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Rule of LawGermany

Politically motivated crimes in Germany hit record: report

Timothy Jones
January 18, 2022

Politically motivated crimes in Germany in 2021 hit their highest rate since related statistics were introduced, according to media reports. But not all offenses could be attributed to a particular ideology.

Police facing off with COVID skeptics demonstrating in the German city of Kassel
Tensions amid the coronavirus pandemic are thought to be behind an uptick in politically motivated offensesImage: Thilo Schmuelgen/REUTERS

There were more politically motivated crimes in Germany in 2021 than in any year in the preceding two decades, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has said, according to a report by the dpa news agency.

The preliminary data, showing a rise of about 6% in such crimes compared with 2020, was released in response to a parliamentary question by a lawmaker from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, dpa reported.

What did the data show?

Altogether 47,303 crimes classed as politically motivated were committed in 2021, the data showed. The final figure could be even higher, as the answer was given to a query from January 5.

At the same time, violent crimes with a political motivation went down by about 6%, according to the data.

More than 19,000 of the offenses were attributed to suspects from the right-wing milieu, while about 9,000 were committed by people considered to hold left-wing views.

More than 17,000 of the politically motivated crimes could not be classified as left- or right-wing by police. Security officials say that tensions amid the coronavirus pandemic may have contributed to this increase.

For violent crimes that were politically motivated, police logged 1,047 cases in which suspects could not be classed as belonging to any particular part of the political spectrum or religious ideology. That compares with 591 violent crimes of uncertain political motivation in 2020.

 Police officers confronted by demonstrators
Police in Germany are often faced by violence at protests against coronavirus measuresImage: Thilo Schmuelgen/REUTERS

New category of social phenomena

Last year, in response to a rise in conspiracy theories and antisemitic ideologies amid the pandemic, the domestic intelligence agency, the BfV, began to focus on certain social phenomena related to a general "delegitimization of the state" that are seen as endangering the rule of law. 

German authorities began recording statistics on politically motivated crime only in 2001.

Edited by: Rebecca Staudenmaier

Fighting right-wing extremism in a town in Saxony