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Germany reports new jump in far-right crime, nearing 20-year record

Provisional figures for last year are highest since 2016; final figures could end up at highest level since records began in 2001

A demonstrator wrapped in a flag of the German empire stands opposite riot policemen standing guard in front of the Reichstag building, which houses the Bundestag lower house of parliament, after protesters tried to storm it at the end of a demonstration called by far-right and COVID-19 deniers to protest against restrictions, in Berlin, on August 29, 2020. (John MACDOUGALL / AFP)
A demonstrator wrapped in a flag of the German empire stands opposite riot policemen standing guard in front of the Reichstag building, which houses the Bundestag lower house of parliament, after protesters tried to storm it at the end of a demonstration called by far-right and COVID-19 deniers to protest against restrictions, in Berlin, on August 29, 2020. (John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

BERLIN, Germany — The number of crimes committed by right-wing extremists in Germany jumped to its highest level in at least four years in 2020, according to provisional police figures released on Thursday.

Police recorded 23,080 far-right crimes last year — around 700 more than the previous year — the figures, published by left-wing lawmaker Petra Pau, show.

The number is already the highest since 2016, and could yet rise to the highest level since records began in 2001 by the time the final figures are released later this year.

Pau, a vice-president of the German Bundestag whose Left party regularly requests the information from the Interior Ministry, said she was “not surprised” by the latest figures.

“The acceptance of violence as a replacement for politics is rising,” she told Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel.

She added that the coronavirus crisis had acted as a “booster” for far-right crime in the same way that the refugee crisis had in 2015 and 2016.

German police have recorded “politically motivated crimes” since 2001. Those categorized as right-wing extremist crimes range from giving a forbidden Nazi salute to murderous terror attacks.

Wreaths and candles are seen in front of a Doner kebab shop in Halle, Germany, on October 9, 2020, the first anniversary of an anti-Semitic attack on a synagogue in the city. (Ronny Hartmann/AFP)

The provisional figures for 2020 include 1,054 violent crimes, which led to at least 307 injuries.

The final figures are also expected to include the nine people who were killed in a racist terror attack in Hanau a year ago, the Tagesspiegel reported.

The final total, to be released in the coming months, is on course to exceed the all-time high of 23,555 recorded at the height of the refugee crisis in 2016.

The latest figures come amid growing concerns in Germany over the rise of violent right-wing extremism.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has declared far-right extremism the “biggest security threat” facing Europe’s largest economy.

Last week, German neo-Nazi Stephan Ernst was sentenced to life in prison for murdering pro-migration politician Walter Luebcke.

In October 2019, just months after Luebcke’s death, Germany was rocked by a shooting at a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle that left two people dead.

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