Hundreds of Confiscated Weapons Report Indicates German Right Wing Is Well Armed
Revelations of a neo-Nazi terror cell in their midst have made Germans nervous. A new report detailing just how well armed right-wing extremists are in the country will do little to assuage their fears. Over 800 weapons were confiscated from radical groups in 2009 and 2010.
Germany's neo-Nazis, it would appear, are better armed than previously thought. According to a report filed this week by the German Interior Ministry in response to a parliamentary inquiry, authorities in the country confiscated 811 weapons from right-wing extremists in the two-year period from 2009 to 2010.
Included among the finds were handguns, rifles and even military-grade firearms. In addition, police seized 40 explosive devices, all manner of pepper sprays and well over 300 blades.
"The increasing number of weapons found in the possession of neo-fascists prove that the militant right is arming themselves to an alarming degree," Ulla Jelpke, the domestic affairs spokesperson for the far-left Left Party in the German parliament, told the daily Berliner Zeitung, which first reported on the new weapons statistics. "Of particular concern is the strong increase in the number of firearms."
The report came in response to a request filed with the Interior Ministry by the Left Party faction in parliament.
The news comes as Germany continues to reel from revelations that a neo-Nazi terror cell based in the eastern German town of Zwickau was responsible for a nine-victim murder spree targeting immigrants from 2000 to 2006 in addition to the killing of a police officer in 2007. While neo-Nazi violence in Germany has long been acknowledged, the discovery of the murderous trio, which had spent 14 years under cover, has come as a shock.
'Brown Army Faction'
On Wednesday, a parliamentary committee will continue looking into possible police errors made in the investigations of the crime spree. Massive criticism in recent weeks has centered on the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany's domestic intelligence agency. The agency has chapters in every German state in addition to the federal agency, and critics have said that internal communication problems were a significant reason for the fact that the crime spree remained unsolved for so long.
In addition to the details about weapons finds, the Interior Ministry report also indicated that, since 2001, 13 right-wing groups had been investigated under German laws prohibiting the creation of a terrorist organization. The groups had names such as "National Movement for Eternal Loyalty to Hess," "The New NSDAP," "The German Anti-Jewish Fighting Association" and the "Brown Army Faction."
The Zwickau cell, which called itself the "National Socialist Underground," is the most recent addition to that list. In addition to the three core members -- Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos, both of whom were found dead in a camper van in early November, and Beate Zschäpe, who is currently in custody -- officials suspect that several more people supported the group. On Tuesday, officers arrested yet another man thought to be connected to the cell. Ralf Wohlleben, a former official with the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), is suspected of having provided a gun and ammunition to the trio.