Far-right violence grows in Germany

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The Independent Online
RIGHT-WING extremism and violence against foreigners in Germany reached an alarming new peak last year, according to a government report due to be released today.

The report, the first to cover the whole country following unification, reveals that the number of people belonging to neo-Nazi groupings rose from 1,200 in 1990 to 6,000 in 1991, while the number of violent assaults - including three cases of manslaughter - shot up from 270 to 1,300.

Although the figures for 1990 cover only what was then West Germany, the increases are far greater than the 25 per cent expansion in the population brought about as a result of unification.

Even more disturbingly, some 70 per cent of the attacks carried out last year were in the more affluent west - effectively scotching arguments that the surge in neo-Nazi violence was a specifically eastern phenomenon caused by rising unemployment and social unrest.

'It is clear that the shift to the extreme right is a national trend,' said a government official who did not want to be named. 'And it is by no means clear that it has now reached its peak.'

In addition to the 6,000 neo-Nazis, the report, produced by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, shows that a further 34,000 Germans belonged to extreme right-wing organisations last year. Of these, some 24,000 were members of the German People's Union (DVU), a party which enjoys the support of David Irving, the controversial, right-wing British historian.

According to many observers, the growth in support for far-right groups has been caused partially by the dramatic expansion in the numbers of foreigners seeking asylum in Germany. Last year a record 256,000 sought refuge; by the end of July, the figure for this year had already reached 233,000.

Rudolf Seiters, the Interior Minister, who will present the report, has repeatedly urged a change to the constitution that would effectively allow Germany to reject those considered ineligible for asylum at its borders.

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