BONN (Jan. 27)
An alarming increase in neo-Nazi violence and the rightwing views held by a small but substantial part of the population pose a threat to the fabric of democracy in West Germany, according to members of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) faction in the parliament of Lower Saxony.
The group held a public hearing on the subject. Faction leader Karl Ravens said neo-Nazis today maintain paramilitary groups, special camps for children and youths and an infrastructure of nationwide terrorism.
The most serious cause for concern, according to Ravens, is the result of recent public opinion polls which showed that more than 10 percent of West Germans have rightwing attitudes. This is dangerous he said because Germany’s democratic system lacks a long and deep-rooted tradition.
Ravens said the danger was not that the rightwing would come to power but a dilution of democracy. He said a combination of public apathy and crisis situations could trigger a move toward authoritarian, anti-democratic forms of government.
Prof. Herbert Obenaus, a historian, said at the hearings that after the fall of Nazism, anti-Nazis failed to exert a decisive influence in public life in post-war Germany. He contended that the so-called “denazification” was imposed by the Allies and was not conducted out of self conviction.