While right-wing extremist violence in Germany looks set to break all records this year, a new study now reports a clear east-west divide in xenophobia. More than 60 percent of citizens in the five new states are xenophobic, compared with 46 percent in the West, according to this year's survey of the long-term study "German Conditions". Overall, slightly less than half of German citizens (48.5 percent) had xenophobic feelings, experts from the University of Bielefeld explained. Put simply: In the east and south of the republic it is not easy not to be German.
Respondents in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania were most xenophobic (64 percent). In Thuringia, the figure is 61.1 percent. Saxony-Anhalt (60.1), Saxony (59.4) and Brandenburg (58.2) are in the other places.
Bavaria and Saarland close to the East In the West, Saarland (54.2) is in the lead. This is followed by Bavaria (51.4), Lower Saxony (48.7), Hesse (48.4) and Rhineland-Palatinate (47.4). Baden-Wurttemberg (45.4), North Rhine-Westphalia (43.7) and Bremen (42.5) are behind. The lowest level of xenophobia was found in Schleswig-Holstein (41.3), Hamburg (37.6) and Berlin (36.9). The hostile attitude toward foreigners is only one of the consequences of growing social disintegration, says study director Wilhelm Heitmeyer, explaining the results. In addition, fear of the future and the feeling of having no political influence have increased in the past five years.
No improvement in sight "The highest approval of hostile expressions is found in village communities and small towns in eastern Germany."Because of the stronger prere to adapt behavior, a further increase in xenophobia is to be feared in these regions with high emigration and economically weak regions, according to the social scientist. Contradictory studies The results of the new study are surprising; only a few weeks ago, a study by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation revised the prejudice of the "right-wing extremist East": It concluded that there were more people with right-wing extremist attitudes in the West of Germany than in the East.CSU Secretary General Markus Soder criticized the study, saying that "studies like this completely miss the point of reality."The fact is that in Bavaria, contrary to the national trend, right-wing extremist crimes have decreased significantly. Soder added: "Bavaria is the state with the lowest crime rate in Germany, where Germans and foreigners can feel equally safe."On behalf of the Left Party in the Bundestag, however, migration policy spokeswoman Sevim Dagdelen emphasized that the study had once again made "particularly clear" the urgency of a "national action plan against racism". She accused the federal government of "sloppy handling" of the ie of right-wing extremism. In the study, a sign of xenophobia was agreement with the statements "There are too many foreigners living in Germany" and "If jobs become scarce, foreigners living in Germany should be sent back home". 9968 citizens were surveyed.
No surprise: national pride and xenophobic attitudes are close together The head of the study, Professor Wilhelm Heitmeyer, expressed concern about the "densification" of social problems in many regions of eastern Germany. This is where "democracy emptying" occurs. Especially in economically "downward drifting regions," immigrant strangers met with hostility. It is to be feared that "the risk of discrimination and violence will increase".Heitmeyer warned that it is "risky to try to compensate for social disintegration with national pride". This had also been demonstrated during the soccer World Cup. The professor added: "The 'new' national pride in black-red-gold was generally welcomed. However, the analysis of data from our longitudinal study from 2002 and 2006 shows that national pride has a significant influence on xenophobic attitudes: The higher the identification with Germany and the greater the pride in one's own group, the more strongly foreign groups are devalued.
"Right-wing extremist crime reaches record high At the same time, it is now known that right-wing extremist crime in Germany is apparently heading for a new, sad record this year. As reported by the Berlin daily Tages-spiegel, citing information from the German government, police nationwide from January to the end of October found more than 10.000 right-wing crimes registered. That would be more in this period than at any time since 2001. At that time, the state criminal investigation offices had introduced a new system for catching politically motivated crimes.