Antisemitic crimes in Germany reach highest level in nearly two decades, overarchingly from far-right

03 Jun 2020

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer reported in late May that antisemitic crimes in the country reached their highest levels since the country began recording such incidents in 2001. According to Seehofer, there were 2,032 reported antisemitic crimes last year in Germany, an increase of 13% from 2018.

According to the report, over 90% of the antisemitic crimes were perpetrated by far-right extremists. In his remarks, Seehofer called for the nation to remain alert and be proactive against antisemitism and hatred. 

"The largest threat, as in the past, is the threat from the right," Seehofer said. "Extreme-right politically motivated cases make up more than half of all of such recorded crimes. It is an order of magnitude that causes us concern, great concern."

Politically motivated crimes also increased sharply (14.2%). Crimes by far-left extremists increased by 23.7% to 9,849 cases, while crimes by the far-right extremists increased less overall (9.4%) but accounted for most of the overall cases at a magnitude of 22,342.  

Seehofer accused right-wing extremists of leaving a “trail of blood” across Germany, citing attacks at a synagogue in Halle last Yom Kippur and an attack in Hanau this past February.

WJC Commissioner for Holocaust Memory Charlotte Knobloch reacted to the reporting, saying that the increase in antisemitic crimes was unfortunately “no longer surprising.”
“Various extremist groups have played their part in making this anti-Semitism socially acceptable,” Knobloch said in a statement. “Above all, the so-called Alternative for Germany.” The Alternative for Germany is a far-right political group. 

Reacting to the report’s findings, Dr. Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and WJC Vice President, urged Germans to do more to fight antisemitism, adding that “antisemitism has become an everyday occurrence for Jews in Germany.”

“Especially on the Internet, unrestrained hatred is striking at us. But the rejection of Jews is also a massive problem on the streets and in schools,” Schuster added. “Supporters of conspiracy theories and opponents of the measures against the pandemic have not even shied away from invoking the Holocaust.”

The report comes after The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution noted an increase in antisemitic and anti-democratic symbols at demonstrations protesting the social distancing restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic. In early May, Schuster rebuked the perpetrators of antisemitic conspiracies saying, “demonstrating against the current measures with symbols reminiscent of the Holocaust is tasteless and mocks the victims of the Shoah. Everyone who marches with noble motives should be aware of that.”