Germany Battles Neo-Nazi Wave

ByABC News
August 22, 2000, 2:55 PM

Aug. 23 -- Every day the catalog of hate crimes against foreigners in Germany grows longer.

In June, the government reported 129 xenophobic incidents, up 29 from in the same period last year, including one death and 26 major injuries.

Slurs, combined with threats, are counted as xenophobic incidents. They include jackbooted gangs marching through towns, waving flags with fascist symbols and yelling racist slogans. But most of the incidents were physical.

Tuesday, three neo-Nazis were charged with murdering an African immigrant in the town of Halle. Witnesses said they showed no remorse upon hearing accusations that they kept kicking and beating their alleged victim even after he stopped moving.

On trial for one of the worst attacks in a surge of neo-Nazi violence this year, the young defendants freely admitted in a closed court session of causing the death, attorneys said. Their motivation, prosecutors alleged, was hatred of foreigners.

In a similar attack in Barmstedt, north of Hamburg in western Germany, authorities on Tuesday reported that an African man was beaten and kicked and suffered abrasions and bruises. Three suspects were taken into custody.

Officials say they expect similar increases for July and August. At least three people have died this year from hate crimes and the government is considering drastic action to curtail the spread of hate.

For the first time since World War II the country is consideringbanning a political party.

A Focus for the Ultra-Right

Despite having just 6,000 registered members, the openly xenophobic National Democratic Party (NPD) is seen as the focus and the catalyst for growing support for the violent ultra-right. Most of the NPDs support is in former East Germany, where many, resentful after years of communist rule, are often sympathetic to the ultra-right.

With unemployment there at 17 percent, hate crimes against foreigners are soaring and many local authorities do little to prevent them. In some towns police have even been filmed standing back while skinheads rampage.