800 weapons taken from neo-Nazis in two years
Authorities have confiscated more than 800 weapons from right-wing extremists over the last two years, including handguns and knives, plus a few larger weapons, according to the German government.
The number is part of the government's answer to formal parliamentary requests by the Left party, seen by the Frankfurter Rundschau and Berliner Zeitung newspapers.
According to the answer, precisely 811 weapons were confiscated in 2009 and 2010 from members of the extreme right. More than 330 of those were slashing or stabbing weapons, like knives. But there were also 15 handguns, 16 rifles and even eight “weapons of war,” such as heavy machine guns, the Berliner Zeitung reported.
Ulla Jelpke, domestic affairs spokeswoman for the Left party, told the newspaper that she was shocked by the high number of weapons confiscations and urged more restrictions on extremists’ ability to buy guns through legal shooting clubs.
“Neo-Nazis hoard weapons to use against political opponents and dissidents,” she warned.
The report comes as the government struggles to deal with right-wing extremists. Some critics believe the government ignored the threat, leading to the emergence of a neo-Nazi killing squad based in the eastern German town of Zwickau, which killed at least 10 people between 2000 and 2006.
Politicians seem particularly worried that all the bad press will scare away skilled foreign workers – people like doctors, nurses and engineers – who Germany has been trying to woo over the last few years.
“When someone reads something like this about Germany, then it obviously hurts Germany,” said Armin Laschet on the ZDF television network’s Morgenmagazin Wednesday.
Laschet, a member of the conservative Christian Democratic Union and a former integration minister in North Rhine-Westphalia, has been working with several politicians, including former Defence Minister Peter Struck, on a commission that aims to figure out how to attract more skilled workers.
On the Morgenmagazin Struck called the country’s right-wing problem “completely unhelpful” and “terrible” for Germany’s efforts to attract immigrants.