Heinz Fromm, head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), or Verfassungsschutz, told the daily Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung that the number of right-wing extremists had risen during 2010, continuing a steady rise over the past decade.
“The violent neo-Nazi scene has become stronger," he said. "It has grown again in 2010, by 600 to 5,600 people.”
In the year 2000, there were only about 2,200 such neo-Nazis.
“The free nationalists, who repeatedly make their presence felt through violence during demonstrations, show similar trends,” Fromm said. “Among this group, a rise in the past year from 800 to 1,000 people was observed.”
This is despite the fact that the overall number of neo-Nazis in Germany is falling, according the intelligence agency. The figure fell by 1,600 to 25,000, Fromm said.
The main far-right party, the National Democratic Party, is continuing to lose members.
“The party had 6,600 members by the end of 2010. That was 300 fewer than in the year before and 600 fewer that the high-point for the NPD in 2007.”
Experts have said in the past that as organized far-groups like the NPD fragment and lose influence, more violent and unpredictable splinter groups are likely to arise.