In Berlin over the weekend, hundreds of neo-Nazis jackbooted through the streets, accompanied by an Honour Guard of over 1,000 German police.
Skirmishes as 750 neo-Nazis demonstrate in Berlin
October 10, 2009
Berlin, Oct 10 (DPA) Around 750 neo-Nazis took part in a rally in central Berlin Saturday, leading to minor skirmishes and 17 arrests, police reported.
The demonstrators gathered at Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, dressed in black and bearing flags and banners inscribed with right-wing paroles.
The rally, accompanied by anti-riot police, drew a large number of opponents who booed and whistled at the neo-Nazi crowd.
“We took part in the demonstrations against the East German regime in 1989, but this is not what we wanted,” one woman told DPA, after spitting at a right-wing demonstrator.
After a series of minor skirmishes involving police, neo-Nazis and left-wing activists, officers arrested 15 left-wing agitators and two right-wing demonstrators. A total of 1,000 police officers were on duty during the rally.
The demonstration was prompted by an arson attack on a pub frequented by right-wing extremists last Saturday. The incident was initially thought to be racially motivated, but has since been classed as a personally motivated revenge.
Law enforcers arrested seven men Saturday in connection with the attack. The men had been injured during a punch-up in the pub in September.
A Nazi March Near My Home
Today, close to my Berlin home, I saw a frightening march of Nazis, calling themselves the Nationale Sozialistische Partei Deutschlands — leaving out only the word Arbeiter (Worker) from the name Hitler used. Several thousands [?] of them, almost all in black, many boneheads but also many all too normal-looking youngsters (and a smattering of very blonde girls), with the loudest loudspeaker I’ve heard in years blaring out their propaganda, agitating against democracy, denouncing the Bundestag representatives, even the cops, spreading hatred against all foreigners, but above all against the Left and the leftists. At least one big banner contained a warning threat: “Make sure you know where the nearest Antifascist club is located.”
Grossman notes — in what he apparently finds a surprisingly new development on the far right — that the neo-Nazis, in their fashion and ‘paroles’, bore a striking resemblance to their opponents: “One man who was standing next to me watching the meeting noted that the anti-Nazis, mostly the same age as the Nazis, were also often wearing black jackets — the color in fashion these days, I guess. He seemed to lump both Nazis and anti-Nazis together, a worrisome development. I don’t know how many others also thought that way. Most of the crowd were decidedly antifascist.”
A few points.
The drawing of an equivalence between ‘Nazis’ and ‘anti-Nazis’ is fairly commonplace. One trivial example is local Melbourne yuppie Dion who, on the basis of my advocacy of a boycott of a (formerly) neo-Nazi venue (The Birmingham Hotel in Fitzroy) wrote on a 100% Two Fingers In The Air Punk Rawk forum: “As I stated on the Bombshell forum Andy, you are a liar, a hypocrite and no better than the trash that you fight against.” More generally, ‘militant’ anti-fascism — in addition to being subject to sometimes harsh repression by the state — is frequently derided as being simply another form of ‘fascism’: ‘worrisome’ not because the criticism is frequently advanced by fascists (‘We’re not fascists; you’re fascists!” is the juvenile refrain) but because it serves as a justification for repression by the state of ‘antifa’.
The adoption of black garb and mimicry of the symbology of the anarchist and far left is recent, but not new. So too, some elements of its organisational framework (most obviously in the form of ‘black blocs’). In Australia, there is an attempt, albeit somewhat shambolic, to imitate the German far right in this respect; the key advocate of such an approach being former NPD member Welf Herfurth.
In historical terms, the colour black was adopted by the OG Fascists in the 1920s — again in (semi-)conscious mimicry of anarchism.