Monday, May 20, 2013

Jamel: Little welcome for strangers in Germany's neo-Nazi village


Rottweilers bark incessantly, a woman shrieks an obscenity, and heavyset men warn outsiders to "Get back to the West!". Jeevan Vasagar and Alastair Good explore Jamel - the village that, for some, is the tip of the iceberg.

Next to a mural showing an idealised Aryan family, Gothic script declares that the village in eastern Germany is "free, social, national." The signpost next to it once pointed the way to Hitler's birthplace, 530 miles away in Austria, until a court order forced villagers to take it down.

The echoes of the Third Reich are quite deliberate. In Jamel, a tiny collection of red brick farmhouses fringed by forest, dozens of villagers describe themselves as Nazis and a majority turns out to vote for the far Right.

This is a place with little welcome for strangers. Rottweilers bark incessantly. A shaven-headed man shouts his own warning while a woman shrieks an obscenity from her window.

Jamel is for some the tip of the iceberg; an indication of how the far Right in Germany is open and active, especially in areas of former East Germany where jobs are scarce.

This month in Munich, the opening stages of a shocking trial have given further cause for introspection in a country which is being forced to confront the violent racism which pervades parts of its society.

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