BONN (Jul. 10)
Celebrations following the West German victory in the World Cup soccer matches turned into deadly rioting this week, with strong neo-Nazi, ultra-nationalist and xenophobic overtones in both East and West Germany.
Police said at least four persons were killed accidentally or as a result of mob violence, and numerous injuries were reported, especially among non-Germans who were assaulted by roving bands of youths.
In Hamburg, West Germany, 54 policemen were hurt trying to prevent a clash between neo-Nazis who staged a victory march and leftists who opposed them.
There were also severe riots in East Berlin, where gangs of skinheads and other right-wing youths attacked passers-by and damaged property.
Police used water cannonS to disperse them.
Eyewitnesses reported that foreigners were assaulted by youthful extremists in Alexanderplatz, the center of East Berlin.
“They simply chased non-Germans, particularly people with dark skin,” a woman told reporters, adding that “it was really frightening.”
A veteran German journalist reported that “since the end of the war, I never saw so many national flags in this country. The low-key style we have adopted in the past 40 years has all but disappeared,” he commented.
Some analysts, however, saw the World Cup victory as a welcome opportunity for East Germans to celebrate the impending unification of Germany.