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Revenge attacks spark fear of extremist violence

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Revenge attacks spark fear of extremist violence
Photo: DPA
15:33 CEST+02:00
A string of tit-for-tat attacks in Berlin between political extremists on the far-left and right, including an alleged knife attack on a young mother walking with her three children, has given rise to fears of surging ideological violence.

In the past week, violence between the two sides has escalated. There have been several attacks on neo-Nazis, including assaults on high-ranking members of the National Democratic Party (NPD) and also on the xenophobic pro Deutschland group. These were followed by arson attacks on leftist premises overnight Sunday.

Some of the violence has been targeted against election campaigns ahead of Berlin's city election in September. Berlin Interior Minister Ehrhart Körting told daily Der Tagesspiegel's Tuesday edition that he was concerned about the danger of things spinning out of control.

“I fear above all that extremists follow every action with an opposite action,” he said. “That applies also to periods without an election. These primitive people of the left-wing extremists and neo-Nazis think in terms of revenge, as both move at the same brutal level.”

The 22-year-old wife of a neo-Nazi man prominent in Rudow in Berlin's southeast was attacked by three men on Monday night while walking with her two young daughters and one-year-old son, who was in a pram, Der Tagesspiegel reported.

The three men jumped from some bushes and attacked the woman, but fled when a car approached. She suffered mild injuries to her upper body that did not require medical treatment, police said.

The paper reported that the woman was the wife of a prominent neo-Nazi who had himself been the subject of recent attacks. Police are now seeking the three men on suspicion of causing dangerous bodily injury.

Because of the apparent political motive, they have handed the investigation over to LKA 5, the branch of the Berlin police that deals with political crime. It was thought that the attack had possibly come from left-wing extremists, given the previous attacks on the woman's husband, though knife attacks by so-called antifascists are unusual. The assailants spoke German, the paper reported.

As to whether the woman might have made up the assault, an officer told Der Tagesspiegel: “The investigations are still at such an early stage that we can't rule anything out.”

In the early hours of Monday, there were five firebomb attacks on left-wing premises and residences in Kreuzberg, Prenzlauer Berg and Britz. One person was lightly injured in the arson attacks.

Over the week, the NPD's Berlin state chairman Uwe Meenen was attacked by assailants with clubs. Also attacked was Torsten Meyer, a long-time member of the far-right Deutsche Volksunion (DVU) and who also represented the NPD on the local council of Lichtenberg in eastern Berlin.

Meyer is now regional chairman of the far-right pro Deutschland party. He was attacked on Sunday in the Karlshorst area near an election stand. A pensioner was lightly injured on Monday when masked attackers threw buckets of paint at a pro Deutschland election stand in Tempelhof.

Interior Minister Körting said that as long as such far-right parties including the NPD were not banned, police had a duty to protect their election campaign activities.

The Local/djw

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