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Politically Motivated Crime Increases, Antisemitic Offenses at Record Level

The number of politically motivated offenses in Germany rose significantly in the past year. Crime with an antisemitic background even reached its highest level since 2001.

In Germany, the security authorities registered a total of 41,777 politically motivated crimes in 2019. This is an increase of 14 percent compared to the previous year and the second highest number since the recording of these kinds of numbers commenced in 2001. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said that he was “very concerned” when he presented the numbers in Berlin.

Biggest Threat on the Right

Cases of politically motivated violence declined by almost 16 percent to 2,832 cases. Seehofer called this good news, but said there needed to be vigilance towards potential perpetrators among right-wing extremists. They were the biggest threat.

Seehofer stated, more than half of all politically motivated crimes in 2019 had been committed by members of the extreme right. They had ranged from insult and assault to arson and even murder. An increase of more than nine percent was recorded for these kinds of crimes.

‘Propaganda Offenses’

Violent offenses accounted for 4.4 percent of cases connected to radical right-wingers, according to Minister Seehofer. They decreased by 15.9 percent compared to 2018. Almost two thirds of misdeeds committed by right-wing radicals were so-called ‘propaganda offenses’ such as the use of anti-constitutional symbols.

Seehofer said that this year, 2020, virologists and politicians had received death threats because of the Corona restrictions. The most recent example is Karl Lauterbach, a health expert and MP. But also Horst Seehofer himself received death threats. So did interior ministers in Germany’s federal states.

More Antisemitic Crimes

Among crimes with an antisemitic background recorded in the statistics, 93.4 percent had a right-wing extremist background. With around 2,000 offenses recorded, these kinds of offenses reached their highest level in 19 years. Minister Horst Seehofer said the number of cases had increased by 13 percent in 2019, compared to 2018.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany commented on this development. Its President Josef Schuster said antisemitism had become commonplace for Jews in Germany. “Unrestrained hatred strikes us, especially on the Internet. But rejection of Jews is also a massive problem on the street and in schools”, Schuster stated. “Unfortunately, the Corona crisis has an intensifying effect.”

‘Long Blood Trail’

“Supporters of conspiracy theories and opponents of the measures against the Corona pandemic do not even shy away from relativizing the Holocaust. Special attention must be paid to growing right-wing extremism”, Schuster demanded. In a statement released today, he called on politicians, the judiciary and civil society to step up the fight against right-wing extremism and all kinds of hatred towards Jews, including Israel-related antisemitism.

Interior Minister Seehofer spoke of a “long blood trail” of right-wing extremism. He said crimes hostile to Islam had increased too, by four percent to 950 cases. The perpetrators mainly came from the right-wing scene in this case too.

Offenses by Radical Left

The radical left may not be as dangerous as right-wing extremists, but their offenses are on the rise too. Seehofer stated there had been 9,849 offenses of this kind last year, which is an increase of more than 23 percent.

The numbers on politically motivated crime which Seehofer presented in Berlin are so-called initial statistics, meaning the offenses were recorded at first suspicion. Cases in which political motivation was not confirmed in later investigations, were not recorded in these statistics.

What the overall number of crimes in Germany is concerned, there was a decrease of 2.1 percent. A total of 5.4 million offenses were counted. The percentage of cases solved last year was at a little more than 56 percent. While the authorities in Bavaria had the highest success rate, 65 percent, Berlin stood at only 43.8 percent. But Seehofer conceded that in city states like Berlin, the percentage of cases solved is usually lower.

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