Neo-Nazi groups on rise in Germany, intelligence chief warns

Osnabrueck, Germany – Groups of neo-Nazi toughs are continuing to expand their membership in Germany, the country’s top anti-subversion official warned in a newspaper interview on Monday.

Last year, there were 5,600 Germans who were both part of far-right groups and were willing to use violence, Heinz Fromm, head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. A decade before there were just 2,200.

The Office seeks to identify all neo-Nazis. It differentiates between rightists who are non-violent, for example those who campaign politically, and those who would potentially cause physical harm to minority people or leftist opponents if an opportunity offered.

Fromm told the newspaper Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung, ‘The neo-Nazi scene with potential for violence has got stronger. In 2010 it expanded yet again by 600 to 5,600 persons.’

A decade ago, young neo-Nazis were recognizable by their shaven heads and paramilitary clothes, but a new group attending demonstrations dresses much like Germany’s anarchists, with longer hair and black clothes, and claims to be anti-capitalist.

Fromm said the latter group, the self-styled Autonomous Nationalists, increased last year from 800 to 1,000.

However, a fall in the number of the non-violent means that the overall number of politically active far-right people shrank last year by 1,600 to 25,000, the intelligence service believes.

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