As we travel throughout the country, how much iconography and in-your-face displays of Nazi support are we likely to encounter? This image from December 2013 makes it abundantly clear that laws on the books in Germany regarding display of a swastika are, well, a joke. There are hundreds to be found in Google Image Search, this is hardly a one-off.
So, Germans and others traveling through Germany these days, how in-you-face is it? What’s the mood?
Odd question. You’ll see fewer signs of neo-Naziism in Germany than you will of white supremacy activity or sympathy in the US.
All the same I wouldn’t consider white supremacist presence in the US to be especially representative of US natives (troubling, sure, but not representative), nor would I be especially worried about running into it as a tourist.
I agree with you in finding the rise of extreme right-wing politics in recent years quite worrisome, but just to be factually accurate, the NPD didn’t come fourth, as the article claims, but eleventh.
As for in-your-face displays of Nazi paraphernalia, I’ve personally never seen it, and I’d suspect the only place you’d find it would be NPD demonstrations, and I’m not sure even there. The photo you posted appears to be from a demonstration in Skokie, Illinois, by the way (it would be strange for a German Neo-Nazi to wear English insignia; plus those traffic lights don’t look like any I’ve ever seen over here).
I lived in Germany three years, and I saw a neo-nazi exactly once. I was walking down the street and these three big, young dudes with shaved heads, wall-to-wall tattoos, and combat boots were walking toward me. I noticed some swastikas and iron eagles among the tattoos, and I was surprised because the anti-nazi symbolism laws are absolutely not a joke. You pretty much never see that kind of thing there. They were walking three abreast, and it was clear they weren’t going to part for me to be able to get by them. My immediate thought was “Fuck these punks. I’m not getting out of their way.” As I got closer I realized how big, and mean, and “three of them” they were, and I veered off the sidewalk and went around them. I guess I’m like a modern day Chamberlain.
Anyway, they have a lot of trains and streetcars in Germany. A fair amount of people get hit and killed by them every year. If you want to worry about something, I’d go with the trains.
You’ll see much more neo-Nazism in other European countries (the worst right now, IIRC, is Hungary) than in Germany. I’m not sure why you think the current restrictions in place are a joke - they have some of the strictest anti-Nazi laws in the world. A while back, PETA got into a bit of trouble in Berlin; they had an exhibit which compared pictures of animals in slaughterhouses to Jews in concentration camps. It was banned by Germany’s high court because they said it trivialized the Holocaust.
I’m not at all meaning to imply that antisemitism isn’t a major problem in Europe - it is, and neo-Nazi groups are growing at an alarming rate - but Germany isn’t one of the places you need to worry about (especially as a tourist).
Well, I can really only invite you to come over and see by yourself. I’d be extremely surprised (and disheartened) if you came into any contact with Neo-Naziist displays of any sort. If it helps allay your fears, according to statistics, the potential for rightwing extremism (blue curve) as well as overall membership in extreme rightwing parties (yellow curve) has consistently decreased in recent years, as has the number of deaths due to rightwing extremism (orange curve: numbers according to the anti-rightwing Amadeu Antonio foundation, purple curve: official statistics).