Task Force on Youth Violence and Right-Wing Extremism
Background: Ever since the unification of West and East Germany, right-wing extremist activities and xenophobic attitudes have been recognized as a persistent problem. Even though right-wing extremist political parties have lost members in recent years, groups that are not connected with parties and various right-wing extremist youth scenes retain their appeal. Today’s right-wing extremists do not present a danger to Germany’s political system. But the insults, threats and violent attacks on foreigners, including many immigrants, are a constant threat to these individuals. And the xenophobic attacks are a threat to peaceful coexistence. Attacks on minorities are tantamount to attacks on overall societal mores. Research shows that most xenophobic violence is committed by young men under the age of 25. They usually appear in groups whose behavior is characterized by the breaking of taboos, including the aestheticization of physical violence and anti-minority attitudes.
Some right-wing extremist scenes are recognizable through their appearance, symbols, music and other media common among militant and chauvinistic political movements. One of their extreme methods of provocation is the use of slogans in traditional National Socialist style. Other right-wing extremist scenes hardly differ in their external self-representation from non-right-wing groups. Right-wing extremist youth scenes represent a transitional stage, equally characterized by typical youth culture behavior and by political activities. The overlapping of youth culture and political extremism can lead to ideological radicalization and undesirable learning processes. On the other hand, the easy access to such scenes also offers access points for interventions. In this case, this includes home, school and training institutions, as well as children’s and youth services.
Mandate: The Task Force supports an on-going and professional pedagogical approach to the problem, involving both children and adolescents. The goal is to provide youth in the public arena with positive experiences of civil coexistence and to enable self-determined learning processes.
The Task Force
• provides information about youth violence, xenophobia and right-wing extremism
• advises on the design, planning and implementation of training events
• participates in training sessions
• advises those involved in the critical confrontation with right-wing extremism
• carries out research on the situation of youth in Berlin and Brandenburg within the framework of local and regional studies
Target Groups: Public and voluntary youth help organizations, teachers and other educators as well as departments of the federal states of Berlin and Brandenburg.
Development: The Task Force on Youth Violence and Right-wing Extremism was initiated in 1999 by the then-director of the Center for Research on Antisemitism, Prof. Wolfgang Benz. With the Task Force, an interface was created between political/pedagogical practice and academic practice. From 2002 through 2008, the “Task Force on Youth Violence and Right-wing Extremism” was financed through the Stiftung Deutsche Klassenlotterie Berlin (DKLB Foundation). Since April 2008 it has been financed by the TU Berlin.
Publications: The publications generated by the task force can be found here. Contact: michael.kohlstruck[at]tu-berlin.de Tel: 314-25838