Bernd Wagner was born in Frankfurt an der Oder/East Germany in 1955. He is ret. Detective Chief Superintendent, managing director of the ZDK – Society for a Democratic Culture and Co-founder of EXIT-Germany, an initiative for dropouts from extremism and violence. After he had graduated as a criminalist from the Humboldt University Berlin in the year 1980 he worked for the Criminal Investigation Department until 1990, where he amongst others was leader of the workgroup “Skinhead” in the Department’s main section in the German Democratic Republic (DDR). He conducted the department for extremism (state protection) in the Central Office of Criminal Investigation of the DDR and as Detective Chief Superintendent he was head of the state protection in the collective Land Office of Criminal Investigation of East Germany (GLKA).
From 1992 to 1994 he was scientific assistant at the Institute for Social Work and Social Education in Frankfurt am Main/West Germany, where he worked in the Federal Government’s Programme against youth aggression and violence in East Germany. Afterwards, he went to the regional compartment for foreign interests, youth work and school (RAA) in the mobile consulting-team (MBT) Brandenburg as a scientific assistant and consultant.
In 1997 Wagner founded the ZDK – Society for a Democratic Culture, which he directed until 2004. In the year 2001 he founded the initiative EXIT-Germany together with Ex-Neo-Nazi Ingo Hasselbach. This institution supports people, who leave the right-wing extremist scene, shows them new perspectives for their future life and especially offers contacts and practical help.
In addition, EXIT analyses extremist attempts, gives information about such extremist and anti-democratic attempts in the presence and in history, shows possibilities of democratic acting and offers advice and coaching. Wagner coordinates the Integrated Network for Democracy and Tolerance of the VNG Integrated Network Gas AG and is member of the advisory board in the Federal Alliance for Democracy and Tolerance – Against Extremism and Violence.
In 2008 he founded the Aktionskreis ehemaliger Extremisten. In 1999, Wagner was honoured with the Theodor-Heuss-Medal, an award for citizens’ initiatives and civil courage.