Report on German Neo-Nazis Released

Here is a press release from the Anti-Defamation League.

ADL Issues Report on Investigation of German Neo-Nazis

NEW YORK, Jan. 27 — In the face of the surge in violence and neo-Nazi activities in Germany in 1992, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) conducted an on-site investigation of neo-Nazi racism on the German scene.

Melvin Salberg, ADL national chairman, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director, said, “We considered it crucial to take a close look of our own, by sending a fact-finding team to Germany to determine how serious is the threat from the extreme right to Jews and other minorities, as well as to democracy itself. Our investigation involved direct observations of the neo-Nazi scene and consultations with law enforcement intelligence officials.” “The German Neo-Nazis: An ADL Investigative Report,” is the product of the team’s research. It states that the level of ethnic violence had risen to a post-war peak in reunified Germany, and the combined rolls of the extreme rightist groups which precipitated it have grown to between 40,000 and 60,000 members. A postscript to the report says that while the Government was initially slow to respond, it has since taken actions which have reduced the threat from the far right.

During the upsurge, according to the report, attacks on foreign guest workers and asylum seekers reached staggering levels, arousing alarm throughout the world; Jewish individuals and institutions were also targeted by far-right extremists.

“Extremist outrages in just the first two weeks of October, for example,” Salberg and Foxman said, “included a startling list of Jewish targets, with Holocaust memorial sites and Jewish cemeteries the most frequent marks.” Other instances cited include the chanting of anti-Semitic slogans by parading neo-Nazis, harassment of Jewish leaders, and the defacing of buildings with anti-Semitic stickers. The investigation by the ADL fact-finding team reveals eastern Germany to be the power base of the resurgent neo-Nazi movement, where a noticeable percentage of the new adherents come from the ranks of the defunct communist apparatus of the former East German state. Neo-Nazi groups which the investigators observed in eastern Berlin were found to be “far better equipped with sophisticated cellular phones and other electronic equipment than are the police” and to possess superior weaponry, obtained on the black market from former Soviet and East German military forces.

“Compounding this problem,” Salberg and Foxman said, “is the fact that some police officers are apparently sympathetic to the extremists.”

The report names two American neo-Nazis, Gary Lauck of Lincoln, Neb., and George Dietz of Reedy, W.Va., as well as Ernst Zundel of Canada, as suppliers of Nazi propaganda materials to Germany. Lauck is identified as the most important supplier of German language Nazi propaganda. Dietz, a German emigre who once belonged to the Hitler Youth, is reported as maintaining an active network of contacts with German Nazis. Zundel is named as a distributor of materials denying the reality of the Holocaust through an “agent” in Munich.

The report also points to the fact that the ranks of German neo-Nazism have been buttressed by thousands of so-called Skinheads, shaved-headed youths dedicated to racism and violence. “A key element in the Skinhead subculture,” it reveals, “is music, which serves as a recruiting tool, a propaganda weapon, a celebration of the gang ethic, and as a clarion call to violence through the use of rousing, hate-filled lyrics.”

The report cites an open-air concert in Massen last October sponsored by the neo-Nazi group called German Alternative, attended by 1,500 Skinheads, many armed with axes, baseball bats and the makings for firebombs. Following the concert, Skinheads attacked a bus load of Polish tourists, smashing windows and beating anyone in the vicinity.

The ADL leaders noted hopefully that since the completion of ADL’s investigation there have been some positive developments. The German Government has banned three neo-Nazi groups and many extremists have been arrested. Additional police officers have been assigned to the units which monitor the far right, and there has been a decline in incidents of violence.

“We are encouraged by these measures,” say Salberg and Foxman, “and urge the German Government to continue to apply all of its constitutional powers until the neo-Nazi menace is gone from the scene.”

From Jan. 11-15, Salberg and Foxman led a group of ADL national leaders in meetings with Chancellor Helmut Kohl and other high officials to discuss their concerns about the recent neo-Nazi violence and to share with them the League’s experience in developing programs to combat intolerance and bigotry. The chancellor said that anti-Semitism is rejected by the vast majority of the German people, but added that he recognized the need for such educational programs. The report was prepared by the Fact Finding Department of the ADL Civil Rights Division in cooperation with the International Affairs Division. Copies are available from the ADL Department of Public Relations.

Founded in 1913, ADL is a civil rights/human relations organization that combats anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry and discrimination, and which promotes harmonious relations between diverse religious and ethnic groups. -30-