English News Archive

News between May 6, and April 24, reversely ordered by date (i.e.: the newest can be found on top). For recent news select English News.


Headlines

  • 06.5.1998: Australian Jews angry after Nazi inquiry dropped
  • 06.5.1998: French skinhead on trial in May Day murder case
  • 06.5.1998: FOCUS-Germany says far-right crime surges in 1997
  • 06.5.1998: FOCUS-Asylum-seekers held after rampage in Germany
  • 06.5.1998: Czech far-right targets gypsies, NATO in campaign
  • 05.5.1998: Orthodox Jews over-subsidised in Israel-report
  • 05.5.1998: Australian police drop probe of suspected Nazi
  • 05.5.1998: Austria launches commemoration of Nazi victims
  • 05.5.1998: Nazi Bormann's family welcome DNA identification
  • 05.5.1998: Swiss bank settles with Holocaust survivor
  • 04.5.1998: Scientists confirm remains belong to Nazi Bormann
  • 04.5.1998: Right-wing extremists to run again in east Germany
  • 04.5.1998: German troops train with Israelis, study Holocaust
  • 04.5.1998: Sweden unites with U.S, UK on Holocaust campaign
  • 03.5.1998: FOCUS-French National Front loses parliament seat
  • 03.5.1998: US warns Moscow Americans after racist attack
  • 01.5.1998: FOCUS-Clashes as German far right holds rally
  • 01.5.1998: Clashes as rightists rally in eastern Germany
  • 01.5.1998: Norway proposes 450 mln crowns compensation for Jews
  • 01.5.1998: Swiss Jews criticise Holocaust boycott threats
  • 01.5.1998: Georgia Republicans get Gingrich challenge dropped
  • 30.4.1998: New Argentina bureau will hunt any remaining Nazis
  • 30.4.1998: FEATURE-Fascist's return will force Croatia to examine past
  • 30.4.1998: CORRECTED - FEATURE-Fascist's return will force Croatia to examine past
  • 30.4.1998: German far-right parties reject election alliance
  • 30.4.1998: German minister says far-right attitudes run deep
  • 30.4.1998: German city Leipzig bans May Day far right rally
  • 30.4.1998: FOCUS-German far right allowed to rally in Leipzig
  • 30.4.1998: Gore visits Israel for anniversary
  • 29.4.1998: Germany braces for right-left May Day clashes
  • 29.4.1998: German opposition urges action on far-right crime
  • 29.4.1998: Far right gains surprise German pollsters
  • 29.4.1998: German Greens warn against right-wing extremism
  • 29.4.1998: U.S. Senate panel approves Holocaust asset search
  • 28.4.1998: Argentina rushes Croat camp chief's extradition
  • 28.4.1998: German right-winger may fight in general election
  • 28.4.1998: German bosses tackle youth jobs, unions critical
  • 28.4.1998: No risk of national far-right success - Kohl party
  • 28.4.1998: Israeli envoy alarmed by German right-wing surge
  • 28.4.1998: FEATURE-Holocaust still shapes Israel's character 50 years on
  • 27.4.1998: Canadian Internet firm with hate group links to close
  • 27 .4.1998: Frenchman fined for Holocaust denial, again
  • 27 .4.1998: French far-right hails Germany's DVU showing
  • 27 .4.1998: FOCUS-Business sees danger in Saxony Anhalt poll
  • 27.4.1998: German far-right taps voter reservoir in poor east
  • 27.4.1998: German Far-Right in Best Result Since WW2
  • 27.4.1998: FOCUS-Poll defeat starts debate in Kohl's party
  • 27.4.1998: German markets react mildly to weekend election
  • 27.4.1998: German far-right gains provoke national outrage
  • 27.4.1998: German extremists unlikely to enter national scene
  • 27.4.1998: German press aghast at far-right surge in poll
  • 27.4.1998: East German court bans anti-immigrant rally
  • 26.4.1998: Right-wing extremists enter east German assembly
  • 26.4.1998: Black Sunday for democracy in east Germany -papers
  • 26.4.1998: Opposition blames Kohl for extremists' success
  • 26.4.1998: FOCUS-Far right soars in east German election
  • 26.4.1998: Munich publisher Frey ``buys'' way into east Germany
  • 24.4.1998: Netanyahu urges Poland's Jews to go to Israel

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    Orthodox Jews over-subsidised in Israel-report
    11:54 a.m. May 05, 1998 Eastern

    By Janine Zacharia

    JERUSALEM, May 5 (Reuters) - Israel's state comptroller said on Tuesday ultra-Orthodox Jews received unfairly high state subsidies while non-Jewish communities lacked funds, especially for education.

    The criticisms were contained in an annual report by the state comptroller, Miriam Ben-Porat, who acts as an official watchdog on public spending.

    Its comments on funding for ultra-Orthodox Jews were likely to sharpen bitter debate between secular and religious Israelis, highlighted last week by a cultural row during the Jewish state's 50th anniversary celebrations.

    Ben-Porat's report listed several instances in which the government awarded unfairly high subsidies to the development of ultra-Orthodox neighbourhoods by designating them as national priority areas, thus entitling them to special grants.

    ``The designation of preferred areas must be determined according to equal and unified criteria,'' the report said.

    It also cited several cases in which ultra-Orthodox seminaries had reported ``unrealistically high'' increases in the numbers of their students. State contributions to seminary budgets are based on the number of enrolled students.

    By contrast, the report found that Arabs, who make up around one million of Israel's 5.9 million citizens, were heavily disadvantaged, especially by low education spending.

    Of the 50 Israeli towns with the lowest education budgets, 41 were Moslem, Druze or bedouin, the report said.

    The vast majority of Israel's Jews do not observe Orthodox Judaism but Orthodox political parties wield considerable power as members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing coalition.

    Ben-Porat said the imbalance in the distribution of resources contradicted the principles of equality in Israel's declaration of independence.

    ``The ultra-Orthodox received above and beyond what was called for under the government's basic laws and the coalition agreement with the (ultra-Orthodox) party United Torah Judaism,'' Ben-Porat told a news conference.

    One key religious party in Netanyahu's coalition, Shas, said the report was baseless.

    ``It's very popular to blame the ultra-Orthodox these days. Before she leaves office, she wants to stay popular among secular Jews,'' said Shlomo Ben-Izri, a senior Shas politician.

    Ben-Porat is expected to leave her post shortly.

    Last week, religious parties clashed with non-observant Israelis over a dance performance on the programme for the gala event of Israel's 50th anniversary festivities.

    Members of the Bat-Sheva dance troupe pulled out of the show in protest at religious Jewish demands that they change a segment in which they strip to their underwear.

    The National Religious Party and other religious groups complained that the routine was offensive. The dancers accused their religious critics of an assault on artistic freedom. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.


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    Czech far-right targets gypsies, NATO in campaign
    07:26 a.m. May 06, 1998 Eastern

    By Nigel Stephenson

    PRAGUE, May 6 (Reuters) - Czech far-right Republicans have fired the opening shots in the campaign for June's election with controversial posters proclaiming the party's opposition to NATO and to programmes favouring gypsies.

    Other posters declare opposition to the return of Sudeten Germans, who were expelled from their homes in Czech territory after World War Two.

    All other parliamentary parties, saying they were strapped for cash, agreed in February they would not use billboards in the campaign for the June 19-20 vote which is being held two years early after the collapse in November of former premier Vaclav Klaus's centre-right coalition.

    Some analysts said the Republicans, who won eight percent of the vote and took 18 seats in the 200-seat lower house in the 1996 election, may be setting the agenda and could pick up extra votes with their posters which are plastered nationwide.

    ``It could have such an impact but...this is highly dependent on the action of the other parties. They have to take up the challenge and address some of the issues raised on the billboards,'' said Jan Hartl, head of the STEM polling agency.

    The Republicans are no strangers to controversy. Party leader Miroslav Sladek, whose face is on every poster, was acquitted on charges of spreading racial hatred in January after spending 17 days in custody on remand.

    Sladek was widely reported to have shouted that it was a ``pity we killed only a few Germans during the war'' at a demonstration in January 1997 as German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Klaus were signing a declaration on Czech-German relations.

    A Prague district court judge ruled that the statements made by Sladek did not violate Czech laws when considered in the full context of his speech.

    The Republicans' slogans, which include ``Republicans reject NATO'' and ``Republicans against advanatges for gypsies'' touch on sensitive issues.

    The Czech parliament last week gave its final backing to the country joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, although polls show only 50 percent support for membership.

    And the standing of the 250,000 gypsy population hit the headlines last year when hundreds flocked to Britain and Canada to seek political asylum, saying they faced persecution.

    Asylum has been granted in only a few cases.

    Both President Vaclav Havel and the government have called on Czechs to improve relations with gypsies, among whom unemployment is commonly 60 percent, compared with a national average of five percent.

    The government has discussed plans to set aside public sector positions for gypsies, especially in the police force.

    However, political analyst and presidential aide Jiri Pehe said there was no prospect of the Republicans gaining more than 10 percent of the vote in June and that there was no chance of a surge in support for the far-right.

    ``This is not a party which has a comprehensive programme,'' Pehe said. ``It is a political show, a political circus.''

    He said that while the Republicans were strong in certain areas, such as the northern mining and industrial regions close to the German border, their support was patchy.

    ``The Republican leadership consists of people who do not appeal to the majority of the population here,'' Pehe said.

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.


    Netanyahu urges Poland's Jews to go to Israel
    02:40 p.m Apr 24, 1998 Eastern

    By Anthony Barker

    WARSAW, April 24 (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stung members of Poland's small remaining Jewish community on Friday by urging them to leave for the Jewish state.

    Visiting Warsaw's sole synagogue during a trip to Poland in remembrance of the Holocaust, Netanyahu said: ``There is no future other than a Jewish future in the State of Israel.''

    Moments earlier Jewish leader Jerzy Kichler had asked him in a speech to understand that the Jews of Poland were not just keepers of the graves of the millions of Jews who lived there before the mass murder inflicted by Nazi German invaders.

    ``We are not only the shadow of that great community of Poland, but also the beginning of a future community,'' said Kichler, head of Poland's union of Jewish congregations.

    But Netanyahu said it was time Israel absorbed the last of the Jewish diaspora. He especially addressed children, many of whom are just discovering Jewish roots.

    ``The prime minister, in our synagogue and greeting our children kindly, did not address us as a living society of Polish Jews. Mr Netanyahu said the place for all Jews is in Israel,'' said Helena Datner, deputy head of the congregation.

    ``I must say that I regret...Benjamin Netanyahu did not recognise our presence,'' she told a news conference.

    She said Jewish society in Poland was quietly struggling to keep going and the children were a sign it was developing.

    But Poland's Jewish leaders said they were not surprised by Netanyahu's views which reflected Israeli thinking and were happy that he had chosen to visit them.

    About 3.3 million Jews, 90 percent of whom were murdered by the Germans, lived in Poland before World War Two.

    Most survivors later left after anti-Semitic episodes including a deadly pogrom in the town of Kielce in 1946 and an ``anti-Zionist'' campaign by the then-ruling communists in 1968.

    Local leaders estimate about 10,000 people may now be linked with some form of Jewish activity in Poland and twice as many who do not openly recognise their Jewish origins.

    Few synagogues now function in a country which was once the world's largest centre of Jewish life and learning.

    Many members of larger Jewish communities elsewhere view the remaining Jews in Poland as a tiny group, unrepresentative even of Polish Jews who mostly now live in other countries.

    Polish governments since the 1989 fall of communism have increasingly created conditions for revival of Jewish life.

    Kichler especially welcomed a law last year paving the way for the return of Jewish communal property seized by post-war communist authorities, including synagogues and bath-houses.

    He said the Jewish congregations in Poland had this week signed an understanding with the World Jewish Restitution Organisation to create a joint foundation.

    Where Jewish communities operate, property will be returned and the foundation will oversee what happens with the rest.

    The community needs the properties not only for direct use but to help to preserve 1,200 neglected cemeteries, build schools and help often traumatised older members.

    Kichler said this arrangement was part of a breakthrough in the way other Jewish communities regarded the Jews in Poland.

    ``People don't believe we are here at all, or if we are, that we have a role to play,'' he said.

    Netanyahu, leading thousands of Jews from around the world in a ``March of the Living'' at the former Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp on Thursday, said that Israel was the only safeguard for Jews, who should live there.

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Right-wing extremists enter east German assembly
    01:31 p.m Apr 26, 1998 Eastern

    MAGDEBURG, Germany, April 26 (Reuters) - The German People's Union (DVU) became the first right-wing extremist party to enter an east German state parliament on Sunday, with television computer projections showing it had won about 11 percent of the vote,.

    Voters surveys in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, which has the highest unemployment and lowest economic growth in Germany, had widely predicted the DVU would clear the five percent hurdle needed to enter the state assembly.

    But, in what was widely seen as a protest vote, none had expected quite so much support.

    The DVU, led by Munich-based millionaire publisher Gerhard Frey, had spent about three million marks on an aggressive campaign that thumped out a message of racial hatred with a barrage of jingoistic slogans.

    ``It is a victory for democracy. The people of Saxony-Anhalt are very intelligent, it is not the end of the world that we are in the state assembly,'' Frey told journalists in the state capital of Magdeburg west of Berlin.

    ``The people of Saxony-Anhalt have spoken, the parties here have driven the car into the mud we are going to get it out,'' said Frey.

    In a region where neo-Nazis boast having established ``foreigner-free zones'' and one in four people is on the dole, the chance was too good to miss for Frey, whose DVU is widely seen as a one-man party that survives solely on his personal fortune.

    With slogans like ``German money for German jobs'' and ``Criminal Foreigners Out,'' the party was expected to find resonance among disillusioned youth as well as east Germany's dispossessed middle classes.

    Although the left-leaning Social Democrats (SPD) looked set to win the largest share of the vote, with 39 percent according to the ZDF exit poll, they were visibly shaken by the massive vote for the DVU.

    ``The entry of the DVU in the regional assembly is a bad omen and it means all democratic parties represented there will have to think hard about what went wrong,'' said state social affairs minister deputy Gerlinde Kuppe of the SPD.

    Others said it was a ``depressing'' protest vote, that would plunge all mainstream parties into soul-searching.

    ``I'm very depressed about the DVU getting into the parliament -- it is a bad sign for democracy in eastern Germany,'' said Greens leader in Saxony-Anhalt, Hans-Jochen Tschiche, whose party failed to clear the five-percent hurdle.

    The DVU, which was founded by Frey in 1987, is also represented in assemblies in the western German states of Bremen and Schleswig-Holstein.

    Its top candidate in Saxony-Anhalt state was unemployed engineer Helmut Wolf, 49, who was previously unknown in politics there. ^[email protected]

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Black Sunday for democracy in east Germany -papers
    06:35 p.m Apr 26, 1998 Eastern

    By Fiona Fleck

    BONN, April 27 (Reuters) - The shock entry of right-wing extremists into an east German regional parliament marked a Black Sunday for democracy in the former communist East Germany, newspapers said on Monday.

    The German Peoples' Union (DVU) success on Sunday in Saxony-Anhalt with a projected 14 percent of the vote was a bad omen for Chancellor Helmut Kohl's ruling coalition ahead of a general election in September, they said.

    The upset election result, which also put Kohl's rivals in the Social Democrats (SPD) well ahead of Kohl's Christian Democrats (CDU), heralded a third force in German politics which had been overlooked until now.

    Commentators concluded that a grand coalition of Germany's two main parties, the SPD and the CDU, was a feasible government coalition that could be formed in the state.

    ``Black Sunday for the ruling coalition in Bonn. Black Sunday for all democrats,'' said Germany's best-selling daily newspaper, Bild Zeitung daily.

    When the DVU just fell 190 votes short of entering the Hamburg state assembly last September, this was ``already a warning shot'' which fell on deaf ears, Bild said.

    ``Now it is ringing in our ears. Since yesterday it has become clear the general election is not just about Kohl and (SPD challenger) Gerhard Schroeder,'' Bild commented.

    Other newspapers pointed to the disillusionment of east Germany's youth whom Kohl famously promised ``blossoming landscapes'' after unification, after voters surveys showed that half of the DVU voters were the young unemployed.

    ``No training places, no jobs, no youth club where you can forget about it all. In this depressing vacuum, the DVU with its propaganda campaign has made inroads into the political scene,'' the Berliner Morgenpost daily commented.

    ``Their (DVU) strong result, mainly among the young, is due to the disappointment of many voters about their own personal circumstances,'' it said. ``The result is a disgrace and should prompt serious soul-searching.''

    This was a ``protest vote'' that should provide food for thought among those in power in Bonn and Saxony-Anhalt, the paper said.

    ``The political future of Saxony-Anhalt can only be with a grand coalition,'' the Morgenpost concluded.

    The Hamburger Abendblatt daily said: ``The result was not a test for Bonn, but the receipt for its mistakes during German unification and its failure to take on board east Germans' experience and their needs.

    ``Above all unemployment, which with nearly 25 percent in Saxony-Anhalt has broken new records,'' the Abendblatt said of the state which has the highest unemployment in Germany.

    ``This piles on the blame not at the doorstep of the regional government, but of (the ruling coalition in) Bonn,'' it said.

    It added that the environmental Greens, which crashed out of the parliament there, had reduced their position to that of a regional party with their proposal to triple petrol taxes.

    ``The Greens have become a regional party virtually only confined to west Germany,'' it said, adding: ``What the east needs most is a healthy middle class.''

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Opposition blames Kohl for extremists' success
    03:00 p.m Apr 26, 1998 Eastern

    BONN, April 26 (Reuters) - German opposition parties blamed Chancellor Helmut Kohl's government for the spectacular success of right-wing extremists in Sunday's election in the east German state of Saxony-Anhalt.

    ``This is a protest against the broken government promises of Helmut Kohl,'' declared Gerhard Schroeder, Kohl's Social Democrat (SPD) challenger in September's general election.

    Schroeder said the big losses suffered by Kohl's Christian Democrats (CDU) in the Saxony-Anhalt poll made clear the chancellor was deeply unpopular in eastern Germany and could not possibly win the federal election.

    ``He's been voted out of office in the east,'' Schroeder told reporters in his home city of Hanover.

    The CDU and its allies acknowledged they had suffered a defeat in Saxony-Anhalt, but laid the blame for the success of the extremist German People's Union (DVU) at the door of the SPD.

    They said the SPD had made extremists acceptable by running a state government with the informal support of former communists in Saxony-Anhalt for the past four years.

    ``Those who let a political force emerge on the extreme left have to expect that this will happen on the right as well,'' said Kohl's Finance Minister Theo Waigel. ``The SPD has failed in this key issue of democracy.''

    CDU general secretary Peter Hintze said the reason for his party's showing was the poor economic situation in Saxony-Anhalt, which has the highest unemployment and lowest economic growth rates of Germany's 16 states.

    But Hintze also noted the high level of fluctuation in voter behaviour in eastern Germany. This showed there were plenty of undecided voters still to be won in the former communist east, he said.

    ``The electorate in east Germany is ready to change, also in the short term,'' he told ARD television.

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    FOCUS-Far right soars in east German election
    02:18 p.m Apr 26, 1998 Eastern

    By Erik Kirschbaum

    MAGDEBURG, Germany, April 26 (Reuters) - A far right-wing party accused of anti-Semitism and racism staged an upset in a German state election on Sunday, capturing some 12 per cent of the vote in Saxony-Anhalt, according to exit polls.

    The German People's Union (DVU) came from nowhere on the back of a swing against German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to enter the state assembly in Magdeburg for the first time, polls for leading television networks showed.

    The election in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany's most economically depressed region, confirmed the trend of Kohl's sinking popularity five months before a general election.

    The Social Democrats (SPD) retained power in Saxony-Anhalt, part of the former communist east Germany.

