Despite a slight overall decrease in antisemitic
manifestations in 2006, there was a dramatic surge, especially involving Jewish
pupils and youth, in Berlin. According to a survey published by the Bertelsmann
Foundation in January 2007, 58 percent of Germans would like to draw a line
under the Nazi past.
According to government estimates, there are more than
200,000 Jews in Germany, making it the fastest growing community in the
Diaspora. This increase is due largely to immigration, with some 20,000 Jews
(principally from the Former Soviet Union − FSU) settling there per
annum. 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 FSU account for the
majority of Jews.
The Zentralrat acts as the roof organization of Jews in Germany,
with headquarters in Berlin. In May, the community's
president, Paul Spiegel, 68, died and was succeeded by
Charlotte Knobloch. There are synagogues in most cities
with communities, 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 journal. The Jewish Museum in Berlin, opened in
2001, is an important cultural center.
In April 2006,
German Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries announced the opening of the
International Tracing Service archives, located in Bad Arolsen. This center,
containing some 25 kilometers of documentation, contains a vast number of
personal dossiers on Jewish and other victims of Nazi German racial policies.
The German Central Archive, containing data on the fate of some 17 million
people forced into hard labor by the Nazis will be fully opened to historians, according
to a government announcement in mid-April.
In November, the 68th
anniversary of Reichskristallnacht, Munich's new synagogue was
consecrated on Jackobsplatz in the city center. "Today we can show the entire world that Hitler did
not succeed in annihilating us," said Zentralrat President Charlotte Knobloch.
The 550-seat synagogue, part of a complex that will house a Jewish community
center, cafe, schools and a Jewish history museum, will serve the 9,000-strong
Jewish community. Funding came from the city of Munich, the state of Bavaria and the local Jewish community. The ceremony was
attended by German president Horst Köhler, who declared, “It is the
duty of each and every one of us to get involved and act to prevent people
being abused, injured or even murdered due to their religion, origin or
and extremist groups
According to the Federal Office for the Defense of the Constitution (BfV), extreme right-wing activists numbered 39,900 in 2006 (2005: 40,000), including 4,200 neo-Nazis. As in 2005, 10,400 were classified as ready
to use violence. Violent manifestations motivated by extreme right
ideology increased by 9.3 percent to 1,115 (2005:1,047)
while the total number of crimes linked to the
extreme right increased by about 15 percent in 2006 to 18,142 (15,914 in 2005), some 50 percent higher than in 2004.
The Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (German
National Democratic Party − NPD), founded in Hannover in 1964 by Adolf
von Thadden, Friedrich Thielen and Waldemar Schütz, is the oldest and the
most influential extreme right-wing party in Germany. After Günter
Deckert, chairman of the NPD from 1990 was charged with racial incitement and
sentenced to two years imprisonment in April 1995, Udo Voigt became head in 1996. In November 2006 Voight was re-elected chairman at the NPD convention in Berlin. Under his
chairmanship the party has been successful in opening its ranks to young
skinheads and neo-Nazis, especially from east Germany. The monthly Deutsche
Stimme (circulation, 21,000 copies) has been published since 1976.
The NPD, referred to by former Chancellor Gerhard
Schröder as “a latter-day version of Hitler’s Nazi party,” is continuing
its strategy of building an extreme right Volksfront, doubling its
membership, according to its own sources, to 7,000 between 1996 and 2006. Notably,
the NPD was the only one among the three German extreme right parties to
increase its membership in 2006.
The NPD uses 131 (2005:100) websites to
disseminate its propaganda. After receiving, on 17 September, 7.3 percent of
the vote in the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania regional elections (6 seats in
the 71 member parliament), the NPD felt confident enough to create its own online
news show on its home site. The program is disseminated mainly for propaganda
purposes and includes details about the party’s election achievements, Voigt’s
speeches from party headquarters, video films of party demonstrations, such as
that in front of a Jewish center and the memorial march for Hitler’s deputy Rudolf
Hess. At the end of each show, viewers are invited to send comments “to support
the national cause.” In mid-September 2006 the NPD founded the Nationalen Frauenring
(National Women’s League), for NPD women.
