There was a decline in antisemitically motivated crime in
Germany in 2002. However, Berlin recorded a
dramatic rise for the third consecutive year. Most of the perpetrators of
violent anti-Jewish acts were radical Islamists. Besides desecration of
cemeteries throughout Germany, there were several violent
assaults on individuals as well as arson attacks on Jewish institutions.
Extreme rightists joined forces with the left to march in “peace”
demonstrations throughout Germany. Marchers bore anti-Israel,
anti-Zionist and anti-American placards. The government’s attempt to ban the
extreme right NPD was rejected by Germany’s Federal
The Jewish Community
Germany's Jewish community is the world's fastest growing,
having tripled over the past twenty years as a result of immigration from the
CIS. Germany now has a Jewish population of over 100,000, the third-largest in Europe,
out of a general population of about 83 million. The largest Jewish centers are
Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg, but Jewish communities are active in
most other large urban areas. Religious, cultural, and social support is
provided to a total of 83 communities. In many cities, especially those in
former East Germany, newcomers from the former Soviet Union account for the
majority of Jews. The veteran community is largely made up of East European
Jewish refugees and their progeny, and a smaller number of German Jews and
their offspring who returned to Germany after the war. Jewish immigration from
the CIS in 2002 numbered 19,262, slightly more than the number that arrived in Israel.
The Zentralrat, acts as the umbrella
organization of German Jewry. In recent years it has moved its headquarters to Berlin.
There are synagogues in most cities, and the larger communities have Jewish
schools as well. The weekly Allgemeine Jüdische Wochenzeitung is
the most prominent of a number of publications which serve the Jews of Germany.
The Frankfurt-based Tribüne is the leading Jewish scholarly
On 11 July 2003 the German Bundesrat ratified a treaty (Staatsvertrag) on cultural and social
cooperation, signed on 27 January 2003 (the 58th anniversary of the liberation
of Auschwitz) by the Federal Republic and the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
The sum of 3 million Euros (three times the amount provided in the past) will
be guaranteed as a fixed part of the annual federal budget to the community.
The two main Churches—Catholic and Protestant—also have similar federal
contracts. From now on cooperation between the German government and the
Central Council of Jews in Germany will be regulated under a formal agreement,
which Chancellor Gerhard Schröder referred to as an encouraging sign for
Jewish religious and cultural life in Germany. Central Council President Paul Spiegel
spoke of a “truly historical day for Jews in Germany.”
Work, accompanied by debates, continues on Germany’s
Holocaust memorial in Berlin, designed by the American Jewish architect Peter
Eisenman, and which consists of a maze of 2,700 pillars adjacent to the
Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate.
extremist parties and organizations
The Extreme Right
According to the police and the Federal Office for the Defense
of the Constitution (BfV), political groups on the far right attracted fewer
members and sympathizers in 2002 than in the previous year, their overall
number decreasing by 5,000 to 45,800 (including 28,100 members of extreme
right-political parties, compared to 33,000 in 2001). This general trend,
however, was not observed in all lander and did not result in a decrease
in incidents nationwide. While in Hamburg, for example, membership of extreme
right-wing organizations declined by 30 percent from 850 to 600, it remained constant
in Berlin (2,665), which also recorded an increase of over 50 percent in
extreme right criminal offenses, from 445 in 2001 to 948 in 2002. Violent attacks
motivated by extreme right-wing ideology rose in Berlin from 24 in 2001 to 44
Nationwide, 146 (2001: 141)
organizations and groupings were active. The number of those classified as neo-Nazis
shrank by 7 percent to 2,600 (2001: 2,800)
Extreme Right Parties
The Deutsche Volksunion (German
Peoples' Union – DVU), led by millionaire publisher Dr. Gerhard Frey, was
founded in 1987 and is still the largest extreme right-wing political party in
Germany despite financial reverses and the loss of some 2,000 members in 2001
as well as its resounding defeat in the Hamburg Senate election (see ASW 2001/2).
It won its most spectacular electoral victory in Sachsen-Anhalt in spring 1998,
when it gained 12.9 percent of the overall vote and became the largest single
party among 18 to 25-year-olds. The party did not participate in the September
2002 elections, but retains seats in two lander parliaments, Brandenburg
(since 1999) and Bremen (since 1987).
