Human Rights First Releases New Report on Rise of Extremism, Far-Right in Germany

Washington, D.C.Human Rights First today released a new report examining antisemitism, xenophobia, and extremism in Germany. The report, “Germany Conflicted: The Struggle Between Xenophobia and Tolerance,” analyzes current trends in Germany, as well as recommendations for both Germany and the United States to jointly combat the rise of extremism in all its forms. Today’s report comes just days before Germany’s presidential election on February 12, and at a critical time when the new Trump Administration and upcoming elections across Europe are poised to test the transatlantic alliance and emerging threats to democratic norms.

“Germany and the United States have much in common on issues of antisemitism, xenophobia, and intolerance,” said Human Rights First’s Susan Corke. “Problems of institutional discrimination, the prevalence of hate online, and the weaponization of fear by politicians have contributed to spikes in hate crimes in both countries. This problem must be urgently addressed, as a strong U.S.-German relationship is essential for security in the region. A commitment to human rights and tolerance must remain the foundation of the transatlantic alliance.”

The report outlines how Germany is at a tipping point as it heads into important national elections in 2017. Germany has been a leader within Europe on the refugee crisis, maintaining a welcoming policy toward those fleeing violence and persecution. However, the uneven implementation of this policy has exacerbated existing social divides. Because the German government failed in important ways to adequately prepare the country to receive refugees, many in Germany perceive that the situation has spiraled out of control.

While Germany’s history makes it unique, its struggle against xenophobia-fueled illiberalism is increasingly representative of trends buffeting Europe and the United States. Across the Atlantic —in societies roiled by social change, globalization, and terrorism—demagogic leaders and far-right movements are magnifying and leveraging hatred toward ethnic, racial, and religious minorities.

The report contains recommendations for Germany and the United States to promote greater transatlantic cooperation to ensure that tolerance and human rights remain the foundation of their democracies. These recommendations include:

  • Address institutional racism. Germany should implement recommendations to bolster training for law enforcement on racial discrimination and hate crimes, and create external accountability mechanisms.
  • Strengthen responses to hate crime. Resources to protect communities from hate crime should be increased to match the increased threat.
  • Prioritize refugee policy and integration. The German government should seek to restore society’s confidence in its ability to manage the refugee crisis and integrate refugees and migrants in a way that is inclusive, safe, and rights-respecting.
  • Fight hate online. Government, technology companies, and civil society in both the United States and Germany should continue to work together to counter the spread of misinformation, intolerance, and extremism online.

For more information see Human Rights First’s report, “Germany Conflicted: The Struggle Between Xenophobia and Tolerance.”


Published on February 7, 2017


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