Hess, who committed suicide at the age of 93 in the Allies’ Spandau jail in Berlin, is revered as a martyr by neo-Nazis. Last year, nearly 2,500 showed up in the Bavarian town of Wunsiedel to mark the anniversary of his death on 17 August, 1987.
Civic officials in Wunsiedel were upset that the Hess grave in the town had become a place of pilgrimage for neo-Nazis. They banned this year’s demonstration, set for Saturday, on the grounds that the parade could turn into a riot. The parade organizers sought an urgent injunction from the federal court in the western city of Karlsruhe.
Judges said that local officials could not limit the right of free assembly without grave cause. They said that the risk of unrest could be dealt with by regulating the march and putting extra police on the streets.
The court said that police preparations had succeeded in the past in preventing riots. Hess infamously flew on his own initiative from Germany to Britain in 1941 and announcing that he wished to negotiate a separate peace. He was jailed and sentenced in 1946 to life imprisonment for war crimes.