Violent neo-Nazism rising in Germany, report says

Violent neo-Nazism is on the rise in Germany, according to an annual report by the German government.

The annual report on extremism by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution released this week also said that the proponents of violent neo-Nazism are rejecting organized political parties.

According to the report, the number of neo-Nazis with violent tendencies rose by 10 percent last year, to 5,600.

Heinz Fromm, head of the agency that produces the report, told the Neuen Osnabrucker Zeitung newspaper that the increase should be seen as a warning, though membership in the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) of Germany has dropped to 6,600 and the total number of those identifying as right-wing extremists dropped from 31,000 in 2009 to 25,000 in 2010.

Fromm said that while NPD membership has fallen gradually since 2007, the violence prone, anti-election Autonomous Nationalists gained 200 members in 2010, for a total of 1,000.

In recent elections, right-wing extremist parties with racist and anti-Semitic platforms have cooperated in order to avoid stealing each others’ votes. But Fromm noted that the parties do have differences, including in the degree to which they are willing to relativize the Holocaust and use anti-Semitic propaganda.

Though Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany, some neo-Nazi groups doubt the facts of the genocide and insist that German civilians endured the greatest suffering.

In recent elections in the former East German state of Saxony-Anhalt, the NPD failed to earn the required 5 percent of the vote to reach the parliament. But the NPD still has legislators in two former East German states, and Fromm said it may reach the 5 percent mark in September elections in one of them, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

In other news, a court in Koblenz this week jailed nine neo-Nazis for broadcasting racist and anti-Semitic propaganda via Radio Resistance, the French news agency AFP reported. The station was shut down last November.

The sentences ranged from 21 months to three years. Nine others were given suspended sentences.