A spokesman for the Anti- Racist Initiative in Berlin said all letters and packages were being scrutinised with extra care - but that even then, nobody wanted to open them. 'We are in a state of high alert at the moment,' said the spokesman, who did not want to be named. 'Naturally everybody is worried that the Austrian tactics could be copied by neo-Nazis here.'
Fears among left-leaning pro-foreigner groups in Germany were already running high after it emerged recently that a neo-Nazi magazine had published a 'hit-list', with the names of some 250 people and organisations to be targeted as 'enemies' of the far right and supporters of the 'filthy left- wing media'. Those named on the list were terrified further by the spate of letter-bomb attacks in Austria earlier this month, which injured four of the 10 people who received them, including Helmut Zilk, the mayor of Vienna, who lost three fingers from his left hand in the blast.
Franz Loeschnak, Austria's Interior Minister, confirmed yesterday that the two men arrested on Thursday night in connection with the attacks were members of the Popular Extra-Parliamentary Opposition (VAPO), a para-military neo-Nazi organisation whose leader, Gottfried Kussel, was jailed for 10 years in September for seeking to re-establish a Nazi state in Austria. Mr Loeschnak also said that one of the men had been arrested on the Czech border where he had been caught with a cache of arms trying to flee to Berlin.
Security officials in both Austria and Germany were investigating the extent to which the letter-bomb campaign was jointly organised by neo-Nazis in both countries - and whether it might spread to Germany. While not wanting to fan fears unnecessarily, a spokesman for the Berlin authority charged with monitoring neo-Nazi activity said strong links had been established and that Kussel had made several visits to Berlin. 'We are treating the threats and the hit-list very seriously,' he said.
In addition to some 250 names, the list, which appeared in Der Einblick (Insight) magazine, included addresses and even car licence plate numbers of those considered to be enemies - liberal and left-wing judges, teachers, social workers and writers. Der Einblick, distributed from an anonymous post box address in Denmark, describes itself as the 'national resistance magazine against increasing Red Front and anarchist terror' and, in addition to using terms such as 'Sieg' and 'Heil', urges supporters to collect more names and addresses of those to be targeted.
Security officials in Germany fear that the magazine may signal the beginning of an attempt to forge a unified national movement among the hitherto hugely splintered neo- Nazi movement. They suspect, too, that rather than actually attacking all those listed, the neo-Nazis' aim may simply be to sow fear and despair among their political opponents.Reuse content