Arson attacks on Hitler birthday

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SIX teenagers were arrested yesterday after an arson attack on a house in the north-west German town of Bielefeld where Turks were living.

One of the arrested youths, a 15-year-old schoolboy, was alleged to have said, before the attack on Wednesday night: 'You'll be proud of me; today is Hitler's birthday.'

Several of the youths are understood to have admitted the attack. The house was severely damaged, but the 15 inhabitants escaped uninjured.

There were a number of smaller incidents involving the far right, especially in eastern Germany. There was an arson attack on an asylum-seekers' hostel near Riesa, north- west of Dresden. In several places, small groups were arrested for chanting right-wing slogans, or for marching with a banned Nazi-era flag.

The youths arrested after the attack on the house in Bielefeld had apparently agreed, on Wednesday night, that 20 April was the right day to 'flatten foreigners'.

Meanwhile, the trial continued of four youths accused of setting fire to a house in Solingen last year and of killing five Turkish women and girls. Lawyers in the Solingen trial yesterday called for the accused - who have given confused and contradictory accounts of their involvement, or lack of involvement, in the crime - to end 'the gruesome game for the victims', and to 'put their cards on the table'.

Reinhard Schon, one of the prosecuting lawyers, referred in court to the Bielefeld arson, saying Hitler's birthday and the Solingen trial appeared to be triggers for the attack.

Paradoxically, the significance of Hitler's birthday has been heightened in recent weeks by the row over the planned England-Germany football match in Berlin, which was eventually called off because of fears of extremism.