Germany bans skinhead group 'Blood and Honor'

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BERLIN - Pushing a crackdown on violent neo-Nazis, Germany banned the German division of an international skinhead group called ''Blood and Honor'' on Thursday, saying it spread Nazism through racist music, magazines and Web sites.

Interior Minister Otto Schily said the white supremacist organization, founded in Britain in the mid-1980s and active worldwide, has attracted about 200 German members and another 100 in its youth wing, called ''White Youth,'' since establishing its first branch in Berlin in 1994.

Police searched at least 30 sites linked to the group Thursday morning, confiscating propaganda material and bank books listing deposits ''in five figures,'' Schily said. A computer was seized in one raid in Hesse state, officials there said.

There is no evidence directly implicating ''Blood and Honor'' in attacks on foreigners or other targets here. But Schily said the skinhead concerts it organizes, the fanzines for neo-Nazi bands it publishes and other activities ''poison the heads and hearts'' of young people and promote a dangerous mindset.

''It's enough that they adopted the goal of spreading Nazi ideology,'' he said in justifying the ban. ''Such things create a certain atmosphere or disposition that then makes them more prone to violence.''

Numerous times, he said, youths arrested after neo-Nazi attacks told police they were inspired by listening to rock bands such as ''Die Haerte'' (''The Hardness''), who sing about such things as torching foreigners' homes. ''Blood and Honor'' organized concerts featuring such bands, including one last fall in Garitz, 75 miles southwest of Berlin, that drew about 2,000 skinheads.

Music with lyrics glorifying Nazism or inciting racial hatred are banned in Germany. Sites for the concerts are usually reserved for ''birthday parties'' or some other innocuous event. Police break up the gatherings once they get wind of them.

Germany is the first country to ban ''Blood and Honor,'' whose members often have the name tattooed on their shaved head or body. A ban of another skinhead club, the U.S.-based ''Hammerskins,'' is also under consideration, Schily said.

The groups are active across Europe as well as in North America, Australia and South Africa, he said.

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