Radicalisation research and prevention in Germany

Building a monitoring system and transfer platform

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The research project MOTRA tackles the issue of radicalisation in Germany based on evidence-based knowledge and cross-sectoral dissemination and networking.

Timeframe: 2019 - 2024

The research project MOTRA (Monitoring System and Transfer Platform Radikalisierung) aims to tackle the issue of radicalisation in Germany by improving evidence-based knowledge and by strengthening broad cross-sectoral dissemination and networking.

The MOTRA project will create a central monitoring platform for the early detection and prevention of extremism and serve as a contact and information point for scientists, authorities, civil society and policy makers. The researchers are carrying out systematic and holistic monitoring of root cause dynamics and driving factors of violent radicalisation in Germany. They investigate the interrelationships between different extremist milieus and include international perspectives. The network will reach out to projects and initiatives already working in this dynamic field. Over the next five years, the consortium will receive EUR 12 million in funding from the German Ministry for Education and Research in the context of its civil security research programme.

Project website:


At present, an increase in politically and religiously motivated radicalisation is being observed in Germany. This development is reflected, among other things, in politically motivated crime, violence and in forms of expressive hate crime. Social phenomena such as radicalisation, extremism and even terrorism are a permanent challenge for both the security authorities and society more broadly. In this context, violent extremism must be understood as consequence of inadequately regulated social conflicts, which requires the simultaneous consideration of three variables: the person acting, the ideology motivating action and the respective environment. These variables are highly interdependent.

Particular attention is therefore paid to the aspect of detecting and addressing extremism before it can turn into violence. To this end, knowledge of the extent, development, forms and causes of politically and/or religiously motivated extremism have to be recorded and analysed systemically. Analogous to increasingly complex processes of radicalisation, a dynamic increase in corresponding research and practice activities can be observed nationally and internationally. The development of structures for a more comprehensive, coordinated transfer of insights within and between the fields of science, politics and practice is lagging behind this rapid expansion of knowledge.

This is where MOTRA comes in – it aims to contribute to a comprehensive and evidence-based design of policy and practice by pursuing two central objectives:

  • Empirical-analytical objective: Monitoring of diverse strands of radicalization in Germany

    The holistic and systematic monitoring is implemented by means of multi-method, longitudinal phenomenon/trend analyses and in-depth case analyses. Systematic phenomenon monitoring enables a faster identification and classification of new phenomenon trends and lays ground for prognostic statements on significant phenomenon developments.
  • Structural objective: Improved transfer between science – practice – policy

    The transfer platform offers a forum for exchange, based on a continuously updated inventory of current research findings. Already existing and related research initiatives in Germany will be invited to promote synergy effects. With the help of this central platform, knowledge gained through monitoring will be communicated to the academic community, civil society, authorities and policy makers to significantly shorten the time lag between the generation of research findings and their application context.

The typically interdisciplinary character of this research is crucial for MOTRA and is reflected in the numerous partners from science, politics and practice. Their participation in the network is essential for the rapid and successful transfer of knowledge among the three areas.

The Berghof Foundation will add insights and methods from peace and conflict studies to the interdisciplinary approach of the consortium. Building on its experience as convener of spaces for dialogue and conflict transformation, it will enrich the consortium research by bringing together yearly expert panels on national, regional and local level. These expert panels have four goals: to (1) engage a broad section of stakeholders in refining (qualitative) research results and methods; (2) engage a broad range of stakeholders in assessing hidden or new radicalisation processes; (3) enable conflict sensitive data collection and knowledge transfer; and (4) connect the empirical-analytic and structural objectives by organising focus groups and stakeholder dialogue.

Partners and funding

The project consortium consists of the following core partner organisations:

  • Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), Wiesbaden (lead)
  • Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)
  • Kriminologische Zentralstelle e. V., Wiesbaden
  • German Institute for Global and Area Studies, Hamburg
  • Berghof Foundation Operations gGmbH, Berlin
  • Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB) gGmbH, Berlin
  • Universität Hamburg
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

This project is funded by the German Ministry for Education and Research in the context of its civil security research programme and the German Ministry of the Interior.

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Publications from this project:

Uwe Kemmesies, Peter Wetzels, Beatrix Austin, Axel Dessecker, Edgar Grande, Isabel Kusche & Diana Rieger: MOTRA-Monitor 2020. MOTRA. 2021.

Related publications:

Engjellushe Morina, Beatrix Austin, Tim Jan Roetman & Veronique Dudouet: Community Perspectives on Violent Extremism: Strengthening local factors of social resilience. Policy Brief. Berghof Foundation. 2019.

Engjellushe Morina, Beatrix Austin, Tim Jan Roetman & Véronique Dudouet: Community Perspectives on Preventing Violent Extremism Lessons learned from the Western Balkans. Research Report. Berghof Foundation. 2019.

Karin Göldner-Ebenthal & Véronique Dudouet, with support from Marie Migeon: Dialogue with Salafi jihadi armed groups: Challenges and opportunities for conflict de-escalation. Berghof Foundation. Berlin 2019.

Cassandra Schützko & Hazem Elgafari: Preventing Radicalisation and Supporting De-Radicalisation. Approaches and Main Stakeholders in Germany. Berghof Mapping Study (available upon request). 2017.



Project lead

Beatrix Austin
Head of Department
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Team members

Andreas Schädel
Michaela Glaser
Elias Bosch


Media contact

Florian Lüdtke
Media and Communications Manager
+49 (0)151 6655 7357
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