Thomas Haldenwang, so far one of two vice-chiefs of the constitution protection, is to lead the secret service now as Interimschef.
Haldenwang has a different style to his predecessor Hans-Georg Maaßen and is more of an official who quietly practices his ministry and has no political ambitions.
The new will have to deal with, among other things, the important question of whether the intelligence service is to observe the AfD.
By Ronen Steinke, Berlin
Timing is everything. Anyone who takes over the management of an organization at a sensitive time can leave more traces in short periods of time than someone who works long hours in quiet times. The new president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Thomas Haldenwang, has been raised only as interim chief in office this Monday. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) gave the man, who was already one of two Vice Presidents of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution since 2013, only half his trust. He may just be a man for a short time. Seehofer would like to reserve a permanent solution, he would like to present a proposal to the Cabinet at a later date, he announced. But Haldenwang comes in a moment, as a course setting is pending.
Should the protection of the constitution observe the AfD? So should the security authorities brand the party, which now sits in the Bundestag and each of the 16 German state parliaments, as extremist, eavesdrop on and infiltrate secret services? This decision must be made in the coming weeks. There is a timetable for this, many states are already jostling, and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has to position itself. And that means: Haldenwang, 58 years old, the career official, who appears so conciliatory, with slightly bobbing shoulders and with Rhenish cunning, has some decisions to make that will last for a long time to come. Even though he may not stay long himself.
Seehofer sends Maaßen into the temporary retirement
This was stated by the Federal Minister of the Interior in Berlin. The former constitutional protection chief Maaßen was advised because of a farewell speech again in the criticism. Meanwhile, the AfD explains that Maaßen would suit her well.
He stands for clear political attitudes; they are essentially those measures. The parliamentary control committee of the Bundestag recently spoke out loud. The country was discussing racist violence in Chemnitz and elsewhere. But Haldenwang, who had come as a deputy to the constitutional protection chief Hans-Georg Maaßen in the secret conference committee, much preferred to talk about left-wing extremism. Haldenwang had brought a detailed report on the Hambach Forest, to the leftist demonstrators there. When the parliamentarians expressed their exasperation about how loud the constitutional protection call here alarm, while the intelligence chief Maassen at the same time apparently the right-wing violence in Chemnitz small talk, then Haldenwang was allegedly quiet. At least he sets himself apart from Maaßen in style. And in the secret service he should have told Maaßen internally at that time how little he thought of his public provocations. Big appearances in the Bild newspaper, blasphemies against the Chancellor: This contradicts Haldenwang's understanding of how an official has to behave.
Haldenwang is in the CDU, and he stands by it
Under Maaß's predecessor Heinz Fromm (SPD), the lawyer born in Wuppertal had come to the protection of the Constitution, under Maaßen he had been promoted there to the executive suite. He has represented his superior on foreign trips. He has also run the so-called operational business over the past few years, so he controlled the secret service procedures in everyday life, which was the prerogative of the other Maassen-Viz, Ernst Stehl. Unlike Maaßen, who strangely had always denied being a CDU member, and surprisingly outed in September in front of the Interior Committee of the Bundestag as party book owner, Haldenwang makes no Bohei around. Haldenwang is in the CDU, and he stands by it.
Humanly, Haldenwang is an alternative to his predecessor Hans-Georg Maaßen. Uncomplicated, unpretentious, that's what people who worked with him describe him – and many a compliment for the new boss is noticeably a little bit against the old one. Maaßen had set up with the federal states, Maassen wanted to have control of their 16 regional offices for constitutional protection. Haldenwang now receives praise from an important country, saying "he has always made it clear that he takes the concerns of the countries seriously and does not simply sail it over them". Haldenwang retains much more of his political opinions than Maaßen has done, which is certainly not difficult. But even from the opposition comes recognition: Haldenwang "is a factual official who does not misunderstand the office as a basis for their own political profiling," says the Green Bundestag and intelligence inspector Konstantin von Notz.
In terms of AfD Haldenwang has been kept covered. Internally, at least, he should have shown himself more open than his former boss Maassen – more open, therefore, to take the step towards an observation of the party. Maaßen had been very reserved.
Your opinion about Maaß's farewell speech
Federal Interior Minister Seehofer has sent Hans-Georg Maaßen to his temporary retirement. The dismissed intelligence chief was again advised because of a farewell speech in the criticism.