A town in northern Germany has launched a fund-raising campaign to buy a hotel amid fears it could otherwise fall into the hands of a neo-Nazi group.
The town of Delmenhorst near Bremen aims to collect at least 3.4m euros (?2.3m) to buy the Hotel am Stadtpark.
They are trying to match an offer by the Wilhelm Tietjen Stiftung fuer Fertilisation Ltd. group.
Town officials say the group wants to transform the now empty hotel into a neo-Nazi conference centre.
A website – www.fuer-delmenhorst.de – was set up in Delmenhorst earlier this week to raise the necessary funds.
By Thursday, 520,607 euros (?344,320) had been donated to buy the hotel and adjacent buildings.
Delmenhorst’s town spokesman Timo Frers told the BBC News website that the money was coming not only from local residents but also from across Germany and abroad.
“It was a crazy idea, but everybody thinks it might work. Everybody is optimistic,” he said.
The town council is willing to contribute about 2m euros (?1.34m) from its budget to clinch the deal, Mr Frers added.
The campaign was launched soon after Juergen Rieger, lawyer of the Wilhelm Tietjen Stiftung fuer Fertilisation Ltd, became the only potential buyer to offer the asking price for the hotel.
Mr Rieger has expressed hopes that the hotel will change hands later in August.
Mr Rieger – a lawyer in Hamburg – has been criticised for publicly defending a number of neo-Nazis, including the Holocaust denier, Ernst Zundel, Mr Frers said.
His London-based group is named after Wilhelm Tietjen, a former Nazi leader from Bremen who died in 2002.
The Wilhelm Tietjen Stiftung fuer Fertilisation Ltd has been accused of trying to promote Nazi-style racial “purity”.
Aug. 10, 2006