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Germany bans far-right extremist group 'Sturmbrigade 44'

December 1, 2020

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has banned the extremist group "Sturmbrigade 44." The announcement came after a series of police raids against group members.

A German police officer holding a gun.
Image: Gelhot/Fotostand/picture alliance

Germany's Interior Ministry on Tuesday banned the extreme-right group "Sturmbrigade 44," after a series of raids across three German states.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer proscribed the group, also known as "Wolfsbrigade 44," allowing a series of measures to be taken against members.

Read more:  Neo-Nazi Sturmbrigade 44: How serious of a threat is it?

The classification allows officials to confiscate assets and propaganda material, with the aim of also collecting evidence on right-wing extremist structures. Raids on the properties of 13 group members took place on Tuesday morning in the states of Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and North Rhine-Westphalia. 

"Anyone who fights against the basic values of our liberal society will feel the decisive reaction of our constitutional democracy," said a tweet from Seehofer's spokesman, Steve Alter.

The group is understood to have been in existence and operating as a fixed structure since 2016.

At the beginning of 2018, a bag of weapons and a T-shirt bearing the group's name was found on board a train. In July last year, raids were carried out against members of the group in the German states of Hesse, Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony Anhalt. 

The declared goal of the group, to be achieved by force, was said to be the "revival of a free fatherland" according to "Germanic moral law."

Read more: Germany charges 12 in far-right 'terror' plot: reports

The numbers 44 in the name of a neo-Nazi group stand for the letters DD, an abbreviation for "Division Dirlewanger." The SS commander Oskar Dirlewanger is noted among World War II historians as having been a particularly sadistic war criminal whose name is closely linked with some of the most notorious atrocities of the period.  

rc/dr (AFP, dpa)