Right-wing extremist attitudes are on the rise in parts of Germany

Far-right supporters take part in a rally organized by the neo-Nazi party, the National Democratic Party (NPD), in the eastern German city of Gera in this archive photo from 2011.

Right-wing extremist attitudes are on the rise in parts of Germany, particularly in the east, according to a study released on Monday. Young people appear to be at the highest risk, the researchers warn. They are calling for greater social engagement and educational programs to combat the problem of xenophobia.

As Germany continues to grapple with the fallout of the discovery of the murderous far-right terrorist group the National Socialist Underground (NSU), researchers have come to the “unsettling” conclusion that right-wing extremist thought has increased in the country.

Just last week, federal prosecutors formally chargedthe last surviving member of the neo-Nazi NSU, which is suspected of committing 10 murders, two bomb attacks and 15 armed robberies in the last 12 years. The case shocked Germany when it broke last year, bringing the issue of right-wing extremism to the forefront of public debate. Though some argue that it exists only on the fringes of society, the researchers behind the study released on Monday conclude that these attitudes are widespread throughout Germany.

Starting in 2006, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which has ties to the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), began publishing “Movement in the Middle,” a series of biannual nationwide surveys the organization calls a “barometer of current anti-democratic attitudes in Germany.”

Since the publication of the last results in 2010, the foundation has registered an increase of right-wing extremist attitudes from 8.2 to 9 percent across the country, with xenophobia found to be the most prevalent manifestation, a prejudice held by 25.1 percent of the population. The development demands attention, the researchers say.

“Action at all levels — whether it is in education work, the media, civil society or democratic parties — is urgently needed,” the report says. “Because the approval that right-wing extremist messages receive within the German population is unsettling for a number of reasons.”


Spiegel has the full article

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