German Jews: Atmosphere like 1930s
Copies of Anne Frank's diary burned at Neo-Nazi parties, Ethiopian youth beaten because of his ethnicity, student humiliated because of his association with Jews. These are only some manifestations of the rise in Neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic violence in Germany. Jewish community leaders say dangerous trend is being ignored by government
According to the data, over the course of the first eight months of the year 8,000 acts of Neo-Nazi racial crime were documented. This compared to 6,605 in the previous year. The figures show a 20 percent increase compared to 2005 and a 50 percent increase compared to 2004. Over this time period 452 violent anti-Semitic attacks were reported, in which 325 people were injured. During the parallel time period in 2005 363 violent attacks occurred and 302 people were injured.
Among the incidents reported was the startling event reported last week, in which students forced a fellow classmate to bear a sign which said "I am the greatest pig of all because I am friends with Jews" and Neo-Nazi parties where copies of 'Anne Frank's Diary' were thrown into a campfire against the background of racist chants.
'German political system ignoring issue purposely'
The figures were released while extremist right-wing party NPD achieves significant victories in regional elections in the federal state of Mecklenburg West-Pomerania last month, when it broke the votes threshold and ensure representation in the local parliament. Mecklenburg West-Pomerania joins Saxony and Thuringia as the third federal state with NPD parliament representation.
The figures have awoken intense public debate in Germany, several months after managing to display tolerance and openness during the World Cup. Charlotte Knobloch, president of the central Jewish-German council, warned that the trend was a dangerous one. "Anyone who still thinks that we're talking about isolated events doesn't grasp the danger to the community. The aggressiveness we're experiencing is reminiscent of 1933," she said to DPA, the German news agency.
In 1933 Hitler first rose to power as Prime Minister of Germany. Jewish businesses were boycotted and Nazi agents assaulted, threatened and kicked out Jews from German cities. Knobloch blamed the German political system for ignoring the issue, saying it is contributing to the rise of anti-Semitism and strengthens the extreme right.
German's domestic intelligence agency, Verfassungsschutz, is trusted with keeping tabs on Neo-Nazi activity in the country. According to the government's figures there are 40,000 right-wing extremists, about a quarter of which are defined as violent skinheads.