Last month, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party ruled out any form of cooperation with the AfD, saying its rhetoric had contributed to an atmosphere of hate that encouraged political violence.
In Berlin alone, requests on how to handle threats by right-wing extremists by both individuals and organizations have roughly tripled since 2012-13, according to the organization Mobile Counselling Against Right-Wing Extremism.
“We see that the AfD in Parliament is very confident. That also gives right-wing extremists the confidence to threaten people who stand for democracy and human rights,” said Bianca Klose, who leads the organization. “That is a new development.”
For Hollstein and other politicians, the antidote to extremism is awareness. They are now pushing for greater openness and education around the issue.
“It’s not enough to make laws, but we need to educate children and parents,” said Mirjam Blumenthal, the leader of the Social Democratic Party in the Neukölln Parliament.
Two years ago, her car was also torched by right-wing extremists. She is unable to speak about more recent incidents because of ongoing police investigations.
“Our democracy is strong. But our democracy is in danger,” Blumenthal said.