Germany witnessed a
37 percent escalation in violent antisemitic crimes committed by the extreme
right in 2007. Violent anti-Jewish behavior
appeared frequently to have been triggered by the anti-Zionist climate and the anti-Israel
discourse. The convergence of anti-Zionism with
antisemitism was the subject of many debates, and conferences, principally in
left-wing circles. Thirty percent of the German population believed Israel’s
attitude toward the Palestinians was no different from that of the Nazis toward
the jewish community
According to government estimates, there are more than
200,000 Jews in Germany, out of a total population of 82.5 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 FSU account for the majority
The Zentralrat der Juden in
Deutschland (Central Council for German Jews – CCGJ) acts as the roof
organization of Jews in Germany, with headquarters in Berlin. 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 that serve the Jews of
Germany. The Frankfurt-based Tribüne is the leading Jewish
scholarly journal. The Jewish Museum in Berlin, designed by world-renown
architect Daniel Libeskind and opened in 2001, houses two millennia of German
Political Parties and Extremist
According to the Federal Office
for the Defense of the Constitution (BfV), extreme right-wing activists numbered 31,000
in 2007 (without the Republikaners [see ASW 2006],
who are no longer considered to be anti-democratic), including 4,400 neo-Nazis
(2006: 4,200). In comparison, the overall figure for left-wing extremists
increased by 100, from 30,700 in 2006.
The number of right-wing extremists ready to use violence
decreased from 10,400 in 2006 to 10,000 in 2007. (In contrast, the number of violent left-wing extremists increased from 6,000 to 6,300.). Violent manifestations
motivated by extreme right ideology also declined slightly; however, there were
exceptions to this trend. A survey published on February 22, 2008, in Wurzen, Saxony, by centers monitoring victims of extreme-right violence (RAA and AMAL) noted
that the number of assaults carried out by right-wing extremists increased in
2007 from 306 (2006) to 402. Heike Klaffner, head of the consultation project
for victims of extreme right attacks, reported that in Saxony-Anhalt, east Germany,
the use of violence by extreme right-wing activists had reached an exceptional
high, with 151 attacks (usually against young foreigners or immigrants) taking
place in 2007. In an interview published on Net-Tribune on December 30, 2007,
political scientist Christoph Butterwegge said that right-wing extremism had become
a political option in east Germany and that intellectuals were increasingly expressing
such views openly.
In March 2007
the German anti-fascist magazine Monitor published a study revealing
that 17.5 percent of German neo-Nazis were female and that women constituted 10-30
percent of the far right scene. The study is based on user profiles of an extreme
rightist Internet platform (see
Some 160 Freie
Kameradschaften (free associations) continued to be the most active,
dynamic and fastest growing extra-parliamentary structures among extreme
right-wing groups in Germany (for more information see, for example, ASW 2005).
In 2007 a total of 299 sites (2006: 187) were linked to Kameradschaften,
mainly mobilizing activists for parades, demonstrations and other local or
nation-wide events. The attempt of neo-Nazis to establish links to army
elements has aroused concern. On August 14, the anti-fascist Info Blatt
reported that extreme neo-Nazi activists, former members of the banned Blood
and Honour network had formed organizations such as "Warrior Survival
School" (WSS - acronym of the notorious Nazi Waffen SS) and "Combat
and Survival School" (CSS), training recruits with weapons and other
military equipment, together with soldiers and reservists of the German army.
active and influential extreme right-wing political party is the
Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (German National Democratic Party
− NPD), founded in Hannover in 1964 by Adolf von Thadden, Friedrich
Thielen and Waldemar Schütz. The party monthly, Deutsche Stimme
(35,000 copies in 2007), has been published since 1976. Party chairman Udo Voight
has been successful in opening party ranks to young skinheads and neo-Nazis,
especially from east Germany, doubling its membership, (according to its own
sources), to 7,200 from 1996. The NPD, branded by former Chancellor Gerhard
Schröder “a latter-day version of Hitler’s Nazi party,” is continuing its
strategy of building an extreme right Volksfront. No longer confined to
the margins of German politics, it has a presence in the regional parliaments of
two eastern states, Saxony and
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Although, according to a poll published on
October 23 by the TNS Infatest Opinion Institute, 76 percent of the population
in the state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, favored banning the NPD, another
survey, by the Forsa Institute, published in September, reported that 9 percent
of respondents supported the NPD in Saxony, compared to 8 percent that preferred
the center-left SPD (for attempts to ban the party, see below).
