KARLSRUHE, W. Germany (Jun. 19)
The first national congress of the National Democratic Party, Germany’s newest political group which is held to be neo-Nazi in its orientation and aspirations, concluded here today after a hectic weekend of counter-demonstrations staged by the country’s organized trade union movement.
Seven special trains and 250 buses had brought 20,000 trade unionists here to stage the counter-demonstrations. The N.D.P. opponents marched through the city, held mass rallies, and carried banners proclaiming: “We Don’t Want Any Nazis;” “Nazis, Out!;” “We Don’t Want Another 1933″ (referring to the year Hitler assumed power); and “We Don’t Want Karlsruhe As a New Nuremburg.”
Friedrich Thielen, national leader of the NDP, opened the congress Friday with an address in which he denied that his party is the successor to the Nazi Party. “We ask merely for a renewal of national consciousness, ” he declared. But Eugen Loderer, one of the leaders of trade unionists here, denounced the NDP and called upon the country’s organized labor movement to “fight from the beginning against these forces.”
The NDP assembly drew 1, 300 delegates representing 9,300 members. A fusion of all right-wing forces in the country, it is estimated that about 20 percent of the N.D.P. members are former Nazis. The trade unions, which have 20,000,000 members, are considered now the strongest German group fighting neo-Nazism. The principal demand of the counter-demonstrators here was a request that the Government outlaw the NDP.
The demonstrators included many elderly men who had fought against the rise of Nazism in the final days of the Weimar Republic, and some disabled war veterans, a number of them in wheelchairs. At least 50 of the demonstrators were involved in a scuffle which developed when some of them pulled from a car three youths with an NDP banner. Police took the youths into protective custody as the angry crowd yelled “Nazis, Nazis.” In another incident, police moved in to stop demonstrators trying to overturn another automobile carrying an an NDP banner. Several arrests were made.
The Karlsruhe City Council sought to ban the assembly in the main hall, but the NDP took the case to the courts and won a ruling that the party was not a banned organization.