    The SPD, which is in opposition nationally, took nearly 37 per cent of the vote compared with 34 per cent four years ago.

    Kohl's Christian Democrats dropped 12 points to about 22 percent.

    ``It is a victory for democracy,'' said Gerhard Frey, leader of the DVU, a party with barely any structure or members in Saxony-Anhalt. Frey, 65, is a millionaire publisher from Munich.

    Protesters shouted ``Nazi out'' as Frey entered the state government building to meet the press after polls closed.

    Germany's constitutional watchdog accused the DVU in a 1996 report of creating anti-Semitic sentiment and racism.

    The DVU campaigned on a staunchly nationalist platform, blaming foreigners for taking German jobs. Unemployment is running at 25 percent in Saxony-Anhalt, the highest rate in Germany's 16 states.

    The party wants the repatriation of asylum-seekers and opposes abandoning the deutschemark for a single European currency.

    ``The people of Saxony Anhalt are very intelligent... it is not the end of the world that we are in the state assembly,'' Frey told reporters.

    Rightists and neo-Nazis have found fertile ground in the six states of the former communist east where unemployment and anti-foreign sentiment have risen since unification with west Germany eight years ago.

    The SPD blamed Kohl's economic policies for the swing to the DVU.

    ``The success of the DVU is due to the socially unjust policies of the Kohl government that have made people uncertain and made them turn to the DVU,'' Wolfgang Thierse, an SPD member of parliament from the east, told reporters.

    The reformed communist Party of Democratic Socialism polled up to 20 percent, little changed from 19.9 percent in 1994, the polls said.

    Voter surveys had predicted the CDU would be soundly beaten by the SPD, which skilfully tapped into east Germans' frustration over failed promises of German unity and turned it against the veteran chancellor. But no pollsters had gauged the extent of the DVU surge.

    Kohl, 68, in power atop a centre-right coalition since 1982, is seeking an unprecedented fifth term in September. He is Europe's longest-serving government leader.

    Seven weeks after crushing the CDU in nearby Lower Saxony state, the SPD were eager to use Saxony-Anhalt as a further springboard in their drive to oust Kohl, who has defied predictions of political oblivion in past years.

    In national voter surveys, the SPD is already around eight percentage points ahead of Kohl's conservatives with five months remaining before the federal ballot.

    The chancellor, who was jeered at campaign appearances in Saxony-Anhalt, tried to lower expectations for his party by insisting at a CDU gathering in western Germany that a weak result would not mean September's general election was lost.

    ``The election result (on Sunday) is one thing, the general election is something else,'' Kohl said in a speech in the western town of Neuss on Saturday.

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Munich publisher Frey ``buys'' way into east Germany
    04:52 p.m Apr 26, 1998 Eastern

    By Fiona Fleck

    BONN, April 26 (Reuters) - Gerhard Frey, leader of the first right-wing extremist party to win seats in a state assembly in once communist East Germany, is a little-known publisher who uses his fortune to promote a message of racial intolerance.

    The plump, balding 65-year-old hit the spotlight on Sunday when his Deutsche Volksunion or German Peoples' Union (DVU) party shocked the nation by taking a forecast 13 percent of the vote in Saxony-Anhalt state.

    Frey, previously shunned by the media, was mobbed by more than 100 journalists when he arrived in a bullet-proof limousine surrounded by bodyguards at the press centre in the state capital of Magdeburg, west of Berlin.

    Although he made himself available to Germany's television networks, most of them declined to give him the platform of a live interview, preferring to follow him around the building as he sweated profusely under their dazzling lights.

    ``Get out Nazi!'' shouted one man, to which Frey replied: ``Everyone has the right to vote. Go correct the voters' opinion.''

    Frey was widely accused of fighting with financial, rather than political, means after he spent an estimated three million marks in the election on a barrage of leaflets and billboard posters hammering out an anti-immigrant and anti-European message.

    He even hired light aircraft trailing banners reading ``Vote DVU'' to hover over the state, which has the highest unemployment rate and lowest economic growth in Germany.

    Critics say the DVU is a one-man party which is entirely dependent on Frey's personal fortune, estimated in some German media at about 500 million marks.

    Germany's Office for Constitutional Protection, which monitors extremist groups, accused the DVU of anti-Semitic and xenophobic tendencies in its 1996 report.

    It cited party propaganda calling for ``criminal foreigners'' to be deported, for measures to give Germans jobs first and for asylum-seekers to be deported.

    The 1996 report also said some of Frey's publications conveyed a ``thinly-veiled anti-Semitic message'' by attacking prominent members of Germany's Jewish community. It also said the DVU sought to play down and the crimes of the Nazis.

    Frey inherited a chain of department stores from his brother in the late 1950s and, with the income from property in Munich and Berlin, he built up a publishing empire with nationalistic and sometimes overtly racist tendencies.

    He also set up a tourist business which arranged trips to such places as Silesia, now in Poland, which was once part of the German Reich and which German right-wingers and neo-Nazis would like to reincorporate.

    Frey and his wife Regine came under the scrutiny of Germany's extremist watchdogs after they started publishing book titles such as ``Concentration camp lies'' and issuing a wide range of Nazi memorabilia including war-time flags.

    Frey has been on the verge of prosecution several times for violating Germany's strict laws against inciting racial hatred or playing down the Holocaust.

    But his tirades against ``fake asylum-seekers,'' ``foreigners,'' ``gypsies'' and the European Union have found some support among voters in western Germany.

    The DVU, which Frey founded in 1987 and claims about 16,000 members nationwide, cleared the five-percent hurdle and has seats in state parliaments in Bremen and Schleswig-Holstein.

    The symbolic significance of its entry into the Saxony-Anhalt assembly was not lost on Frey. ``It is a victory for democracy and a victory for Saxony-Anhalt,'' he said. ``We helped combat voter apathy. Voter turnout rose because of us.''

    Frey lives in a villa, which German reports say he has turned into a fortress, in the smart Munich suburb of Pasing.

    Frey defended his multi-million campaign in Saxony-Anhalt, saying it was necessary because the media ignored his party.

    ``The other parties have the media on their side,'' he said. ``We are always treated like the devil. The entire media is against us.''

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Canadian Internet firm with hate group links to close
    03:55 p.m Apr 27, 1998 Eastern

    By Allan Dowd

    VANCOUVER, April 27 (Reuters) - A Canadian company that hosted Web pages for groups with connections to white extremists has pulled the plug on its service, but government officials said on Monday they would continue their probe into hate on the Internet.

    Fairview Technology Center Ltd., a firm based in British Columbia which has links to right wing extremists in Europe and Canada, said it dropped its Internet business because of a telephone company rule that could make Fairview liable for the contents of Web Sites.

    Fairview's owner Bernard Klatt denied that he had bowed to pressure from human rights activists, but said he was concerned about the financial impact of the contract required by BC Telecom -- the company that provides Fairview with Internet access.

    Spurred in part by complaints that the Oliver, B.C.-based company has violated Canada's anti-hate propaganda laws, authorities have been investigating both the company and ways to regulate what information is distributed over the Internet.

    ``Just because one provider has decided to withdraw its services, either permanently or temporarily, (will not) change the approach. Certainly they will continue to look at it,'' said Kate Thompson, a spokeswoman for British Columbia's attorney general.

    BC Telecom complained to authorities earlier this month that Fairview was violating Canada's hate propaganda law. But a company spokesman said on Monday the liability requirement was not unique to Klatt's contract.

    The telephone company had stopped short of terminating Klatt's access -- a move requested by human-rights activists -- saying it did not want to be in the legal position of regulating Internet content. Klatt has defended himself, saying he protecting free speech and has no control over its clients' Web Sites.

    One human rights group labeled Oliver the ``Hate Capital of Canada'' -- a title hotly disputed by Klatt's neighbors who have protested against his activities.

    Among the most controversial of the Fairview-hosted Web sites was that of a French Neo-Nazi group, the Charlemagne Hammer Skinheads, which allegedly contained death threats against Jews and European human rights activists.

    French police earlier this year arrested 13 members of the Charlemagne Hammer Skinheads on charges that included inciting racial hatred, denial of war crimes and uttering death threats. They are scheduled to go on trial in the fall.

    Klatt said the group's account with him expired in early March and he has had no contact with them since then. ``Last I heard some of them were still in jail,'' Klatt told Reuters in an e-mail message last week. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Frenchman fined for Holocaust denial, again
    10:25 a.m. Apr 27, 1998 Eastern

    PARIS, April 27 (Reuters) - A former French university professor, who was sacked for denying the Holocaust took place, was fined 20,000 francs ($3,300) on Monday for again challenging the Nazi massacre of European Jews during World War Two.

    Robert Faurisson, who has been sentenced several times on similar charges, was found guilty of ``challenging the veracity of a crime against humanity'' in a letter published in 1996 in the extreme rightist weekly Rivarol.

    Faurisson, 69, is currently under investigation for professing similar views on an Internet site called ``Aaargh! (Association of former amateurs of war and Holocaust stories)

    The maximum sentence for challenging crimes against humanity, as defined by the post-war Nuremberg tribunals, is a year in prison and a fine of 300,000 francs.

    ($ - 6.007 French Francs)

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    French far-right hails Germany's DVU showing
    10:46 a.m. Apr 27, 1998 Eastern

    PARIS, April 27 (Reuters) - France's far-right National Front said on Monday it was delighted with the regional election success of the extremist German People's Union (DVU) which rose from nowhere to win 12.9 percent of the vote.

    The DVU, accused of anti-Semitism and racism, scored its biggest win since World War Two in Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday, riding on a wave of frustration over record German unemployment.

    ``The National Front, delighted with this success...observes that German voters opted for a platform similar to ours in its rejection of the euro, a globalist Europe, the dangers of immigration, high taxes and rising insecurity and unemployment,'' the French party said.

    ``This result underlines the fear of the German people, faced with losing their monetary sovereignty and handing over the mark in exchange for the euro,'' said the Front, whose firebrand leader Jean-Marie Le Pen advocates sending home millions of immigrants and reserving jobs and welfare for French-born nationals. It claims about 15 percent of the French vote.

    The DVU's surge coincided with a battering for Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats (CDU).

    Saxony-Anhalt, a region of three million people, is one of six states created out of the former East Germany after reunification eight years ago. It has the country's highest unemployment rate at 25 percent.

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    FOCUS-Business sees danger in Saxony Anhalt poll
    11:08 a.m. Apr 27, 1998 Eastern

    BONN, April 27 (Reuters) - Strong results for right- and left-wing extremist parties in Sunday's Saxony Anhalt state elections are a danger sign for German business, leading business groups said on Monday.

    ``This catastrophic election result damages Germany's image in the world and will accelerate the flow of foreign capital out of the country,'' said Michael Fuchs, president of the Association of German Wholesalers and Importers.

    One-third of the east-German state voted either for the far-right German People's Union (DVU) or the reform communist Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS).

    ``The democratic parties are called upon to come to terms with this situation, to thoroughly reform the investment conditions in Germany, and to solve the problem of unemployment,'' the Federation of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHT) said in a terse statement.

    Reinhard Hoeppner, the Social Democrat (SPD) state premier who was reelected in Sunday's election, tried to play down the extremists' results.

    Asked at a news conference whether the DVU's success could hit investment in the Saxony Anhalt, he said: ``This is not the first radical right-wing victory in a federal state for the DVU. The democratic parties have dealt with this before in such a way that economic developments are not affected.''

    The Association of German Trades (ZDH) said the extreme parties' successes were due to the federal government's failure to make progress on urgently needed reforms, especially to stimulate jobs creation.

    ``People's problems must be solved as quickly as possible through concrete political action,'' ZDH said.

    The DVU in particular, which came from nowhere to score 12.9 percent of the vote, used anti-foreigner slogans to gain support among jobless youth.

    Saxony Anhalt is one of Germany's poorest federal states, with the highest level of unemployment.

    The SPD, favoured to topple Chancellor Helmut Kohl in September's general election, bolstered their position in the eastern state, gaining three percentage points to win with 35.9 percent.

    Kohl's Christian Democrats took a battering, shedding nearly 12.5 points to garner only 22 percent of the vote. The PDS was the third strongest party in the region with 20 percent.

    The BVMW, which represents smaller corporations, called on the CDU and SPD to form a ``coalition of reason'' in the state government

    ((Terence Gallagher, Bonn newsroom, 49-228-26097150, bonn.newsroom+reuters.com))

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    German far-right taps voter reservoir in poor east
    08:13 a.m. Apr 27, 1998 Eastern

    By Erik Kirschbaum

    MAGDEBURG, April 27 (Reuters) - Karla Reuscher doesn't like foreigners. She says they take jobs away from Germans by working for a pittance, bother German women, smell bad and take housing built for Germans.

    A 20-year-old woman with an earring in her nose and a green bomber jacket on her back, Reuscher said on Monday she was proud she had voted for the far-right German People's Union (DVU) and was confident it would clamp down hard on foreigners.

    The anti-immigrant party came from nowhere to win nearly 13 percent of the vote in an election on Sunday in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt.

    It was the highest result for the extreme-right in Germany since World War Two and sent a shock wave across the country.

    ``The foreigners take all the jobs away from us,'' said Reuscher, a chain-smoking apprentice at a hair salon, whose views were echoed in Magdeburg's working class Olvenstedt district where the DVU claimed nearly 14 percent of the vote.

    ``They're willing to work for next to nothing,'' said Reuscher, who added that her friends had all voted DVU too. ``They don't pay taxes and they live off of us. And they're always hitting on German girls.''

    Reuscher was one of the 192,086 people in Saxony-Anhalt who cast their ballots for the DVU, a staunchly nationalist party accused of anti-Semitism and racism by the government's constitutional watchdog agency.

    Pollsters, political analysts and voters themselves said the DVU was able to tap a deep reservoir of resentment in the formerly communist east by spending enormous sums on advertising, posters and mail shots during the closing weeks of the campaign.

    The DVU did not run in the last state election in 1994, but jumped to six percent in opinion polls a few days before Sunday's voting.

    Their full strength was not reflected in opinion surveys before the vote in part because many DVU voters concealed their true intentions. The party also attracted a huge number of votes from people who had never before cast their ballots.

    The voter turnout jumped almost 20 percentage points to 70 percent and about 103,000 votes for the DVU came from voters who had never before participated in an election, the Infratest research institute said. Another 27,000 came from those who had previously backed Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats.

    ``It is very disturbing,'' said a 40-year-old amputee in a wheelchair. ``But I think only a small percentage are genuine neo-Nazis. Most of them are just looking to cause trouble.''

    The DVU's message appealed in particular to the so-called ``losers of unification'' -- especially young unemployed easterners who see little prospect of a job or career.

    Pollsters said one in four under 30 voted DVU. The party also scored strongly among the working class with 19 percent.

    ``The DVU came in here with their grand propaganda and it touched a nerve with the young people,'' said Hans-Guenther Sellin, a 54-year-old unemployed master steelworker. He said high unemployment and the perception that the state was helping foreigners more than Germans contributed to their win.

    ``If a foreigner goes to the housing agency to get an apartment, he'll get it immediately,'' said Jackie Kulling, an 18-year-old sales clerk who voted for the DVU. ``But if a German goes for help, it can take up to a year to get an apartment.''

    Kulling said she was afraid of the foreigners in Magdeburg, a city of 280,000 that lies 160 km (100 miles) west of Berlin. Many were involved in drug dealing and prostitution, she said.

    ``The foreigners are dangerous,'' she said. ``They attack Germans for no reason at all.''

    Ironically, Saxony-Anhalt has one of the smallest foreign populations in Germany. Only 1.9 percent of the three million are foreign compared to seven percent of Germany's 82 million. Many here are from Turkey, Albania, Africa and the Middle East.

    ``My eight-year-old son was born in Germany, speaks German like a German and feels German,'' said David Rodriguez, a 45-year-old Cuban native who has lived in Magdeburg since 1988.

    ``But the far-right are pushing him aside. The German people already made one mistake with Hitler. They should know what happens with the far-right. They should know better by now.''

    Saxony-Anhalt was once the industrial heartland of communist East Germany, but has been wracked by upheaval since unification in 1990.

    In a region where unemployment during the communist era was unheard of, the state now has the dubious distinction of having Germany's highest unemployment rate -- 25 percent.

    ``There is no perspective for the young people,'' said Volker Moldenhaven, a 36-year-old machinist. ``They don't have jobs, see no future, just sit around, drink too much, and get frustrated.''

    The DVU tapped that frustration, blanketing the state with posters promising a tougher stance on ``foreign criminals'' and to find ``jobs for Germans.'' Their call to ``Throw out foreign criminals'' sounds like the ``Throw out foreigners'' cry heard at any neo-Nazi rally in Germany.

    ``The DVU is speaking our language,'' said Fritz, a 62-year-old unemployed steelworker who declined to provide his surname. ``They have the right ideas. Give Germans jobs. Get rid of foreigners. The DVU is going to put Germany back in order.'' REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    German Far-Right in Best Result Since WW2
    01:30 a.m. Apr 27, 1998 Eastern

    By Erik Kirschbaum

    MAGDEBURG, Germany (Reuters) - German right-wing extremists have scored their biggest win in an election since World War Two by riding a wave of youth frustration over record unemployment.

    While Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats (CDU) took a battering, the German People's Union (DVU) --- accused of anti-Semitism and racism -- shot from nowhere to win 12.9 percent of the vote in the election in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday, according to official provisional results on Monday.

    The DVU's surge contrasted with a sharp drop in support for Kohl, whose CDU fell nearly 12.5 points to 22 percent.

    Kohl is campaigning for a record fifth term in office in federal elections in September, but many commentators and opposition politicians predicted he was heading for defeat.

    ``The result is a debacle for Kohl, a disaster,'' said ZDF television's editor in chief Klaus Bresser, adding that the DVU's strong showing was an ``alarm signal'' for democratic parties.

    ``The east is voting Kohl out of office,'' said Gerhard Schroeder, nominated by the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) to challenge Kohl for the chancellorship in September.

    The SPD gained three percentage points to win in Saxony-Anhalt with 35.9 percent of the vote.

    The region of three million people east of Berlin is one of six states created out of the former communist east Germany after reunification with west Germany eight years ago.

    It has the country's highest unemployment, 25 percent, and its lowest economic growth.

    Easterners' frustration with Kohl's unfulfilled promises has soared.

    Kohl, once hailed as the ``chancellor of unity'' in the east, was jeered at campaign rallies in Saxony-Anhalt last week.

    ``We used to get a nice tailwind from Bonn,'' said Christoph Bergner, the state's CDU leader. ``But this time we were running into a headwind.''

    The reformed communist Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) won 20 percent in Sunday's ballot, the penultimate state election before the September 27 federal vote.

    The environmental Greens fell out of the state assembly with 3.2 percent and the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) also fell short of the five percent hurdle needed for representation with 4.2 percent.

    ``The CDU suffered a horrible defeat in Saxony-Anhalt,'' said Wolfgang Thierse, an eastern SPD leader. ``This is another step in the right direction towards the end of the Kohl era. The Kohl chapter is almost over.''

    The DVU's surge recalled another chapter in German history -- the rise of Adolf Hitler's Nazis in the early 1930s.

    The Nazi leader took advantage of high Depression-era unemployment to win democratic elections before disbanding parliament after gaining power in 1933.

    Rightists and neo-Nazis have found fertile ground in the east where unemployment and anti-foreigner sentiment have risen amid the social upheaval that followed reunification.

    The DVU campaigned on a staunchly nationalist platform, blaming foreigners for taking German jobs. They blanketed the state with posters promising to take a tougher stance on ``foreign criminals'' and to find ``jobs for Germans.''

    Saxony-Anhalt has one of the lowest percentages of foreign residents in all of Germany -- 1.9 percent.

