Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gute cop, bad cop?

On Monday, in a small town in the state of Bavaria, a skinhead stabbed the police chief Elois Mannichl in front of his house.

... the attacker rang the police chief's doorbell and said before stabbing him: "You're a leftist pig cop, and you will no longer hang around the graves of our comrades." German officials said the knife missed Mr Mannichl's heart by less than two centimetres (one inch). The attacker's comments were an apparent reference to this summer's funeral of a regional neo-Nazi leader, who was buried with a Nazi swastika flag, which is banned in Germany. Mr Mannichl later ordered police to re-open the grave and remove the swastika.

From Spiegel, more is available about the conflict between local members of the far-right National Democratic Party and Mr Mannichl.

Police chief of Passau, Alois Mannichl, had become a hate figure for the far right. But it left no doubt that it was deeply critical of Mannichl. "This turns Alois Mannichl into a martyr, which he isn't," the statement said. "The Passau police chief repeatedly abused his office and pursued the national opposition with the help of his police apparatus." More than 300 people staged a demonstration against far-right violence on Monday afternoon in Passau.

Bavaria's interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, said the assault showed that far-right violence had reached a new dimension. "This attack on an individual prominent representative of the state is new," Herrmann told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "We must take this escalation of violence very seriously."

Arson attacks and racist assaults by right-wing extremists are part of everyday life in parts of Germany. Authorities have expressed concern this year that the country's neo-Nazi scene is becoming more violent. Mannichl had been singled out for criticism by the NPD on previous occasions and he had infuriated local neo-Nazis in August when he ordered the grave of prominent Nazi Friedhelm Busse to be reopened days after his funeral after a swastika flag had been laid on the coffin during the ceremony.

The flag, banned under German law because it bore a forbidden far-right symbol, was removed and legal proceedings were instigated against NPD activist Thomas Wulff who had been spotted laying it.

Police believe there's a possible link between the stabbing and the burial of Busse because the man who attacked the police chief had shouted: "You won't be trampling on the graves of our comrades any more."

The chairman of the German police federation, Konrad Freiberg, said neo-Nazis had adopted a new strategy this year of trying to intimidate individual police officers. He told MDR INFO radio that many police involved in tackling the far right were threatened and harassed, even at their homes.

One wonders why and how the skinheads have decided to systematically target police officers who oppose their budding reign of terror. To encourage them to leave the police force? And what of those who are not being not subjected to harassment and assaults? Are they potential members or allies of the reactionary right?
...the governor of Bavaria, said Germany should consider trying once again to ban the far-right National Democratic Party. A previous attempt to outlaw the party failed in 2003 due to a legal bungle when some of the NPD members called to testify were found to be informants of the domestic intelligence agency.


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