Revering Hitler as model, German 'fuehrer' urges violent pursuit of ideals Party leader revives harsh cry for purity

September 20, 1992|By Carl Schoettler | Carl Schoettler,Berlin Bureau

WEIMAR, Germany -- The self-proclaimed fuehrer of th Deutsche Nationale Partei has adopted the harsh, hacking, spluttering style of Adolf Hitler, whom he greatly admires.

His name is Thomas Dienel, and he doesn't mind being called a Nazi.

"Adolf Hitler was one of the greatest men that ever was in the world," he says. "History will determine who is the greatest. For me, he was the greatest."

One day a week ago, Mr. Dienel came to address the faithful in a restaurant hideaway on a hilltop with a spectacular view of the Saale valley about 30 miles south off here.

His facial mannerisms, his martinet-like posture, and the hand and arm gestures suggest he watches old newsreels of Hitler's semi-hysterical demagogy.

Mr. Dienel sputters through a frustrated speech.

He rails against Jews, against the "idiot pig" Helmut Kohl -- "the chancellor of the Jews" -- against "parasitic" refugees, against the "pig-loving police."

He's a 31-year-old cook, restaurant owner and former Communist Party member in the old East Germany. He says the DNP -- German National Party in English -- is racist and nationalist.

"We are a right extremist party," he says.

This is the ugliest part of the face of German violence against the foreigners who have flocked to this country seeking asylum from upheaval in their own lands as close as Eastern Europe and as far away as Indochina.

Right-wing extremists, encouraged by parties such as the DNP, have been surging across Germany for over a month, bashing foreigners, attacking asylum-seekers, firebombing refugee shelters, provoking the government to reconsider the policy that has drawn in close to 300,000 refugees.

Only last week, the government announced a proposal to pay Romania to take back 43,000 of its refugees -- mostly Gypsies.

Mr. Dienel's followers chant the now-familiar cries, "Auslander Raus [Foreigners Out]," and "Deutschland fur die Deutschen [Germany for the Germans]." Herr Dienel subscribes to both slogans. He stands for "the purity of the German Volk."

He's got the requisite blue eyes and blond hair, sparse and curly, and pale, doughy skin. He's a bit pudgy -- he drinks a lot of beer -- and he has a tendency to smirk.

Through the weekend he wears a dark, pinstriped suit, $l suspenders, a white shirt with palm trees embroidered on the pockets and a black tie.

One day last week, Mr. Dienel had planned to give his speech at a demonstration in the town of Rudolstadt, about 5 miles from his hilltop lair.

But a massive police presence saturated this whole region of the state of Thuringia. A reported 6,000 police virtually cut off Rudolstadt and the nearby village of Breitenherda, where 500 refugees are housed.

Border police carrying assault rifles manned roadblocks in and out of the area. Helicopters hovered overhead.

Just over the knoll from where Mr. Dienel was making his speech, at least two dozen police vans were strung out along a dirt lane by a plowed field.

Uniformed police armed with submachine guns and pistols stopped cars and asked for identification. The Bundesrepublik that Mr. Dienel vilifies takes him seriously.

"I'm known all over Germany as a threat to public order," Mr. Dienel says.

He says 800 dues-paying members have joined the DNP in the last four months. But only about 30, mostly younger than Mr. Dienel, hear his speech, along with fuehrers and gauleiters -- a Nazi term for district leaders -- and their girlfriends from other neo-Nazi parties, such as Deutsche Alternative.

At the end they all respond: "Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil."

History discourages the temptation to laugh this all off as an aberration.

Mr. Dienel was taken into custody briefly several times recently. A bus full of supporters bound for the demonstration was reportedly turned back by police.

Local authorities feared a major clash between right and left radicals in Rudolstadt. They had visions of thousands of extremists rioting in their streets.

In the event, a dozen people hanging around the train station were taken into custody.

Mr. Dienel had addressed about 2,000 right-wing radicals in the square in front of the station Aug. 15, the anniversary of the death of Rudolf Hess, "the second-greatest Nazi after Adolf Hitler."

Rudolstadt promptly renamed the square the Place of the Victims of Fascism. Mr. Dienel and his cohorts planned to claim it as Rudolf Hess Platz.

Mr. Dienel doesn't believe there were victims of fascism. He vehemently denies the Nazi Holocaust. During a conversation in his home here, he calls it a Jewish fiction.

Buchenwald, one of the earliest and most deadly of the Nazi concentration camps, was in a suburb of Weimar, the city of Goethe and Schiller and Lizst, an irony not lost on generations of historians Mr. Dienel doesn't believe.

"In Germany," he says, "we are not allowed to tell the truth about our nation, about our history, the truth about Auschwitz. We are not allowed to speak the truth about the lies the Jewish people tell about Germany.

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