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CRIME

Ranks of violent neo-Nazis go over 10,000

The number of violence-prone far-right extremists in Germany rose in 2012 to over 10,000, according to a Tuesday newspaper report.

Ranks of violent neo-Nazis go over 10,000
Photo: DPA

The country’s intelligence service in 2012 identified around 10,100 dangerous neo-Nazis, Berlin’s Tagesspiegel reported. In 2011 this figure stood at 9,800 and in 2010, it was 9,500.

Accounting for a large part of Germany’s violent extreme-right were members of the National Democratic Party (NDP) – who tended to be mostly young and influenced by the underground skinhead movement or the growing fascist music scene.

There were of course politically-unaffiliated, more autonomous neo-Nazis who were also linked to violent crime – often directed at the extreme left, said the Tagesspiegel.

Yet the number of people that the German intelligence earmarked as a “potential” threat went down from 22,400 to 22,100 between 2011 and 2012. In 2010, this figure was 25,000.

This dip was thought to have been linked to the German People’s Union (DVB) parliamentary party losing its place in the Bundestag in 2010. While the NPD scooped up some of members left over from the flop, it too has only 6,000 people registered.

The Local/jcw

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CRIME

101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

A 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard on Monday once again denied being complicit in war crimes during the Holocaust as his trial drew to a close in Germany.

101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

Josef Schütz, the oldest person so far to face trial over Nazi crimes during World War II, is accused of involvement in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, has pleaded innocent throughout the trial, saying he did “absolutely nothing” and was not aware of the gruesome crimes being carried out at the camp.

“I don’t know why I am here,” he said again at the close of the proceedings, his voice wavering.

Dressed in a grey shirt and pyjama bottoms and sitting in a wheelchair, Schütz insisted he had had nothing to do with the atrocities and was “telling the truth”.

READ ALSO: Ex-Nazi death camp secretary who fled trial to face court in Germany

Prosecutors say he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the crimes as a guard at the camp and are seeking to punish him with five years behind bars.

But Schütz’s lawyer, Stefan Waterkamp, said that since there were no photographs of him wearing an SS uniform, the case was based on “hints” of his possible involvement.

“As early as 1973, investigators had information about him but did not pursue him. At the time, witnesses could have been heard but now they are all dead or no longer able to speak,” Waterkamp said.

Former Nazi guard

The 101-year-old former Nazi guard covers his face at the Neuruppin courthouse. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

It would be a mistake for the court to try to “make up for the mistakes of a previous generation of judges”, the lawyer said.

Antoine Grumbach, 80, whose father died in Sachsenhausen, told AFP Schuetz “does not want to remember”, calling it “a form of defence”.

The trial was not just about “putting a centenarian in prison”, he said. It had also produced evidence that Sachsenhausen was an “experimental extermination camp”.

“All the cruellest methods were invented there and then exported,” Grumbach said.

READ ALSO: Trials of aging Nazis a ‘reminder for the present’, says German prosecutor

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