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Nazi chimney sweep allowed back to work

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Nazi chimney sweep allowed back to work
Photo: DPA
15:35 CEST+02:00
A neo-Nazi chimney sweep in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt who was dismissed for his behaviour and is suing to get his job back will be allowed to return to work, court officials said on Monday.

The man's case is valid, though it has not yet been ruled upon, a court spokesperson said on Monday.

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.

Monday's court decision is a response to his request for a preliminary ruling to allow him to keep on working while the case makes its way through the courts.

German law gives master chimney sweeps a status akin to that of civil servants, Albrecht 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.

Monday's statement from the court said that it was not sure whether there was legal precedent for denying the man his master chimney sweep status because he had done his job properly and his political inclinations are not apparent in his work. The district administration continues to look into the matter, the court said.

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. 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.

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