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Intel Brief: Extreme right-wing activities on the rise in Germany


 


 

Date: 14/02/2024


Who’s involved:

  • Alternative Für Deutschland, NSU, Atomwaffen Division, KSK, Hammerskins, NPD, civil society and others.


What happened?

  • In June 2023, the German intelligence services warned of a rise in right-wing extremist violence in the country in the near future.

  • In November 2023, right-wing extremists, including members of the Alternative Für Deutschland (AfD), held a meeting in the east of Germany where they discussed plans for forcefully sending people with a migration background out of the country. The term “Remigration” was used to describe these plans. The news of the meeting came out in January 2024 and it resulted in a political and social discussion on banning the Alternative Für Deutschland from taking part in elections. 

  • A similar ban was proposed in 2018 for the extreme-right wing Nationalist Party Deutschland (NPD, now known as Heimat), but the court decided that the NPD was not a genuine threat to democracy because it was not influential enough. Since the Second World War only two political parties have been banned: The Communist Party and the Socialist Reichs Party. Other groups have been banned as organizations but not as political parties.

  • On 19/09/2023 the German interior ministry banned the neonazi Hammerskins group and labeled them a anti-democratic and dangerous organization. The Hammerskins were a spin-off of the neonazi group “Blood and Honour” which was banned in 2000. Blood and Honour was linked to a terrorist organization called Combat 18 and organized concerts and meetings in order to raise money for Combat 18.

  • In February 2024, an administrative court in Cologne ruled that the youth wing of the AfD, Junge Alternative, could be classified as a right wing extremist organization. 

  • On 07/12/2022 members of the Reichsbürger movement were arrested for plotting a coup d’état. In April 2022, the movement plotted to kidnap the German Health Minister and destroy power stations in order to compromise the country’s energy infrastructure and then overthrow the democratic system. One of the people involved in the Reichsbürger plot was a soldier serving in the Kommando Spezialkräfte, a special force of the German army. The KSK has been linked to right wing extremism. Many of its members have expressed xenophobic and anti-semitic opinions.

  • Between 2001 and 2010 a neonazi group calling themselves the National Socialist Underground or NSU killed nine people with an immigrant background, and shot and killed one police officer. Three people were seen as the main group but it was later revealed that up to 200 neonazi related people and groups were offering them support in the form of money, information, weapons and shelter. 

  • Active since 2015 in the United States and other countries, the neonazi group Atomwaffen Division opened a German chapter in 2018. Although the German chapter has mainly acted through pamphlets and threats to activists and politicians, they are part of a wider international network of right wing extremist organizations

  • On 02/06/2019 CDU politician Lübcke was murdered because of his political stance on asylum-seekers. In the same year on Yom Kippur, a neo-Nazi tried to attack a synagogue in Halle. Unable to do so, he went on to kill two people. On 19/02/2020, a man killed nine people of migrant background in two shisha bars.


Analysis:

  • If the AfD is banned, it could push members of the party and their supporters to take matters into their own hands. AfD is already benefiting from these discourses by labeling them as undemocratic. Cutting the party out of the democratic playing field could push AfD supporters into right-wing extremist environments. The impact will be stronger in the states where AfD has more support. This will likely result in an intensification of violent right-wing extremist activities, especially against governmental institutions, political opponents and marginalized groups. 

  • With the local elections in the eastern part of the country coming up on 09/06/2024 there is a lot of pressure on civil society concerning the electoral win or loss of the AfD. There is a likelihood that if the AfD gains more seats in state parliaments like Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, members of extreme right-wing groups will feel more empowered in their actions. Ideas like enacting “remigration”, antisemitism, islamophobia and taking actions against the LGBTQ community will be seen as more socially acceptable with the AfD in power.

  • It is not only the possible electoral win of the AfD that is of concern to the German security services. Extremist groups and terrorist networks on the right-wing spectrum have gained more and more following in the past decade and the willingness to commit violent acts seems to have increased. Social media plays an integral part in radicalizing young individuals through misinformation, disinformation and propaganda. It is likely that applications like Telegram, Discord, X and TikTok will play an even greater role in radicalizing youth in the future and it will be a difficult task for the German government to monitor the activities of radicalized individuals and groups.

  • There is a likelihood of a rise in antifascist activities if the AfD wins majority seats in the elections. The antifascist movement in Germany is strong and some parts of the movement do not shy away from using violence against perceived enemies. Losing faith in democracy might push groups and individuals to take extra-parliamentary actions.


Conclusion

There is still no certainty about the future of Alternative Für Deutschland as debates continue both among politicians and in the wider public. However, independently of the future of the AfD there will likely be a rise in right-wing extremist rhetoric and activities, especially before, during and soon after the elections, both in 2024 and 2025. The upcoming district elections in eastern Germany and European Parliament elections could see a great increase in societal unrest. Furthermore, there is a likelihood of an increased risk of right-wing terrorism in the near future.


 

20240214 Germany right-wing terrorism
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