called on supporters to suspend the protests before spring. The decision coincides with news reports questioning the financial status of the group.
Michael Ballweg, the founder of the so-called Querdenken-711 or “Think Later” organization, stated in a telecommunications video message during the Christmas period that he would “stop large-scale Querdenken protests indefinitely”, adding that He suggested to Der Spiegel that the group’s branches do the same.
The software entrepreneur from Stuttgart is 46 years old this year, and he did not give an exact reason why the team took a break.
A few days ago, the German media announced the news. German media separately reported that Ballweg profited from Querdenken’s merchandise, charged people for showing up with Querdenken, and asked supporters to donate the movement’s bank account, even if it was his own.
‘Where are we going, where are we going’
In the past few months, Querdenken-711 has conducted a series of large-scale demonstrations against COVID-19 restrictions in Germany. On one occasion, protesters tried to rush into the German Reichstag-the German Reichstag.
After experts feared that the organization would be infiltrated by extremists and far-right radicals (including neo-Nazis), it was placed on the watch list of domestic intelligence agencies earlier this month.
One of Ballweg’s slogans in the group is: “Where do we go, where do we go”, this is a phrase directly proposed by the QAnon conspiracy theory.
According to the German broadcaster RBB, Ballvig refused to condemn racism and fascism in an interview, but instead described Quedenken as a “democratic movement” with no leadership open to anyone.
“Money went to Stuttgart”
Despite his previous comments, a recent survey conducted by Netzpolitik and ZDF Magazin Royale found that Ballweg has always been the center of the movement.
According to the report, Ballweg earns 6-12% of revenue from each sale of goods on the official website of the movement. The most expensive item on the website is the “Querdenken” jacket, which sells for 69,90 euros (approximately US$80).
When asked whether the local branch of the movement received part of the revenue from the website, a woman said: “We didn’t get any revenue from it. The money went to Stuttgart. We should do that.” , According to Netzpolitik and ZDF. Other local groups have similar reports.
Ballweg also asked supporters to donate to the campaign, but the bank account attached to the site is personal.
According to German tax laws, people can accept personal financial gifts up to 19,999 Euros (24,448 USD) in 10 years. Ballweg has never registered the organization as an association, company or foundation, and is therefore exempt from issuing invoices.
Ballweg also accused people of appearing on stage with him. The investigation found that this was the case with German television producer Thomas Hornauer, who allegedly paid up to 20,000 Euros (US$24,449) to the founder of Quedenken to meet with him.
Hornauer told Netzpolitik and ZDF: “In Germany, a lot of money must be spent to bring thousands of people together.”
The two also signed a contract granting Hornauer the right to use the images and recordings of Ballweg and “Querdenken-711”.
Insider has contacted Ballweg for comment, but did not reply to the letter in time for publication.
What is “Querdenken-711”?
Ballweg established the “Quedenken 711” organization in mid-2020 in response to Germany’s first lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
Its name is loosely translated as “think outside the box”, and the number 711 represents the telephone area code of Stuttgart, the city where Ballweg is located.
The famous anti-vaxxer and former President John F. Kennedy’s nephew Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spoke to Ballweg at one of the biggest gatherings in Berlin in August, and the movement even gained American support. stand by.
Earlier this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that the country would extend the national blockade that began in early December for one month.
Like other European countries, Germany has seen a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths throughout the winter.
According to Johns Hopkins University trackers, since the pandemic began, the country has reported more than 1.9 million COVID-19 cases and more than 40,000 deaths.