March 17, 2009

German Boys Join Anti-Immigrant, Neo-Nazi Groups, Study Shows

A study funded by Germany’s Interior Ministry showed that more than twice as many German boys belong to anti-immigrant or neo-Nazi groups than claim membership of the major political parties’ youth organizations.

Out of more than 26,000 youths surveyed in 2007 and 2008, 4.9 percent of boys said they belonged to a “right-wing group or ‘Kamaradschaft’,” the study by Hanover-based research institute KFN showed. That compares with as many as 2 percent that belong to youth organizations for established parties.

“It’s shocking that these right-wing groups can be more successful at mobilizing our youth than the established parties,” KFN Director Christian Pfeiffer told reporters today in Berlin. While a comparison between such groups is inexact, since many established party youth clubs charge membership fees, Pfeiffer said it was instructive.

Last month, about 6,000 German skinhead and neo-Nazi groups in the eastern city of Dresden staged one of their biggest demonstrations since German reunification in 1990. The groups, mostly made up of youths tied to the anti-immigrant National Democratic Party, used the 64th anniversary of the 1945 firebombing of Dresden on Feb. 14 to hold a “mourning march.”

Speaking alongside German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble at a press conference, Pfeiffer said he didn’t know whether the 4.9 percent figure had increased, since a comparable number wasn’t available from previous studies. Some 2.6 percent of girls said they belonged to anti-immigrant and neo-Nazi organizations.

Kamaradschaften are clubs that offer a forum for symbols and songs that often recall Germany’s Nazi past. The display of Nazi symbols is prohibited in Germany.

The study also revealed that 29.7 percent of youths agreed with the statement that there are “too many foreigners in Germany;” another 34.8 percent tended toward that position, according to the study, Youth in Germany as Victims and Perpetrators of Violence.


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