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Sunday, 2 September 2012

Modern Germany hit by growth in neo-Nazi hate

IT was supposed to be a nightmare which died with Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.
But neo-Nazi hatred and violence are now a fact of life in modern Germany and on the rise, as restaurant owner Uwe Dziuballa can confirm.
Every year, from early March, callers try to book a table at his kosher restaurant – for Adolf Hitler to celebrate his birthday on April 18.
Since Uwe opened up in the eastern city of Chemnitz in 2000, he has had to endure hatred and abuse, including pigs’ heads nailed to the front door, anti-Semitic insults screamed down the phone and people urinating through the letterbox.
And his plight is just a ripple in a rising tide of neo-Nazism in Europe’s most powerful nation.
The influential magazine Der Spiegel sounded a warning about the growth of the far right last week. But most Germans appear to be wilfully blind to the dangers, despite all the evidence.
“After an estimated 180 racist killings in Germany since unification in 1990, after countless assaults, cases of intimidation, swastikas daubed on Jewish gravestones, immigrants beaten up at bus stops, stones hurled through the windows of kebab shops, the conclusion has to be that Germany is losing the battle against the violent far right,” Der Spiegel said.
The majority of Germans seem indifferent while extremists gain power, mainly in the former communist east.
neo-Nazis gather outside well known hang-out
neo-Nazis gather outside well known hang-out
  The hatemongers wanting to build a Fourth Reich can’t wear the swastika or give the Nazi salute because such overt symbols of Nazism are banned. But they love the British clothing brand Lonsdale because the letters NSDA in the name are the initials of the Nazi party.
They also wave the battle flags of the Kaiser and slogan T-shirts to show their affiliation.
The new Nazis retain links to their Third Reich forebears.
Gudrun Burwitz, whose father was dreaded SS overlord Heinrich Himmler, has become “godmother” to female Nazis across Germany.
From her house in a Munich suburb, she is also a leading figure in the sinister group Stille Hilfe – Silent Help – who give aid to war criminals on the run.
And at 82, she remains hopeful that she will live to see her father’s twisted ideology triumph again.
Those who share her views have turned large parts of the east into areas where black people and even whites of liberal persuasion are reluctant to visit.
Anti-racism activist Timo Reinfrank says they call them “nationally liberated zones” -- an allusion to the Third Reich’s
aspirations of a Germany free of any Jews. He added: “Especially in east German regions, but also in some rural regions in west Germany, there are no-go areas.
“People who don’t fit into the Aryan-German world view can’t travel there – that applies to punks, leftists, skaters, immigrants, and gays and lesbians.”
As long as Germany remains, in essence, two societies – the richer west and the far poorer east – the ultra-right will prey on the disadvantaged and the malcontented.
When communism fell, it left behind a void for the discontented citizens of the east. Into this void marched the far right, promising, like the originals from the 1930s, employment, honour, pride – and blaming “others” in society for their woes.
Extremists on the streets of Hamburg
Extremists on the streets of Hamburg
  But extremism is not confined to the east. A week ago, armed police stormed the homes, clubhouses and offices of neo-Nazi groups in North Rhine-
Westphalia, Germany’s largest state.
The raids came as the state banned three Hitler-worshipping groups, including the Comrades’ Association Aachen.
“The three groups were considered the most dangerous in the state,” said interior minister Ralf Jaeger.
The Aachen group were so violent that officials considered their actions “bordered on terrorism”.
Two members of it were stopped en route to Berlin in 2010 with bombs containing glass shards which they planned to throw at police and left-wingers. In the raids last week, rifles, knives, gas grenades, pistols and clubs were among the weapons seized.
This is the new fear of the ruling elite – armed and volatile Nazis,
comfortable with violence and not afraid to practise it.

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