Germany

Nazis fined over accounts

April 7, 2009

Germany’s main neo-Nazi party has been ordered to pay a fine of €2.5 million (£2.3 million) for accounting irregularities.

A lawyer for the National Democratic Party warned that the fine could lead to the collapse of the party.

It was imposed by the national government four months after the former NPD treasurer was jailed for stealing €741,000 (£677,000) from the party.

The NPD is a legal political party represented in two of Germany’s 16 state legislatures. NPD officials praised Iran’s President Ahmadinejad when he argued that Israel should be wiped off the map.

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Man battles claims body over Berlin flat

By Simon Rocker, April 7, 2009

The son of a German-Jewish doctor who lived in the UK is fighting the Claims Conference, the Holocaust restitution agency, over a property he says belongs to his family.

Heinrich Ruhemann, 80, from Darmstadt, Germany, says the apartment block in East Berlin was bought by his father, Ernst, in 1935.

But the German government has refused to recognise his claim and he has been ordered to transfer the building, worth around £900,000, to the conference under restitution laws.

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Mother accuses ‘hate cult’ over son’s death

By Toby Axelrod, April 2, 2009

The mother of a British student who died in Wiesbaden, Germany six years ago, is fighting to raise awareness of what she describes as the destructive, antisemitic cult she blames for his death.

Erica Duggan, whose son, Jeremiah, died after attending a meeting of the LaRouche Schiller Institute in Wiesbaden, returned to the scene of his death for a rally and conference focusing on the network of organisations associated with American extremist Lyndon LaRouche and his German wife, Helga Zepp.

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Court outlaws animal rights group’s Nazi ad

By Toby Axelrod and Marcus Dysch, April 2, 2009

Holocaust groups have welcomed a German supreme court ruling against a poster campaign which compared the slaughter of animals to the Shoah.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) “Holocaust on your Plate” adverts constituted an offence against human dignity, the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe said last week.

Paul Spiegel, late president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, filed a lawsuit in 2004 after Peta attempted to launch the campaign in Germany.

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Holocaust survivors get cash boost

By Toby Axelrod, March 26, 2009

Holocaust survivors in Eastern Europe — many of them living in poverty — are to receive major increases in monthly payments from Germany, following intensive negotiations with the Claims Conference that ended last week in Berlin.

The agreement means that an estimated £55 million in extra funds will be paid over the next 10 years to approximately 13,000 Holocaust survivors in 22 countries.

There will also be major increases in Central and Eastern European Fund (CEEF) monthly payments to survivors in EU and non-EU countries.

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Gigolo ‘sought revenge on BMW’

By Marcus Dysch, March 19, 2009

A conman who defrauded Germany’s richest woman is claimed to have targeted his victim because of her family’s Nazi past.

Helg Sgarbi, dubbed the Swiss Gigolo, was last week jailed for six years for defrauding and attempting to blackmail Susanne Klatten with a videotape of the couple having sex in a hotel.

Ms Klatten, the 68th wealthiest person in the world, is an heir to the BMW fortune and is thought to be worth almost $10 billion.

Her great-grandfather, Gunther Quandt, founded BMW and his first wife, Magda, later married Joseph Goebbels.

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'More German youths in far-right groups than mainstream parties'

By Toby Axelrod, March 19, 2009

A newly released study suggests urgent measures are needed to combat right-wing tendencies among German youth.

Five percent of German boys aged 15 belong to right-wing extremist groups, according to the study by the Hanover-based Criminal Research Institute.

Most youth were found not to be antisemitic or xenophobic in this extensive survey of 44,610 pupils.

But scientists found that more boys belong to far-right groups than to mainstream political organizations. And that is what has researchers worried, said Christian Pfeiffer, leading scientist on the team.

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Germany agrees to try Demjanjuk

By Toby Axelrod, December 18, 2008

Germany’s Federal Supreme Court has given its approval for a Munich court to try accused Nazi war criminal John (Ivan) Demjanjuk.

Following last week’s decision, the 88-year-old man, who has spent most of the post-war period as a US citizen, may now be extradited to Germany, despite the protests of family members who claim he is too frail.

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No time limit for art claims

By Leon Symons, December 18, 2008

Germany has pledged there will be no time limit for descendants of Nazi victims to reclaim looted art.

Federal Commissioner for Culture, Bernd Neumann, told a two-day conference in Berlin that the government had rejected calls from some museums to impose deadlines.

The conference, Taking Responsibility, was held to mark the 10th anniversary of the Washington Declaration, in which 44 countries agreed to identify and return Nazi-looted art.

Assessing how much progress had been made, Mr Neumann admitted that German museums and collections had been dragging their heels.

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Berlin centre opens

November 20, 2008

A new outreach centre has opened in former East Berlin. The Lauder Am Echad Centre for National Outreach, housed in a building bought by local Jewish businessmen Ariel Schiff and Samuel Czarny, will be sponsored by billionaire Ronald Lauder's foundation and the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

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