BONN (Sep. 21)
Screaming anti-Nazi demonstrators broke through elaborate police barricades in the industrial city of Essen yesterday to cut short a campaign speech by Adolf von Thadden, chairman of the ultra right-wing, reputedly neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD), One demonstrator, identified as 23-year-old Lothar Plaga, managed to reach Von Thadden in his bullet-proof plexiglass cage and manhandled him until pulled off, kicked and beaten by two burly NPD guards. Police rescued Plaga but were unable to keep a crowd of more than 2,000 from storming the platform and Von Thadden’s armored loudspeaker bus.
The NPD leader cut his speech short and fled in a bullet-proof car. The demonstration was the wildest of the many that have greeted Von Thadden since he and other NPD spokesmen began campaigning last month for the Sept. 28 national elections. The demonstrators shouted “get out of here Nazi swine” and “one Adolf was one too many” as the NPD leader began his standard campaign speech which is keyed to “law and order.” Von Thadden spoke in the Ribbeckplatz, a square in Essen less than 300 yards from the domed former Central Synagogue which was sacked by the Nazis in 1938. The synagogue is now an exhibition hall. Police had prepared for demonstrations by setting up elaborate barbed wire barricades. They brought police dogs and water cannon. But the demonstrators peppered the rostrum with stones and garbage. Police reported seven arrests including one NPD guard. Last week, two men were shot and wounded by an unknown NPD sympathizer at a party rally in Kassel after they had heckled Von Thadden.
The NPD leader reckons that 37 of 46 election rallies he has held have been “disturbed.” But yesterday’s incident was the first time anyone managed to lay a hand on him. Von Thadden nevertheless is optimistic about his party’s chances to win even more than the five percent of next Sunday’s vote required to enter the Bundestag. He said at a press conference a week ago that he would be surprise if the NPD failed to poll eight-12 percent. His campaign has been directed to lower-middle class wage earners who are disturbed by student demonstrations and rising living costs.
A group of 70 professors at Stuttgart University meanwhile have urged West German electors not to vote for the NPD under any circumstances. They said they feared that Germany would suffer a loss of world confidence if the NPD won seats in the Bundestag, affecting the nation’s post-war cultural, scientific and economic achievements. West German politicians have maintained that an NPD victory in the elections would not have much impact internally but would adversely effect West Germany’s image abroad.