West Germany Bans Neo-Nazi Group; Finds Weapons at Headquarters
FRANKFURT, West Germany (AP) _ The government today banned a neo-Nazi organization, and police found a cache of weapons and Nazi propaganda, including Adolf Hitler posters, during a sweep of the party’s headquarters.
The ban of National Rallying blocks it from fielding candidates in next month’s municipal elections and comes amid a fear of a resurgence of right- wing extremism in West Germany.
West Germany’s ARD television network showed police carrying knives, guns and a box filled with ammunition from the Frankfurt home of neo-Nazi Michael Kuehnen, head of the party. His home serves as the party’s headquarters.
″The police action had obviously caught the neo-Nazi leaders completely off guard,″ ARD said, noting that Kuehnen was not home at the time of the morning raid.
The broadcast showed police in a workshop of the house, where Kuehnen and his supporters allegedly filed down bullets so they would cause more severe injuries.
″This blow against the neo-Nazis should be a renewed sign and an unmistakable warning signal,″ Interior Minister Friedrich Zimmermann said in a statement. He said the country ″is not about to become a roaming ground for right-wing extremists.″ The organization’s goals have included expulsion of foreign workers and people seeking asylum in the country. It has about 170 members.
Zimmermann said police staged coordinated raids on apartments belonging to the National Rallying in Bavaria, North Rhine Westphalia and Hesse states.
Bavarian officials said in a statement their searches turned up an air rifle, two steel helmets, a gas mask, three pistols for firing blanks and Nazi propaganda.
Zimmermann said National Rallying was banned because ″it damages with its open profession of neo-Naziism the reputation of the Federal Republic.″
In a later statement, the Interior Ministry said the group espouses revolutionary aims to change West German society and thus ″attacks the free democratic constitutional structure.″
The group had registered candidates for elections in Frankfurt and in Langen, and members indicated they would also seek support in other communities in the March voting in Hesse state.
Its German initials ″NS″ are identical with the best-known German abbreviation for Hitler’s Nazi Party.
The Nazi Party has been banned since West Germany was founded in 1949.
Under West German law, the Interior Ministry may ban any organization which it determines is spreading Nazi propaganda.
There have also been calls for the ministry to ban another neo-Nazi group known as the Free German Workers’ Party, which the Interior Ministry says has about 500 members. The Free German Workers’ Party is under investigation in connection with arson attacks against foreign workers in West Germany.
The interior minister accused Kuehnen and his followers of building up neo- Nazi groups nationwide. Kuehnen also has been active with right-wing extremists from several countries in planning celebrations for the 100th anniversary of Hitler’s birth on April 20.
Under the ban, National Rallying cannot carry out any activities as a group, including fielding candidates for an election. The name National Rallying is also banned from use.
Violations carry criminal penalties for individuals involved.
The government in December 1983 outlawed Kuehnen’s Action Front National Socialists-National Activists group. He served a 3 1/2 -year prison sentence for neo-Nazi activities and was released in March 1988.
National Rallying was formed last summer.
In addition to Kuehnen’s group, the extreme right-wing Republican Party also has shocked many West Germans with a strong showing in West Berlin elections last month.