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Czech neo-Nazis learning from their colleagues in Saxony, study claims

Prague, 4.9.2009 13:10, (ROMEA)

The Czech neo-Nazi scene is looking to the neo-Nazi movement in the eastern state of Saxony in neighboring Germany for guidance, according to a joint study conducted by Czech and German NGO experts and police. Close contacts allegedly also exist between Czech and German extremist groups and parties. The study, entitled Dangerous Acquaintances: Right-wing Extremism in Border Area Contacts (Nebezpečné známosti - pravicový extremismus v malém pohraničním styku) was commissioned by the Heinrich-Böll Foundation with the financial support of the Remembrance, Responsibility and Future Foundation of Germany and the Czech-German Fund for the Future.

The expert examination, said to be first of its kind ever funded, says the comparatively larger neo-Nazi scene in Saxony is particularly attractive to Czech neo-Nazis because it has succeeded in establishing itself at the institutional level. This was exemplified in Sunday’s elections to the Saxon state parliament, in which the extreme-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) managed to win seats for the second time in a row.

One of the authors of the study, Friedemann Bringt of the Kulturbüro Sachsen organization, points out that collaboration between Czech and German neo-Nazis is paradoxical. "At the end of the day, the Czechs are of Slavic origin, which is considered ‘inferior’ in the ‘Aryan racial ideology’,” Bringt was quoted as saying in the daily Nibelungen Kurier. Despite this, he says most of the right-wing extremists in the Czech Republic consider themselves part of the allegedly superior “Aryan race”.

Czech and German neo-Nazi activists have been attending events in one another’s countries, and Bringt said the Czechs are the more active. They are said to take inspiration for their own activities from large-scale neo-Nazi events in Saxony such as concerts, various commemorative marches, or celebrations connected with the Deutsche Stimme monthly, the NPD press organ, which take place in various towns in eastern Germany for the most part. The presence of Czech neo-Nazis at these events has been evident in recent years, especially at demonstrations on the occasion of the anniversary of the bombing of Dresden on 13 February 1945. German neo-Nazis allegedly appreciate the “relatively less strict approach taken by the Czech police toward Nazi symbols and slogans” in the Czech Republic, according to Bringt.

The different approaches taken by the police in the Czech Republic and in Saxony are also obvious in the cases of recent attacks on Czech journalists. While in Saxony the perpetrators of the brutal attack on photographer Stanislav Krupař have already been successfully sentenced (police identified most of the assailants from their own propaganda video on YouTube) in the Czech Republic Ondřej Cakl is still waiting for justice in the case of those who attacked him. In November of last year Cakl was kicked directly in front of a police car patrol during the Autonomous Nationalists’ demonstration at the Janov housing estate in Litvínov. Criminal proceedings in his case are at a standstill.

The Saxon State Office for Protection of the Constitution has also recorded collaboration at the level of political parties and groups. "There are close ties between the Saxon members of the NPD, the Czech right-wing extremist National Resistance, and the right-wing extremist Workers’ Party (Dělnická strana)," Nibelungen Kurier quoted a source from the office as saying.

According to the office, a group of extremists linked to National Resistance met in February last year with representatives of the NPD directly in the Saxon parliament (the Landtag). In mid-August 2008 the ground was allegedly laid in the Czech Republic for a Czech-German "seminar" to alternate between the two countries in both languages. The NPD has also agreed on closer cooperation with the Workers’ Party.

"Czech neo-Nazis are learning from their German counterparts to base their outreach on topics which are socially relevant and which can address the majority of society,” Bringt believes. "Instead of topics like Jews, the Third Reich or Hitler, they are now banking primarily on the non-integration of Roma. Through this topic they can reach out in the Czech Republic to a larger part of the population that does not necessarily identify with National Socialism.” One example was the anti-Roma event at the Janov housing estate in Litvínov last fall.

According to the Czech co-authors of the study, which include Ondřej Cakl and Klára Kalibová of the civic association Tolerance and Civil Society (Tolerance a občanská společnost), the problem of right-wing extremism in the Czech Republic continues to be of interest to too few experts. Czech neo-Nazis are allegedly starting to adopt strategies from their German counterparts for intimidating anti-fascists, local politicians and journalists.

The Security and Information Service of the Czech Republic (Bezpečnostní informační služba - BIS) published its annual report on right-wing extremism in the Czech Republic. BIS reported that the neo-Nazis have been professionalizing and radicalizing over the past few years and that their extremist events started to become relatively professional during last year. Unofficial groups like National Resistance and the Autonomous Nationalists have augmented their forces through political representation, i.e., the Workers’ Party. The Czech Interior Ministry is planning a second attempt to dissolve the party.

In Germany, democratic political parties have attempted to have the NPD banned, but the proposal was rejected by the German Constitutional Court.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, ROMEA, ROMEA, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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