• 23:50
  • 16.01.2021
The disturbing rise of the New Nazis

The disturbing rise of the New Nazis

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Germany is in the grips of an “unprecedented” surge in right-wing extremism fuelled by anti-immigrant anger, experts say.
The worrying trend is smashing taboos held since the demise of Hitler’s Third Reich and giving rise to the “New Nazis”, a new breed of right-wing extremists.
The far right, according to an investigation by the BBC’s Panorama program, is now back and more violent than it has been since 1945.
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So what is behind the revival? To understand the causes, the BBC charted the rise of the
extremist cell called the Freital Group, from the town of Freital in Saxony.
In 2015, Angela Merkel’s open-door policy meant that hundreds of refugees arrived in the small and unwelcome town.
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Shortly afterwards, local men Patrick Festing and Timo Schulz formed the Neo Nazi movement after meeting at a protest outside the hotel housing asylum seekers in Freital.
Festing had never been in trouble with the law previously, but the migrant crisis changed all that.
The so-called “Freital group” consisted of seven men, aged 19 to 39, and a 28-year-old woman.
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Prosecutors said they staged five attacks with explosives between July and November 2015 targeting refugee housing and left-wing groups, causing two injuries.
Charges against them included forming a terrorist group, attempted murder and grievous bodily harm.
Julia Ebden, an expert in far-right movements, told the BBC what was happening in Germany was “unprecedented”.
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“I think since the Second World War, we see people expressing elements of what used to be national socialist ideologies. They are xenophobic, nationalistic elements that are being communicated in a very open way now. Trump, Brexit, the French Front National, they all added ingredients to a cocktail that profoundly emboldened and agitated Germany’s far right.”
Ebden said under the current climate, those who were once marginalised were becoming the mainstream.
“In a way, the people who are considered on the very margins, on the far right, they’re increasingly coming into the mainstream, or at least their ideas are being transferred to the mainstream through organisations and political parties that take up this middle space between the establishment parties and this very fringe neo-Nazi right.”
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When the members of the Freital group were arrested they were at first only charged as ordinary criminals. It wasn’t until Germany’s federal prosecutor took over the case that the group was treated as a terrorist organisation.
Professor Endrik Wilhem told Panorama: “There are many policemen who identify themselves with what the group of Freital Party did. That’s what I think is ... it’s... ..it’s a part of the story nobody wants to hear, but it’s part of the story.
Many people in this society have the feeling that there are too many refugees coming. And there are many policemen who think the same way.”
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