Call to ban neo-Nazis

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The Independent Online
AS RIGHT-WING extremists continued to terrorise foreigners in eastern Germany, leading regional politicians yesterday called for the banning of neo-Nazi organisations, believed to be master- minding the violence.

Alwin Ziel, Interior Minister of Brandenburg, said that he was now convinced that neo-Nazi groups were acting as 'catalysts' in the wave of attacks on asylum- seekers' hostels that have been particularly pronounced in his own regional state.

Condemning the trend, he called for a national ban to be imposed on the extremist Deutsche Alternative movement, which has gained a strong foothold in Brandenburg since its establishment in May 1989.

According to Helga Wanke, a spokeswoman for the ministry, virulently anti-Semitic and anti-foreigner leaflets bearing the initials 'DA' have been distributed in Brandenburg since the latest round of xenophobic violence broke out in Rostock last month. In addition, many of those actively engaged in the attacks on hostels have been openly raising their right arms in the Hitler salute and displaying swastikas - an offence under German law.

'We are conducting a thorough investigation into the activities of the Deutsche Alternative here and hope to persuade the authorities in Bonn that it should be banned,' she said. 'Although many members of the group officially say they are opposed to violence, we now have evidence that the contrary is true.'

The Deutsche Alternative, which is believed to have some 300 members, is one of 30 neo-Nazi groups which are closely observed by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. In its annual report for 1991, the office said that the group used slogans such as 'Racial mixing is genocide' and had been particularly successful in picking up new recruits in eastern Germany.

Hans-Gert Lange, a spokesman for the office, said that, while all allegations of anti-constitutional activity were thoroughly checked, it was extremely rare for such groups to be banned. 'We have to weigh up very carefully the possibility that by forcing such people underground, we may actually increase their danger,' he said.