Austrian police probe new neo-Nazi activity

AP/November 26, 1999

Vienna, Austria -- Police are investigating a neo-Nazi group suspected of attacking Turks in the western Austrian town where Adolf Hitler was born 110 years ago, the Austria Press Agency reported yesterday. The group of 17 males between 14 and 21 years of age is believed based in Hitler's birthplace, Braunau, along the German border, but is suspected of ties to other neo-Nazi cells.

Quoting unnamed officials, APA said the investigation into the Braunau group began last month after customs guards along the border with the Czech Republic seized printed materials downloaded from the internet with swastikas and other Nazi symbols.

During an interrogation, two youths told customs authorities they were part of a neo-Nazi group in Braunau, APA said.

That led to raids on 23 houses in which police found Nazi printed materials and a video of a party in which young neo-Nazis could be seen raising their hands in the Nazi salute and shouting "Sieg Heil." Eleven of the 17 youths suspected of membership in the Braunau group could be seen on the video, APA said.

APA said that during police interrogations, some of the youths applauded Nazi actions during the Holocaust and expressed support for unification with Germany in a single, German-speaking country "where only the white race should live."

The agency said police believe the neo-Nazis may have been involved in a brawl at a bar in Braunau several weeks ago in which about 10 Turkish youths were beaten.

APA did not say whether any of the youths had been charged either in the attack or for neo-Nazi activities, a crime in Austria. Reports of neo-Nazi activity come amid growing concern about a right-wing revival in Austria after the strong election showing of the anti-foreigner Freedom Party in the Oct. 3 national elections. The party's leader, Joerg Haider, has denied any links to neo-Nazi groups but has described Waffen SS members as "men of character."


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