Ideologically, the NPD stands for “German völkisch
socialism.” It focuses mainly on campaigning against globalization (Nationalisten
gegen Globalisierung − Nationalists against globalization) and
anti-Israel/anti-Jewish incitement. It blames foreigners for Germany’s social and economic difficulties, and believes Germans have been made to feel too much
guilt regarding the Holocaust. It is also extremely racist and anti-American. In
2003, the Federal Constitutional Court almost succeeded in outlawing the NPD as
an unconstitutional party (see ASW 2002/3).
In 2006 the NDP continued its campaigns of:
(Schlacht) um die Strasse (Struggle for the street), with parades, demonstrations or
meetings held throughout Germany, but mostly in the former DDR, almost
every weekend, together with sympathizers from the neo-Nazi scene, Kameradschaften.
and often with a guest from abroad.
um die Parlamente (Struggle for the parliaments), which was especially successful
in the 2004, January 2005 (see ASW 2005)
and September 2006 elections. According to the BfV, the vote for the extreme
right is no longer a protest vote but part of an ideological trend. Claudia
Roth, head of the Greens, considers the gains of the NPD a threat to
German democracy. In
the wake of its election successes, Voigt said he planned to “strengthen
our current bastions” and then “energetically make advances in the west [Germany].” Next on the NPD’s agenda is the Bavarian state election in 2008 and national
parliamentary elections in 2009.
um die Köpfe (Struggle for the mind), which includes not only opening
the party to radical right-wing elements but also recruitment from other
political sectors. The NPD seeks to attract left-wing voters especially in
east Germany, where Oskar Lafontaine, of the left-wing WASP/PDS party, stated
that German labor needs to be protected from foreign workers.
The NPD presents itself
as an anti-capitalist party and often uses extremist left-wing terminology. “In
terms of criticism, there are many similarities,” declared NPD spokesman Klaus
Beier during anti-globalization discussions (see Der
Spiegel online, 23
April 2007). "Sometime in the near future, there will
be joint activities," adding that on a grass-roots level, there were already
talks between far right activists and far left globalization opponents.
In the “struggle for
minds,” the party also tries to recruit conservative university students to run
for leadership positions. Similarly, Saxony State Parliament Member Jurgen
Gansel told German Focus magazine (17 Dec.) that the NPD intended to
infiltrate parent advisory councils and unions in Munich and Dresden.
During a press conference
in November the NPD introduced the Dresdner Schule (Dresden School), founded
to serve the party as a think-tank (to be distinguished from the Frankfurt
School − a group of neo-Marxist philosophers from 1923 centered around
Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno). The school aims to combat multiculturalism
and establish a revisionist historical understanding in order to help the
German people recover from their so-called guilt mentality, supposedly a
consequence of Jewish pressure groups. A brochure, (Schulungsbroschüre der NPD,
2, Auflage Juni 2006), published in June 2006 and distributed among party
members only, furnishes NPD functionaries with arguments in public debates,
such as whether or not the NPD is an antisemitic party. Among others, author
Jürgen.W.Gansel, refers to “the Holocaust industry” − “a word of the
Jew Norman Finkelstein… which will not succeed in “blackmail[ing] us [the NPD]
60 years after the war… There must be an end to the psychological warfare of
Jewish pressure groups against our nation [Volk].”
- Kampf um den organisierten
for the organized will) − the attempt to achieve power through the merging
of all national groups and parties, was added by Voigt at the 2004 party
On 23 July, NPD leader Udo Voigt, and 40 NPD members were
detained by police in Verden for chanting “Israel − international
The Republikaner (REPS) party was founded in 1983 by two
former Christian Democratic MPs who disagreed with the CDU/CSU soft line on the
DDR. Franz Schönhuber (see ASW 2005),
party chairman for almost ten years from 1986, tried to turn the REPS into a
far right alternative to the Christian Democrats. The REPS have been led since
1994 by Dr. Rolf Schlierer.
