Far-right politics in Germany
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 from 1990 to 1992. The German People's Union (DVU) was founded in 1987, the German Alternative in 1989, the German League for People and Homeland in 1991
In 2004, the most successful movement was the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), which won 9.2% in that year's Saxony state election, and won 1.6% of the nationwide vote in the 2005 federal elections. In the 2006 Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state election, the NPD received 7.3% of the vote and thus state representation. In 2004, the NPD had 5,300 registered party members. Over the course of 2006, the NPD processed roughly 1,000 party applications which put the total membership at 7,000. The DVU has 8,500 members.
The 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). In 2011, the Verfassungsschutz reported 25,000 right-wing extremists in Germany, including 5,600 neo-Nazis. 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. 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.
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 (Schleswig-Holstein), 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. 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 concentrated in the eastern Bundesländer. After 1992, the numbers went down, although they ride sharply in subsequent years. In four decades of the former East Germany, 17 people were murdered by far right groups.
Beginning in the late 1990s and early 2000s, 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 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, to create an alternative “memorial day” of war victims.
German law forbids the production of pro-Nazi materials. However, Nazi paraphernalia has been smuggled into the country for decades. 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, the 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).
Historian Walter Laqueur writes that the far right NPD cannot be classified as neo-Nazi. In 2004, NPD received 9.1% of the vote in the parliamentary elections for Saxony, thus earning the right to seat state parliament members. 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 Volksverhetzung ("incitement to hatred", a crime under the German criminal law), for distributing racially charged pamphlets referring to German footballer Patrick Owomoyela, whose father is Nigerian. In 2009, Voigt was given a seven-month suspended sentence and ordered to donate 2,000 euros to UNICEF.
Nationalist right-wing political parties
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