In which country is neo-Nazism legal?

Right-wing extremism

Jan Raabe

The sociologist and author Jan Raabe, born in 1965, has been dealing with the topic of right-wing extremism for many years. One of his main focuses is right-wing extremist music and the neo-Nazi music scene in Germany. He is co-editor and co-author of the standard work "RechtsRock - Inventory and Counter-Strategies" (State Center for Civic Education Thuringia 2010)

From London to Porto, from Athens to Helsinki - neo-Nazi concerts take place across Europe every week. Sometimes only a hundred spectators come, sometimes several thousand. And German bands are often on stage.

Right-wing rock concerts and right-wing music are an important part of the right-wing extremist world of experience. (& copy Kai Budler)

The right-wing rock scene is well networked and offers a lucrative source of income for both music publishers and organizations such as Blood & Honor or neo-Nazi comradeships. In no other area of ​​right-wing extremism are international connections more relevant than in music. How and why does this cooperation work in a nationalist scene? How far do the networks go? And what are their goals?

“White power” as a common denominator

The transnational activities of the extreme right-wing youth and music culture have partly ideological and partly practical reasons. In contrast to large parts of the organized and party-like extreme right, it is not nationalism that dominates as a point of reference at the ideological level, but rather racism and National Socialism. "I stand watch my country, going down the drain. We are all at fault, we are all to blame. We're letting them takeover, we just let ‘em come. Once we had an empire, and now we've got a slum ”sang Ian Stuart Donoldson, head of the British band Skrewdriver in the early 1980s. In the song he combines immigration and decline without justification. In the catchy and often repeated refrain he then writes the alleged solution “White power, for England. White Power, today. White Power, for Britain, before it gets too late. "

In the English-speaking world, right-wing extremist music is consequently often referred to by bands and fans as "white power music" - this makes clear the orientation towards the alleged superiority of a "white race" as a central ideological moment. This shifts the focus from nationalism and the individual nation-state - and unites the activists through a supposedly common racial background and common struggle. The shift in focus from nationalism to racism and also to National Socialism, which is seen as the consistent implementation of racism, has shaped the extreme right-wing youth culture since the early 1980s. Analogous to the international spread of music and the emergence of the first transnational contacts and networks. In this story, the Second World War becomes a fratricidal war initiated by “the Jews” through discord. Today is “No More Brother War! - No more fratricidal war! ”. That was the title of a sampler published in 1996; another sampler published in 2015 [1] bears the same name. [2]

These two music collections are also exceptional because, in addition to German bands, mainly bands from Eastern Europe are represented. The younger sampler, for example, contains songs by the German band “Strafmass” from “Indulat” from Hungary and “Legion Twierdzy Wrocław” and “Odwet 88” from Poland. The cooperation with Polish right-wing extremists is something special. Because despite all the feeling of togetherness as a “white race”, for many German neo-Nazis the supporters of the extreme right in Poland are still “land robbers” due to the separation of territories from East Prussia and parts of Silesia and Pomerania after World War II. Germany's most famous neo-Nazi band “Landser” sang in 1998 in their song “Polacken-Tango”, “When the Polish fleet sinks into the sea near Gdansk and the German song sounds at Marienburg, then the Wehrmacht moves into Wroclaw with its tanks and then returns Germany's east finally home again ”[4]. In doing so, the band summed up the position of many German neo-Nazis. That German bands only appeared on stage eleven times between 2005 and 2016 in neighboring Poland and therefore less than in the neighboring Czech Republic (34) or in Belgium (44). Even less than in Russia (13), Finland (14) or the Ukraine (15), it is likely to be an expression of an anti-Polish attitude that is superimposed on the white power ideology.

Where swastika flags are legal

Beyond ideological common ground, transnational cooperation often has very practical reasons. Be it that the legislation in another country is more liberal, or that law enforcement agencies hardly react to neo-Nazi activities. In Germany, in contrast to many other European countries, it is forbidden to wave swastika flags or to show the Hitler salute.

The different legislation and the different actions led to the fact that neo-Nazi rock bands from Germany published their CDs with content relevant to criminal law at music publishers abroad. For example, records by the Brandenburg band “Hassgesang” were released on the US label “Micetrap”. Illegal CDs and LPs by German bands can still easily be obtained from abroad. The label and mail order company “Blackshirt Records” in Italy, for example, sells banned CDs by “Hassgesang” or the German band “Hate Society”, against which a confiscation order has been issued in Germany. The mechanism also works the other way around: international greats of right-wing rock, such as the American band "Blue Eyed Devils", released some of their records in Germany and found a much larger market in Europe and especially in Germany than in the USA.

