BONN (Nov. 13)
The West German Ministry of Interior believes that an investigation it has Just concluded turned up sufficient evidence to satisfy the Constitutional High Court at Karlsruhe that the extreme right-wing National Democratic Party (NPD) is neo-Nazi and should be banned under West German law. Interior Minister Ernst Benda has advised Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger of the investigation’s findings which are under examination by him, it was learned here today. The Benda report had been requested by the coalition Government last summer when it appeared that the NPD’s political power was on the rise and that the reputedly neo-Nazi party was on the way to winning its first seats in the Bundestag (Lower House) in next year’s national elections. The party then had seats in 10 West German state legislatures and had just won nearly 10 percent of the vote in Wurttemburg-Baden, considered to be the most liberal of West German states. NPD chairman Adolf von Thadden had predicted at least 50 seats in the new Bundestag for his party.
But the NPD’s fortunes took a dip in the most recent local elections in which it received 5.2 percent of the vote — less than half of what Mr. von Thadden forecast. Many political observers took the view the NPD had reached its peak and was declining. That view, it was noted here, might diminish the urgency of steps to outlaw the party. The Government has been reluctant to initiate a case against the NPD before the Karlsruhe court because of the repercussions and embarrassment that would follow a court rejection on grounds of insufficient evidence. Action for a ban is being pressed by the Social Democratic Party, coalition partner of Chancellor Kiesinger’s Christian Democratic Union.
Mr. von Thadden’s Socialist Reich Party was banned in 1951 as unconstitutional. The NPD, which he organized in 1964, has carefully stayed within Constitutional limits and has avoided positions that could jeopardize its legal standing. The party, which claims 40,000 members, has however, espoused Nazi-like tenets in areas of domestic and foreign policy.