- The Washington Times - Monday, January 24, 2005

DRESDEN, Germany — There are increasing calls in Germany for a new attempt to outlaw a nationalist party that outraged the country’s Jewish community and leaders of the mainstream parties last week by interrupting a ceremony marking the Holocaust.

Twelve deputies from the NPD, or National Democratic Party, walked out of the regional parliament of the eastern state of Saxony in the city of Dresden Friday as parliament held a minute’s silence for the victims of the Nazis.

It was one of a host of ceremonies leading up to the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp on Jan. 27.

During a subsequent debate in parliament, the NPD deputies compared the murder of 6 million Jews to the destruction of Dresden by allied bombers in February 1945.

They called the Dresden firebombing a “bombing Holocaust” and “cold-blooded industrial mass murder of the civilian population.”

The NPD walkout during the Holocaust ceremony has led to a fresh debate in Germany about how to deal with the party, which made big gains in a regional election in Saxony in September, and which Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s government has likened to Hitler’s Nazi party.

Britain’s Prince Harry sparked a furor by attending a costume party earlier this month in a swastika-emblazoned uniform.

The prince’s stunt prompted calls for a European Union-wide ban on Nazi insignia, similar to a ban in Germany.

The German government bungled an attempt to ban the NPD in 2002 when Germany’s Supreme Court rejected the case because some of the NPD members accused by the government of stoking racism turned out to be informants for the government intelligence service.

Saxony’s conservative leader, Georg Milbradt, said Germany should consider trying to ban the NPD again, but that any legal case should be prepared more carefully this time.

The interior minister of the northern state of Lower Saxony, Uwe Schuenemann, agreed, saying: “A resumption of the banning motion is necessary but must be checked very carefully and must be totally watertight legally.”

The NPD rode a wave of public anger at Mr. Schroeder’s program of welfare benefit cuts to win 9.2 percent of the vote in Saxony’s state election — an eight-percentage-point increase from the previous election.

The September vote allowed the NPD to enter a German regional parliament for the first time in 36 years. In some local councils, it got a quarter of the vote.

Although too small a force to pass laws or have a say in government, its 12 deputies repeatedly have embarrassed the regional administration by getting support from other deputies in secret ballots in the state assembly.

“They have the same evil, amoral intelligence as Goebbels,” Hitler’s propaganda chief, said Cornelius Weiss, state assembly leader of Mr. Schroeder’s Social Democrats who share power in Saxony with the conservatives.

“Sometimes I just want to beat them all up,” Mr. Weiss said.

NPD deputy leader Holger Apfel, 34, frequently criticizes Germany’s atonement for the Holocaust.

“We’re constantly building new sites of atonement, but here in Dresden they refuse to build a memorial to the allied bombing terror on Dresden,” said Mr. Apfel in a recent interview.



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