Two German skinheads had, together with a Polish-born pub landlord, attacked and killed Karl-Hans Rohn, an unemployed butcher, in the north-west German town of Wuppertal. After beating him up they poured alcohol over him and set him alight, declaring: 'Open Auschwitz up again, Jews must burn]' The three men later carried the body across the Dutch border and dumped it there.
The accused landlord, Marian Jan Glensk, claimed that Rohn had called him a Scheiss- Polack. He, in turn, had incited the two skinheads, describing Rohn as a Jew. Paradoxically, according to the judge, Rolf Watty, Rohn was not Jewish at all, but sometimes described himself as half-Jewish, in order to gain sympathy.
Mr Watty suggested that the reason for the attack, in November 1992, might not have been directly anti-Semitic, but added that it was 'perhaps even worse', that drunks behaved 'completely according to a far-right pattern'. The two skinheads, Andreas Wember, 26, and Michael Senf, 20, were both members of a far-right group that was banned shortly after the arson-killing of three Turks in the town of Molln, also in November 1992.
One reason why the three men did not get maximum sentences was because of apparently diminished responsibility, because of drunkenness. But the judge emphasised that the attack was 'in no way an ordinary pub brawl, but rather an explosion of far-right ideas'. Defence lawyers said yesterday that they would appeal against the sentence.
Altogether, around 30 people have died in neo-Nazi violence since German unity in 1990. In Potsdam, 10 skinheads went on trial this week, charged with attacking people with baseball bats in an east German discotheque.