Germany reels from increasing violence by far-right extremists

Published 20.02.2019 00:07

Germany recorded an increase in violent crime from the so-called "Reich Citizens" movement, known as the Reichsbürgers, last year, the Interior Ministry said on Monday. A total of 157 politically motivated acts of violence have so far been recorded for 2018, compared to 115 in the previous year. The ministry issued the figures after a request from the Green Party in the German Parliament. Around three quarters of the approximately 19,000 Reichsbürger members are men, the Interior Ministry said. The violence included 93 blackmail cases and 22 assaults. In total, authorities recorded 804 politically motivated crimes of all sorts committed by the groups, following 771 in 2017.

Members of the movement do not recognize the modern German state and its laws but believe the former German Reich still exists. As Reichsbürger members refuse to acknowledge the German constitutional state, they refuse to pay taxes or fines for the German state. They still follow the legal rules of the Third Reich and stick to the borders of the 1930s.

German authorities are increasingly concerned over growing right-wing terrorism in the country. Last year, far-right groups drew up several "enemy lists" containing the names and addresses of more than 25,000 people, a parliamentary inquiry revealed.

Since 2016, Germany has conducted an increasing number of nationwide raids targeting right-wing groups, including houses, apartments and other properties believed to be owned by members of such groups, targeting the so-called "Reich Citizens" movement. German police also discovered evidence of Reichsbürger members in their own ranks. The German Police Federation (GdP) acknowledged the presence of right-wing radical elements among its officers following the suspension of five officers in Frankfurt in December. The investigation over the far-right network has also widened to include other cities.

Migrants become victims of arson attackMigrants once again became the victims of growing right-wing terrorism in the country. German police reported an arson attack on a house of a Syrian family in city of Magdeburg, in a latest example of a spate of hate crimes that was to shock Germany. The family and other residents of the apartment building were taken unhurt outside, with the attack caused only property damage, according to reports. At the same time, unknown assailants set fire to a car in the same street, as the police refused to rule out a connection between to arson attacks.

According to a report by the Leipzig-based Competence Center for Right-Wing Extremism and Democracy Research, more than one-out-of-three Germans think foreigners come only to exploit the welfare state. In August, massive far-right rallies rocked the city of Chemnitz, in eastern Germany where skinheads hounded migrants and performed the illegal Hitler salute. After the violence in Chemnitz, German police detained six men suspected of forming a far-right militant organization that assaulted foreigners in the eastern city of Chemnitz and also planned attacks on politicians. The men are alleged to have formed a group calling itself "Revolution Chemnitz." The arrests once again cast an uncomfortable spotlight on the growing far-right terrorism in Chemnitz, which is a stronghold of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

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