What is right-wing extremism?

In terms of ideology, right-wing extremism in Germany is not a homogeneous movement but appears in various forms incorporating nationalist, racist and anti-Semitic ideology elements to different degrees and pursuing correspondingly different objectives. It is governed by the idea that belonging to a specific ethnic group, nation, or race determines a human being’s value. This right-wing extremist notion is fundamentally inconsistent with the Basic Law, where human dignity is the central value.

The Ideology of the "Volksgemeinschaft"

Apart from such fragments of ideology, one feature common to almost all right-wing extremists is their concept of an authoritarian state, in which the state and the people – in their view an ethnically homogeneous group – merge into a unified whole within a supposedly natural order. According to this ideology of a Volksgemeinschaft (people’s community), a National Socialist term for a community based on shared racial characteristics, the state leaders are supposed to intuitively act in accordance with the alleged unanimous will of the people. Starting from this premise, right-wing extremists believe that a state based on the right-wing extremist ideology can do without the essential control elements of the free democratic basic order, such as the people’s right to exercise state authority through elections, or the right to form and practise a parliamentary opposition.

Anti-Semitism, Historical Revisionism and Islamophobia

Volkstod-Kampagne von „Der III. Weg“Zoom

For the vast majority of German right-wing extremists, anti-Semitism – expressed either frankly, by insinuation, or in veiled statements – and historical revisionism, i.e. the ideologically motivated re-interpretation of historical facts that distorts the true historical record, are indispensable elements of their ideology. In recent years, Islamophobia as a modern form of xenophobia has gained in importance as a field of action for the right-wing extremist scene, which has been trying to arouse fears of "foreign domination" and prejudices against the religion of Islam and/or against Muslims among the people, or to stir up existing resentments in order to influence public opinion in their favour. By means of their xenophobic and Islamophobic propaganda, right-wing extremists intend to promote the idea of a Volksgemeinschaft, which they present as a counter model to an open, pluralistic democracy. They portray a scenario of the German people dying out, i.e. the so-called Volkstod (people’s death), allegedly imminent due to falling birth rates and emigration on the one hand and immigration and "overwhelming numbers of foreigners" on the other hand.

The Right-wing Extremist Spectrum

Teilnehmer einer THÜGIDA-Kundgebung in JenaZoom
The right-wing extremist spectrum ranges from subculture-oriented right-wing extremists to neo-Nazis and to legalistically acting right-wing extremist parties. The latter include the Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD/National Democratic Party of Germany), the Bürgerbewegung pro NRW (pro NRW/Civic Movement for North Rhine-Westphalia), or the parties DIE RECHTE (The Right) and Der III. Weg (The IIIrd Way), which have established themselves in recent years as a reservoir for neo-Nazis.

Right-wing Extremist Crimes and Violent Offences

The exorbitant increase in right-wing extremist violence as well as the increasing attraction, or 'joinability', of right-wing extremism are two developments which marked the year 2015. Against the backdrop of increasing numbers of refugees, anti-asylum propaganda became a dominating factor in 2015. This propaganda has been characterised by the dwindling line separating it from right-wing extremism and the acceptance of violence and militancy in some parts of the population.

Organised Violence and Terrorist Tendencies

Violence and terrorism may be a possible course of action for right-wing extremism, given its explicit predilection for violence.

Though the bulk of the right-wing extremist scene is opposed to that at present, lone actors or micro-groups committing extremely serious violent crimes or the creation of further unidentified terrorist groups within the right-wing extremist spectrum cannot be ruled out. This is all the more true in the light of the heated anti-asylum campaign and resulting radicalisation and brutalisation.

The experience the Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund (NSU/National Socialist Underground) has taught the security agencies has changed their view of this scene and has led to a modified approach to monitoring violence-prone right-wing extremism. So the identification of right-wing terrorist structures and their modus operandi has since become a focus of the domestic intelligence services' investigations.

Profilbild der „Oldschool Society“ (OSS)Zoom
In early May 2015, there were law-enforcement measures taken against members of a right-wing extremist group called Oldschool Society (OSS) in several federal states. This was due to sufficiently substantial evidence of a right-wing terrorist orientation. The OSS first appeared in August 2014 in the form of a pure Internet group, which developed into a firm, radicalised cell in the following months. The members of the OSS are suspected of having planned to stage attacks in small groups against accommodations for asylum seekers and/or mosques. On 27 April 2016, the trial against four defendants started before the Higher Regional Court (OLG) of Munich on the grounds of suspicion of membership of a terrorist organisation under section 129a of the German Criminal Code (StGB).

Durchsuchungen bei Angehörigen der rechtsextremistischen Szene im Großraum Bamberg im Oktober 2015Zoom
In October 2015, homes of members of the right-wing extremist scene in the area of Bamberg (Bavaria) were searches. The individuals concerned, some of them members of the party DIE RECHTE, were adherents of the neo-Nazi organisation Weiße Wölfe Terrorcrew (WWT/White Wolves Terror Crew), which was banned on 16 March 2016, and are suspected of having formed a criminal organisation under section 129 of the StGB and/or of having prepared an explosive or radiation crime. In the course of the searches, a live firearm including ammunition, various weapons for cutting and thrusting as well as forbidden pyrotechnical material were seized. There was suspicion that the individuals concerned had been planning attacks against asylum seekers' facilities in Bamberg or political opponents.

Profilbild der „Bürgerwehr FTL/360“Zoom
On 5 November 2015, several homes of presumed members of the Bürgerwehr FTL/360 (Vigilante Group FTL/360) in Saxony were searched. The defendants are accused of being involved in an explosive and butyric acid attack against an alternative accommodation project in Dresden carried out in the autumn of 2015 as well as in an explosive attack on an asylum seekers' hostel in Freital. On 11 April 2016, the Generalbundesanwalt (GBA/Federal Public Prosecutor General) took charge of the investigation on the grounds of suspicion of formation of a right-wing terrorist organisation under section 129a of the StGB.

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Foto des BfV-Dienstgebäudes in Berlin

Anti-terrorist Hotline: +49(0)221/792-3366

Anti-terrorist Hotline: +49(0)221/792-3366