BERLIN (AP) — The German government on Tuesday banned the neo-Nazi group Hammerskins Germany and raided homes of dozens of its members. The group is an offshoot of an American ring-wing extremist group and plays a prominent role across Europe.
The Hammerskins Germany is an offshoot of the Hammerskins Nation founded in the United States in 1988, according to the interior ministry.
It plays a prominent role in the right-wing extremist scene in Europe. Worldwide, members of this association refer to themselves as “brothers” practicing their subcultural way of life. The group also sees itself as the elite of the right-wing extremist skinhead scene, according to the ministry.
“The ban of the Hammerskins Germany is a hard blow against organized right-wing extremism,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said, adding that the ban included the association's regional chapters and its sub-organization Crew 38.
"With this ban, we are putting an end to the inhumane activities of an internationally active neo-Nazi association in Germany," she added. “This sends a clear signal against racism and antisemitism.”
In Germany, the grouping comprises around 130 members. During the early morning raids in 10 states, around 700 police officers searched homes of 28 group members. It was not immediately clear if any members were detained.
“According to our findings so far, significant amounts of right-wing extremist devotional objects have been seized in addition to cash,” the minister said.
Ahead of the ban, the German federal and state governments cooperated intensively for more than a year, Faeser said, adding that “we also worked closely with our American partners.”
The core element of the group’s ideology is the propagation of a racial doctrine based on Nazi ideology. The purpose of the association Hammerskins Germany is to consolidate its right-wing extremist worldview, particularly through concerts where it tries to appeal to non-members to radicalize them, the ministry said.
“The right-wing extremist orientation of the internationally networking group manifests itself in particular through the distribution of recordings of right-wing extremist and antisemitic music, the organization of right-wing extremist concerts, and the sale of right-wing extremist merchandise,” it said.
The ban of the Hammerskins Germany is the 20th ban of a right-wing extremist association by the German interior ministry.
“Right-wing extremism remains the greatest extremist threat to the basic democratic order in Germany,” Faeser told reporters in Berlin.