Increasing attacks on foreigners

October 16, 1991

Increasing attacks on foreigners

By Bryan R. Thomas

BONN — A recent study conducted from Leipzig by Professor Walter Friedrich show that intolerance towards foreigners is not just a new phenomenon in the former German Democratic Republic.

Friedrich's researchers found that as far back as the 1970s, there had been a deterioration in attitudes to foreigners. However, following the events of 1989, this xenophobia has taken on drastic proportions.

The group interviewed 2800 students, pupils, trainees and young white and blue collar workers in the state of Saxony. The worst hostility came from trainees, of whom 70% believed that there were too many foreigners in Eastern Germany and 46% supported the demand that foreigners go home.

Young women were the most tolerant, and left-wing supporters urged more understanding and tolerance. The right wing, the Republicans, hooligans and fascists were vitriolic in there hatred of Gypsies, Turks, Vietnamese, Poles, Black Africans and Arabs in that order.

There has been a sharp increase in attacks against foreigners, the worst recent disturbances occurring on September 17 in the town of Hoverswerda, in eastern Saxony. Neo-Nazi gangs attacked foreigners and asylum seekers.

Such attacks have now become a daily occurrence throughout Germany as growing numbers of right-wing radicals infest the streets in their "Jagd" (hunt) for foreigners. The Green Party, the socialist PDS and leaders of the German Jewish community have spoken out against these pogroms, but claim they are being censored out of the state-run German TV news.

In an attempt to show sympathy, President Richard von Wiesaecker paid a visit to various hostels housing foreigners and asylum seekers. For this humanitarian act, he came under heavy criticism from members of the right-wing Kohl government.

Two journalists, Ulrike Holler and Herbert Stelz, whose documentary on the neo-Nazi gangs was recently shown on the US CNN TV, were denounced by officials for giving a "false" image to the world. This led to secret police reports on the two.

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