The REPS defend the welfare state but want to limit its
benefits to native Germans. This political concept was symbolized by the image
of a crowded lifeboat representing Germany which has played a prominent role in
their propaganda. In parallel, they campaign against the africanization and islamization
of German society.
REPS membership has decreased steadily, by more than half
since 2000 to 6,000 in 2006. The youth group Republikaner Jugend has tried to dissociate itself from
extremist parties such as the NPD and DVU (see below), with slogans such as “Socialist
– Patriotic – Ecologic.” Like all extreme right parties, the REPS use the
Internet extensively. Their party organ Der Republikaner is online (http://www.der-republikaner.de).
The largest extreme right party (membership in 2006, ca.
8,500), is the Deutsche Volksunion (German Peoples’ Union − DVU), has
been dominated since its founding in 1987 by the millionaire publisher Dr.
Gerhard Frey. The party distributed
250,000 copies of a CD entitled “Stolz und Frei” (Proud and Free) in front of
schools in mid-March 2006 in an attempt to recruit young voters during their
election campaign. The CD contains rock music with nationalist lyrics and the DVU
The DVU weekly, National-Zeitung/Deutsche Wochenzeitung,
reflects the party’s xenophobic, antisemitic, anti-American and anti-Israel
tendencies. During Angela Merkel’s visit to Israel, the June 2006 issue
portrayed the chancellor as a dog waiting for orders to act according to Jewish
and Israeli interests in front of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, representating
former PM Ariel Sharon.
Since 1995 most neo-Nazis − 108 of the 160 that were
active in 2006 − have been organized into extra-parliamentary Freie
Kameradschaften (free associations). The only nationwide neo-Nazi
organization is the Organization for the Assistance of National Political
Prisoners and Their Families (HNG), founded in 1979. The HNG, with some
600 members, publishes the journal Nachrichten HNG (600 copies per
month). The HNG site, HNG-Nachrichten.com, which was registered with American
neo-Nazi Gerhard Lauck of the NSDAP-AO, Lincoln, Nebraska, was no longer online
in 2006/7. Activities of the HNG diminished in 2006, probably due to the
advanced age of its members (See BfV-report)
There was a slight decrease in extreme right publications: 86 in 2006 compared to 90 in 2005. Nevertheless, 4.4 million copies were distributed compared to 4.2
million the previous year.
Although the number of German extreme right Internet sites
remained the same as in 2005 (1,000), the web presence of Kameradschaften
tripled in three years. One-hundred-and-ninety comradeships used Internet sites
in 2006 to disseminate their propaganda and recruit new members, as did 131 local
NDP groups (2005:120).
In addition to highly professional far right music portals on
the web, the use of video portals was also on the rise. Like the NPD, extreme
right groups use short films − popular among young people worldwide, especially
through YouTube – to disseminate their ideology. Videos of demonstrations with
illegal Nazi banners for example, appear all over the web. Music videos are highly
popular among youth who are susceptible to hate messages. In order to avoid
prosecution, the producers of these films usually remain anonymous. On Internet
forums, messages with radical neo-Nazi, antisemitic and/or racist content are
disseminated under fake names. Skadid Forum, Germanic Online Community,
is the largest among them, with 20,000 members (according to their own
The decrease in skinhead concerts from 193 in 2005 to 163 in 2006 does not necessarily point to a decrease in far right music dissemination
and distribution. On the contrary, Internet downloads are on the rise and 91
(2005: 75) distributors, marketed skinhead music played and performed by 152
(2005:142) bands in 2006.
Muslims in Germany and Antisemitism
As in France, youths originating in Muslim countries are behind many violent attacks on Jews in Germany. According to the BfV, 32,150 people were
linked to radical Islamist organizations in Germany. However, youths responsible
for attacks on Jewish pupils are not necessarily connected to any organization.
