A 20-year ban on the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD) has been lifted in West Berlin, apparently as a consequence of the rush toward unification of the two Germanys.
A spokesman for the French mission confirmed Thursday that the Allied powers for the first time since 1969 have not renewed the longstanding restrictions on the extreme right-wing group. No reason was given.
The ban on the NPD had become almost automatic as the Allied authorities renewed it every six months at the request of the municipal legislature, known as the Senate. But this year the Senate submitted no such request.
The omission reflected the growing trend toward ending the special status of West Berlin, the only part of Germany still subject to the rule of the three Western allies: United States, Britain and France.
The NPD is considered a party of mostly “veteran” Nazis seeking to revive the traditions of the Third Reich. It seemed to be ascendant in West German politics in the 1970s, but subsequently lost ground and has no representation in any state or important regional legislature.
The NPD has been upstaged on the far right by the Munich-based Republican Party, which won nearly 10 percent of the popular vote in the West Berlin elections last year.
The Republicans are less outspokenly neo-Nazi than the NPD but are considered dangerous because of the vote-getting ability they displayed until recently.
Now the Republicans too seem on the decline. They failed to win representation last month in the elections in West Germany’s most populous states, North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony.
One reason may be that with German unification no longer in doubt, the extremists have lost their most potent issue.
The Allied powers are preparing to end their special role in Germany and Berlin. They have indicated recently that they would allow the direct election of Berlin representatives to the Bundestag, the West German parliament.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.