Dortmund! May Day! Sieg Heil!


German neo-Nazis scream for ice cream… vanilla ice cream.

It was curious to note that on May Day in Germany a trades union rally was attacked by a mob of 300 or so neo-Nazis. An account of this incident is available by way of the Trotskyist World Socialist Web Site: Germany: Neo-Nazis attack May Day demonstration in Dortmund, May 9, 2009.

Two points of interest are that the social democrats on the march were seemingly unprepared to face the nutzi mob, while German authorities — despite having the obvious capacity to monitor any preparations for such an assault — appear to have allowed the attack to proceed: the policeman who kicked a Turkish demonstrator in the head while he lay prone on the ground perhaps embodying the attitude of the institution social democrats rely upon to protect them from the nutzi menace.

Approximately 300 neo-Nazis attacked a demonstration organised by the DGB, the German trade union federation, on May 1 as it set off from the square in front of the old synagogue towards Westphalia Park…

Armed with sticks, firecrackers, stones and lumps of clay containing glass fragments the Nazi thugs attacked a contingent of Kurds and Turks at the rear of the demonstration, injuring several people, including some police officers. One demonstrator was said to have received serious injuries after being hit by a bullet-like projectile.

The DGB demonstrators attempted to defend themselves. The relatively few police officers present, who were poorly equipped, tried to separate the two groups. Some of those on the DGB demonstration were treated with extreme brutality by the police, as is shown in photos published in the press and in one video, which clearly shows a prostrate Turkish demonstrator being kicked in the head by a policeman in full riot gear…

On the bright side, an action which would no doubt bring a smile to Tim Blair’s face.

Not unexpectedly, our correspondent infantilises the ‘misguided young “left” Autonome’ who engage in direct confrontation with the state and its little helpers the nutzis, but is less sanguine on the manner in which the German left might protect itself from attack at future public events — a certainty given the size and growing strength of militant fascist groups.

A communiqué from Autonome Antifa Freiburg, on the other hand, is a little more direct: Beat the Fascists wherever you meet them! (Schlagt die Faschisten, wo ihr sie trefft!) It identifies the ‘autonomous’ or ‘free’ nationalists — essentially, the extra-parliamentary far right — as being “a new form of right-wing radicalism in Germany”, one which first came to major media attention only last year (but which has been developing slowly for many more years). Aside from its rejection of close stewardship by the leading neo-Nazi party the NPD, the autonomists distinguish themselves by way of their aping the tactics of their ‘antifa’ opponents. The protection the German state provides their public assemblies, and the impatience many on the far right have with the arrogance and corruption of the NPD, have proven attractive to a number of racist youth in Germany. Given that, in one study, almost 5 per cent of boys ‘said they belonged to a “right-wing group or Kameradschaft“, the future is looking rosy for the ANs.

On the other hand, as some local punk conservatives have observed, ‘who gives a shit about Germany’, and if I’m so interested in Germany, ‘why don’t I go live there’? (On ‘conservative punk’, see Liz Worth, ‘From the White House to the Punk House’, Punk Planet, No.72, March/April 2006; some Melbourne punks are also rather conservative.)

On May Day 2009 around 1,000 Nazis marched through Ulm (Baden-Württemberg) and Neu-Ulm (Bavaria) where they were confronted by 5,000 counter demonstrators. On this day there were further fascist demonstrations, with a total of 3,000 participating Nazis. Despite the militant resistance in Ulm, the only Nazi march that could be prevented was in Mainz. The march in Ulm was organised by the youth organisation of the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), the young national democrats (JN). A broad spectrum of fascists participated at the march.

While in Ulm autonomous Antifa were subjected to excessive police violence, they were yet again betrayed by the “German Confederation of Trade Unions” (DGB) but received solidarity only from Kurdish as well as communist demonstrators. The DGB has yet again placed itself in the tradition of May Day 1933. Even then the Nazis attempted to transfigure the international workers day into the “day of national work”. On the 2nd of May 1933 they devoured the trade union movement while on the day before part of the trade Union movement went on the streets together with the Nazi Party. Every year the Nazis try to claim May Day for themselves so that its roots will be forgotten: The anarchist assembly in 1886 at the Haymarket in Chicago to promote a general strike for an 8 hour working day.

