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We will also post relevant news worthy items and information on Human rights issues, racism, extremist individuals and groups and far right political parties from around the world although predominantly Britain.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

German far-right parties announce merger

Two cash-strapped German far-right parties said on Thursday that they have agreed to merge ahead of an election-heavy year when voters in seven of the country's 16 states go to the polls.

The German National Democratic Party (NPD) and the smaller German People's Union (DVU) said that their leaders had signed an agreement on Wednesday creating the new party, "NPD - The People's Union", from January 1.

"What we have achieved is the creation of one strong and unified right-wing party," NPD leader Matthias Faust said in a statement.

"The election in Saxony-Anhalt (in eastern Germany) in March will show that it will be easier in future to bring national policies into (state) parliaments.

"The subsequent domino effect will bring further successes for the national opposition."

Earlier this year Germany became engulfed in a debate about immigration sparked by a book by a central banker who said Europe's biggest economy was being made "more stupid" by poorly educated and unproductive Muslim migrants.

NPD officials welcomed the book, which became a best-seller. Polls showed considerable sympathy for some of its arguments, leading to fears that a populist party with a charismatic leader could win considerable support.

But neither the NPD nor the DVU, which have been beset by major financial problems and falling membership, have appeared to benefit and neither party has ever had any seats in the federal parliament.

The NPD, formed in 1964, has six seats in the regional parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and eight in Saxony, both in the depressed former communist east of the country where unemployment and poverty rates are high.

The DVU, created by millionaire Gerhard Frey in 1971, has one seat in the parliament of the western city state of Bremen. It says it has around 4,000 members while the NPD was estimated in 2009 to have 6,000-7,000.

Voters go the polls in Hamburg in February, in Saxony-Anhalt, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate in March, in Bremen in May and in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Berlin in September.


Youth fire brigade volunteers spark Nazi salute scandal

Youth fire volunteers in North Rhine-Westphalia are caught in a neo-Nazi scandal after they were photographed giving a Hitler salute, media reported Thursday.

The youths in the city of Gladbeck have twice been snapped giving the salute, consisting of an outstretched right arm, in front of cameras, daily Bild reported.

One incident happened during a fire brigade camp in the Recklinghausen district and the other during a group holiday in Austria.

Fire Department chief Josef Dehling told Bild: “It is an absolute shock. These explicit photos shook me. The pictures are a catastrophe for us. Such ideas don’t belong here – not now, now ever.”

The pictures were taken in 2008 but have just now come to light. One was a picture of at least seven youths lined up on a balcony giving the salute during a week-long holiday in the Austrian town of Wagrain, near Salzburg.

“An older youth pushed the others into giving the pose,” Dehling said.

The 19-year-old has since left the fire service.

A second picture, from the camp in Coesfelder, Recklinghausen, shows several older youths, two of whom were camp leaders, giving the salute.

“It will certainly have severe consequences,” Dehling said. “Nothing is being swept under the carpet here. We immediately went on the offensive, asked the youths and their parents come in here and had a talk with them.”

Dehling insisted there was not an ingrained Nazi problem in the region’s fire service.

“But it would not be enough just to shrug it all off as a bad joke. We won’t put up with right-wing extremist ideas and we will now explain this to the youths in conversations and lectures.”

Police and state authorities were also involved in educating the youths, he said.

The Local Germany

Auschwitz sign theft: Swedish man jailed

A Polish judge has jailed a Swedish man for two years and eight months for plotting the theft of the "Arbeit macht frei" Auschwitz entrance sign.

Anders Hoegstroem, a former neo-Nazi leader, admitted theft under a plea bargain last month and will be moved to Sweden to serve his sentence.

The infamous sign was stolen in December last year and recovered in three pieces three days later.

The judge in Krakow also jailed two Poles for up to two-and-a-half years.

One of the pair, named as Andrzej S, apologised in court for the offence, Polish media report.

The 5m (16ft) wrought-iron slogan which translates as "Work sets you free" is a potent symbol of many of the Nazi-era atrocities. During the Nazi Holocaust, 1.1 million people - most of them Jews - were murdered at Auschwitz.

The sign has since been repaired although it now hangs in the Auschwitz museum and has been replaced by a replica at the entrance to the former death camp.

Three other Poles were given prison terms earlier this year for the theft which was thought to have been ordered by another Swede still at large. So far, no evidence of other individuals has come to light.

Hoegstroem, 34, who was detained in Sweden in February had at first denied involvement in stealing the sign but later changed his plea.

On being told the verdict, he said he accepted the court's decision. He is now likely to be returned to Sweden in a week's time.

BBC News