Despite having one of the toughest gun export laws in the world, Germany enjoys a comfy place among the top weapon exporters. How is that possible? A newly released Redfish documentary has some of the answers.
“The laws are very strict and the practice is very-very leisure and very easy. Everyone was wondering how could it be that Germany has one of the strictest laws and always, depending on the ranking, is number three, in small arms is even number two of the biggest world arms trades and weapon producers? So, where’s the gap?” lawyer Holger Rothbauer told the Germany-based investigative journalism team Redfish.
Rothbauer represents a whistleblower who worked with Heckler & Koch and spilled the beans on shady arms deals the company has made. Back in 2009, he reached Jürgen Grässlin, a German publicist and peace activist who has been waging his own war on the silent arms sales for years. This May, the case based on the whistleblower’s revelations made it to court, with six former H&K employees in the dock.
The indictment focuses on 4,500 G36 assault rifles and other firearms that were sold in 16 batches to Mexico, despite the overwhelming level of drug-related violence in the country. The guns in question were used in the infamous militia attack on Mexican students in Iguala in 2014. Six students were killed in the assault and 43 were kidnapped, vanishing without a trace.
Obtaining arms export licenses, while extremely difficult in theory, proves to be way easier when corporations cozy up with politicians. The lobbyists receive large, yet untraceable donations, pushing through all the permissions needed to sell weapons to virtually anyone who’s buying, the documentary says.
“There are several ways through which the arms industry influences politics. For instance, the SPD politician Johannes Kaas in 2005 received – via his district chapter – some 60-80 thousand euros in small donations. They were split up in such small amounts that he didn’t have to declare them,” German MP from the Left Party, Anita Scheller, told Redfish.
Here’s the video