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Rob Broomby reports from Berlin
"Rival demonstrators penned in on either side of the historic monument"
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Sunday, 12 March, 2000, 16:18 GMT
Violence at neo-Nazi march
Right wing demo near Gate
The extreme right protesters were not allowed through the Brandenburg Gate
Clashes broke out between anti-racist protesters and right-wing extremists as they held rival demonstrations in the centre of Berlin.

Scuffles began after the right-wingers' march in support of Austria's far-right Freedom Party ended at the Brandenburg Gate.

Demo at Gate
There was a large counter-demonstration
Police used water cannon on demonstrators who hurled stones and bottles at the neo-Nazis and more than 25 people were arrested.

Martial music

Around 300 supporters of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) had gathered by the Brandenburg Gate with anti-foreigner placards as more than 1,000 counter-demonstrators screamed "Nazis out!" behind a police cordon.

A police spokesman said the NPD rally ended with no reports of injuries. He said police escorted the marchers to a local railway station where a special train was waiting to take them out of Berlin.

Earlier the right-wing activists had marched through the southern district of Kreuzberg, home to many of Berlin's large Turkish immigrant population.

The rally began with many skinheads clad in bomber jackets assembling behind a loud speaker van playing martial music.

Skinheads at rally
Skinheads pass the site of a proposed Holocaust memorial
The city authorities initially banned the demonstration by the far right National Democratic party (NPD), which was timed to mark the anniversary of Germany's annexation of Austria in 1938.

But a Berlin appeal court overruled police objections that it posed a threat to public safety.

Marchers were forbidden from carrying flags, beating drums or wearing uniforms.

Solidarity with Austria

The court ruled the NPD could march to the Brandenburg Gate - for them a symbol of German triumphalism - but not to pass through it.

A similar rally in January saw neo-Nazis chanting pro-SS slogans pass through the gate for the first time since the war. The scene prompted international uproar.

The NDP organisers said the march was in solidarity with Austria, currently under international pressure after Joerg Haider's Freedom Party entered government.

The slogan for the march was "We are one people - national solidarity with Austria".

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03 Oct 99 | Europe
Profile: Joerg Haider
27 Jan 00 | Europe
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