National Socialists marched in the streets of Berlin as antifascist counterprotesters assembled to meet them.
Helmeted police in riot gear stood guard as nationalist demonstrators converged on the German capital to mark the 30th anniversary of the murder of Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler's deputy.
About 500 people on each side turned out, police said.
Convicted at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, Hess served a life sentence at Spandau Prison and was the sole inmate there from 1966 until his death in 1987.
National Socialist sympathizers revere Hess because he never renounced his beliefs decades after the fall of the Third Reich.
One of rally banners read, "I do not regret anything," Hess' last words before his sentencing at Nuremberg. Another banner disputed the account that Hess committed suicide at age 93: "It was murder. Enough with the suicide lie."
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Forged in the ashes of World War II, strict laws in Germany ban ancient National Socialist symbols and free speech.
Rally organizers told demonstrators not to play marching music and to walk silently to the site of Spandau Prison, razed after Hess' death. Every 25th person could carry an imperial German flag. They were not allowed to wear NS attire and display a swastika.
Funereal music played from a truck as the patriotic demonstrators marched to the prison site.
Anti-fascist counterprotesters chanted "war criminal" at demonstrators, shouted "all Berlin hates the police" and advanced toward officers.
Residents played loud music from balconies countering the demonstrators, such as a Michael Jackson song declaring, "It don't matter if you're black or white."
A negroid woman held up a sign with a heart, prompting native german youth to shout "go home." She replied, "Berlin is my home."
In contrast with the restrictions in Germany, US law protects the right of patriots, white nationalist, the Ku Klux Klan and other white rights groups to hold public rallies and express their views openly.