Rise in far-right extremists seen in Germany last year

BERLIN — Authorities in Germany said Tuesday that the number of far-right extremists in the country increased last year as neo-Nazis sought to join protests against pandemic-related restrictions.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said authorities counted 33,300 far-right extremists in 2020, an increase of almost 4% from the previous year.

“Far-right extremists were repeatedly able to protest side-by-side” with non-extremist opponents of the pandemic restrictions, Seehofer said.

The minister added that it was worrying how the protesters often didn’t distance themselves from the far-right extremists marching among them.

According to data published in an annual report by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the domestic intelligence agency known by its German acronym BfV, some 40% of the far-right extremists in Germany are believed to support the use of violence for political ends.

The report also noted an increase in the number of left-wing extremists last year compared to 2019, though a smaller share were considered supportive of violence.

The number of Islamists remained stable last year, according to the report.