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Germany

Left-Wing Extremism on the March in Germany

As politicians across Germany work hard to combat right-wing extremism, membership in left-wing extremist groups is on the rise. Many members are also involved in Germany's Left Party, according to a news report.

Hooded man walking away from a burning car.

Authorities fear an increase in left-wing extremists could lead to more violence

As Germany institutes a growing number of programs aimed at curbing far-right extremism, including a 625,000-euro ($964,470) project in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, violence among far-left extremists is on the rise, according to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), the mass-market Bild daily reported Wednesday, May 14.

Extremist divisions of several left-wing movements have seen sharp increases in the last year, according to excerpts from the BfV's still unpublished 2007 report cited in the Bild. Interior Minster Wolfgang Schaeuble is scheduled to present the report on Thursday.

Opponents of social order

Man and with bandanas over their mouths.

Demonstrators at the May Day riots in Hamburg

According to the report, the number of people involved in these groups now totals 6,300, an increase of 300 over statistics from 2006. A total of 5,800 of these fall under the umbrella of a relatively unaffiliated anarchic arm known as "Autonomists." This group is thought to be particularly prone to violence and responsible for much of the unrest seen in Hamburg and Nuremberg as part of annual demonstrations held on May 1, according to the BfV.

Left-wing extremist organizations are deemed to be "avowed opponents of the state and social order of the Federal Republic of Germany, which they defame as an order of capitalism marked by racism and fascism," according to the BvF. Though the groups are not illegal, the BfV, which oversees threats to the internal security of Germany, monitors them as some are prone to violence.

Left-wing extremists also came into focus in 2006 when police raided offices throughout Germany ahead of the 2007 G8 summit in Heiligendamm. The raids, later declared illegal by the Federal Court of Justice, were conducted out of fear that extremist groups might have been planning bombings as part of their anti-globalization protests.

Ties to the Left Party

Dozens of people parading in street carrying red flags.

5,800 of those extremists are affiliated with the "Autonomists" movement

One of the largest of the left-wing groups noted in the 2007 report is the "Communist Platform" ("Kommunistische Plattform"), a group within the Left Party. The organization, whose motto is "overcoming capitalism," subscribes to a revolutionary-Marxist ideology with 840 members.

Together with the 60-member Marxist Forum, it comprises a fraternity of orthodox-Communism sympathizers including some members of the former East Germany's Communist Party.

Also noted on this report are the "Socialist Left Party" ("Sozialistische Linke") with 550 members and the 420-member strong pro-Cuban "Consortium -- Cuba yes!" ("Arbeitsgemeinschaft Cuba Sí").

The Left Party, which has about 10,000 members, was formed in 2007 by left-wing members of the Social Democratic Party and the Party of Democratic Socialism, which was the successor to the former East German communists.

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