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Police raided apartments and offices throughout Germany in the biggest-ever action aimed at stamping out the radical-right music scene. The historic operation was two years in the making.
The CDs confiscated aim to use music to stir up hatred
German authorities searched more than 200 locations on Wednesday, March 4, confiscating 45,000 CDs, more than 170 computers and some 70 weapons.
They are also investigating 204 suspects. Though no one was arrested, the head prosecutor in Stuttgart, where the operation was based, characterized it as a significant contribution in combating racist and neo-Nazi subcultures.
"Music represents the gateway through which young people are lured in," Siegfried Mahler said at a press conference. "Millions of euros of business is done every year producing and distributing recordings of extreme right-wing music."
Bands such as Landser or Macht und Ehre -- whose lyrics glorify the Third Reich and encourage hatred of and violence toward ethnic minorities -- have been part of a small, but difficult-to-eradicate neo-Nazi music scene in Germany.
"Using aggressive, xenophobic, anti-Semitic and Anti-democratic lyrics, they spread extreme right-wing ideas and expressions of hate," Mahler said.
Music with such lyrical content is prohibited by the German Constitution. Selling neo-Nazi music is a crime, although possessing it isn't, as Mahler said at the press conference.
Police keep a careful eye on Germany's small scene of neo-Nazi skinheads
Wednesday's operation was a continuation of an effort begun in 2007, when the Office for the Protection of the Constitution discovered an online auction house that was selling neo-Nazi music.
Police then formed a task force, which spent the past two years analyzing data concerning some 20,000 sales, 1,000 recordings and 800 registered users from that initial investigation.
"Above all, the point was to uncover the entire distribution structure," Carsten Voss, the head of the politically motivated crimes division at the Federal Prosecutor's Office, told reporters.
Voss added that the operation was unique in Germany history.
The person thought to be at the center of the neo-Nazi music ring was a 34-year-old man from the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg, but police have not released the names of any suspects.