Germany bans neo-Nazi youth group
The group schooled children in elements of Third Reich theory, such as ‘purity of blood’ and ‘the continuation of the German race’ and aimed to form a neo-Nazi ‘elite.’Berlin -- Germany outlawed a neo-Nazi group on Tuesday that ran Hitler Youth-style camps that taught children as young as six that foreigners and Jews are a threat to the nation.
The organisation -- the HDJ -- claimed to be "a youth group for environment, community and homeland" but in fact ran military camps for children to teach them "racial ideology," the interior ministry said in a statement.
The children -- of "primary school age" -- were also schooled in elements of Third Reich theory, such as "purity of blood" and "the continuation of the German race" with the aim of forming a neo-Nazi "elite," the statement added.
They also took part in military training and stayed in camps with names such as "the Fuehrer's bunker."
Last August, police raided an HDJ camp in a remote area of north-eastern Germany and sent home 39 uniformed children and adolescents from all over the country.
Far-right material was seized, as were tea towels and song sheets marked with swastikas and old maps with pre-war boundaries and names.
The group, whose name translates as "German youth true to the homeland" has around 400 members and links to the far-right political party the NPD, the interior ministry said.
It is believed to be the successor to the "Wiking-Jugend" ("Viking Youth") that was banned in 1994.
Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble said: "With today's ban, we are putting an end to the revolting activities of the HDJ. We will do everything in our power to protect our children and youth from these Pied Pipers."
"We must fight decisively against far-right extremism. Today's ban is an example of this decisiveness," Schauble added.
Following the ministry's decision to ban the group, police staged dawn raids on group leaders' houses across Germany and seized assets and materials.
Concern is growing in Germany about the rise of neo-Nazi groups. Earlier this month, the country was shocked by a string of attacks on foreigners in a region popular with tourists.
Four suspects, aged between 14 and 17, were detained in Weimar, the hometown of German writers Schiller and Goethe, for shouting racial slurs at an employee of an Asian snack shop and flashing the Nazi straight-armed salute.
In February, some 6,000 neo-Nazi demonstrators marched in Dresden to mark the 1945 allied bombing of the eastern German city, one of the biggest such marches since Germany reunified in 1990.
According to interior ministry statistics, crimes and others offences committed by far right political groups soared by almost 30 percent last year.