German police investigate students for sharing Nazi symbols online


Police in the southern German town of Leonberg have investigated five students for sharing far-right symbols and pornography in a chat group, a police spokeswoman said on Friday. Police said they considered the actions to be teenage misbehavior, and that the messages they shared with each other had not been sent to anyone outside the group chat.

Part of a letter to the students’ parents from the headmaster of their school, Klaus Nowotzin, was published in the Bild newspaper, in which the headmaster writes that the chat contained swastikas, the Hitler salute, sexualized caricatures and disparaging remarks about people with Down syndrome.

Frequent use of the internet has become popular among many far-right groups as they spread their views and propaganda primarily through social media networks popular with young people. This also leads to various far-right extremist groups from different countries to connect through the internet to propagate their messages.

An image of a machine gun and the subtitle “Solves 1,800 asylum applications per minute” was also reportedly found. The headmaster subsequently contacted police over the issue. The southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg requires public schools to report any incidents of anti-Semitism, racism or acts against other religious minorities.

Susanne Eisenmann, the state’s minister for culture, underlined the fact that far-right symbols and slogans, which are banned in Germany, and discriminatory content have no place in German schools. “We are all called upon to stand up to anti-Semitism and to be watchful of any anti-Semitic tendencies,” she said.

Germany is home to some 12,700 potentially violent far-right radicals, according to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) domestic intelligence agency. A Civey poll this week showed 60% of Germans think the government is “doing too little” to tackle the problem. As support for the far-right has increased over the last four years, German authorities are increasingly concerned over growing right-wing terrorism in the country. Lately, a secret report by the BfV revealed in May that right-wing extremists are preparing for “a civil war scenario” by training to use firearms and explosives. Those people are collecting firearms and other supplies in preparation for “a civil war” or “a feared collapse of public order” in the country.