    The DVU, which spent some three million marks on the posters and direct-mailings in the closing weeks of the campaign, wants the repatriation of asylum-seekers and opposes abandoning the deutschemark for a single European currency.

    The party's message appealed in particular to young unemployed easterners who have little or no prospect of finding a job. Pollsters estimated that one in four voters under 30 voted DVU.

    ``It is a victory for democracy,'' said Gerhard Frey, leader of the DVU, a party with barely any structure or members in Saxony-Anhalt. Frey, 65, is a millionaire publisher based in Munich.

    ``It is also a victory for the parliamentary system because with the DVU in opposition, we will ensure that the situation in Saxony-Anhalt improves,'' he said.

    Protesters shouted ``Nazi out'' as Frey entered the state government building to meet the press after polls closed. Frey shot back that the voters had spoken.

    The protesters chased him to his bullet-proof car hours later when he left.

    Germany's constitutional watchdog accused the DVU in a 1996 report of creating anti-Semitic sentiment and racism.

    Since World War Two no far-right party has won more than 11 percent of the vote in any state or federal election.

    Germany's Jewish leader Ignatz Bubis told the Neue Ruhr Zeitung daily he was horrified by the success of the right-wing extremists.

    ``I have great fears (for the future),'' he was quoted on Monday as saying.

    Germany's best-selling daily newspaper Bild Zeitung gave the verdict: ``Black Sunday for the ruling coalition in Bonn. Black Sunday for all democrats.''

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    FOCUS-Poll defeat starts debate in Kohl's party
    08:02 a.m. Apr 27, 1998 Eastern

    By Robert Mahoney

    BONN, April 27 (Reuters) - The collapse of Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats in east Germany rekindled a party strategy debate on Monday about the federal election that polls predict the chancellor will lose.

    Kohl's critics stopped short, however, of calling for his removal as the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) candidate just five months before the general election.

    The German People's Union, or DVU, shot from nowhere to win 12.9 per cent of the vote in Sunday's election in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt on a nationalist platform that blamed foreigners for rising crime and accused them of taking jobs away from Germans.

    Finance Minister Theo Waigel, who heads the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), said the government should put more emphasis on law and order and immigration in its campaign.

    ``Aside from jobs, (the CDU) needs to put more stress on internal security, immigration and crime policies,'' Waigel told reporters before a party meeting in Munich.

    ``The CSU has been doing this for some time already and we feel that course is justified by the result in Saxony-Anhalt,'' he added.

    These two issues and record unemployment drew thousands of first-time and young voters to the far right-wing DVU.

    The CDU crashed 12.5 points to 22 per cent of the vote, a result which German media saw as a body blow to Kohl's chances of winning a record fifth term in September.

    The Social Democrats (SPD) were the largest party in Saxony-Anhalt with a 35.9 percent share of the vote, two points up on the last contest.

    The SPD, currently leading a minority government with the ecologist Greens in the region, now looks likely to form a coalition with the CDU after the Greens failed to secure any seats in parliament.

    Kohl loyalists acknowledged that the CDU had received a stinging slap in the face from east German voters but they rejected the assessment of Gerhard Schroeder, the SPD's challenger for chancellor, that Kohl had lost the east.

    Saxony-Anhalt, a region west of Berlin with a population of three million, is one of six states created out of the former communist east Germany after unification with west Germany eight years ago.

    Kohl was boosted by grateful east Germans in both his 1990 and 1994 election triumphs. But now many blamed him for the more than 20 per cent unemployment that has accompanied the overhauling of the east's decaying, labour-intensive industries.

    ``We could have put up Arnold Schwarzenegger as a candidate and he would have lost,'' said Berndt Seite, the CDU premier of neighbouring Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state, referring to the strongman film star.

    He urged the CDU to go on the offensive in the two months before the summer holidays, otherwise the party would be hard pressed in the election on September 27.

    Neither Seite nor Labour Minister Norbert Bluem thought dumping Kohl in favour of his more popular anointed successor, Wolfgang Schaeuble, made electoral sense.

    Some young CDU members of parliament were more forthright.

    Peter Altmeier, part of a group known as the CDU's ``Young Wild Bunch,'' said no area should be off-limits in the party's analysis of its defeat.

    He said the party should put Schaeuble more in the limelight and should consider short-term measures to help create jobs.

    An opinion poll on Monday in the weekly Der Spiegel showed that 68 per cent of Germans thought the wheelchair-bound Schaeuble should play an important role in running the country compared with 39 percent for Kohl.

    The most popular politician was Schroeder with 72 percent, according to the poll by the Emnid group.

    Emnid put support for the SPD at 43 percent against 35 percent for the CDU/CSU. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    German markets react mildly to weekend election
    03:41 a.m. Apr 27, 1998 Eastern

    FRANKFURT, April 27 (Reuters) - German equities and bonds reacted calmly on Monday to Chancellor Helmut Kohl's CDU party's battering in state elections in Saxony-Anhalt although the extreme right's success caused some ripples of worry.

    The blue chip Xetra DAX share index started out slightly weaker, trading some 0.3 percent lower at 5,128.47 points at 0700 GMT. Bunds, meanwhile, shrugged off the news with the June futures contract up two basis points at 107.26.

    ``The political story is not going to be a big negative for markets,'' said Bank Julius Baer chief economist Gerhard Grebe, who said the elections heralded a broad coalition arrangement for Germany in the future -- a boon for structural reform.

    Grebe and other analysts downplayed the surprising success of the right-wing German People's Union's (DVU) party in the east German state's elections.

    ``I think the strong result of the DVU was incidental and will not have any bearing on the national scene,'' said Hans Jaeckel, economist at DG Bank in Frankfurt.

    ``I do not see any great danger of the right winning significant votes in west Germany,'' Grebe said.

    ``In any case, France already has a large right-wing element. I think the international community is a lot less concerned about these things than Germany is.''

    The DVU --- accused of anti-Semitism and racism -- shot from nowhere to win 12.9 percent of the vote in Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday, according to official provisional results.

    That marked the biggest win for right-wing extremists in a German election since World War Two and sparked reactions of shock and outrage in the German media.

    Chancellor Kohl's Christian Democrats on the other hand fell nearly 12.5 points to 22 percent while the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) gained three percentage points to win in Saxony-Anhalt with 35.9 percent of the vote.

    Kohl is campaigning for a record fifth term in office in federal elections in September but is coming under a strong challenge from the SPD.

    Traders and economists said they had expected Kohl's poor showing.

    ``The CDU defeat came as no surprise, it was long priced in by the market, so all in all we see a very limited impact from the vote,'' one bond trader said.

    However the market consensus was that the Saxony-Anhalt results could not be extrapolated for the whole of Germany, and particularly not for west Germany where economic conditions are far more conducive to the political middle ground.

    Saxony-Anhalt, a region of three million people east of Berlin, has the country's highest unemployment rate, 25 percent, and its lowest economic growth.

    The DVU campaigned on a staunchly nationalist platform, blaming foreigners for taking German jobs. They blanketed the state with posters promising to take a tougher stance on ``foreign criminals'' and to find ``jobs for Germans.''

    Saxony-Anhalt has one of the lowest percentages of foreign residents in all of Germany -- 1.9 percent. ^[email protected]

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    German far-right gains provoke national outrage
    08:51 a.m. Apr 27, 1998 Eastern

    By Tara FitzGerald

    BONN, April 27 (Reuters) - Immigrant, Jewish and business groups in Germany united on Monday to condemn the strongest performance by a far-right party in Germany since World War Two in Sunday's state election in Saxony-Anhalt.

    The German People's Union (DVU), branded anti-Semitic and racist by government anti-extremist authorities, gained 12.9 percent of the vote in the economically-depressed eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday.

    German media also expressed horror at the result.

    ``Black Sunday for the ruling coalition in Bonn. Black Sunday for all democrats,'' said Bild newspaper, Germany's best-selling daily.

    The Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, an organisation which tracks Nazi criminals, called the DVU gains ``an ominous development that will have far-reaching implications in Germany and far beyond its borders.''

    ``The election results will bolster other political extremists from Russia's Vladimir Zhirinovsky to France's (Jean-Marie) Le Pen to America's (former Ku Klux Klan leader) David Duke,'' it said in a statement.

    Ignatz Bubis, the leader of Germany's vestigial Jewish community, said it was now up to the country's mainstream democratic parties to work much harder to counter the threat of the extreme right.

    ``If the democratic parties leave things as they are... what could emerge in the next two, three or five years could be very dangerous,'' he told Reuters.

    Yasar Bilgin, a spokesman for the Council of Turkish citizens in Germany, the country's largest ethnic minority, said he was appalled by the rise of the DVU.

    ``A vote of 13 percent for the DVU is absolutely terrible. It's bad news these radicals can come into power,'' Bilgin said of their entry into the Saxony-Anhalt regional parliament.

    Unemployment is currently at around 25 percent in Saxony-Anhalt, the highest level of Germany's 16 states and a fact which led commentators on Monday to draw comparisons with the Germany of the 1930s, when high unemployment and political disillusionment saw Hitler's Nazis rise to power.

    German business interests were also alarmed, with the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHT) and German BGA trade group fearing the increase in support for the DVU could discourage investment from foreign companies.

    ``This catastrophic election result has damaged Germany's image in the eyes of the world and will speed up the draining away of foreign investment from Germany,'' said BGA President Michael Fuchs.

    The surge in the DVU vote contrasted with a 12 percentage point slide in support for Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats to 22 percent, while the opposition Social Democrats climbed three percentage points to 36 percent.

    The federal government's commissioner on foreigners' affairs, Cornelia Schmalz-Jacobsen, warned against seeing support for the DVU as a one-off protest against the political mainstream.

    ``Given that this organisation has become the strongest party among first-time and young voters (in the region), we must recognise that such parties already have the structural support of a great number of young people in eastern Germany,'' Schmalz-Jacobsen said. ^[email protected]

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    German extremists unlikely to enter national scene
    12:43 p.m. Apr 27, 1998 Eastern

    By Fiona Fleck

    BONN, April 27 (Reuters) - The extreme right has had their best election result in Germany since World War Two, but unlike their colleagues in other European countries look unlikely to break into the national scene.

    Since the end of the Cold War, Europe has seen a series of election gains for parties accused of xenophobia and anti-Semitism across the continent, from the former Soviet Union across Eastern Europe right up to the Atlantic coast.

    When the German People's Union (DVU) won 13 percent in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday, its victory brought back bitter memories of Adolf Hitler's meteoric rise to power in 1933.

    But while the far right may be resurgent across Europe, the view of analysts is that German neo-fascists are divided, lack a charismatic leader, and because of Germany's federal system of checks and balances pose no real threat to democracy.

    ``In France, Austria and Italy right-wing extremism is a populist ideology with accepted leaders,'' political scientist Hans-Gerd Jaschke told Reuters.

    In France, National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen has 15 percent national support for his platform pledging to ship home millions of immigrants and push for preference in jobs, education and other state benefits for native-born French.

    In Austria, Joerg Haider's far-right Freedom Party won 22 percent of the vote in the 1995 elections, and his approval rating in polls has been as high as 38 percent -- suggesting he could head a coalition government after 1999 elections.

    In Italy, Gianfranco Fini heads the far-right national alliance (AN) which polled 15.7 percent at the last general election in 1996, up from 12.5 percent in 1994. The AN, Italy's third party, wants illegal immigrants to be deported and made headlines recently for saying homosexuality is abnormal.

    The highest post-war vote for right-wing extremists in Germany was 4.3 percent in 1969, leaving the National Democratic Party short of the five percent needed to enter the Bundestag lower house of parliament in Bonn.

    Surveys and polls since then have shown national support for rightists consistently below five percent.

    ``These movements group accepted personalities on the right-wing scene and see themselves as constructive political opposition. That is not the case with the DVU,'' Jaschke said.

    The DVU, which was founded in 1987 and claims 16,000 members, is widely seen as a one-man party which would collapse without the financial support of its shadowy leader, Munich-based millionaire publisher Gerhard Frey.

    Political analysts say the DVU's success represents a backlash against European integration and a protest vote against Bonn's inability to address social upheaval in ex-communist east Germany since unification in 1990.

    ``Right-wing extremism is a kind of resistance movement to protest against globalisation, the euro and Europe as a whole,'' Berlin-based Jaschke said.

    German Chancellor Helmut Kohl is one of the staunchest advocates of an integrated Europe and single currency to banish the spectre of nationalism that fuelled two world wars.

    But his drive for integration has clearly come with a price. ``This is a backlash against an openness to the world, with people saying we want to remain a homogenous ethnic community,'' Jaschke said.

    Eastern Germany has seen a rise in right-wing extremism, neo-Nazism and racism since the collapse of Communism nearly 10 years ago as factory closures have led to mass unemployment, poverty and crime -- virtually unknown in the rigid Soviet satellite state.

    Nearly half the racist attacks in 1997 were in the east, where only a fifth of Germany's 80 million people live.

    The DVU won seats on state assemblies in Bremen and Schleswig-Holstein in western Germany in the early 1990s, but its candidates were swiftly voted out a couple of years ago.

    The DVU is not Germany's only rightist party. The extremist Republicans are also represented on a regional level in the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg

    An expert from Germany's Electoral Research Institute said the DVU had no chance of clearing the five-percent hurdle to break into federal politics in the September general election.

    ``Mainly young people on the dole or afraid of losing their jobs voted DVU,'' Dieter Roth told Saar Radio. Speaking of the state with the highest unemployment and lowest growth, he said: ``Saxony-Anhalt's problems do not translate on to federal level.''

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    German press aghast at far-right surge in poll
    05:03 a.m. Apr 27, 1998 Eastern

    By Fiona Fleck

    BONN, April 27 (Reuters) - Germany's media on Monday expressed horror on Monday at the prospect of extreme right-wing politicians taking seats in an eastern state parliament after scoring best regional far-right result since World War Two.

    The German People's Union (DVU), which has been accused of anti-Semitism and racism, took 12.9 percent of the vote in the economically depressed state of Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday, official provisional results showed.

    Support for Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats (CDU) slumped and the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), which were re-elected to form a state government there, performed below pre-election opinion poll forecasts with five months to go to a general election.

    ``Black Sunday for the ruling coalition in Bonn. Black Sunday for all democrats,'' said Bild, Germany's best-selling daily newspaper.

    It added that when the DVU narrowly failed to enter the Hamburg state assembly last September it was ``a warning shot'' that fell on deaf ears, Bild said.

    ``Now it is ringing in our ears. Since yesterday it has become clear the general election is not just about Kohl and (SPD challenger) Gerhard Schroeder,'' Bild said of the general election set for September 27.

    The respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper called the result a disappointment for all democrats, adding that ``most shocking was the triumph of the radical right...and the fact that the DVU attracted young voters.''

    Die Welt daily said the state election's high turnout of more than 70 percent could not be interpreted as a new enthusiasm among Germans for the political process.

    ``One would like to be happy that voters who were indifferent in 1994 streamed to the polls this time. But this happiness is soured by the fact that a third of these voters chose protest parties,'' it said of the DVU and the reform communist Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS).

    Other newspapers also pointed to the disillusionment of east Germany's youth, whom Kohl famously promised ``blossoming landscapes'' after unification, as voter surveys showed that half of the DVU voters were the young unemployed.

    ``No training places, no jobs, no youth club where you can forget about it all. In this depressing vacuum, the DVU with its propaganda campaign has made inroads into the political scene,'' the daily newspaper Berliner Morgenpost commented.

    ``Their (DVU) strong result, mainly among the young, is due to the disappointment of many voters about their own personal circumstances,'' it said.

    Hamburger Abendblatt, another daily, said: ``The result was not a test for Bonn, but the receipt for its mistakes during German unification and its failure to take on board east Germans' experience and their needs.

    ``Above all unemployment, which with nearly 25 percent in Saxony-Anhalt has broken new records,'' Abendblatt said of the state which has the highest unemployment in Germany.

    ``This piles on the blame not at the doorstep of the regional government, but of (the ruling coalition in) Bonn,'' it said. ^[email protected]

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    East German court bans anti-immigrant rally
    11:27 a.m. Apr 27, 1998 Eastern

    BONN, April 27 (Reuters) - A Leipzig court said on Monday it had banned an anti-immigrant rally planned in the centre of the east German city this Friday.

    The far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) had called on supporters to march through the city under the slogan ``Jobs for Germans first'' on Labour Day, May 1.

    But a municipal court in Leipzig said it was banning the demonstration because the resources needed to police the march were not available. It said over 6,000 police would be needed to guarantee public safety if it went ahead.

    The NPD said they were expecting around 15,000 people to take part in the rally, while police were expecting a further 4,000 counter-protesters.

    The court said annual trade union rallies planned for the same day all over the region meant police resources were already stretched.

    Last year an NPD march planned for Labour Day in Leipzig was also banned. There were scuffles between right-wing and left-wing extremists after a number of skinheads defied the ban.

    The NPD has the option of appealing to a higher court against the latest ban. There has been strong local resistance among church groups, traders and politicians to the rally.

    The extreme right has gained ground in eastern Germany by tapping into widespread disenchantment, especially over unemployment.

    The anti-immigrant German People's Union shot from nowhere to win 12.9 percent of the vote in an election on Sunday in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, which has the country's highest jobless rate at 25 percent. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Argentina rushes Croat camp chief's extradition
    06:58 p.m Apr 28, 1998 Eastern

    By Stephen Brown

    BUENOS AIRES, April 28 (Reuters) - Argentina will ensure a speedy extradition to Croatia for Second World War concentration camp commander Dinko Sakic so he can stand trial, a Foreign Ministry official said on Tuesday.

    A spokeswoman for the Croatian embassy in Buenos Aires told Reuters she expected his arrest ``in the next few days.''

    The Argentine Foreign Ministry said it received Croatia's extradition request on Monday and had already forwarded it to the State Prosecutor ``so that he can be extradited as soon as possible.''

    ``For the Argentine government, conceding this extradition is a matter of the utmost urgency,'' a Foreign Ministry official told Reuters.

    ``What I don't know is how long it will take them to find him. That's a matter for the judge and police,'' he said.

    Argentina and Croatia are under international pressure to ensure that Sakic, 76, stands trial in his homeland for alleged war crimes committed when he ran the Jasenovac camp under Croatia's Nazi-puppet Ustasha regime.

    Sakic, who has lived in Argentina openly for 50 years, disappeared when his past was revealed by an Argentine television program last month. There was no answer when a reporter called his home in the beach resort of Santa Teresita on Tuesday.

    A family spokeswoman told Reuters from Santa Teresita two weeks ago that the aged Croat was not on the run and would turn himself into police when an arrest warrant came. She said Sakic was eager to stand trial ``to prove his innocence.''

    His wife Esperanza told Reuters earlier this month that her husband was ``as innocent as a breast-feeding baby.''

    Sakic said in the Channel 13 interview that alerted the world to his whereabouts that when he ran the camp, treatment was humane: ``When I was there, no guard or administrator was allowed to so much as touch a prisoner.''

    He was commander of Jasenovac, which became known as the ``Auschwitz of the Balkans,'' from 1942 to 1944, when he was in his early 20s. The number of Serbs, Gypsies and Jews killed there has long been disputed. The Serbs say 700,000 died and the Simon Wiesenthal Center puts the toll at 600,000. Croatian estimates say it was around 85,000.

    Jewish groups and the U.S. State Department have urged Argentina to arrest Sakic without delay. Israel says it ``fully supports'' his extradition to Croatia, while in Belgrade, the government of Yugoslavia says it also wants to try him.

    There is no extradition agreement between Argentina and Croatia, but Buenos Aires has made it clear it will ``show the same attitude'' with Sakic as it did with former Nazi Capt. Erich Priebke, who was extradited to Italy in 1995. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    German right-winger may fight in general election
    09:16 a.m. Apr 28, 1998 Eastern

    By Fiona Fleck

    MUNICH, April 28 (Reuters) - The leader of a shadowy party that scored the extreme right's best election result in Germany since World War Two said on Tuesday he wanted to join forces with other far-right parties for September's general election.