The NPD uses
191 (2006: 131) websites to disseminate its propaganda. After receiving 7.3
percent of the vote in the September 2006 Mecklenburg-West 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 includes
details about the party’s election achievements, Voigt’s speeches from party
headquarters, and video films of party demonstrations. At the end of each show,
viewers are invited to send comments “to support the national cause.” In March
2007, the party began using YouTube to disseminate a news show called “Critical
News” (Kritische Nachrichten).
By the end of
2007 the National Women’s League (Nationalen Frauenring − RNF), founded
by the NDP in mid-September 2006, had expanded to 13 groups in nine German
states, with rising membership. Michaela Koettig, researcher of the extreme right-wing,
from the University of Goettingen, noted that the RNF could develop into an umbrella
organization for many conservative and right-wing women who prefer not to join
the NPD. RNF tries to attract women, inter alia, by promoting family-centered
issues such as day care centers for children.
In 2007 the
NDP continued its campaigns of Kampf (Schlacht) um die Strasse (Struggle
for the street), Kampf um die Parlamente (Struggle for the parliaments),
Kampf um die Köpfe (Struggle for the mind), and Kampf um den
organisierten Willen (Struggle for the organized will) (see ASW 2006).
In regard to the struggle for minds, the party also
seeks to attract left-wing voters especially in east Germany, by presenting
itself as an anti-capitalist party and using radical left-wing terminology. “In
terms of criticism, there are many similarities,” declared NPD spokesman Klaus
Beier (Der Spiegel online, April 23), adding that at the grass-roots
level, there were already talks between far right activists and far left
globalization opponents. They have also been trying to project a more
mainstream image, claiming they had eschewed violence and even adopting left-wing
symbols. According to Berlin-based anti-fascist activist Lilian Engelmann, it
was getting harder to distinguish between radical left and extreme right groups.
Both might for example wear Che Guevara T-shirts and “pali scarves” − a
leftist symbol of solidarity with the Palestinians.
Schule (Dresden School), was founded by the NPD to serve the party as a
think-tank. 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 engendered by Jewish pressure.
Warning of the
danger posed by the NPD, Toralf Staud, author of the book Modern Nazis (2005),
says that NPD activists infiltrate areas popular with young people, especially
in the east. They opened clubs such as Hardcore Weimar, Ahead Erfurt and
Germanic (or Teuton) Hildburghausen, and join organizations such as the Volunteer
Fire Department, Technological Relief Organization and football fan clubs.
The other extreme
right-wing party under BfV observation, is the Deutsche Volksunion (German
Peoples’ Union − DVU) (membership in 2006, about 8,500; 2007: 7.000)
(see also ASW
2006). The DVU has representatives in the parliaments of Bremerhaven (4), Potsdam (3), Dortmund (3) and six MPs in the state parliament of Brandenburg. Its weekly mouthpiece NationalZeitung/Deutsche Wochenzeitung, which reflects
the party’s xenophobic, antisemitic, anti-American and anti-Israel tendencies,
has a circulation of 40,000.
"Music is our weapon, more
dangerous than tanks or shells" (text from the song "Our
Music," 2000, by the neo-Nazi Sturmwehr band).
appears to have been a decline in 2007 in the number of concerts (from 163 to 143) and bands (from 152 to 146), the music scene continues to be fertile
ground for recruiting young members and sympathizers to far right parties and
groups. The decrease does not necessarily point to a drop in the dissemination
of far right music: on the contrary, Internet downloads are on the rise.
most prominent representative of neo-Nazi heavy-rock bands, Landser soloist Michael
Regener was jailed for spreading racial hatred, their music continues to gain
popularity. At one point in 2007, 472 videos starring Landser were available on
YouTube. As in previous years the lyrics continued to glorify the Aryan race
and the Nordic warrior myth and incited hatred of immigrants and Jews. The
figures for neo-Nazis skinhead concerts have doubled in the past seven years.
Although bands such as Landser, Race War, Power and Honour are banned, their titles
forbidden and their CDs confiscated (in the tens of thousands) in Germany, their songs continue to be downloaded and distributed online to an ever-increasing
fan community through file sharing networks.