German-Turkish journalist Ahmet Senyurt explains that they have been
indoctrinated by antisemitic hatred, mainly through highly influential antisemitic
programs on satellite TV and videos from Arab countries, which disseminate
anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hate propaganda widely among the immigrant
population throughout Europe. The Iranian series Zahra’s Blue Eyes or For
You Palestine, which depicts the government of Israel as stealing organs
from Palestinian children, was shown in Turkish in Germany in 2006 on Milli
There are 1.5 million Muslims of Turkish origin
living in Germany. Turkish Islamists of the Milli Görüş movement
are also suspected of selling a DVD for children entitled The Children of
al-Aqsa, at the Central Mosque in Hamburg. The DVD portrays Jews as
murderers and Palestinian terrorists as heroic resistance fighters. Peter
Wagenknecht from the Kreuzberg-based project “Educational Building Blocks against
Antisemitism” found that Muslim students were increasingly using the word ‘Jew’
in a pejorative sense. He explains this phenomenon, inter alia, by the
fact that once youngsters from Arab or Turkish families have been politicized
by the conflict in the Middle East, their anti-Israel attitude often turns into
Antisemitic and anti-Israel indoctrination especially of
Muslim youth has yielded results. There was a significant increase in numbers
of antisemitic attacks carried out by Muslims in Germany. Since the beginning of the Second
Intifada, in September 2000, police statistics indicate that Islamic incitement and
antisemitic graffiti in Berlin have increased by 100 percent. The police
registered 88 antisemitic incidents perpetrated by Muslims, 7 of them violent
attacks. Director of the Berlin Police Peter-Michael Häberer warned
against underestimating the relatively small number of Muslim perpetrators,
emphasizing that their psychological influence was important. In this context,
German expert on Islam Claudia Dantschke explained that for extreme Muslims, Israel was a symbol and proof that the Jew was evil; moreover, a
synthesis had been created between criticism of Israel and classic antisemitic
In an article published on 21 December in Die
Welt, and entitled “How Islamists
and Neo-Nazis Form a New Axis of Evil,” historian Prof. Michael Wolffsohn
noted that cooperation between Islamists and right-wing extremists, which began
in 2000, has become steadily stronger. Bavaria’s Interior Minister Günther
Beckstein (CSU) also saw the “first signs” of such cooperation. Beckstein
referred to right-wing extremist “admiration” for Iranian President Mahmud
Ahmadinejad, who labeled the Holocaust a myth, as well as for the Muslim/Palestinian struggle against Israel, which facilitates the dissemination of Holocaust denial.
During a summer fair of the NPD in Regensburg held on 10 June, the Iranian flag
was hoisted as a sign of solidarity with Iran. The NPD can thus express its views without being subject to
the German law against Holocaust denial. Although cooperation between the
two movements is not close, Germany’s security authorities are scrutinizing
developments. Zentralrat President Charlotte Knobloch also warned of new forms
of right-wing extremism in Germany, namely, collaboration with Islamists based
on their shared antisemitism.
The BfV recorded a total of 1,636 antisemitic incidents motivated by extreme right
ideology, a slight decrease compared to 1,658 the previous year. A similar
trend was observed in regard to violent attacks on Jews: down from 49 in 2005 to 43 in 2006.
Despite this decrease in 2006, there was a dramatic surge in antisemitic
manifestations, especially involving Jewish pupils and youth, in the German
capital Berlin. To some extent, this was part of the overall growth of violence
at Berlin schools, which rose by 600 percent between 2002 and 2006. Because Jewish
children have increasingly faced the hatred of Muslim as well as extreme right youth,
the Jewish community advised parents to send their children to Jewish schools. Berlin’s Jewish community has already issued warnings about “a new dimension of
antisemitism.” Young religious Jews hide their skullcaps under a hat whenever
they venture onto the street. Following are some examples of violent antisemitic
attacks which took place at schools:
On 1 December a group of young people of Middle
Eastern appearance attacked a 14-year-old Jewish girl, a pupil at the Lina Morgenstern High School in Berlin-Kreuzberg, as she was on her way home. She suffered
blows to the head and back, after weeks of taunting and verbal abuse. On
several occasions she had to be accompanied to school by the police. On 12
October a 16-year-old boy was forced by three classmates in the Parey secondary
school in Saxony-Anhalt to wear a Nazi-style placard around his neck during
lunch break; the sign said “I’m the biggest pig in town, only with Jews do I
hang around”(Ich bin am Ort das grösste Schwein, ich lass mich nur mit
Juden ein). Branding the incident “disgusting,” Saxony-Anhalt Minister of
the Interior Holger Hovelmann said that the NSDAP and SA had humiliated people
in Germany in this way when the Nazis came to power in 1933.
