FOSDEM Nazi-pass & FSFE wheelchair fascism controversies

There have been a lot of rumours and false accusations about the Codes of Conduct at FOSDEM and FSFE, who are the FSF imposters.

The only way to step on rumors is to publish the emails so everybody can agree who said what.

FOSDEM is committed to be free and open. We are a community, not a company. Therefore, it is not really clear why these mailing lists are hidden in the first place.

Subject: Re: [devroom-managers] FOSDEM 2022?
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 2021 12:16:34 +0200
From: Benjamin Henrion <>
To: Ludovic Gasc Lemaire <>
CC: Closed list for devroom managers <>

On Thu, Oct 7, 2021 at 12:08 PM Ludovic Gasc Lemaire <> wrote:
> Hi,
> I hope you are safe during these challenging times.
> I might miss something, but I see no announcements about FOSDEM 2022, do you have some problems to organise this edition ?

Nazipass maybe?

The belgian one is still a non-free one, dependent on a non-free app store.

That would be awkward/fun to see Fosdem requiring a non-free app to
attend the event :-)

Benjamin Henrion (zoobab)
Email: zoobab at
Mobile: +32-484-566109
Web: Brussels
"In July 2005, after several failed attempts to legalise software
patents in Europe, the patent establishment changed its strategy.
Instead of explicitly seeking to sanction the patentability of
software, they are now seeking to create a central European patent
court, which would establish and enforce patentability rules in their
favor, without any possibility of correction by competing courts or
democratically elected legislators."
devroom-managers mailing list

Benjamin has used a metaphor for the Covid pass, he called it a nazi-pass. Less than 30 minutes later, somebody is talking about the Code of Conduct:

Subject: Re: [devroom-managers] FOSDEM 2022?
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 2021 12:39:31 +0200
From: Richard Hartmann <>
To: Ludovic Gasc Lemaire <>
CC: Closed list for devroom managers <>

Dear all,

we are having the discussions everyone else is having around physical
events as well. We hope to come to a conclusion this weekend or the
one after. The currently-discussed options are hybrid or fully

Please keep in mind that the Code of Conduct applies to all FOSDEM channels.

devroom-managers mailing list

Benjamin did not use the word Nazi to refer to any other person. He only used it to help people reading his email to understand how he feels about the Covid pass. There is no way any other volunteer could feel insulted by that email.

In Toastmasters, when we evaluate speakers, we give them points and other positive feedback for the creative and effective use of metaphors. If I was evaluating a speaker in a Toastmasters meeting I would personally give them positive feedback about that metaphor. That does not mean I am anti-vax: quite the opposite, I support the vaccines but I also support people's right to choose. Leading experts from the WHO have frequently stated that forcing people to take the vaccine would undermine public trust.

The fact that so many people remember the email is proof that metaphors are an effective tool for communication.

Many of the Code of Conduct spats in the free and open source software world involve small things like metaphors. The real reason for this is that some people do not want to engage in any direct discussion of the issue (in this case, privacy) and so they find some way to attack the person who is speaking. They look at his choice of metaphors or they make up some story about the tone of his emails or sarcasm in his social media account and they make some grand declaration comparing him to a rapist.

The FSFE went through similar problems at CCC, 34C3 in December 2017. Michael Kappes (MajestyX) distributed a leaflet questioning the ethics of a volunteer organization accepting money from Google. Another volunteer who happens to use a wheelchair became upset. The matter was discussed at length on the FSFE GA mailing list, once again, a list that is hidden and used for discussing people behind their backs:

Subject: Re: [GA] Konsequenzen
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2018 13:31:18 +0000
From: Heiki Lõhmus <>

On Thu, Jan 04, 2018 at 01:57:49PM +0100, Erik Albers wrote:
> yes, it is another Susanne. Also, for your understanding, this Susanne is in
> professional psycho-social care and easily feels threatened and/or
> uncomfortable with other people's dominant behaviour. Michael is a very
> dominant person, sometimes also driven by too much emotions. These two do not
> get along with each other.

We should strive to make FSFE a welcoming place to people with special
needs. Could you please ask Susanne how we could help her feel welcome?

