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March 30, 2021 12:10 pm

Former Celebrity Chef Turned Antisemitic Agitator Flees to Turkey to Escape German Arrest Warrant

avatar by Ben Cohen

German celebrity chef Atilla Hildmann. Photo: Imago Pictures/Reuters.

A former celebrity chef who turned into one of Germany’s most vocal antisemitic agitators has fled to Turkey to escape an arrest warrant issued by German authorities last week.

Attila Hildmann — a self-described “ultra right-winger” of Turkish origin who was brought up by German adoptive parents — was widely-known in Germany for his vegan recipe books and frequent appearances on TV food programs over the previous decade. But with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Hildmann became one of the leaders of the protest movement opposed to social distancing and other public health measures that has won huge support on the German far right.

Throughout the crisis, Hildmann has used his channel on the social media platform Telegram to spread antisemitic claims about the global extent of “Jewish” and “Zionist” power among more than 120,000 followers. He has regularly deployed Nazi terms like “parasites” and “subhumans” to underline his accusation that the pandemic is a symptom of wider global conspiracy run by prominent Jews such as financier George Soros and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Hildmann has also conducted snap polls on his Telegram feed with questions such as, “Do you think Jews are a) human beings or b) lying parasites?” According to German broadcaster DW, that particular question attracted around 2,500 answers, with 60 percent of respondents choosing the second option.

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Hildmann was reported to have gone into hiding in February following increased scrutiny of his antics from the Berlin police, who searched his apartment and confiscated laptops, cellphones and potentially “seditious” documents. Last Thursday, the Berlin public prosecutor’s office issued an arrest warrant for Hildmann, who promptly appeared on Twitter to confirm that he was now in Turkey — lauding the country as the “land of my blood” and railing against Germany as a “Jewish republic.”

Since arriving in Turkey, Hildmann has been posting on Telegram on an hourly basis, denouncing the “Jewish World Order,” insisting that “Hitler was good for Germany” and displaying photographs of himself posing with a gun.

Hildmann’s flight to Turkey — whose authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has frequently clashed with the German government — means that the execution of the German authorities’ arrest warrant is highly unlikely for the time being. According to a spokesperson for the Berlin prosecutor, Hildmann’s status as a dual Turkish-German citizen would make extradition “difficult.”

In the interim, Hildmann and his followers have been celebrating what they regard as a major victory over the German establishment, with the former chef mocking the Berlin prosecutor by posting “greetings from sunny Turkey” on Twitter.

“This is very embarrassing for the security apparatus, in that they were asleep and let him escape,” Miro Dittrich, an expert on the far right in Germany, said on Monday. “The path [Hildmann] was taking had been obvious for a long time. They should have reacted earlier.”

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