Recent research by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation has shed light on a concerning trend in German society: the surge of far-right extremism. As the findings reveal, a staggering one in 12 Germans now align with some form of extremist far-right beliefs.
These figures draw attention to the increasingly alarming changes in the nation's socio-political fabric.
From Acceptance to Alarming Trends
Franziska Schröter, a researcher with the Foundation, highlighted these shifts in a conversation with Euronews.
"The acceptance of far-right attitudes is seen in every age group, depending on which phenomena you look at. What's worrying us is a reversion in the trend," she emphasized. This "reversion" is particularly pronounced among the younger population.
A concerning twist is the observable tilt towards homophobia and transphobia among youth. Schröter noted with concern, "It used to be that the young ones were consistent democrats, rooting for equality instead of being revisionist and nationalist." The expectation was that political education, demographics, and globalization would help cement these democratic beliefs among younger generations.
Alarmingly, however, there has been a spike in far-right ideologies among both middle-aged and young individuals. She further analyzed, "Young survey panelists, who have mostly not experienced a war or the real threat of dictatorship in their lives, but who have endured a lot of crisis, seem to be leaning towards the idea that more dictatorship and less democracy could help get things done."
Manifestations of Extremism on Ground
The Foundation's study coincided with recent police operations against far-right groups.
In a significant move, the authorities busted a branch of Hammerskin, a notorious white supremacist organization that originated in the United States. Moreover, the effects of this rise in right-wing extremism are tangible and have been felt across Germany.
A spokesperson for the Hamburg Foundation for Memorials and Learning Centers for the Commemoration of Victims of Nazi Crimes voiced concerns over the increased acts of vandalism at memorial sites. The Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial, under their jurisdiction, has notably seen a surge in graffiti with Nazi themes in 2022 and 2023.