New Official Figures Number of Violent Neo-Nazis Rising in Germany

Germany saw an increase in the number of violent neo-Nazis by 600 to 5,600 last year, according to the country's domestic intelligence agency. In the year 2000, there were just 2,200. Still, the far-right scene as a whole is shrinking, and the NPD party is losing members.

Young neo-Nazis in Germany.

Young neo-Nazis in Germany.

The number of violent neo-Nazis in Germany rose by more than 10 percent to 5,600 people in 2010, the head of the country's domestic intelligence agency said in an interview published on Monday.

"The neo-Nazi scene that is prepared to commit violence has become larger. It grew by 600 to 5,600 people in 2010," Heinz Fromm, the president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper. In 2000, the number had been far lower, at 2,200.

Fromm said the number of neo-Nazi anarchists, a relatively recent trend consisting of violent youths, often masked, bent on committing violence at far-right demonstrations, had increased from 800 to 1,000 people last year.

The overall number of right-wing extremists in Germany fell last year by 1,600 to around 25,000, said Fromm.

The far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), is continuing to lose members. "At the end of 2010 the party had 6,600 members. That is 300 fewer than the previous year and 600 fewer than in the NPD's best year, 2007," Fromm said.

Setback for NPD in Regional Vote

The NPD narrowly missed its goal of entering parliament in the state of Saxony-Anhalt in an election there on March 20. It got 4.6 percent of the vote --short of the 5 percent needed to win seats in parliament. The NPD is represented in two of Germany's 16 regional parliaments, Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, both in the former communist east.

The NPD has been described by the domestic intelligence agency as a "racist, anti-Semitic, revisionist" party which aims to remove parliamentary democracy and form a new German empire.

Fromm said that it would be unwise to underestimate the NPD's ability to mobilize voters, despite its setback in Saxony-Anhalt. The party is well-organized in local communities and may be able to win enough support to remain in the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania parliament in a state election on Sept. 4, he said.



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