New Brochure in Germany to Help Hoteliers Identify Neo-Nazis
Many hoteliers in eastern Germany are eager to avoid serving neo-Nazis. But wily far-right groups often book venues using front organizations to avoid being recognized. Now, a new intiative by the state of Brandenburg aims to help the hospitality industry spot unwelcome guests.
Olaf Lücke, the somewhat heavyset managing director of the Hotel and Restaurant Association in the eastern German state of Brandenburg, briefly tells the “Story of Grünheide,” as a way of illustrating the problems his industry faces.
In Grünheide, just outside Berlin, there is an establishment called the Hotel Seegarten. One day, the owner received an inquiry from a “wine agency” interested in renting space for a conference in January 2012. The hotelier was thrilled, because winters are typically slow. When the friendly men from the “wine agency,” about 100 of them, turned up at the hotel in mid-January, there was something odd about the whole thing: They were accompanied by police vans. Even more unusual was the fact that no one talked about wine, and that everything became very political.
It turned out that the friendly men were from the right-wing extremist National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD). The whole thing was exceedingly unpleasant for the hotelier, who suddenly found himself with more than 100 neo-Nazis in his hotel. What to do? Throw them all out? If he did, he stood the chance of being sued for damages.
And so he did nothing, and the NPD’s Saxony state association held its New Year’s reception at the Hotel Seegarten. The incident caused quite a stir in Grünheide, and when it was all over the question on everyone’s mind was how to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future. In other words: How does a hotel or restaurant keep itself Nazi-free in Brandenburg?