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German Police Open Sweeping Probe of Cologne Synagogue Incident

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The German police launched a sweeping inquiry today into the Christmas Eve desecration of the Cologne synagogue by two young neo-Nazis, members of the German Reichs Party. The scope of the investigation and the vigor with which it was apparently being pressed indicated that the German authorities were inclined to regard the development as something more than an isolated incident.

The possibility of action against the German Reichs Party, an extreme rightist group, loomed strongly as the North Rhide-Westphalian Minister of the Interior. Joseph Duthues, in a television broadcast last night, attacked the party leaders as former “top Nazis” who were probably to blame for the anti-Semitic indoctrination of the two young hoodlums.

Otto Wilhelm Meinberg, national chairman of the rightist party, denied that his group was responsible. He denounced the two synagogue desecrators as “poor criminal fools” who were not incited by old Nazis but were “the product of our time and Dr. Adenauer’s policies.” He ordered their expulsion from the part and dissolved the Cologne branch of about 30 members because it was “basically anti-Semitic.” His action followed the arrest of the head of the Cologne unit and the detention of other members for questioning.

The German authorities, noting the many messages of sympathy received by the Cologne Jewish community from all parts of West Germany, interpreted the reaction as a sign that “there is no anti-Semitism in Germany; there are only a few anti-Semites.”

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