Attacks on asylum shelters rise in Germany

In the Bavarian city of Fichtelberg on a Saturday afternoon in January 2014, a group of men pushed their way into a refugee shelter.

Dressed in black and partially masked, the intruders stopped at the stairwell and began yelling, according to sources quoted in the local newspaper Nordbayerische Kurier.

Nobody in the shelter, however, understood what the men were shouting as most of the refugees had just arrived in Bavaria and spoke no German. After the shouting, the black-clad group quickly left the refugee shelter.

Arson attacks, broken windows and racists slurs painted on buildings are among the rising number of right-wing acts of aggression against refugee shelters across Germany. The Federal Criminal Police (BKA) registered 59 right-wing offenses in 2013, more then twice as many as the year before.

The real figure, however, could be higher as BKA records only offenses where the nature of a crime can clearly be attributed to right-wing extremists. Attacks like the one in Fichtelberg, for instance, don’t appear in the statistics. Police need evidence to determine a xenophobic crime took place, and shouting in the hallway that the shelter’s residents did not understand does not qualify.

The human rights organization Pro Asylum has registered 20 offenses, including 12 arson attacks, so far this year. Managing director Günter Burkardt told DW that the development reminded him of the charged atmosphere in the early 1990s when right-wing extremists attacked refugees and immigrants, some of whom later died…