Its membership is estimated at 13,000.
The weekly National-Zeitung/Deutsche Wochenzeitung (circulation 45,000)
propagates xenophobia, antisemitism, anti-Americanism and hatred of Israel,
questions the Holocaust and engages in National Socialist apologetics. While on
29 September 2001, 1,200 persons attended the annual party convention in Passau,
almost half as many as in 2000, the event was cancelled altogether in 2002,
partly due to protests from the citizens of Passau and from anti-fascist groups.
The home page of the IDGR (Information Service against Right-Wing Extremism)
reported that for the first time the DVU joined with the NPD and the Freie
Kameradschaften (see below), in March 2002, in a neo-Nazi parade in Erfurt,
organized by Christian Worch (see ASW 2000/1).
Founded by former Waffen-SS officer Franz
Schönhuber in 1983 as a breakaway group from the CSU, the Republikaner (REPS) registered some electoral success in
the late 1980s and early 1990s, but as of March 2001 were not represented either
in the Bundesrat or in any state parliament. In November 2002 during the party
convention in Deggendorf, Dr. Rolf Schlierer was re-elected chairman (a
position he has held since 1994). The youth organization is the Republikaner
Membership has been decreasing steadily over the last
few years: from 14,000 in 1999, to 13,000 in 2000, 11,500 in 2001 and 9,000 in
2002. The REPS use the Internet extensively and their party organ Der
Republikaner (circulation, 12,000 copies) also appears
online. Under the slogan, “Socialist – Patriotic – Ecologic,” the REPS try to
present a respectable front and dissociate themselves from extremists such as
the NPD and the DVU. Their main agitation is directed against foreigners and
against what they refer to as the africanization and islamization of German
Eight of the founding fathers of the Nationaldemokratische
Partei Deutschlands (German National Democratic Party – NPD) were former
members of the Sozialistische Reichspartei, which was banned in 1952. Udo
Voigt, a party member since 1996, is chairman. The party is represented in
seven lander parliaments in west Germany
Despite the recent failure of a government-led court case against the NPD
(see below), the party has been substantially weakened, with its membership
dropping from 6,500 in 2001 to 6,100 in 2002. Nevertheless, the NPD is still
the most conspicuous right-wing extremist party; for example, it has resumed
its practice of mobilizing skinheads and neo-Nazis to add weight to its
political demonstrations. According to the authorities, more than one hundred
(2001: 70) demonstrations and public events were organized by the NPD and its
sympathizers in 2002.
The militant NPD youth
organization JN has been consolidating its connections to similar organizations
abroad, such as the Swedish National Youth, NU (see Sweden),
and particularly with the right-wing extremist Forza Nuova in Italy, whose
founder Roberto Fiore of the Italian terrorist organization Terza Posizione has
been a frequent guest at NPD meetings.
With the threat of a ban hanging
over its head, the NPD has intensified its links with like organizations
abroad. In April 2001, it was reported that NPD leaders Jürgen Distler,
Jens Pühse and Holger Apfel visited the headquarters of the neo-Nazi
National Alliance in Western Virginia (Stern, 31 Jan. 2002). The Austrian
Ministry of Interior has also warned of a union between German and Austrian
Swiss Holocaust denier ‘Achmed’ Albert
Friedrich Armand Huber, who is listed by the US Office of the Coordinator for
Counterterrorism among 62 groups and individuals suspected of involvement in
terrorist organizations, appears to be the NPD’s most dangerous foreign link.