The different legal norms of different countries also apply to concerts. In order to be able to show their neo-Nazi attitude with impunity and in a relaxed atmosphere, German right-wing extremists and right-wing extremist bands like to travel abroad, where event halls can be decorated with swastika or SS flags without being disturbed. [5]

By performing abroad, organizers and performers at concerts also avoid repression by the security authorities. For example, a concert with the neo-Nazi band "Category C" from Bremen and the neo-Nazi rapper Makss Damage from East Westphalia in the Aachen area was announced for February 20, 2016. [6] In fact, the concert took place 60 kilometers from Aachen in Malmedy, Belgium [7]. A concert announced for the West Palatinate on August 13, 2016 [8] took place in Volmunster, France [9]. In neighboring countries, the attention of the authorities and civil society is usually not as great as in Germany. In this way, the organizers run a lower risk that the concerts will be banned or canceled. Since, for example, several concerts by neo-Nazi bands in North Rhine-Westphalia were prevented by the police and anti-fascist groups in 2013 and 2014, the concerts announced for this state are now often held in Belgium.

Tours are also easier to organize with international networks. Bringing bands from the USA to Europe for just one concert is expensive and risky - with the help of international networks, however, it is easily possible to organize consecutive concerts in different countries. The singer of the Australian band "Fortress" performed in March 2017 not only in France [10], but also in Sweden [11] and Germany [12].

Cross-border cooperation

German musicians took to the stage at at least 61 concerts and recitals of the extreme right that took place internationally in 2016. It's more common than ever. Most of the performances in recent years (2005-2016) [13] took place in Italy (85), France (51), Hungary (47) and Belgium (44). The first three countries have a large right-wing extremist scene, so it is not surprising that German bands performed more often here. In Belgium, on the other hand, there is only a very small scene. However, this is able to organize concerts in cooperation with the German "comrades", for which they often take care of the rooms and occupy the smuggling points, i.e. those meeting points at which the arriving participants are inspected and others Receive information about the venue.

Switzerland only has a small right-wing extremist scene and a few bands that are hardly known internationally. Nevertheless, on October 15, 2016, the “Rocktoberfest” took place in the small town of Alt St. Johann. In the course of the concert, which, according to the authorities, attended 5,000 visitors, the German bands “Stahlgewitter”, “Confident of Victory”, “Excess” and the rapper “Makss Damage” performed, as did the Swiss band “Amok”. [14] The concert was announced for the area of ​​southern Germany [15], and the visitors were directed to Ulm via e-mail or telephone. Only there they received information about the actual venue after a thorough examination and control. So the organizers hoped to keep the place secret from journalists, authorities and of course also from the Antifa. They then drove almost 180 km to Switzerland in cars and buses.

Almost 70 percent of the approx. 5000 participants are said to have come from Germany [16]. At least structures from Germany and Switzerland, probably also from other countries, cooperated in organizing the concert [17]. With an entry price of 30 euros, the entrance fees alone brought in around 150,000 euros. [18] Even if the rent for the room and technology and fees for the musicians would have to be deducted, there would probably be - with a single concert - well over 100,000 euros in profit from entrance fees and the accompanying sale of drinks, T-shirts, sound carriers, etc.

With its high number of visitors, the concert is a novelty, but annually recurring, multi-day festivals of the neo-Nazi scene with sometimes several thousand participants take place in Europe. In northern Italy there has been the "Return to Camelot" since 1990, on which the Saxon band "Sachsonia" performed in 2016 [19]. Also in 2016, the Bremen band “Category C” performed at the fourth “Orle Gniazdo” festival in Poland [20]. The “Boreal” festival, which took place in Hungary for the first time in 2012 and where bands play as well as lectures and discussions, was held in 2016 on Lake Garda in Italy. The band "Naked but Armed" from Baden-Württemberg [21] was there. Even in the Ukraine, German bands are at least announced again and again: For example, “Kraftschlag” from Saxony-Anhalt and “Die Lunikoff Conspiracy” from Berlin should be at a concert scheduled for March 26, 2016 under the motto “Kill for Wotan” in Kiev occur, but it was postponed. [22] "The Lunikoff Conspiracy" finally performed together with the Ukrainian bands "Sokyra Peruna" and "Komu Vnyz" as well as the Russian group "M8L8TH" on April 30, 2017 in the Ukrainian capital. [23]

