Monday, October 18, 2010

Germany / Neo-Nazism

Germany's Neighbours from Hell
By Tony Paterson
The Independent, October 19, 2010
Photo: AFP/Getty
"It's hard to escape the menacing ideology that prevails in Jamel -- a tiny hamlet of 10 crumbling red brick Prussian-era farm houses set among the remote fields and beech woods of east German Mecklenburg. 'Braunau am Inn 855 kilometres' proclaims a home-made signpost at the village entrance pointing in the direction of Adolf Hitler's birthplace. At a sandy crossroads between the houses, a huge stone carries the slogan: 'Jamel Village Community: Free, Social and National' -- the choice of adjectives is as close to the term 'National Socialist' as one can legally get in a country where the swastika and Nazi slogans remain outlawed. Jamel, a village of some 40 inhabitants a few kilometres inland from the Baltic port city of Wismar, is almost a pure neo-Nazi stronghold. Seven of its 10 houses are occupied by families whose members either belong to Germany's far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) or support the movement unequivocally. Horst and Birgit Lohmeyer are the exception in Jamel. Six years ago, the couple moved from Hamburg to their secluded house on the edge of the village, hoping for a life of rural bliss. Their expectations were soon shattered. 'A few months after we arrived, the far right started driving out the locals and buying up the houses en masse,' said Mrs. Lohmeyer. 'They want to turn this place into a Nazi-only village.' The Lohmeyers are determined to resist. 'You have to have strong nerves to live here,' said Mr. Lohmeyer. Every summer the couple organises an anti-Nazi rock festival in their large garden as a show of resistance against the rise of the far right in eastern Germany. But this summer the event was marred by a nasty incident caused by a gang of drunken neo-Nazis who attacked one of the festival-goers and broke his nose. 'We are not going to give in to these people -- why should we?' asks Mr. Lohmeyer. Yet it is difficult to see how the far right's dominance of life in Jamel can be curbed. [...]"

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