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Neo-Nazi Rock Stars Convicted in Germany

First Publish: 12/23/2003, 9:17 PM / Last Update: 12/23/2003, 11:08 PM

Three members of a German skinhead rock band were convicted by a Berlin court of being members of a criminal group Monday because of their hate-filled songs. The ruling was hailed by prosecutors as a precedent in the ongoing efforts to crack down on neo-Nazi propaganda which has been spreading rapidly in Germany.

The lead singer in the band, Michael Regener, was sentenced to three years and four months in jail for forming a criminal organization and incitement. The presiding Judge said Regener was the creative force and songwriter behind Landser, the group's name, which means “foot soldier” in old German.

Founded in 1992 as the Final Solution, the band has been a favorite of neo-Nazis worldwide. "Let's get the enemy, bombs on Israel," are the words to one song.

Bassist Andre Moehricke and drummer Christian Wenndorff each received a year and nine months' probation. The judge said they helped investigators and expressed remorse. All three were fined and ordered to perform community service.

The charge of forming a criminal organization was considered an unusually severe charge for the band’s offenses. The court also found all three men guilty of incitement. "This is the first time that a band has been found to be a criminal organization," prosecutor Joachim Lampe said.

Prosecutors say the band produced CDs in the United States, Sweden, Britain, and Poland to skirt German laws that make publication of neo-Nazi materials a crime. The band members were arrested in Berlin in 2001 as part of a German crackdown on neo-Nazi related crimes. The band members went on trial in June of this year.

Prosecutors said the band’s albums contain "racist, nationalistic, and anti-Semitic tirades of hate" and called for violence against foreigners, Jews, and people with other political ideas.

Landser albums include "Ran an den Feind," or "Get the enemy," where the title song calls for bombing Israel. Other tunes glorify Rudolf Hess, one of Adolf Hitler's top aides, and in "Grandpa was a Sturmfuehrer," pay tribute to a grandfather who was a Nazi SS officer.