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Internal Security (May 22, 2006)

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People in the right-wing extremist scene who own large arsenals of weapons, munitions, and explosives pose a particularly grave threat. There are also groups within the skinhead scene that demonstrate a great proclivity toward violence. The acts of violence perpetrated by these skinheads are mostly xenophobic; they do not have strategic, terrorist motives and are generally driven by feelings of hatred and committed under the influence of alcohol.

The susceptibility of youths and young adults to right-wing ideology is evidenced by the increase in the number of people considered susceptible to neo-Nazi activity by 300 to 4,100. The popularity of skinhead concerts, the number of which rose by 40 percent last year, makes this even clearer. The lyrics of skinhead music are racist and anti-Semitic and they glorify violence; they serve to create enemy stereotypes, influence ideological opinions, and promote a propensity toward violence.

In March 2005, the Federal Court of Justice rejected the appeal of the leader of the skinhead band “Landser,” who had been sentenced to several years’ imprisonment. In December of last year, four members of the skinhead group “Race War” were charged with membership in a criminal association. These cases show that extremism and racism will be dealt with resolutely.

It is extremely alarming, however, that the number of politically motivated crimes with a right-wing extremist background has increased by 27 percent, up to 15,361. This number has also risen by roughly 23 percent in the subset of right-wing extremist violent crimes.

One cause for this rise in violent crimes could be the growth in right-wing demonstrations, which often lead to violent conflicts with left-wing extremist counter-demonstrators. Left-wing extremists with a propensity toward violence seek direct confrontation with their political adversaries and the police.

This becomes evident in the developments reported in 2005 in the area of left-wing politically motivated crime. The number of crimes in this area rose by 39 percent over the previous year. The subset of left-wing politically motivated violent crime even rose by 57 percent and exceeded – in contrast to the trend in previous years – right-wing politically motivated violent crime, also in terms of absolute numbers.

The monitoring activities of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the threat of prosecution by law enforcement agencies have brought success in the crackdown on the right-wing extremist scene. Fortunately, this has been backed up by court verdicts. For instance, this past March, the Federal Court of Justice confirmed the verdict against five members of the “Havelland Free Corps” Kameradschaft, who had committed a series of arson attacks. The Brandenburg Court of Appeals had convicted the defendants of forming a terrorist organization. They were given youth offender sentences, some of which involved several years’ detention.

The changes to the criminal code and the right of assembly that took effect in 2005 have greatly improved the options available to authorities to ban right-wing extremist meetings. Consequently, last year it was possible for the first time to prevent the annual march of right-wing extremists in commemoration of Rudolf Hess. Furthermore, authorities banned demonstrations that neo-Nazis had planned for the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the war and for the dedication of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

I’m very pleased that most of Germany’s federal states are taking advantage of the opportunity to designate additional sites for the commemoration of the victims of National Socialism, thereby prohibiting gatherings at these places.

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