"Blood & Honor"

"Comrades, the voices of the dead battalions, of those who fell, that Europe might be great. Join in our song, for they still march in spirit with us and urge us on that we gain the national state "[24] - these words sang Ian Stuart, the frontman of the neo-Nazi British band" Skrewdriver "in 1984 in the song" Hail the new dawn ". Stuart not only uses lyrical quotations from the Horst Wessel song here, but also uses the frame of reference Europe, which is unusual in this scene. In the chorus it says: “The streets are still, the final battle has ended. Flushed with the fight, we proudly hail the dawn. See over the streets, the white man's emblem is waving. Triumphant standards of a race reborn ".

Ideologically, Ian Stuart is referring to the “struggle of the white race” conjured up in neo-Nazi circles and recourse to National Socialism and Europe. With these statements he formulated the programmatic basis of the music network "Blood & Honor" founded by him and his "comrades" in 1987 more than thirty years ago [25]. The network is now active in 16 countries in Europe alone. The purpose of the collaboration was and is to organize performance opportunities for the racist and neo-Nazi bands in the scene and to produce and distribute sound carriers. Last but not least, money should also be earned for the musicians and those who take on organizational tasks in the scene.

In December 2016, "Blood & Honor Hungary" published a list of 27 concerts so far planned for 2017 by the national divisions of the "Blood & Honor" network on its website. [26] The list starts with a “London Calling” concert on January 28, 2017 in England and ends with the “White Christmas” concert on December 2, 2017 in Sweden. Several concerts are also announced in Germany, although the network has been banned here since 2000.

"Blood & Honor" is the most important international concert organizer for right-wing extremist bands, including those from Germany. Of the 61 appearances by German bands or songwriters abroad in 2016, at least 20 were organized by “Blood & Honor”. These included concerts in France [27], England [28], Bulgaria [29], Italy [30], Portugal [31], Finland [32], Sweden [33] and Slovenia [34]. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution stated in its annual report from 2003, three years after the ban on “Blood & Honor” in Germany, that the organization “largely disintegrated after the ban”. In more recent reports it is only listed as "prohibited". In view of the lively activities on the international stages of “Blood & Honor”, ​​it must be stated that the organization continues to play an important role - and that German neo-Nazi bands know how to use it for themselves.

"Hammerskins"

The second actor of international importance are the "Hammerskins". The network, founded in Texas in 1987, sees itself as an elite organization of the “white working class” skinheads. Since 1990 the "Hammerskins" also have "Chapter", as they call their subdivisions based on the rockers, in Europe. [35] Such “chapters” currently exist, for example, in Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, France, Italy, Sweden, Hungary and also in Germany. However, England is firmly in the hands of "Blood & Honor". Every year the "Hammerskins", which are tightly organized [36], hold a central concert, the "Hammerfest". On the fringes of the concert, the “European Officer Meeting”, the meeting of the representatives of the national groups, takes place. While around 150 participants, the organizational elite of the Hammerskins, met for this meeting in 2012, up to 2000 participants came to the evening concert. [37] In 2016 the Hammerfest in France was announced; The line-up included French, Dutch and Hungarian bands as well as German bands: “Division Germania” from North Rhine-Westphalia and “Wolfsfront” from Rhineland-Palatinate / Saarland. [38]

The main actors intensify their cooperation

Under the motto "Europe Awake", a concert took place in Milan on November 19, 2016, which was jointly organized by "Hammerskins" and "Blood & Honor". [39] Here, too, German bands performed again: “Frontfeuer” and “Blitzkrieg” from Brandenburg. The concert indicates that the two large networks of the right-wing extremist music scene are moving closer together. Previously, smaller joint concerts had already taken place in other countries. After years of competition, the disputes seem to be resolved. This should mean that the scene is networked even better internationally. This would give them more opportunities to deceive the authorities, to earn money, to immerse young people in a world of neo-Nazism and to give the organized old cadres opportunities for meetings and agreements.

The old cadres, some of whom have been active in right-wing rock for more than twenty years, have long recognized that acting across borders offers advantages in many areas. However, reducing transnational action to the practical level does not go far enough. The ideological superstructure of a common struggle for the “white race”, the “Occident” or simply an equally transnational fascism creates the basis for this practice.