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Arson Blaze Damages Offices of German Group

Times Staff Writer

An intentionally set fire caused extensive damage Wednesday to the Santa Monica office of a German-American group that claims the evils of Nazi Germany have been greatly exaggerated.

Lyle Lentz, a Santa Monica Fire Department arson investigator, said that the blaze was set in the hallway on the second floor of a building in the 700 block of Santa Monica Boulevard. It resulted in $50,000 damage.

Two voices on a recorded message telephoned to local news agencies early Wednesday morning claimed that the Jewish Defense League had bombed the office of the German-American National Political Action Committee. But JDL leader Irv Rubin said his group had nothing to do with the blaze.

“We are a highly disciplined unit,” Rubin said. “No one acts without my knowledge.”

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Hans Schmidt, chairman of the German-American group, said that he had not received any threats before the fire. He added, however, that committing such acts is “their (the JDL’s) purpose.”

Schmidt, a 58-year-old naturalized citizen, said the objectives of his group are “to regenerate pride in the heritage of German-Americans, to build a political power base and to fight against the constant defamation of all things German.” He said that includes setting the record straight on World War II.

“Jews were not gassed by the Nazis,” Schmidt said. “They were persecuted, and most of them were innocent. But the numbers and reports of predetermined extermination are greatly exaggerated by professional liars.”

The fire follows by three weeks the bombing of the Northridge home of George Ashley, a retired high school teacher who has argued that the Nazis did not kill millions of Jews.

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The JDL disavowed responsibility for the attack. The letters “JDL” were found outside of Ashley’s house, and Ashley turned over to the police a recording of threats he said came from the JDL.


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