Heiki Lõhmus
Vice President
Free Software Foundation Europe

GA mailing list

The idea at the back of Heiki's mind is that everybody in the group has to be forcibly castrated just in case Susanne Bücherratten (ratten) becomes upset again. We don't need to ask her, people have seen this before.

At the time I was elected as the Fellowship representative, there were over 1500 people in the Fellowship. It is both unreasonable and impossible to make every person agree on every issue all the time.

We have to tell people to say nothing at all in case anybody else becomes upset. This goes against the very purpose of a real volunteer organization. People may as well stay home.

Frau Bücherratten's reactions are not typical of other women. Her reactions are not typical of other people with a disability. Her behavior appears to be totally intolerant, like a dictator. If she didn't like the leaflets created by Michael Kappes then she could go and create her own leaflets. CCC is a huge conference and there is a lot of space for everybody, just like FOSDEM.

I don't feel that these situations are random. Bücherratten is demonstrating a certain amount of passive-aggressive behavior, wheeling herself up to the FSFE table at CCC, putting on the brakes and using her wheelchair to become the center of attention even before she speaks.

Heiki Lõhmus and some other FSFE members are hoping to exploit Bücherratten's reactions as a justification to create more rules for other volunteers.

When a little cabal starts operating like this, everybody else feels like we are walking on eggshells. Anything we say or do could get us in trouble. The best thing to do is to resign, quit, get as far away as possible and warn your friends to stay away too.

In 2017, the community elected me as the Fellowship representative. It was my role to defend the volunteer and I did so. I never met Michael Kappes and I didn't see his leaflet but I feel that he was treated very badly. The volunteers are donating money and raising money to pay the salaries of the FSFE staff. The staff are there to provide us with a service. They have no right to tell volunteers what can be included in a leaflet.

Subject: Re: [GA] Konsequenzen
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2018 16:38:24 +0100
From: Reinhard Müller <>
Organization: Free Software Foundation Europe


I was reluctant to write anything in this thread, because I firmly
believe that we discuss this in the completely wrong forum. If this
discussion is about the specific case, the Berlin group and/or the
German team would be the right places, and if it's about general
considerations about beaviour on booths, it should be on team@.

However, I feel the need to comment on this:

Am 2018-01-04 um 15:45 wrote Daniel Pocock:
> - if there is a situation where the behaviour of a volunteer needs to be
> criticized or even directed, maybe the communication should come from
> another volunteer, or preferably two other volunteers and never a staff
> member?

No. Whoever is coordinating a booth of FSFE (or, more generally, any
FSFE activity) *must* have the mandate and authority to take reasonable
measures to ensure the activity to be successful, no matter whether that
person is a volunteer or a staff member.

> - keep the focus on the behaviour (e.g. the leaflets) and not the
> person.  It may be tedious but if other volunteers keep removing the
> leaflets that may have less negative side effects than a focus on the
> person (excluding them from the booth)

I disagree about this, as well. We may (and should) be very clear about
what behaviour we do or do not tolerate.

Reinhard Müller * Financial Team
Free Software Foundation Europe

GA mailing list

Certain staff were incensed by these comments. We can see that after Reinhard's reply, both the Vice President and President came along to side against the freedoms of the volunteers:

Subject: Re: [GA] Konsequenzen
Date: Thu, 08 Feb 2018 13:33:48 +0100
From: Matthias Kirschner <>

* Heiki Lõhmus [2018-02-01 17:22 +0100]:
> On Thu, Feb 01, 2018 at 05:14:39PM +0100, Mirko Boehm wrote:
>> Seconded. I actually have difficulty understanding why we debate the
>> work of the booth coordinators, considering nobody (except the other
>> end of the conflict) raised an issue with it. The issue is still
>> unresolved, and there has been no response from our leadership AFAIK.
>> If we want to encourage people taking responsibility, we need to do
>> better than that.
> I back the authority of booth coordinators 100 %. I presume this is
> equally true of Matthias. It is hard to imagine an organization where
> elected office holders would not support the authority of staff (and
> volunteers) in matters they have been given authority for.

Yes, Heiki knows me, that is the case. I talked with Polina and with
Erik. From what they told me, I had the feeling that the process is
handled in a professional way (though of course slower than in
non-vacation times) by the CARE team, which also includes Heiki. So I
had no doubt that we will have a good process and a good outcome, and
did not see a need to get involved in that.


