In May the US-founded white supremacist group became a renewed topic for German anti-terror agencies when authorities discovered what appeared to be a burning cross, as well as people displaying a swastika flag and singing “unconstitutional songs”, according to a government response to a parliamentary inquiry by Die Linke (the Left Party).
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.
The KKK first formed as a secret society in Tennessee in the 1860s and spread to Germany in the 1920s. It has been active in the Bundesrepublik on and off since then.
American clan leaders have also traveled to Germany over the decades to burn crosses in forests and meadows. The last surviving member of the xenophobic NSU terror cell, Beate Schäpe, reportedly attended at least two KKK gatherings.
In a Swabian group of the European White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, at least two police officers were members at one point.
The German government said that the KKK in Germany has a “very small number of members”, and is relatively marginal within the greater right-wing extremist scene.
“The low number of members should not obscure the danger that such groups pose,” said Left Party politician Monika Renner.
SZ pointed out that the KKK’s racism has influenced the right-wing extremist scene, and there have been murders and attempted murders with links to the Klan.
For example, in 1992 a right-wing mob in Brandenburg attempted to kill an African man while shouting “Ku Klux Klan”. One of the men also asked for rope and suggested hanging the victim. The man ultimately survived with serious injuries.
Since 2001, authorities have counted 68 crimes connected to the Klan.