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West German Coalition Splits on Measures to Deal with Neo-nazi Party

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The apparently growing strength of the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party is not only a matter of increasing political concern in the Federal Republic but has already involved the shaky coalition Government in some internecine sniping. Chancellor Kurt Keisinger has accused the Social-Democratic members of the coalition of refusing to agree to proposed electoral changes which were intended to prevent the NPD from winning seats in the Bundestag (lower house) in the next general elections. The implication was that the Social Democrats would be responsible if the neo-Nazis, who now hold seats in six of the ten Laender (state) parliaments, manage to gain entry into the Federal parliament.

Meanwhile, the NPD has challenged the Chancellor to put the question of its constitutionality to a test before the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe. In an open letter to Mr. Keisinger, the NPD executive declared that the party had nothing to fear from an examination by the court, which would enable it to demonstrate “before all the world the emptiness of the charges and imputations levelled against it.”

The NPD, which espouses many Hitlerian precepts, has been branded as “anti-democratic” by leading German politicians. However, the Government has shied away from a legal test because a court refusal to allow a ban on the NPD would only strengthen the latter and embarrass the Government.

The NPD has won a claim for compensation against the city of Nuremburg which may add the equivalent of $3,670 to the party treasury and some $50,000 to the pocketbooks of individual party members. The Nuremburg court found in favor of the NPD in its claim against the Nuremberg municipality for banning the party from holding its annual congress in that city last May. The party had asked 14,700 marks for itself and demanded that each party member who made the trip to Nuremburg be compensated. The latter claim would amount to some 200,000 marks ($50,000).

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