Neo-Nazi ‘national anarchists’ in Germany in the headlines

For Welf Herfurth, the German-born former member of the NPD and current leader of the New Right/national anarchists in Australia, there’s good news and there’s bad news coming out of the Fatherland. The good news is that German neo-Nazis have been reasonably successful in rendering parts of the country — largely confined to the East — into no-go zones for their enemies. Further, the presence and activities of the neo-Nazi schmucks has reportedly become normalised and — outside of small groups (the usual suspects) — largely, and passively, accepted by the general public. Which is not to suggest that there remains no resistance, of course.

On May Day, thousands of police prevented perhaps as many as 10,000 antifa from meeting and greeting 700 participants in a neo-Nazi march in Hamburg and at a similar event in Nuremberg. “In Hamburg and Nuremberg, the NPD marched between cordons of riot police ordered to enforce the NPD’s right of free assembly. Anti-NPD protesters far outnumbered boot-wearing rightists in both cities.” According to Deutsche-Welle, “Bavaria state’s premier, Guenther Beckstein, who comes from the city, told a peaceful anti-NPD rally in another part of town that his government would use undercover agents, court challenges and youth education programmes to undercut the NPD wherever it could”, which suggests he may like to brush up a little on his history.

The bad news is that, while the German state has for many years been seeking to crush the anarchist and leftist opposition, Köpi, a Berlin squat, appears to have been saved from eviction.

NEO-NAZI SCENE IN GERMANY

Extremist Violence the Norm in Parts of the Country
Stefan Berg, Markus Deggerich and Sven Röbel
Spiegel Online
June 3, 2008

Arson attacks and racist assaults by right-wing extremists are part of everyday life in parts of Germany. Authorities are concerned that the country’s neo-Nazi scene is becoming increasingly violent.

The arsonists came on the night before Adolf Hitler’s birthday. After attempting to burn down an Asian fast-food stand on a square in front of the train station in Blankenfelde, a town in the eastern German state of Brandenburg, they turned their attention to the adjacent doner kebab stand owned by Haci D., 39. The fire quickly burned through the wooden side wall and engulfed the entire stand. By daybreak on April 20, Haci D. had lost his livelihood.

Haci D. had tried repeatedly to get insurance to cover his business but hadn’t managed to find a company that would take him on. Fire insurance for a Turkish doner kebab stand in Brandenburg? Officially, says Haci D., the insurance companies cited “construction risks” as their reason for rejecting his applications.

These “construction risks” now affect the very foundation of a society in which right-wing extremist violence has become normal. “Right-wing extremism is part of everyday life and only attracts attention when the crimes are especially horrific,” says Wolfgang Thierse, the Social Democrat vice-president of the lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag.

The statistics are alarming. In 2007, the number of reported arson attacks committed by right-wing extremists climbed to 24 from 18 in the previous year. The targets are foreigners, including immigrants’ mosques, cars and cafés.

“These are crimes that pose a threat to public safety and that could lead to people getting killed,” warns Heinz Fromm, president of Germany’s domestic intelligence service. The upward trend seems to be continuing this year. The numbers in March were higher than they had been in years. Throughout Germany, the police documented a total of 1,311 right-wing extremist and racist crimes, an increase of 458 over the year-earlier month. The incidents included 72 acts of violence, the government said in response to an inquiry from the Left Party vice president of the Bundestag, Petra Pau.

New Trend of “Anarchist Nationalists”

Intelligence agents have identified a new, right-wing extremist phenomenon: so-called anarchist nationalists who are “significantly more likely to commit acts of violence against political rivals and the police.” After the May riots in Hamburg, the police are keenly aware of the threat posed by this new group of extremist thugs. In Hamburg, they joined in the fray wearing the same black outfits and showing a similar level of aggression as leftist anarchists. It took a massive police effort to prevent the situation from spinning out of control. What happened in Hamburg, says Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, a Christian Democrat, attests to a “new quality.”

