The attempted purchase of the Hotel am Stadtpark in Delmenhorst by a neo-Nazi group appears to have fallen through after the hotel's owner revealed that there was no longer any contact with the group's Hamburg-based lawyer, Jürgen Rieger, and that the proposed deal would not go through.
Günter Mergel told German public broadcaster ARD's Tagesschau.de news site that Rieger's 3.4 million euro ($4.3 million) offer for his hotel was no longer on the table.
Since the lawyer announced at the beginning of September that the acquisition would soon go through, the lines of communication have gone dead.
Even the lawyer's clients, the Wilhelm Tietjen Foundation for Fertilization LTD, a mysterious group registered in London that promotes racial purity, seem to have vanished into thin air.
British company register wipes far-right foundation
The organization, which was named after its shadowy benefactor, a rich Nazi from Bremen, has been wiped off the British commercial register. Rieger admitted in September that there had been some tax problems with the foundation, but he knew nothing at the time of any possible deletion from the register, he said.
This was contrary to the fact that the company had for some time been noted on an Internet list of businesses worldwide that were facing closure and deletion. The reasons given were the lack of any tax receipts from 2004, which should have been submitted by a deadline that expired at the end of last year.
What happens to the company now is unclear. The British state can take possession of the foundation's offices in Kensington, London, and any other properties that it owns, including a number of estates in Germany. However, if Rieger registers the foundation as a limited company, he could legally take over the offices and retain the properties in Germany.
But with such outstanding taxes, it looks as though the foundation will have to reinvent itself more thoroughly than that to avoid prosecution. This effectively ends its plan to take over the Hotel am Stadtpark in Delmenhorst, much to the relief of the town's citizens.
Delmenhorst citizens fight back
When the inhabitants of the town heard that the neo-Nazi Rieger and his clients were looking to buy their hotel, they staged a number of protests and organized a fund to raise money to buy the property themselves.
Before Wednesday's news that the deal was effectively off, the townspeople had raised 900,000 euros -- not enough to secure its future without extremist involvement.
Then they were faced with the prospect of the hotel falling into the neo-Nazis' hands regardless of whether they came up with the full amount when the owner announced that he would give the far-right the property as a "donation" in return for the foundation taking over his debts and paying the "gift tax" legally required for such a large donation. Giving the neo-Nazi's the hotel would have effectively cut the town council and inhabitants out of the running to purchase the hotel.
Neo-Nazi's all but out of the running
The decision on the hotel's future is expected to be made on Thursday, with the local council meeting to discuss its fate. Mergel hopes that his hotel will be sold to the council for around 3 million euros, though the property is still available on Internet auction site eBay for 3.4 million euros.
Jürgen Rieger, who has defended a number of neo-Nazis, including Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel, and is known for speaking at neo-Nazi rallies honoring Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess, remained silent on the deal as the deadline approached.