BERLIN (JTA) — More than 14 percent of German teenagers in a survey said Jews must have deserved to be persecuted in the Holocaust.
"Youth as Victims and Perpetrators of Violence," a poll of 44,610 German students, also found that about one in every 20 German teenage boys belongs to a far-right group.
The survey, conducted by the Hanover-based Criminal Research Institute, found that far more German boys aged 15 belong to extremist groups than to mainstream political youth clubs. In some towns or cities, membership in far-right groups is as high as 10 percent, while in others it is virtually nonexistent.
Among boys of German background, 7 percent in former East German states showed clear signs of anti-Semitism and xenophobia, as opposed to 3 percent in western states. The institute’s director, Christian Pfeiffer, suggested it might be due to the decades of anti-Israel propaganda promoted in the former Communist East Germany.
In all questions related to far-right identification and anti-Semitism, "boys are far above the girls," Pfeiffer noted, adding that in general, the survey also found that girls who joined far-right groups usually were following a boyfriend.
German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the survey made clear that more funding is needed for youth sports clubs in trouble spots around the country.
Juliane Wetzel, an expert on educational programs at the Berlin-based Center for Research on Anti-Semitism, said "It is important to get to these youngsters who feel there is nothing else out there for them."