Neo-Nazis ‘targeting’ tours raise alarm at former WWII Buchenwald concentration camp

Unwanted visits from neo-Nazis are becoming an increasing problem for the memorial centre at the former World War II concentration camp at Buchenwald in eastern Germany, museum director Volkhard Knigge said on Thursday.

Neo-Nazis 'targeting' tours raise alarm at former WWII Buchenwald concentration camp
Tributes to victims at the site of the former Buchenwald concentration camp. Photo: DPA

Right-wing extremists were taking part in “targeted and pre-planned disruptions of tours” of the former camp, Knigge told the Neue Westfaelische newspaper.

His comments came as over 40 world leaders – including German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier – gathered in Jerusalem to take part in a remembrance event at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Centre.

Yet amid worldwide commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the camps this month, Knigge said that right-wing extremists were becoming more present at Buchenwald.

“We increasingly find messages in the guest book claiming that Nazism and the concentration camps were sensible and good for the Germans,” he said.

The 65-year-old claimed that neo-Nazis smuggled themselves into tour groups in order to question facts and figures or deny the Holocaust outright.

The disruptions were often filmed as a way for extremists to profile themselves within the neo-Nazi scene, he added.

Knigge also expressed his fear that “something is breaking away in terms of historical awareness, human sensitivity and democratic and political orientation.”

He said that staff at the memorial centre had now been trained to deal with the disruptions, and that rules for visitors had been tightened.

READ ALSO: 'We have to live a normal life here': Inside Osweicim, the town in the shadow of Auschwitz

Buchenwald has been targeted before by neo-Nazis.

In 2010, the memorial centre's website was hacked by right-wing extremists.

The former camp was also once visited by the so-called “NSU” murderers, three neo-Nazis who killed nine Greek and Turkish migrants as well as a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007.

In 1996, the trio showed up at Buchenwald wearing mock Nazi uniforms and were handed lifetime bans.

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New army scandal: Germany vows to punish soldiers caught singing anti-Semitic songs

Germany's Defence Minister on Tuesday vowed to severely punish soldiers stationed in Lithuania who were accused of singing racist and anti-Semitic songs, if the allegations turned out to be true.

New army scandal: Germany vows to punish soldiers caught singing anti-Semitic songs
German soldiers training in Saxony-Anhalt in May. credit: dpa-Zentralbild | Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert

“Whatever happened is in no way acceptable,” said Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

Those implicated would be “vigorously prosecuted and punished”, she added.

The Spiegel Online news site had on Monday reported that German soldiers in Lithuania sang racist and anti-Semitic songs during a party at a hotel in April.

One had also sought to sexually assault another soldier while he was asleep, a scene which was caught on film, said Spiegel.

According to Spiegel Online, the scenes took place at a party at which soldiers consumed large quantities of alcohol. They are also alleged to have arranged a “birthday table” for Adolf Hitler on April 20th and to have sung songs for him.

It is unclear to what extent more senior ranked soldiers were aware of the incidents.

Three soldiers have been removed from the contingent stationed in the Baltic country and an investigation is ongoing to identify other suspects, said the report.

The German armed forces have been repeatedly rocked by allegations of right-wing extremism within their ranks.

Kramp-Karrenbauer last year ordered the partial dissolution of the KSK commando force after revelations that some of its members harboured neo-Nazi sympathies.

SEE ALSO: Germany to compensate gay soldiers who faced discrimination