Karl-Heinz Hoffmann, the jailed head of the outlawed neo-Nazi group which had masqueraded as a sports club, has been charged in Nuremberg with the 1980 murder of the Jewish publisher Shlomo Levin and his German friend, Frida Poeschke.
According to an indictment filed last week by state prosecutors, Hoffmann, 46, is also charged with recruiting youths to fight alongside the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon, the use of intimidation, production of forged currency, threats against local law enforcement officials, inflicting bodily harm and possession and use of firearms.
The indictment stopped short of charging Hoffmann with organizing a terrorist association, something seriously considered by the state prosecutors. A German Supreme Court ruling in 1982 said that Hoffmann’s alleged activities in Lebanon in a PLO training camp and his attempts to establish a terrorist association could not be included in the indictment because they were outside West German jurisdiction.
Hoffmann has been imprisoned since July, 1981 for his neo-Nazi activities, including offences perpetrated abroad. He was accused of trying to establish the same sort of paramilitary group which was banned by the Interior Ministry in January, 1980, in other countries.
But the main charge against Hoffmann is the murder of Levin, who was 69 years old when his bullet riddled body was found at his Erlangen home on December 19, 1980. Police also discovered the slain body of his 57-year-old companion, Poeschke. Levin had returned from Israel to his native Germany in the 1950’s.
According to reports, he had told people that he served as a close associate of then Defense Minister Moshe Dayan during the siege of Jerusalem in 1948. But though this claim was denied by people who knew Dayan at the time, it contributed to the extraordinary public attention which was given to the murder at the time. Levin may well have been the victim of his own assertions, as the rightwing terrorists apparently believed he was a prominent personality in Israel.
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.