The recent shootout between Munich police and a gang of militant neo-Nazis underlines government warnings that West German Nazi groups are arming and turning aggressive, with growing foreign help.
The Oct. 19 incident began when police stopped a car carrying five neo-Nazis, members of the People's Socialist Movement of Germany. A hand grenade was thrown at the officers and the ensuing gun battle left two militants dead and a third wounded, along with two policemen.
The presence of a Frenchman in the neo-Nazi quintet underscored the growth of international cooperation among Nazi groups. In the last two years, German police have seized from these groups huge amounts of weapons and explosives, but the neo-Nazis have been able to resupply themselves, usually through other countries.
For example, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution said neo-Nazis who killed two Swiss border policemen last year got their weapons from sympathizers in Switzerland, although they also often visited other neo-Nazi groups in France and Spain. A now-banned military sports group in Bavaria was financed through the sale of vehicles to the PLO in Lebanon. The Palestinians also trained some of the neo-Nazis.
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution says that most of the printed and tape-recorded propaganda material circulating among or distributed by German neo-Nazis is made in the US or Canada.