Spat over German 'neo-Nazi' baby escalates

6th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

A spat over the president becoming honorary godfather to the seventh baby of parents with far-right sympathies in an eastern German village escalated Monday after neo-Nazis threatened the mayor.

Lalendorf Mayor Reinhard Knaack, who is from the far-left Die Linke party, had refused to give a certificate to the family that was sent by President Christian Wulff's office in Berlin last week.

Police said that around 10 people, many of them known to authorities as belonging to the far-right scene, illegally entered Knaack's garden on Sunday, a police spokesman told AFP. Knaack was unharmed.

"The mayor phoned us and we went round," spokesman Volker Werner said. "Appropriate measures have now been agreed with the mayor and charges of trespassing have been laid."

After World War II, West Germany did away with the Nazis' practice of awarding a "Mother's Cross" to women who provided multiple offspring for the Third Reich.

But in 1949, after the founding of the post-war republic, it established a new honour, the president's honorary godfather award, for any family having seven children. Since then, 76,440 such awards have been bestowed.

Wulff's office last week defended his decision to persist with the tradition in the case of Petra and Marc Mueller, saying that it was the child that counted.

Wulff has since sent the award, which also comes with 500 euros (665 dollars), directly to the family, reports said.

The father of the child reportedly works for a "eugenics institute" while the mother belongs to a far-right women's group.

Norbert Nieszery, an MP in the state parliament, has written a letter -- signed by lawmakers from other parties -- to the president, just back from Israel, supporting the mayor and calling on Wulff to change his mind.

The former communist east of Germany is generally poorer than the west, with considerably higher rates of unemployment, and in recent years has proved a fertile ground for the far right.

© 2010 AFP

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