18 Arrested in Clashes Around Hitler Birthday
BERLIN (AP) _ Police braced to confront neo-Nazis today in eastern Germany on Adolf Hitler’s birthday, and 18 rightists were reported arrested on the eve of his birthday after clashing with police in one city.
Rightists planned to assemble in Dresden and other eastern cities on what would have been Hitler’s 102nd birthday, the first since east and west Germany united Oct. 3.
A surge of right-wing violence in eastern Germany, directed mostly at foreigners, has killed one person in recent weeks, alarming authorities and bringing calls for crackdowns from Germany’s Jewish community.
Police in Magdeburg, a city 80 miles west of Berlin, said a small number of neo-Nazis were in the city this morning. Police chief Johann Lottmann said his force was prepared to deal with any trouble.
After a soccer match in Magdeburg on Friday night, gangs of young rightists clashed with police and passers-by in the city center, and 18 were arrested, police reported. One person suffered a serious head injury in the clashes.
Charges were filed immediately against eight of those arrested, including spreading propaganda of illegal neo-Nazi organizations, property damage and resisting police.
Police and prosecutors have sent hundreds of reinforcements, including federal troops, into eastern cities to deal with expected violence on the birthday of the Nazi dictator, who killed himself as Allied forces besieged Berlin in 1945.
Last April 20, East Germany suffered an eruption of right-wing violence when skinheads rampaged through the main square in East Berlin, Alexanderplatz. They attacked Vietnamese workers and a bar frequented by homosexuals, and eight people were reported injured.
In recent weeks, rightist thugs have attacked Poles crossing the border after Germany relaxed visa requirements, and a man from Mozambique died from injuries after rightists threw him off a streetcar in Dresden.
Rightists from western Germany apparently are trying to recruit eastern youths who feel they face bleak futures in united Germany.