400 Neo-Nazis march in Germany

The Associated Press/September 2, 2000

Neumuenster, Germany (AP) -- About 400 neo-Nazis marched through a north German city Saturday to protest a decision by local officials to revoke the license for a restaurant advertised on the Internet as a meeting place for far-right extremists.

About 150 protesters threw stones at the neo-Nazis and blocked their route with sit-ins, forcing the three-hour march to be rerouted. No injuries were reported.

Almost 900 police officers were deployed to prevent violence. Cars entering Neumuenster, about 30 miles north of Hamburg, were stopped for weapons checks.

Before the march, about 300 people gathered at a rally where local politicians and union leaders demanded the closing of the Club 88 and criticized the Constitutional Court for allowing the neo-Nazi march.

Neo-Nazis use the number eight as a stand-in for H -- the eighth letter of the alphabet -- to get around Germany's ban on using Nazi slogans in public. The 88 stands for HH, or "Heil Hitler."

The march in support of the 3 1/2-year-old Club 88 was organized by Christian Worch, the former deputy chairman of the since-banned National List. Worch, 42 and still one of Germany's most-active neo-Nazis, spent two years in prison for violating a ban on promoting Nazism.

Worch also had ties to the youth wing of the extreme-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), which the government is considering banning as one of several initiatives to combat a recent rise in neo-Nazi violence.

The newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday that the Interior Ministry has sent a request to officials in all 16 states seeking "incriminating material" against the fringe party, such as racist or anti-Semitic remarks by NPD functionaries or examples of "cooperation with skinheads or other militant right-wing extremists."

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