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Thursday, 8 February, 2001, 10:59 GMT
German racist attacks soar
Neo-Nazi demonstrators
There has been a rise in attacks and in racist attitudes
Germany has reported a 40% increase in racist attacks as a new survey shows that almost every second young East German thinks that the Nazi regime "had its good side".

The system in the GDR has left behind a great trail of spiritual and mental destruction

German Interior Minister Otto Schilly
Overall, racist crime in Germany, which includes displaying Nazi symbols and shouting Nazi slogans, rose by 45% last year.

Interior Minister Otto Schilly described it as a "worrying increase".

Between January and November last year, 13,753 right-wing, xenophobic and anti-Semitic crimes were carried out compared with 9,456 in the same period the previous year.

Eastern emphasis

Almost half the crimes took place in the former East Germany, though only 21% of the country's population lives there and far fewer foreigners live there than in the west.

"The regional emphasis of the violence is clearly East Germany, including Berlin," said Mr Schilly in an interview with Die Woche newspaper.

He also said that the perpetrators in the east were younger and more militant than those in the west - two thirds of the attackers in the east were under 21.

NPD demonstration
The constitutional court is considering a ban on the NPD

"The system in the GDR has left behind a great trail of spiritual and mental destruction," he said.

A survey into young people's attitudes by the Forsa Institute also showed a regional divide - 47% of 14 to 25-year-old East Germans think the Nazi ideology had its good sides compared with 35% of young West Germans.

Forty-six per cent of East Germans think there are too many foreigners in Germany, compared with 40% of those in the West.

Right-wing views seemed stronger among East German high school students - 61% think there are too many foreigners, 62% that Nazism has its good side and 15% think Nazi ideology is "in itself a good idea".

Mr Schilly said the government was considering a proposed foreign exchange programme for young East Germans to foster tolerance through contact with other cultures.

Last week a formal request to ban the extreme right-wing National Democratic Party was presented to Germany's constitutional court.

Far-right crimes became the focus of national debate last summer after a bomb attack on a group of foreigners in Dusseldorf and the murder of a Mozambican man by skinheads.

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See also:

10 Nov 00 | Europe
German Senate backs neo-Nazi ban
09 Nov 00 | Europe
In pictures: German rally
03 Sep 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Race hate in Germany
30 Aug 00 | Europe
German racist killers jailed
07 Aug 00 | Europe
Germany agonises over neo-Nazis
30 Jul 00 | Media reports
Germany agonises over bomb attack
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