From the 30 German extreme right sites
registered in 1996, the number escalated to 1000 in 2006 and 1,635 in 2007. While operators of neo-Nazi websites used to change servers and
addresses continuously in order to avoid confrontation with the German law,
today 85 percent of them have a fixed website address in or outside Germany.
networks including MySpace and Facebook, as well as the video-sharing site
YouTube, are increasingly being used by extremist groups to spread their hate
messages. "Neo-Nazis are very well aware of social network platforms for
recruiting the next generation, for infiltrating youth groups," said Stefan
Glaser, who runs Jugendschutz.net, the German bureau that protects minors on
the Internet. In one year, the bureau documented almost 700 videos with extreme
right-wing content on YouTube. Youtube operators were cooperating with
jugendschutz.net during 2007, deleting 93 percent of the hate videos reported.
on August 26, it was reported that the Zentralrat of Jews in Germany (CCJG) was
considering a criminal complaint against YouTube for allowing videos promoting
racial hatred and glorifying war to be disseminated on the site. Videos of
antisemitic films released by the Nazis during World War II as well as videos
of the neo-Nazi Kommando Freisler and Landser were also available on the site.
On December 6,
Katina Schubert, deputy chairman of the Die Linke (The Left), filed charges
(which she had to withdraw the next day because her party did not support her)
against Wikipedia's German language online edition for featuring Nazi symbols,
which are illegal in Germany. Her real intention was to initiate a public
debate on how far Internet platforms should be allowed to provide a forum for
extremist, antisemitic and racist ideologies.
observed feature on the Web is the takeover by neo-Nazis of traditional youth
work such as assistance with homework and job finding.
As in previous years, 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. As in 2006, noteworthy was the large
number of counter-demonstrators − anti-fascists − who often
outnumbered the extreme right marchers and stymied the intentions of the
In August, the
NPD organized demonstrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the suicide
(August 17, 1987) of Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess in various German cities.
Local courts approved marches in Jena and Graefenberg (Forchheim district),
with more than 800 participants; they were met by some 1000 anti-fascists. Demonstrations
were banned, however, in Saxony-Anhalt and in Wunsiedel, Bavaria, where Hess is
buried, and many protested against glorification of the Nazi era with a Feast
of Democracy (Fest der Demokratie). Five hundred neo-Nazis marched in Berlin and 300 in Nuremberg. After NDP Chairman Udo Voigt recommended Hess for the Nobel
Peace Prize, he was charged with incitement (paragraph 130 of the German
On September 8,
more than 3,000 people gathered to protest a meeting of some 1,500 neo-Nazis in
Jena, which had been permitted despite a request to forbid it. Two month
later, over 700 anti-fascists protested in the urban railway station Treptow in
Berlin-Neukoelln, under the banner “We are more, We are more colorful, We are
louder” against 550 neo-Nazi demonstrators who were marching to demand a “national
youth center” in southeast Berlin. Five anti-fascist demonstrators and a
policeman were hurt.
The Muslim Population
There are about 3.5 million
Muslims living in Germany. According to official figures, 30 Islamist
organizations were active on the national level at the end of 2007 (2006: 28),
with 33,170 (2006: 32.150) members, among them 27,000 members of the Turkish
Milli Görüs (see, for example, ASW 2006).
In December 2007, a study invited by Germany’s Interior Ministry found that 6
percent of the Muslim population (2006: 1 percent) and 25 percent of the youth
were willing to use violence against non-Muslims. Forty percent of interviewees
agreed that physical violence was a justified response to the threat to Islam
from the West. The findings of the study showed that religion has an important
influence: 40 percent saw themselves as religious; among those, 12 percent
identified with a strong moral religious critique of western society.
There was a 37 percent rise in
“right-wing extremist antisemitic crimes of violence,” from 43 in 2006 to 59 in 2007, according to official sources in their year-end reports. Such crimes represented
6 percent of the overall number of violent hate crimes attributed to the
extreme right in 2007. In contrast, the total number of violent crimes
perpetrated by the extreme right in general declined by 6 percent, from 1,047 in 2006 to 980 in 2007. Similarly, violent xenophobic or “anti-foreigner” crime dropped from 484 in 2006 to 414 in 2007. The BfV reported a decline in the overall figure for antisemitic
manifestations, from 1,636 in 2006 to 1,541 in 2007.
however, do not represent a uniform picture, which varies in accordance with
cultural, economic and social characteristics of the local populace. In Berlin for example − where, according to a study conducted by the BfV, the targets of
most far right violence are left-wing activists − the number of attacks
rose by 33 percent in 2007. This was especially true for regions where the NPD
was successful in local elections. It should be noted that most attacks were spontaneous,
Violence, Vandalism and Insults
A Holocaust memorial in the form
of a railway carriage of the Reichsbahn (dating back
to the Nazi era,) was destroyed by fire in the German city of Verden in Lower Saxony. The suspected arson attack occurred on January 26, the night before Holocaust
Memorial Day when a memorial ceremony was due to take place in the city in
remembrance of the victims transported by rail as slave workers by the Nazis.
