Germany bans the international neo-Nazi group Hammerskins and launches a macro-raid against its members

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The German Government has banned the international neo-Nazi group Hammerskins in an operation that the Minister of the Interior, Nancy Faeser, has described as a “hard blow against organized right-wing extremism.” More than 700 police officers have launched a macro-raid in 10 of the 16 German states to search the homes and meeting places of dozens of members of this organization, founded in the United States in 1988 and with a presence in many other countries, especially in Europe.

The outlawing of the German Hammerskins division, which considers itself a kind of elite within the environment ham (skinheads) of the extreme right, means that their activities and the display of their symbols are prohibited throughout the country. Authorities estimate that it has about 130 followers, of which approximately 90 are full members of the organization. Several of them are old acquaintances of the security forces because they have previous convictions for violent crimes and illegal possession of weapons. According to German media, one of those arrested – no arrest data has been provided – is Sven Krüger, a well-known neo-Nazi who operates in the north of the country.

“The far right remains the biggest threat to our democracy. That is why we continue to act with all determination to dismantle their structures,” said Minister Faeser. The operation, designed to simultaneously search the homes of 28 members of the group and their meeting places, has been coordinated for a year with regional police and US authorities. In the raid, weapons of all kinds were found – even an anti-tank grenade -, cash and far-right cult objects, such as flags with the swastika and copies of Adolf Hitler’s book. My fight.

The ban on the Hammerskins joins twenty other bans on far-right groups decreed over recent decades. In the last one, in 2020, the Ministry of the Interior dismantled three extremist groups, among them the German division of Combat 18, created in the United Kingdom and which is suspected of having some relationship with the neo-Nazi who was shot dead in the head to politician Walter Lübcke in 2019.

Unlike their former competitors Blood and Honor, another international organization banned in Germany more than 20 years ago, the Hammerskins had been a legal group until now. Despite this, and with the aim of going unnoticed, they maintained a low profile, very focused on the far-right rock music scene, in which they periodically organized clandestine concerts and CD sales. They call each other “brothers.” In addition to the Hammerskins, the German Interior Ministry has also outlawed their support group, called Crew 38, through which potential members passed before being admitted to the “brotherhood.” The 38 in the name represents the third and eighth letters of the alphabet, c and h, which in turn mean crossed hammers (crossed hammers), the Hammerskin logo. As they are made illegal, this symbol cannot be displayed in public in Germany.

“The Hammerskins are an internationally active brotherhood that professes National Socialist ideology and is deeply racist and anti-Semitic,” Die Linke MP in Thuringia Katharina König-Preuss explained to the weekly. Stern. König-Preuss is one of the deputies who participated in the commission of inquiry into the NSU (National Socialist Resistance), the neo-Nazi gang that perpetrated a series of xenophobic crimes in Germany for 14 years and who is also suspected of having links to Hammerskins.

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The Ministry of the Interior has assured that the group “goes against the constitutional order” and that its purposes and activities “are contrary to the law.” The Hammerskins’ ideology is based on Nazi ideology and its racial doctrine, which they were dedicated to propagating at concerts and through the lyrics of the songs of rock groups related to them. His goal, Interior says, is “to live and consolidate his far-right worldview.”

The Hammerskins have been outlawed and persecuted in several countries. Several members of the Spanish division were sentenced to up to two and a half years in prison for promoting hatred and violence. In 2012, the Supreme Court ratified the decision of the Provincial Court of Madrid that for the first time in 2009 convicted a neo-Nazi group in Spain for illicit association and illicit possession of weapons.

The group could appeal its banning before the German courts, which would have to decide if the Interior decision complies with what it states. article 3 of the Associations Law. This prohibits groups whose “purposes or activities contravene criminal laws” or “that are directed against the constitutional order or the idea of ​​international understanding.” For now, the authorities have confiscated all the assets found in the searches this Tuesday.

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