US/World News

German Jewish leaders alarmed by rise in politically motivated antisemitic crimes

(JTA) – The number of politically motivated crimes rose sharply in Germany last year, including a 15% rise in antisemitic offenses. The total documented by the country’s federal police force is the highest since contemporary record-keeping began in 2001. German officials said new efforts are underway to help police officers identify antisemitic crime. The annual report by the Federal Criminal Police Office released last week showed an 8.54% increase in political crimes over 2019, to 44,692 crimes, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said. Within that total, the number of antisemitic crimes reported to police across the country rose to 2,351 from 2,032. The vast majority — 85 % — fell into the categories of incitement to hate, insults and propaganda, including Holocaust denial and glorification of Nazi ideology. Fifty-five were violent crimes.

The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, called the news “absolutely alarming and evidence of Germany’s failure” to deal with the problem. According to the German media, Schuster said that anti-Jewish harassment is found “everywhere, on the street and on the internet.”

Several antisemitism watchdogs noted that many cases are not reported to police. “A large darkfield study by the criminal investigation unit of the state of Lower Saxony [in the former West Germany] in 2017 showed that only 12% of hate crimes are reported overall,” Alexander Rasumny, a spokesperson for the Berlin-based Federal Association of Departments for Research and Information on Antisemitism, or RIAS, which monitors and analyzes antisemitism, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Rasumny said the state’s criminal investigations department is preparing a follow-up study. Violent crimes with a political motivation jumped by 18.82% over the previous year. There were 11 murders in this category – nine in a right-wing extremist attack in February 2020 on a shisha bar in the city of Hanau.

Right-wing extremism remains Germany’s largest domestic security threat, Seehofer said. The report found that 23,604 crimes were linked to right-wing perpetrators, an increase of 5.6%, while crimes linked to left-wing political ideologies rose 11.4%, to 10,971.

Main Photo: German police seen in Potsdam’s central train station, June 26, 2020. (Julian Stähle/picture alliance via Getty Images)

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