What do you mean by militant nationalism?

Autonomous nationalists are growing: 16 percent more right-wing crimes

The rise in right-wing extremist acts of violence is largely due to the Autonomous Nationalists - this emerges from the new report on the protection of the constitution.

There has been a dramatic increase in right-wing extremist acts of violence. Image: dpa

After trade unions, initiatives against right-wing extremism and anti-fascist groups have been warning since 2004 at the latest that the potential for violence emanating from the so-called Autonomous Nationalists (AN) is greatest, this has now been confirmed by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. And that's not all: Because they are not only becoming more and more militant, but also more and more.

The Autonomous Nationalists are "an important and integral part" of the neo-Nazi scene, according to the 2008 report on the Protection of the Constitution, which was presented on Tuesday by Federal Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble and President of the Protection of the Constitution Heinz Fromm. This established a trend in right-wing extremism that represented "a potential for violence that should not be underestimated," it continues. Schäuble confirmed that the dramatic 6.3 percent increase in right-wing extremist acts of violence compared to the previous year was mainly due to the Autonomous Nationalists. The Autonomous Nationalists are particularly militant right-wing extremists within the neo-Nazi spectrum who have copied the appearance of left-wing autonomists during marches. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution now assigns 10 percent of the 4,800 neo-Nazis active nationwide to the right-wing autonomists. That is a significant increase: two years ago they were still considered marginal with a potential of around 200 followers.

The number of right-wing extremist crimes increased significantly overall in 2008. The Cologne Federal Office registered an increase of almost 16 percent compared to 2007. The protection of the constitution counted around 19,890 right-wing extremist crimes, 1,042 of which were linked to violence against people.

Most crimes with a right-wing extremist background were committed in North Rhine-Westphalia, followed by Saxony. While the numbers fell slightly in some federal states such as Bavaria, Bremen and Brandenburg, the number in Hamburg doubled from 22 to 45 criminal offenses within one year. Right-wing extremists also struck more often in Berlin.

According to the report, the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) remains the most important party in the right-wing extremist spectrum, despite financial problems and internal personnel disputes. The number of its members has decreased slightly, but the German People's Union (DVU) recorded an even greater decline. Overall, the constitutional protection authorities nationwide assume a right-wing extremist potential of around 30,000 people.

Anetta Kahane, chairwoman of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, criticized the report for the protection of the constitution: "While the protection of the constitution names two victims of right-wing violence, we regrettably had to count five last year," she said. "The extent of right-wing violence must be fought and its victims protected - without glossing over numbers."

Schäuble announced that the federal and state interior ministers will focus on the increase in right-wing extremist acts of violence at the next conference of interior ministers in Bremen in two weeks' time. Schäuble was again skeptical about a ban on the NPD. "I do not believe in bans that are based on clay."