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The German government has admitted it does not know what firearms and explosives police have impounded in the past few years and whether they were taken from extremists. The news comes amid a rise in far-right extremism.
In answer to an official parliamentary information request submitted by the socialist Left party, Germany's Interior Ministry has said it did not have any "statistical data on confiscated firearms for the years 2017, 2018, and 2019," or whether they were taken from neo-Nazis or any other kind of extremist.
The ministry was not able to answer 14 of 20 questions about the confiscated weapons submitted by Left party parliamentarian Martina Renner, including:
The Interior Ministry also did not know how many of the confiscated weapons had been stolen from the stock of the German military.
Last month, the Bundeswehr confirmed that it was missing more than 60,000 rounds of ammunition and 62 kilograms (137 pounds) of explosives, plus another 48,000 rounds from its elite commando unit, the KSK, which was recently mired in a scandal over far-right extremism in its ranks. At the end of July, the Defense Ministry dismantled an entire KSK company as a result of the revelations.
There has also been rising concern in Germany about the number of far-right terrorist attacks, with deadly racist shootings in Hanau and Halle in the past year. Two far-right extremists are currently on trial in Frankfurt formurdering conservative politician Walter Lübcke in June 2019.
There have also been growing concerns about networks of far-right "preppers" found to be stockpiling weapons in case of a civil conflict in Germany.
"If we take the government's information at face value, then the security forces are utterly in the dark on the issue of weapons possession and neo-Nazis," Renner, a member of the Bundestag's interior policy committee and spokeswoman for the Left party's anti-fascist policy, said in a statement on her website.
Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), has noticed a rise in the number of far-right extremists in the past few years,according to a report released in July. The BfV identified 32,080 right-wing extremists in Germany in 2019, up from 24,100 the year before. Some 13,000 of these were categorized as potentially violent. At the time of the report's release, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer described far-right extremism as the biggest threat to security in Germany.
According to the ministry, the police only kept data on the number of reported crimes involving firearms. The ministry said the statistical gap was down to the fact that an old crime reporting system was being phased out in favor of a "strategic component" to its database.
The Interior Ministry was, however, able to provide statistics on the type and number of explosives impounded in the past three years. The stats showed that most were homemade, though some had evidently come from military stocks — but it was not clear whether these were Bundeswehr stocks or from foreign militaries.