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2,000 Neo-nazis March in Dresden in Largest Such Display in Years

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About 2,000 neo-Nazis marched Saturday through the northern suburbs of Dresden in what some spectators described as the most spectacular demonstration by the extreme right wing in recent memory.

There were few incidents, mainly because the marchers, mostly young men, were accompanied by hundreds of riot police. But state television crews were attacked at some points along the route and there were a few brief skirmishes with ant-Nazi protesters.

Police reported 18 arrests in the course of weapons searches. Clubs and other crude weapons were confiscated.

The marchers carried flags and banners with swastika-like devices that avoided violating the law against the display of Nazi symbols.

Heinz Galinski, chairman of Germany’s Jewish community, had urged the authorities to ban the march. But Jewish protests were rejected on grounds that a ban would only increase the likelihood of violence and popularize the extremists.

According to estimates, at least half of the neo-Nazi marchers came from former West Germany.

But Justice Minister Steffen Heitmann of the federal state of Saxony in former East Germany, CC Communist regime for the neo-Nazi phenomenon.

Heitmann said the Communists failed to deal seriously with the Nazi past while indoctrinating the youth to blindly obey an oppressive, authoritarian system.

The Dresden march was a memorial to Rainer Sonntag, the 36-year-old leader of an extreme right-wing group who was killed outside a boarded-up adult movie theater on Mar 31.

Neo-Nazi have recently embarked on a crusade for “purity” and have targeted prostitutes. Sonntag was killed after declaring he intended to get rid of the sex shops and clubs that have arisen in Dresden since the East German Communist regime fell in 1989.

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