WEST BERLIN (Oct. 6)
Mayor Klaus Schutz has asked the commandants of the three Allied occupying powers to consider banning the extreme right-wing, reputedly neo-Nazi National Democratic Party from establishing a branch in this city. Herr Schutz took the action with the authorization of the Berlin Senate (city government), and has precipitated a potentially embarrassing situation for the post-war occupying powers – United States, Britain and France — and for the Federal Government in Bonn.
(Christian Science Monitor correspondent Harry B. Ellis reported from Bonn yesterday that Britain and France were inclined to ban the NPD in West Berlin at the Senate’s request but U.S. officials have cited the difficulties such action might create for Bonn.)
The problem has far-reaching political ramifications. Although Bonn authorities share the Berlin Senate’s concern over the NPD’s rising political strength, they do not see eye-to-eye with the Berliners on how to deal with it. Dr. Eugene Gerstenmaier, president of the Bundestag (lower house), said last week that he thought it would be a mistake to treat the NPD one way in Berlin and another in the rest of West Germany. To ban the party in the Federal Republic, the Government of Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger would have to argue before the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe that the NPD seeks “to impair or destroy the free democratic order or to endanger the existence” of the state. But Interior Ministry officials doubt that they have sufficient evidence to guarantee an affirmative ruling by the court.
Observers point out here that if the court overturned the Government’s move to ban the NPD while the Allied powers in West Berlin imposed a ban, the implication would be that the Allies acted without sufficient grounds. But if West Berlin banned the party and the Kiesinger Government failed to follow suit, the latter would be open to charges of shielding neo-Nazis, an accusation that some observers believe Soviet authorities would be bound to make. The situation is further complicated by sensitive West Berlin-Soviet relations. Herr Schutz and his city government are concerned lest the Soviets and East Germans be given provocation to attempt to intervene in West Berlin affairs. A possible provocation was avoided when the NPD cancelled a party congress scheduled to be held in West Berlin Oct. 20. The party cancelled all political rallies in West Germany for the time being after demonstrators broke up a public meeting in Bonn on Oct. 1.