has announced a spike in far-right and warned that political extremists are ‘the biggest threat to our country.’
The interior ministry reported another annual increase in anti-Semitic crimes, up by 15.7 per cent in 2020, with 2,351 total incidents – 94.6% of which were committed by a far-right suspect.
Of the total, 62 were acts of violence while the majority were antisemitic hate speech and other related crimes, frequently on social media.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said: ‘This development in Germany is not only troubling, but in view of our history, deeply shameful.’
A protester with an Iron Cross draped over his back outside the Reichstag at a far-right demonstration against lockdown during the summer.The symbol harks back to imperial Germany and was re-appropriated by the Nazis under Adolf Hitler
Far-right crime rose by 5.65 per cent in 2020, accounting for more than half of all politically-motivated criminality.
Seehofer said: ‘This shows again that right-wing extremism is the biggest threat for our country.’
It comes as Berlin police arrested a 53-year-old man on Tuesday on suspicion of sending dozens of threatening neo-Nazi letters to politicians, lawyers and journalists.
The suspect, whose name wasn’t released for privacy reasons, has previous convictions for ‘numerous crimes, including ones that were motivated by right-wing ideology,’ said prosecutors in Frankfurt, who are handling the case.
The letters were signed ‘NSU 2.0.’ A German group called the National Socialist Underground was responsible for a string of violent crimes between 1998 and 2011, including the racially motivated killings of nine men with immigrant backgrounds and a police officer.
The group’s name was derived from the full name of the Nazi, or National Socialist, party.
Police think the suspect sent almost 100 letters to dozens of people and organizations across Germany and darknet market sites Austria since 2018.
German news agency dpa reported that investigators think the suspect may have obtained personal data on the people he targeted from official records or darknet market forums.
German security agencies warned of the growing threat of violent far-right extremism.
In July 2019, a regional politician from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party was killed by a neo-Nazi; three months later, a gunman tried to force his way into a synagogue on Yom Kippur, killing two people.
Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, said the German numbers revealed by the interior ministry today highlighted a broader issue.
‘This is a wake-up call, not just for Germany, but for the whole world,’ he said.’These figures should ring alarm bells, because we are seeing similar trends across the Western world.’
In 2020, Germany recorded a 72.4% increase in anti-immigrant crimes, up to 5,298 total cases over 3,073 in 2019, Seehofer said.
A bullet lies on the street in Hanau in February, 2020, after a right-wing terrorist shot nine people before turning the gun on himself
Forensic officers investigating in Hanau after the shooting which targeted immigrants in February, 2020