May Day 2008 became a signal for a new form of right-wing radicalism in Germany. For the first time the “Autonomous Nationalists” (AN) received attention from the media. It was then that 1,100 Nazis from a militant youth subculture marched through the Barmbeck district of the city Hamburg. Over 9,000 leftists gave resistance, the Nazis concentrated their attacks against members of the press as well as political opponents. The police were surprised and dumbfounded by the new quality of right wing militancy. Within the scene the attention resulted in a greater momentum in the attractiveness of the AN. The AN present themselves as a superficial right-wing rip-off of Autonomous Antifa and are attempting to develop a violent and modern image in order to attract young people. Although they are turning away from traditional repugnant Nazi images such as the narrow minded hair parting (aka Hitler) or the thuggish Nazi-skin, in order to appeal to a new generation, they have however failed to achieve the support of a broad spectrum necessary for a mass movement.

On the 12th of April 2008, 800 ANs had already marched through the town of Stolberg (North Rhine-Westphalia). The reason for this is that on the 4th of April a youth had been killed in a street fight after attending an NPD meeting. The largest rally so far by the Autonomous Nationalists occurred on the 6th of September 2008 when 1,200 Nazis, despite counter-protests from 1,800 left-wing demonstrators, were able to march undisturbed through the streets of Dortmund (North Rhine-Westphalia). The march was to commemorate the German invasion of Poland on the 1st of September 1939. The Nazis have been commemorating the start of the second world war for the past four years, cynically running under the motto of “national anti-war day”. On the 1st of May 2009 the AN marched once again through their stronghold Dortmund, this time 300 of them attacked a Trade union demonstration.

On the 13th of September 2008 1,100 Nazis took part in the 4th “Festival of the nations” (Fest der Völker/Fdv) in Altenburg (Thuringia), they were met by 2,000 left-wing counter-demonstrators. At the annual Rechtsrock (Rock against communism) festival, organised by the NPD, the bands which play mainly belong to the music network “Blood and Honour”. Hardcore Nazis from all over Europe travel to this festival which serves as an opportunity to improve right-wing networks. Many of the Nazis are independent of political parties organised into the so-called “Freien Kameradschaften” (independent camaraderie organisations). The aim of such large meetings, such as the “Festival of Nations”, is to construct so-called “nationally liberated zones” within larger cities, which in contrast to some rural areas will only exist for a limited time.

The largest Nazi demonstration in Germany, since the end of the second world war, took place on the 14th of February in Dresden (Saxony). On the anniversary of the allied bombing 6,500 Nazis, from all over Europe, marched through the city. Although for the first time this year, several thousand left-wing counter-demonstrators also attended, the revisionist event has managed to inscribe itself in the agenda of European Nazis. Just as the marches in Wunsiedel (Bavaria) to the grave of Rudolf Hess or the annual party of the NPD newspaper “Deutschen Stimme” (“German voice”) mostly in towns in East-Germany before, Dresden has become the main annual meeting of European Nazis.

The three main characteristics of the larger Nazi meetings is networking and organising, promoting self confidence in the internal ranks and demonstrating a potency to the outside world. The reason why the Nazis are meeting is unimportant, as long as they serve as an identification function for the whole Nazi spectrum. This is especially the case for historical revisionist themes, where mainly Nazi political strongholds are selected. It is not enough to just stop the larger Nazi meetings, the Nazis have shown that they are able to react flexibly to legal restrictions. Besides fighting against the Nazi ideology present within the society and reporting about Nazi activities it is completely necessary to smash the Nazi structures: every single Nazi has to be attacked by any means necessary.

