German spy agency stages exhibition to warn of far right

Fri May 3, 2013 1:05pm EDT
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By Alexandra Hudson

EBERSWALDE, Germany (Reuters) - In a German exhibition hall stands a life-like dummy of a 1990s neo-Nazi with shaved head, lace-up boots and bomber jacket. Next to it is a dummy of a latter-day neo-Nazi, wearing non-descript dark clothing, a cap and scarf, able to blend into any crowd.

They are part of a touring exhibition staged by German security services to educate youth on the mutating threat of neo-Nazism. It is a task given extra urgency by the unnerving discovery 18 months ago of a neo-Nazi cell that carried out execution-style murders unnoticed for almost a decade.

Organized by Germany's domestic intelligence agency (BfV), the exhibition - including rueful video testimonies from former neo-Nazis - aims to raise awareness of an ever-adapting and increasingly tech-savvy far right.

It is another example of a decades-long determination by German authorities to ensure the ideology that drove Hitler's Third Reich and the Holocaust gains no serious new foothold in their prized post-war democracy.

One display in the exhibition that has left youngsters aghast is a neo-Nazi version of the board game Ludo in which players, with rolls of the dice, propel their pieces as "Jews" into death camps as quickly as possible.

"The far right's attempts to recruit young people pose a huge danger to society and to our state, as well as to the people who devote themselves to its perverted ideology," BfV chief Hans-Georg Maassen said in an introduction to the exhibit.

"Not just the state but all social actors must join the fight against extremism. And to engage you need knowledge."

The appetite for such knowledge increased with the unearthing of the National Socialist Underground (NSU), a neo-Nazi cell created in the late 1990s by three youths that went on to commit 10 murders, utterly undetected.   Continued...

File photo of boxes containing the unlucky bids for press accreditation are pictured during a news conference in a courtroom in Munich April 29, 2013, before the announcement of the 50 media, who were randomly selected, to cover the 'National Socialist Underground' (NSU) trial. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle/Files