German neo-Nazis march in small town

Aug. 16, 2010 at 12:35 PM
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BAD NENNDORF, Germany, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Nearly 1,000 neo-Nazis over the weekend marched through Bad Nenndorf near Hannover, determined to make the small city a stage for their propaganda.

They were met by around 1,000 anti-Nazi demonstrators and 2,000 police, who were dispatched to Bad Nenndorf to secure the city.

That Bad Nenndorf has become the new place of choice to stage neo-Nazi events is linked to the Winckler Bad. The 1930s building in 1946, a year after the end of World War II, housed a British Secret Service-run prison for German Nazi leaders, some of whom were abused.

This has caused the neo-Nazis to organize what they called a "march of mourning" to protest "Allied post-war crimes," German news Web site Spiegel Online reports.

The neo-Nazi presence in Bad Nenndorf has enraged the local population, who staged their own event under the motto "Bad Nenndorf is colorful," with the goal to stop the neo-Nazis in their attempt to turn perpetrators into victims.

Yet it wasn't sure at all that the anti-Nazi event could take place.

Authorities initially banned an anti-Nazi demonstration and a regional court didn't green-light it until Friday evening -- albeit as a two-hour stationary gathering before the arrival of the neo-Nazis in the city, and not as a parallel protest march. Police feared that militant far-left activists would try to stage attacks on the neo-Nazis and that they, in turn, would also respond violently.

The anti-Nazi activists weren't happy.

"It's a shame that the neo-Nazis have more rights than we have," Juergen Uebel, one of the founders of the anti-Nazi event and the owner of a local pharmacy, told Spiegel Online.

Uebel is one of around 300 locals, including the city's mayor, who took part in a Saturday morning sermon jointly organized and held by Bad Nenndorf's Catholic, Lutheran and Jewish congregations.

The later anti-Nazi event drew an estimated 1,200 people -- slightly more than the neo-Nazi march, which was attended by far-right activists from all over Germany and the Netherlands.

Seventeen people, neo-Nazis as well as anti-Nazi activists, were detained that day, police said. A group of black-clad far-left activists repeatedly tried to break through the wall of policemen accompanying the neo-Nazis, injuring a small number of officers. Authorities have also started investigating an unidentified number of neo-Nazis for singing a song that contains racist slogans.

Most of the anti-Nazi activists remained peaceful in their protest, and they intend to keep up their opposition to the event: The neo-Nazis have said they plan to come back every year.

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