German government cracks down on far-right extremist groups spreading Nazi ideology

Second banning of a neo-Nazi organisation in Germany this week after authorities raid members' homes


Germany's Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (C) arrives for a Justice and Home affairs Council at the EU headquarters in Brussels on September 28, 2023. (Photo by John THYS / AFP) (Photo by JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images)

The German government has launched a new crackdown on a far-right group responsible for promoting Nazi message to children.

On Wednesday, Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser banned the far-right group Artgemeinschaft as authorities raided its headquarters and dozens of homes belonging to its roughly 150 members in an effort to disband the group's network across 12 states.  

"This is another hard blow against right-wing extremism and against the intellectual arsonists who continue to spread Nazi ideologies to this day,” said Faeser in a statement released by the interior ministry. She called the group “deeply racist and antisemitic,” promoting a white-supremacist ideology through Nazi-era literature and cultural events.  

 Artgemeinschaft, a neo-Nazi organisation founded in 1951 by a former member of the SS, roughly translates to “racial community”, and is believed to be the fulcrum for a variety of smaller far-right groups in Germany. The group advocated for all-white families, educating its members on “racial preservation” and selecting partners with North or Central European backgrounds. Authorities say groups such as these pose an imminent threat to public peace in Germany, especially through the indoctrination of young people online. 

The group ran an online bookstore under the guise of promoting Germanic paganism, a pseudo-religious cover which authorities say members used “to spread their worldview which violates human dignity.” 

Artgemeinschaft is the second right-wing extremist group to be banned in Germany over recent days. Last week, Germany banned Hammerskins, another neo-Nazi group with roots in the US that was known for setting up far-right music concerts and selling antisemitic records. Right-wing extremism has been on the rise in Germany, with Faeser referring to it last year as “the greatest danger for people in the country”. In a recent study assessing the current political climate in Germany, 16.5% of those surveyed accused Jews of “taking advantage” of the nation’s Nazi past.  

The government crackdown on neo-Nazi groups also comes after German police announced they were investigating a video online depicting several people making Nazi salutes at an Oktoberfest celebration in the German state of Saxony.

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