Verbal attacks on Jewish youth also rose in 2006,
and the word ‘Jew’ has
become a popular insult (see Spiegel Online,
8 Dec.). This phenomenon was observed increasingly during soccer games in 2006.
For example, in November Muslim soccer players from TSV Helgoland insulted
Jewish players from the TuS Maccabi team. Earlier, in September, antisemitic
fans of VSG Glienicke in East Berlin shouted “Jew-pig out,” and “We are
building you a subway to Auschwitz,” at Jewish players. On 26 September,
players from the TuS Maccabi club walked off the field at the 78th minute due
to a tirade of antisemitic abuse hurled at them during a soccer match against
VSG Altglienicke II of Treptow, East Berlin. Fans chanted “Gas the Jews,” “Synagogues
must burn again” and “Auschwitz is back.” Four people were arrested on 8 July
following a barrage of Nazi slogans and antisemitic insults during a soccer match
in Gross Laasch.
Nazi-style slogans were reported throughout the
country such as in the small town of Finsterwalde, where on 20 May the words “Germans:
Beware! Don’t buy from Jews!”(Deutsche wehrt euch - kauft nicht bei Juden)
and a meter-high swastika, were painted on a shop window. In Berlin,
antisemitic and xenophobic slogans such as “Jews Out” and “Turks Out” were
painted on a tram station.
As noted in previous years, desecration of Jewish
cemeteries and Holocaust memorials as well as vandalism of Jewish sites, was
reported throughout Germany several times weekly (see bnr.de).
On 9 November, for example, neo-Nazis, some shouting “Heil Hitler,” tore up
wreaths and broke candles at the memorial in Frankfurt/Oder where Jewish community
leaders and city officials had marked the anniversary of Reichskristallnacht
(Night of Broken Glass, 1938) at the site of the synagogue destroyed there. The
president of the state of Brandenburg, Matthias Platzeck, labeled the
desecration an unacceptable provocation. The mayor of Frankfurt/Oder, Martin
Patzelt, repeated the ceremony the next day.
Attitudes to the
Nazi Past, Racism and the Extreme Right
Some 60 years after World War II the Holocaust is gradually
losing its relevance in German collective memory and the “grace period” (Andrei
S. Markovits, "A New (or Perhaps
Revived) ‘Uninhibitedness’ toward Jews in Germany,”
Jewish Political Studies Review 18:1-2
(Spring 2006)) granted the Jews is now a thing of the
past. According to a survey published by the Bertelsmann Foundation in January
2007, 58 percent of Germans would like to leave the past behind (see Bertelsmann
A consequence of this desire for Schlusstrich
(drawing a line under the past), and the ending of the so-called special
relationship between Germany and Israel (see below) is the relativization of
Hitler’s Germany and the perception of the Jewish Israeli, and hence
the Jew, as the ultimate perpetrator, who is often compared to the Nazis. Thus,
in the opinion of many, Jews have now become the oppressors of the ‘real
victims’ − the Palestinians. According to the Bertelsmann
Foundation survey, 30 percent of Germans agreed strongly or partially with the
statements: “What the State of Israel is doing to the Palestinians is no
different in principle from what the Nazis did to the Jews,” and “Israel is waging a war of extermination against the Palestinians.”.
This argumentation has not only been adopted by
extremists both to the right and left of the political spectrum but has entered the mainstream
discourse. A petition signed by 25 German academics and published in Frankfurter
Rundschau (15 Nov.), called to abandon the “special relationship” with
Israel, established because of the Holocaust, so that Palestinian suffering might
be acknowledged to be a result of the Holocaust. According to historian
Christian V. Ditfurth, the anti-Zionist position common in German universities,
which began in the 1970s, has been revealed as a front for antisemitism (see http://www.cditfurth.de/artikelhome.htm).
