Germany Bans Neo-Nazi Group That Spread Third Reich Ideology

Bloomberg News/March 31, 2009

The German government banned a neo- Nazi organization that sought to attract youths to an anti- Semitic and anti-immigrant ideology reminiscent of racist teachings prevalent under Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.

The group, Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend, poses a threat to Germany's democratic order, the Interior Ministry said today. German authorities carried out raids on HDJ leaders in the states of Berlin, Brandenburg, Lower Saxony and Saxony.

"We're bringing an end to the loathsome machinations of the HDJ with today's ban," Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in a statement. "We're going to do everything to protect our children and youth from those who want to lure them away."

Under the guise of seemingly innocent activities such as summer camps and outings, the HDJ treated young people to song lyrics and lessons in German racial purity and the "threat" posed by immigrants and Jews, the ministry said.

In August, police uncovered swastikas, black-clad youngsters and extremist lyrics during a raid on one of the HDJ's camping sites in the Baltic coast state of Mecklenburg- Western Pomerania. Among the campers were 39 children age 8 to 14, many wearing uniforms and carrying Nazi literature.

"There was a regimented camp routine complete with flag- hoisting, in which behavior and living conditions were exercised as in the time of National Socialism," according to a police report on the raid. Police ordered the camp closed and sent the children, who came from all over Germany, back to their parents.

The HDJ, which translates as the Patriotic German Youth, was a successor organization to a banned extremist group, the Viking Youth.

The ban underscores the tide of extremist activity in Germany. On Feb. 14, some 6,000 anti-immigrant skinhead and neo- Nazi groups marched in the eastern city of Dresden, one of the biggest such demonstrations since German reunification in 1990.

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