Right-wing violence and other attacks have recently increased in Germany. The development is accompanied by charged political debates. According to advisory centers, several groups are affected.
“You have no sense of what it means these days to have a visible migration history in Germany.” Activist and journalist Düzen Tekkal wrote this on Instagram at the beginning of September. Something is brewing here that is scaring her family.
A restaurant run by two Tekkals brothers in Hanover had previously been attacked. Graffiti with the abbreviation “AfD” and several racist insults was emblazoned on the store’s windows. There were also recent paint attacks on a mosque, a Turkish club and other businesses in the city. Loud NDR The police have now caught a suspect.
Attacks on memorials
The foundation director of Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora, Jens Christian Wagner, recently painted a similarly bleak picture as Tekkal. He said tagesschau.de also at the beginning of September, open attacks on memorials had increased significantly. In this context, Wagner complained about a “climate change in memory politics”.
Since then, among other things, a swastika graffiti has been discovered in the parking lot of the Buchenwald Memorial. In Munich, an employee of the Dachau Memorial found the symbol on his apartment door. Someone had scratched the swastika there, his employer told the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”.
Unknown people also threatened Eisenhüttenstadt in September a teenage left-wing activist. In addition to death threats sprayed on a wall, there was also swastika graffiti. The police began investigations into threats, the use of anti-constitutional symbols and damage to property.
More recorded acts
Such acts are included in the BKA’s statistics on politically motivated crime. This shows a clear trend: for the months of the first half of 2023, the number of right-wing motivated crimes recorded was significantly higher than in the two previous years. In June alone, 1,407 right-wing acts were recorded, bringing the total to 6,992. In the first half of the year, 317 acts of right-wing violence were included in the statistics – there were 236 in 2022 and 216 two years ago.
This emerges from inquiries from the left-wing faction in the Bundestag. The statistics on politically motivated crime include investigations from the first initial suspicion. The numbers therefore serve as an indicator of the level of such acts.
Observation and advice centers for those affected by right-wing violence also keep their own statistics. So far, their numbers have always been higher than those of the authorities. The Federal Association of Organizations lists 2,093 attacks for 2022 – for ten federal states. The associations complain about under-reporting by the police, as they do not always classify right-wing motivated acts as such.
LGBTIQ community and Ukrainian women in the right-wing focus
Robert Kusche presented the annual balance sheet. He is managing director of the democracy association RAA Saxony. It is still too early for reliable new figures, says Kusche. Overall, however, Saxony is at the consistently high level of previous years. This is partly because the extreme right is opening up new “political areas”.
Attacks on LGBTIQ people are increasingly being observed. Most recently there were counter-demonstrations, bullying and a suspected attack with butyric acid on CSDs in Döbeln in Saxony, in Halle and in Weißenfels, both in Saxony-Anhalt.
“You have to expect attacks at any time at public events,” says Kusche. This is also a consequence of the public debate about the planned self-determination law.
Worry about autumn
According to Kusche, Ukrainian women as well as members, employees and offices of the Green Party have also recently been increasingly targeted by attacks. In Plauen and Wurzen, civil society meeting places such as a hands-on café have been deliberately damaged several times in recent months.
Kusche is also worried about the fall: “The conflict over refugees is expected to come to a head.” Many questions such as accommodation have not been clarified – or are already accompanied by massive resistance. Accommodations in Saxony have been repeatedly attacked in recent years. The current discourse gives “individuals the perceived right to act in the interests of the majority,” says Kusche.
Jewish people unsettled
Organizations like RAA Sachsen have been observing for years that the number of incidents often increases depending on the event. An example of this is the anti-Semitic leaflet affair in which the Bavarian Deputy Prime Minister, Hubert Aiwanger, was involved.
Annette Seidel-Arpacı heads the Bavarian Anti-Semitism Research and Information Center (RIAS). Since the beginning of the Aiwanger case, an increasing number of Bavarian Jews have been reporting to the RIAS; many are unsettled and angry, she reports. The handling of the leaflet affair was perceived as “dishonest,” says Seidel-Arpacı. “You wonder what previous promises are still worth.”
Prime Minister Markus Söder has said several times since 2019 that Bavaria wants to be “the safest country for Jews in Germany.” In the leaflet affair, Söder still decided against firing Aiwanger.
There is currently a “concentrated load of demands for closure,” says Seidel-Arpacı. The thrust is stronger than in previous years. RIAS Bayern noticed both online and offline that large parts of the population no longer wanted to hear about the Shoah, i.e. the Holocaust. “They want to have peace and quiet and see the criticism of Aiwanger exclusively as an electoral maneuver,” said Seidel-Arpacı.
“Hit in the face”
Seidel-Arpacı also criticizes the fact that, unlike Jewish representatives, Sinti and Roma are not being questioned in the current debate. The murder fantasies of Auschwitz and Dachau that became known in the leaflet were “a slap in the face for Jews and also Sinti and Roma.”
The chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, Romani Rose, is also concerned about the mood in Germany. The goal of the current “socio-political climate change” is to “strengthen a new right-wing extremism and nationalism,” said Rose in a statement at the beginning of September. In this context, Aiwanger’s apology was rejected as “not meant seriously”.
Waiting for Democracy Promotion Act
Seidel-Arpacı from RIAS Bayern says that change in the current situation in Bavaria can only be achieved through “an actual social debate”.
Robert Kusche from RAA Sachsen, on the other hand, emphasizes that the democracy promotion law, which has not yet been passed, is needed quickly at the federal level. This means that projects working with those affected could finally be secured in the long term. Since the draft bill was passed by the cabinet in December, the traffic light coalition has not yet been able to agree on a final version.