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September 25, 1987 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-09-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Rightwing Victory
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14 ,FRIDAY, SEPT 25, 1987:

onn (JTA) — The suc-
cess of the neo-Nazi
Deutsche Volksunion
(DVU) party in gaining a seat
in the State Parliament of
Bremen in elections Sept. 12
has badly shaken the West
German political establish-
ment, whose leaders have
consistently dismissed such
rightwing extremist factions
as little more than a nuisance
incapable of winning suffi-
cient votes to penetrate even
local governments.
Chancellor Helmut Kohl,
leader of the ruling Christian
Democratic Union (CDU),
may well be embarrassed by
the developments in Bremen.
Only a week earlier, when
visiting Israeli Defense
Minister Yitzhak Rabin ex-
pressed concern over reports
of resurgent anti-Semitism
and neo-Nazism in the
Federal republic — especially
after the suicide in Spandau
Prison of Hitler's former
deputy, Rudolph Hess — kohl
assured him there was no
danger of neo-Nazi groups
becoming more than a minor
irritant, creating isolated, if
un-pleasant, incidents from
time to time.
But now, even the most op-
timistic West German politi-
cians cannot ignore the reali-
ty that for the first time in 20
years, a neo-Nazi candidate
managed to get elected to a
state legislature. The success
of the DVU also greatly im-
proved the chances of future
support at the polls by conser-
vative voters with rightwing
leanings.
The situation in Bremen
was unique. While all of the
federal states require a party
to poll at least five percent of
the popular vote to gain
representation in parliament,
the Bremen constitution
makes a party eligible if it
wins five percent in either
one of the two cities compris-
ing the state. The DVU did
poorly_in Bremen. But it easi-
ly exceeded the five percent
barrier in Bremerhaven, the
deep-water seaport at the
mouth of the Weser.
As a result, its candidate,
62-year-old retired engineer
Hans Altermann, has become
one of the 100 deputies in the
State Parliament. The DVU
employed a successful
strategy by choosing a little-
known candidate to head its
election list. It avoided
frightening off voters who
would not support a promi-
nent neo-Nazi.

Helmut Kohl: A new menace

Moreover, the DVU had the
support of a rival, much bet-
ter known neo-Nazi faction.
The National Democratic
Party (NPD), whose notoriety
apparently convinced it that
it could not win, mobilized its
followers on behalf of the
DVU - and made its head-
quarters in Bremen and
Bremerhaven :available to the
smaller party.
Observers are now pointing
out that a small but sizeable
minority of the electorate is
ready to support Neo-Nazi
groups. The latter possess the
devotion, a certain degree of
unity and are capable of
working hard to mobilize sup-
port and translate it into
votes.
The success of the DVU also
may improve the chances of
the other- neo-Nazi parties in
states where the five percent
barrier applies throughout.
Both the DVU and NPD as
recognized political parties
can receive tax-deductible
contributions from in-
dividuals and businesses. The
NPD already receives finan-
cial support from the federal
government, according to law,
because of its relatively good
showing in the last
Bundestag elections.
The DVU is headed by
Gerhard Frey, who publishes
the Munich-based National
Zeitung which among other
things calls the Holocaust a
Jewish hoax and the gas
chambers "Zionist propagan-
da." The DVU campaigned in
Bremen largely on the
"need" to rid Germany of a
community of five million
foreign workers, mostly
Turks. It avoided attacking
Jews.
But right after election day,
Carla Mueller-Tupath, a
Jewish community member
who commented on the elec-
tion results on the local radio
station, received a flood of
threatening letters.

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