Germany bans neo-Nazi group accused of indoctrinating children

Police raid homes of extremists who allegedly spread beliefs on racial purity

Early-morning raids took place in 12 states in the second crackdown on Germany's far right in eight days. AP
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Germany on Wednesday banned a neo-Nazi group accused of trying to indoctrinate children with its beliefs on racial purity.

Police raided the homes of 39 suspected extremists, in the second crackdown on the far right in eight days.

The "pseudo-religious" group allegedly distributed writings to children that were barely different from Nazi literature.

Members were allegedly told to marry people from northern and central Europe in the name of racial hygiene, echoing Nazi ideology.

The group was known as the Artgemeinschaft, which roughly translates as racial community. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser called it a "sectarian, deeply racist and anti-Semitic organisation".

"This is another severe blow to right-wing extremism and the intellectual arsonists who spread Nazi ideology to this day," she said.

The raid comes just eight days after a ban on another neo-Nazi group known as the Hammerskins, described as the self-appointed "elite" of the far-right skinhead scene. US authorities were involved in investigating the German branch of a movement born in Texas.

The Artgemeinschaft is said to have had about 150 members and run a book service, a website and a social media presence to radicalise new followers.

Officials said some of its members had drifted over from previously banned groups such as Storm Brigade 44, which used symbols such as the swastika and SS logo.

The literature given to children was described by the ministry as "originating from the Nazi period, and only minimally altered". Ms Faeser said the group "tried to groom new enemies of the state".

"Right-wing extremism has many faces. The Artgemeinschaft was involved in actively spreading an ideology that in many parts was aligned with National Socialism," Ms Faeser said.

"Through their manipulative, indoctrinating education of their children and the distribution of corresponding literature, the Artgemeinschaft acted differently, but no less dangerously than the neo-Nazi Hammerskins."

Ministers have described the far-right scene as the gravest threat to German democracy. Police last year uncovered what they said was a coup plot involving a minor prince and a former MP.

A second alleged plot involved kidnapping Germany's health minister and led to a university lecturer nicknamed "terror granny" being arrested. Political leaders have also been unnerved by a rise in support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has soared to second in the polls.

Updated: September 27, 2023, 10:29 AM