German Jewish leaders had been warning about threats of extreme right-wing
militants to attack Holocaust memorials. One month later, a Jewish kindergarten
in Charlottenburg, Berlin, was smokebombed and antisemitic slogans, reading
"Juden raus!" and "Sieg Heil" as well as swastikas, were
found on the walls and entrance gate.
In January, police reported that two students from Israel and Yemen were threatened with a knife and insulted while in a tram in Magdeburg. In May, a
16-year-old boy wearing a skull cap was insulted and punched in the face on a Berlin train.
As noted in previous years, desecration of Jewish
cemeteries and Holocaust memorials as well as vandalism of Jewish sites, was recorded
sometimes weekly throughout Germany. For example, in February police reported
that 60 graves had been damaged in the Jewish cemetery in the Bavarian village of Bad Windshein at the end of January. Early in March, 63 gravestones in the
Jewish cemetery of Diespeck were desecrated. Two young neo-Nazis were arrested.
In June, 49 graves were vandalized in the Jewish cemetery of Aschbach. Seventy gravestones were desecrated, many of them seriously damaged, at the historic
Jewish cemetery of Ihringen in August. One week later, four suspects known to
belong to the extreme right were arrested. They described their attack as a
over the possible convergence of anti-Zionism with antisemitism was the subject
of many debates, and conferences in Germany 2007, principally in left-wing
A debate over the position of the left-wing Die Linke party
toward Israel resulted in the creation of the BAK Schalom youth initiative whose
purpose, among others, is to combat anti-Zionism, anti-Americanism and
left-wing antisemitism. Party co-chairman Gregor Gysi openly criticized his own
party for not clarifying its position about the right of Israel to exist and condemned left-wing anti-Zionism, stating that, “anti-Zionism cannot
be, or at least can no longer be, a tenable position for the Left in general,
and for the party and the Left, in particular."
Anti-Zionist propaganda, used to legitimize antisemitic
anti-Israel positions, was widely disseminated in Germany in 2007 (see ASW 2006 and
Analysis). A Bertelsmann Foundation survey carried out among the German
population in January 2007 revealed that 30 percent of those polled agreed
strongly or partially that Israel’s attitude toward the Palestinians was in
principle no different from that of the Nazis toward the Jews and that Israel was waging a war of extermination against the Palestinians.
An example illustrating this phenomenon can be seen in the
following event: 27 German bishops, led by Cardinal Karl Lehmann, head of the
German Bishops Conference, toured the Holy Land in the first week of February.
After visiting Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke told
reporters that the group had seen pictures of the inhuman Warsaw Ghetto and
then traveled to Ghetto Ramallah. Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of
Cologne, said the security fence might be imposed on animals not on human
beings and, in an allusion to the Berlin Wall, remarked he had never thought he
would see anything like that again, Bishop Walter Mixa, of Augsburg, referred
to Ramallah as a ghetto with racist characteristics. In a letter to Cardinal
Lehmann, Avner Shalev, director of Yad Vashem, stated that such comments
demonstrated ignorance of history and a distorted perspective, and that Israel's actions bore no resemblance to those of the Nazis.
The above remarks may be related to other findings of the
Bertelsmann study: for example, that one-third of Germans believe the classic
antisemitic statement that Jews have undue influence in the world and four out
of ten consider National Socialism had both good and bad elements. One in ten
Germans agreed totally, and one in three partially, that the Jews were trying
to exploit the Holocaust for their own gain.
findings published on January 8, 2008 in the scientific journal Focus Schule of a rise in antisemitism among Muslim children, another survey,
released by the Amadeu Antonio Foundation in November showed an increase in
anti-Jewish attitudes among teenagers of immigrant families, The study also
stressed the fact that history teachers are often unable to arouse any sympathy
for Holocaust victims among pupils and, fearing their reaction, may bypass this
period in history.
