Hundreds of skinheads march in east German city

Associated Press/April 1999

Magdeburg, Germany -- About 700 anti-foreigner skinheads marched through the eastern German city of Magdeburg on Saturday, separated from a similar number of opposing demonstrators by a massive police presence.

Police reported no violence and only two arrests from the march, the second in the economically depressed city this year organized by the extreme-right National Party of Germany.

Most of the marchers were young males with shaved heads and banners calling for the expulsion of foreigners from Germany. Police had sought to ban the march but were overruled in court.

A coalition of unions, churches and citizen groups in Magdeburg, capital of Saxony-Anhalt state, organized a counterdemonstration. Some leftist radicals tried to provoke clashes with the skinheads, but about 3,000 police officers managed to keep the two groups apart.

A state official, Matthias Gabriel, called the skinhead march "a clear warning signal" for Saxony-Anhalt, noting that the negative publicity hurt the state's ability to attract investment to repair the formerly communist economy.

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