In Australia, the ‘autonomous nationalists’ have established a tiny foothold among the far right, with the only development of any real significance of late being the announcement of an informal alliance between the ‘New Right’ and boneheads belonging to ‘Volksfront Australia’. The chief architect, in both cases, is the Sydney businessman, German-born ex-NPD member Welf Herfurth. Presumably, the handful of boneheads belonging to Volksfront are intended to supplement the teenyboppers Welf has assembled around the banner of the New Right.

The local Blood & Honour franchise apparently held a gig on April 25 in Perth. Presumably, given media attention and political pressure from the local ‘ethnic’ lobby, police monitored the event, but were otherwise happy to ensure that there was no ‘trouble’. At some point, more details will be forthcoming, but being 2,700kms away from the city in which the gig was held makes it a little difficult to ascertain much of anything.

Bonus!

In Athens, Greece, 300 (100?) or so fascists belonging to Chryssi Avghi (‘Golden Dawn’) have enjoyed whinging and whining in public about 500 or so immigrant workers currently squatting a building in the city. Despite being fuckwits, bums and lowlifes, the ‘foreign’ squatters were joined in attacking the pea-brained racists by a group of anarchists, while other leftists also counter-demonstrated. Naturally, police had to intervene in order to ensure the fascists were able to beat at least some immigrants before making a safe exit; sadly, it appears that a number of the squatters were injured during the confrontation, although whether by fascists in uniform or out of uniform is not known [BBC video]. Further disco on the collaborative efforts of Greek neo-Nazis and Greek police is available @ the blog clandestinenglish: Police and Neo-Nazi scum collaborate once more in Athens…, May 10, 2009.

…The neo-nazis when obstructed from doing the demo started beating randomly immigrants with iron bars in Menandrou street. The police all the time looked but not intervened. Their collaboration got even tighter when the neo-nazis moved towards their headquarters, which is located near the Court of Appeals building at Socratous Street. Under the protection of the riot police, from their hq’s roof and then from the street, the neo-nazis attacked the building where immigrants find refuge with stones and flash and sound grenades. The neo-nazis were all wearing helmets, this at a time when in Greece the state attempts to illegalise hoods in protests. They tried to invade the building but the immigrants defended it with stones. Four protestors and many immigrants were injured. A girl was arrested…

More photos, videos and disco (in Greek) @ athens.indymedia.org: Φωτογραφίες από τη συνεργασία ΜΑΤ και φασιστών έξω από το Εφετείο.

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 2019 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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4 Responses to Dortmund! May Day! Sieg Heil!

  1. Robert Kelly says:

    Thank you, @ndy, for the links. Your blog is a valuable resource for tracking these thugs.

    Some thoughts.

    Thousands of Nazis marching? I find this unbelievable. I’m sure it happened, but it’s shocking.

    I’ve never seen anything like this in the U.S.

    American fascists, i.e. the KKK and so on, used to have significant political power. But they’ve been dismantled and fragmented. There are still marches and so on, but they are rather rare and draw a few dozen people at the most, and this is my admittedly cursory understanding of U.S. domestic hate groups.

    I’m hard pressed to explain the difference.

    It could be that European cities are more conducive to street marches. You can’t protest on an express highway.

    It could also be that Europe is a much more racist place than is taken for granted by the left.

    It could also be — as my co-blogger Andrew has pointed out — that fascist movements thrive when the “petty bourgeois” feels under threat from the revolutionary left. Since Die Linke is now, I think, the third largest party in Germany, it could be fueling a reaction that drives people into joining fascist groups.

    Since the U.S. has no revolutionary left, there’s no fuel for fascism.

    It could also be that there’s a similar but unrecognized movement in the U.S. that isn’t based on a racial/ethnic identity, since this is a country of immigrants, nationalism isn’t tied up in racism (though it can be, such as in the Deep South), etc.

