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Neo-Nazis Fight to March

Article based on news reports (win)August 17, 2007

German neo-Nazis on Thursday lost court fights after seeking permission to stage marches in memory of Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, who died 20 years ago on Aug. 17.

Hess supporters with a poster that shows his picture in Wunsiedel in 2004
"A shining role model for German youth," reads the posterImage: AP

An Munich court on Friday upheld a ban imposed by city officials in Munich on a planned march in honor of Hess at central St. Mary's Square, or Marienplatz.

At nearby Charles Square, or Karlsplatz, neo-Nazis had been given the go-ahead to demonstrate against Germany's law against incitement of the people, which carries prison time or fines for publicly glorifying or justifying the Nazi terror regime.

"We don't want to prevent this event," the head of Munich's department of public order, Wilfried Blume-Bayerle, told DW-WORLD.DE, adding that city officials didn't want to curtail the demonstrators' right to freedom of expression.

"We just have to make sure that it doesn't turn into a masked Hess memorial," he said.

In the eastern German town of Jena in the state of Thuringia, officials meanwhile failed to ban a demonstration on Saturday after a court ruled that no convincing proof existed that the NPD planned to honor Hess rather than demonstrate against the law against incitement of the people.

The eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt has issued a complete ban on gatherings for right-wing extremists.

Preventing glorification of Nazis

Hess (second from left) as a defendant in Nuremberg
Hess (second from left) as a defendant in NurembergImage: DHM

Hess, who became a prisoner of war in Britain in 1941, was sentenced to life imprisonment for planning a war of aggression in the Nuremberg trials. In total, he spent 46 years in prison after repeated pleas for clemency were rejected.

The Berlin prison where he died on Aug. 17, 1987, was torn down to prevent it from becoming a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis. He is buried in Wunsiedel in northern Bavaria, where memorial marches took place on the anniversary of his death until a German law prohibited them in 2005.

NPD wants mobile offices

NPD leader Udo Voigt meanwhile told Berlin's Der Tagesspiegel newspaper that his party was going to set up "mobile offices" in cars after the organization was unable to find a landlord willing to rent them space for fear of attacks.

"They'll need good garages," an anonymous official for Berlin's domestic intelligence service told the newspaper, adding that the high number of left-wing radicals in the capital made the vehicles likely targets for attacks.