Violent anti-Jewish behavior recorded in Germany in 2007 appeared frequently to have been triggered by the anti-Zionist climate and the
anti-Israel discourse. Summarizing the situation in December, Charlotte Knobloch,
president of the CCGJ declared categorically that antisemitism had reached
the mainstream of German society. "Taboo-breaks are increasing," she
declared, and "the sensibility needed to handle antisemitic crimes has
diminished." As an example, Knobloch mentioned popular satirists Harald
Schmidt and Oliver Pocher who mocked the Holocaust.
According to Gottfried Kossler of the Frankfurt-based
Holocaust Research Institute, "the word 'Jew' has become one of the most
commonly used insults among German pupils," and not only among German
Muslim youth. The word, which is not specifically used against Jews, has become
commonplace, a development impossible to imagine five years ago. In November,
during a confrontation between gangs of right-wing and left-wing youth at an
underground station in Berlin, for example, expressions such as “Du Jude, Heil
Hitler” were used by the former. An attack by a right-wing youth who shouted
"Jude, Jude" while beating up his (non-Jewish) victim in front of a
disco in August also illustrates this phenomenon.
In soccer stadiums antisemitic insults are commonly hurled
at the opposing team as part of the general violent racist and xenophobic
atmosphere among fans. In May, for example, antisemitic slogans were shouted
and songs sung during a youth soccer game in Wurzen (Saxony). “We’ll build a
subway from Chemnitz to Auschwitz,” they sang, and “You Fiji pigs," they
yelled at two 14-year-olds from Chemnitz. They also targeted the 14-year-old
goalkeeper from the visiting team: "Jewish pig, go f--k your Jewish
mother," they yelled.
Attitudes toward the Nazi era
events were held in order to raise awareness of the Holocaust and the proliferation
of antisemitism in over 70 cities and communities in all German states. The
announcement of the opening, in 2008, of a new museum, Silent Heroes, focusing
on Germans and those they rescued during World War II, is an example of a project
intended to serve this purpose.
Three years after a dispute broke out about the role of the
Deutsche Reichbahn in Nazi deportations, its successor, the Deutsche Bahn (DB),
gave way to international pressure and granted access to statistics for
commemoration activities. On November 9, 2007, the anniversary of
Kristallnacht, a “Commemoration Train” dedicated to the Nazi deportation of
1,500,000 children and youth began its 3,000 km journey, visiting 30 cities between Frankfurt and Auschwitz. The exhibit, entitled "Chartered Trains to
Death − Deportation with the German Reichsbahn," portrays the fate
of some 11,000 Jewish children deported from France. About 160,000 visited the
train when it returned in April 2008 to Berlin. When Deutsche Bahn refused to
allow the train to halt at the capital's central station, offering instead the
eastern Ostbahnhof, Die Linke MP Petra Pau alleged that the
"blockade" and the travel charges imposed were a reminder of the
difficulties still faced when trying to shed light on Germany's past crimes. (The DB offered to donate the fees to Jewish organizations.)
Responses to antisemitism and
by the fears expressed by Jewish community leaders and by the potential threat
to the democratic order engendered by the increase in hate crime, German
Chancellor Angela Merkel promised − during a ceremony marking the Holocaust
on the 62nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, in Frankfurt a.d.Oder
near the German-Polish border − that Germany would have "zero
tolerance" for neo-Nazis and urged all democrats to fight the rise of
right-wing extremism and antisemitism.
In an effort
to help to fill the educational gap in light of the increase of antisemitic attitudes in Germany, 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. Julianne Wetzel.
Educating about antisemitism and the Holocaust was the main
concern of the organizers of the exhibition "Antisemitism? Anti-Zionism?
Criticism of Israel?" which opened in August in the atrium of the German
Foreign Ministry building in Berlin. The exhibition is the result of
cooperation between Yad Vashem Memorial and the Center for Research on
Antisemitism in Berlin at the Technical University of Berlin. It explores the
rise of contemporary antisemitism in Europe, with emphasis on the media and the
political left, as well as on the new antisemitism in the Arab world.
The federal police
estimated that 11,700 activists associated with local clubs and 4,300 fans of first
league clubs were prepared to use violence. In February 2008 a conference, organized by the city of Hannover, the Institute of Sports at the University of
Hannover, and the Marianne and Dr. Ernst Pieper-Fond at Tel Aviv University, dwelt
on the subject “Integration – The Challenge in Football?” in order to
understand and combat this phenomenon.