  2. @ndy says:

    G’day Robert,

    I think fascist movements need to be placed in their social and historical contexts. Thus it’s possible to speak of fascist movements in Asia, Europe, North and South America; in the states which constitute these territories; and even in particular cities, towns, villages and neighbourhoods. Regarding the relationship between US and European movements, aside from formal linkages between particular organisations, there has for decades been a flow of propaganda from the US into Europe — Germany in particular. David Duke, among others, has made speaking tours of Europe, and the neo-Nazi music industry provides funding for a wide variety of fascist political projects. Despite obvious tensions, fascist movements have strong internationalist tendencies.

    So: the spectacle of thousands of Nazis marching in Germany is kinda shocking, but I think that it’s worth noting that a) the march in Dresden was an ‘international’ affair — with delegates coming from across Europe — and that b), in the case of Germany, the division and reunification of the German state, and the collapse of Communism in the East, has provided a certain social context for the growth of a neo-Nazi movement. It’s also worth bearing in mind that in the first few years following re-unification, there was an upswing in racist assaults, especially in the East; the most (in)famous example of which was the fire in Rostock. The response of the state to these (and other) political developments also plays a crucial role in determining their incidence.

    The international media pays little attention to the increasingly repressive and violent developments in “unified” Germany. But despite the silence, which is only occasionally broken by reports of seemingly single and isolated cases of neo-fascist rioting in Magdeburg in May and anti-Semitic attacks like the one on the memorial of the Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald in July, German society is just shaping its new ugly face.

    Although the government tries to give the opposite impression, neo-fascist terror against minorities and the racist and authoritarian transformation of the German State have increased over the last two years, following the [neo-]Nazi assault on the refugee home in Rostock-Lichtenhagen in August 1992 and the abolition of asylum for refugees on July 1, 1993. Police brutality against foreigners has dramatically increased; conditions for refugees worsened…

    The process of social transformation within the capitalist German state is far from being at an end. Although it is hard to grasp all of the facets of the rapid political, material and conceptual changes which followed the breakdown of “actually-existing socialism”, the overall direction is evident: the restructuring of a unified Germany into an aggressively nationalistic, racist and imperialist state, forged through the scapegoating of foreigners and refugees. This finds reflection in both the general passivity towards or even support of fascist violence and the practical abolition of asylum. The complementary foundation of its authoritarian and politically repressive consolidation lies in the fact that almost no visible or noticeable opposition exists to radically confront and challenge what has become reality in Germany…

    – Lars Rensmann, Confronting the New Germany: Neo-Nazi Violence and The State of Racism, Barricade Publishing, Melbourne, 1995

    Rensmann’s essay is really useful in terms of examining the neo-Nazi movement’s history in the years immediately following the collapse of the Wall.

    I also think that the nature of the (national) political regimes in which fascist movements percolate is important. In Italy, the birthplace of Fascism, the last election eliminated the Communist presence in Parliament, as well as witnessed one of the strongest performances by the far right since the end of WWII. Similar results were obtained in Austria and Switzerland, while it seems in most other European countries, the (xenophobic) right has a fairly strong presence in Parliaments.

    Beyond this, economic ‘crisis’ and the War on Terror — interpreted as a war on the presence of Muslims in Europe — provides additional impetus for the growth of nationalistic and xenophobic parties and movements. Crucial also the collapse and discrediting of the Left as a whole.

    Moar l8r…

  3. Paul Justo says:

    Is that a man or a woman third from the left?

    What a crowd of skinny armed wannabes and overweight sloths. Reminds me of the fascists that tried to counter protest the ‘Troops Out’ rallies in London back in the day.

    Imagine the scene – pasty dope smoking London nutzis v rural Irish republican construction workers.

    Shit was kicked, Guinness was drank, rebel songs were sung!

  4. @ndy says:

    Paul,

    And a good time was had by all.

