Germany’s new breed of neo-Nazis pose a threat
The neo-Nazi group, which has been dubbed the Zwickau cell, operated for more than 10 years
Neo-Nazism in Germany is on the rise. Interestingly, the Islamophobes ignore the terror threat from such groups:
By Katya Adler, BBC Newsnight, Germany
The security services in Germany are scrambling to track down and arrest far-right fugitives and Germany’s federal and state interior ministers have announced they are taking concrete steps towards banning the country’s far right National Democratic Party, the NPD.
This comes after a public outcry following revelations in November that a neo-Nazi cell had apparently been able to go on a nationwide spree of racially motivated murders over several years, under the noses of the German intelligence services.
The group of three are being held responsible for the deaths of eight Turkish and one Greek immigrant between 2000 and 2006, as well as a German policewoman in 2007.
Yet the existence of the group, dubbed the Zwickau cell after the name of the town where they spent most of their time in hiding, only came to light in November when two of its members died in an apparent joint suicide or murder-suicide and the third handed herself in to the authorities.
The NPD has been linked to the group, though the allegations have yet to be accepted in a court of law.
The trio had made a DVD in which they boasted of the killings and said they had acted to serve the German nation and its people, describing themselves as the National Socialist Underground – echoing the national socialism (Nazism) of Hitler’s Germany.
The story of the killers has dominated headlines in Germany for months now and given rise to one of the biggest scandals in post-war Germany.
It turns out intelligence agencies had had the group under surveillance for years, and even found a bomb-making factory in their garage back in 1998.
So why were the trio not stopped earlier? Why were they allowed to disappear and then stay underground? And why was it that security services blamed the murders on the Turkish mafia at the time? A right-wing motive was never investigated.
The failures have prompted some to ask whether there is more than incompetence to blame, whether Germany’s police and security services contain elements sympathetic to the far right – an accusation the institutions vehemently deny.
A parliamentary inquiry is currently under way into their activities, and Newsnight has seen a secret internal report revealing serious blunders by law enforcement agencies.
Police limitationsWhen we spoke to Peter Altmaier, a senior official in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party, he admitted that mistakes had been made:
“You have to know Germany is a federal state, and competencies are shared and divided between federal and state levels… and because we have drawn the lessons from the Nazi dictatorship, we have very limited powers of police and security institutions.
“There have been hints and indications of right-wing extremism that were not taken seriously enough, and therefore we have put this very high on the political agenda.”
Another question that now worries many Germans is just how big a threat the far right poses.
Human rights groups say more than 180 people have been killed in right-wing attacks in Germany over the last 20 years.
Neo-Nazis have murdered more people in post-war Germany than any other single group, including Islamists and the far left. But this is not yet reflected in official data.
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