Far-Right Crimes Up Sharply in Germany
Political crime is on the rise in Germany, and far-right crimes in particular rose 16 percent in 2008, according to new government figures. Part of the increase is a result of new statistical standards, but the numbers on the right include two murders.
The number of far-right crimes recorded in Germany increased by around 16 percent last year to 20,422, with violent crimes up 5.6 percent at 1,113 cases, including two killings, according to figures released by the German government this week.
Far-right crimes accounted for two thirds of all "politically motivated" crimes last year, which reached 31,801 -- an increase of 11.4 percent and the highest level since 2001.
Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said the rise in politically motivated crime was disturbing and swore the government would counter it with a variety of measures against extremism, racism and intolerance.
The two deaths were in eastern Germany -- the murder of a 55-year-old homeless man by two men from the far-right scene, and the murder of a 20-year-old art student who was
kicked to death after a political argument in a disco.
Part of the increase in far-right crimes is explained by a statistical change that took effect on Jan 1, 2008 when all police forces adopted common standards for recording so-called "propaganda offenses" which include displaying banned symbols such as the Nazi swastika.
But the rise was also driven by a growing far-right youth scene whose members dress like left-wing anarchists, in black-hooded jackets. "They are attracting young people to a greater extent than the conventional far-right scene has been able to so far," Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said in a statement.
Left-wing politically motivated crimes rose 14.6 percent to 6,724.