German interior minister Horst Seehofer has warned of what he called an alarming rise in politically motivated crime last year, particularly among far-right groups.
At a Berlin news briefing Tuesday, Seehofer said far-right offenses rose by 5.65% in 2020, totaling 23,064, accounting for more than half of all crimes categorized as “politically motivated,” the highest level since police started collecting such data in 2001.
Seehofer said violent crimes classified as political in nature rose by nearly 20% year-on-year to 3,365 and included 11 murders and 13 attempted murders. He said the statistics reveal an ongoing increase in anti-Semitic crimes in Germany, which was up 15.7% in 2020 over 2019 with 2,351 total incidents — 94.6% of which were committed by a far-right suspect.
The interior minister said the numbers “are very alarming, mainly because a trend has been established over the last few years." And he added the development in Germany is “not only very troubling, but in view of our history, also deeply shameful." He said the polarization of political discussion grew worse during the coronavirus pandemic.
Monday German prosecutors announced the arrest of a man in Berlin accused of sending hate mail to public figures. The prosecutors say the suspect used the acronym "NSU 2.0," a reference to the National Socialist Underground (NSU) group blamed for the killings of eight Turks, a Greek and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007.
Officials say the 53-year-old suspect, arrested following a search of his apartment in Berlin, is accused of sending threats and hate messages over a three-year period to leftist national and regional politicians as well as to a Turkish-German lawyer who represented victims of far-right crimes.