Businesses, residents and politicians react to accusations of extremism

Reports claim Nazi sympathizers purchasing Cape Breton properties for intended ‘colony’

This sign outside St. Peter's, belonging to a local business, was recently defaced.

CAPE BRETON: A leading German magazine, Der Spiegel, has caused a bit of an uproar after reporting that prominent Nazi sympathizers and right-wing extremists are in the midst of establishing a new radical colony in Cape Breton.

Citing documents the German weekly news magazine obtained, the article indicates far-right populist Eva Herman and Andreas Popp, as well as Frank Eckhardt – a local real estate professional – are spearheading the initiative.

However, Herman and Popp have denied being associated with Eckhardt – who Der Spiegel identifies as a Reichsbuerger – an individual who challenges the legitimacy of the modern German state that arose after the Nazi defeat.

According to the magazine’s investigation, Herman was dismissed as a news anchor for Germany’s public TV broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk in 2007 after endorsing the National Socialist family policy, while Popp, known as a “doomsday prophet,” has pushed widely debunked conspiracy theories.

It also stated the knowledge factory operates as the “Institute for Economic Research and Social Policy” and invites individuals to Cape Breton about four weeks a year for seminars. The up to 30 handpicked participants – Popp calls them “clear thinkers” – are offered a “development of the world situation” in lectures and discussions, regardless of the supposedly “tendencyful mainstream media”.

The seminars have taken place at various locations across Cape Breton, most recently at the Dundee Resort & Golf Club – it also connects Cape Breton Real Solutions to the Neo Nazi group.

“It has come to our attention recently that a group in Cape Breton, who has rented our conference centre in the past, has been accused of alarming ideologies, which in no way represent the values of Dundee Resort,” representatives said in a release on July 29. “Let it be very clear that we do not align with these ideologies and do not support any related activities on our resort.”

The statement advised they were booked with an understanding that they were to promote land use in Cape Breton.

“We will not be soliciting business from any individual or organization that is not aligned with the values of Canada and its people,” it read. “We appreciate the understanding and support from our patrons and the general community moving forward.”

In his own statement, Cape Breton Real Solutions CEO, Jürgen Gindner, advises since moving from Germany, his employees and himself have committed to the overall development of the region and to help build the economy.

“All the claims against Cape Breton Real Solutions are false,” he said. “The accusations against Andreas Popp and Eva Herman have no bearing on the overall operations of the company.”

Ginder advises he is connected through Popp in a long-term and trustful relationship – as they recommend potential customers to Cape Breton Real Solutions and that Popp’s business Wissensmanufaktur (Institute for Economic Research and Social Policy) hosts numerous seminars in Canada and Germany for the past 15-years where they discuss finance, economics, health and spirituality.

“My employees and I want to be clear that we support Canadian values like pluralism, diversity and inclusion in the workplace and in society,” Ginder said. “The word Nazi is a hurtful word as we see ourselves and Canadians with Canadian values. The last thing we ever want to be associated with is the by the press supported extremist organization or group.”

He also denies the claims of being associated with Eckhardt of F.E. Property Sales.

“We want the people of Cape Breton to know that we truly appreciate the support that we have received from our local clients and we want to ensure that we are here to help build the economy on the island,” Ginder highlighted. “We feel like Canadians of German descent, we are Cape Bretoners just like you. We care and want to live a peaceful life.”

In his previous involvement with doctor recruitment, Cape Breton-Canso MP Mike Kelloway participated in a meeting in January to discuss the prospect of recruiting a group of health care professionals to Cape Breton – attendees included those facing allegations by Der Spiegel.

“I understand that these allegations may be subject to legal action so I cannot comment further,” Kelloway’s statement reads. “However, generally speaking let me unequivocally state that there is no place in society not the beautiful Cape Breton-Canso for hateful extremism of any kind.”