Town fights to stop neo-Nazis buying hotel
17 August 2006, HAMBURG - A neo-Nazi organization was poised to purchase a hotel in a town in Germany and turn it into a eugenics indoctrination centre after local residents failed to come up with enough money to stop the sale. In a race against the clock that made headlines around the world, people in Delmenhorst near Bremen held bake sales and staged fund- raising barbecues to try to scrape together money to thwart a rich neo-Nazi lawyer's organization from buying property in their town. They succeeded i
17 August 2006
HAMBURG - A neo-Nazi organization was poised to purchase a hotel in a town in Germany and turn it into a eugenics indoctrination centre after local residents failed to come up with enough money to stop the sale.
In a race against the clock that made headlines around the world, people in Delmenhorst near Bremen held bake sales and staged fund- raising barbecues to try to scrape together money to thwart a rich neo-Nazi lawyer's organization from buying property in their town.
They succeeded in raising less than a million dollars, no where near the 3.4 million euros (4.2 million dollars) that the hotel owner demanded for the property. Owner Guenter Mergel said he must finalize the sale this week.
Now state and federal officials say there is nothing to prevent the sale from going through, turning the now empty Hotel am Stadtpark into a workshop for neo-Nazi racial purity ideology.
"The seller is within his rights to sell the property and there is nothing legally that we can do to prevent it," Lower Saxony State Premier Christian Wulff said.
Hotel owner Mergel said he saw no alternative to accepting the lucrative offer for the property, which has been on the market for a long time.
It will fall into the possession of the right-wing extremist organization Wilhelm Tietjen Stiftung fuer Fertilisation Ltd (Foundation for Fertilization Research).
The group, and its lawyer Juergen Rieger, reportedly plan to transform the hotel into a centre for neo-Nazi conferences and events.
The attempt to buy the Delmenhorst hotel is not the first time the Wilhelm Tietjen Foundation has made headlines with its real estate interests. The organization is named for a rich Nazi from Bremen who died childless in 2002.
The group, which has its formal seat in London, bought a 19th-century manor house from the German army in 2004 with the apparent intention of transforming it into a centre of reproductive and fertilization research.
Rieger is also the head of the Germanic Faith Community for Life Creation - which is allegedly interested in promoting Aryan eugenics racial ideology - and was also chairman of the Society for Biological Anthropology, Eugenics and Behavioural Research.
The looming prospect of a haven for neo-Nazis in their town has appalled many residents of the small city of 80,000 on the coastal plains of northern Germany.
"We were hoping against hope that we could come up with the money to avert this tragedy," said Mayor Carsten Schwettmann. "The good people of our community did their very best. But I fear it was not enough."
The hotel is prominently situated across from the town hall in the centre of town.
The prospective new owner has defended a number of neo-Nazis including Holocaust denier Ernst Zuendel and is known for speaking at neo-Nazi rallies honouring Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess.
Rieger owns property in Hamburg, Thuringia, a former German military building in Doerverden near Bremen as well as in Sweden.
The impending hotel sale has rocked this small city which has seen an outpouring of opposition to the neo-Nazi group's plans.
The hotel owner has come under pressure from locals, but has insisted he had no alternative but to shed the loss-making property.
Mergel, who told Focus magazine that the empty 100-room hotel is bleeding him dry financially, said he has no choice: "I am up to my neck in hot water."
Opponents held rallies and circulated petitions and set up an internet website to funnel donations. More than 3,000 people from the town and around Germany joined the effort.
"We were desperate to stop this thing," said town resident Guenter Feith, a 58-year-old architect and founder of the initiative. "We have to."
Feith said townspeople intend to fight the sale all the way to the highest court in Germany.
"We have a good chance of succeeding," he said. "Besides, I don't want to think about what happens if we don't."
Subject: German news