Facing Possible Ban German Far-Right Changes Tack
At a rally of Germany’s biggest far-right party, skinheads raise fists to nationalist chants and wear T-shirts that skirt the limits of German law: “Enforce National Socialism” reads one; another proclaims the wearer to be “100 percent un-kosher.” Some cover illegal neo-Nazi tattoos with masking tape because police are on the prowl.
But the party’s leader insists he is taking his National Democratic Party mainstream.
“My aim is to make the NPD a party firmly based in the present and looking toward the future,” Holger Apfel said in an interview at the rally. Breaking a far-right taboo, he told The Associated Press that Nazi Germany’s record during World War II included “crimes.”
Apfel has tactical reasons for toning down his message: Authorities are currently considering a ban on the party. Yet the attempt to appeal to the center has prompted anger in the country’s small but entrenched ultra-right movement, where many refuse to acknowledge that Germany under Nazism - or National Socialism - was responsible for the slaughter of 6 million Jews. Some NPD members have left; others threaten to do so.