German punks turn 'Chaos Days' into an orgy of violence

ADRIAN BRIDGE

Central Europe Correspondent

More than 100 policemen were injured in street battles with German punks during a three-day orgy of violence in the northern city of Hanover that was finally brought under control last night.

The injuries were sustained as police tried to halt the some 2,000 rampaging punks who had gathered for their annual "Chaos Days" in the city, aimed at creating as much disturbance as possible. It was the worst violence ever witnessed at the "Chaos Days", now in their 11th year. Many horrified locals called for an outright ban.

"We've had a good piss-up, and now we'd like to go home without any hassle," said one punk with a dyed green Mohican haircut. Police said they had detained about 450 youths on the last day of the festival after more overnight clashes.

Police trade union leaders denounced local politicians for sending them out "to be stoned by a mob" and called for the resignation of Gerhard Glasogowski, the interior minister of Lower Saxony state.

"It is unbelievable that something like this can be allowed to happen in this normally quiet city," said Ute, a local secretary. "And for those caught in the crossfire, it is terrifying."

Nearly all the trouble occurred in the northern part of the town where the punks, brandishing chains and razor blades, had gathered from all over Germany. Most of the damage - estimated at millions of marks - was concentrated in the university quarter and around an old factory that served as the punks' fortress.

For three evenings the punks built barricades to keep police out before setting cars on fire. Two supermarkets were looted and pitched battles were fought with stones, bottles and slingshots. Police responded with water cannon and used trucks equipped with bulldozer blades to break up flaming barricades in what residents said was like a "civil war zone".

Previous "Chaos Days" have seen violence, but this year's was by far the worst. The three-day gathering was first held in Hanover in the early Eighties after the punk-rock movement, which originated in Britain in the Seventies, spilled into Germany.

Despite calling themselves punks, most of those attending the gathering show little interest in punk rock. In the words of one, the primary purpose of the get-together is to "reduce Hanover to rubble".

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