BONN (Jan. 7)
Leaders of the Social Democratic and Free Democratic Parties announced tonight they would oppose the Adenauer Government’s attempts to amend the penal code to forbid practices endangering the public peace through incitement to hatred against particular groups because of their “nationality, race or religion or other traits of national heritage.” A Social Democratic spokesman explained his party view by assenting that “legislation affecting a special group is always a danger to democracy.”
The Cabinet decided at a special meeting last night to seek this legislation as a weapon to fight the current anti-Semitic outbreak which began in Cologne on Christmas Eve. The Government failed some months ago to secure adoption of this legislation. There were many objections to the draft by leaders of many parties as well as by Jewish leaders in Germany. Some of the objections were based on opposition to the singling out of the Jews in Germany for special attention. Other objectors, however, felt that the amendment did not go far enough.
The present code leaves up to local prosecutors to determine how to apply the code in regard to racism, making it possible for culprits to escape with Jail sentences of only a week or with fines only. The amendment provides Jail sentences of “at least three months.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of the Inter for said at a news conference here last night that there is “no conclusive evidence” pointing to any central organization or overall coordination of the plague of anti-Semitic incidents.
(In West Berlin, the City’s Justice department asked the Western occupation authorities for permission to invoke a 1945 law of the Four-Power Control Council banning all forms of Nazi activity. Mayor Willy Brandt, denouncing the swastika plague as “hell’s uproar, “said West Berlin’s police would crack down on neo-Nazi elements wherever it discovered them.)
Foreign Minister Heinrich von Brentano received A. L. Easterman of the World Jewish Congress here today to discuss the situation. Following the meeting, Mr. Easternman said he was satisfied with Herr von Brentano’s assurances that the most speedy and effective legislative and administrative measures would be taken to uproot Nazi elements in the Federal Republic.
(In Washington, Maurice Bisgyer, executive vice-president of B’nai B’rith and Benjamin R. Epstein, national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith conferred today with officials of the State Department and with German Ambassador Wilhelm Grewe in connection with a forthcoming visit to West Germany next week by Mr. Epstein and Nathan C. Belth of the ADL.)
The Ministry of the Interior, it was learned today, will submit its recommendations to the Cabinet on January 30, on action to be taken with respect to the Deutsche Reich Party, a right-wing neo-Nazi organization. The Cabinet will then have to decide whether to ask the Constitutional Court at Leipzig to declare the party illegal.