Hundreds of governmental as well as non-governmental groups
and organizations, including tens of thousands of activists from all democratic
ideological backgrounds, are involved in the struggle against racism,
xenophobia and antisemitism throughout Germany. Holocaust education is
mandatory in German schools.
denial has been punishable by law since 1985. The German Penal Code is one of the
most advanced and effective in combating Holocaust denial and antisemitism.
Public dissemination of Holocaust denial, labeled “the Auschwitz Lie” (Auschwitzlüge),
is considered an “insult to the survivors of the Holocaust,” and punishable
under paragraphs 130, 185 and 186 of the Criminal Code (for more details, see ASW 2004).
When Germany took over the rotating six-month presidency of
the 27-country EU on January 1, 2007, it sought to make Holocaust denial
punishable by law in every member state of the Union, with some success. On April
26, for the first time in EU history, all member states decided to apply
sanctions, including punitive measures, against racism and xenophobia. The EU
decided to forbid the denial of all genocides, including the Holocaust.
Holocaust denial is only punished if it incites to hatred or disturbs the
Following are some legal responses to Holocaust denial in Germany in 2007.
a Mannheim court sentenced German denier Ernst Zündel , convicted of 14
counts of incitement, to five years in prison for inciting racial hatred and
denying the Holocaust. Supporting Iranian President Ahmadinejad, Zündel
proposed, in his closing statement, that Germany “set up an international
commission of experts to examine the Holocaust." In September, the German
Federal Court of Justice rejected Zundel’s appeal that he was a peaceful
campaigner who was being denied the right to free speech. It also rejected Zundel's
request to deduct time he served in pre-deportation custody. In March, Sylvia
Stolz, Zündel's defense lawyer, was also charged with incitement and
On August 7, Marcell Woell, leader of the Hessen branch of
the NPD was sentenced to four months in prison for Holocaust denial and
assaulting political opponents. Woell had a previous conviction on several
accounts of inflicting bodily harm and branding school trips to Holocaust
memorial sites “brainwashing pupils.”
In November, journalist and lawyer Michel Friedman filed
charges against Nazi lawyer Horst Mahler for denying the Holocaust and making
the Nazi salute during an interview to the American Vanity Fair
magazine. Mahler who had greeted Friedman provocatively with “Heil Hitler,”
said during the interview that the systematic extermination of Jews in Auschwitz was a lie, and called Hitler "the savior of the German people." Later
that month a court in Cottbus sentenced Mahler to six months imprisonment
without parole for having made the Hitler salute when reporting to prison for a
nine-month term a year earlier. Mahler has six previous convictions for
political crimes, including Holocaust denial.
Member of the Bundestag Sebastian Edathy (SPD) filed a
complaint against NPD leader Udo Voigt, for denial of the Holocaust. In an
interview with an Iranian journalist, broadcast on ARD‘s "Report
Mainz" on December 10, Voigt said, "it makes a difference whether Germany
pays for six million Jews or for 340,000 who perished in Auschwitz... A maximum
of only 340,000 could have been killed there." In another interview with
Iranian journalists, Voigt's deputy, Sascha Rossmueller, expressed his hope
that Iran's president would stand by the NPD and assist it financially.
there has been an increase in activities of neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers at
German universities. In Trier, Giessen and Cologne, extreme right students were
elected to student councils. Mainz and Rottenburg universities have been trying
to curb the activity of neo-Nazis by various means, but are hampered by the
right of freedom of speech, regarded as a central value on campuses.
Attempts to Ban Extremist Groups and
Since 1949, 15 extreme right-wing
organizations have been banned on a federal base and 62 by the ministries of
interior of the states (lander). Only one party, the Sozialistische
Reichspartei (SRP), has been banned by the Federal Constitutional Court, in
1952. An unsuccessful attempt was made to ban the NPD as an unconstitutional
party in 2003 (see ASW 2003). Politicians of
various stripes were again demanding to outlaw the party in 2007, but feared
failure and boosting its popularity. Those who support a ban argue that although
it would not overcome right-wing extremism, it would significantly narrow the
far right's room for maneuver for years to come, not just because its financial
base would be dried up but also because it would no longer be possible to
incite people under the guise of giving citizen's advice or holding
neighborhood parties under police protection.
The only federal-level
group banned in 2007 was the neo-Nazi Kamaradschaft, Sturm 34, declared illegal
in April. Named after a SA-unit, it had legitimized violence and called for the
creation of “national befreite [no-entry] zones, dominated by right-wing
extremists and "cleansed" of migrants, homosexuals and left-wingers.