German far-right party in Holocaust controversy
A German far-right party is stirring controversy in Berlin with posters, put up ahead of next month's regional election, which some see as a provocative reminder of the Holocaust.
The poster depicts the leading candidate for the extremist NPD-DVU, Udo Voigt, on his motorbike, wearing a black leather jacket, with the motto "Gas geben" (Step on It) or literally "give gas" in what some see as a reference to gas chambers where millions of Jews perished in Nazi extermination camps.
The signs have been put up around the city including just across from the capital's Jewish Museum and reportedly opposite the lakeside villa where the Nazis signed off on the "final solution" for Europe's Jews in 1942.
The mayor of the district where the Jewish Museum is located, Franz Schulz of the Green party, called the campaign a "provocation". Museum officials declined to comment.
The National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), which recently merged with the small far-right German People's Union (DVU), was set up in 1964 by former Nazis. In 2009 it had between 6,000 and 7,000 members.
It has never won seats in the country's federal parliament, but has gained representation in several regional parliaments, most recently in the eastern states of Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
Voigt, who is also a district councillor in Berlin, was found guilty in 2004 of promoting Nazism after he called Hitler "a great man".
There have been repeated calls to ban the NPD on the grounds of racism and anti-Semitism.
But Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich recently rejected this, saying that "for the state to attack a party, or ban it, would be an extraordinary restrictive measure under the constitution".
Germany had attempted to ban the NPD in 2003 but the case against the party collapsed when a court decided that government agents who had infiltrated the movement had unduly influenced its activities.
The Berlin regional election takes place on September 18 with polls showing Mayor Klaus Wowereit, a Social Democrat, likely to win re-election.
© 2011 AFP