Nazi-hunter targets extreme rightists Israeli 'reporter' goes underground to observe activity

July 09, 1993|By Knight-Ridder Newspapers

BONN, Germany -- The skinheads and neo-Nazis he hung out with thought Ron Furey was a bumbling, Australian journalist intent on providing favorable reports on them for a newspaper called the Right Way. They also thought he would help them get money from a millionaire friend.

For six months, Yaron Svoray, a 39-year-old Israeli, pretended to be Ron Furey, reporter for the nonexistent newspaper and friend of a fictitious millionaire.

Yesterday, Mr. Svoray, who went underground for the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, described the people he met: ". . . middle Germans, regular citizens, who have nice homes and nice jobs, but who believe the 'fuehrer' was the best thing to have happened to Germany, that Auschwitz never happened . . . [who are] awaiting anxiously for the arrival of the next fuehrer."

And Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center, said he believes "there will be arrests and prosecutions" of several suspected neo-Nazis, possibly including some with links to the ultra-nationalist Republikaner Party.

Mr. Hier, who met with state and federal police for eight hours, also called on the German government to ban the Republikaners because of their "intimate and on-going" links to the neo-Nazis. The Republikaners have been enjoying success in state

and local elections, and may have enough strength to win seats in the Bundestag, the federal parliament.

Mr. Svoray, speaking at a news conference after the meeting with police during which his findings were discussed, said he also came across people involved in terrorist activities against // the government as well as "regular citizens who just happened to be Nazis."

There was no immediate response from German authorities to yesterday's meeting. However, in the past, German officials have reacted skeptically to Mr. Svoray's findings, which were first made public in April and then aired again in Washington on June 15 before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations and Human Rights.

The Germans have disputed particularly two of Mr. Svoray's claims, first that neo-Nazi organizations are much larger than they have estimated and that one seemingly respectable former soldier and "spymaster" named Wolfgang Juchem could be the next leader of the extremist movement.

Among the approximately 200 right-wingers he met, Mr. Svoray said 30 to 35 of them were tied to the Republikaners either as voters or elected government officials. His operation lasted from October to April.

"There are too many members that are Republikaners during the day and neo-Nazis during the night and the time has come for the government to act on it," said Mr. Hier.

Mr. Svoray said he is persuaded that the German officials are going to act on his findings because they made him file a complaint against one of the neo-Nazis, whom he declined to name, and he said expected to be providing more information on others.

"We think we have given them compelling evidence to arrest members of the Republikaners who have violated the law, but I think the first person to be arrested will be a well-known neo-Nazi leader," Mr. Hier said.

Mr. Svoray said he was paid no money by the Wiesenthal Center. The money he received went for expenses, including lavishly wining and dining his prey. Mr. Svoray, whose parents survived the Holocaust, said he was acting primarily for personal reasons.

"The main driving force was my total and incredible anger, not only living with these people and seeing them but believing in my heart of hearts that the same garbage and the same words that have been said to me about Jews and about foreigners, about killing, etc., have been heard by my father and mother more than 50 years ago from the same kind of people," he said.

Mr. Hier said that over the years, the Wiesenthal Center has repeatedly asked German governments to take more forceful action against Nazis and neo-Nazis, but without success.

He said the German government was tipped off in the mid-1970s about a go-between who could help them locate the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele, the so-called Angel of Death at Auschwitz, but the government ignored the tip.

He also said that he had warned Chancellor Helmut Kohl as early as 1990 about the potential rise of neo-Nazis in reunited Germany, but was sharply rebuffed by the chancellor who discounted the possibility.

Violent right-wing attacks in Germany have risen from 306 in 1990, with no deaths, to 2,584 in 1992 with 17 deaths. Up to July 1 of this year, there had been 1,008 attacks and nine deaths.

Mr. Hier said if the Germans don't finally take some effective action, the Wiesenthal center will wage a world-wide information campaign against them.

"My view has been critical of the German government," said Mr. Hier. "They have not taken on the extreme right the way they have taken on the extreme left."

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