Huber, with close ties to both far right and Islamist extremists, is a popular
speaker at NPD events. The NPD also has close ties to the PNOS, its Swiss
Ideologically, the NPD stands for what it terms “German
völkisch socialism.” It blames
foreigners for Germany’s social and economic difficulties and believes
Germans have been made to feel too much guilt regarding the Holocaust. Its
views are vehemently racist, antisemitic/anti-Israel (Israelis bauen
Konzentrationslager! – Israelis are building
concentration camps!), anti-American and anti-globalization (Nationalisten
gegen Globalisierung – Nationalists against
globalization). Its party organ, the monthly Deutsche Stimme,
which has appeared since 1976, has a circulation of about 10,000
The most prominent member of the NPD was until
recently lawyer Horst Mahler, a former extreme left activist. In response to
the debate on banning the NPD, Mahler founded in August 2000 the initiative: “Für
Deutschland – Ja zur NPD” (For Germany – Yes to the NPD). He joined the NPD that month and
represented it during the legal proceedings to ban it. After the government’s lost
the case, Mahler declared that he was renouncing his party membership because
of its “parliamentarism,” which he regards as anachronistic. Since then he has
been active in the Deutsches Kolleg, a
website devoted to revival of the Reich concept, and in establishing contacts
with Holocaust deniers worldwide. In August 2003 when Mahler – who has been
charged with inciting hatred for disseminating antisemitic material at a NPD
event in Germany in September 2002 – planned to visit Auschwitz with his
comrades, the Interior Ministry in Brandenburg state ordered him to hand over
his passport and identity papers to prevent him from leaving the country.
Since 1995 neo-Nazis have organized themselves into a loose
network of Freie Kameradschaften (free associations) (see ASW 2001/2)
and maintain contact via the Internet and other communication means. The number
of activists in these cells fell from 2,800 in 2001 to 2,600 in 2002.
Despite the decline in extreme
right numbers, the trend observed over the last decade of a rise in violence
has continued. Skinheads have been singled out in official reports as the leading
source of extreme right violence. Membership in groups ready to use violence
rose by 9 percent to 10,700 (2001: 10,400). The Ministry of the Interior
reported an 8 percent increase in extreme right criminal offenses in 2002
(10,903), including a 9 percent increase in extreme right violent acts (772),
ranging from arson to attempted murder and bomb attacks. Officially, then, an
average of 20-30 acts occur daily nationwide; it should be noted, of course,
that many such acts go unreported.
The skinhead music scene continues to play a major
role in the formation and strengthening of violent ultra-right-wing groups, and
constitutes the main portal to this milieu for militant youngsters.
Inflammatory racist and antisemitic texts help to consolidate an enemy image
based on a violent extreme right concept.
Production and distribution of far right CDs is very
profitable and is a major source of income. In 2002 the number of skinhead
music distribution companies rose from 40 to 50. As most of the CDs can only be
acquired illegally, concerts are of major importance to the producers. Although
the number of active bands and groups decreased in 2002 from 103 (2001) to 90,
the trend indicating a decline in the number of extreme right and neo-Nazi
concerts which had been observed since 1999 did not continue. Sometimes
concerts are coupled with a demonstration in order to attract a larger number
According to the BfV, the number
of scheduled music events rose again in 2002 to about 112 (2001: 80), although
many were prevented (17) or broken up (21). The police confiscated thousands of
illegal CDs with racist and antisemitic texts. On 20 July 2002, for example, Berlin police arrested Tilo S., the leader of one of Germany's most notorious
neo-Nazi heavy metal bands, the White Aryan Rebels. The band's album Notes
of Hate provoked outrage when it was released in 2001 because it listed the
mixed-blood children of former German tennis star Boris Becker as high-profile
targets in a song called “The Bullet Is for You.” In 2002 the band released a
CD with racist songs, including one threatening the murder of German Jewish
leader Michel Friedman. Berlin police arrested Tilo not knowing he was an
informer of the Brandenburg state police. In his apartment they found racist
music and swastikas. Berlin police also arrested five members of the skinhead
music band Deutsch, Stolz und Treue (German Pride and Loyalty) in May 2002.
They were accused of incitement, but released after investigation. The group
was founded in 1994 in Berlin and is one of the most well-known right-wing
music groups in Germany.
The number of far right websites in Germany has more than tripled in the past
four years. A study released in Berlin by Germany's Family Ministry showed a
drastic increase in the number of websites run by far right extremists, many of
them using a blend of sophisticated programming and a media-type approach aimed
at attracting fresh recruits to the neo-Nazi scene. They also offer a wide
variety of far right music downloads and games. The number of right-wing
extremist sites tripled from 330 in 1999 to about 1,000 in 2002. However it is
difficult to estimate the exact number of sites with far right material because
of their great fluctuation and variability and because site operators often
switch providers (thereby changing URLs) or use forwarding services. Many of
these sites have several locations on the net, enabling access via different
URLs. The combination of racist ideology and a modern, multimedia presentation
makes these pages attractive to youth and present a real danger of
misinformation and incitement, especially when they are registered with a major
search engine. Young users for example, doing Internet research for school
projects on World War II, find these sites in a search engine’s results list. Neo-Nazis
ensure that these sites contain their own version of World War II history. They
also disseminate the lies of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy and denial of the
While far right extremists have
relied on the Internet for several years for information exchange, they are now
using their websites increasingly to coordinate demonstrations and recruit on
the local level.
