Neo-Nazi murders shows need to ban extreme right, Jewish leader says


BERLIN (JTA) — A series of neo-Nazi murders across Germany shows the urgency of banning the country’s largest right-extremist party, Germany’s top Jewish leader said.

Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the DPA news agency that the neo-Nazi "flagship," the National Democratic Party of Germany, must be "sunk, politically and legally."

His comments followed the arrest Sunday of a 37-year-old man in Hamburg who is suspected of belonging to the National Socialist Underground, a relatively new organization thought to be responsible for what is being called Germany’s biggest wave of far-right violence since World War II.

The NSU is suspected of involvement in the murders of eight Turkish immigrants and one Greek between 2000 and 2006, and the killing of a police officer in 2007. 

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich told journalists Sunday that the group represented a "new form of terrorism" in Germany. German Chancellor Angela Merkel referred to the alleged activities of the NSU as "shocking."

Two other suspects in the string of murders — identified as Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Bohnhardt – were found dead last week in a burning camper trailer in the former East German city of Eisenach. Police said they suspected the two had shot themselves after police had included them as suspects in an attempted bank robbery. The man arrested in Hamburg allegedly had contact with the others, and is suspected of renting the camper trailer used by the murderers of the 22-year-old policewoman in 2007.

Police found a video in which the murders of the immigrants were celebrated and counted off.

The string of crimes reveals "a new dimension of right-wing terrorism," Graumann told the Handelsblatt Online. "The evidence appears to confirm that we are dealing with abhorrent right-wing terrorists who apparently for years have gotten away with murdering people whom they considered not worthy of living," he said, adding that it was urgent for the entire society to act now against this trend. More funds must be invested in this fight and in increased security, he said.

Several mainstream political leaders this week joined the call to ban the National Democratic Party of Germany following the arrests. Attempts to ban the party failed in 2003 after it was revealed that government informants were involved in inciting some of the allegedly criminal activities.

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