Germany’s Scholz Says Dark Neo-Nazi Networks are on the Rise

Jens Schlueter/Pool via REUTERS
German Finance Minister, Vice-Chancellor and the Social Democratic Party’s (SPD) main candidate Olaf Scholz speaks during an election campaign event in Leipzig, Germany September 5, 2021.

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Saturday voiced concern over the rise of extreme-right tendencies in his country 79 years after the Auschwitz extermination camp was liberated.

“New reports are emerging all the time: about neo-Nazis and their dark networks,” the Social Democrat said in a recorded video speech commemorating the Jan. 27, 1945, liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops.

“At the same time, right-wing populists are gaining ground, fueling fear and sowing hatred,” Scholz said, adding that this should not be accepted.

Indeed protests against the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party have been gaining momentum in the wake of a report that two senior party members joined a meeting to discuss plans for the mass deportation of citizens of foreign origin, with countrywide demonstrations heading into their third week.

The protesters are looking to curb support for the AfD, which is polling in second place nationally and first in the three eastern German states holding elections this year.

“It is the cohesion of democrats that makes our democracy strong,” Scholz said.

“Showing it confidently in public – as is happening now – feels good,” he added.

The chancellor also welcomed a landmark ruling to cut funding to the radical right-wing party Die Heimat, which sparked a debate on whether a similar step could be taken against the nationalist AfD party, referring to the decision as “very good.”