    Bavarian publisher Gerhard Frey said his German People's Union (DVU), which grabbed 13 percent of votes in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday, was talking with other groups about forming an ultra-right alliance.

    The DVU's strong showing has brought back memories of Adolf Hitler's rise to power in 1933.

    Frey pledged to lead the DVU, accused of racism and anti-Semitism by Germany's watchdogs against extremism, to election triumphs particularly across the formerly communist east.

    ``Voting right wing for young people has become part of youth culture there, just like skateboarding and techno (music),'' Frey said at his first news conference since his party emerged as the region's fourth political force in Sunday's shock result.

    Frey said he was holding talks with Franz Schoenhuber, the former leader of the right-wing extremist Republicans, and other groups about joining forces ahead of the general election.

    ``We will decide on cooperation in the next few days,'' he told journalists in Munich's Mathaeser, a traditional Bavarian restaurant and meeting place for the local right-wing scene.

    Frey said the DVU, or Deutsche Volksunion, which says it has about 16,000 members nationwide, had 300 members in Saxony-Anhalt at the start of the campaign and this grew to 1,500.

    In the same way, Frey hoped a potentially strong right-wing alliance could change Germany's political landscape, not just by winning elections but by influencing the mainstream parties.

    He noted that Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Bavarian allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), had become tougher on refugees, and that even the candidate for chancellor of the left-leaning Social Democrats, Gerhard Schroeder, spoke out last year against ``foreigners who abuse their rights as guests.''

    ``When the old parties start behaving in a normal way and start to recognise our national interests, then I can feel I have more than fulfilled my task,'' Frey said, urging Germany's established parties to return to their ``national roots.''

    Unemployment, now at a post-war record high of 4.6 million, should be tackled by channelling Germany's European Union contributions into job creation and by preventing foreigners from taking jobs from Germans, he said.

    ``Fake asylum-seekers'' and ``criminal foreigners'' should be deported immediately.

    ``In Saxony-Anhalt 10 percent of foreigners are criminals and 25 percent are in organised crime,'' he said.

    Frey distanced the DVU from the skinhead scene, saying any ``criminals'' had been expelled, and denied it was racist, saying it included ``Indians, blacks and yellows'' in its ranks.

    ``Integrated foreigners have our friendship and devotion,'' said Frey, who counts other European ultra right-wingers, such as French National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen and Russia's Vladimir Zhirinovsky, among his friends. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    German bosses tackle youth jobs, unions critical
    08:34 a.m. Apr 28, 1998 Eastern

    By Tara FitzGerald

    COLOGNE, Germany, April 28 (Reuters) - German employers on Tuesday launched an initiative to help Chancellor Helmut Kohl's government fight youth unemployment, but trade unions said too little was being done to cut dole queues.

    The Federal Association of German Employers (BDA) said that as many as half a million youth unemployed lacked qualifications and announced measures to combat the problem by offering more on-the-job training.

    ``If we concentrate our efforts we can create between 15,000 and 20,000 jobs a year,'' BDA president Dieter Hundt told a news conference.

    ``That is a concrete contribution to solving the problem.''

    The BDA initiative is linked to a new government jobs programme announced last week that focused particularly on young people and the long-term unemployed.

    The government programme was laid out in line with a European Union (EU) agreement made last year at a special jobs summit in Luxembourg, but came under fire from trade unions and opposition politicians who said it lacked substance.

    Kohl has been slammed for his record on unemployment, which stood at 4.6 million in March, the highest for the month since World War Two. Unemployment is the number one issue in the campaign for September's general election.

    The German Trade Union Federation (DGB) said that despite the new jobs programme, Kohl's government was not doing enough to combat the high numbers of youth and long-term unemployed.

    Since 1991, the rate of youth unemployment had doubled and every 10th person under 25 could expect to be unemployed for more than a year, DGB deputy leader Ursula Engelen-Kefer said.

    The success of the extreme-right German People's Union (DVU) in an eastern state election on Sunday showed the results of such feelings of hopelessness, she added.

    The DVU, campaigning on a nationalist platform and blaming foreigners for taking German jobs, took nearly 13 percent of the vote at its first attempt in Saxony-Anhalt, the state with the highest unemployment in Germany.

    Their message appealed particularly to the young, with pollsters estimating that one in four voters under 30 backed the DVU.

    Germany's opposition Social Democrats (SPD), riding high in opinion polls ahead of September's vote, said they would act immediately to restore an ``alliance for jobs'' between employers and trade unions if they oust Kohl.

    Walter Riester, deputy leader of the powerful IG Metall union who has been tipped in the media as a possible SPD labour minister, blamed Kohl for allowing talks on building such an alliance to collapse in 1996.

    ``The Kohl government wrecked the alliance for jobs two years ago,'' Riester told the Bild daily in an interview due to appear on Wednesday. ``We will create such an alliance -- a different, more effective one.''

    The head of Germany's Federal Labour Office, Bernhard Jagoda, said at the BDA presentation he expected unemployment to fall in April by about the same amount as it did a year earlier.

    He forecast that jobless data due out next week would show a fall in unadjusted unemployment roughly in line with a month-on-month drop of 130,000 in April 1997. ^[email protected]

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    No risk of national far-right success - Kohl party
    10:09 a.m. Apr 28, 1998 Eastern

    BONN, April 28 (Reuters) - German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats tried on Tuesday to reassure the world that the far right's strong showing in a state election on Sunday could not be repeated at national level.

    Karl Lamers, foreign policy spokesman of Kohl's party in parliament, told international journalists that the strong support for the anti-immigrant German People's Union (DVU) was due to factors prevalent only in east Germany.

    He said DVU success in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt was a reaction to widespread feelings of insecurity among east Germans, caused by the rapid change from communism to capitalism and the high unemployment that resulted.

    ``Overcoming unemployment is the key to overcoming right-wing radicalism,'' Lamers said.

    He said the strength of the far right in the east was a serious cause for concern, but the ex-communist region accounted for less than 20 percent of Germany's population.

    There was no sign of a rise in support for extremists in western Germany, Lamers said.

    He also predicted the DVU would score less well in Saxony-Anhalt in September's general election than the 13 percent share of the vote it garnered on Sunday.

    ``In a general election, people vote much less according to a mood of a protest and much more according to what they want to achieve,'' Lamers said. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Israeli envoy alarmed by German right-wing surge
    02:42 p.m Apr 28, 1998 Eastern

    BONN, April 28 (Reuters) - Israel's ambassador to Bonn said on Tuesday he was alarmed that Germans had turned to the far-right in a state election and was baffled that voters were looking to ``the ghosts of the past'' to solve today's problems.

    Avi Primor told the Cologne-based Express newspaper that Israel expects the German public to react to the surge in support for the far-right German People's Union (DVU), which won 13 percent of the vote in the depressed state of Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday.

    ``It causes me great concern,'' Primor said, according to an advance text released ahead of publication on Wednesday.

    ``It was completely unexpected for us that Germans, of all people, would turn to a right-wing extremist party. There are many ways to protest. But why, 53 years after World War Two, are Germans turning to the ghosts of the past? We just can't comprehend that.''

    Primor said he and Israel were waiting for Germany to condemn the far-right party. He said the overwhelming majority of Germans were democrats.

    ``But there is nevertheless a minority that hasn't let go of the past,'' he said. ``If the majority of Germans show that they will not simply accept this development as a matter of course then our confidence will be restored.''

    Bavarian millionaire publisher Gerhard Frey, founder of the DVU, said on Monday he was talking with other groups about forming an ultra-right alliance for September's federal election.

    Frey pledged to lead the DVU, accused of anti-Semitism and racism by Germany's internal security service, to election triumphs particularly across the formerly communist east where unemployment is especially high. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    FEATURE-Holocaust still shapes Israel's character 50 years on
    09:11 p.m Apr 27, 1998 Eastern

    By Jeffrey Heller

    JERUSALEM, April 28 (Reuters) - The Nazi Holocaust still hangs like a dark cloud over Israel half a century after the Jewish state rose from the ashes of six million dead.

    A week before the country celebrates its Jubilee with song, dance and fireworks, sirens sounded on April 23 and Israelis paid homage to Holocaust victims on an annual remembrance day.

    But only a fraction of those who stood to attention in streets, offices, homes and schools were witness to Adolf Hitler's ``Final Solution'' for the Jews of Europe.

    By the time Israel marks its 75th anniversary, the youngest survivors will be nearing 80.

    But Israel is taking steps to ensure the Holocaust will not fade to just another entry in a textbook as the estimated 250,000 Israelis who lived through the horror pass on.

    Each year, thousands of Israeli teenagers undergo a unique rite of passage in high school, travelling to the sites of Nazi death camps in Poland to see the ashes for themselves.

    ``We cried buckets,'' said Gilat Skital, 17, who recently visited Auschwitz and other camps with a group of 160 students from Maccabim-Reut High School in central Israel.

    ``What broke me were the baby clothes and the seven tonnes of human ashes that I saw right in front of my eyes,'' she said.

    LITTLE SYMPATHY AT FIRST

    Coming to Israel, a country where the Volkswagen Beetle -- the product of Hitler's vision of a car for every German worker -- was once the most popular vehicle on the roads, Holocaust survivors often encountered cruel twists on the path to recovery.

    Back in pre-state Israel, Jews who came of age with a gun in their hand fighting Arabs looked down on their European brethren as weaklings who went to their deaths like lambs led to the slaughter.

    They called the newcomers ``sabon,'' or soap in Hebrew -- slang for ``meek'' and a horrific allusion to accounts, now disputed by some historians, that Nazis made soap out of the remains of Jews they killed in gas chambers.

    Yad Vashem, Israel's national memorial to the Holocaust, makes no attempt to gloss over the cool welcome accorded to the 250,000 survivors who arrived after World War Two.

    In a commentary for this year's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day, the Jerusalem-based institute and museum acknowledged that the Jewish inhabitants of then-Palestine gave little thought to the survivors' scars.

    ``(They) were uninterested in the survivors' stories and their emotional burdens and most of the new arrivals enclosed themselves within a wall of silence,'' it said.

    Some survivors have spoken out about the stares of disdain their concentration camp number tattoos drew in public places.

    But as Israel matured as a country, sensitivities changed.

    At Remembrance Day ceremonies, Israeli leaders now recite the names of their family members killed in the Holocaust, honouring them much in the way Israeli soldiers killed in combat are commemorated.

    In the run-up to this year's memorial day, Army Chief of Staff Amnon Shahak convened the General Staff at Yad Vashem to discuss with Holocaust experts the meaning of the tragedy for the Jewish people.

    ``We visited the memorial today in order to remember...and understand the importance of a secure Jewish homeland for the Jewish people and the enormous responsibility that we bear as the General Staff of the Israel Defence Forces,'' Shahak wrote in Yad Vashem's visitors' book.

    Two years ago, a wave of revulsion swept Israel in response to news that a Tel Aviv shop planned to auction what its owner said was a bar of soap made from death camp victims.

    A public outcry forced the store to cancel the sale of what one Israeli expert said was soap which contained no human remains and was issued to German troops.

    COMING TO TERMS WITH POST-WAR GERMANY

    As survivors struggled to come to terms with their own past, Israeli political leaders walked through a minefield of emotions in dealing with post-war Germany.

    In 1952, Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, announced in parliament that his government would seek reparations from Germany for the Jewish people.

    The decision immediately drew the ire of opposition leader Menachem Begin, who was vehemently opposed to any dealings with Germany. The controversy touched off riots outside the Knesset but an agreement with Bonn was signed.

    Holocaust survivors worldwide have been paid more than $54 billion in compensation by Germany since World War Two.

    Israeli-German relations have normalised to the point that Germany is now a main European trading partner and regarded as one of Israel's closest allies.

    Some 200,000 German tourists come to Israel each year, a figure surpassed only by visitors from the United States.

    ``I don't think today's Germany is like the old Germany,'' said Omer Koren, 17, just back from Poland where he lit a memorial candle at Auschwitz for relatives killed by the Nazis.

    EICHMANN TRIAL KEPT MEMORIES ALIVE

    In acts of punishment and remembrance, Israel has twice held Nazi war crimes trials.

    Adolf Eichmann, an architect of the Final Solution, was kidnapped by Israeli Mossad agents in Argentina in 1961.

    Convicted of crimes against humanity and the Jewish people, the ``man in the glass booth'' was hanged in 1962 and his ashes scattered in the Mediterranean. No one has been executed in Israel since.

    Twenty-five years later, Israel put on trial John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian-born U.S. auto worker accused of being ``Ivan the Terrible'' of the Treblinka death camp.

    One by one, white-haired survivors took the witness stand in a Jerusalem theatre converted into a courtroom, pointed fingers at Demjanjuk and identified him as the brutal guard who operated engines that poured carbon monoxide into death chambers.

    Demjanjuk denied wrongdoing, insisting he was a victim of mistaken identity. His lawyer accused Israeli authorities of turning the televised proceedings into a show trial intended to teach a history lesson to a generation born since Eichmann was put to death.

    The court convicted Demjanjuk of war crimes in 1988 and sentenced him to death. But the ruling was overturned in 1993 by Israel's Supreme Court after evidence emerged that another man was ``Ivan.''

    EMOTIONAL LESSON IN CAMP VISITS

    On their school trips to Poland, Israeli youngsters, carrying Israeli flags into the death camps and speaking Hebrew on the street, see the faces of evil from the past and some echoes of it in the present.

    ``A lot of kids in the delegation ran into real anti-Semites,'' said Rakefet Keidar, 16. ``One man walked by some of my friends and spat. Another made an obscene gesture.''

    Rakefet and her schoolmates said the experience had reshaped their feelings about Israel, a nation in which Jews are sharply divided by politics, ethnic differences and religious observance.

    ``I was thinking before the trip about emigrating,'' Omer said, complaining about a lack of mutual respect and tolerance in Israeli society.

    ``But after the trip, I believe I will stay in Israel. Nothing will move me from here because this truly is my country,'' he said.

    Rakefet said the visit had strengthened her view that Israelis must strive to put aside their differences.

    ``Peace is the most important thing but before we make peace with others we have to make peace among ourselves because we are one people,'' she said. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Germany braces for right-left May Day clashes
    12:34 p.m. Apr 29, 1998 Eastern

    By Deborah Cole

    BERLIN, April 29 (Reuters) - German officials said on Wednesday they were bracing for clashes between leftists and neo-Nazis across the former communist east on May 1.

    Right-wing extremist parties and left-wing activists have threatened to take to the streets in several eastern cities for the Labour Day holiday on Friday and Berlin Interior Minister Joerg Schoenbohm pledged to control any gatherings with a heavy police presence.

    ``I will not tolerate any violence,'' he told a news conference.

    Schoenbohm said he intended to prevent incidents like those in recent years in which Berlin leftists rampaged through eastern districts of the city and attacked police with pavement stones and bottles.

    The Berlin police would get support from border guards in the neighbouring states of Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg, he said, while city barkeepers in traditional flashpoint areas had promised to close their doors for the day.

    Earlier in the week, authorities in the city of Leipzig said they had banned a rally by the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) scheduled to take place there on May 1 because of security concerns.

    The NPD, whose members have been mobilising for weeks with placards and flyers and over the Internet, now says it intends to gather in the eastern cities of Halle and Gera instead.

    A police spokesman in Halle said the NPD were expecting around 6,000 demonstrators to gather in the city and authorities were reviewing possibilities to block the event due to public safety worries.

    Gera Mayor Ralf Rauch said he would also attempt to block the NPD march.

    ``We are working on getting an injunction,'' Rauch said. ``May 1 is a labour union holiday and it should stay that way.''

    A court in the state of Saxony is still reviewing an NPD appeal against the ban on the Leipzig march.

    Berlin's Schoenbohm said leftists planned to shadow the right wing on Friday and disrupt their demonstrations, then meet for their own rally in Berlin in the evening.

    He also said he had heard reports the leftists planned to gather in Saxony-Anhalt to protest against the 12.9 percent support the far-right German People's Union (DVU) won at a regional election there on Sunday.

    This result was the strongest showing by a far-right party since World War Two. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    German opposition urges action on far-right crime
    10:03 a.m. Apr 29, 1998 Eastern

    By Fiona Fleck

    BONN, April 29 (Reuters) - German opposition parties called on Wednesday for ``zero tolerance'' of ultra right-wing crime after extremists scored their best post-war election result in a regional poll.

    Greens' immigration spokesman Cem Ozdemir and Social Democrat (SPD) legal affairs spokeswoman Herta Daeubler-Gmelin called for tough measures to combat far-right crime and warned other parties in parliament against a shift to the right.

    ``For people who make the Hitler salute or collect Nazi memorabilia...we know only too well what it can lead to in this country,'' Ozdemir said, referring to the Nazis' slaughter of Jews and other minorities.

    ``We want zero tolerance towards ultra-right crime,'' he told a news conference.

    Ozdemir also criticised the Christian Social Union (CSU), Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Bavarian allies, who responded to gains made by the German People's Union (DVU) in a regional poll by calling for a return to traditional right-wing values.

    The DVU grabbed 13 percent of the vote in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday. It was the extreme right's best election result in Germany since World War Two.

    ``I appeal to my parliamentary colleagues to stand firm and not to make concessions to the DVU,'' he said.

    Ozdemir, the only deputy of Turkish origin in the Bundestag lower house of parliament, proposed creating a central office to document crimes of the ultra right to help investigators.

    He also called for swifter prosecution of rightist criminals and said teachers and youth workers should be urged to address the problem more effectively.

    ``A democratic society must protect minorities, whether they are foreigners, gays or lesbians. Victims need more protection. Sometimes we are more concerned about the perpetrators,'' he said.

    The SPD's Daeubler-Gmelin said while right-wing radicals elected to regional or municipal parliaments could be fought with logical arguments, criminals required tougher action.

    ``I mean skinheads with Rottweilers, who terrorise small towns and fill people with fear. That is a task for the police, something which cannot and will not be tolerated,'' she told German radio.

    The DVU's shock election victory plunged Bonn's mainstream parties into soul-searching as to where they had gone wrong.

    Kohl's Christian Democrats (CDU), who head the ruling coalition, plummeted nearly 12.5 percentage points to 22 percent as voters in Saxony-Anhalt deserted them in droves.

    The Greens and the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) failed to gain the five percent of the vote necessary under German law to win seats in the state assembly. Only the left-leaning SPD slightly improved their showing.

    The FDP, Kohl's junior coalition partners, said the problem of extremist crime was not confined to the right and suggested a parliamentary investigation into extremism in general.

    The CDU said mass unemployment in the former communist east was feeding right-wing radicalism. It said this was at the root of what was primarily a protest vote in Saxony-Anhalt.

    The CSU, the CDU's more conservative sister party, has said the DVU's success showed that apart from jobs they needed to put more stress on law and order and immigration policies.

    Ozdemir said that ascribing the radicals' success only to unemployment was to play down a real ultra right-wing threat. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Far right gains surprise German pollsters
    09:01 a.m. Apr 29, 1998 Eastern

    By Douglas Busvine

    BONN, April 29 (Reuters) - Last weekend's stunning gains by the extreme right in a German state election caught the nation's political establishment off guard. But it seems no one was more surprised than Germany's public opinion pollsters.

    Surveys in the runup to Sunday's vote in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt had shown the far-right German People's Union (DVU) scoring between four and eight percent of the vote.

    The DVU's final tally of 13 percent, a post-World War Two record for a far-right party, led to recriminations from shocked mainstream politicians that pollsters had let them down badly and had yet again under-represented support for the far-right.

    But pollsters rejected the accusations and argued the vote in the former communist region was marked by special circumstances which made accurate forecasting extremely difficult.

