Continued from page 2

Kerstin Koeditz, a left-wing lawmaker, said the proliferation of extremist groups has been helped by what she described as “a new wave of xenophobia from the heart of society.”

Persistent high joblessness in the east, growing anti-Muslim sentiment since 9/11, and fears that a collapse of the euro could destroy the German economy have given far-right groups plenty of political talking points, she said.

Ms. Koeditz, who sits in the state parliament of Saxony for the Left Party, says far-right groups have also become more adept at evading laws in recent years.

German law forbids the display of Nazi symbols and any public glorification of Adolf Hitler, so many groups host their websites abroad and use anonymous online message boards to communicate.

Another reason for Germany’s inability to keep up with emerging far-right groups is an unwieldy apparatus, in which dozens of different law enforcement and intelligence agencies failed to talk to each other.

Germany’s security services acknowledge that although the number of registered members of nationalist parties is declining — the NPD had 6,300 members last year, compared with 6,600 in 2010 — the number of violent far-right extremists is rising.

Authorities say there are 9,800 violent extremists, up 300 from 9,500 in 2010. These are people who have been involved in violence or who are linked to groups that explicitly advocate violence.

The domestic intelligence agency’s annual report on extremism counted almost 17,000 far-right crimes in 2011, up slightly from the previous year. Of those, 755 were classed as violent crimes, such as attempted murder, arson or resisting arrest.

The agency noted in its report that “one has to reckon with the existence and creation of right-wing terror groups, as well as activities by individual right-wing terrorists.”