Germany records new spike in far-right crime in 2020
The number of crimes committed by right-wing extremists in Germany jumped to its highest level for at least four years in 2020, according to provisional police figures released on Thursday.
Police recorded 23,080 crimes of a far-right nature last year - around 700 more than the previous year -- the figures published by left-wing lawmaker Petra Pau show.
The number is already the highest since 2016, and could yet rise to the highest level since records began in 2001 by the time the final figures are released later this year.
Pau, a vice-president of the German Bundestag whose Left party regularly requests the information from the Interior Ministry, said she was "not surprised" by the latest figures.
"The acceptance of violence as a replacement for politics is rising," she told Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel.
She added that the coronavirus crisis had acted as a "booster" for far-right crime in the same way that the refugee crisis had in 2015 and 2016.
German police have recorded "politically motivated crimes" since 2001. Those categorised as right-wing extremist range from giving a forbidden Nazi salute to murderous terror attacks.
The provisional figures for 2020 include 1,054 violent crimes, which led to at least 307 injuries.
The final figures are also expected to include the nine people who were killed in a racist terror attack in Hanau a year ago, the Tagesspiegel reported.
The final total, to be released in the coming months, is on course to exceed the all-time high of 23,555 recorded at the height of the refugee crisis in 2016.
The latest figures come amid growing concerns in Germany over the rise of violent right-wing extremism.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has declared far-right extremism the "biggest security threat" facing Europe's largest economy.
Last week, German neo-Nazi Stephan Ernst was sentenced to life in prison for murdering pro-migration politician Walter Lübcke.
In October 2019, just months after Lübcke's death, Germany was rocked by a shooting at a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle that left two people dead.