Matthias Kirschner - President - Free Software Foundation Europe
Schönhauser Allee 6/7, 10119 Berlin, Germany | t +49-30-27595290
Registered at Amtsgericht Hamburg, VR 17030  |   (
Contact (  -  Weblog (
GA mailing list

Eventually, Erik Albers, who is a staff member, subjects the volunteer to a three month expulsion. The leaflet distributed by the volunteer at 34C3 did not contain anything to insult any other volunteer, it was only directed at Google.

Subject: Re: [GA] Fwd: Konsequenzen
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2018 17:13:07 +0100
From: Erik Albers <>
To: Jonas Oberg <>

Hi Jonas,

On 23.01.2018 11:44, Jonas Oberg wrote:
>> We will report after that.

There have been even more CoC breaches by this person on our mailing list
recently but I do not see the need going so much into detail. The CARE
informed the person in question to be exluded from any local meet-ups for
three months and that he is put on moderation on all FSFE mailing lists in the
same time. His access to his blog is also deactivated for 6 months and he is
not allowed to participate in any official FSFE representation, including but
not limited to participate in booths or give talks in the name of FSFE.

> Thank you! Once this is resolved, perhaps we can then discuss vacation
> times and ensure that a majority of the CARE team is always reachable
> -- enlargening or having deputy CARE team members if needed to facilitate
> that.

I think the CARE team could profit from having more volunteers so it is not
seen as a staffers tool for sanctioning.


No one shall ever be forced to use non-free software
Erik Albers | Communication & Community Coordinator | FSFE
OpenPGP Key-ID: 0x8639DC81 on
GA mailing list

It is interesting to see the signature line of Albers' email, "No one shall ever be forced to use non-free software" could be taken as a reference to the Covid pass app that volunteers did not want to use at FOSDEM. This is another contradiction in the organizations that pretend to be crusading for openness while in reality, they spend a lot of time having these discussions behind our backs.

A few months later, I completely resigned from FSFE in total disgust. Mirko wrote to thank me for performing my role properly:

Subject: 	Re: resigning as Fellowship representative
Date: 	Sun, 23 Sep 2018 17:50:11 +0200
From: 	Mirko Boehm <>
To: 	FSFE Discussion <>
CC: 	Daniel Pocock <>

Hello Daniel,

> On 20. Sep 2018, at 19:19, Daniel Pocock <
> <>> wrote:
> Given the decline of the Fellowship and FSFE's migration of fellows into
> a supporter program, I no longer feel that there is any further benefit
> that a representative can offer to fellows.
> With recent blogs, I've made a final effort to fulfill my obligations to
> keep you informed. I hope fellows have a better understanding of who we
> are and can engage directly with FSFE without a representative. Fellows
> who want to remain engaged with FSFE are encouraged to work through your
> local groups and coordinators as active participation is the best way to
> keep an organization on track.
> This resignation is not a response to any other recent events. From a
> logical perspective, if the Fellowship is going to evolve out of a
> situation like this, it is in the hands of local leaders and fellowship
> groups, it is no longer a task for a single representative.

I would like to thank you for your contributions to FSFE and for your
commitment not to shy away from asking the difficult questions and
calling out the need for change where it exists. And for volunteering
for the fellowship representative position in the first place. It used
to be an important position that brought diversity of thought into the
FSFE general assembly. Even though the discussion was at times
difficult, it was clear that the intentions where to improve FSFE and
make it fit for the future.

I wish you all the best for the next big thing, whatever that is for
you. Thanks for all your work!

Mirko Boehm | <> | KDE e.V.
FSFE Team Germany
Qt Certified Specialist and Trainer
Request a meeting:

In the last 20 years, volunteers have donated over €8 million to FSFE in the belief that it promotes freedom. Yet Matthias Kirschner has spent the better part of the last four years seeking to censor my blog and discredit me as a person.

This has taken place through a period where I lost two of the closest family members. Kirschner's insistence on controlling volunteers past and present is well over the threshold of criminal harassment.

More evidence about FSFE undermining software freedom