Germany's far-right National Democratic Party has been keen to distance itself from the Zwickau neo-Nazi terror cell, which is believed to have killed at least 10 people. But now a series of photographs from the past has surfaced and appears to suggest closer ties than the party would like to admit.
The detection of a neo-Nazi terrorist cell in Germany last month sparked fresh calls for a ban on the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD). But before any attempt to ban the party can be carried out, Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, will first have to deactivate its informants within the party. A previous attempt to ban the party failed because of the presence of paid informants within the NPD.
Moreover, the three neo-Nazis—Beate Zschäpe, Uwe Böhnhardt, and Uwe Mundlos—first came to the attention of law enforcement in the mid-1990s. They were then budding members of a well-known regional neo-Nazi organization in their native Thuringia: the Thüringer Heimatschutz or the “Thuringian Homeland Defense.” They began their careers in racist crime with an anti-Semitic prank, when Böhnhardt, then a teenager, hung a mannequin with a Star of David painted on it from a highway overpass in April 1996.
German police arrested a man on Sunday they suspect of assisting in six murders and one attempted murder committed by a neo-Nazi cell uncovered last month, a case that has renewed debate about banning a far-right party.
Prosecutors said the 36-year old, named as Matthias D., was arrested in the early morning at his home in Erzgebirgskreis, an area in the eastern state of Saxony. Police were now searching three flats in the area, including the suspect's and another possible female supporter.
A Pogromly neo-Nazi board game.
The prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe has tasked a special investigator with examining links between extremists in Switzerland and the National Socialist Underground (NSU), the German neo-Nazi terrorist group responsible for at least ten murders from 2000 to 2007.
After the horrific terrorist attack in Norway this summer Europe is shocked again by the uncovering of the mysterious National Socialist Underground (NSU), a group of two men and one woman allegedly responsible for at least 10 murders and 14 bank robberies.
Officials estimate that there are roughly 25,000 far-right extremists among Germany's almost 82 million residents. Still, their views enjoy much more support than the numbers would suggest. Here, SPIEGEL ONLINE takes a close look at just how rooted right-wing extremism is in Germany.