Technical help in building a
website as well as legal advice as to its content can be found on many sites.
Websites affiliated with existing German organizations, and therefore with
legally prosecutable people, do not cross the legal line as regards content or
symbolism. This restriction does not apply to private people, who operate their
sites anonymously, for example via free servers outside of Germany. On 10 March
2002 the websites www.auschwitz.biz and www.hitlerwasright.info
showed a picture of Gary Lauck in a Hitler
pose as well as one of German Interior Minister Otto Schily, being ‘thanked’
for information on how to register the domain of a Nazi website. The website www.nazi-lauck-nsdapao.com contains
instructions on using the Internet for Nazi propaganda, including how to make a
home page, the value of links, advice on playing Nazi computer games and how to
fight so-called free speech (such as combating the blocking of racist
propaganda by human rights organizations). They recommend a program called AtGuard
which can block access to Nazi sites from civil rights groups.
A total of 173 home pages were closed
after the providers (115 German and 58 foreign) were persuaded of the extreme
right ideology of the operators. On the defensive, German neo-Nazis are even avoiding
the Pacific atoll Tokelau where they received domain names such as www.deutsches-reich.tk and www.adolf-hitler.tk
without a problem. German ultra-right and neo-Nazi operators have
also learned to use the First Amendment to disseminate their hate speech from
According to the BfV, membership in foreign Islamist
organizations declined by 2,000 in 2002 to 57,350. The Cologne-based Turkish Milli
Görüs is the largest, with 26,500 members (see ASW 2000/1,
Two Islamist groups considered a threat to the constitutional order were
outlawed: the Cologne-based Caliphate in December 2001 and the Aachen-based Al
Aqsa, a charity organization charged with funding Hamas, in August 2002.
Sixty-nine (2001: 65) foreign
Islamist organizations perceived as a security threat were active in Germany in
2002. According to official sources, the total number of criminal offenses committed
by immigrant extremists rose from 511 in 2001 to 573 in 2002. Violent acts
decreased, however, from 84 in 2001 to 61 in 2002.
The Berlin Ministry of Interior
noted a rapprochement in the city between extreme rightists and militant
Islamists, based on common antisemitic and anti-American tendencies. On 28 October 2002, NPD leader Udo Voigt and NPD lawyer Horst Mahler, for example, attended a
Hizb ut-Tahrir event at the Technical University in Berlin, where speakers
called for jihad against Israel. Nevertheless, extreme right-wingers and
Islamists remain too suspicious of one another to unite as a significant
terrorist threat. The NPD for example, while supporting the Islamist contempt
of Jews, want to deport Germany's some 3.5 million Muslims. In addition,
neo-Nazi violence against Muslims continued, including a Molotov cocktail
attack on 23 November 2002 on a Wolfenbüttel mosque.
According to the BfV, there was a decline in antisemitic
motivated crime, from 1,629 in 2001 to 1594 in 2002 not including illegal
propaganda offenses. For the third consecutive year, however, a dramatic
increase of antisemitic incidents was recorded in Berlin: 255 incidents in 2002
compared to 106 in 2001 and 56 in the year 2000. Jewish students in the capital
reportedly hide their Star of David chains and refrain from speaking Hebrew for
fear of being attacked.
Violence and Vandalism
As in much of Europe, in Germany, too, the perpetuators of
most violent anti-Jewish incidents were radical Islamists, who actually outnumber
far right-wingers in some areas. In Berlin, for example, official figures put
the number of radical Islamists at 3,900 and right-wing extremists at 2,380.
