BONN (Nov. 18)
The Social Democratic Party (SPD), now in the opposition, has re-introduced legislation aimed against neo-Nazi propaganda which was rejected a month ago when the SPD headed West Germany’s governing coalition government.
The draft bill which would close loopholes in existing anti-Nazi laws, was killed in the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament, controlled by the Christian Democratic Union. The CDU is now the governing party.
The proposed legislation would give state prosecutors the power to try persons who publicly deny that Jews were persecuted by the Third Reich or that the Holocaust occurred. It would impose tighter restrictions on the import and distribution of Nazi propaganda material produced abroad and limit the sale of reproductions of material that existed in Nazi Germany.
CDU officials have expressed reservations toward the draft bill from its inception but never said specifically that they would try to defeat it. The Bundestag’s Justice Committee which prepared the legislation believed there were enough votes in the lower house to pass it after differences over the text were resolved.
But the Bundesrat, which represents the various state governments of the Federal Republic, did not feel bound to accept the compromise version adopted by the Justice Committee.
Jewish leaders here have expressed concern over the SPD’s latest initiative which was in part a product of their own lobbying efforts. They feel the issue may now be reduced to one of party politics. The SPD and some of the internal opposition within the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the CDU’s coalition partner, seem eager to prove that there are substantial differences between themselves and the CDU-led government policy toward rightwing extremists.