The anarchist nationalists number about 400 people, or roughly 10 percent of Germany’s neo-Nazi community. They constitute the advance guard of a broader violent movement which is making inroads into western Germany. The movement has long since established itself in the east where it feels unassailable and in some areas has come to dominate everyday life.

Last year the highest number of arson attacks by neo-Nazis were committed in the eastern state of Brandenburg, especially in the vicinity of the city of Cottbus, where four foreign-owned businesses were attacked in October of 2007 alone. Investigators speculate that an organized structure was behind the apparently concerted series of attacks.

But while the risk of such attacks is growing, the public is paying less attention to them. “Right-wing extremists haven’t become more harmless,” says Anetta Kahane of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation Against Right-Wing Extremism, “it’s just that our perception or the problem has changed.” Kahane has noticed a growing “culture of becoming accustomed and of fatigue” which is enabling right-wing extremists to become openly aggressive.

Frankfurt an der Oder, an eastern city on the German-Polish border, is a place where right-wing violence has developed into an everyday phenomenon. Paradoxically, the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) failed to capture a single seat in recent municipal elections. Nevertheless, the city administration and police are aware of the local far-right scene’s potential for violence. The “Sportlerklause,” a local sports bar catering to neo-Nazi thugs, was shut down. The city is home to precisely the kind of environment that worries the authorities: a dangerous hooligan scene surrounding the local football club, FFC Viktoria.

Police estimate that the group counts 40 to 50 violence-prone right-wing extremists, and they have struck repeatedly. In the past, the NPD recruited its bodyguards from among these football fans — now, however, the group seems to be organizing on its own. There are even photos showing the radical football fans giving the Hitler salute with SS skull-and-crossbones patches on their clothing.

    See also : The BNP’s German pals face their own troubles (Searchlight, March 2008):

    “GERMANY’S MAIN NAZI organisation, the National Democratic Party (NPD), set itself the objective for 2008 of entering both the Hessen and Niedersachsen regional parliaments. But despite an unprecedented campaign, especially in Niedersachsen, the party failed badly in both regions. The result was a serious setback for the NPD, which has seats in two east German regions but none in the west.

    This was only the latest in a series of problems confronting the NPD. Since last summer the party has had to grapple with the so-called Autonomous Nationalists (ANs) who belong to the wider spectrum of militant nazism that goes under the name Freie Kameradschaften.

    The ANs notably try to copy the radical left Autonomen, both in their dress style and by skirmishing with the police on demonstrations in an effort to look militant. This behaviour irritates the more sedate law-and-order enthusiasts of the NPD which declared in August 2007 that it did not want people who look like “left anarchists” and frighten the public on its demonstrations…”

    When Nazis go Pop… New strategies of the extreme right in Germany, Raggacore, LFO DEMON, November 12, 2004

Assaults and Intimidation

A few days ago, masked men attacked yet again, assaulting students in front of a club in Frankfurt an der Oder. The doormen at the club alerted the police and managed to prevent the incident from escalating beyond kicks and blows. Seven suspects were arrested, all of them part of the far-right community. But because no one displayed the Hitler salute or shouted slogans like “Leftists Out!” during the nighttime incident, it is unlikely to be documented as a far-right attack.

Christof Winter, a 25-year-old student, has documented countless incidents in Frankfurt, including attacks in broad daylight and fights in discotheques, as well as the omnipresent slogans and symbols in graffiti painted onto buildings. Winter knows many of the right-wing extremists by name. He prefers to ride his bicycle through the city instead of taking the streetcar. He also avoids discotheques. The neo-Nazis know him, just as they keep an eye on Katja Herrlich, 34, an attorney who has collaborated with Winter in his research. Herrlich says that she has felt threatened many times. She is already accustomed to local neo-Nazis addressing her by her first name on the street, saying innocuous-sounding things like, “Hey there, Katja.” The message they seek to convey, she says, is that they know where to find her.