    ``The situation in Saxony-Anhalt was unique,'' Dieter Roth of the Electoral Research Group told Reuters on Wednesday.

    Research showed a lack of enthusiasm for the Social Democrat-led coalition of state premier Reinhard Hoeppner, while the candidate of Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats (CDU), Christoph Bergner, had a weak public image.

    That, on top of public anger at the region's 25 percent unemployment rate, left the door open for parties to attract the protest votes of a volatile electorate which has yet to develop set voting habits.

    But what pollsters found hardest to cope with was the late entry in the state election campaign of the DVU, which did not put up any local candidates but instead saturated the streets with placards bearing such slogans as ``Foreign Criminals Out!.''

    Roth admitted that this led to a late surge that pollsters did not latch on to until a few days before the election.

    ``In the last four days the DVU had a share of eight percent. We knew at the middle of the week before the election that something big was going to hit us,'' he said.

    Other pollsters also found an unwillingness among some voters to reveal their true intentions to canvassers.

    ``People who intent to vote for extreme-right parties do not have the same readiness to admit their voting intentions as others,'' said Klaus-Peter Schoeppner, head of the Emnid research institute.

    And, because the DVU was running in Saxony-Anhalt for the first time, there was no basis on which to adjust poll findings to better reflect the final election result.

    The success of the DVU was particularly bad news for Kohl's CDU, which plunged 12.4 percentage points to 22 percent of the popular vote. But the SPD, ahead in polls nationally, only managed to gain two percentage points to 35.9 percent.

    Pollsters also underestimated the showing of the right-wing Republican party in state elections in the prosperous western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg in 1992, when it won 11 percent of the vote.

    But they got it right four years later, when they correctly predicted a fall in Republican support to nine percent.

    Looking ahead to the general election on September 27, they said the costly campaign blitz by Frey's DVU in Saxony-Anhalt, which lies to the west of Berlin and has just over two million voters, would be impossible to repeat at national level.

    Frey has in the past scored successes in polls in small states like Schleswig-Holstein and Bremen, and just fell short of the five percent hurdle required to gain election to the Hamburg city senate last year.

    But pollsters said Frey would not be able to challenge the established parties in large states -- or even in eastern states which face economic difficulties but have leaders who enjoy greater public respect.

    ``At a national level the DVU will not be in a position to run a campaign like it just has,'' Roth said. ``Protest voters won't risk an extreme right-wing party can sharing power.''

    ``But what you can certainly expect is that the right overall will gain in the next national opinion polls because of the Saxony-Anhalt effect.'' REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    German Greens warn against right-wing extremism
    08:53 a.m. Apr 29, 1998 Eastern

    By Fiona Fleck

    BONN, April 29 (Reuters) - Germany's Greens party called on Wednesday for ``zero tolerance'' of ultra right-wing crime, after right-wing extremists scored their best post-war election result.

    Greens' immigration spokesman Cem Ozdemir called for tough measures to combat right-wing extremist crime and warned other parties in parliament against moving towards the right.

    Ozdemir also criticised the Christian Social Union, Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Bavarian allies, who responded to gains made by the German People's Union (DVU) in a regional poll, by calling for a return to traditional right-wing values.

    The DVU grabbed 13 percent of the vote in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday. It was the extreme right's best election result in Germany since World War Two.

    ``For people who make the Hitler salute in the evenings or collect Nazi memorabilia...we know only too well what it can lead to in this country as we have a fateful history,'' Ozdemir said, referring to the Nazis' slaughter of Jews and other minorities.

    ``We want zero tolerance towards ultra-right crime,'' he told a news conference. ``I appeal to my parliamentary colleagues to stand firm and not to make concessions to the DVU.''

    Ozdemir, the only deputy of Turkish origin in the Bundestag (lower house), proposed creating a central office to document crimes of the ultra right to help investigators.

    He also called for a swifter prosecution of rightist criminals and said teachers and youth workers should be called on to address the problem more effectively.

    ``A democratic society must protect minorities, whether they are foreigners, gays or lesbians. Victims need more protection. Sometimes we are more concerned about the perpetrators.''

    The DVU's shock election victory plunged Bonn's mainstream parties into soul-searching as to what they had done wrong.

    Kohl's Christian Democrats (CDU), who head the ruling coalition, plummeted nearly 12.5 percentage points to 22 percent, as voters in Saxony-Anhalt deserted them in droves.

    The Greens and the liberal Free Democrats failed to gain the five per cent of the vote necessary under German law to be represented in the state assembly. Only the left-leaning Social Democrats slightly improved their showing.

    The CDU said mass unemployment in the former communist east was feeding right-wing radicalism. It said this was at the root of what was primarily a protest vote.

    The Christian Social Union, the CDU's more conservative sister party, has said the DVU's success showed that apart from jobs they needed to put more stress on law and order and immigration policies.

    Ozdemir said that ascribing the radicals' success just to unemployment played down a real ultra right-wing threat.

    DVU leader Gerhard Frey, a Bavarian millionaire publisher, said on Tuesday his aim was not just to repeat their election success, but to change Germany's political landscape by influencing the mainstream parties.

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    U.S. Senate panel approves Holocaust asset search
    06:16 p.m Apr 29, 1998 Eastern

    WASHINGTON, April 29 (Reuters) - The banking committee of the U.S. Senate approved on Wednesday legislation to create a presidential advisory commission to look for the assets of Holocaust victims hidden in the United States.

    Advocates of the legislation say they do not expect to find much but they want the United States to set a good example to other countries where more Nazi-era assets might have gone.

    ``While we have sought answers from Switzerland and other nations on the disposition of dormant bank accounts and Nazi gold, we have not pursued the issue here in the United States. It is time that we begin this search,'' committee chairman Senator Alfonse D'Amato said at a session to draft the legislation, known as the U.S. Holocaust Assets Commission Act.

    D'Amato, a New York Republican, has led a campaign to press Swiss banks to dig out records for Holocaust assets.

    ``By creating this commission we establish even greater moral authority and diplomatic credibility with other nations from which we seek answers to these important questions. Thus far, 12 nations have already set up national commissions to look into these issues,'' D'Amato said.

    The legislation, which is backed by the administration, including Under Secretary of State Stuart Eizenstat, needs to pass in the Senate and the House of Representatives. No date has been set for sending it to the full Senate.

    The commission will focus on conducting research on the collection and disposition of the assets if they came into the United States, including the U.S. Federal Reserve System or any Federal Reserve Bank, from 1933 to 1945.

    The historical commission would seek to find dormant bank accounts of Holocaust victims in U.S. banks, brokerage accounts, securities and bonds, art work and religious artifacts, insurance policies and German-looted gold shipped to the United States through the Tripartite Gold Commission.

    It will have a budget of $3.5 million, with the costs split between the interested agencies through Dec. 31, 1999, the date its report is due to be submitted to the president.

    The proposed 21-member commission would have members appointed by both the Congress and the president as well as ``private citizens who have demonstrated their leadership on issues relating to the financial community, public service and the history of the Holocaust,'' D'Amato said.

    ``We are obliged to set history straight and correct any injustices in our own country. The United States has a moral responsibility to address the same issues to which we have sought answers from Switzerland and other nations in Europe. The spirit of American decency demands no less,'' he added.

    The version of the bipartisan legislation reviewed by the Senate Banking Committee contained technical changes to make the bill conform with a House version. All changes were negotiated with the Clinton administration.

    The commission will have the mandate to make recommendations for legislative, administrative or other actions it deems necessary or appropriate. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    New Argentina bureau will hunt any remaining Nazis
    08:45 p.m Apr 30, 1998 Eastern

    By Stephen Brown

    BUENOS AIRES, April 30 (Reuters) - Argentina created a special bureau on Thursday to track down any remaining Nazi war criminals hiding in a country that was once the refuge of top Nazis like Adolf Eichman, Martin Bormann and Josef Mengele.

    The launch coincided with the arrest on Thursday of Croatian concentration camp chief Dinko Sakic, sought for extradition to his homeland for alleged war crimes when he ran Jasenovac camp under the Ustashe Nazi regime from 1942 to 1944 during the Second World War.

    Victor Ramos, head of the government's Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism, said Argentina wanted to ensure there were no more like Sakic and former Nazi Capt. Erich Priebke, who was extradited to Italy in 1995.

    ``Some people said when Priebke was arrested that because of his age -- these crimes were committed in the '30s and '40s -- he was the last Nazi,'' Ramos told Reuters. ``But Sakic triggered a red light. It made us think there could be more.''

    Argentina has moved rapidly on Croatia's request for the extradition of Sakic, which arrived Monday. Ramos said he will be extradited immediately if he does not appeal.

    Eager to shake off its image as a Nazi haven, Argentina has promised to block him from ever returning to the country that was his home for 50 years, as it did with Priebke, who lived openly in the Andean town of Bariloche for decades.

    Priebke was found guilty by an Italian court last July of participating in the massacre of 335 men and boys at the Ardeatine Caves outside Rome in 1944.

    Following his extradition, President Carlos Menem ordered the creation of a committee to investigate Nazi activities, including reports that Nazi gold was stashed in Argentina.

    The founders of Menem's Peronist Party, post-war leaders Juan and Eva Peron, are said by historians to have had Fascist sympathies. Sakic said they helped him settle in Argentina.

    But Ramos said the Office of Analysis of Nazi activities was not just meant to atone for the past. ``It will help us combat a resurgence of neo-Nazi activities. Something is wrong in a country where 10 skinheads attack (someone) because they think he is Jewish,'' Ramos said in a telephone interview.

    Three men got three years in jail two weeks ago for that attack, when a gang of 10 wearing leather jackets with swastikas beat a 32-year-old man they wrongly thought was Jewish.

    Buenos Aires is home to one of the world's largest Jewish communities -- which has suffered two serious bomb attacks. In 1992 a bomb at the Israeli embassy killed 29 people and in 1994 a bomb at the AMIA Jewish community center killed 86.

    Neither crime has been solved, provoking criticism from Israel and Jewish communities all over the world. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    FEATURE-Fascist's return will force Croatia to examine past
    09:31 p.m Apr 30, 1998 Eastern

    By Laura Lui

    ZAGREB, May 1 (Reuters) - A Croatian pensioner candidly tells of his wartime exploits in a television interview half a world away from Croatia.

    Within weeks, his testimony looks set to reverberate through his homeland as it forces the young country to finally re-examine and evaluate its attitude towards its own history.

    In an interview on Argentine television in early April, 76-year-old Dinko Sakic told of his time at the helm of one of the most notorious World War Two death camps -- Jasenovac, which came to be known as the ``Auschwitz of the Balkans.''

    Sakic was then only 20 and his country was the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), run by the Nazi-backed Ustashe regime which persecuted and killed tens of thousands of Jews, Gypsies, Serbs and anti-fascist Croats.

    Jasenovac closed in 1945 when the NDH collapsed and Sakic has since led a quiet life in Argentina.

    But present-day Croatia, which has basked in nationalist sentiment ever since gaining independence from communist Yugoslavia in 1991, is now demanding Sakic's extradition to try him for war crimes.

    His sudden re-emergence could have a shocking effect, forcing the country to come to terms with its past and end its tightrope walk between its Nazi and anti-fascist World War Two legacies.

    TAMPERING WITH HISTORY

    ``This country has been tampering with history for the past eight years. And once that starts, it's hard to come clean from such a mire,'' history professor Ivo Goldstein told Reuters.

    ``In the name of a feigned reconciliation of divided Croat-hood, the government tried to promote reconciliation between Ustashe and (anti-fascist) partisan fighters and their descendants. But you can't reconcile two different ideologies,'' he said.

    After centuries of foreign rule, Croatia came closest to being an independent state between 1941 and 1945 under the fascist Ustashe regime.

    Yet at the same time many Croatians joined the anti-fascist partisan movement led by the Communist Party and Marshal Josef Tito, a Croat who later ruled communist Yugoslavia for more than 30 years.

    Franjo Tudjman, who came to power in Croatia just before it seceded in 1990, was one of Tito's youngest generals. Despite his own anti-fascist background, Tudjman himself has fuelled a virulent debate about Croatia's history.

    Although condemning Ustashe crimes several times, the 75-year-old president at least once referred to them as the precursors of modern-day Croatia.

    ``One should realise that the NDH was not just a quisling creation but an expression of the Croatian people's wish to have their own independent and sovereign state,'' Tudjman said in a 1996 interview with Croatian media.

    HARDLINERS RETURNED TO FIGHT FOR STATEHOOD

    When cracks in the Yugoslav federation started to show, many Ustashe who fled abroad after 1945 and their descendants came back to feature prominently in Tudjman's 1990 presidential campaign.

    Several hardliners returned to fight for the dream of Croatian statehood and won high places in the regime.

    The opposition of the minority Serb community to the idea of Croatian independence was only strengthened by the nationalist rhetoric, and the fear of a resurgence of the Ustashe was the driving force behind its rebellion.

    Although the Ustashe regime was never reinstated, the government often turned a blind eye to the reintroduction of Ustashe symbols.

    The kuna currency, first used as paper money under the fascist regime, was reintroduced. Rightist parties started to raise hands in Ustashe salutes during rallies.

    A Catholic priest held a mass for Ustashe leader Ante Pavelic, whose pictures crept back into bars and restaurants. The priest was criticised by church officials but remained in orders.

    At the same time the government advocated, or tacitly approved, the wiping away of many signs of Croatia's partisan past, despite claiming it was proud of its contribution to the Yugoslav anti-fascist movement in World War Two.

    It renamed the ``Square of the Victims of Fascism'' in Zagreb the ``Square of Great Croatian People.'' The same fate befell many streets and schools named after communist leaders. Many partisan monuments were blown up.

    TIME TO SHAKE OFF HISTORICAL BURDEN

    ``Our authorities have a hypocritical attitude toward our anti-fascist past. They are anti-fascists when the need arises but, when they want to fawn upon the other side, then they are not,'' Goldstein said.

    ``The reconciliation project was aimed at striking a balance between Ustashe and partisan crimes, in an effort to cast doubt on the gravity of the Ustashe crimes. The consequence of this has been the reappearance of some Ustashe symbols,'' he added.

    The project culminated in Tudjman's proposal to re-bury Ustasha and partisan victims, as well as Croats killed in the 1991 war with minority Serbs, side by side in Jasenovac, which would turn the site into a symbol of all-Croat reconciliation.

    According to independent Croatian estimates which Croatian Jews regard as most accurate, some 85,000 Serbs, Jews, gypsies and anti-fascist Croats perished in Jasenovac. Serbs and some international Jewish groups put the toll at 600,000.

    The return of the former Jasenovac commander is now polarising the Croatian public. While nationalists see it as yet more Western pressure, others think the time has come for Croatia to finally shake off its historical burden.

    It took a first step last August when it formally apologised to the Jewish people for crimes committed during World War Two, enabling full diplomatic relations with Israel.

    Unlike Germany, which has had 50 years to try and come to terms with its Nazi past, Croatia under communism never had that opportunity. But, seven years after independence, many believe it is high time the debate was held and resolved.

    ``The truth about Sakic and the NDH must be told and accepted as a precondition for Croatia becoming part of Europe. Because of such fumbling with fascism and anti-fascism, Croatia has lost its anti-fascist identity,'' Goldstein said.

    Ivo Banac, a history professor at Yale University and a human rights activist, agrees.

    ``It is not evil in itself to have fascists in your past -- most European states had them at one point in time or other. But it is a pity if you relate to them benevolently,'' he said.

    ``It is bad when the state gets involved on the side of those who want to change history.'' ^[email protected]

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    CORRECTED - FEATURE-Fascist's return will force Croatia to exami
    11:56 p.m. Apr 30, 1998 Eastern

    By Laura Lui

    ZAGREB, May 1 (Reuters) - A Croatian pensioner candidly tells of his wartime exploits in a television interview half a world away from Croatia.

    Within weeks, his testimony looks set to reverberate through his homeland as it forces the young country to finally re-examine and evaluate its attitude towards its own history.

    In an interview on Argentine television in early April, 76-year-old Dinko Sakic told of his time at the helm of one of the most notorious World War Two death camps -- Jasenovac, which came to be known as the ``Auschwitz of the Balkans.''

    Sakic was then only 20 and his country was the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), run by the Nazi-backed Ustashe regime which persecuted and killed tens of thousands of Jews, Gypsies, Serbs and anti-fascist Croats.

    Jasenovac closed in 1945 when the NDH collapsed and Sakic has since led a quiet life in Argentina.

    But present-day Croatia, which has basked in nationalist sentiment ever since gaining independence from communist Yugoslavia in 1991, is now demanding Sakic's extradition to try him for war crimes.

    His sudden re-emergence could have a shocking effect, forcing the country to come to terms with its past and end its tightrope walk between its Nazi and anti-fascist World War Two legacies.

    TAMPERING WITH HISTORY

    ``This country has been tampering with history for the past eight years. And once that starts, it's hard to come clean from such a mire,'' history professor Ivo Goldstein told Reuters.

    ``In the name of a feigned reconciliation of divided Croat-hood, the government tried to promote reconciliation between Ustashe and (anti-fascist) partisan fighters and their descendants. But you can't reconcile two different ideologies,'' he said.

    After centuries of foreign rule, Croatia came closest to being an independent state between 1941 and 1945 under the fascist Ustashe regime.

    Yet at the same time many Croatians joined the anti-fascist partisan movement led by the Communist Party and Marshal Josip Broz Tito, a Croat who later ruled communist Yugoslavia for more than 30 years.

    Franjo Tudjman, who came to power in Croatia just before it seceded in 1991, was one of Tito's youngest generals. Despite his own anti-fascist background, Tudjman himself has fuelled a virulent debate about Croatia's history.

    Although condemning Ustashe crimes several times, the 75-year-old president at least once referred to them as the precursors of modern-day Croatia.

    ``One should realise that the NDH was not just a quisling creation but an expression of the Croatian people's wish to have their own independent and sovereign state,'' Tudjman said in a 1996 interview with Croatian media.

    HARDLINERS RETURNED TO FIGHT FOR STATEHOOD

    When cracks in the Yugoslav federation started to show, many Ustashe who fled abroad after 1945 and their descendants came back to feature prominently in Tudjman's 1990 presidential campaign.

    Several hardliners returned to fight for the dream of Croatian statehood and won high places in the regime.

    The opposition of the minority Serb community to the idea of Croatian independence was only strengthened by the nationalist rhetoric, and the fear of a resurgence of the Ustashe was the driving force behind its rebellion.

    Although the Ustashe regime was never reinstated, the government often turned a blind eye to the reintroduction of Ustashe symbols.

    The kuna currency, first used as paper money under the fascist regime, was reintroduced. Rightist parties started to raise hands in Ustashe salutes during rallies.

    A Catholic priest held a mass for Ustashe leader Ante Pavelic, whose pictures crept back into bars and restaurants. The priest was criticised by church officials but remained in orders.

    At the same time the government advocated, or tacitly approved, the wiping away of many signs of Croatia's partisan past, despite claiming it was proud of its contribution to the Yugoslav anti-fascist movement in World War Two.

    It renamed the ``Square of the Victims of Fascism'' in Zagreb the ``Square of Great Croatian People.'' The same fate befell many streets and schools named after communist leaders. Many partisan monuments were blown up.

    TIME TO SHAKE OFF HISTORICAL BURDEN

    ``Our authorities have a hypocritical attitude toward our anti-fascist past. They are anti-fascists when the need arises but, when they want to fawn upon the other side, then they are not,'' Goldstein said.

    ``The reconciliation project was aimed at striking a balance between Ustashe and partisan crimes, in an effort to cast doubt on the gravity of the Ustashe crimes. The consequence of this has been the reappearance of some Ustashe symbols,'' he added.

