BONN (Aug. 18)
The German government has promised to beef up its internal security machinery in eastern Germany to keep violenceprone neo-Nazis under tight surveillance and deal with their propaganda and other activities.
Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaueble, speaking at a news conference here last week, expressed grave concern over the sharp increase in the membership of neo-Nazi groups in what was formerly East Germany. But he could not confirm reports that their strength has reached 15,000.
Authorities have their work cut out for them. On Saturday, some 100 neo-Nazis were arrested in the Bavarian towns of Wunsiedel and Bayreuth, where they marked the fourth anniversary of the death of Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy.
Despite the presence of police and other security agencies poised to crack down on possible extremist violence in Wunsiedel, dozens of neo-Nazis defied a court-ordered ban and demonstrated near the cemetery where Hess is buried.
Hess killed himself in Spandau prison in Berlin, where he was serving a life sentence. But neo-Nazis claim he was killed by Allied soldiers who patrolled the prison.
A bigger demonstration took place in the nearby town of Bayreuth, the center of a yearly music festival dedicated to composer Richard Wagner, an ultranationalist and anti-Semite.
There has been no systematic count made of right-wing extremists, nor have they been registered, Schaueble said at his Aug. 15 news conference. He spoke on the occasion of the release of the annual report by the Bundesverfasshungsschutz, Germany’s equivalent of the FBI.
The report is limited, insofar as it covers only the period from October 1990, when the two Germanys were united, until the end of that year.
Schaueble vowed that despite threats and sometimes physical harassment of emigres and other foreigners by neo-Nazis, the government will continue to direct refugees seeking political asylum to the former East German territories.