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West German Cabinet Expected to Decide Whether to Seek Ban on National Democrats

The West German Cabinet is expected to decide Wednesday whether to apply to the Constitutional High Court at Karlsruhe for a ban on the extreme right-wing National Democratic Party (NPD) on grounds that it is neo-Nazi, undemocratic and unconstitutional. Interior Minister Ernst Benda said he will recommend such action by the Government, on the basis of an investigation his ministry recently conducted into the party’s activities. He said the investigation revealed the NPD to be a successor to the Nazi Party and turned up sufficient evidence for a constitutional ban. Herr Benda said he will try to get the party outlawed on the grounds that its leadership is largely composed of former Nazi Party members. In its propaganda, the party has been more nationalistic than totalitarian, although its press is strongly anti-Zionist, which some observers see as a cloak for ingrained anti-Semitism.

A majority of the Cabinet appeared to favor a ban. However, a note of caution was sounded by Finance Minister Franz Josef Strauss, head of the Christian Social Union. Bavarian wing of Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger’s Christian Democratic Union. Herr Strauss warned against any “one-sided” ban. His party, well to the right of center in West German politics, insisted that if the Government sought a ban on the NPD it should do the same against the newly formed German Communist Party. It also wants to ban the radical left-wing Socialist German Students League. Herr Strauss said after a meeting of his party’s Executive that unless Bonn had “an absolutely iron-clad case” against the NPD, it should not move to ban the party. “God preserve us from a clean bill of health for the NPD!” he declared.

Government circles acknowledge that rejection by the high court of a petition to outlaw the NPD would not only embarrass the Government but would lend new respectability to the right-wing party and enhance its chances in next year’s general elections. NPD chairman Adolf von Thadden claims that his party will enter the Bundestag (lower house) for the first time next September with at least 50 seats, despite its poor showing in recent local elections. Should that happen, the CDU could not win an absolute majority and its hopes to rule without coalition support would be dashed. It was therefore believed that the CDU was prepared to take a calculated risk and support a Government request for a constitutional ban against the NPD.

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