    The project culminated in Tudjman's proposal to re-bury Ustasha and partisan victims, as well as Croats killed in the 1991 war with minority Serbs, side by side in Jasenovac, which would turn the site into a symbol of all-Croat reconciliation.

    According to independent Croatian estimates which Croatian Jews regard as most accurate, some 85,000 Serbs, Jews, gypsies and anti-fascist Croats perished in Jasenovac. Serbs and some international Jewish groups put the toll at 600,000.

    The return of the former Jasenovac commander is now polarising the Croatian public. While nationalists see it as yet more Western pressure, others think the time has come for Croatia to finally shake off its historical burden.

    It took a first step last August when it formally apologised to the Jewish people for crimes committed during World War Two, enabling full diplomatic relations with Israel.

    Unlike Germany, which has had 50 years to try and come to terms with its Nazi past, Croatia under communism never had that opportunity. But, seven years after independence, many believe it is high time the debate was held and resolved.

    ``The truth about Sakic and the NDH must be told and accepted as a precondition for Croatia becoming part of Europe. Because of such fumbling with fascism and anti-fascism, Croatia has lost its anti-fascist identity,'' Goldstein said.

    Ivo Banac, a history professor at Yale University and a human rights activist, agrees.

    ``It is not evil in itself to have fascists in your past -- most European states had them at one point in time or other. But it is a pity if you relate to them benevolently,'' he said.

    ``It is bad when the state gets involved on the side of those who want to change history.'' REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

    TOP


    German far-right parties reject election alliance
    09:54 a.m. Apr 30, 1998 Eastern

    By Fiona Fleck

    BONN, April 30 (Reuters) - Two of Germany's main ultra-right parties on Thursday rejected a proposal to form an alliance for September's general election by the party that scored the far right's best election result since World War Two.

    Gerhard Frey, the leader of the German People's Union (DVU) which grabbed 13 percent of votes in the east German state of Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday, said far-right parties should stop fighting among themselves and unite.

    Pledging to change Germany's political landscape by winning more elections and influencing mainstream parties, Frey said he was holding talks with Franz Schoenhuber, the former leader of the far-right Republicans, and other groups.

    But two other main far-right parties said they had not received an offer for talks and were not interested in working with the DVU, which they dismissed as a ``pseudo-party.''

    ``We've always been open to talks. But our experience of cooperation over the years with Frey has not been positive,'' Ulrich Eigenfeld, the leader of the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), told Reuters.

    ``It's too late for the federal election -- we've selected all our candidates, our election preparations are at an advanced stage. We can't change this now.''

    German voters go to the polls on September 27.

    Frey was a member of the NPD executive in the 1970s but left the party after a failed bid to become deputy leader.

    He paid the NPD one million marks ($558,000) to run on a joint platform in the 1989 European election on condition the DVU could decide on joint candidates.

    The DVU grew stronger, while the NPD -- which had its heyday in the 1960s -- declined.

    The Republicans dismissed Frey's proposal as a tactical manoeuvre to unnerve other parties and said German law did not allow for an alliance to run in the federal ballot.

    ``He wants to capitalise on the mood in the population that we need a right-wing alliance, like Austria's OeVP,'' Republicans leader Rolf Schlierer said of the party led by Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider, whose popular support is put at as high as 38 percent.

    ``Such proposals are nonsense. There will be no alliance with us.''

    Schlierer dismissed the DVU as a ``letterbox party'' with no proper structure that was entirely dominated by its leader and financially dependent on his publishing empire.

    ``I won't be bought with Frey's millions,'' Schlierer said, speaking from his office in Stuttgart.

    German commentators have long said a party like the DVU with its financial clout combined with the talents of a beer-hall orator like Schoenhuber could create a potent force.

    Schoenhuber, 75, who fought as an SS officer for Adolf Hitler during World War Two, left the Republicans in 1995 after he failed to be re-elected leader in 1994 because of his insistence on cooperation with the DVU.

    In the latest edition of Frey's National Zeitung weekly, regarded as the DVU party paper, Schoenhuber is quoted as saying he would still be interested in working with the DVU.

    ``From now on all patriotic groups must join forces, as proposed in the Frey-Schoenhuber joint declaration of 1994,'' he said, referring to a document at the centre of the party row.

    Frey said there would be a decision in the next few days on possible cooperation with Schoenhuber ahead of the federal election and Bavarian state polls, also in September.

    The NPD, whose former leader Guenter Deckert was jailed for incitement to racial hatred in 1996, is the far-right party that in 1969 came the closest to entering federal parliament when its 4.3 percent share of the vote fell short of the required five percent.

    Since then, right-wing extremists have scored well below the five percent mark on the national level and only occasionally entered regional or municipal assemblies over the years.

    Political analysts do not expect the far right to repeat their election success on the national level, saying it was bitterly divided and lacked a charismatic leader.

    Right-wing extremist leaders like Frey, they say, are motivated by vanity and that attempts in the past to form an alliance have been thwarted by rivalry for the top post.

    About 10 percent of the electorate have the potential to vote far right but only about four percent actually will, according to pollster Dieter Walz of Emnid research institute. ($ - 1.789 German Marks) REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    German minister says far-right attitudes run deep
    07:44 a.m. Apr 30, 1998 Eastern

    By Mark John

    BONN, April 30 (Reuters) - German Defence Minister Volker Ruehe on Thursday angrily denied accusations the army was a breeding ground for neo-Nazis and said it was German society at large that had a problem with the far right.

    Speaking to a parliamentary inquiry, Ruehe said a surge in support for the far-right German People's Union (DVU) in a state election in Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday showed that the army was not alone in its battle against right-wing extremists.

    ``We can be still be proud of our army,'' Ruehe told the inquiry into a chain of neo-Nazi scandals in the army over the last year. ``But let's look at the shortcomings of our political education. There is huge political apathy among youth.''

    The revelations of far-right activities in the army, which at one point were coming at the rate of one or two a week, included an admission by army chiefs that they had invited a neo-Nazi convicted under German terrorist laws to speak at an elite military academy.

    There has also been video evidence of recruits making anti-Jewish remarks and the banned Hitler salute to each other, while former soldiers have spoken of a brisk trade in banned Nazi paraphernalia in barracks across the country.

    Ruehe, while acknowledging that one-off incidents had occurred, pointed to the fact that the vast majority of known far-right activists at large in society were between the ages of 16 and 24.

    ``That is precisely the age group that makes up our new recruits,'' he told the final hearing of the inquiry, launched over his objections by opposition political parties in January.

    Young people fed up with mainstream politicians and their failure to tackle the region's high jobless rate on Sunday provided the core vote for the DVU, which won nearly 13 percent. The authorities have branded the DVU racist and anti-Semitic.

    Ruehe said Germany's mixed conscript and professional army received 180,000 new recruits each year, and while it had stepped up efforts to monitor its intake, there would always be undesirable extremists who fell through the cracks.

    ``Name me one other organisation that has to deal with a staff turnover of 40 percent a year. The railway? The phone company? I don't think so,'' he said.

    Opposition politicians, who had accused Ruehe of taking far-right scandals too lightly, acknowledged the three-month probe had unearthed no evidence of systematic far-right tendencies in the army.

    ``The army is not an extreme-right organisation,'' Walter Kolbow, a Social Democrat member of the inquiry, told ARD television. But he added that the number of ``one-off'' incidents had been unacceptable.

    The head of the government's BfV constitutional watchdog agency, Peter Frisch, had testified on Wednesday that there were fewer than 100 right-wing extremists in the army. He said they tended to be of ``below-average intelligence,'' easily influenced by others and prone to violence.

    He said that many were using the army ``to learn how to shoot and learn about weapons.'' They also tried to conceal their far-right sympathies, Frisch said. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

    TOP


    German city Leipzig bans May Day far right rally
    01:19 p.m Apr 30, 1998 Eastern

    LEIPZIG, Germany, April 30 (Reuters) - The eastern German city of Leipzig on Thursday renewed a ban against an anti-foreigner rally by the German National Party (NPD) for fear of drawing violent clashes with leftists.

    The city said a lifting of its previous ban by the high court in the eastern state of Saxony had opened the floodgates for extremists from the left and the right to meet in Leipzig for the May Day holiday.

    ``The decision prompted the right and the left to mobilise their supporters from across the country,'' said Reinhard Bohse, spokesman for the Leipzig mayor. ``We have a completely different security situation now.''

    Police in the western city of Hanover said disruptions had already begun after vandals shattered the windows of seven parked buses at a depot in the western city of Hanover which were to take demonstrators to the NPD rally.

    A police spokesman said that leftists had distributed flyers in front of the depot calling on counter-demonstrators to travel to Leipzig and denouncing the company's transport of neo-Nazi activists to other rallies recently.

    The NPD, which has been mobilising for weeks with placards, pamphlets and announcements on its Internet home page, had said it expected up to 15,000 demonstrators to converge on a memorial there commemorating a battle in the Napoleonic War.

    The party, which is estimated to have 3,500 members, has organised a number of rallies around Germany this year in a bid to gain support ahead of this September's federal election. The focus of its activity has been on the former communist east.

    Left-wing activists from across Germany have pledged to shadow the far right and disrupt their demonstrations, then meet for their own rally in Berlin in the evening.

    Bohse said the city had only 6,100 police officers at the ready and could have expected 4,000 leftist counter-demonstrators if it had not reinstated the ban.

    Berlin has called in police support from neighbouring states to prevent incidents like those in recent years in which leftists rampaged through eastern districts of the city and attacked officers with paving stones and bottles.

    City barkeepers in traditional flashpoint areas have promised to close their doors from Thursday evening until Saturday.

    Berlin Mayor Eberhard Diepgen called for a peaceful observance of the labour holiday, in light of post-war record unemployment rates across the country.

    Authorities said leftists might also meet in Magdeburg, the capital of Saxony-Anhalt state, to protest against the 12.9 percent support the far-right German People's Union (DVU) won in a regional election there last Sunday.

    The result was the strongest showing by a far-right party in the post-World War Two era.

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    FOCUS-German far right allowed to rally in Leipzig
    08:16 a.m. Apr 30, 1998 Eastern

    LEIPZIG, Germany, April 30 (Reuters) - The far-right German NPD party was granted permission by a court on Thursday to hold a rally in Leipzig after city leaders tried to ban the march because they feared clashes with leftists.

    The high court in the eastern state of Saxony ruled that city authorities had not shown sufficient grounds to bar the German National Party (NPD) from demonstrating on Friday, the May Day holiday.

    ``As long as the NPD is not declared unconstitutional by the Federal Constitutional Court, it is allowed to propagate its political views like any other party,'' the court said.

    ``The demonstration could only be banned if it were to constitute an emergency for the police. The city of Leipzig did not present a credible argument that that is the case,'' the court said.

    NPD chairman Udo Voigt welcomed the court's ruling against what he called ``political fanatics in the Leipzig city government.''

    But he said if a warning by the city that it did not have enough police to monitor the rally proved to be true, then the army should be called in.

    ``If people are injured or property is damaged due to insufficient willingness to cooperate on the part of Leipzig, the NPD will hold city officials accountable,'' Voigt said.

    He said the party had also lodged an appeal with the constitutional court for approval to extend the march through the densely populated Stoetteritz district of Leipzig.

    The NPD, which has been mobilising for weeks with placards, pamphlets and announcements on its Internet home page, expects up to 15,000 demonstrators to converge on a memorial commemorating a battle in the Napoleonic War.

    The party, which is estimated to have 3,500 members, has organised a number of rallies around Germany this year in a bid to gain support ahead of this September's federal election. The focus of its activity has been on the former communist east.

    Leipzig Mayor Hinrich Lehmann-Grube repeated fears that the 6,000 police officers in force on Friday would not be enough to assure the safety of citizens and demonstrators in the city.

    Leipzig officials said they expected over 4,000 leftists to arrive in the city, but the court said this estimate was likely exaggerated.

    Left-wing activists from across Germany have pledged to shadow the far right and disrupt their demonstrations, then meet for their own rally in Berlin in the evening.

    Berlin has called in police support from neighbouring states to prevent incidents like those in recent years in which leftists rampaged through eastern districts of the city and attacked officers with paving stones and bottles.

    City barkeepers in traditional flashpoint areas have promised to close their doors from Thursday evening until Saturday.

    Berlin Mayor Eberhard Diepgen called for a peaceful observance of the labour holiday, in light of post-war record unemployment rates across the country.

    Authorities said leftists might also meet in Magdeburg, the capital of Saxony-Anhalt state, to protest against the 12.9 percent support the far-right German People's Union (DVU) won in a regional election there last Sunday.

    The result was the strongest showing by a far-right party since World War Two. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

    TOP


    Gore visits Israel for anniversary
    02:06 p.m Apr 30, 1998 Eastern

    By Laurence McQuillan

    JERUSALEM (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Al Gore came to Israel for its 50th anniversary Thursday and told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the United States would never let the Jewish state stand alone.

    ``We stand with you. We support your dream. From the ashes of the Holocaust arose the phoenix of the state of Israel,'' Gore said at an honor guard reception at Netanyahu's office.

    ``As Israel faces its next fifty years, these uncertain times yield certain truths -- the most important among these is the truth that as Israel fulfils its destiny, the United States of America will never let you stand alone,'' he said.

    Later in the day, Gore attended Israel's main Independence Day festivities at a Jerusalem stadium.

    Gore, who will also visit Saudi Arabia and Egypt during his tour, was to hold further talks with Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Friday and meet Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in the West Bank town of Ramallah Saturday night.

    Before Gore left Washington, a White House official said the vice president's purpose was to promote the peace process but stressed that he was ``not going to negotiate or mediate.''

    Netanyahu and Arafat are scheduled to meet separately in London next Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in her bid to end a year-long peacemaking impasse.

    The United States has been trying to break a deadlock over the scope of further Israeli troop withdrawals from the West Bank and stronger efforts by Arafat's Palestinian Authority to crack down on Muslim militants opposed to peace with Israel.

    Arafat urged Netanyahu Wednesday to accept U.S. proposals that call on Israel to withdraw from a further 13 percent of West Bank land under interim peace deals.

    The Palestinians have accepted the 13 percent figure but Israel is insisting on nine percent, saying a pullback of troops from any more land would harm its security.

    Netanyahu said he was ready to face world censure should the London talks fail rather than risk Israel's security interests.

    ``If I stand accused, what will I be guilty of? I will be guilty only of not being willing to accept dictates on Israel's security,'' Netanyahu told Israel Radio Wednesday.

    A senior administration official in Washington said both sides had to make ``some tough decisions'' to advance peace.

    ``The vice president will be reinforcing our basic message -- that we'll be there for them if they take risks for peace,'' the official said.

    After meeting Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders Friday, Gore will fly to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for an evening meeting with King Fahd and a working dinner with Crown Prince Abdullah.

    He visits Prince Sultan Air Base Saturday to meet with U.S. forces stationed there as part of the American contingent stationed in the Gulf to deal with any perceived threat from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

    That night, he returns to Tel Aviv for a drive to Ramallah and talks with Arafat before flying to Egypt. He and Mubarak will participate in two days of talks that include a meeting of a commission they co-chair to promote trade development.

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    FOCUS-Clashes as German far right holds rally
    12:29 p.m. May 01, 1998 Eastern

    By Deborah Cole

    LEIPZIG, Germany, May 1 (Reuters) - Police used water cannon and truncheons on Friday to disperse thousands of left-wing protesters trying to disrupt a far-right May Day rally in the eastern German city of Leipzig.

    Police moved in after leftists hurled rocks and bottles at police lines, witnesses said. Police also used truncheons to beat back rightists who threw bottles and stones and tried to attack leftists and journalists.

    About 60 people were detained and eight police officers and at least two other people were injured. But police said they had managed to prevent most potential clashes between leftists and rightists.

    The rally took place against a backdrop of high tensions in eastern Germany after the far right scored its best post-war election result there earlier this week.

    Supporters of the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) carried banners with slogans such as ``Jobs for Germans first'' and shouted ``The national resistance is on the march here'' as marching music blared through loudspeakers.

    Police put the number of rightists at around 5,000 and said 1,000 NPD opponents also turned out near the rally venue, a memorial commemorating a battle in the Napoleonic Wars.

    Gerhard Schroeder, the Social Democrat challenger to Chancellor Helmut Kohl in September's general election, said high unemployment was responsible for the far right's popularity in eastern Germany, particularly among young people.

    ``We say to the young people who have been blinded out of protest to vote for these parties -- we won't abandon you,'' he told a May Day rally in the eastern city of Potsdam.

    ``That's why a real alliance for employment and training belongs right in the centre of German politics.''

    NPD spokesman Klaus Beyer said police underestimated the number of rightist demonstrators. He put the figure at 10,000 and said it was one of the party's biggest rallies.

    ``Despite tactics by the city to ban it, we were able to have a very successful demonstration. We had masses of people on the streets which is a positive signal,'' he said, adding the level of support boded well for the NPD's general election chances.

    Eastern Germany has become fertile ground for right-wing extremists since the collapse of communism there in 1989.

    Politicians have expressed concern at levels of neo-Nazi violence in eastern Germany, which are far higher than those in the west of the country.

    The far right's strength was reflected in the spectacular success of the anti-foreigner German People's Union (DVU) in an election in the state of Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday. The party came from nowhere to grab 12.9 percent of the vote.

    Leftists said the NPD and DVU were exploiting feelings of insecurity in eastern Germany and warned against underestimating their chances in the federal elections.

    ``This is just the tip of the iceberg. The NPD has really tried to win people over and, with high unemployment, people feel like no party represents them. They fear the future,'' said Birgit Krauser, a 25-year-old sociology student.

    Leipzig authorities had tried to ban the rally, fearing clashes between leftists and NPD supporters, but a court overruled the move. Officials had said the 6,000 police officers available would not be able to cope.

    Around 8,000 people attended a concert at the rally site on Thursday to protest against right-wing extremism. Police said the concert, held under the motto ``Leipzig shows courage,'' had passed off peacefully.

    A banner from the concert bearing the words ``Fascism Never Again'' was still draped over the memorial.

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Clashes as rightists rally in eastern Germany
    06:39 a.m. May 01, 1998 Eastern

    By Deborah Cole

    LEIPZIG, Germany, May 1 (Reuters) - Police used water cannon and truncheons on Friday to disperse a group of leftists heading for the site of a far-right May Day rally in the east German city of Leipzig.

    Eyewitnesses said the clashes took place as several thousand demonstrators, some of them masked and many carrying placards with anti-Nazi slogans, tried to get to the gathering on the outskirts of the city.

    The rally took place against a backdrop of high tension in eastern Germany after the far right scored its best post-war result in an election there earlier this week.

    Police moved in to disperse the leftists after they hurled stones at a police roadblock, witnesses said.

    The clash took place ahead of a rally by the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) at a memorial commemorating a battle in the Napoleonic War.

    NPD supporters carried banners with slogans such as ``Jobs for Germans first'' and shouted ``The national resistance is on the march here!'' as marching music blared through loudspeakers.

    ``We're here to mobilise the right wing,'' said Ruediger Hoffmann, an unemployed 23-year-old acting as a steward at the rally. Hoffmann, dressed in a bomber jacket and jackboots and sporting a skinhead haircut, said the NPD was acting like any other political party.

    An NPD spokesman said the party expected between 10,000 and 15,000 of its supporters to attend the rally. Police estimated 6,000 rightists had arrived as the event got under way.

    Police said two police officers and several other people had been injured during scuffles between left- and right-wing activists. Police said they had detained 10 people.

    The leftists said parties like the NPD and the German People's Union (DVU), which won 12.9 percent of the vote in the state of Saxony-Anhalt on Sunday, were capitalising on feelings of insecurity in the formerly communist region.

    ``This is just the tip of the iceberg. The NPD has really tried to win people over and, with high unemployment, people feel like no party represents them. They fear the future,'' said Birgit Krauser, a 25-year-old sociology student.

