Each of the 16 States of Germany has one. The Federal Government has one, too: A Secret service agency of the category “Verfassunsgsschutz”. Normal secret services arrest foreign spies, prevent terror attacks from happening or protect computer systems. Not so the Verfassungsschutz which is explicitly forbidden by law to help the police in any form.
I hear you scratch your head. 16+1 agencies not fighting off the villains?
So what do they do?
They present reports listing groups and people they claim to be a threat to the constitution. Since none of the information coming out of their monitoring activity goes to the police (that is verboten), we are talking about hit lists. Think of the Verfassungsschutz report as an equivalent to the webpage of the Southern Poverty Law Center SPLC. Journalists crow over it to justify their hatred with the backing of an authority.
But unlike the SPLC they are not a private organisation. They are secret service agencies with spies infiltrating opposition groups to collect information. The past has shown that agents even play a vital role in crminial activities perpetrated by some of the observed groups. Sometimes they account for all of them.
Peter Urbach for example handed out molotow cocktails to students in a protest march against media empire Springer. The Baader-Meinhof Gang was a likely offshot of the radicalisation that followed.
Their goal is and always has been to discredit opposition to the main parties.
Since the late eighties conservative party Republikaner, who were originally founded over the distress about money being credited to the East German dictatorship, were included into the Verfassungsschutz report.
As a result many civil servants and respected members of society left the party. The layabouts formed the cesspool of anti-Semites and madmen that the big parties always painted the Republikaner to be.
The Verfassungsschutz does not only go after conservatives. They gunned at the destruction of many groups including Socialist party DIE LINKE and – in their early phase – the Green party.