The victims of antisemitic attacks in Germany were, increasingly, visibly
On 22 July 2003 a Jordanian terror suspect of
Palestinian origin told a court in Düsseldorf that Islamic extremists in
Germany had received an order to bomb Jewish institutions in the country one
day after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US. Shadi Mohd Mustafa Abdallah
said that the local leader of the Palestinian al-Tawhid group had been told by
his superiors on 12 September to begin selecting viable targets. According to
Abdallah, the code-word for the attacks was: “A wedding is to take place soon
Desecrations of cemeteries, synagogues and Holocaust
memorials occurred in 2002/3 throughout Germany, in Berlin, Jülich, Ebersburg, Grevesmühlen, Rostock,
Ahlem, Herford, Dachau, Duesseldorf, Regensburg, Lingen, Below, Butzow, Sachsenhausen and
Flossenburg. Noteworthy among the antisemitic assaults on individuals and
Jewish institutions in 2002 was the murder, in July 2002, of 17 year old
schoolboy Marinus Schoeberl. Four neo-Nazis tortured and murdered him because
they decided he looked like a Jew. The body was found four months later near
On 15 April 2002 a Jewish mother and daughter were beaten up in an
underground station. After the attackers, two Arabs, asked the daughter, who
wore a Magen David necklace, whether she was Jewish, they hit her in the face
and ripped her chain from her neck. The mother was beaten too. Both were
hospitalized. On 23rd March 2003, a member of Habad in Berlin who was easily
identified because of his traditional garb, was attacked by a group of Arabs
and suffered minor injuries to his face.
In February 2003, two Arab youths attacked a person leaving the Jewish
Museum in Berlin. After he did not react to their shouts of “Jew, Jew,” they
beat him up and broke his glasses. The man was not Jewish.
On 11 May 2003, a Jewish passenger on a bus in the Berlin/Kreuzberg area was attacked by several youths,
apparently Arabs. When the man got off the bus, the youths followed him,
shouting “Dirty Jew,” and kicked him in the face. He required medical
On 25 January 2002 a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the Oranienburgerstreet
synagogue in Berlin. On 28 April 2002 the Frankelhoffer synagogue in Berlin was
the target of a similar attack. On 16 March 2002 an explosive went off at the
entrance of the Jewish cemetery near Herr Street in Berlin.
Much attention was focused on the
renaming ceremony held in Berlin on 30 October 2002 when Kinkelstrasse was
changed to Judenstrasse. Protesters disturbed the event, shouting, “Jews out”
and “You crucified Jesus.”
Anti-Semitism as an Electoral Issue
In April 2002 Syrian-born MP Jamal Karsli, was forced to
resign from the Green Party after he accused Israel of using Nazi methods and criticized
the influence of the Zionist lobby (interview in the extreme right Junge Freiheit, 3 May 2002; see
2001/2). This was the first time that antisemitism became an election
issue in postwar Germany. FDP deputy chairman Jürgen Möllemann, head
of the DAG (the German-Arab Association), welcomed Karsli into the party. After
Möllemann had accused Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Michel
Friedman, vice-president of the Zentralrat in Germany, of inciting
antisemitism, a conflict broke out between the Jewish community and the FDP.
Möllemann was forced to resign from the FDP on 2 December 2002, after being accused of reviving antisemitism as a weapon in the campaign for the
federal election in September. Möllemann parachuted to his death on 5 June 2003 just as prosecutors raided premises linked to the former cabinet minister during
an investigation into campaign financing. Karsli formed a new party, FAKT
(Frieden, Arbeit, Kultur und Transparenz), in the hope of becoming a social-liberal
alternative in the 2004 communal election in Nord-Rhein-Westfahlen. On 28 June 2003, Karsli was elected party chairman.
“Peace” Demonstrations and Anti-Israel Activity
The preparations for the war against Iraq and the eventual
attack by the coalition governments activated hundreds of thousands of
protestors all over Germany. United by strong anti-globalization and
anti-American sentiments, people of conflicting political views marched
together. For the extreme right, America became the symbol of “the realm of the
all-powerful Jews,” while the left dubbed the US “the homeland of capitalism
For the majority of marchers the US
and Israel constituted the “axis of evil.” Jewish marchers, perceived as puppets
or puppeteers of Israel, were insulted and sometimes assaulted. Inflammatory
placards showing the swastika entwined with the Magen David were borne during
many of the events. Violent anti-Israel and antisemitic incidents were recorded
during demonstrations throughout Germany.
