Two Polish men detained for Hitler birthday concert
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Two Polish men detained for Hitler birthday concert

Arrests come as hundreds of neo-Nazis gather in nearby German town for annual festival marking Nazi dictator's birthday

Members of the Polish neo-Nazi Pride and Modernity group celebrating Adolf Hitler's birthday in an undated video. (Screen capture: TVN24)
Members of the Polish neo-Nazi Pride and Modernity group celebrating Adolf Hitler's birthday in an undated video. (Screen capture: TVN24)

WARSAW, Poland — Two men have been detained in Poland on suspicion of spreading fascism by organizing a concert to mark Adolf Hitler’s birthday, a prosecutor told AFP on Sunday.

The men, who have not been identified, were detained during a series of raids in Dzierzoniow on Saturday evening by around 300 policemen and agents from Poland’s Internal Security Agency.

“The Polish men, the main organizers of the concert in question, were detained on Saturday. Tomorrow they will be questioned by prosecutors,” Tomasz Orepuk, spokesman for the district prosecutor’s office in Swidnica, southwestern Poland.

Around 100 people showed up for the concert, according to Orepuk, and police confiscated neofascist paraphernalia including flags and banners.

The public propagation of totalitarian ideologies like fascism or communism and ethnic or racial hatred is banned in Poland, a country still grappling with the memory of Nazi occupation, and carries a penalty of up to two years behind bars.

The raids in Dzierzoniow came as hundreds of neo-Nazis massed on Friday, Adolf Hitler’s birthday, just over the border in the eastern German town of Ostritz for a weekend festival.

Citizens and anti-fascist groups staged spirited counterprotests.

Private security personel with “Aryan Brotherhood” on his T-shirt opens the gate at the venue of the “Schild und Schwert” (Shield and Sword) neo-nazi festival, in the small eastern German town of Ostritz on April 20, 2018.( AFP PHOTO / John MACDOUGALL)

In January, Polish prosecutors charged three men with allegedly propagating Nazism after hidden camera footage of a group celebrating Adolf Hitler’s birthday sparked public uproar.

Legal measures have since been taken aimed at banning the far-right Pride and Modernity group associated with the men.

World War II erupted when Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939.

Some six million Polish citizens, half of whom were Jewish, perished under the Nazi occupation that lasted until 1945.

In November, leaders of the governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party spoke out against xenophobia after several government ministers initially defended a controversial Independence Day march organized by nationalist and far-right groups.

It drew 60,000 participants and a chorus of condemnation from around the globe over openly racist banners and slogans.

While many marchers denied membership of or sympathy for extreme right groups, the event also drew representatives of far-right parties from across Europe.

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