Neo-Nazism in West Germany
The oharaoter of right-wing extremism in the Federal Republic has undergone extensive transformations in the seventies. As electoral support for the extreme Right declined, a whole range of new groupings emerged pursuing a militant extra-parliamentary strategy. Essential charaoteristics are an increasing tendency to use violence and a close ideological affinity to the NSDAP. They attract a growing number of young people. The increasing susceptibility of young people to rightist ideologies coincides with an economic recession of which young people especially are the victims. Widespread ignorance about Nazism and the prevalence of anti-democratic political attitudes constitute important contributary factors and point to a considerable potential for right-extremism in the Federal Republic., This potential can be attributed. to the negative effects of much of the material dealing with the NS past, to serious deficiencies in the area of historical-political education in schools and, above all, to the absence of any :real process of "coming to terms with the past" in the postwar period. Neo-Nazism is not completely isolated from other trends in West German society. Rightist elements within the established party system and broad sections of the population hold similar views and attitudes. This similarity, linked with an over-exaggerated concern with a perceived threat from the extreme Left may explain the absence of any concerted effort to deal with nee-Nazi tendencies. The response of the courts exemplifies a widespread tendency to under-estimate the significance of the extreme Right. Opposition to the Right is restricted primarily to those circles which suffered most under the Nazi regime. The analysis suggests that one must reject the simplistic view that at the present time the Right does not constitute a serious threat to West German democracy. The study evaluates the wide range of views to be found in secondary sources on the subject of neo-Nazism and is :intended, to contribute to the ongoing discussion conceming the potential for right-extremism in West Germany.