- Start Date: 2000
EXIT-Deutschland was founded in 2000 by the criminologist and former police detective Bernd Wagner and the former neo-Nazi leader Ingo Hasselbach. It is an initiative of the ZDK Gesellschaft Demokratische Kultur gGmbH. Since the beginning the project EXIT-Deutschland has been offering help for self-help for victims of the right-wing scene who want to leave the movement and to start a new life.
EXIT Germany helps those who have dropped out of the scene to develop new perspectives outside of the extremist right-wing lifestyle and behaviours they may have adopted previously. EXIT provides contacts and practical assistance as well as addresses questions of security, social issues and self-help strategies. The programme also points out what is not possible and does not offer economic and social protection nor does it protect against judicial prosecution.
As a practice-oriented project EXIT-Deutschland
• analyses the phenomenon of right-wing extremism,
• offers solutions for Deradicalisation,
• advises other related projects and institutions,
• helps committed people and families who are affected by right-wing extremism.
Other democratic programmes initiated by ZDK Gesellschaft Demokratische Kultur gGmbH are:
• HAYAT-Deutschland www.hayat-deutschland.de/
• Rechts gegen Rechts www.rechtsgegenrechts.de/
• DNE-Deutschland www.dne-deutschland.de/
• Hass Hilft www.hasshilft.de/
• Aktionskreis EXIT www.ak-exit.de/
The EXIT-Germany Brochure (2014: p. 3-5) outlines the objectives of the programme as follows:
• to help individuals who want to leave the right-wing radical milieu in developing new perspectives, alternative world views and outlooks outside the right-wing environment;
to support dropouts in the critical reassessment of their past and the dismantling of the radical ideology;
• “to provide security and safety to the dropout (e.g. moving nationally/internationally, changing identity or receiving police protection), especially as most of the clients come from long term involvement and high positions within the hierarchy”;
• to arrange contacts, provide practical support and answer questions regarding personal safety, social problems and individual reappraisal;
• to establish the principles of equality and mutual respect, which are the declared cornerstones of the work of the initiative;
• to provide the public with information about right-wing extremism, either in form of workshops at schools or other institutions, papers at conferences, or answering calls or letters with questions regarding right-wing extremism or leaving this scene.
The long-term goal of the initiative is to help for self-help former individuals from the right-wing scene who want to leave the movement and to start a new life.
EXIT-Germany aims to counter right-wing extremism and hate crime by assisting former sympathisers of the scene (group leaders, terrorists, party leaders) in breaking with their radical ideology and past.
The exit programme offers to their client’s alternatives for a life outside the box of the extremist milieu. Since the programme focuses on individuals with a radical right-wing background it gains the potential of transferability to any region and country affected by right-wing extremism and antidemocratic ideologies.
EXIT-Germany represents the first project in Germany combating radicalization with exit-strategies. Nowadays the initiative
“constitutes one of the most experienced and successful programs in de-radicalisation and exit-assistance in the world, looking back to the first de-radicalization experiences by its founder Bernd Wagner starting in 1989.”
The project is continuously evaluated by criteria of effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability, impact etc. This is given by the fact that
“the success of EXIT-Germany has been acknowledged by several institutions and authorities, most recently the German Government and the European Commission/European Social Fund. A comparative study by the German Government between EXIT-Germany and the de-radicalisation program of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (German Internal Intelligence Service), which are the only two projects working nationwide, found that EXIT-Germany achieved a far better success rate (lower recidivism) and an almost four times higher overall number of received and handled cases.”
EXIT-Germany has been decorated with several awards, such as the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Award 2013 and the Politics Award 2012.
EXIT-Germany works with no affiliation to political parties, governmental agencies, police etc. Neither does EXIT-Germany work on behalf of such authorities. Information is not passed on to any third parties.
EXIT-Germany is funded by donations.
Partially the project is also funded through the German Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth within the framework of the federal programme Demokratie leben!
JEX Journal for Deradicalization and Democratic Culture www.journal-exit.de/
EXIT-Germany Brochure „EXIT-Germany WE PROVIDE THE WAY OUT. De- Radicalization and Disengagement. (2014). Revised Second Edition. ZDK Gesellschaft Demokratische Kultur gGmbH (2014), Berlin.
ZDK Gesellschaft Demokratische Kultur gGmbH (2014): EXIT-Germany WE PROVIDE THE WAY OUT. De- Radicalization and Disengagement. Revised Second Edition.
|Intended Time Scale||Long-term|
|Point of intervention|
Radicalisation and the occurrence of right-wing and violent extremism are topics that do not lose actuality in our times.
The exit programme EXIT-Germany was initiated in order to counter radicalisation by offering alternatives and deradicalisation strategies to members of the radical scene.
Since the year 2000 when the programme EXIT-Germany was initiated over 600 individual cases have been successfully finished with a recidivism rate of approx. 3%.
EXIT-Germany helps committed people who are affected by right-wing radicalisation as well as families of active right-wing extremists.
What the experts of EXIT-Germany and many other project partners have achieved since the programme has been implemented is highly appreciated among stakeholders in the field.
Beyond the support of their clients, the initiative is involved in many activities like:
• the supervision of scientific works for different types of degree with regard to the working approach of EXIT-Germany,
• the supervision of scientific works for different types of degree based on data/materials from EXIT-Germany,
• the evaluation of events and lectures from universities,
• scientific cooperation with universities,
• scientific publications.
The sustainability of this work can be seen in the fact that racialized people get to know other perspective for their lives, new positive role models and a different way of life. This allows for long term empathy skills development.
It is important to mention is that EXIT-Germany doesn´t offer:
• any financial support to former radicals
nor protection from judicial persecution.