    Robert,

    In the US, my impression is that hysteria over the presence of immigrant workers — principally Mexican and Hispanic — and, to some degree, the election of President O’Bama constitute the most fertile ground upon which the fascist right is busily tossing seeds. Moreover, I think that David Duke’s career — nutzi, fascist, former Grand Poobah in the KKK, Senator, and now Man of Words — perhaps encapsulates the trajectory of the ‘modern’, post-Civil Rights-era Klan. In essence, for many but certainly not all coming from that milieu, the bedsheets and (spectacularly) crude racism have been removed and suits and pseudo-intellectual smooth talk have been adopted in their place: a process of ‘modernisation’ has occurred. This, I think, is the principal task facing North American fascism: the re-invention of white racial politics (‘white nationalism’) for a contemporary audience.

    Finally, I think a distinction needs to be made between racism and fascism. One noteworthy historical example is the Jewish presence in Italian Fascism — a situation only altered upon Hitler’s insistence.

    On nationalism and racism: of course, much depends on how you/I/we define such terms, but I think that the relationship — especially in Australia — is a close one. That is, until recent decades (post-1960s), Australia was defined — in both law and culture — as White. In this sense, Australian society has strong roots in ‘racism’. Together with the absence of any formal ‘treaty’ between indigenous and non-indigenous Australia — the legal concept of ‘terra nullius’ was only overturned in the Australian courts in the 1990s — institutionally speaking, Australia remains something of a pariah (I think).

    To return to the Ku Klux Klowns for a moment, it’s also worth recognising that, while the bulk of its violence has been directed at African-Americans, this violence and repression — almost invariably supported by local authorities, especially the police and courts — also extended to other target groups: for example, Italian and other migrant workers, and labour movement activists. See : American_Lynching. On ‘terra nullius’, see, for example, Sven Lindqvist, Terra nullius. A Journey through No One’s Land (Translated by Sarah Death. Granta, London 2007. Pbk 2008. The New Press, New York 2007.) Sven also wrote the excellent Exterminate All the Brutes (“Utrota varenda jävel”), translated from the Swedish by Joan Tate (New York: The New Press 1996. Pocket 1997. New pocket edition The New Press, New York 2007. London: Granta 1996. Pocket 1997 and 2007. Also translated into French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean and seven other languages.) It traces the genocidal impulse in Western cultures to the construction of various European (Belgian, British, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Spanish) empires. Oh, and contra the Klowns: The Deacons for Defense and Justice kicked arse. (See also : The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement, Lance Hill, UNC Press, 2005 and the US tele-movie Deacons for Defense (2003).)

    In 1964 a small group of African American men in Jonesboro, Louisiana, defied the nonviolence policy of the mainstream civil rights movement and formed an armed self-defense organization–the Deacons for Defense and Justice–to protect movement workers from vigilante and police violence. With their largest and most famous chapter at the center of a bloody campaign in the Ku Klux Klan stronghold of Bogalusa, Louisiana, the Deacons became a popular symbol of the growing frustration with Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent strategy and a rallying point for a militant working-class movement in the South.

    Lance Hill offers the first detailed history of the Deacons for Defense and Justice, who grew to several hundred members and twenty-one chapters in the Deep South and led some of the most successful local campaigns in the civil rights movement. In his analysis of this important yet long-overlooked organization, Hill challenges what he calls “the myth of nonviolence”–the idea that a united civil rights movement achieved its goals through nonviolent direct action led by middle-class and religious leaders. In contrast, Hill constructs a compelling historical narrative of a working-class armed self-defense movement that defied the entrenched nonviolent leadership and played a crucial role in compelling the federal government to neutralize the Klan and uphold civil rights and liberties.

    References to similar debates and projects are also present in Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin’s Anarchism & The Black Revolution (numerous editions). As an historical side-note, in the mid-90s a local anarchist group arranged for Ervin to come to Australia on a speaking tour. He was in the country for several days before the Government decided that letting a person of such questionable character into the country was a bad idea; he was arrested, locked up, and then deported. Word on the street is that the authorities were first alerted to his horrifying presence on these fair shores by Pauline Hanson’s mob and/or the group ‘Australians Against Further Immigration’.

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