Germany's Supreme administrative court has ruled that a neo-Nazi rock group that spread racial hatred was a criminal organization, upholding a first such statement in Germany against a music band.
Still sold on the black market
The court also upheld a three and a half year prison sentence against the lead singer of the band, Michael Regener -- argueing his lyrics would incite public hatred against foreigners and minorities in Germany. The move is part of a nationwide crackdown on neo-Nazi groups and organizations -- two of which were also banned this week.
The ruling now upheld by Germany's highest administrative court goes back to a case brought against Regener (photo below), who was handed a prison sentence for inciting racial hatred and spreading Nazi propaganda.
Prosecutions have often been brought against individuals in Germany under laws banning Nazi propaganda and the incitement of public unrest. But this was the first time a collective prosecution of this kind had been brought against a music group. Jürgen Lampe, spokesman for the federal prosecutor, said the band was planning what they called an "Aryan Revolution" and was operating in a highly secretive manner.
"The primary goal of this band was to commit crimes," he said. "Its organizational structure bears the hallmarks of organized crime."
Court: Racism sole purpose of band
The supreme administrative court said that Landser was founded solely to produce and distribute racist songs and Nazi ideology. Inflammatory lyrics such as "Turks and Commies and all that scum will soon be forever gone" from a song called "The Reich will be back," it said, were clearly meant to incite hatred and violence against foreigners and political opponents.
Neo-Nazis at a 2000 demonstration
The band didn't make public appearances and for a long time its members had remained unknown. Experts have long been warning that neo-Nazi organizations are spreading their hate messages through music distributed often for free especially among younger Germans at schools. A network of so-called "comradeships" has been established primarily in eastern Germany fostering a cult of violence and hatred.
Frank Jantzen, an expert on the right-wing scene here, said this ideology often blends with latent racism among the population at large.
"I fear this structural link between every-day racism and a perpetrator image cherished by rightist youths is the core problem," he said. "No-one has so far been able to sever this link which has fostered an extreme right-wing scene. Young neo-Nazis are enmeshed in a culture of blood and violence that is promoted also through music and eventually seeks a vent. Democratic forces in Germany are simply at a loss to effectively counter an ideology of dumb violence that is infesting more and more young minds."
In an effort to stop rightist violence - which has been rising in Eastern Germany again last year - authorities banned two more neo-Nazi groups in the region on Thursday. They were among the most active of the "comradeships" in and around Berlin.
In raids on several homes police discovered neo-Nazi pamphlets and T-shirts glorifying former Nazi leaders as heroes and martyrs.
Earlier in the week, a group of young neo-Nazis in Brandenburg were classified as terrorists by a court in Potsdam which handed down jail sentences to the members for attacking and burning immigrant-owned shops and fast food outlets.