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Neo-Nazis’ secret weapon: women

GlobalPost, Dec. 16, 2011

BERLIN, Germany — “I’m the one you’re looking for,” announced Beate Zschaepe when she reported to the police in Jena, eastern Germany, on Nov. 8.

Four days earlier, Zschaepe had blown up her apartment, apparently to hide evidence. Her two live-in companions had died of gunshot wounds, after botching a bank robbery. Authorities contend that one of the men, Uwe Mundlos, shot the other, Uwe Boehnhardt, before killing himself.

In mugshots seered into the German consciousness by non-stop media coverage, Zschaepe, 36, appears exhausted, her dark hair disheveled and smudged mascara ringing her eyes.

Officials quickly determined that she and her two dead companions were members of a far-right trio, the National Socialist Underground (NSU), that had been on the run for 13 years. Evidence emerged linking the group to a series of brutal murders of nine immigrant shop-owners and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007 — a hate crime spree that has unnerved Germany.

Zschaepe, it now seems, is an extreme example of a phenomenon that researchers have been warning of for years: Women are playing an increasingly prominent, and at times violent, role on the extreme right. They now account for an estimated one in five neo-Nazis. And because women are viewed with less suspicion, they have quietly infiltrated many mainstream organizations where they can spread their ideas — even targeting children. Continue reading

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