Monday, March 12, 2007

Der Spiegel: "Give Me My Dog Back or I'll Let in the Neo-Nazis"

Nazi baggage does strange things to the German national psyche. The following story is a case in point:
A businessman seeking revenge against the local council that confiscated his dog has rented out a building to the far-right National Democratic Party, triggering a desperate quest by villagers to reverse the decision and save its reputation.

Peter Landwehrmann bought the former community center and school in the village of Gonzerath, southwestern Germany, in 2001 and used it as the headquarters for his auto painting equipment business. But he fell out with the local authority over his Giant Schnauzer called Anne, which was taken from him and put into an animal home six months ago after it bit several villagers.

Landwehrmann decided to leave Gonzerath and has rented the building out to the NPD party until 2011, much to the dismay of the 1,200 villagers, virtually all of whom joined a demonstration of around 2,000 people against the NPD outside the building on March 3. Reports say the NPD wants to use the building as a training center.

"If they stay here it would be disastrous," Gonzerath mayor Dietmar Thömmes told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "We don't want to be labelled as far-right and we'll do everything we can to stop it happening." Thömmes said 10 NPD members had used the building on Sunday "for some kind of training course."

Neither the NPD nor Landwehrmann could immediately be reached for comment. Landwehrmann was quoted in Die Welt newspaper as saying: "I'm no Nazi. If I get Anne back I'll negotiate. I want to harass the community that took my dog away." [...]

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