Neo-Nazi Groups Thriving in Northern Europe
Just hours before Anders Breivik went on a horrifying shooting spree last Friday, he sent out a 1,500-page manifesto to his friends explaining his right-wing views. In his document called “2083: A European Declaration of Independence,” Breivik criticizes Norway’s liberal policies and the spread of multiculturalism, which he claims leads to the “Islamization of Europe.”
Norway's neighbor, Germany, hosts a large number of extremist groups. Anti-foreigner movements are a sad part of its history, and extreme right-wing views are more widespread than anywhere else in Europe. According to a survey, 35.6% of Germans agree with the statement “Germany is in serious danger of being overrun by foreigners.” Germany’s extreme right-wing groups represent a great danger to the country's society, and elected officials have continually failed to stop the spread of this nationalist movement.
The massacre of 76 innocent people in Norway has raised new questions about the far-right all over the world, after the killer claimed to have links to extreme right-wing parties in Europe, and calls to curb the influence of these extremists at the local level.
Since the end of World War II, Germany has tried to become a nation where immigrants from all around the world can live side-by-side. However, the reality shows us it was nothing more than wishful thinking. Even German chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged that the attempts to create a multicultural society have “utterly failed.”
Far-right motivated crimes hit a record-high in Germany in 2008, with more than 20,000 hate crimes committed. Over the last two years this number has dropped to around 16,000. Many government agencies and officials explain this drop as a transformation of Germany’s far right, making it less conspicuous, but more dangerous.
Many Germans do not become extreme right-wing activists over night; they grow up in isolated communities, where they are forced to read books from the Nazi-era. These communities are far more common in East Germany, where high unemployment and a struggling economy do not provide hopeful perspectives for the youths.
These communities, along with far-right parties like the NPD (National Democratic Party of Germany), offer a home away from home. They organize summer camps, weekly meetings, sport activities, and other events directed to attract young people.
In return, members have to study nationalist views (which have not changed much since the demise of Hitler’s failed Reich) attend demonstrations, and become active members inside the community or NPD.
The NPD's extremist views teach that foreigners steal jobs from German workers, and have too much control over politics and the economy. Extreme right-wing groups believe that Germany as a whole would do much better if “real” Germans had control over those issues.
News of brutal attacks on immigrants through extremist right-wingers rattles the nation's society, and triggers debates about the future of these nationalist parties and communities. From lawsuits trying to ban parties like the NPD to more severe punishments for political crimes, solutions for this problem are diverse, but without substance.
The problem of extreme right-wing groups cannot be solved by increased punishments or the ban of parties. To diminish the influence of those groups on Germany’s youth, local and state governments have to provide young people with the perspective of a successful future in order to stop them from joining nationalist organization, which use exactly this as their bait.
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