Neo-nazi March in Dresden Outrages Jewish Community

An outraged German Jewish community protested vigorously Monday against a violent demonstration Saturday night by neo-Nazis in Dresden.

Hundreds, some said thousands, of neo-Nazis marched through the streets of the city in what was formerly East Germany, shouting “Heil,” flashing the Hitler salute, waving anti-Semitic banners and overturning cars.

According to reporters at the scene, the police were out in force but did nothing to stop the demonstrators, who clearly violated the laws banning Nazi salutes and symbols.

The combined Jewish community of the newly unified German republic issued a strong statement in Berlin demanding immediate, tough action to prevent a recurrence of neo-Nazi violence.

“This neo-Nazi rally has overstepped the limits of democratic tolerance,” community leader Heinz Galinski declared. “The sight of hooligans screaming ‘Heil’ and enjoying the protection of uniformed police is an insult to every European who has not forgotten the tragedy of the 1930s and ’40s.”

Apparently, the police considered it their main duty to keep the neo-Nazis separated from counterdemonstrators.

No action was taken when they shouted “Deutschland uber alles” (Germany over all), “Foreigners out” and demanded a return to the boundaries of the Third Reich.

German law forbids the Nazi salute. But the demonstrators circumvented it by extending only three fingers instead of the banned five, according to Horst Rasch, a spokesman for the mayor’s office.

CONCERN OVER ELECTION LAW CHANGE

The mayor’s office said the demonstration had been described as a pro-German unity rally. Its true purpose was only revealed at the last minute, the office maintained.

Mayor Herbert Wagner told the Dresdner Morgenpost, a local newspaper, that the municipality had considered banning the march, “but we decided not to in the end.” He did not elaborate.

But spokesman Horst Rasch said they had decided it would be wiser to allow the march to continue than have an illegal demonstration.

Other officials were upset at the manifestation. “The police should clamp down on any glorification of National Socialism,” former West German Interior Minister Gerhard Baum told the Morgenpost.

The Jewish community’s statement called the demonstration the most blatant display of neo-Nazism since the push toward German unification began with the fall of the Berlin Wall last year.

The statement also protested a recent change in the election laws that could favor the extreme right wing. The law demands a minimum of 5 percent of the popular vote for representation in a legislative body.

But although Germany is now a single political unit, the amended minimum vote law treats it as if it were still divided between East and West.

Reputedly neo-Nazi parties like the Republicans or the National Democratic Party would need to win 5 percent of the vote in only one area to gain entry into the Bundestag, the national parliament, or state legislatures.

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