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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/m/muller.kurt/press/nyt.102193-1

Archive/File: fascism nwt.102193-1
Last-Modified: 1993/10/21


washington, oct. 21 (nca) - the following article By CRAIG R.
WHITNEY appears today in the new york times:

MAINZ, Germany - Kurt Muller, a retired nurseryman with a brown
toupee and a distinctive pair of metal-frame glasses, has served
time in prison for expressing virulent Nazi views. But for years
his neighbors in this Rhineland state capital were inclined to
dismiss him as a harmless and irrelevant nuisance. Recently that
attitude has changed. When Muller, 63, and his wif e, Ursula, 59,
tried to enter the Dorfschanke restaurant a few blocks away from
their house in Gonsenheim the other day, the bartender blocked
the door. "You can't come in here," he told the couple. "If I let
you in, all my other customers will boycott the place."

The Mullers left, furious, and retreated home.

Belatedly, the general public and the government seem to be
waking up to warnings from anti-fascist critics that neo-Nazis
are far better organized and more dangerous than most Germans had
thought they were.

"We have recognized for some time that the connections among
right-wing groups have been expanding," Eckart Werthebach, the
president of the federal domestic intelligence service, told the
Frankfurter Rundschau in late September.

There is no indication that the scores of right-wing nationalist
and neo-Nazi groups in Germany follow a single leader as the
Nazis followed Hitler two generations ago, government officials
say. But there is no longer much doubt that the ideology they
share and seek to spread has had dangerous consequences.

A wave of anti-Semitic and xenophobic violence has claimed 24
lives over the last year and a half, with the bulk of the attacks
inspired, if not directly ordered, by militant nationalist and
neo-Nazi groups. To counter the threat, the federal intelligence
service in Cologne has tripled the size of the department
responsible for keeping right-wing militants under surveillance.

Right-wing assailants were blamed for about 1,480 attacks on
foreigners in the first nine months of this year, 22 times the
level reported a decade ago. In its latest annual report, the
intelligence service said there were 82 "right-wing extremist
organizations and other groupings" in Germany at the end of 1992,
up from 76 in 1991.

Part of the rightist surge is attributed to discontent in the
eastern part of Germany, where the fall of Communism and
reunification with the west left millions of people without jobs.
Right-wing nationalists have sought to exploit such frustration,
along with resentment over the arrival of one million foreigners
seeking asylum and jobs since the Berlin wall fell in 1989.

 Whatever the causes, the effects are alarming.

"In 1992, 80 Jewish cemeteries were desecrated in Germany,"
Ignatz Bubis, the head of the Central Council of German Jews,
said recently in Bonn. "That is as many as were desecrated in all
the years between 1926 and 1931."

The government has banned six neo-Nazi groups in the last year
and has said it will ask the courts to ban a seventh, the Free
German Workers' party.

And after a long period of playing down the violence as if to
avoid encouraging it or alienating voters, Chancellor Helmut Kohl
and other leaders have taken a sharper tone of condemnation.

"The damage that neo-Nazis have done to our reputation in the
world cannot be described drastically enough," Kohl said last
month. He called for existing laws to be applied against
neo-Nazis "in all severity."

The intelligence service estimates membership in far-right groups
at about 41,900 people, not including the leading nationalist
Republican Party, which is estimated to have 25,000 members and
hopes with the help of the others to win seats in the German
Parliament in elections next fall.

Three years ago, the agency estimated that 32,200 people in this
country of 79 million belonged to far-right groups.

To all outward appearances, the myriad groups to which neo-Nazis
belong are splintered and uncoordinated. But in conversations
over the last few weeks, some of their leaders revealed that they
are in close contact with one another, hiding their channels of
communication from their opponents and from the authorities.

Such informal networking, they say, enables the movement to
coordinate the activities of skinheads and other violence-prone
youths who have carried out most of the thousands of acts of

The leading figures of the movement range in age from their early
20s to their mid-60s. Some of the older members have supported
the Nazis since they were children; some of the younger ones,
particularly in the east, seem to have been attracted to neo-Nazi
values because of the dislocation that followed Germany's
unification in 1990.

Some are unemployed social outcasts on welfare, while others are
the products of seemingly wholesome democratic backgrounds in the
prosperous west.

What all of them share is a clear set of beliefs, expressions and
prejudices instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with
anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda of the 1930s. To these people,
eastern Germany is only "central Germany," the real east being
territories belonging to Poland and Russia that the rightists
have sworn to recover.

The Mullers say it is tough being a neo-Nazi in Germany these

The police have raided their house 68 times over the last 28
years to look for Nazi propaganda, and Muller has twice served
short prison terms, including a 14-month sentence he received in
1982 for perjury and other offenses.

But the bar in an alcove in their living room is still a shrine
to the Fuhrer, whose picture is pinned to the wall along with a
swastika and an anti-Semitic slogan: "The chosen people of Satan
killed Jesus Christ, Martin Luther and Adolf Hitler."

Every April, the Mullers' walled-off property on the outskirts of
Mainz is a gathering place for neo-Nazis far and wide who come to
celebrate Hitler's birthday, the summer solstice, or what they
see as the martyrdom of Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, who died in
an Allied prison in Berlin in 1987.

Muller said a narrow escape from death in an American bombing
raid on Mainz on Oct. 19, 1944, when he was 14, made him a
pro-Nazi nationalist for life. "We believe America is the long
arm of world Jewry," he said. "Germany has become the crown
colony of Judas."

Mrs. Muller is the leader of an organization called the Mutual
Aid Society for Nationalistic Prisoners, known by its initials in
German as HNG. The German authorities believe that it is a
crucial part of a national right-wing network that enables
seemingly splintered or unassociated groupings and political
parties to share information and coordinate activities, including
contacts with skinheads and other violence-prone youths.

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