Encouraged by the success of the
peace marches organized by the left, extreme right-wing activists organized
their own “peace marches.” The 200 extreme rightists and neo-Nazis who gathered
on 22 February 2003 in Hamburg marched under the banner, “Amis out – Peace in,”
although their placards were far from peaceful: “Bombs on Israel!” “German
soldiers in defense of Iraq!”; “Revolt of the vassals!”; “For international
solidarity! Down with Zion-fascism!; “For a world of free peoples – solidarity
with Palestine!” “Emancipation from the Zentralrat.” The pending war against Iraq
inspired some strange associations, such as comparing the situation in Iraq
with “what happened 60 years ago in Germany.”
On May Day 2003 the NPD called
sympathizers to join a peace march under the slogan of the 1989 demonstrators
in East Berlin, Wir sind das Volk (We are the people). Chanting
anti-imperialist slogans, which often had a distinctly radical leftist ring,
Germany's otherwise xenophobic NPD and other ultra-right groups used the rallies
to make political capital out of the war, having discovered a soft spot for
Palestinians, Iraqis and even for al Qa‘ida (see Gudrun Hentges, in this
attitudes to the holocaust and the nazi era
On 7 October 2002, the report “Bertelsmann in the Third
Reich,” prepared by historian Saul Friedlander and the Historical Commission
was presented to the public in Munich. In 1933, Bertelsmann, a small printing
house specializing in theological publications, praised the new German people
and the state. They also published the Horst Wessel song and, later, books
extolling the heroism of Nazi soldiers. Strong anti Jewish attacks appear in
500 of the 12,000 books published during the Nazi era. The Bertelsmann company admitted
to having made “mistakes” in the Nazi era.
Friedrich Engel, 93, was convicted and sentenced on 5 July 2002 to seven
years imprisonment by a Hamburg court, accused of killing 59 Italian POWs,
during World War II. When the sentence goes into effect, it will be decided if
he is fit to serve it.
On 9 August 2002 a German court added 10 years to former SS officer Josef
Schwammberger's life sentence for crimes against humanity. He was to have been
released due to his age (90) and frail health. However, the court decided that
Schwammberger's crimes had been exceptionally cruel (especially against the
Jews). He had avoided prosecution until 1987 when he was arrested in Argentina.
In 1990 he was extradited to Germany where he was sentenced to life
imprisonment in 1992.
responses to anti-Semitism and racism
Due to the constant threat to the Jewish community, all
Jewish institutions in Germany remained under permanent police protection. German
Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer assured the international community and in
particular the Jewish community in Germany that his nation would stand as a
leader in the fight against rising global antisemitism, while continuing its “wholehearted
commitment” to the security and permanence of the State of Israel.
Nazism and neo-Nazism are still very much a problem
in contemporary Germany. Alarmed by the rise of violent neo-Nazism and
xenophobia, the legislative, the police and large sectors of concerned citizens
have assumed responsibility for countering this phenomenon and initiated or joined
international campaigns to fight right-wing extremism in accordance with
European and international conventions. Germany has passed a series of laws
specifically designed to combat manifestations of hate crimes, primarily antisemitism
and Holocaust denial. In fact, the German penal code is regarded as one of the
most advanced and efficient in the world in this area.
By the end of 2002 over 900 groups and individuals had joined the Bündnis
für Demokratie und Toleranz, initiated by the German federal
government. A further 45.5 million Euros will be allocated to the struggle
against right-wing extremism, according to Minister of Family Affairs Renate
Schmidt, during the opening of the Internet forum mut-gegen-rechte-gewalt
(Courage against Right-Wing Violence) in April 2003. Since 2001 the government
has aided more than 2,700 such projects.
A new Internet initiative, International Network Against Cyber Hate,
founded in October 2002, monitors and acts against extreme right-wing websites
abroad. In Amsterdam the International Network against Cyber Hate (INACH) was
founded for this purpose. Most of the parties involved are private initiatives.
Among the founding members are: jugendschutz.net from Germany. Since
spring 2000, jugendschutz.net
has conducted three projects on issues related to right-wing extremism on the Internet.
Modeled after a Swedish organization of the same name, Exit, headed by Bernd Wagner and Anette
Kahane, was launched in 2000 by the Amadeu-Antonio
Foundation and Stand Up against Right-Wing Violence. The project
helps those willing to abandon their extremist views and ties to the neo-Nazi
scene. During its two years of operation, Exit has aided some 200 people to
leave the extreme right-wing scene. The Federal Ministry of the Interior, too,
has launched a “drop-out program” for right-wing extremists.
