BONN (Jul. 30)
Charges were filed yesterday by Frankfurt prosecutor Dietrich Rahn against an unspecified number of monitors of the extremist National Democratic Party on charges they beat protesters and passers-by outside a riotous NPD meeting in Frankfurt last Friday.
The beatings reportedly took place after Dr. Benno Korber, the leader of the 60 monitors at the rally, was understood to have ordered his men to clear the congested entrance of the meeting hall “at any cost.” The monitors wore helmets and black gloves. A spokesman for the Federal Interior Ministry, which has been seeking a ban against the NPD, said it was the first time the monitors had appeared in uniform clothing. He added that Frankfurt authorities will have to decide whether the helmets and gloves constituted uniforms, which are banned at West German political functions.
In related developments, Chancellor Kurt Kiesinger and Kai Uwe von Hassel, president of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, came under criticism for declaring publicly they did not consider the NPD a neo-Nazi party. The Chancellor was quoted to that effect in a West German newspaper, although he added that some of its leaders were former Nazis. The Chancellor also reportedly said that the only worrisome aspect of a possible substantial NPD gain of seats in the Bundestag in the forthcoming Sept. 28 general elections would be its effect on public opinion abroad. A Government official denied that the Chancellor had made the statements but the interview has been widely quoted by the West German press and radio.
Mr. von Kassel, who also is a member of the Chancellor’s christian Democratic Union, told a party meeting Monday night in Munich that the NPD was not a neo-Nazi party and that most of its members were “honorable people” seeking “law and order.” Social Democrats, who are partners with the CDU in the present coalition Government, assailed the statement, saying that the Bundestag president had succeeded in a “unique sleight-of-hand — giving the neo-Nazis a clean bill of health.” Shortly afterwards, Mr. von Hassel issued a statement saying that he had long opposed the NPD and that he opposed a constitutional ban on the party because he felt the voters themselves should repudiate the party in the general elections.