On 8 November the Friedrich Ebert Foundation
(SPD) published the results of a survey on the themes of antisemitism, xenophobia and
attitudes toward the Nazis, conducted in May−June 2006 among 5,000
Germans by the University of Leipzig, under Prof. Elmar Braehler. The study
demonstrated the presence of extreme right views among all ages and social
classes of German society. Fifteen percent of all Germans longed for a strong
leader (Führer); 26 percent wanted a one-party system representing the Volksgemeinschaft
(national community); 18 percent believed that Jews had undue influence and
almost 14 percent thought of Jews as outsiders who did not fit in well. Fifteen
percent of respondents considered Germans superior “by nature” to other
cultures; 40 percent believed Germany was dangerously swamped by foreigners.
The findings of the survey show that neither education nor affiliation with a
specific political party or church mitigates these opinions. (Note that this
study was criticized by political scientist Klaus Schröder, Berlin, among others, who thinks the choice of persons polled was not
representative. He also criticized the methodology of the survey.)
The Bertelsmann Foundation survey found a decrease of 3 percent over the
previous 16 years in regard to antisemitic attitudes: only one-third of Germans
still agreed with the assertion that “Jews have too much influence in the
world” compared to 1991 when 36 percent supported this classic antisemitic
Findings of an ongoing survey (2002−12) published
by Prof. Wilhelm Heitmeyer, Bielefeld University, showed differences between east
and west Germany in attitudes toward xenophobia and racism in 2006. Respondents
in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, east Germany, had the highest rate of xenophobia
among those surveyed (63 percent). The study also showed that people with
little education are more inclined toward racism and xenophobia. Heitmeyer’s
study found that right-wing extremism often begins at school.
On 20 August the BfV reported that Saxony, which
includes Dresden and Leipzig, is the stronghold of neo-Nazism in Germany. Of every 100,000 inhabitants, 75 hold ultra-right views, while the average
throughout Germany is 47. The extreme right is potentially more active in east
than in west Germany.
Although an increase in extreme right criminal
acts in 2006 was observed throughout the country, it was especially marked in east Germany where rural areas seem to be especially amenable to extreme right propaganda.
Here, as observed in previous years, a lack of activities for the young is the
main reason for their attraction to neo-Nazi propaganda. Most recruiting is
done in rural areas, a phenomenon called ‘village fascism’. Music is one
strategy used by the far right to recruit east German youth. The NPD has
assimilated these findings into their modus operandi and sponsors trips to
demonstrations and concerts, including free beer and lunches (see ASW 2005). Notably, there is a greater
tendency toward antisemitic attitudes (though not reflected in numbers of
incidents) in west Germany than in the east, mostly concentrated in the rich
states, such as Bavaria.
Mainstream coverage of the summer 2006 war also boosted the Feindbild
(enemy image) of Israel and caused an increase in antisemitic manifestations.
Jewish communities received an unprecedented amount of antisemitic insults and
threat letters throughout this period.
An analysis by Media Tenor International of news coverage of Germany’s public TV stations ARD and ZDF during the Second Lebanon War, from 21 July to 3
August, showed a significant anti-Israel bias. Its conclusions, published on 11
August, found that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were portrayed primarily in
violent actions while Hizballah fighters were seldom shown; the victims were
Lebanese, seldom Israeli. According to Prof. Frank Brettschneider, chairman of the
Communication Sciences Department, University of Hohenheim, the IDF was not presented
as the army of a democracy but of a country following the precept of ‘an eye
for an eye’.
As observed in previous reports, Every weekend
demonstrations, parades and meetings of extreme right activists and
sympathizers, including neo-Nazis and skinheads, take place in Germany, frequently in provincial towns and villages. Noteworthy in 2006 was the rising
number of counter-demonstrators − anti-fascists, who often outnumbered the
extreme right marchers and stymied the intentions of the organizers.
