BONN (Jun. 15)
The West German Ministry of the Interior reporting today on the development of rightwing extremism in West Germany, noted the electoral successes of the German National Democratic Party and said that for the first time in six years, an extremist group had become “a political factor.”
The ministry estimated the strength of the party at the end of 1966 at 25,000 — a gain of 11,000 in one year — and said that the total membership of extreme rightwing organizations had reached 36,200, thus approximating their 1960 high water mark.
The report stressed that the proportion of ex-members of Hitler’s National Socialist Party in the NPD was at least eight times higher than in the population as a whole. The neo-Nazi party drew 64% of its members from the middle-classes, especially independent business, commerce, handicrafts and agriculture, the report revealed, stating that recruitment from these sectors was increasing. It said the party had found little support from working-class elements and this support was declining.
The NPD, the federal agency said, was concentrating its recruitment efforts on promising young people who could be offered jobs in the party organization. The ministry described the NPD as “a party without a program” which tended towards an anti-intellectual, emotional and stereotyped way of thinking. The report charged that the party was seeking to unleash political passions and asserted that there was a growing number of parallels between the NPD’s approach and the Nazi ideology, including an advocacy, by some of the NPD agitators of the discredited Nazi racial theories.