In a forthright warning to neo-Nazis who want to march through Berlin on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the capital´s chief of police has said that they will be stripped if they wear clothes prohibited under the Versammlungsgesetz (the laws governing public meetings in Germany). Clothes which fall into the forbidden category include "black, dark blue, or brown riding boots" and bomber jackets, all of which are favourites of the neo-Nazis. Michael Knape, the chief of police, says, "The boots will be confiscated, and the neo-Nazis can continue the march in their socks, or put on normal shoes, or go home."
Leave aside for a moment the oddness of there being items of clothing forbidden by law. That´s not the police´s doing. But in this case, whatever the rights or wrongs of the legislation, the repressive law allows the police to repress potential repressors, or, to be more realistic, to deflect potential embarrassment. In saying this, Herr Knape demonstrates sound practical sense. More than this, he points to a means of avoiding the huge potential PR disaster for Germany, should the neo-Nazis succeed in marching through what they still refer to as their Reichshauptstadt.
And the attendant public humiliation of the neo-Nazis shows nice psychological insight on the policeman´s part. In positive contrast to his political masters, Herr Knape knows that existing laws are more than adequate to bring the pathetic neo-Nazis to heel, and enforcing the law as it stands is more effective than cobbling together the new, showy, repressive measures for which hysterical politicians are now casting around.