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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 7, 2020
SYDNEY — A movement by suspected right-wing extremists to try and create a "colony of like-minded" people in Cape Breton has been uncovered by Germany's largest weekly news magazine.
Martin Doerry, a reporter and former deputy editor of Der Spiegel, spent two months researching the story after receiving a tip from a German national who has been living in Cape Breton for 20 years.
The source told Doerry there is an increasing number of German-speaking right-wing extremists moving to Cape Breton. Doerry's research resulted in interviews with almost 30 people and brought him to three companies - Cape Breton Real Solutions, Wissensmanufaktur (Knowledge Manufacturer) and F.E. Property Sales - all owned by German nationals who are known for their right-wing extremist views.
Some of the people behind these organizations are Frank Eckhard, Andreas Popp and his partner Eva Herman, whom Doerry has found evidence of their right-wing extremist beliefs.
"Eva … is very well known (in Germany) because of her views (and because she was a popular newscaster.) I've never known a person who knows Andreas Popp. When I spoke ... to my colleagues about my story, nobody knew the name of Andreas Popp," Doerry explained during a phone interview with the Cape Breton Post on Friday.
"Andreas Popp, you could say, is a hero ... for certain people who are thinking the same way he is. It's a separate public world ... where he is well known but, as they would say, in mainstream media, he is not well known."
In 2007, Herman was fired from her job as a newscaster because of her right-wing views and for vocalizing support for the Nazi's family policy which included giving incentives to women who chose staying home to have children instead of having a career.
Through her YouTube and Telegram social media platforms, Herman talks about the COVID-19 pandemic being a hoax, warns about the invasion of Arab-African-Asian people and the "global vaccination alliance of Bill Gates and Angela Merkel."
Popp, who originally started selling properties in Cape Breton with Frank Eckhardt as an employee before they split and became competitors, has written books and hosts videos on YouTube discussing an alleged group of elite worldwide who control the global economy and often downplays the atrocities perpetrated against Jewish people during the Holocaust – a term Doerry's research found Popp doesn't use.
Frank Eckhardt writes on his website that he's created a "colony of like-minded people" and Doerry said his sources who dealt with him detailed how once purchasing the property his right-winged extreme views arise.
The RCMP has also investigated Eckhardt after he allegedly gave a client a storage disk full of Nazi material. This information was sent to Interpol Ottawa who in turn sent it to Interpol Wiesbaden, but no charges were laid as the crime didn't happen on German soil. Doerry said Echhardt doesn't hide his sympathy for those who deny post Second World War Germany's political infrastructure.
Through the Knowledge Manufacturer, which calls itself an "independent institute for economic research and social policy" which resists the mainstream and "political correctness", Herman and Popp host people for a week at a Cape Breton location. Sources Doerry spoke to who have attended these seminars, which happen four times a year, said within a few hours the sales pitch for properties in Cape Breton starts even though Popp claims the companies aren't affiliated.
Doerry's research found that Weissensmanufaktur (the Knowledge Manufacturer) uses videos on their website to market property sales in Cape Breton and during the week-long seminars, which cost 3,000 Euros ($4,600 CDN) to attend, Cape Breton Real Solutions staff take over all customer relations and don't leave participants alone to explore the island themselves.
There is also proof of staff working for both companies. Doerry found one woman named Edith Betschart, who is publicly listed as an employee of Cape Breton Real Solutions, also works for Weissensmanufaktur as she has responded to emails on behalf of the company.
Doerry believes most of the people who attend the Knowledge Manufacturer seminars and then buy property in Cape Breton have the same ideologies.
"If you attend the seminar, you listen to all this rubbish for a week, and you don't leave the seminar after a couple of hours, then you must be a part of this world. Otherwise, you would have left," Doerry said.
"This seminar is a kind of a brainwash. And if you buy a piece of land in Cape Breton or Nova Scotia after a week in the seminar with Andreas Popp, you must be a follower. I can't believe you buy something under these circumstances without believing the ideas of Mr. Popp."
Jürgen Gindner, CEO and founder of Cape Breton Real Solutions, provided the Post with a written statement in response to the Der Spiegel article and called it "disrespectful reporting."
In the statement, Gindner calls the allegations the Knowledge Manufacturer uses the seminars to sell property false. He said Popp introduces Cape Breton Real Solutions as a preferred land-developer and advises seminar participants to not buy during the week they are here.
"We got to know Eva Herman and Andreas Popp as reliable, serious and friendly people who have a conservative attitude to life, which preserves values and traditions," the statement reads.
"In no way do the two belong to a right-wing. They are also not involved in any party politics."
The statement goes on to call Herman and Popp "peace-loving, spiritual people" and said they have been informed by the Knowledge Manufacturer that lawyers have been retained in relation to the Der Spiegel article.
A request for an interview with Frank Eckhardt was not returned by publication time.