Overland Park shootings reverberate in Germany

04/14/2014 5:28 PM

04/14/2014 5:28 PM

Handcuffed and in the back of a squad car, Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., also known as Frazier Glenn Cross, allegedly repeated “Heil Hitler,” an homage to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

That has prompted wide coverage of the case across Germany, a nation that has worked hard to ensure that its violent, anti-Semitic history does not repeat itself.

A column in the online version of the German newspaper Die Zeit called Sunday’s attack an act of terror. “The victims are civilians, the crime was ideological. How is that not terrorism?”

Uttering “Heil Hitler” is a crime here, as is displaying a Nazi flag or denying the Holocaust, during which 6 million Jews and millions more enemies of Nazi Germany were put to death. Punishments range up to five years in prison.

But it hardly is a perfect system. Germany today is 11 months into its largest Nazi trial in decades.

The trial is expected to last at least until December and is focused on 10 murders — the killing of one policewoman and nine people with immigrant backgrounds. The victims all were killed by bullets from the same weapon, but police have been criticized for failing to suspect a neo-Nazi agenda, and the crimes went unconnected for years.

“The numbers involved in the violent extreme right, neo-Nazi, are minuscule, but they do exist,” Deidre Berger, the director of the American Jewish Committee in central Berlin, said in December about the case.

“But the fact that the connections in these crimes went undiscovered for so long, that in each case different police in different locations were so willing to blame the victims for having some hand in their own deaths, says something very troubling about Europe today.”

The murders in Germany were hardly isolated incidents of Nazi-inspired sentiment. There are increasing concerns across Europe that what was once considered far-right and racist is moving toward mainstream political thought.

Anti-immigration agendas have led to increased worry from immigrant communities across the European Union. In recent months, a new study has shown that at the same time, concerns among Jews of a resurgence of anti-Semitism are strong and growing.

A report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights indicated that in eight European Union nations, two-thirds of Jews consider anti-Semitism to be a “very big” or “fairly big” problem in their nation. In France, that percentage increased to 85 percent, while in Hungary that number is 90 percent.

The numbers are backed up by the news out of the countries. As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported last week, the anti-Semitic Hungarian political party Jobbik “increased its share in the vote from 16 to 21 percent and may yet become the second-largest party in the country if the fractious alliance of five left-wing parties fails to cobble a coalition together.”

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