BONN (Jun. 5)
Rampaging neo-Nazis and other extreme right-wing youths have caused severe injuries and property damage in East and West Berlin in the last three days.
The targets so far have been mainly leftists and foreigners. But the police were attacked too. At least 10 police officers have been hospitalized.
At least 50 rioters have been arrested. Most were identified as Skinheads, shaven-headed youths who wear Nazi-like regalia and spout right-wing slogans.
The police chiefs of West and East Berlin met Monday to coordinate a strategy to deal with the mounting violence on both sides of what used to be the Berlin Wall.
The last remaining barriers that divide Berlin are due to come down on July 1. But the impending unification of the city and of the two Germanys appears to have given incentives to the most violence-prone elements on the far right.
Last weekend, about 100 neo-Nazis attacked apartments occupied by left-wing squatters in the Friedrichshain neighborhood of East Berlin.
Police arrested 30 suspects, including two West German extremists. Most were described as teen-age members of a local Skinhead gang.
In a separate incident Saturday evening, about 150 neo-Nazis raided a cultural center on Oranienburgerstrasse in East Berlin. The former main synagogue of Berlin — now a burnt shell slated to become a museum — as well as the main office of the East Berlin Jewish community stand on that street.
Five people were severely injured in Saturday’s attack and had to be hospitalized.
According to police, some neo-Nazi youths hurled gasoline bombs. One victim may have permanently impaired vision, the police said.
On Monday, several police cars in East Berlin were overturned and set on fire. They gave as their motive frustration with the volkspolizei, or people’s police.
The East German news agency, ADN, reported that 15 to 20 right-wing extremists attacked a house occupied by foreigners in the East German town of Gera on Sunday. Most of the attackers were Skinheads.
Stopped at the entrance to the building, they threw stones, smashing windows. Twelve were arrested for questioning.
A Jewish source in West Berlin said the heightened incidence of neo-Nazis represents an increased sense of frustration and isolation since the demise of the right-wing Republican party, with whom they otherwise might be associated.