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Record number of far-right crimes in Germany in 2020

  • Law enforcement recorded 23,064 offences linked to far-right extremists in 2020, an increase of almost six percent on the previous year, and the highest figure since the country started collecting such records in 2001 (Photo: Tim Mönsh)

The number of crimes committed by far-right extremists in Germany jumped to the highest-level ever recorded in 2020, according to official statistics on Tuesday (4 May).

Overall, the number of crimes categorised as "politically-motivated" in Germany rose by nine percent, to a total of 44,692, compared with the previous year. Such political offences represent around one percent of all crime in the country.

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  • A street poster commemorating the victims of the February 2020 mass killing in Hanau (Photo: Matthew Tempest)

However, these numbers are "very worrying" as they confirm "a trend established over the last few years," German interior minister Horst Seehofer said at a press conference, adding that "the pandemic has caused further polarisation".

Law enforcement recorded 23,064 offences linked to far-right extremists in 2020, an increase of almost six percent on the previous year, and the highest figure since the country started collecting such records in 2001.

"This shows again that right-wing extremism is the biggest threat for our country," Seehofer said, announcing the annual statistics.

In 2020, right-wing criminality accounted for over half of all politically-motivated crimes recorded.

Despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, violent crimes which were politically motivated increased by 19 percent to a total of 3,365 incidents - including 13 attempted murders and 11 murders, Seehfer said.

Recent such politically-motivated incidents include the racist mass killing of nine people at two shisha bars in Hanau, near Frankfurt, and a knife attack by a Syrian man on a gay couple in Dresden that left one person dead.

Last year, crimes perpetrated by radical left-wingers were up by 11 percent, from the previous year, at 1,526.

Seehfer noted that protests against the coronavirus restrictions have become increasingly violent, attracting both left and right-wing extremists - triggering a high level of "confrontational crimes," as well as attacks against police and the press.

Antisemitism

Additionally, antisemitic crimes increased by 16 percent, to 2,351 cases. Some 95 percent of these were committed by a far-right suspect.

Antisemitic hate speech was also on the rise, especially online, where most of these incidents take place.

"This development in Germany is not just concerning but, in the context of our history, deeply shameful," Seehofer said.

The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, said that the figures on antisemitic crimes are "absolutely alarming". "The pandemic has apparently led to a new form of extremism," he said.

Meanwhile, German police arrested on Tuesday an alleged neo-Nazi, on suspicion of sending hundreds of threatening letters to politicians, lawyers and journalists in Germany and Austria dating back to 2018.

Prosecutors in Frankfurt said that the suspect has previous convictions for "numerous crimes, including ones that were motivated by right-wing ideology".

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