State authorities stripped the man of his master chimney sweep position on April 10, Volker Albrecht, vice-president of the administrative court in the eastern city of Halle, told The Local. He said officials cited a lack of personal integrity as grounds for the dismissal after conducting a lengthy investigation that amassed a 26-page dossier on the chimney sweep’s activities.
The man, identified by neo-Nazi NPD party officials as the 49-year-old Lutz Battke of Laucha, is demanding that he be given back his appointment as master chimney sweep in a district near Halle, Albrecht said. He is also requesting a preliminary ruling to allow him to keep on working while the case makes its way through the courts.
“As far as the court knows, there is no legal precedent for this case,” Albrecht told The Local.
German law gives master chimney sweeps a status akin to that of civil servants, he said, assigning them independent districts to oversee. The law requires property owners to have chimney sweeps check ventilation and heating systems. Master chimney sweeps normally retain their positions – there are about 8,000 in Germany – until retirement at age 65.
The law establishing the district system dates to mid-1930s Nazi Germany and originally specified that only German citizens could be chimney sweeps, though that stipulation was removed in 1969.
Battke has been working as a chimney sweep for 33 years and was assigned his district in 1987, NPD officials in Saxony-Anhalt said in a statement issued in December.
The NPD identified Battke as a member of the Laucha city council as and a volunteer member for the NPD on a council governing the Burgen county of southern Saxony-Anhalt.
The state’s Interior Ministry considers Battke as a leading member of the right-wing extremist scene in Saxony-Anhalt, German press agency DPA reported on Wednesday. He is said to have been a regular participant in events commemorating the 1922 murder of former German foreign minister and prominent Jewish businessman Walther Rathenau.
The administrative court has until May 16 to rule on the case.