Far-right politics in Germany

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Following the fall of Nazi Germany and the dissolution of the Nazi Party in 1945, the far right in Germany quickly re-organized itself, but it has always remained only a marginal factor in German politics with no representation in the Bundestag.

The Deutsche Rechtspartei was founded in 1946, succeeded by the Deutsche Reichspartei in 1950. The Socialist Reich Party was founded in 1949. The German Social Union (West Germany) was another 1950s neo-Nazi foundation.

The Free German Workers' Party was founded in 1979 and outlawed in 1995. The Nationalist Front was active during the 1980s. The Volkssozialistische Bewegung Deutschlands/Partei der Arbeit was outlawed in 1982. The National Offensive existed 1990-1992. The German People's Union was founded in 1987, the German Alternative in 1989, the German League for People and Homeland in 1991

The currently most successful movement is the National Democratic Party of Germany, notably winning 9.2% in the 2004 state election in Saxony, and winning 1.6% of the nation-wide vote in the 2005 federal elections. In the 2006 Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state election, the NPD received 7.3% of the vote and thus achieved state representation there, as well.[1] The NPD had 5,300 registered party members in 2004.[2] Over the course of 2006, the NPD processed roughly 1,000 party applications to put the membership total at 7,000. The DVU has 8,500 members.[3]

The total number of potentially right extremist individuals in Germany was estimated by the Verfassungsschutz (Federal German intelligence) to 31,000 as of 2007, of which an estimated 10,000 were classified as potentially violent (gewaltbereit).[4] In 2011, the Verfassungsschutz reported a total of 25,000 right-wing extremists in Germany, including 5,600 neo-Nazis.[5] In the same report, 15.905 crimes committed in 2010 were classified as far-right motivated, compared to 18.750 in 2009; these crimes included 762 acts of violence in 2010 compared to 891 in 2009.[5] While the overall numbers have declined, the Verfassungsschutz says that both the number of neo-Nazis and the potential for violent acts have nevertheless increased, especially among the growing number of Autonome Nationalisten ("Independent Nationalists") who gradually replace the declining number of Nazi Skinheads.[5]

Activities[edit]

German neo-Nazis attacked accommodations for refugees and migrant workers in Hoyerswerda and Schwedt, Eberswalde, Eisenhüttenstadt, Elsterwerda in 1991; and in Rostock-Lichtenhagen in 1992. Neo-Nazis were involved in the murders of three Turkish girls in a 1992 arson attack in Mölln, in which nine other people were injured. A 1993 arson attack by far-right skinheads on the house of a Turkish family in Solingen resulted in the deaths of two women and three girls, as well as in severe injuries for seven other people.[6] In the aftermath, anti-racist protests precipitated massive neo-Nazi counter-demonstrations and violent clashes between neo-Nazis and anti-fascists.

German statistics show that in 1991, there were 849 hate crimes, and in 1992 there were 1,485 (with a significant concentration in the eastern Bundesländer). After 1992, the numbers went down, although they have risen sharply in subsequent years. In four decades of the former East Germany, 17 people have been murdered by far right groups.[7]

Beginning in the late 1990s and early 2000s (decade), Neo-Nazis started holding demonstrations on the anniversary of the Bombing of Dresden in World War II. The 2009 march was organized by Junge Landsmannschaft Ostdeutschland, which is supported by the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD). Surrounded by policemen, 6,000 neo-Nazis were never let out of their meeting point. At the same time, some 15,000 people with white roses came out in the streets holding hands to demonstrate against Nazism, this making an alternative “memory day” of war victims.[8]

Neo-Nazis painted graffiti on nine Polish-owned cars in Löcknitz in 2008.[9] In 2011 neo-Nazis were linked to 10 murders.[10]

Legal issues[edit]

Some German neo-Nazis use early symbols of the Reichskriegsflagge predating the introduction of the Nazi swastika, and therefore are legal in Germany.

German law forbids the production of pro-Nazi materials, although they have been smuggled into the country.[11] Neo-Nazi rock bands such as Landser have been outlawed in Germany, yet bootleg copies of their albums printed in the United States and other countries are still sold in the country. German neo-Nazi websites mostly depend on Internet servers in the US and Canada. They often use symbols that are reminiscent of the swastika, and adopt other symbols used by the Nazis, such as the sun cross, wolf's hook and black sun.

Neo-Nazi groups that have been active in Germany and have attracted government attention include Volkssozialistische Bewegung Deutschlands/Partei der Arbeit (banned in 1982), Action Front of National Socialists/National Activists (banned in 1983), the Nationalist Front (banned in 1992), the Free German Workers' Party, German Alternative and National Offensive. German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble condemned the Homeland-Faithful German Youth, accusing it of teaching children that anti-immigrant racism and anti-Semitism are acceptable. Homeland-Faithful German Youth claimed that it was centred primarily on "environment, community and homeland", but it has been argued to have links to the National Democratic Party (NPD).[12]

Historian Walter Laqueur writes that the far right NPD cannot be classified as neo-Nazi.[13] In 2004, NPD received 9.1% of the vote in the parliamentary elections for Saxony, thus earning the right to seat state parliament members.[14] The other parties refused to enter discussions with the NPD. In the 2006 parliamentary elections for Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the NPD received 7.3% of the vote and six seats in the state parliament. On March 13, 2008, NPD leader Udo Voigt was charged with incitement (Volksverhetzung), for distributing racially-charged pamphlets referring to German footballer Patrick Owomoyela, whose father is Nigerian. In 2009, he was given a seven-month suspended sentence and ordered to donate 2,000 euros to UNICEF.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BBC News update
  2. ^ Spiegel
  3. ^ IRNA
  4. ^ Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, Verfassungsschutzbericht 2007.
  5. ^ a b c Fischer, Sebastian (1 July 2011). "Verfassungsschutz warnt vor getarnten Neonazis". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  6. ^ "Verfassungsschutz (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution)". Verfassungsschutz-mv.de. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  7. ^ Faschismus rund um den Bodensee (German)
  8. ^ Patrick Donahue (2009-02-14). "Skinheads, Neo-Nazis Draw Fury at Dresden 1945 ‘Mourning March’". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2009-02-14. 
  9. ^ [1] Pole Raus
  10. ^ BBC 11/11/2011
  11. ^ "German Court Sentences U.S. Neo-Nazi /". Los Angeles Times. 1996-08-23. Retrieved 2011-07-29. 
  12. ^ "Germany bans 'Nazi' Youth Group: BBC News: 31.03.09
  13. ^ Laqueur, Walter, Fascism: Past, Present, Future, p.110
  14. ^ "Statistisches Landesamt des Freistaates Sachsen – Wahlen / Volksentscheide". Statistik.sachsen.de. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  15. ^ "Far-right politician convicted over racist World Cup flyers". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2009-04-24. 

See also[edit]