For example, despite a ban on their
annual demonstration, about 700 neo-Nazis gathered at the military cemetery in Seelow
on 18 November, only to be met by 8,000 protestors against far right
extremism, Moreover, for many years extreme right activists would meet in the
military cemetery of Halbe to honor Hitler’s Wehrmacht soldiers on the eve of
the German annual day of mourning for fallen soldiers. On 25 October, the State
Parliament of Potsdam passed, by a large majority, a law banning neo-Nazi meetings
at the Halbe location.
On 14 October, 227 NPD members demonstrated in Hamburg under the banner “National Jobs, not International Profits.” The participants
carried posters branding Israel a “ZOG [Zionist Occupational Government],” and
insulting the US and “the System.” About 1,900 counter-demonstrators were
present. Also on this date, thousands of people protested against neo-Nazis who
rallied in Nuremberg against the war crimes trials held there over 60 years previously.
(On 1 October 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal sentenced 12 Nazis to death by
hanging.). Seventy right-wing extremists, including neo-Nazi leader Christian
Worch, who marched through Minden on Christmas Eve, 24 December, were countered
by some 500 anti-fascists. On 28 October thousands demonstrated against a NPD
march in Lower Saxony and Saxony Anhalt. In Gottingen 4,000 persons
demonstrated against a rally of 200 followers of the NPD and Kameradschaften.
Counter-demonstrators far outnumbered right-wing extremists.
Among the hundreds of groups and organizations, both
governmental and NGOs, combating racism, xenophobia and antisemitism, with
thousands of activists throughout Germany, one individual is outstanding.
Turkish immigrant Aycan Demirel, who lives in Kreuzberg, Berlin, founded in
2004 the Kreuzberg
Initiative to Fight Antisemitism (KIGA), with the goal of countering radical and
antisemitic Islamist propaganda. Teachers of Turkish and Arab origin work
through schools to combat antisemitism, especially in Muslim communities. Demirel
believes that criticism of Israel’s policies should not be a pretext to
propagate hatred of Jews.
The following examples demonstrate a few of the
numerous responses to antisemitism, xenophobia and racism in 2006 in the fields of education, legislation and police activities.
In spring the German Office for Political Education distributed
study sheets entitled “The Issue: Antisemitism - to Study, Understand and
Recognize Antisemitic Manifestations, including anti-Zionism, in Germany,” by historian Dr. Juliane Wetzel.
In July, the state of Brandenburg banned the neo-Nazi group
Schutzbund Deutschland (Protection Alliance Germany) for inciting racial hatred,
and removed its website from the Internet. Police raided 14 locations and
confiscated tens of thousands of brochures, posters, stickers and other
neo-Nazi emblems. The group had also put out a flyer against Germany’s Ghanaian born soccer player Gerald Asamoah. In early March 2006, 119 members of
the neo-Nazi movement Blood and Honor were arrested in Bavaria.
On 2 August, the Dresden District Court sentenced Thomas
Sattelberg, leader of the banned SSS, to 8 months in prison for membership in a
banned organization. In view of a previous suspended sentence he now faces 32
months in prison. The SSS was founded in 1996 and banned by Saxony’s interior minister
in 2001, when it had about 80 members; after the ban about 25 continued their
Many investigations, charges and bans are related
to the music field, that is,. lyrics of neo-Nazi or extreme right bands that
distribute forbidden racist, xenophobic and antisemitic propaganda through the
most popular medium among youth. For example, on 22 November, Max Hirsch,
Bjoern Andrejka, Gerhard Miller and Sven Roland Stuetz, who make up the extreme
right band Race War, were convicted of forming an illegal organization to
promote racial hatred. They received suspended sentences of 17 to 23 months.
Their music glorifies Nazism. Banned in Germany, their hate propaganda was
allegedly distributed from the US or Belgium. In 2004 during a Blood and Honour
festival in Belgium, Hirsch sang: “We are proud Nazis.” Other lyrics call to
On 14 November Germar Rudolf (alias Scheerer)
went on trial in Mannheim, accused of denying the Holocaust and insulting the
memory of the dead. Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany carrying a prison
sentence of up to five years. Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel was being
tried in the same court. Both were represented by the same defense attorney,
neo-Nazi Jürgen Rieger. Rudolf branded the Holocaust a fraud at the start
of his trial.