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2 Neo-Nazis Convicted for Vandalism

October 19, 2000

WEIMAR, Germany (AP) _ Two admitted neo-Nazis were convicted and sentenced Tuesday in a vandalism attack at the former Buchenwald concentration camp where they smeared swastikas on plaques the day before Germany celebrated 10 years of reunification.

Thomas Fritzwanker, 20, and Ralf Wolf, 22, were sentenced to eight months and six months, respectively, on charges of property damage and public display of banned symbols. They appeared at court in the eastern city of Weimar with typical skinhead shaved heads and covered their faces to deter photographers.

Both could have faced up to three years.

Germany has pledged to crack down on neo-Nazis after a string of vandalism incidents and attacks on foreigners that have left at least three people dead this summer. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s center-left government has urged justice officials to punish neo-Nazi activity swiftly.

A failed firebomb attack at the synagogue in the western city of Duesseldorf, also on the eve of the 10th anniversary of German reunification, remains unsolved.

About 56,000 people died at Buchenwald between 1937 and 1945, 11,000 of them Jews. The camp is located in a wooded, hilly area just outside Weimar, about 130 miles southwest of Berlin.

Some 263,000 inmates from more than two dozen countries, including Russia, Poland and France, were interned at the camp under the Nazis.

U.S. troops who freed Buchenwald on April 11, 1945, later described how they found mounds of bodies stacked up like firewood ready to be burned, and 21,000 emaciated inmates deserted by their captors who had fled before the advancing Allied forces.

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