Authorities fear Germany has more than 12,000 neo-Nazis ready to use violence

Justin Huggler
Hundreds of neo-Nazis marched through the eastern German town of Plauen this week - Getty Images Europe

More than 12,000 neo-Nazis are active and prepared to use violence in Germany, according to a stark assessment by the country’s intelligence servives which was made public on Friday.

Details of the disturbing assessment were disclosed in a written answer from the German interior ministry to a parliamentary question after hundreds of neo-Nazis openly marched to mark May Day in eastern Germany.

Intelligence services believe there are currently more than 24,000 neo-Nazis in Germany, more than 12,700 of whom are prepared to use violence against the state, the interior ministry wrote.

Around 500 neo-Nazi activists marched through the eastern town of Plauen on May Day wearing shirts with the slogan “National. Revolutionary. Socialist”, and chanting “Free, Social and Nationalist”.

The march was held by the Third Way, a small far-Right party is under surveillance by German domestic intelligence, which says it has a “clear connection to the ideology of the Nazis”.

There is growing concern that far-Right groups are radicalising online Credit:  Carsten Koall/Getty

Intelligence services are also concerned at the growing online radicalisation of the far-Right, and monitor hundreds of internet sites and online channels on a daily bases, the interior ministry said in its answer.

“The risk of individual or small groups becoming radicalised is not to be underestimated,” the ministry wrote.

“A failure to speak out against these cases can lead to rapid radicalisation to the decision to use political violence.”

The assessment comes after it emerged that Brenton Tarrant, the main suspect in the attacks on New Zealand mosques in March, was active on the same online gaming platform as David Ali Sonboly, a German-Iranian teen who killed 9 people in a far-Right shooting spree in Munich in 2016. Both men had active profiles on the Steam gaming platform.

“The fact far-Right content and announcements of violent attack remain clearly visible over the years show that we need a new approach against online radicalisation,” the German MP who asked the parliamentary question, Konstantin Kuhle of the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), said.

“The digital skills and technology available to the authorities must be improved so that talk of far-Right violence does not translate into real acts.”