Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) -- The German government banned the country’s largest active neo-Nazi group, an organization that sought to spread its message through support to imprisoned extremists.
The group, known by its German acronym HNG, posed as an aid organization for prisoners. Founded in 1979 and claiming some 600 members, HNG’s true goal was to approach neo-Nazis and others it identified as “national political prisoners,” the Interior Ministry said today in an e-mailed statement.
“It was no longer acceptable that imprisoned right-wing extremists could be strengthened by the NHG in their aggressive position against a free, democratic order,” Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said in a statement. “The HNG contributed to a marked radicalization of the neo-Nazi scene.”
While Germany has confronted the threat of potentially violent anti-immigrant violence, neo-Nazi groups represent a more virulent threat because of their implicit identification with National Socialism and Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. The Interior Ministry counted about 5,600 people in neo-Nazi groups last year, an increase from about 5,000 in 2009.
Nazi symbols, such as swastikas and the Hitler salute, are prohibited in Germany. Today’s ban was based on material seized in a September 2010 raid in which German security officials searched 30 premises across nine states.
Germany has outlawed several groups in recent years in an effort to stamp out a growing movement of potentially violent anti-immigrant extremists.
The Federal Administrative Court last year upheld an April 2009 ban on another neo-Nazi organization, the Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend. That organization sought to attract youths under the guise of activities such as summer camps and outings. Police had found swastikas, black-clad youngsters and extremist lyrics during a raid on one of the HDJ’s camping sites on the Baltic Sea coast of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania state two years ago.
--Editors: James Hertling, Jeffrey Donovan
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