A Program Developed by German Police Could Help Track Down Neo-Nazis
The German police are planning to ratchet up their battle against neo-Nazism with a new computer program that can identify “forbidden songs” beloved of Germany’s far-right.
The program, which is similar to the popular application Shazam, can identify “neo-Nazi” music played on Internet radio stations or at gatherings of neo-Nazi activists. It was developed by police in the eastern German state of Saxony.
Der Spiegel reported that the interior ministers of all 16 German states will meet this week to discuss how to use the “Nazi Shazam,” as the German media dubbed it. Nevertheless, it’s still not clear when the program will go into use, since certain legal issues still have to be sorted out.
Last year, the German government added 79 songs to its blacklist of works defined as “encouraging neo-Nazi or racist ideology.” The sale of some of these songs is legally restricted.
Der Spiegel’s report on the new application coincided with yet another effort by the government to ban the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany. On Tuesday, all 16 German states asked the Federal Constitutional Court to reconsider its previous decision against declaring the party illegal.
The petition argues that the NPD’s ideology is racist, violent, anti-Semitic and anti-democratic, and encourages hatred of foreigners. It also charges that the NPD’s activities are similar to those of the Nazi Party under Hitler, alleging that both sought to undermine the country’s democratic foundations by means of military activity.
The NPD said in response that the petition is “an open assault on the right to opposition and freedom of thought, and therefore violates the essential principles of democracy.”
An earlier effort to ban the NPD failed in 2003. At that time, the court concluded that some of the incriminating testimony gathered by German state governments came from government informers who held senior ranks in the party, and it therefore ruled this evidence inadmissible.
With only 1.3 percent of the vote in Germany’s general election last September, the NPD has no seats in parliament. However, the party does have representatives in a few state parliaments.
For years, the party received government funding by law, meaning it was essentially funded by the German taxpayer. The German media reported recently that over the last decade, it received some 20 million euros from the German government. Recently, however, its funding was cut off, due to debts and financial irregularities that have reached the courts.
A well-publicized trial is taking place in Germany right now against an alleged member of a neo-Nazi terrorist cell, which is suspected of having murdered 10 migrants throughout the country over the last decade. The NPD has also been cited in connection with this case.
After this case hit the headlines, the German media and public voiced outrage at the authorities’ haplessness, and particularly at the failure of German intelligence to thwart the cell’s activities. The group was active from 2000 to 2007, and was uncovered purely by chance in 2011,.
Altogether, 200 people are known to have been killed in Germany since 1990 by right-wing extremists. German police recently reopened over 700 cases in which suspects were never apprehended, in an effort to ascertain if any of them have a neo-Nazi connection.