Due to the Second World War, it’s a very sensitive topic all over Germany: right-wing extremism. The movements of extremists are closely watched all over the country. And even though the number of right-wing extremists is dwindling – the readiness to use violence has gone up in the last years.
Against the constitution
Right-wing extremism is a broad term that covers movements, groups and parties that support the idea that belonging to an ethnic group, a race or a nation determines the value of a human being. This ideology is against the constitution that highlights the human dignity. Right-wing extremism is also characterized by their authoritarian view on the state – a liberal democratic system is not necessary according to these beliefs.
The difficulty with right-wing extremists is that it’s not a homogenous group of people with the same beliefs. Sub-culturally influenced (for instance ‘Skinheads’) right-wing extremists, neo-Nazi’s and political parties like the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) all represent the extreme right side of the political spectrum.
According to the latest statistics from 2011 from the ‘Verfassungsschutz’, an estimated 23.400 people all over Germany are believed to be right-wing extremists – that’s almost 2500 less than the year before. The number that worries the German authorities is the amount of right-wing extremists who are seen as willing to use violence for their beliefs: 9.800.
This worry doesn’t come out of the blue. At the moment an important court case is hold against the Beate Zschäpe from the National Socialist Underground (NSU). She and her two accomplices Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt (both of hem are believed to have killed themselves) are accused of murdering ten people all over Germany over the last thirteen years. The case is popularly referred to as the ‘Döner Murders’, because some of their victims came from immigrant backgrounds and had Döner Kebab shops.
It is an embarrassing case for the Germany state, as these murders were based on the social background of the victims who non-German roots. The link between the cases and the NSU only came thirteen years after the first murder was committed. The NSU also shows how violent right-wing extremists can be. The case leads to a lot of protests and worries about the right-wing scene in the country.
Also in Berlin far-right extremist violence can be found. The club house of ‘Die Falken‘, a left-wing socialist youth gathering in Neukölln, was burnt down twice – see the pictures. The swastikas sprayed in graffiti on the house raise the suspicion that neo-Nazi’s are behind the attacks.
But normal residents are also fearful of neo-Nazis in Berlin. Especially in the former Eastern suburbs of the city, neo-Nazis gather and are believed to be committing small crimes like blowing up mailboxes and shattering windows of residents who openly criticize them. Recently, in the eastern suburb Marzahn Hellersdorf, neo-Nazi’s protested the establishment of a new refugee base. According to the ‘Schattenbericht’, published by Bianca’s ‘Mobile Beratung gegen Rechtsextremismus’ and associated organisations, 122 acts of crime in the name of right-wing extremism have been committed in Berlin in 2012.
Another branch of right-wing extremism extends to political parties. Apart from ‘Pro NRW’ and ‘Die Rechte’, the NPD is the biggest one. It stands for ‘Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands’ or in English: ‘National Democratic Party of Germany’. It has a Four Pillar strategy: Fight for the minds, fight for the street, fight for the parliaments and fight for the organised will.
The NPD is facing a decline in members in recent years. In 2007 about 7200 people were members of the NPD, in 2011 that sank to 6300. Facing this decline, the NPD is changing its tactic and focuses more on populist themes like anti-Islam and anti-European Union. A prohibition of the NPD was looming a decade ago. The highest German court however decided the NPD was not against the constitution. The German government tried to start a new court case to forbid the NPD last year – especially due to the link between the NPD and the terrorist organisation NSU, but didn’t get a majority vote.