Rechtsextremistische Fahnen auf einer Demonstration zur Illustration des Arbeitsfeldes „Rechtsextremismus“

Right-wing extremist demonstrations

In 2015 the number of right-wing extremist rallies reached a new all-time high: year on-year the total number tripled. The German domestic intelligence community registered all in all 690 right-wing extremist rallies in the course of 2015. In contrast, the right-wing extremist spectrum had organised only 225 rallies in 2014, which was slightly lower than the long-term average of the previous years.

The largest share of these rallies can be attributed to right-wing extremist parties. With a total of 266 demonstrations, it was especially the NPD (National Democratic Party of Germany) and/or its youth organisation JN (Young National Democrats) that increased its demonstration activities; the same was true for the party DIE RECHTE (The Right) with 95 demonstrations. The party Der III. Weg (The IIIrd Way) held 31 rallies. In contrast, the number of demonstrations organised by the Bürgerbewegung pro NRW e. V. (Civic Movement for North Rhine-Westphalia, regd. assoc.) totalled only eight rallies, decreasing yet again. Members of the neo-Nazi spectrum or other right-wing extremist groups and networks held 290 demonstrations.

A clear majority of right-wing extremist rallies were registered in the east of Germany. Whereas it was possible to mobilise a particularly large number of participants in Thuringia and Saxony, only one in four right-wing extremist rallies was held in the west of Germany. Furthermore, the numbers of demonstrations and participants there – partly with considerable differences – were lower than in the six federal states in the east of Germany.

The rallies focussed almost exclusively on one topic, being almost entirely devoted to the refugee crisis. Between 80 and 85 per cent of all rallies dealt with the issues of asylum, immigration and Islamisation. During some of these rallies, right-wing extremists or right-wing extremist groups openly showed that they were responsible for these events. In other cases they only helped with their organisational experience or spoke at rallies, thus trying to influence the mood during these events.

Mit einem Transparent mit der Aufschrift «Asylmissbrauch stoppen! NPD» protestieren zahlreiche Menschen am 24.07.2015 in Dresden gegen den Aufbau eines Zeltlagers für Flüchtlinge in der Stadt.Zoom© dpa Demonstration in Dresden

Most of these rallies were organised by right-wing extremist party structures. In Saxony and the Saarland, it was mainly the NPD that organised or co-ordinated relevant demonstrations; to a lesser degree, this was also the case in Mecklenburg West Pomerania, Berlin and Brandenburg. However, this was only partly done using the NPD "trade mark". In the Saarland, for instance, NPD party officials exclusively appeared using the name of SaGeSa (Saarlander against Salafists); in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania those mainly responsible for organising MVGIDA (Mecklenburg-West Pomerania against the Islamisation of the Occident), which is active in the entire federal state, were members of the NPD. In the first half of 2015 in particular, NPD activists held numerous rallies in Saxony, for which they used the name of Demokratischer Aufbruch Sebnitz/Sächsische Schweiz (Democratic Awakening Sebnitz/Saxon Switzerland) and some apparently harmless mottos like "Echte Demokratie jetzt, wir sind das Volk." ("Real democracy now; we are the people.").

Demonstration der Partei „DIE RECHTE“ in DortmundZoomDemonstration by the political party DIE RECHTE in Dortmund

In North Rhine-Westphalia the local branch of DIE RECHTE, a political party influenced by neo-Nazism, dominated demonstrations and organised a large number of mostly smaller anti-asylum rallies. However, the party focussed on only a few strongholds, first and foremost the city of Dortmund. Thus, DIE RECHTE remains the driving force behind North Rhine-Westphalia's right-wing extremist spectrum. With merely eight rallies and the simultaneous disintegration of its organisational structures, the Bürgerbewegung pro NRW was able to attract only little media attention.

It was mainly non-party structures that shaped demonstrations in some of Germany's eastern federal states or that played at least an important role. About half of the rallies in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and Berlin, and to a lesser extent also in Brandenburg, were held by non-party organisations; in Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia they even dominated the agenda of the demonstrations.

THÜGIDA-Demonstration in LeipzigZoomTHÜGIDA demonstration in Leipzig

With MAGIDA 2.0 (Magdeburg against the Islamisation of the Occident 2.0) and THÜGIDA (Thuringia against the Islamisation of the Occident), two right-wing extremist groups had formed in those two federal states which – following the PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the Occident) movement – organised so-called evening walks with some regularity. In addition to the THÜGIDA spectrum, there are other comparable groups in Thuringia, some of which co-operate with one another (Volksbewegung in Nordthüringen – People's Movement in Northern Thuringia or Wir lieben Gera/Ostthüringen – We Love Gera/Eastern Thuringia). The latter series of rallies in particular has shown that also where (to some extent) non-party events are concerned, NPD activists in particular are trying to exert their influence or even constitute the driving force behind groups that seem to be independent. The same has also been true for the THÜGIDA rallies: NPD party officials have clearly left their mark on these events.

The developments during the refugee crisis have favoured the demonstration activities of right-wing extremists. Influenced by their self-conception – which is mainly determined by xenophobia and a rejection of Germany's democratic system – right-wing extremists feel confirmed and challenged in their activism. They have succeeded in winning new members and sympathisers for the right-wing extremist scene and in mobilising them, especially with xenophobic anti-asylum rallies. After a continuously low level of mobilisation and a latent reduction of structures, the scene now once more has the opportunity to reinforce its structures and to infuse mainstream public discourse with some of its ideology.

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Publications

Antisemitism in right-wing extremism

Antisemitism in right-wing extremism

DOI: July 2020
Further information Download PDF File
2019 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution (Facts and Trends)

2019 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution (Facts and Trends)

DOI: July 2020
Further information Download PDF File
2018 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution (Facts and Trends)

2018 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution (Facts and Trends)

DOI: June 2019
Further information Download PDF File
Cyber attacks controlled by intelligence services

Cyber attacks controlled by intelligence services

DOI: May 2018
Further information Download PDF File
Antisemitism in Islamist extremism

Antisemitism in Islamist extremism

DOI: March 2019
Further information Download PDF File