Neo-Nazi brawls erupt in Germany

FRANKFURT — A controversial exhibit on the German army's role during World War II has led to violent clashes in Germany.

The most recent took place last week after neo-Nazis scheduled a rally to protest an exhibit in Dresden titled "The War of Extermination: Crimes of the Wehrmacht."

As demonstrators and counter-demonstrators made their way to the city, a fight broke out between them. Eight people were injured, one seriously, and a train car was demolished.

In the city itself, more than a thousand demonstrators, mostly youth, marched through the streets to protest the exhibit.

It was the largest neo-Nazi protest in Germany since a march in Munich last year also protesting the exhibition.

The protesters claimed the exhibition branded all veterans of the World War II German army, the Wehrmacht, as criminals instead of honoring the vast majority for serving their country.

The exhibition, which has been traveling around Germany for the past three years, focuses on the role the Wehrmacht played in the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes. Conservative politicians have claimed that the exhibition is one-sided, ignoring the numerous soldiers who resisted orders.

The city of Dresden banned last week's scheduled march by the neo-Nazis, but a court said there were no grounds for the ban because the rally's sponsor, the right-wing National Party of Germany, is a legal political party.

The march was closely guarded by about 3,000 police officers, who sealed off the downtown shopping area to prevent violence. A counter-demonstration against the neo-Nazi march, organized by a group calling itself the Union Against the Right Wing, took place without clashes between the two groups.

Meanwhile, the conservative-led city government in Frankfurt has opened an exhibition on military resistance to the Hitler regime. City officials said the show was intended to balance the Wehrmacht exhibition, which was shown in Frankfurt last year.

The opening last weekend, however, was clouded by political disputes after the city retracted an invitation to the respected German historian Hans Mommsen. He has been critical of the German military resistance movement, pointing out that some of the leaders of the resistance against Hitler contributed to the Holocaust earlier in the war.

Some historians and intellectuals who were scheduled to participate in events connected to the resistance exhibition withdrew their acceptance to protest the way Mommsen was treated.