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CRIME

Tourist detained for Nazi salute at Auschwitz

Polish police said on Sunday they had detained a Dutch tourist for giving the Nazi salute at the site of the former death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Tourist detained for Nazi salute at Auschwitz
The 'work makes you free' sign at the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

“Officers from (the southern city of) Oswiecim detained a 29-year-old woman from the Netherlands today,” regional police tweeted.

“The tourist had been performing the Hitler salute in front of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Sets You Free) gate,” they added.

“The detainee was charged with engaging in Nazi propaganda. She confessed.”

Prosecutors issued her with a fine as punishment, which she accepted, according to the Polish news agency PAP.

It added that she was caught in the act by guards while posing for a photo taken by her husband.

“She explained it away as a bad joke,” regional police press officer Bartosz Izdebski told PAP.

Nazi Germany built the death camp in Oswiecim after occupying Poland during World War II.

The Holocaust site has become a symbol of Nazi Germany’s genocide of six million European Jews, one million of whom died at the camp between 1940 and 1945 along with more than 100,000 non-Jews.

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CRIME

German police foil teenage school ‘Nazi attack’

German investigators said Thursday they foiled a school bomb attack, as they arrested a 16-year-old who is suspected to have been planning a "Nazi terror attack".

German police foil teenage school 'Nazi attack'

“The police prevented a nightmare,” said Herbert Reul, interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) state.

Police in the city of Essen had stormed the teen’s room overnight, taking him into custody and uncovering 16 “pipe bombs”, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material.

Some of the pipe bombs found contained nails, but officers did not find any detonators, Reul said.

There are “indications suggesting the young man has serious psychiatric problems and suicidal thoughts,” said Reul.

Material found so far in the suspect’s room include his own writing which constituted “a call for urgent help by a desperate young man.”

The suspect was allegedly planning to target his current school or another where he studied previously.

“All democrats have a common task to fight against racism, brutalisation and hate,” said NRW’s deputy premier Joachim Stamp, as he thanked police for “preventing a suspected Nazi terror attack”.

The suspect is being questioned while investigators continue to comb his home for evidence.

Investigators believe that he was acting alone.

They had been tipped off by another teen who informed them that the young man “wanted to place bombs in his school”, located about 800 metres from his home.

The school, as well as another institution, were closed on Thursday as investigators undertook fingertip searches as the locations to ensure that no bombs had been placed on site.

‘Neo-Nazi networks’ 

Germany has been rocked by several far-right assaults in recent years, sparking accusations that the government was not doing enough to stamp out neo-Nazi violence.

In February 2020 a far-right extremist shot dead 10 people and wounded five others in the central German city of Hanau.

Large amounts of material championing conspiracy theories and far-right ideology were subsequently found in the gunman’s apartment.

And in 2019, two people were killed after a neo-Nazi tried to storm a synagogue in Halle on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

Germany’s centre-left-led government under Chancellor Olaf Scholz took office in December pledging a decisive fight against far-right militants and investigators in April carried out country-wide raids against “neo-Nazi networks”, arresting four suspects.

The suspects targeted in the raids were believed to belong to the far-right martial arts group Knockout 51, the banned Combat 18 group named after theorder in the alphabet of Adolf Hitler’s initials, US-based Atomwaffen (Atomic) Division or the online propaganda group Sonderkommando 1418.

German authorities were also battling to clean extremists from within their ranks. Last year, the state of Hesse said it was dissolving Frankfurt’s elite police force after several officers were accused of participating in far-right online chats and swapping neo-Nazi symbols.

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