Germanys Join Forces to Prevent Neo-Nazi Mayhem on New Year’s
WEST BERLIN (AP) _ The Germanys have joined forces to keep rallies by neo-Nazis from ruining the first New Year’s that Germans on both sides of the border can celebrate together.
East Germany on Saturday opened new border crossings to make it easier for Germans to cross over into their neighboring country to mark the end of a momentous year and the beginning, perhaps, of a new era of closeness.
West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, in a televised New Year’s message to be aired Sunday, credited the reform movements in the Soviet Union, Poland and Hungary for making the democratic revolution in East Germany possible.
″This past year has brought the unity of our fatherland a good deal closer,″ Kohl said. ″After decades of division, awareness of the unity of our nation is alive.″
In another interview to be published Sunday, West German President Richard von Weizsaecker said a joint head of state for East Germany and West Germany is ″conceivable.″
But in the interview with the Hamburg-based newspaper Bild am Sonntag, Weizsaecker cautioned that Germans in both states must be patient in bridging the divisions.
Kohl and other conservatives have fueled a confrontation between those who support reunification and those who feel East Germany should remain independent.
Ultra-right activists planned to use the more relaxed border procedures during the weekend to infiltrate East German border towns and demonstrate for reunification, according to officials in the West German city of Fulda.
Viking Youth, a neo-Nazi group fashioning itself after the Hitler Youth, has appealed to radical sympathizers to cross into East Germany from Hesse state with flashlights and fireworks to stage a noisy demonstration, the Fulda officials said.
Erwin Maisch of the West German border patrol in Fulda and regional police chief Karl Ball told reporters West and East German authorities agreed to increase patrols in the area.
East German officials warned last week of an increase in neo-fascist incidents during the past year because of the dizzying pace of reforms. Massive protests in East Germany ousted the hard-line leadership in a matter of weeks.
A New Year’s Eve gathering of the Viking Youth has been forbidden by Fulda regional council chief Fritz Kramer, who warned that right-wing demonstrations could lead to ″violent consequences.″
Several hundred women from both sides of divided Berlin demonstrated along East Berlin’s famed Unter den Linden thoroughfare Saturday to protest fascism.
The demonstrators, led by Eva Rohmann of the East German state women’s organization, denounced vandalism by right-wing extremists, who last week targeted a Soviet war memorial in the suburb of Treptow.
Neo-Nazi desecrations have reportedly been on the rise in East Germany in recent months, but officials claim most of the disturbances are created by radicals from West Germany.
Participants in the peaceful pro-democracy rallies held in Leipzig each Monday contend that many banners pressing for reunification are the work of West German ultra-rightists.
West German border authorities said Saturday they were informed of at least 20 temporary pedestrian crossings opened along the East German border with Bavaria state to facilitate the heavy traffic expected on the holiday weekend.
More than 350,000 East Germans arrived in West Germany in the two days prior to noon Saturday, and more than 50,000 West Germans crossed into northern East Germany, authorities said.