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Rioters Meeting Resistance in Rostock With AM-Germany-Rightist Terror

August 27, 1992

ROSTOCK, Germany (AP) _ On the fifth straight day of anti-foreigner rioting, Andre Fahning had had enough.

A dozen youths had overturned one car and set it on fire along with about four big garbage containers.

A crowd of several hundred watched as the youths, some of them drunk, pulled out a second Trabant, the tiny East German car that burns nicely, when Fahning stepped out of the mass and hollered: ″What is this crap? This is totally out of it 3/8″

Taken aback, one of the young rioters said, ″What do you want?″ He made threatening moves.

Fahning, a muscular 22-year-old butcher, shot back, ″OK, bring your friends,″ and acted as if he was ready to fight.

Within a few minutes, a handful of bystanders backed Fahning. Instead of a riot or a fistfight, the now-chastened knot of rioters had pushed a car to safety away from the flaming Trabant.

The mild end to this tense scene Wednesday night was a contrast to the night before, when the same street had been like a civil war zone. At least a half-dozen cars were set on fire, plus garbage containers and several trailers, by a mob of hundreds that withdrew only with the advance of police water cannons.

The rioting started last Saturday, aimed at a refugee reception center in a 12-story building at the entrance of Lichtenhagen, where about 22,000 people live in apartment complexes north of the center of Rostock.

The refugees were moved on Monday to safety elsewhere, but the rioting continued that night and on Tuesday.

Thousands of local people looked on, some applauding, others distressed at the damage to their neighborhood. But most had wanted the refugees out, and hardly anyone stepped out of anonymity to help control the situation.

This brought much hand-wringing in Germany. Many condemned the people in Lichtenhagen for applauding and sheltering the rioters, and drew parallels to Nazi pogroms and the failure of most Germans to resist the wave of evil in World War II.

Fahning made no claim to moral heroism. He said later he, too, had wanted the refugee center out of Lichtenhagen and had been coming to the suburb to watch developments. He said he had tried to stop some vandalism Tuesday night, but wasn’t successful.

″What could I do alone against the crowd?″ he told The Associated Press.

″The whole thing should end. They are only trying to make headlines. The refugees are gone,″ he said, maintaining he had nothing against foreigners. He said he was simply opposed to letting too many into Germany to compete for jobs.

Rostock has unemployment around 15 percent, like other cities in former East Germany.

The rioters were mostly 16 to 20 years old, many of them drunk, some skinheads who shouted ″Germany for Germans - Foreigners out″ as they taunted police.

″They feel strong only in a crowd,″ Fahning said. ″When they’re alone, they pull in their tails.″

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