Germany has announced a ban on the neo-Nazi group Combat 18 Deutschland on January 23 to send a 'clear message' against far-right extremism and anti-Semitism. A spokesperson for Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said that nearly 200 police officers were involved in carrying out a raid in six German states. Another spokesperson, Steve Alter has said that the police operations were carried out in Brandenburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Thuringia.
The officers seized cellphones, computers, unspecified weaponry, Nazi memorabilia, and propaganda material.
The group Combat 18 was founded in the early 1990s in Britain as an armed wing of the British National Party. Since then, the militant group has grown across several European countries.
The number 18 in the name of the group denotes first and eighth letters of the alphabet, AH, which are the initials of the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler. Combat 18 has reportedly spread 'far-right extremism and anti-Semitic hatred' in German society'.
Seehofer said that the group also produced neo-Nazi music and staged concerts for some extremists bands. Furthermore, Interior Minister spokesperson added that the German chapter of Combat 18 'enjoys great respect' within the far-right extremist scene.
The neo-Nazi group is reportedly regarded as a symbol of violent extremism. Some of the members of the group have been convicted for illegally importing ammunition to the country after they returned from firearms training in the Czech Republic in September 2017.
This announcement comes on the same day as World leaders meet for the World Holocaust Forum memorial event which marks 75 years since Jewish prisoners were liberated from the Auschwitz concentration camp. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and many other leaders including Prince Charles are currently attending the meeting. The organisation's president Moshe Kantor reportedly said that the event 'sends a powerful message' against anti-Semitism which is 'unacceptable danger for all societies'.
According to international reports, Kantor said World Holocaust Forum provides hope to the Jewish population all around the world that extremism can be countered with values of moderation and toleration. He then referred to several anti-Semitic attacks in Europe and said in a press conference that 'Jewish life in Europe is again under threat'.
He added, 'It’s a sad picture of trembling communities hiding behind high fences'. The event in Jerusalem is headlined as 'Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Antisemitism '.