Uwe Adler, 36, of a citizens’ alliance against right-wing extremism in Weimar in the eastern state of Thuringia, reports similar experiences. He belongs to the city’s committee on youth affairs and once noticed two neo-Nazis known to local authorities sitting in the back of the room during a public meeting. They appeared to be taking copious notes on a discussion of problems among Weimar youth. “Right-wing extremists have embarked on a process of normalization in the country’s cities and towns,” says Adler. Some groups have even sponsored waste pickup campaigns in local forests, under the guise of “protecting the environment to protect the homeland.”

The far-right is trying to reinvent itself as champion of ordinary citizens. “Social awareness can only be national awareness” is the new slogan devised by right-wing anti-capitalists. By laying claim to social issues, the neo-Nazis are trying to make violence against “freeloaders” and dissenters socially acceptable. “Wherever the state and civil society are retreating, right-wing extremists are filling the void,” says Anetta Kahane of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation.

Part 2: Brass Knuckles and Ski Masks

The strategy of intimidation is working. In cities like Weimar, people like activist Uwe Adler are still able to find supporters for their citizens’ alliance, “although the numbers have declined.” In April, the group managed to block a neo-Nazi march in Weimar, the city of German poets Goethe and Schiller. But, says Adler, when he recently visited the nearby town of Apolda, “the fear was almost palpable.” Boneheads who knew him by name stood in front of the assembly hall where Adler had gone to launch a citizens’ alliance, and they filmed people as they entered the building.

The outcome of the meeting was sobering. According to Adler, it is difficult to find “any ordinary citizens who are willing to occasionally man an information booth on right-wing extremism in the downtown area.” Some, he says, “are afraid, while others are either indifferent or secretly sympathize with the neo-Nazis.” His parents became concerned when right-wing extremist Web sites began featuring his photo, along with his name and address, as if he were a wanted criminal.

The testimony in a trial currently underway in the eastern city of Dresden has shed light on some of the neo-Nazis’ intimidation tactics. The defendants are members of “Sturm 34,” a gang that has since been banned. Peter E., 24, a former “driver” with the group, provided horrifying insights into the thugs’ modus operandi. According to his testimony, roughly 50 youths gathered under an old German imperial war flag, a symbol for neo-Nazis, in the town of Mittweida in 2006 to mark the founding of the group. Then one of the defendants, Alexander G., nicknamed “Stormer,” climbed onto a table and loudly proclaimed the establishment of Sturm 34. The gang’s gear included gloves filled with sand to increase the impact of blows and, according to Peter E., brass knuckles and ski masks.

Hunt Down Its Victims

Sturm 34 soon put its preparations into practice. In one instance, the gang attacked a camping site in Mittweida, and in another they targeted a pavilion where a local festival was underway. According to investigators, up to 30 members would arrive in cars, arrange themselves in a military formation and attack. The group would also systematically hunt down its victims in car chases.

Although Sturm 34 is now officially disbanded, far-right violence is alive and kicking in the region. Early this year, boneheads in four cars attacked five young men from a town called Geringswalde as they were driving home. When they were forced to stop their car, several masked men jumped out of the cars and attacked them with baseball bats and clubs.

The right-wing extremists have been especially effective at spreading fear among Turks, says Kenan Kolat of the Turkish Community in Germany, a group which campaigns for immigrant rights. Doner kebab stands are seen as an especially easy target. This, in turn, has created a market niche in the insurance business. Because German insurance companies are refusing to provide fire insurance for people like Haci D., small, specialized providers have contacted the Turkish community association to offer fire protection and alarm systems. The representatives sell their services to local Turkish businesses by maintaining that an alarm system will ensure that “the same thing doesn’t happen to you.”

On a visit to the western city of Solingen last week to commemorate the 15th anniversary of a deadly arson attack on a Turkish family, Kolat was able to get a firsthand look at what life can be like for Turkish immigrants threatened by right-wing extremist violence. On May 29, 1993, four men from the local bonehead community set a fire in the entrance of a house owned by the Turkish Genç family. Two women and three girls died in the incident.

