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Number of right-wing extremists in Germany 'triples'

James Jackson
James Jackson - [email protected]
Number of right-wing extremists in Germany 'triples'
Germany's constitutional court in Karlsruhe. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uli Deck

The number of right-wing extremists in Germany has tripled in recent years according to a new study, while directors of concentration camps are warning of having to deal with Nazi threats and graffiti "almost daily".

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The biennial “Centre Study” by the Social Democratic Party’s affiliated think-tank the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung has found that eight percent of adults, one in twelve, now have a right-wing extremist worldview, up from 2-3 percent a few years ago. 

The study also found that 38 percent of people believed in conspiracy theories and 16 percent had a negative attitude towards foreigners. Meanwhile, faith in democracy and public institutions has dropped below 60 percent, according to the survey.

The institute defines right-wing extremism as “an attitude pattern whose unifying characteristic is ideas of inequality."

In the political sphere, these are expressed in the affinity for dictatorial forms of government, chauvinistic attitudes and a trivialisation or justification of National Socialism. In the social sphere they are characterised by anti-Semitic, xenophobic and social Darwinist attitudes.

The study’s co-author Beate Küpper blamed the rise in these attitudes on the rise of an increasingly aggressive populism, which blames “the system” and “migration” for society’s problems, as well as “multiple crises” that Germany has experienced in recent years, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and the energy crisis caused by the country’s reliance on Russian gas, imports of which were stopped after Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. 

Meanwhile, Germany’s holocaust memorial sites have noted a significant increase in threats by right-wing extremists, as well as anti-Semitic vandalism such as swastikas drawn at former sites of concentration camps.

The deputy director of the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation, Rikola-Gunnar Lüttgenau told the RND news agency: “Two years ago these were incidents that were recorded about once a month, but then they were noticed every 14 days. Now we have to report crimes almost every week.”

READ ALSO: Why a high profile Bavarian politician is embroiled in an anti-Semitic row

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“We are tired. Hardly a week goes by now without neo-Nazi graffiti in the Buchenwald memorial” the memorial foundation for the Buchenwald and Mittlebau-Dora concentration camps tweeted on September 6th.

These incidents have more than doubled at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp north of Berlin.

The press spokesperson of the Lower Saxony concentration camp warned that “the limits of the sayable said have been pushed back for some time, and anti-democratic and right-wing radical views seem to have become acceptable” with reference to Bavaria’s deputy premiere Hubert Aiwanger, who was accused of being a neo-nazi and distributing an antisemitic pamphlet at school, with little consequences for his party's poll ratings.

READ ALSO: Bavarian deputy PM to stay on despite anti-Semitism scandal

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