Schroeder backs rightist banover Holocaust comments

24th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

24 January 2005, BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Monday his government would probably make a second attempt to ban a far-right party amid outrage over a comparison of wartime Allied bombing of Dresden with the Holocaust. "This is a derogatory position," said Schroeder at a news conference, adding: "Germany ... has learned from its history not to give racism and anti-Semitism even the trace of a chance." Schroeder said he regretted that Germany's highest court had overturned his government's e

24 January 2005

BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Monday his government would probably make a second attempt to ban a far-right party amid outrage over a comparison of wartime Allied bombing of Dresden with the Holocaust.

"This is a derogatory position," said Schroeder at a news conference, adding: "Germany ... has learned from its history not to give racism and anti-Semitism even the trace of a chance."

Schroeder said he regretted that Germany's highest court had overturned his government's earlier ban of the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) on technical grounds in 2003 after it was revealed evidence was tainted because it came from state-paid agents who infiltrated the party's leadership.

"We have to examine if there is now a chance to convince the judiciary of a ban," said Schroeder, adding he was convinced the anti-foreigner NPD - which has 5,000 members nationwide - was seeking to overthrow the constitutional system.

The Chancellor's remarks came after prosecutors in the eastern city of Dresden said they were unable to take action over a speech made last week in Saxony's state parliament by a NPD deputy leader Holger Apfel who described the Allied bombing of Dresden in World War Two as a "bombing holocaust".

Under German law, members of parliament cannot be prosecuted or face disciplinary action for things said in state or federal assemblies. Under normal circumstances Germany has strict laws banning either denying the Holocaust or insulting the memory of victims.

At least 25,000 people were killed in the February 1945 firebombing of Dresden by the British and American planes.

In the same session, NPD deputies remained seated while other members of the state legislature rose and observed a minute of silence for the millions who died at the hands of the Nazis.

The incident came less than a week before world leaders gather in Poland to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz where at least 1.1 million people - most of them Jews - were murdered during the Holocaust.

Following lifting of the NPD ban, the party made a swift political comeback and won 9.2 per cent in Saxony's state elections last September. The rightists now have 12 seats in the state's Landtag or parliament.

Also alarming to state officials is a secret alliance between the NPD and several other members of the Landtag which has repeatedly given the rightist party more than its 12 votes.

This has fueled an atmosphere of bitter suspicion in the state legislature and tarnished Saxony's otherwise shining reputation for attracting major international companies including chipamaker AMD, Porsche, BMW, Volkswagen and most recently DHL air cargo.

Local leaders fear the NPD may drive away international business from Saxony.

At the same time that the NPD gained a foothold in the Saxony parliament, another rightwing party, the German People's Union (DVU), did so in the eastern German state of Brandenburg, winning 6.1 per cent of the vote in that state's elections in September.

The NPD and DVU formally agreed to forge an election alliance aimed at gaining entry into the German national parliament in elections in the autumn of 2006.

Germany's domestic security agency, the Verfassungsschutz, says the NPD wants foreigners to be expelled from Germany and accuses the party of playing down Nazi crimes and spreading anti-Semitic propaganda.


DPA

Subject: German news

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