    City authorities had tried to ban the rally, fearing clashes between leftists and NPD supporters. Officials said the 6,000 police officers available would not be able to cope. But a court overruled the move.

    Around 8,000 people attended a concert on Thursday evening at the site of the rally to protest against right-wing extremism. Police said the concert, held under the motto ``Leipzig shows courage,'' had passed off peacefully.

    A banner bearing the words ``Fascism Never Again'' was still draped over the memorial from the concert.

    Sunday's DVU result in Saxony-Anhalt set alarm bells ringing among mainstream political parties in Bonn.

    Politicians have also expressed concern at levels of neo-Nazi violence in eastern Germany, which are far higher than those in the west of the country.

    Klaus Beyer, an NPD spokesman at the rally, said his party differed from the DVU in some respects.

    ``The DVU is more interested in winning elections while we are trying to change the German political landscape,'' he said.

    But Beyer added that the DVU's result in Saxony-Anhalt was part of this change in the political landscape and said the two parties did not have many deep ideological differences. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Norway proposes 450 mln crowns compensation for Jews
    07:11 a.m. May 01, 1998 Eastern

    OSLO, May 1 (Reuters) - Norway is proposing to set aside 450 million crowns ($60 million) to compensate Jews for property lost and hardships suffered during the World War Two Nazi occupation of the country, news agency NTB said on Friday.

    In a speech late on Thursday to mark Israel's 50th anniversary, the news agency quoted Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik as saying the injustices against the Jewish people could never be made good.

    ``But we have an obligation to make an historic and moral/ethical settlement for what happened, and part of that settlement can be expressed economically,'' NTB quoted Bondevik as saying.

    Individuals will be able to claim up to 200,000 crowns, and an additional 250 million crowns will go to a collective fund to support and develop Jewish culture in Norway and abroad and to set up a learning and archives centre in Norway for Jews and other minority groups.

    NTB said it was unclear how many Jews would claim compensation.

    ``One thousand is a rough estimate but there may be fewer,'' Bondevik told the news agency.

    The Justice Ministry began a probe in September 1995 into allegations that Norway had failed to return millions of dollars worth of property, businesses and bank accounts confiscated from Jews under the puppet Quisling regime set up after Nazi Germany invaded in 1940.

    According to estimates from the Israeli embassy, 2,000 Jews lived in Norway before the invasion. About half were sent to the Auschwitz death camp, where only 20 survived.

    NTB quoted Israel's ambassador to Norway, Amos Nadai, as saying the Norwegian proposal should be seen as a model for other countries.

    ``I am not concerned by amounts of money but I think the stance the government has shown is extraordinary. I hope that other countries will view Norway's handling of this issue as a good example,'' Nadai told NTB. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Swiss Jews criticise Holocaust boycott threats
    08:15 a.m. May 01, 1998 Eastern

    ZURICH, May 1 (Reuters) - Swiss Jewish leaders on Friday criticised boycott threats against Switzerland and efforts in the United States to persuade Swiss banks to pay a huge global settlement of claims from Holocaust victims.

    The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) urged the Swiss government not to join talks on a so-called global solution that started last Monday between Swiss banks, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and lawyers for Jewish Holocaust survivors suing the banks in U.S. court.

    The SIG said a global solution, which would see the banks pay a lump sum to settle all Holocaust-related claims, would distract from a sweeping process that has started in Switzerland of coming to terms with its past as a neutral country in World War Two.

    ``The primary interest of the SIG is this coming to terms with history, so that Switzerland can examine its past and draw conclusions for the future,'' the SIG said in a policy statement.

    ``Global settlements harbour a danger of losing sight of the original concern and of the necessity of coming to terms with history,'' it added.

    Instead, the SIG said Swiss banks and the government should continue working with two independent, international commissions set up in the past two years, one hunting for assets left in Swiss banks by Holocaust victims and the other investigating Switzerland's wartime role and trade with Nazi Germany.

    ``We have reservations when it comes to pursuing (justified) concerns by way of class action suits or global settlements,'' the SIG said in a policy statement.

    ``Boycotts or sanctions against Swiss companies or Switzerland itself cannot be supported by the SIG,'' the organisation added.

    The SIG said it was prompted to issue the statement after the U.S.-based WJC, of which it is a member, joined forces with plaintiffs suing Swiss banks to negotiate on one side of the table in the Washington talks on a global settlement.

    Swiss banks agreed to the talks after being threatened with possible boycotts by city and state public finance officers in the United States, a huge and important market for the banks.

    The big banks -- Swiss Bank Corp , Union Bank of Switzerland and CS Group -- also hope to settle three class action suits filed in New York by Holocaust victims or their heirs who say the banks withheld assets deposited with them for safety from Nazi persecution.

    Swiss banks deny they systematically withheld victims' money, but are letting an independent panel check their books from the period. ^[email protected]

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Georgia Republicans get Gingrich challenge dropped
    06:24 p.m May 01, 1998 Eastern

    By Mark Preston

    ATLANTA, May 1 (Reuters) - Georgia Republican Party leaders struck an 11th hour deal on Friday to convince a carpet salesman to abandon plans to run against U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the state primary, a party official said.

    The drama unfolded in the closing hours of Georgia's qualifying period for political candidates, during which Democrats found a challenger to Gingrich for the November general election.

    A state Republican official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said party leaders spent 30 minutes on Friday morning convincing conservative activist Bob Castello to seek a north Georgia state House seat instead of Gingrich's suburban Atlanta congressional seat.

    Castello made his decision to seek a state post instead of the 6th District nomination to Congress just before the noon Friday qualifying deadline for the July 21 primary.

    The party official said the Republican hierarchy would support Castello in the state House race against incumbent Republican state Rep. Ben Whitaker because Whitaker has shifted ``too far to the left.''

    Prior to meeting with Republican officials, Castello said he was dissatisfied with the ``moderate direction'' Gingrich and his top House lieutenants were steering the Republican Party.

    ``I feel we need stronger leadership,'' said Castello, 46, a north Georgia carpet salesman. ``I am disappointed not only in Newt's leadership, but in a number of other Republicans as well. Republicans are about making government smaller, and (Gingrich) is not doing this.''

    Castello does not live in Gingrich's 6th District but by law could have challenged him. He currently lives in Georgia's 9th District, represented by U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Ga.

    Castello said he has not changed his mind about Gingrich's leadership but thought it was best to run for an office in his own district.

    ``I would still like to see (Gingrich) and the leadership of the Senate shift to the right and maintain a focus on keeping government small,'' Castello said. ``But I just thought it was best to run for something in my own district.''

    Castello ran for Congress once before, gaining the Republican nomination in 1994 to challenge Deal, who was then a Democrat. Deal, the first conservative Democrat to turn Republican after the GOP took control of Congress in 1994, beat Castello by 593 votes that year, 2,042 to 1,449.

    In the waning hours of the qualifying period, Democrats found someone to challenge Gingrich in the November election - Gary Pelphrey, 62, who tried to pay his qualifying fee with Social Security checks. He was forced to write a personal check by Democratic Party officials who told him signing over Social Security checks was not acceptable.

    Pelphrey, a lawyer and 1957 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, said he wants to ``give government back to the people.''

    ``I am starting a revolution,'' Pelphrey said. ``I am looking upon this campaign and election as a way for the people to regain control of their government.''

    Pelphrey said he would not try to match Gingrich's $1 million war chest but would instead orchestrate a grass roots campaign to unseat the speaker.

    ``I have decided I am not going to play Newt's money game,'' he said. ``I am not going to get on that battlefield with him.''

    Christina Jeffrey, who asked a court to overturn a Georgia Board of Regents' rule barring college professors from seeking federal office, had her hopes of running against Gingrich dashed Wednesday when a federal judge upheld the regulation.

    Jeffrey, who teaches political science at Kennessaw State College, was fired as U.S. House historian in 1995 one week after taking the job.

    She said Gingrich's failure to defend her against a charge she had once insulted Jews with a remark about the Holocaust showed that he was unfit for his job as House speaker. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    FOCUS-French National Front loses parliament seat
    05:21 p.m May 03, 1998 Eastern

    By Bruno Aubry

    TOULON, France, May 3 (Reuters) - France's far-right National Front failed by just 33 votes on Sunday to keep its only seat in parliament.

    Cendrine Le Chevallier, a stand-in for her husband, Toulon's National Front mayor, was defeated by Socialist Odette Casanova by a margin of 50.07 percent to 49.93 percent, city officials said.

    ``Toulon has regained its pride. At last France will be able to look at us and come to us,'' Casanova told ecstatic supporters in the Mediterranean port.

    Le Chevallier's defeat was a setback for Jean-Marie Le Pen's anti-immigrant party.

    Her husband, Mayor Jean-Marie Le Chevallier, was the Front's only National Assembly winner in last June's general election but was stripped of his seat for exceeding the campaign spending limit and banned from running again for a year.

    His wife had been favourite after she topped the poll in last Sunday's first round ahead of Casanova, who stood on a united left ticket.

    Citing alleged voting irregularities, Le Chevallier said she would ask the Constitutional Council to order a fresh poll because the result was so close.

    Casanova appeared to have benefited from a higher turnout -- 49.6 percent against 44.08 percent in the first round.

    The runoff result indicated that a majority of mainstream conservatives voted for the left in order to stop the National Front after bruising controversies over whether to make deals with the Front.

    ``To all Republicans who had the courage of voting for me: Thank you,'' Casanova said.

    The mainstream right's candidate, Daniel Colin, had not given any instructions to his supporters after being eliminated in the first round.

    Conservatives split after last March's regional election in which the Front polled over 15 percent of the votes and became kingmaker in several regional councils.

    Dissidents defied party bans on alliances with the Front in three of the country's 22 regions in order to retain council presidencies.

    The Toulon by-election came after the National Front's annual May 1 national march in Paris which was followed by clashes between Front demonstrators and members of the Jewish group Betar.

    The Front said some of its members were attacked as they returned peacefully to their coaches by Betar activists armed with iron bars and firearms.

    Betar said on Sunday that some of its members had confronted armed Front members who marched through a Jewish district, shouting anti-Semitic insults and attacking passers-by.

    Police have said a dozen Betar members were arrested but they had no report of firearms. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    US warns Moscow Americans after racist attack
    03:34 a.m. May 03, 1998 Eastern

    MOSCOW, May 3 (Reuters) - The U.S. embassy in Moscow warned its citizens to be on their guard after a black American was beaten up by skinheads in an apparent racist attack on Saturday.

    ``A group of so-called skinheads attacked and beat a member of the official American community of Afro-American origin,'' the embassy said in a statement. ``The American embassy in Moscow again warns its citizens to exercise caution in areas where groups of skinheads are known to loiter.''

    It had issued a similar warning, especially aimed at Americans of African or Asian origin, 10 days before the latest attack in Fili Park in western Moscow, which is home to a big music market specialising in bootleg tapes and compact discs.

    While post-Soviet Russia has been swamped by serious crime, from high-level corruption to routine contract killings, street violence remains a rarity compared with many Western cities.

    However, non-white Russians and foreigners complain of widespread racism.

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Scientists confirm remains belong to Nazi Bormann
    12:49 p.m. May 04, 1998 Eastern

    BONN, May 4 (Reuters) - Scientists confirmed on Monday that a skull and other remains of a body found on a Berlin building site were those of Martin Bormann, Adolf Hitler's right-hand man.

    Professor Wolfgang Eisenmenger, head of Munich University's Institute for Forensic Medicine, said DNA testing had backed up previous evidence that the remains were Bormann's.

    ``There is no doubt about it,'' Eisenmenger told Reuters.

    German media reported on Sunday that the DNA tests had produced a positive result, quashing persistent rumours that Bormann had fled to South America after the Third Reich collapsed in 1945.

    Prosecutors asked Eisenmenger's institute to carry out the tests on the skull and bones -- discovered in 1972 -- as Bormann still faces murder charges in Germany.

    Bormann, Hitler's secretary and confidant, has become a figure of fascination for neo-Nazis and an object of speculation for conspiracy theorists.

    A British book published in 1995 asserted Bormann had been spirited away after the war by British commandos in an attempt to get him to retrieve Nazi gold held in Swiss banks.

    But dental records and injuries on the remains found in Berlin had already been matched successfully with records held on Bormann.

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Right-wing extremists to run again in east Germany
    10:56 a.m. May 04, 1998 Eastern

    By Fiona Fleck

    BONN, May 4 (Reuters) - The shadowy radical party that scored the best post-war election result for the far right in Germany last week, said on Monday it would run in another regional election in the east of the country.

    The German People's Union (DVU), which grabbed 13 percent of the vote in Saxony-Anhalt last week, said it planned to put up candidates in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern -- another of Germany's poorest states.

    The shock election success brought back memories of Adolf Hitler's rise to power in 1933, shocked Jewish groups in Germany and prompted a bout of soul-searching in Germany's mainstream parties.

    The far right DVU, which fed on mass unemployment and widespread economic misery in Saxony-Anhalt, said it was confident it could repeat its success in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern where recent voters surveys give it as much 16 percent support.

    ``Party offices responsible for legal matters, organisation and publicity are charged with carrying out all necessary preparations,'' the DVU said in a statement.

    ``Boosted by recent opinion polls, which put DVU voter potential at 16 percent, the DVU federal party executive has decided to run in the election in this state,'' it said.

    The election in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is scheduled for September 27, the same day as the German federal election.

    Bavarian millionaire publisher Gerhard Frey, who leads the extremist party, said last week he wanted to join forces with other far right parties for upcoming elections.

    Germany's two other main right-wing extremists the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) and the Republicans, however, both rejected cooperation with the DVU.

    The Munich-based DVU, which is accused of racism and anti-Semitism by Germany's Office for Protection of the Constitution, said it would soon decide whether to run in the September 13 Bavarian state poll and the general election.

    Franz Schoenhuber, the charismatic former leader of the far right Republicans, confirmed reports at the weekend he would stand as candidate for the DVU in the 1999 European elections.

    Schoenhuber, 75, who fought as an SS officer for Adolf Hitler in World War Two, said he would announce his decision on running in the general election in the next three weeks.

    He ruled out standing in the Bavarian state election.

    The DVU's success in Saxony-Anhalt made it the first far right party to enter a state assembly in the former communist eastern Germany.

    The party, which says it has 16,000 members, is widely regarded as a one-man ``mailbox'' party with puppet candidates that lacks a proper structure and is entirely dependent on Frey's personal financing and directives.

    The closest a right-wing extremist group has come to entering the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, in federal elections was when the NPD won 4.3 percent of the vote nationwide in 1969.

    Experts put potential voter support for right-wing radicals at about 10 percent nationwide, but predict they will only garner about four percent -- shared among at least three parties -- in the general election. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    German troops train with Israelis, study Holocaust
    09:57 a.m. May 04, 1998 Eastern

    By Danny Gur-arieh

    ADAM ARMY BASE, Israel, May 4 (Reuters) - German officer cadets, on a visit to Israel steeped in historical irony, trained with Israeli troops on Monday and talked about their country's World War Two crimes against Jews.

    Seventeen cadets are in Israel for nearly three weeks of training under an initiative by the German military to expose its soldiers to other armies.

    They arrived just 10 days after Holocaust Remembrance Day, when Israel marks the slaughter of six million Jews in Europe by Germany's Nazi regime.

    ``I think we're all aware of the special responsibility we bear today to be here,'' said German cadet Christian Muth in a panel discussion at an army base near Tel Aviv.

    ``But I think further that what we're trying to do is get to a normal feeling, to get to a regular friendship between the two armies and to show that we might not really overcome history because that is not the aim -- it's always to be aware of history -- but that at a certain time we're able to walk together, to have a friendly relationship.''

    A stiff introduction between soldiers of the two armies quickly turned informal.

    Israeli troops at the base, some of them women, put on a sharp-shooting demonstration and then instructed the Germans as they fired Israeli-made machineguns at moving targets on the range.

    The German cadets asked their hosts about the training they undergo, about women in the military and about weekend leave. Israelis talked about the Germans' smart uniforms.

    ``From what he was telling me about the German army, some things sound quite different and some are the same. It's very interesting and I think we should be thankful (to meet them),'' said woman sergeant Michal Dunyevsky, gesturing to a German cadet sitting next to her during the panel discussion.

    Colonel Yehuda Shoshani, among the group's hosts at the base, said the military significance of the visit was secondary.

    ``We know that the German soldiers who visit us now are different people, a different army. It's important to know you as human beings -- as members of a democratic country,'' he said.

    The German cadets visited the Yad Vashem national Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem on Sunday, hearing about Nazi death camps where Jews were gassed and seeing pictures from the war.

    ``The young officers were carefully prepared for this visit...but certainly they were moved like all other people who have visited Yad Vashem,'' said German army chief Helmut Willmann, who arrived in Israel with the cadets.

    He brushed aside a question on revelations of far-right activities in Germany's army, saying the phenomenon was not endemic to the military but reflected a larger trend in German society.

    The revelations included an admission by army chiefs that they had invited a neo-Nazi convicted under German terrorist laws to speak at an elite military academy.

    ``I am well aware of history and therefore I think it is remarkable that we are able today to send young officers to Israel for the first time,'' Willmann said. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Sweden unites with U.S, UK on Holocaust campaign
    11:21 a.m. May 04, 1998 Eastern

    By Belinda Goldsmith

    STOCKHOLM, May 4 (Reuters) - Sweden, smarting from a series of challenges to its neutrality during World War Two, is joining forces with the United States and Britain to spread information about the Holocaust.

    A survey amongst Swedish schoolchildren last year found over 10 percent did not know what the Holocaust was or that it had occurred.

    ``The Prime Minister (Goran Persson) was alarmed by this report and initiated a Swedish programme to inform about the Holocaust,'' government spokesman Leif-Ake Falk told Reuters.

    ``He wrote to U.S. President Bill Clinton and Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair in January this year with his concerns, and government representatives from the three nations are pooling forces to discuss Holocaust information problems.''

    Government representatives as well as historians and Jewish studies experts are meeting in Stockholm on May 7 to formulate a plan for joint activities to disseminate information about the Holocaust.

    The seminar will be opened by Persson with guests including Stuart Eizenstat, head of an international probe into Jewish assets, Ralph Grunewald of the USA Holocaust Museum, Lord Janner, chair of the Holocaust Educational Trust, and Nazi crime hunter Ephraim Zuroff of the Simon Weisenthal Centre.

    ``We want to see what we can do at government level to inform and increase knowledge about the Holocaust,'' Falk said.

    The move follows a year of reminders of uncomfortable facts about Sweden which was officially neutral during World War Two.

    Most recently, this weekend, the daily paper Svenska Dagbladet published a document found in state archives that showed Swedish authorities knew and may have helped suspected war criminal Evald Mikson leave Sweden in 1946. He set off for South America but ended up in Iceland.

    Estonian-born Mikson is accused of exterminating Jews in Tallinn where he worked as a policeman during the Nazi occupation in 1941. He fled to Sweden in 1944.

    Svenska Dagbladet printed an application from Mikson dated May 8, 1946, seeking permission to travel to Stockholm for five days to prepare for his journey onwards. The letter was signed with approval the following day.

    It was the latest in a series of revelations in the Swedish media over the past year that has been accompanied by a number of inquiries and probes into state archives.

    An investigative team given access to the Swedish central bank archives last year said in December that Sweden acquired gold from Nazi Germany even though it suspected it was looted from Jews or occupied countries.

    The inquiry also showed that Sweden bought bars from the Netherlands made of melted-down gold, so that gold once owned by individual Jews may have ended up in Sweden.

    The World Jewish Congress (WJC) came up with documents showing Sweden supplied parts for Nazi Germany's deadly V-2 rockets which killed thousands of people in Belgium and England.

