German Federal and State Officials Split on How to End Neo-nazi Attacks

German federal and state officials have failed to agree on a common approach to curbing the recent upsurge in neo-Nazi violence against foreigners.

Interior Minister Rudolf Seiters said he was disappointed that the interior and justice ministers of the 16 German states and their federal counterparts in Bonn could not come up with specific proposals at a meeting Friday.

Seiters and some of his colleagues from the Christian Democratic Union favored granting police more powers to apprehend suspects and bring them to trial swiftly.

But most ministers from the Social Democratic Party-ruled states said the problem was not legislation but rather lack of resolve.

Chancellor Helmut Kohl, meanwhile, has angrily rejected criticism by the head of Germany’s Jewish community that the government had encouraged outbreaks of nationalist violence against refugees seeking asylum here.

Ignatz Bubis, chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, had accused the government of failing to head off violence from the right-wingers as efficiently as it had when the danger came from the far left.

Bubis termed it scandalous that neo-Nazi activists were routinely released shortly after being arrested, and showed up hours later in new scenes of violence.

Government spokesman Dieter Vogel said Bubis had “a rather unusual idea” about what the government was able to do. “The federal government has from the very beginning condemned these acts by right-wing extremists with the greatest sharpness and clarity,” he said.

In a Bundestag debate on the situation last week, many lawmakers warned of parallels between the current neo-Nazi attacks and the Nazi mob that helped pave the way for Adolf Hitler’s ascension to power in 1933.

Hans-Jochen Vogel, a Social Democratic leader and a former candidate for chancellor, pointed out that the Weimar Republic did not fail because of lack of laws against violence, but rather because too few politicians were ready to stand up and fight for democracy.

Germany’s internal security service, meanwhile, reported that assaults on foreigners have become more frequent and more brutal over the past nine months.

Ten foreigners were killed so far this year by neo-Nazis, compared with three in all of 1991.

A total of 405 arson and bomb attacks on foreign refugees were registered in the past nine months, compared to 383 in 1991.

Violent incidents against foreigners have totaled 1,483 this year — roughly the same as for the whole of 1991.

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