Germany plans to examine 746 violent crimes committed between 1990 and 2011 for possible connections to far-right extremists. The crimes in question had 849 victims.
Last week’s announcement by the Federal Ministry of the Interior comes as Germany continues to grapple with the fallout from the belated discovery in 2011 of a violent neo-Nazi cell — the National Socialist Underground (NSU) — believed to be responsible for the murders of at least nine immigrants and one police officer between 2000 and 2006.
NSU member Beate Zschäpe is currently on trial for murder, along with four alleged supporters.
Fellow members Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt committed suicide in 2011 following a botched robbery. The incident exposed the existence of the NSU, as well as the government’s incompetent handling of hate crimes — a failure for which Germany even apologised last year at the United Nations.
Interior Ministry spokesman Hendrik Lörges said last week that police investigators had combed through 3,300 unsolved crimes for possible far-right connections. Further investigation is required into the 746 crimes that topped the list, he added.
Anetta Kahane, chair of the Berlin-based anti-racism NGO Amadeu Antonio Foundation, said she was “happy there are looking for the cases now, but it is really late.”
A further another 184 cases had been classified by her organisation as having probable links to far-right extremism. Most of the victims were homeless, or drunks, or people who were otherwise unable to defend themselves, she noted. “So no one cared and they were not investigated properly.”
Ms Kahane has been tracking right-wing violence since German unification in 1990.
The interior ministers of Germany’s 16 states continued their debate on pushing to ban the far-right National Democratic Party at their annual conference last week.