The German Interior Ministry has officially launched a national database with information on suspected neo-Nazi extremists. It is meant to improve cooperation between security agencies and prevent right-wing attacks.
The new database links the findings of 36 German police and intelligence agencies on the federal and state level with information about violent right-wing extremists and their contacts.
Authorities hope this information will help prevent serious margins of error as seen in the case of the neo-Nazi terror cell, the National Socialist Underground (NSU).
Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich described the new database as "a milestone in improving the cooperation between German security agencies.
“I believe that this is the correct course of action in light of the NSU murders, because the impression we gain is that at some point or another communication between the authorities was in need of improvement,” he said.
The NSU, a group of neo-Nazis, is suspected of killing ethnic Turks and others in a seven-year terror spree. The murders went undetected by security forces until late 2011.
A parliamentary inquiry is working to esptablish how the group, who had known affiliations to the far-right scene and prior criminal records, managed to remain undetected for so long.
Various intelligence agencies have come under fire since it emerged that potentially pertinent files were ignored, got lost or were shredded, prompting allegations of a cover-up.
A small step forward
The new database is an index of basic information on suspicious individuals including a name, address, and date of birth. It also lists membership in certain groups or organizations but for more information, such as account numbers, investigators must request an arrest warrant.
“It is indeed an important step, but not the solution,” said the chairman of the GdP police officers' trade union, Bernhard Witthaut.
Witthaut told the ZDF “Morgenmagazin” that a right-wing attitude was not enough for a person to show up in the file, criticizing that the database does not go far enough.
hc/rg (dpa, dapd)