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Man with »Hammerskins« T-shirt at a scene meeting in Thuringia

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) has banned the right-wing extremist "Hammerskins Germany" – in a raid in ten federal states, investigators have now seized weapons and numerous Nazi devotional objects.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, around 700 police officers were involved. In addition to right-wing extremist devotional objects such as swastika flags, pennants, sound carriers, emblems and books such as Hitler's »Mein Kampf«, they also found weapons such as an anti-tank explosive grenade, three daggers, a crossbow and two carbines.

In total, dozens of apartments and other buildings were searched, including three properties that apparently served as clubhouses. In some federal states, the searches are to be expanded.

"With this ban, we in Germany are putting an end to the inhuman activities of an internationally active neo-Nazi association," said Faeser. She spoke of a "clear signal against organized right-wing extremism, against racism and against anti-Semitism."

Support organization »Crew 38« also banned

The "Hammerskins Germany" are directed against the constitutional order and the idea of international understanding, the ministry justifies, among other things, the ban. Prior to this, they had been in close contact with the authorities in the USA, where the "Hammerskins" had been created in the mid-eighties. The ban also includes the support organization "Crew 38".

The »Hammerskins« see themselves as the elite of the right-wing extremist skinhead movement. The group propagates a racial doctrine based on Nazi ideology, according to the Ministry of the Interior. The purpose of the "Hammerskins Germany" is to live out and consolidate this right-wing extremist worldview.

The motto of the »Hammerskins« is the »14 Words« of the US right-wing terrorist David Lane, a kind of racist creed: »We must secure the existence of our people and a future for our white children.«

The hallmarks of the »Hammerskins« are two crossed carpenter's hammers in front of a cogwheel as a symbol of the »white working class« as well as the numerical code 38, which stands for the third and eighth letters of the alphabet, C and H: »crossed hammers«.

The troops are considered to be tightly and hierarchically organized: the overarching structure is the worldwide "Hammerskin Nation", which is divided into national "divisions", which in turn are subdivided into regional "chapters". According to the authorities, 13 of these "chapters" existed in Germany – including in Berlin, Rhineland-Palatinate, Bavaria, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saarland. Some of them bore names such as "Sarregau" or "Westwall", in reference to the jargon of the "Third Reich".

Similar to rocker clubs, budding "hammerskins" have to go through a kind of initiation. First of all, they are supposed to prove themselves as "supporters" in a support group called "Crew 38". From there, they can rise to the rank of "prospect" and finally become full membership – and then they are allowed to wear the hammer symbol.