Germany faces neo-Nazi culture upbeat

The Neo-Nazi music scene in Germany is heating up, as reflected by an increase in both the number of concerts held and recordings made, German authorities report.

The fact that extremist groups deliberately keep a low profile makes exact figures difficult to come by, "but experts assume that they are decidedly on the rise," said Winfriede Schreiber, who heads the Office for Protection of the Constitution in Brandenburg state.

Through the end of October, she said in Brandenburg alone, authorities have registered 729 violations of German anti-propaganda laws - which bar the distribution of hate speech in all forms, including music CDs - up 160 from the same period last year.

Schreiber also said her agency has seen growth in the nationwide number of performances given by Neo-Nazi artists. In 2004 authorities noted 137 such performances, up from 119 in 2003. The trend has continued into 2005, she said, though it has become increasingly difficult to track, since many concerts - especially those in western Germany - are portrayed as birthday parties or private events. Often they are held on compounds owned by extremist groups.

In Brandenburg, which surrounds Berlin, authorities have also noted an increasingly close relationship between the local Neo-Nazi music scene and the National Democratic Party, or NPD, a far-right political group that has recently climbed in regional polls. In one instance during this summer's national election campaign, a CD with extremist content was freely distributed to school children, the AP reports.


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