East German Court Imposes Heavier Sentences on Neo-nazis

An East Berlin district court judge Thursday lengthened the sentences imposed by a lower court on four young neo-Nazis who were involved in a major anti-Semitic incident.

The prison terms were changed from 14 to 18 months in two cases and from two to four years in two others. The four youths, whose names were not released, burst into the Protestant Zion Church in East Berlin on Oct. 17 shouting, “All Jews to the gas chambers,” “pig Jews” and other offending slogans.

They attacked congregants, severely injuring several of them. The church is known for its activities in promoting a Christian-Jewish dialogue and is a center for ecological and peace groups which criticize or oppose the Communist regime in East Berlin.

The youths’ original sentences were described by the official press here as “minor, outrageous,” and the state prosecution immediately appealed the penalties.

The trial amounted to the first public admission that neo-Nazi groups were operating in East Germany. But Communist officials still maintain that the neo-Nazi groups are the product of “capitalist” influence from neighboring West Germany.

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