Since Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel on October 7th, there has been a massive increase in politically motivated crimes in Germany in connection with the Middle East conflict. The number of crimes from this context known to the police last year was 4,369, more than seventy times the 61 offenses in the previous year, as shown by the statistics on political crime published by the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA).

A total of 1,927 of these acts are considered anti-Semitic, the vast majority of which were committed from October 7th onwards. The police classify more than half of the almost 4,400 crimes as “foreign ideology”. So she sees evidence that a non-religious ideology that came from abroad was crucial to the crime.

New high

The number of politically motivated crimes known to the police reached 60,028 in 2023, the highest level since the statistics were introduced in 2001, with a slight increase of less than 2 percent compared to the previous year. 3,561 of these cases were violent crimes, almost 12 percent less than in 2022.

The statistics on politically motivated crime are initial statistics, which means that crimes are recorded when they become known to the police – so there is an unreported case. Multiple counts are possible if crimes fall into more than one category (phenomenon area).

Propaganda, property damage, insults

The lion’s share of the crimes (a third) were propaganda crimes, for example the use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations. These can be badges such as the SS skull or slogans. In second place was damage to property (15.50 percent), followed by insults (13.95 percent) and sedition (12.77 percent). Then come coercion and threats as well as violations of the right to assembly.

Crime scene internet

The number of politically motivated crimes committed on or with the help of the Internet rose significantly to 15,488 – an increase of 60.08 percent. There was a sharp increase in particular in the areas of religious and foreign ideology. However, around 7,000 acts from the right-wing spectrum made up the largest proportion.

Fewer acts of violence – but more victims with health problems

The number of politically motivated crimes known to the police has fallen by almost 12 percent compared to 2022. The 1270 acts from the right-wing spectrum make up the majority, followed by 916 acts from the left-wing spectrum. The acts of violence include bodily harm, but also 17 attempted and three completed homicides.

A total of 1,759 people, more than in the previous year (plus 5.96 percent), suffered damage to their health as a result of politically motivated violence. Most of these acts occurred for right-wing motives.

More hatred for supposed strangers

Hate crime increased significantly (by 47.63 percent) with a total of 17,007 cases. This refers to acts in which someone acted out of prejudice against certain groups.

A crime can appear multiple times in the statistics if the police assume more than one motive. By far the largest group consists of 15,087 “xenophobic” acts, which mostly fall into the right-wing phenomenon area. The statistics also separately mention “xenophobic” motives; here it is more specifically about the actual or assumed nationality. Anti-Semitic and racist motives are also widespread.

State and religion as goals

Crimes against religious communities have more than doubled to 7,029, mostly targeting religious representatives. However, the number of crimes against the state and its representatives has fallen by more than a quarter, to 15,050. But this development is not as encouraging as it seems, because at the same time the number of crimes against people who are politically active or hold government office has increased significantly (by 29.12 percent to 6,508).

These people have often experienced insults, coercion or threats and propaganda. The political motivation remains unclear, as the vast majority of crimes fall into the category of “other attribution”. This means that the police could not classify them as either right or left, or of foreign or religious ideology. The number of crimes against the police, including violent crimes, has fallen.

Motif climate or environmental protection

The actions of groups like the Last Generation – which has now given up its road blockades – are also reflected in the statistics. The police counted a total of 3,303 crimes in the areas of climate or environmental protection in 2023, almost doubling compared to the previous year. She attributed more than three quarters of the crimes to the left-wing spectrum. It was often about damage to property and coercion or threats.

Religiously motivated crimes

The number of crimes related to religious ideology has more than tripled to 1,458 crimes. It is often about incitement, threats of criminal offenses or damage to property. Most of the 94 acts “of terrorism quality” also fell into this area.

The BKA and the Interior Ministry write of a “continued high risk situation from Islamist extremism/terrorism.” The Federal Republic continues to be “in the immediate range of targets of terrorist organizations” such as the Islamic State (IS) or Al-Qaeda and their offshoots. The “persistently high risk” of jihadist-motivated acts of violence therefore continues to exist.

We are currently dealing primarily with individual perpetrators or small groups, whose actions have often been used by terrorist groups for their propaganda. “The current developments in the Middle East, which are likely to have a high threat relevance for the security situation in Germany, could also have a motivating effect.”

Corona is hardly an issue anymore

With the abolition of the Corona requirements, politically motivated crimes in this context have largely been eliminated. The police registered 1,662 offenses last year after 13,988 offenses the year before.

The detection rate

A little less than half of the crimes recorded in the previous year (46.85 percent) were solved; for violent crimes the rate was higher at 63.35 percent. Only cases in which there is at least one known suspect by name by January 31 of the following year are considered solved.