German Police Raid Homes of Members of Far-Right, Neo-Nazi Group

BERLIN (AP) -
In this Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 photo German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer addresses the media during a press conference in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, file)

More than 180 police officers raided homes in three German states early Tuesday after the German government banned a far-right group, the interior ministry said.

The homes of 11 members of the far-right group Wolfsbrigade 44 were searched in Hesse, Mecklenburg West-Pomerania and North Rhine-Westphalia to confiscate the group’s funds and far-right propaganda material, the German news agency dpa reported.

“Whoever fights against the basic values of our free society will get to feel the resolute reaction of our government,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said. “There’s no place in this country for an association that sows hatred and and works on the resurrection of a Nazi state.”

The members of the group want to re-establish a Nazi dictatorship and abolish democracy, the interior ministry said. The 44 in their name stands for the fourth letter in the alphabet, DD, and is an abbreviation for Division Dirlewanger. Oskar Dirlewanger was a known Nazi war criminal and commander of a Nazi SS special unit.

The far-right group, founded in 2016, is also known for its anti-Semitic and racist ideology as well as its violent and aggressive appearances in public and on social media.

On Tuesday, officers found knives, a machete, a crossbow and bayonets during their raids. They also seized Nazi devotional objects such as swastikas and flags.

Earlier this year, the German government banned other far-right groups including the Combat 18 and the Nordadler, dpa reported.

In a separate investigation, the Defense Ministry said that eight suspects had been questioned by military intelligence on Tuesday in connection with an investigation that has been going on since the end of last year.

The investigation is centered on soldiers and several civilian employees working at a regional office of the military in Ulm, who are thought to be linked to the so-called Reichsbuerger movement.

Reichsbuerger, or Reich citizens, have similarities to the sovereign citizens movements in the United States and elsewhere. They reject the authority of the modern German state and promote the notion of “natural rights,” often mixing this ideology with far-right politics and esoteric conspiracy theories.

“There isn’t any room in the military for enemies of the constitution,” Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a statement.