The number of criminal acts involving right-wing extremists in Germany, which had been declining steadily in recent years, surged by more than a third to nearly 12,000 in 1997, the government said Wednesday.
The internal security service said in its annual report on militant groups there had been a 7 percent rise in the number of right-wing radicals to 48,400 and a 19 percent rise in those capable of violence to 7,600.The 194-page report by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) did not offer any specific explanation for the sudden gains, but officials said high unemployment, a bleak jobs outlook, peer pressure and alcohol were among the reasons many were turning to the far right.
"The state's intensive efforts led to a decline in the far right between 1993 and 1996," the report by the BfV said. "But in 1997 . . . the number of right-wing acts of violence rose again."
The number of racist and anti-Semitic acts of violence jumped by 27 percent to 790, which included 13 cases of attempted manslaughter and 677 assaults.
The government had cracked down hard in 1993 following a surge in far-right violence, especially in formerly communist eastern Germany, that swept the country after reunification in 1990. More than 30 had been killed and scores injured in racist attacks in the early 1990s before the crack-down.
But the number of criminal acts surged to 11,719 in 1997 from 8,730 in 1996. Attempted manslaughter, assaults, arson and explosive attacks all rose to a total of 790. The majority of the crimes involved the dissemination of outlawed propaganda material and use of illegal symbols such as the swastika.
Government officials, speaking on the condition they not be named, said they were troubled by the rise in 1997 and were trying to do more to tackle the causes of extremism as well as fighting the acts of violence.
"Especially in the east there are many youths in cliques that have a high level of negative motivation," said one senior government official. "They have no jobs, no perspective and nothing to do."
He said many were not necessarily believers in far-right ideology but were nevertheless bored and easily coaxed into attacks on foreigners and other acts of violence, especially after they had been drinking.
"We have to do more by offering sports clubs and looking at the social aspects," he said. "Repressing the far-right is only half of the issue. We have to offer more."