BONN (Feb. 23)
West Germany’s extreme right-wing National Democratic Party (NPD) called “neo-Nazi” in some quarters, opened a political campaign today which it hopes will sweep it into the Bundestag (Lower House) in next fall’s national elections. Significantly, the party convened its national convention in Bavaria, birthplace of Hitler’s Brownshirts, and the German state in which the NPD has scored its most impressive local victories to date.
Political rallies were scattered between rented halls in six Bavarian townships. But the main convention was being held at Schwabach, near Nurenberg in Central Franconia. It was to have taken place in the Bayreuth town hall, but city authorities there won a court ruling permitting them to refuse to rent the premises to the NPD.
The NPD holds seats in seven of West Germany’s eleven provincial legislatures. But it never polled more than two percent of the vote on a national basis. It must win at least five percent in order to gain Bundestag representation. Party leader Adolf von Thadden predicted, in a keynote address, that the NPD would win 50 seats in the next Bundestag. About 300 demonstrators jeered the delegates as they filed into the Schwabach town hall. They shouted “Nazis get out” and waved placards reading, “One Adolf Was Enough”. Mr. von Thadden told his audience that the demonstrators were doing the party more good than harm. “Whatever does not kill us makes us stronger,” he said. The NPD so far has taken a relatively moderate line and seems to be basing its election campaign on appeals for law and order aimed at left-wing student demonstrators.
This line was expected to have strong appeal among middle class Germans and was, in fact, the theme adopted by two other major parties. Mr. von Thadden assailed the Government’s “war of nerves” which he claimed was forging greater unity in the NPD. His reference to moves under consideration in Bonn to ask the Constitutional Court at Karlsruhe to ban the NPD as anti-democratic under German law. The move which appeared to gain impetus several months ago, now seems to be stalled.