Who's been guarding Germany's most threatened Jew?
One of Michel Friedman's police bodyguards photographed in SS uniform, forbidden Nazi party anthem found on another's computer and a third has certificate 'signed' by Fuehrer. Suspicions: bodyguards provided incriminating evidence in Friedman's cocaine possession case
BERLIN - The leadership of Germany's Jewish community has been shocked by revelations that a number of the police bodyguards assigned to protect community officials are neo-Nazi sympathizers. The bodyguards' connections with the extreme right was discovered a year ago but kept secret until now.
The bodyguards in question were assigned to protect Michel Friedman, former vice-president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and chairman of the local branch of the United Israel Appeal. Friedman (51), a lawyer and famously confrontational television talk-show host, is one of the most threatened people in Germany, although he resigned from his official positions in the Jewish community in 2003.
Friedman quit these posts after the German police discovered traces of cocaine in his home and came into possession of a videotape in which he was seen encouraging Eastern European prostitutes to use cocaine. At the time, the revelations caused a public sensation in Germany - and raised a number of yet-unanswered questions. Now, sources in the Jewish community do not exclude the possibility that Friedman's neo-Nazi bodyguards facilitated his incrimination in order to bring his political career to an end.
Legal authorities in the state of Hessen, in which Friedman lives, came upon the police bodyguards' connections with the extreme right during an investigation into their alleged submission of fraudulent expense claims.
In the course of police raids, the investigators were surprised and shocked to discover that one of Friedman's bodyguards had a certificate of appreciation "signed" by the Fueher. In the computer of another, they came upon the forbidden Nazi Party anthem. They also found a photograph in which one of the bodyguards is wearing an SS uniform.
Friedman responded to the revelations with shock. "A thorough and comprehensive investigation must be launched," he said. "These are not minor infractions. These gentlemen were supposed to protect me from the neo-Nazis, whose opinions they share."
The Hessen state Ministry of Justice refused to release details on the investigation. The daily Bild reported that one of the suspects is threatening to expose connections between senior Hessen police officials and neo-Nazi groups if indicted.