BONN (Jan. 16)
Neo-Nazis mingled with pro-democracy demonstrators in the East German city of Leipzig on Monday and appeared on West German television with anti-Semitic slogans.
Assuming correctly that the city where East Germany’s “peaceful revolution” began last November would be the focus of media attention, all manner of right-wing extremists have gathered there.
Last weekend, swastikas and slogans such as “Juden Raus” (Jews Out) were daubed on walls and buildings near the Jewish cemetery. The cemetery itself was not damaged, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was informed.
But there is growing confusion between real and contrived neo-Nazi smear campaigns.
Experts say a good part of it is the work of former employees of the disbanded secret police, Stasi, who believe they can get the security force re-established under a new name if there is enough popular fear of neo-Nazism.
The Protestant church in Leipzig appealed to the state-owned West German television stations Sunday not to give air time to neo-Nazis who displayed or circulated propaganda material during the pro-democracy rallies Monday.
The church leaders said television coverage boosted the morale of young extremists.
But Klaus Bresser, editor in chief of the Mainz-based ZDF television station, said the journalistic mission is to report what happens.
“We are certainly opposed to neo-Nazis from the East or West mixing in among pro-democracy protesters,” he said. “But by failing to report their presence, we won’t do any good.”