Far-right politics in Germany

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The far-right in Germany quickly re-organised itself after the fall of Nazi Germany and the dissolution of the Nazi Party in 1945. However, the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), founded in 1964 and the only neo-Nazi political party remaining, won their first state representations in the Saxony state election, 2004, the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state election, 2006 and the 2014 European Parliament election.

Definition[edit]

"Far-right" is synonymous with the term "extreme right", or literally "right-extremist" (the German term used by the German intelligence service, the Verfassungsschutz), according to which neo-Nazism is a subclass, with its historical orientation at Nazism.[1]

West Germany (1945–1990)[edit]

In 1946 the Deutsche Rechtspartei was founded and in 1950 succeeded by the Deutsche Reichspartei. As the allied occupation of Germany ended in 1949 a number of new far-right parties emerged: The Socialist Reich Party, founded in 1949, the German Social Union (West Germany), the Free German Workers' Party, Nationalist Front and National Offensive.

In 1964, the National Democratic Party of Germany was founded, which continues to the present day.

Defunct parties[edit]

East Germany (1945–1990)[edit]

East Germany was founded under a pretext different from West Germany. As a socialist state it was based on the idea that fascism was an extreme form of imperialism. Thus, it understood itself as an anti-fascist state (Art. 6 of the GDR constitution) and anti-fascist and anti-colonialist education played an important role in schools and in ideological training at universities. In contrast to West Germany, organizations of the Nazi regime had always been condemned and their crimes openly discussed as part of the official state doctrine in the GDR. Thus, in the GDR, there was no room for a movement similar to the 1968 movement in West Germany, and GDR opposition groups did not see the topic as a major issue. Open right-wing radicalism was relatively weak until the 1980s. Later, smaller extremist groups formed (e.g. those associated with football violence). The government attempted to address the issue, but at the same time had ideological reasons not to do so openly as it conflicted with the self-image of a socialist society.

Activities since 1990[edit]

In 1991, German neo-Nazis attacked accommodations for refugees and migrant workers in Hoyerswerda (Hoyerswerda riots), Schwedt, Eberswalde, Eisenhüttenstadt and Elsterwerda[citation needed], and in 1992, xenophobic riots broke out in Rostock-Lichtenhagen. 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.[2]

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 decreased, although they rose sharply in subsequent years. In four decades of the former East Germany, 17 people were murdered by far right groups.[3]

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.[4] In the aftermath, anti-racist protests precipitated massive neo-Nazi counter-demonstrations and violent clashes between neo-Nazis and anti-fascists.[citation needed]

In 1995, the fiftieth anniversary of the Bombing of Dresden in World War II, a radical left group, the Anti-Germans (political current) started an annual rally praising the bombing on the grounds that so many of the city's civilians had supported Nazism.[5] Beginning in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Neo-Nazis started holding demonstrations on the same date.[citation needed] In 2009, the Junge Landsmannschaft Ostdeutschland youth group of the NPD organised a march but surrounded by policemen, the 6,000 neo-Nazis were not allowed to leave their meeting point. At the same time, some 15,000 people with white roses assembled in the streets holding hands to demonstrate against Nazism, and to create an alternative “memorial day” of war victims.[6]

In 2004, the National Democratic Party of Germany won 9.2% in the Saxony state election, 2004, and 1.6% of the nationwide vote in the German federal election, 2005. In the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state election, 2006 the NPD received 7.3% of the vote and thus also state representation.[7] In 2004, the NPD had 5,300 registered party members.[8] 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.[9]

In 2007, the Verfassungsschutz (Federal German intelligence) estimated the number of potentially right extremist individuals in Germany was 31,000 of which about 10,000 were classified as potentially violent (gewaltbereit).[10]

In 2008, unknown perpetrators smashed cars with Polish registrations, breaking windows in L18 kilometers from Szczecin, about 200 Poles settledcknitz, 18 kilometers from Szczecin, about 200 Poles live. Supporters of the NPD party were suspected to be behind anti-Polish incidents, per Gazeta Wyborcza.[11]

In 2011, eleven years after the first of 10 murders on Turkish-rooted people between 2000 and 2007 a hitherto unknown Neo-nazi group, the National Socialist Underground could finally be linked to it.[12]

In 2011, Federal German intelligence reported 25,000 right-wing extremists, including 5,600 neo-Nazis.[13] 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.[13] While the overall numbers had declined, the Verfassungsschutz indicated that both the number of neo-Nazis and the potential for violent acts have increased, especially among the growing number of Autonome Nationalisten ("Independent Nationalists") who gradually replace the declining number of Nazi Skinheads.[13]

In the 2014 European Parliament election, the NPD won their first ever seat in the European Parliament with 1% of the vote.[14] Jamel, Germany is a village known to be heavily populated by far-right people.[citation needed]

Legal issues[edit]

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

German law forbids the production and exhibitionist movement of pro-Nazi materials. However, Nazi paraphernalia has been smuggled into the country for decades.[15] 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 active in Germany which 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.[citation needed] 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).[16]

Historian Walter Laqueur wrote in 1996 that the far right NPD cannot be classified as neo-Nazi.[17] In 2004, NPD received 9.1% of the vote in the parliamentary elections for Saxony, thus earning the right to seat state parliament members.[18] 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.[19]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ What is right-wing extremism? Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, n.d., retrieved 4 December 2017 (in English)
  2. ^ Arson Attack in Mölln (November 28, 1992) German History Institute, n.d. retrieved 4 December 2017
  3. ^ Faschismus rund um den Bodensee (German)
  4. ^ "Verfassungsschutz (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution)". Verfassungsschutz-mv.de. Archived from the original on 2008-03-16. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
  5. ^ "Strange Bedfellows: Radical Leftists for Bush | Germany | DW.DE | 25.08.2006". Dw-world.de.
  6. ^ Patrick Donahue (2009-02-14). "Skinheads, Neo-Nazis Draw Fury at Dresden 1945 'Mourning March'". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2009-02-14.
  7. ^ BBC News update
  8. ^ Jennifer L. Hochschild; John H. Mollenkopf (2009). Bringing Outsiders in: Transatlantic Perspectives on Immigrant Political Incorporation. Cornell University Press. p. 147. ISBN 0-8014-7514-7.
  9. ^ IRNA Archived February 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, Verfassungsschutzbericht 2007.
  11. ^ Loecknitz nie chce Polaków Bankier.pl, 2008-01-17 (Polish)
  12. ^ BBC Germany probes suspected far-right murders BBC 11/11/2011
  13. ^ a b c Fischer, Sebastian (1 July 2011). "Verfassungsschutz warnt vor getarnten Neonazis". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 1 July 2011.
  14. ^ "Meet the new faces ready to sweep into the European parliament". The Guardian. 26 May 2014. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  15. ^ "German Court Sentences U.S. Neo-Nazi /". Los Angeles Times. 1996-08-23. Retrieved 2011-07-29.
  16. ^ Germany bans 'Nazi' Youth Group BBC News: 31.03.09
  17. ^ Laqueur, Walter, Fascism: Past, Present, Future, London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1996 ISBN 0-19-509245-7, p.110
  18. ^ "Statistisches Landesamt des Freistaates Sachsen – Wahlen / Volksentscheide". Statistik.sachsen.de. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
  19. ^ "Far-right politician convicted over racist World Cup flyers". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2009-04-24.