Monday

25th Sep 2017

Germany 'underestimated' neo-Nazi risk

  • A massive police presence was deployed in Berlin to protect asylum seekers from neo-Nazi protesters (Photo: ekvidi)

German authorities have "grossly underestimated" the threat of neo-Nazi groups, but security services are not racist, a parliament inquiry has found.

The study, which came out on Thursday (21 August) was commissioned after one far-right gang murdered 10 people over seven years without being discovered.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Nine of its victims were of Turkish and Greek origin, with police wrongly assuming they were part of organised crime rings and that the killings were some form of score settling.

The three-person cell, called the National Socialist Underground (NSU), only came to light in November 2011 when Beate Zschaepe, its last surviving member, turned herself in.

Her two accomplices had killed themselves shortly earlier after a botched bank robbery.

Zschaepe is currently on trial in Munich for complicity to murder and 14 bank robberies.

A special parliamentary committee set up to look at the "systemic failure" of police and secret services in the case filed its 1,300-page-long report after consulting 12,000 files and listening to 100 witnesses.

It described the failure to find the murderers as a "historically unprecedented disaster."

"Right wing extremism was underestimated at all levels, police investigations were based on the assumption that Turks murder Turks," committee chairman Sebastian Edathy said in a press conference.

He noted that German security services have a "mentality issue" and said that if policemen with immigrant backgrounds had worked on the NSU cases the group might have been stopped earlier.

One of the study's 47 recommendations is to recruit more ethnically diverse policemen and to give police better intercultural training.

But he added there is no evidence to show that police or secret services were aware of the real identity of the killers and "looked away or encouraged them."

"We don't have structural racism, but we have some racists in police and secret services and they should be fired," Edathy said.

For their part, families of the victims say the report is not critical enough.

"Institutional racism is in their view the biggest problem this committee should have addressed, but that is not the case in this report," their lawyers said in a statement.

They said German politicians as well as security services have a "mentality problem" on the far right.

Meanwhile, a massive police presence was deployed in Berlin on Thursday to protect a newly opened refugee centre in Hellersdorf, where hundreds of neo-Nazi protesters had gathered calling for the foreigners to be sent back home.

The protesters greeted some arriving refugees with the Nazi salute.

Speaking at the press event on the NSU, Petra Pau, a leftist MP from Hellersdorf, said she was happy that "politicians from all parties stood up and came to a counter-demonstration."

"I would not say it is dangerous for asylum seekers to come to Germany, but we have to fight these neo-Nazi," she noted.

Wolfgang Wieland, a Green MP, also said it is important not to make a campaign issue out of immigrants and refugees, including Roma from Romania and Bulgaria.

Attempts by interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, a Bavarian Conservative, to capitalise on the idea to send back Roma who "abuse the welfare system" have so far failed to gain traction ahead of the 22 September elections.

"So far this has worked, but I hope it will hold over the next four weeks," Weiland said.

Germany considering ban on neo-Nazi party

Regional ministers are to ask the German Constitutional Court to ban the neonazi National Democratic Party, but the government is reluctant to join in.

US tests EU patience over Privacy Shield

The data sharing pact with the US is yet to be fully implemented, as the Americans have failed to appoint people in key positions to ensure EU citizens' personal data is protected.

Hungary and Poland defy EU authority

Hungary and Poland have said they "don't want a mixed population", amid a tug-of-war with the Commission on migrants and rule of law.

EU agency to fight election hacking

A new-model EU cybersecurity agency could help states defend their elections against "hybrid attacks", the Commission has said.

EU monitoring Cyprus passport sales

The European Commission has said it is in a "dialogue" with Cyprus amid concerns on loopholes in its passport sale scheme.

EU monitoring Cyprus passport sales

The European Commission has said it is in a "dialogue" with Cyprus amid concerns on loopholes in its passport sale scheme.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEU Finance Ministers Agreed to Develop New Digital Taxation Rules
  2. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  3. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  4. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  6. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  7. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  10. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  11. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  12. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel