BERLIN – A German court made legal history Monday by ruling that a neo-Nazi band that belted out racist lyrics to electric guitars was on a par with organized crime groups like the Mafia.
The court jailed Michael Regener, the song writer of the Landser trio, for 40 months for sedition, spreading Nazi propaganda and heading a criminal gang. Andree Moericke, the bass guitar player, and Christian Wendorff, the drummer, were given 21 and 22 months, each suspended, and ordered to do 90 hours community service.
Ending a six-month trial, the Berlin court described the trio as “self-appointed terrorists with electric guitars.” The band, since dissolved, only ever gave one concert, but released multiple CDs and became Germany’s definitive neo-Nazi music group and a cult among violence-prone, right-wing youths.
One of the Landsers’ songs, “Kanake”, had the German lyrics: “Curl up and die, nigger / You’re just a lousy piece of shit / You’re the end, you’re just filth / You’re scum and you’ve got to go.”
It was the first time performers had ever been convicted under Draconian German laws on organized crime that are normally used to smash drug gangs. After World War II Germany outlawed every aspect of Nazism, right down to swastika lapel badges.
While the vast majority of modern Germans loathe Adolf Hitler as the source of collective national disgrace, a tiny minority clings to his dream of world domination, using digital-age technology like the Internet and punk riffs to present his doctrines in modern dress.
By that logic, the Landsers were a crime syndicate, putting rhythms in the ears of jackbooted skinheads that prompted the fans to revile black people, the pope and democratic leaders, and calling for Israel to be bombed.
The 38-year-old leader of the band was convicted as “gang boss” for writing lyrics that inspired fans to feel hatred and contempt toward non-Germans and anyone who disagreed with Nazi doctrines.
The court described the group as a danger to public safety and said they bore some
responsibility for beatings and arson attacks in recent years against people of many non-white ethnicities. Judges swept aside defense arguments that it was up to listeners to make their own judgment about the songs.
To evade anti-Nazi laws, the band had the CDs made in other countries where the swastika is not proscribed. An album called “Go for the Enemy” was recorded in June 2000 in a London studio.
Judges said Regener, who in court was obliged to remove his dark glasses and the cap covering his bald patch and ponytail, was the “heart” of the band, the one who most wanted to stir up young people and spread the spirit of hatred.