    Sweden also sold iron ore to Germany for its munitions industry. Between 1937-1943 Swedish ore provided the raw material for four out of every 10 German guns.

    But the action that is usually seen as the most difficult to justify was the decision taken by Stockholm to allow German troops to transit Sweden to fight and occupy Norway. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Australian police drop probe of suspected Nazi
    04:27 a.m. May 05, 1998 Eastern

    CANBERRA, May 5 (Reuters) - Australian Federal Police said on Tuesday they had dropped an investigation of suspected Nazi war criminal Konrad Kalejs, a Latvian who has held Australian citizenship since 1957.

    ``There was insufficient evidence for prosecution, and so the investigation has now concluded,'' a spokeswoman told Reuters.

    Kalejs was once investigated by Australia's now disbanded war crimes unit, but it did not find enough evidence to prosecute.

    The federal police investigation could be reopened if new evidence came to light, and there was no time limit on when such evidence had to be presented, the spokeswoman said.

    ``We're quite willing to take any more information that may come forward,'' she said.

    Kalejs, now in his eighties, moved to the United States in 1959 but was deported in 1994 after a court ruled he had been a Nazi officer in Latvia during World War Two.

    A U.S. immigration judge ordered Kalejs deported because of his ``assistance in Nazi persecution as a member of the notorious 'Arajs Kommando''' -- a Nazi death squad that operated in Latvia.

    But he remained in Canada en route to Australia until August 1997 when he was deported after an immigration court ruled he was implicated in the actions of a Nazi slave-camp in Latvia in which prisoners were tortured and starved.

    Both Canada and the United States deported Kalejs on the grounds he violated immigration laws by not revealing his activities in Latvia on visa entry forms. Kalejs says he was merely a university student at the time.

    Australia cannot deport Kalejs because he is an Australian citizen and his citizenship, granted 41 years ago, cannot be revoked for any false declaration on his original visa forms because the 10-year period set out in the statute of limitations has expired.

    Australia's war crimes act is also much more specific than equivalent laws in Canada and the United States, demanding direct evidence that someone actually participated in murder. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Austria launches commemoration of Nazi victims
    07:32 a.m. May 05, 1998 Eastern

    By Richard Murphy

    VIENNA, May 5 (Reuters) - Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima, marking a new annual commemoration day for the victims of the Holocaust on Tuesday, said his country must never forget its involvement in Nazi barbarism.

    In an address to his cabinet, he said the memory of the horrors of Nazism should spur Austrians to fight against all forms of violence and racism throughout Europe.

    The two houses of parliament held a joint session to inaugurate a ``Day of Commemoration against violence and racism in memory of the victims of National Socialism.''

    May 5 was chosen because it marks the anniversary of the liberation in 1945 of Austria's main death camp, Mauthausen.

    ``Mauthausen has become a symbol of the involvement of Austrians in barbarism and a symbol of destruction on Austrian soil,'' Klima said.

    ``The historical truth is painful: hundreds of thousands of Austrians became victims of National Socialist tyranny. Many citizens of our country supported the Nazi regime and helped to keep the machinery of destruction going until the last minute.''

    Austria was incorporated into Adolf Hitler's Third Reich in 1938 but for much of the post-war period, it sought to present itself as the first victim of Hitler's aggression.

    That stance changed only in 1993 when Klima's predecessor Franz Vranitzky acknowledged during a visit to Israel that Austrians had not only been victims but also ``willing servants of Nazism.''

    The annual commemoration day takes Austria a step further in coming to terms officially with its Nazi past.

    Klima said all Austrians had a moral obligation to keep alive the memory of Nazism and to fight racism and violence, including ``the structural causes of violence'' such as unemployment and social injustice.

    ``Inhumanity always grows out of the morass of economic and political crises,'' the Social Democratic chancellor added.

    Tuesday's ceremony in the Austrian parliament was attended by former president Kurt Waldheim, a two-term United Nations secretary-general, whose term as head of state was overshadowed by allegations he had lied about his wartime service with a German army unit in the Balkans that had committed war crimes.

    Also in attendance was veteran Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal, one of thousands of emaciated survivors liberated from Mauthausen by U.S. troops on May 5, 1945.

    Around 100,000 people were killed in Mauthausen, many of them Jews. ^[email protected]

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Nazi Bormann's family welcome DNA identification
    11:35 a.m. May 05, 1998 Eastern

    By Tara FitzGerald

    BONN, May 5 (Reuters) - Martin Bormann's family welcomed news that DNA tests had shown remains found more than 20 years ago to be those of the top Nazi, saying they hoped this would finally lay to rest speculation over his whereabouts.

    ``For the family these results were no surprise,'' Bormann family lawyer Florian Besold told Reuters on Tuesday.

    Scientists confirmed on Monday that DNA testing showed a skull and other human remains found on a Berlin building site in 1972 were those of Bormann, Hitler's right-hand man.

    The bones discovered in Berlin were widely thought to be those of Bormann after dental records and injuries found on the remains matched successfully with those of Hitler's henchman, but rumours of his escape and survival continued to abound.

    ``(This confirmation) rules out any further speculation over the death or survival of Martin Bormann after 1945 for any serious reporter,'' the family said in a statement.

    ``Anyone who defies this must be prepared to be criticised for making malicious and macabre business out of exploiting this terrible chapter of German history as well as injuring the feelings of (Nazi) victims and family members,'' it said.

    The family has consistently maintained that Bormann died in May 1945 during an escape attempt from Hitler's Berlin bunker and have slammed other theories as ``sickening rumours.''

    Professor Wolfgang Eisenmenger, head of Munich University's Institute for Forensic Medicine, said the test process had involved extracting DNA from the bones and comparing it with the blood of one of Bormann's nieces.

    The results left no doubt the remains were those of Bormann, he said.

    ``We have had the bones for a long time, but we only started to work intensively on them in the last few weeks,'' he added.

    Prosecutors asked Eisenmenger's institute to carry out the tests on the skull and bones as Bormann still faces murder charges in Germany.

    Bormann's whereabouts have been dubbed one of Nazi Germany's ``last great secrets'' and in the years since World War Two Hitler's secretary and confidant has become a source of fascination to neo-Nazis and the subject of numerous conspiracy theories and supposed sightings in Latin America.

    The controversy surrounding his fate was reignited in 1996 when a book published in Britain said he had lived in a quiet English village for 11 years after being smuggled out of the Fuehrer's bunker by British commandos.

    Author Christopher Creighton, a former television and film director, said in the book that he was part of the crack unit who spirited Bormann out of Germany so he could help the Allies recover an immense fortune appropriated by the Nazis and stashed in Swiss bank accounts.

    ``The motive for this most recent investigation was not due to any doubt in the inquiry carried out in 1973, but, through a new method, to try to definitively lay to rest wild and often commercially-motivated speculation,'' the Bormann family said.

    Other rumours suggested Bormann had fled to South America following the defeat of Germany by the Allies and sightings of him were reported in Argentina, the favoured hideout of some other top Nazis, and in Paraguay.

    The German government declared Bormann officially dead more than 20 years ago. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Swiss bank settles with Holocaust survivor
    10:51 a.m. May 05, 1998 Eastern

    By Grant McCool

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - A major Swiss bank says it has settled a Holocaust survivor's claim that it hoarded her father's wealth when she could not produce a death certificate, even though he perished in a Nazi death camp.

    The agreement -- announced by Credit Suisse Group in Zurich and at a news conference in New York -- calls for the bank to pay an unspecified sum of money to 80-year-old Estelle Sapir, whose 52-year quest for her father's legacy has made headlines around the world in recent years.

    Sapir said in New York Monday that after losing her family in Nazi death camps, the Swiss banks had turned her away when she sought to retrieve her father's money.

    ``After an extensive review, Credit Suisse Group has decided on a generous resolution of this special case,'' the bank said in a statement in Zurich. ``It found indications that Josef Sapir had business ties with Credit Suisse before the war. It can no longer be reconstructed when and how these ended.''

    In return, Estelle Sapir will withdraw from a class action lawsuit against big Swiss banks filed in a U.S. court on behalf of thousands of other Holocaust victims who say the banks withheld their dormant assets, the bank said.

    At the news conference, an emotional Sapir recalled her father, thanked her attorney and U.S. Senator Alfonse D'Amato, a New York Republican who has represented Holocaust victims in an international fight to have their money returned.

    ``Without them I never, never could have done what I've done,'' said the small and frail-looking Sapir, who stood on books in order to reach a cluster of TV microphones. ``In Europe I was by myself and never could succeed.''

    Few details of the settlement were released and D'Amato would only say that it was ``a very substantial sum by anyone's standards.'' Swiss television reported that the settlement was for around $500,000, but the bank did not confirm the amount.

    ``Believe me, it's not just the money. Justice has been done and I hope to help other people,'' said Sapir, who held up faded black and white photographs of her father, who was a banker in Warsaw, Poland, before the war.

    Josef Sapir died in 1943 at a Nazi death camp in Maidanek, Poland. Estelle Sapir last saw him at another camp at Rivesaltes in France before they were separated.

    On Monday, Estelle Sapir recalled how he had held his finger through a wire fence of the concentration camp to touch her and tell her that all she she had to do was go to Credit Suisse in Place Bel Air in Geneva and other banks in order to claim money he had deposited.

    In 1946, Estelle Sapir went to banks in London and Paris where she was able to retrieve some of her father's accounts. In Switzerland, Credit Suisse Group officials said her father had an account but demanded his death certificate in order to release the money.

    Almost a generation later, a Credit Suisse Group official stood side-by-side with Sapir at Monday's news conference to announce the settlement.

    ``We have all, the Sapir family and Senator D'Amato, worked very diligently over a long period of time and countless hours of research and we have now reached a point where we have sufficient basis to reach the agreement that we have reached today,'' said Robert O'Brien, a managing director of Credit Suisse First Boston, speaking on behalf of the group.

    ``We want to say on the part of Credit Suisse that we remain committed to uncover whatever deposits that could have existed at any point in time from any survivor of the Holocaust,'' O'Brien said.

    ``Not one penny of those funds will ever remain in our institution,'' he promised.

    Credit Suisse officials have said in the past that the bank has continually paid out money from dormant accounts to people who come forward and show they are entitled to the funds.

    Credit Suisse and two other big Swiss banks -- Union Bank of Switzerland and Swiss Bank Corp -- last month started talks with Jewish groups and lawyers for class-action plaintiffs to reach a global settlement of claims against the banks.

    Finance officials in several U.S. states and cities have threatened to boycott big Swiss banks if the confidential negotiations do not produce a settlement.

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    Australian Jews angry after Nazi inquiry dropped
    02:49 a.m. May 06, 1998 Eastern

    By Paul Tait

    SYDNEY, May 6 (Reuters) - Angry Jewish groups in Australia called on Wednesday for wider police powers to investigate crimes against humanity after the Australian government dropped an investigation into an alleged Nazi war criminal.

    Jewish leaders said they were saddened but not surprised by an Australian Federal Police (AFP) decision to drop an investigation of suspected Nazi war criminal Konrad Kalejs, a Latvian who has held Australian citizenship since 1957.

    Kalejs, now in his eighties, was investigated after he was deported from Canada in 1997. The AFP said on Tuesday its investigation into Kalejs, who had also been deported from the United States, had been dropped for lack of evidence.

    ``If the Australian law can't deal with somebody who has been deported from the U.S. and Canada, what are our legislators doing to address the problem?'' Executive Council of Australian Jewry vice-president Jeremy Jones told Reuters.

    ``It's a moral stain on this country while he's allowed to live here freely,'' he said.

    Victoria state Jewish Community Council leaders said it would be hard for Holocaust survivors to deal with the decision.

    Kalejs was also investigated by the AFP's former war crime unit, known as the special investigations unit, which also did not find enough evidence to prosecute. The unit was disbanded in 1993 after three failed prosecutions.

    Jones said harsher immigration laws were needed and urged the re-establishment of the war crimes unit to take advantage of new information coming from former Soviet countries in Eastern Europe.

    ``We've had the freeing-up of the Soviet Union, a great deal more information is available and to my mind that justifies re-establishing the special investigations unit,'' Jones said.

    ``Not only is there a compelling case to re-establish the special investigations unit but it should be brought in to look at the other people involved in crimes against humanity from other regimes,'' he said.

    Kalejs denies he was a Nazi officer and has said he was just a university student.

    Kalejs was deported from Canada last August when authorities ruled he was implicated in the actions of a Nazi slave-camp in Latvia in which prisoners were tortured and starved.

    He moved to the United States in 1959 after being granted Australian citizenship two years earlier.

    Kalejs had been deported from the United States by a U.S. immigration judge in 1994 because of his ``assistance in Nazi persecution as a member of the notorious 'Arajs Kommando''' -- a Nazi death squad that operated in Latvia during World War Two.

    But Kalejs' Australian citizenship cannot be revoked for any false declaration on his original visa forms because a 10-year statute of limitations has expired.

    Australia's war crimes act is more specific than equivalent laws in Canada and the United States and demands direct evidence of actual participation in murder.

    The AFP said investigations into Kalejs could be reopened if new evidence came to light. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    French skinhead on trial in May Day murder case
    03:13 p.m May 06, 1998 Eastern

    PARIS, May 6 (Reuters) - A French skinhead goes on trial in Paris on Thursday on charges of murdering a 29-year-old Moroccan man by throwing him into the Seine River in 1995 after attending a May Day rally by the far-right National Front.

    Michael Freminet, now 22, has acknowledged slapping and pushing Brahim Bouarram on the Seine towpath, but says he did not intend to kill him and is not racist.

    Bouarram's death unleashed a wave of anger against the National Front and its fiery leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, though it has not harmed its standing in France over the long term. The xenophobic party regularly wins about 15 percent of the vote in national elections.

    Le Pen at the time blamed the Moroccan's death on leftist troublemakers attempting to smear the Front's image. He said the killing had no connection to the Front's annual May Day parade.

    But Freminet acknowledged having attended the rally before leaving it with friends to walk along the Seine.

    The political establishment portrayed Bouarram's death, which fell six days before the 1995 presidential election runoff, as a sign of racist influence in French society.

    ``This is an event that tragically marks our history. Every opportunity must be seized to explain, explain, explain, that the French are not racists,'' said then-president Francois Mitterrand, who led a mass protest against racism two days after the killing and threw a wreath into the Seine where Bouarram had drowned.

    Several hundred people marked the third anniversary of Bouarram's death last Friday with a simple ceremony at the same site. They observed a moment's silence and threw a wreath into the river as had Mitterrand three years before.

    On trial with Freminet were three other skinheads, accused of failing to come to the assistance of a person in danger. The three were David Parent, 21, Christophe Calame, 28, and David Halbin, 28.

    The four were found by police after the Front gave them videotapes of its rally. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    FOCUS-Germany says far-right crime surges in 1997
    11:11 a.m. May 06, 1998 Eastern

    By Erik Kirschbaum

    BONN, May 6 (Reuters) - Racist attacks by far-right extremists in Germany surged by more than a quarter in 1997 after declining steadily in recent years, the government said on Wednesday.

    The internal security service said in its annual report on militant groups that the number of racist and anti-Semitic acts of violence jumped by 27 percent to 790 incidents. The attacks included 13 cases of attempted manslaughter and 677 assaults.

    The total number of rightist criminal acts -- including spreading outlawed propaganda and using illegal symbols such as the swastika -- shot up by 34 percent.

    The report came less than two weeks after the far-right German People's Party (DVU) shocked the nation by becoming the most successful far-right party in Germany since World War Two. It won nearly 13 percent of the vote in an election in the depressed eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt.

    ``It is a discouraging development,'' Interior Minister Manfred Kanther said of the 194-page report by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV).

    ``We have to remain on alert. We will fight extremists on the far-right, as well as the far-left, without any let-up at all, and we will win,'' he told a news conference.

    The BfV estimated that right-wing radicals in Germany saw their ranks swell by seven percent last year to 48,400. The number of hard-core extremists deemed capable of violence climbed by 19 percent to 7,600.

    The watchdog agency gave no specific explanation for the trend. But opposition leaders blamed the surge in far-right violence on the government's failure to combat record post-war unemployment, now nearly 13 percent, and the widening gap between rich and poor.

    ``The alarming development in right-wing extremism is a challenge for our state and our society,'' said Hertha Daeubler-Gmelin, legal affairs expert for the Social Democrats.

    ``The reasons are obvious even though Kanther is ignoring them -- large parts of our society have been made deliberately poor and many are afraid of being disenfranchised in a changing world.''

    Gunda Roestel, chairwoman of the Greens, said Chancellor Helmut Kohl's government was chiefly to blame.

    ``Kohl's government has brought us record unemployment and the highest state debt in German history,'' she said. ``Now it should take the blame for the record in far-right crime. But it refuses to accept responsibility.''

    Wolfgang Schaeuble, the leader of Kohl's Christian Democrats in parliament, said the government would work hard to educate voters about the far-right. But he blamed the media for contributing to the anti-foreigner sentiment that helped the DVU.

    ``We must explain that extremism is the wrong way,'' Schaeuble said. ``You (in the media) should be a lot more calm in reporting certain things.''

    Racist attacks, especially in former communist eastern Germany, surged after unification with the west and more than 30 people were killed in the early 1990s.

    But violence had been falling for several years since a government crackdown in 1993.

    Apart from unemployment, officials said peer pressure and alcohol were among the factors behind the latest rise. They blamed the DVU's newspaper, the Nationale Zeitung, for fanning far-right ideology.

    ``We see an undercurrent of anti-Semitism in the paper that is disgusting to read,'' said one official. ``Jews are portrayed as money-grubbers. They are blamed for preventing the German people putting the Nazi past behind them.''

    Officials said many young Germans were not necessarily believers in far-right ideology, but were bored and easily coaxed into attacks on foreigners and other acts of violence, especially after they had been drinking.

    They said they were keeping a close eye on three far-right parties that have so far competed with each other for support. So far, the officials said, there was no charismatic figure who appeared capable of uniting the far-right. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

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    FOCUS-Asylum-seekers held after rampage in Germany
    11:10 a.m. May 06, 1998 Eastern

    BERLIN, May 6 (Reuters) - More than 100 German police and border guards were deployed in the city of Eisenhuettenstadt on Wednesday to control dozens of asylum-seekers who rampaged through a detention centre after a failed escape bid.

    The asylum-seekers, who were awaiting deportation after their applications were rejected, used home-made tools to try to break down a wall on Tuesday night, a police spokesman said in the city close to Germany's border with Poland.

    Guards stopped several of them from breaking out but the would-be escapees joined forces with others, breaking windows and chairs, throwing rubbish across the floor and setting a mattress on fire.

    Police and border guards evacuated one floor of the detention centre in the early hours of the morning and housed 45 people in a nearby sports centre. They detained 13 people, seven of whom were later released.

    ``We had to bring in extra forces to restore order but in the end there was no real resistance,'' police spokesman Dieter Schulze said.

    Among the 13 people detained were four Ukrainians, two Russians, two from Tajikistan, one Belarussian, one Algerian, one Chinese, one Lebanese and one Palestinian.

    ``These people were attempting to defy their deportation orders and trying to escape so they could remain in Germany and this is not allowed,'' Schulze said.

    Refugee lobby groups have recently complained of increasingly brutal treatment of asylum-seekers awaiting deportation since Germany's law on asylum was made tougher in 1993.

    Bonn imposed tough limits to stem a growing tide of asylum-seekers from eastern Europe and the Third World, who had increasingly become the targets of neo-Nazi and racist violence.

    In a report released on Wednesday, the government said racist attacks by far-right extremists leapt by nearly one third in 1997 after a steady decline in the previous few years.

    The number of asylum-seekers reached a peak in 1992 with about 440,000 applicants arriving in Germany. The influx has declined since Bonn amended what used to be Europe's most liberal asylum legislation. REUTERS

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.


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