BERLIN — More than 900 police officers raided homes and clubhouses of suspected neo-Nazis in a crackdown in a western German state on Thursday, seizing far-right propaganda material, computer hard drives and a wide variety of weapons, the region’s top security official said.
The raids to collect evidence came after North Rhine-Westphalia state interior minister Ralf Jaeger banned three local neo-Nazi groups.
“These groups are anti-foreigner, they are racist and they are anti-Semitic,” Jaeger said at a news conference.
The crackdown in North Rhine-Westphalia comes amid a greater focus nationally on the far right in Germany. That was sparked by the revelation last year that a small group of neo-Nazis apparently managed to kill nine minorities and a police officer over a seven-year period while remaining off the radar of the country’s intelligence services.
The existence of the National Socialist Underground group only came to light in November, when two of its three core members were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide after a failed bank robbery. The third alleged core member, Beate Zschaepe, is in custody pending trial