BONN (Apr. 5)
Leaders of the new National Democratic Party (NDP), which is usually defined as “the Nazi Party without storm troopers,” said at a press conference today that they had started legal proceedings against four West German publications which had described them as neo-Nazis. They said the legal actions were aimed at Der Spiegel, the Shtern and two others.
In a related development, Dr. Eric Mende, West German Vice-Chancellor and chairman of the Free Democratic Party, asserted that the recent gains in Hamburg and Bavaria by the NDP had been exaggerated, particularly in foreign countries.
The NDP leaders also protested at the press conference against charges by other politicians that the NDP belonged to the neo-Nazi sector of West German politics. A Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent attending the press meeting noted that prominent former Nazis held high positions in the NDP and the leaders replied that this was true also of other political parties.
The NDP leaders admitted that the party rejected Germans who had cooperated with other countries during the war and considered them traitors. When asked why they placed wreaths on the graves of Nazis who had been convicted and executed for war crimes, they replied that this action was not intended to identify NDP leaders with the war criminals but only with those who had been executed by “error.”
Dr. Mende, replying to questions, said he did not consider the gains of the neo-Nazi party a threat either to democracy in West Germany or to his party. He also said he was opposed to any ban on the NDP and that he did not agree that the party consisted entirely of former Nazis since many of its members were too young to have been Nazis.
Der Spiegel, meanwhile, reported that it had engaged the Allensbach Public Opinion Research Institute to determine how many West Germans would vote for the NDP if a new Parliamentary election was held now. The newspaper reported that the Institute found that two percent of West Germans would vote for the NDP in such an election, exactly the proportion which voted for it in the Parliamentary elections last September. In the municipal elections in Hamburg last month the NDP received 3.9 percent of the votes.