Under the initiative “Flagge gegen Rechts” workers of the Berlin suburban
rail decided to cease transporting extreme right-wing demonstrators in special
trains on May Day 2003
The Administrative Court of Bavaria rescinded, on 11 October 2002, the ban on demonstrations by extreme right groups against the Wehrmacht exhibition planned
for the following day. The exhibition was revised after it was criticized by
soldiers' unions and conservatives in 1997. It shows the crimes of German
soldiers during World War II.
On 21 May 2002, the Brandenburg/Havel court sentenced a municipal councilor to a six months suspended sentence and
fined him 2,000 Euros for praising the Nazi policy of gassing homosexuals.
Combating Islamic Extremism and Terrorism
Legislation passed after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US permit the German authorities to ban extremist groups (see ASW 2001/2).
After outlawing the Turkish Islamist Caliphate organization, based in Cologne,
in December 2001 on the grounds of violations of Germany's constitutional order
and endangering national security, Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD)
banned and disbanded 16 suspected subdivisions of the related banned organization
Metin Kaplan, the self-appointed “Caliph of Cologne.” Metin Kaplan was also outlawed
because of its antisemitic and anti-Israel rhetoric.
On 12 January 2003 the head of German security outlawed the Islamic Hizb
ut-Tahrir, accusing them of promoting extremism and antisemitism at
universities and calling for the destruction of Israel and killing of Jews.
Hizb ut-Tahrir was founded in 1953 by the late Taqi al-Din al-Nabahani and is now
led by the Palestinian `Abd-al-Qadim Zalum. It was banned in Egypt in 1974.
Official and Public Activity
On 18 June 2002 Paul Spiegel, head of the Central
Council of Jews in Germany, called criticism of Israel by former CDU minister
Norbert Blum outrageous. He said that those who deny Israel's right to defend
itself have lost their sense of reality. Blum had described Israel's military
actions as annihilation. He called Blum's attitude racist.
Coburg state prosecutor
Anton Lohneis opened an inquiry to determine whether Kult magazine
editor Mario Dultz’s demand to boycott Jewish products (“Don’t’ buy Jewish!
Free Palestine”) constituted incitement.
The Attempt to Ban the NPD
Article 21, Section 2, of the Basic Law empowers the Federal
Constitutional Court – the highest court which acts as guardian of the Basic
Law – to outlaw parties that seek to impair or abolish the free democratic
basic order. Thus it states:
Associations, the purposes of which conflict with
criminal laws or which are directed against the constitutional order or the
concept of international understanding are prohibited and parties which, by
reason of their aims or the behavior of their adherents, seek to endanger the
free, democratic basic order, shall be declared unconstitutional by the Federal
Since World War II, the Federal
Constitutional Court has outlawed two political parties. the Sozialistische
Reichspartei, a party akin to the NSDAP, on 23 October 1952, and the Communist
Party of Germany, in 1956. Since than many groups and organizations, as well as
political parties, have been declared unconstitutional and banned.
In late 2001 the government moved
once again to ban a party, which the German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder
had compared to the Nazi Party of the 1920s – the NPD (see ASW 2001/2).
The motion was approved by both houses of Parliament and the federal
government. However, on 18 March 2003 Germany's Federal Constitutional Court
rejected the government's case against the NPD, on the grounds that at least
five NPD witnesses were, in fact, security agents. According to the court, the
use of informants contravened the law which protects political parties from
state interference. Among the informers was Wolfgang Frenz, 66, a member of the
NPD's national executive committee. According to Frenz, from the outset he had played
a key role in the NPD’s regional organization in North Rhine-Westphalia and
worked intensively on the party’s publications Deutsche
Zukunft-Laenderspiegel NRW and Deutsche Stimme. Frenz was an informant
and contact of the secret service for 36 years (Antifaschistische
Nachrichten, March 2002).
It is well-known that former
Nazis occupied leading positions following the creation of the postwar German
secret service in autumn 1950 in Cologne. During the 1960s one-third of leading
figures in the service were former SS or SD members.