The German interior minister said the drastic rise in right-wing extremist crime demonstrated the “brutalization” of society and posed the greatest threat to the country’s stability.
Horst Seehofer said politically motivated crime was generally a growing problem, promising more police surveillance of protest groups as a result.
Last year, police registered almost 24,000 far-right crimes, an increase of almost 6% over the previous year and the highest level since recordings began 20 years ago. The crimes ranged from displaying Nazi symbols and anti-Semitic remarks to physical attacks and killings. Activities target mainly immigrants, refugees and black Germans, but also include an increase in anti-Asian pandemic-related violence.
The anti-Semitic attacks, which increased by almost 16% and were carried out mainly online, were, Seehofer said, “not only alarming, but also deeply shameful because of the context of our history.”
Moshe Cantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, said German numbers highlighted a broader problem. “This is a wake-up call not only for Germany but for the whole world,” he said. “These numbers should ring alarm bells because we are seeing similar trends in the Western world.”
Seehofer said the data showed “what I have been saying since the beginning of my term: that right-wing extremism is the biggest security threat in our country, as most racist crimes are committed by people in this group.”
Presenting statistics in Berlin, Seehofer said the right-wing violence had left a “blood trail” across Germany, citing the far-right assassination of pro-refugee Christian Democrat politician Walter Lubke in 2019 and the racially motivated attack in 2020. in the city of Hanau last year, in which a far-right extremist attacker killed nine young people, all of immigrant origin.
Last year, there were 49 more incidents than the previous recorded maximum during the refugee crisis in 2016, during which one million refugees arrived in Germany.
Seehofer said that even if they accounted for only about 1% of all crimes, the figures showed the brutality of German society and should act as an early warning system to detect growing trends.
In particular, hate crime has become a criterion for the mood in the country during the pandemic, he said, after conspiracy theorists found expression in demonstrations against the restrictions of the coronavirus, often driven by the Querdenker movement or a “side thinker.” which has ties to QAnon, the American far-right conspiracy group. Seehofer said the demonstrations had “huge potential for escalation.”
Nearly 3,560 politically motivated crimes, including 500 acts of violence, were directly linked to the pandemic and were classified as neither far-right nor far-left. Almost 10% of the 1,260 attacks on journalists were carried out in conjunction with protests against the restriction of the coronavirus.
Authorities have expressed concern about the role that the Alternative for Germany party claims to play in creating a climate of discontent with immigrants and the government. The party, which finished third in Germany’s 2017 election, has been moving steadily to the right in recent years, challenging increasing control of the country’s domestic intelligence.
On Tuesday, the Afd section in Berlin convicted a member who appears to be complaining about the lack of attacks on Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The business website Business Insider reports that former AfD chairman in Berlin, Günther Brinker, sent a message saying that “either this piece of dirt is so well protected that no one can get to it, or the Germans do not have it. balls? ”
Brinker later said he had misreported the message and regretted doing so, rejecting “all forms of hatred and violence.”
On Tuesday, a 53-year-old man was arrested in Berlin, believed to be behind more than 100 death threats against foreigners sent by letter, fax and social media targeting prominent Germans over the past three years.
The man signed his threats codenamed NSU 2.0, a reference to the far-right National Socialist Metro terrorist cell that killed 10 people between 2000 and 2007, all but one, a female police officer, of immigrant origin. The man, identified only as Alexander Horst M, was arrested Monday night while on his computer. It is still unclear whether he operated alone.