Politically motivated crimes in Germany increased to a new high of more than 55,000 offences in 2021, the country’s interior ministry announced on Tuesday.
It means that politically motivated crime is at its highest level since the statistics began to be reported in 2001, they added.
The 23% increase in 2021 compared to the year before was largely due to offences were not in the “classic areas” of politically right-wing or politically left-wing motivated crime, the ministry said, which accounted for around 40% of the total offences.
A significant number of these crimes were in connection with the COVID pandemic and the 2021 Bundestag elections.
For instance, a petrol station worker was murdered for asking a customer to wear a mask in September.
Right-wing extremists were behind many politically motivated violent attacks, German interior minister Nancy Faeser said.
She called right-wing extremism the “greatest extremist threat to our democracy and the greatest extremist danger to people in our country”.
Faeser added that it was “the massive increase in the number of anti-Semitic crimes by another 29% (that) worries me the most”. There were 3,027 offences reported in 2021, many of which were committed by right-wing extremists.
“It is a disgrace for our country how much anti-Semitic agitation and contempt for humanity is still being spread today,” Faeser said.
She said that there is also an “increasingly visible Islamist-influenced anti-Semitism that openly propagates hatred against Jews and against the state of Israel.”
The number of violent offences that were politically motivated also increased by 16% in 2021, the ministry said.
Faeser added that they “must continue to take very consistent action against left-wing extremist violence” and that they were particularly watching out for the G7 summit in June.
There were also increases in homophobic or gender-based offences, the ministry said.
Holger Münch, the Federal Criminal Police president said that the number of cases of politically motivated crime had doubled in the last ten years.
He said it reflected increasing social tensions as well as the resulting polarisation and radicalisation of parts of the population.