German Brochure: How To Peg A Neo-Nazi
In Brandenburg, Germany, authorities released a new brochure this month that helps hotel owners recognize customers who may be neo-Nazis, after a number of the far-right political activists fooled hotel managers by booking events under false names.
Along with other eastern regions in Germany, Brandenburg has seen a rise in far-right activism, as evinced by anti-immigrant violence and the emergence of the National Democratic Party (NPD), a German nationalist political organization called a “threat to the constitutional order” by a German federal office.
The brochure helps discern neo-Nazis by highlighting a host of symbols that they use to self-identify, such as the inverted swastika and the negative swastika, and more arcane motifs like the Gau triangle, a black arm-patch banned in Germany since 2002. Hotel owners are warned of significant days in Nazi lore as well, such as April 20, the day Hitler was born, and January 18, the day of the German Reich’s founding in 1871. The brochure also details some common facades used for neo-Nazi gatherings, like “The Society for History and Culture”, and other vaguely titled organizations.
The new guidelines are important because German law on the topic is convoluted and subtle. After former NPD chairman Udo Voigt was prevented from entering a spa he had booked, Germany’s Federal Court ruled in March that hoteliers could reject customers based on political views, but must honor a commitment once it is booked. With the help of the brochure, hoteliers can avoid committing to customers that they will later regret having served, a common occurrence considering the negative PR that clings to neo-Nazi functions. The bad publicity is exacerbated by the heavy police presence accompanying NPD gatherings to discourage rioting.
In the end, according to German newspaper Der Spiegel, innkeepers are mostly left to fend for themselves, sparking Education Minister Martina Munch to comment that “civil courage is necessary”. “You have to take a stand” Olaf Lucke, Managing Director of Brandenburg’s Hotel and Restaurant Association confirmed to Der Spiegel, but expressed disappointment with Germany’s apathetic legislation. “The guide won’t solve any problems” he said, leaving Germany’s hotels in the hands of their owners discretion.
“One doesn’t have to cater to right wing extremists” said Munch.