Neo-Nazi march raises fears of growing extremism in Germany

DAILY SABAH WITH DPA
Istanbul
Published 28.02.2019 00:26

Amid growing far-right extremism in Germany, German neo-Nazis and members of a far-right group staged a rally in the northern Bavarian city of Nuremberg. The gathering took place at a stage once used by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and his associates for annual rallies from 1923 to 1938.

Local police said it was regrettable that "the right-wing group used this historically-tainted place for their propaganda purposes despite preventive police measures." "This is a situation that should alarm us, in all of Germany, but especially in Nuremberg, the fact that people are using these symbols in places like this," the mayor said.

The Nazis held large-scale propaganda events at the Nuremberg rally grounds between 1923 and 1939. Many films were made to commemorate them, including Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will" and "The Victory of Faith."

Police said the rally had been attended by 18 supporters of the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NDP) and members of a right-wing extremist group called Wodans Erben Germania.

Germany's highest court in January 2017 rejected a bid by parliament's upper house to ban the NPD, ruling that although it held a similar ideology to the Nazis, it was too small to endanger German democracy.

The NPD, with some 6,000 members, was founded in 1964 as a successor to the neo-fascist German Reich Party and rails against foreigners and campaigns with the slogan, "Germany for the Germans."

Germany sees regular protests by neo-Nazi groups, but the country has strict laws governing the glorification of the country's Nazi past. In August, massive far-right rallies rocked the city of Chemnitz, in eastern Germany where skinheads hounded migrants and performed the illegal Hitler salute.

After the violence in Chemnitz, German police detained six men suspected of forming a far-right militant organization that assaulted foreigners in the eastern city of Chemnitz and also planned attacks on politicians. The men are alleged to have formed a group calling itself "Revolution Chemnitz." The arrests once again cast an uncomfortable spotlight on growing far-right terrorism in Chemnitz, which is a stronghold of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

German authorities are increasingly concerned over growing right-wing terrorism in the country. Lately, far-right groups have drawn up several "enemy lists" containing names and addresses of more than 25,000 people, a parliamentary inquiry revealed in July 2018.

The Interior Ministry said the lists were found in the course of various police investigations and operations against far-right groups in the last seven years.

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