The survivors remained in Solingen, where they built a new house — surrounded by a fence and protected by 24-hour video surveillance.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

In Italy:

Rome Diary: Italy’s leap into the dark: Smells, signals and symptoms of fascism
Gaither Stewart
Online Journal
June 2, 2008

“The more powerful a state and hence the more political a nation, the less inclined it is to explain the general principle governing social ills and to seek out their causes by looking at the principle of the state. . . .” –Karl Marx, Critical Notes on ‘The King of Prussia and Social Reform’

As a premise to this diary of events, notes and comments covering a period of one month following the whimsical and perverse electoral choice of this country of 60 million people, I remind readers that since the time of Machiavelli, Italy has often been a political guidepost in Europe. Therefore, Italy’s peculiar preference today for an updated form of fascism that once cost them so dearly and, furthermore, is headed by an accused crook is worth a close look…

In the United States, a new edition (#130, Summer 2008) of Intelligence Report, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s monthly zine, including a feature on the Armenian genocide and Turkish state denial; the stalking of twin brothers by boneheads after one of the twins killed one of the short-haired neo-Nazis during a gang assault on the pair; and a short piece on Oswald Mosley’s son and FIA boss (today winning a confidence vote conducted by the organisation’s governing body) Max, caught with his pants down and on film, in a “sick Nazi orgy with 5 hookers”!

Finally, in Australia, ‘national anarchist’ activity has been fairly minimal. In fact, the few dozen fascist fellas who call themselves ‘anarchists’ have made exactly three public appearances thus far, most recently, in Melbourne. On May 4, 2008, a half-dozen of the dickheads tried to join the Victorian Trades Hall Council rally, and were told to piss off (which they duly did). That said, the group, though tiny, has expressed its intention to attend future rallies, so it’s possible that the police will assume the same role here as they have in Germany — and at the APEC rally in September last year, at which the New Right/’national anarchists’ made their debut — and form a protective guard. Which is probably unnecessary, as bugger all ‘Reds’ have been paying them any attention in any case. I suppose time will tell if they’re anything more than a flash in the pan or not. In the meantime, watch this space…

    I’ve got to give it to Welf and his cadre for having the restraint from braining these fools. New Right/New Reich!? That’s not even original! ~ “Ean Frick”, attackthesystem, September 14, 2007

    @ndy… you think you’re getting to me… but you’re clearly not… I find it amusing that you are the Melbourne Punk Stalker! You know everything that’s going on! Your shitty little website there is probably better off being a gig website. You know when ALL the shows are on! … Anyway… anarchy is a fag… that’s all I have to say to you Mr Moran… ~ Chunga, chungacunt, September 23, 2007

    Honestly, I am going to fucking kill you. I hope it was worth it. ~ Joel, December 10, 2007

    Bombshell Punk R o c k Forum, December 2007:

    Top guy. ~ Doug Smith

    @ndy you’re a fucking idiot mate and you better watch your back because when me and my mates are out and about, if we see you, ur dead / @ndy im still going to bash you, fukn gooknigger scum ~ Anonymous

    i dont think u have the right to fucking breath[e] u piece of [shit]. if you like gooks so much why dont you fuck off to some gook country and see how much they tolerate mouthy cunts such as yourself. then you may see why we dont want the scum to do the same here / and reading earlier you were very concerned about some of us hassling a negroid girl, well did you stop to think there may have been a reason? she was foul, spitting on people, drinking goon, making a fool of herself and she had what was coming. anyway mate youre a goose and i think you should put your money where your mouth is ~ BirmyHammerSkinz

    As I stated on the previous forum Andy, you are a liar, a hypocrite and no better than the trash that you fight against. ~ Dion

Ah… teh Interwebs!

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2018 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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