Hoelzer Reich & neo-Nazism. Yeah but, no but…

    Update : Heil to pay: Reich banned from Zuffa cards, Jake Rossen/Sherdog.com, ESPN, December 9, 2009: “Maggie Hendricks and MMAJunkie were first to notify the blogosphere — what a word — that Zuffa’s UFC and WEC banners would no longer be hospitable to fighters sponsored by the Hoelzer Reich clothing company… Of the major U.S. promotions in circulation, that effectively left only Strikeforce with an open-ended policy: The company employs Lyle Beerbohm, a onetime ardent supporter of the brand… Reached via e-mail, Strikeforce’s Mike Afromowitz joined the chorus. “We will absolutely not permit our fighters to wear Hoelzer Reich apparel in our cage,” he said.”… (PS. It’s Goebbels not Goebbles.)

    Props to Zuffa/UFC/WEC/Strikeforce.

In response to recent criticism over its use of Nazi imagery, US-based clothing company Hoelzer Reich has issued a statement, written by co-owner Jamie Vine, and dated December 8 (see The Savage Science).

Rather than address the specific criticisms which have been directed at the brand — especially by those on the UnderGround Forum (summarised by Brent Brookhouse @ Bloody Elbow) — Vine instead elects to focus on apparent concerns over the company’s use of the Iron Cross. This makes sense, insofar as: a) the most important criticisms of HR have nothing to do with the company’s use of this emblem, and; b) the Iron Cross has been used by a wide variety of companies, groups, and individuals, making it, all things being equal, a relatively uncontroversial subject.

In defending the general look of its designs, Vine is at pains to stress two things. The first is that the company’s inspiration is not Nazi Germany, but the German — and prior to this, Prussian — military. Thus, according to Vine, the company’s use of the Iron Cross should be placed alongside of its use of Prussian helmets, German military collars, and peaked caps. Secondly, Vine also claims that, being aware of the fact that some of these items may have negative connotations, the company was careful to remove any swastikas or other, straightforwardly Nazi symbols (such as the SS insignia) from their designs.

For example:

Aryan Wear:

Hoelzer Reich:

========================

Note: Aryan Wear is a Texas-based company which sells neo-Nazi merch. The company was founded c.2003, and is run by a guy called Chris Evans. According to the ‘Center For New Democracy’ (Beyond A Dead Man’s Deeds: The National Alliance After William Pierce, August 2002 [PDF]), Chris Evans is “the 29-year-old [who] runs the Resistance web site, and is the [National Alliance] Dallas local unit leader. Evans, a veteran of the United States Army, started up two world wide web sites www.whitesurvival.com and www.unholyrecords.com. Evans is the marketing director of Resistance Records and the de facto coordinator of the Alliance’s Internet cadres. As a teenager, Evans was close to the Confederate Hammerskins.” Evans break with the Hammerskins came in 1990, when he testified in court against five members of the original ‘Confederate’ Hammerskins in Dallas. Christopher Greer, 23, John Jordan, 17, Michael Lawrence, 20, Sean Tarrant, 18 and Daniel Wood, 18 — “chased and attacked minorities who attempted to enter Robert E. Lee Park in downtown Dallas. The five were apparently inspired by a racist rally they attended in Tulsa that June where Tom Metzger, leader of White Aryan Resistance (WAR) spoke. When they were arrested, the defendants had baseball bats and broken pieces of concrete, which they apparently intended to use to recreate the Kristallnacht to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the attacks on Jewish stores and homes that took place on November 9, 1938 in Nazi Germany”. The five were sentenced for the crime in April, 1990. See also : Aryan Wear promotes message of hate, Jack Douglas Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram, July 30, 2005 | Raunchy Revolutionaries, Intelligence Report, Fall 2004.

========================

Vine states that “the imagery that we reference dates back hundreds of years before Nazi Germany”; which is incorrect. The Iron Cross, for example, while originally awarded to Prussian troops by Frederick William III in 1813 — that is, 120 years prior to Hitler’s ascension to power in 1933 — creates, in combination with the company’s use of the peaked cap, the Imperial eagle, the death’s head (Totenkopf), SS ranking insignia, and the thunder or lightning bolts of the SS (all of which appear, in one form or another, throughout the label’s range), a very distinct impression. And that image has little to do with a supposedly benign German military history as such, and a good deal more to do with its expression through the years 1933–1945, and the para-military formations of the SA (Sturmabteilung) and the SS (Schutzstaffel).

For such supposedly keen students of German military history, it’s rather significant that neither Vine nor co-owner John ‘Jed’ Colvin bothered to examine their designs in any close detail. If they did, they would discover that there are clear, direct, and specific references to the Nazi war-machine.

Of course, an alternative explanation is that the pair knew precisely what they were doing when they designed their range.

Sponsorship

Vine writes that the company sponsored Mac Danzig (pictured above) for UFC 100 in July 2009. (Note that Danzig is a vegan and an animal rights advocate.) For whatever reason, the relationship didn’t last, and Danzig is no longer sponsored by HR. A few months later, however, HR announced its sponsorship of a range of other fighters: Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson (UFC 105); James Krause (WEC); Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (WEC); Ian “Junkyard” Dawe (MFC); Marcus Sursa (SharkFights); Chad Reiner (UFC, Adrenaline); Jimmy Seipel (VFC, Adrenaline); Shane Primm (UFC, XFC) and Dustin West (XFC).

In addition to these MMAs, Lyle Beerbohm has been one of HR’s most outspoken supporters; outspoken, that is, until just after Zuffa’s announcement that no HR-sponsored MMA would be allowed to wear their clothing in UFC or WEC tournaments. At this point — December 8, 2009 — Beerbohm has decided to leave the sinking ship.

In abandoning HR, Beerbohm is joining the ranks of other fighters, such as Andre Winner. According to MMAUnltd.com, Winner went “to the lengths of de-stitching [HR] patches from [his] fight shorts at UFC 105” (November 2009). Most recently, HR has been proud to boast its sponsorship of Joe Brammer. “Unfortunately, Joe lost to his opponent on December 5th, but he displayed the Strength & Honor of a true UFC warrior.”

Quite.

Hoelzer Reich & West Wall

On August 11, 2009, HR wrote the following on their site:

Hoelzer Reich Clothing would like to introduce our FAVORITE band, WESTWALL! Westwall is made of veterans of the Minnesota metal scene. These Legionaires [sic] serve up their own brutal style of war metal. Influenced by great metal bands such as Slayer, Bolt Thrower, Iron Maiden, Arch Enemy, and Death, Westwall stays in keeping with the purest tradition of metal. Inspired by movies like Gladiator, Braveheart, Troy, 300 as well as hundreds of history books extolling the virtues of hard-edged, in-your-face, do or die mentality, Westwall’s music is built on overtly powerful guitar riffs, pounding drumming, pulsating bass work and commanding vocals. It is a full-throttled finely tuned music machine that will exhilarate the most discriminating metal heads. Listen to their music at http://www.myspace.com/westwallwar. They are amazing!

The webpage on which this was stated — http://www.hr4life.com/category_s/102.htm — has since been erased.

Four months later, HR, by way of Vine’s statement, admits the facts: it sent some of its product to the band; the band was photographed posing in it; and HR subsequently used these images in its publicity material (as well as giving props to West Wall for assisting HR in this manner). In other words, from being HR’s favourite band, West Wall has been demoted to being generic metalheads, who just ‘happen’ to have caught the eye of HR. In an attempt to further reinforce this idea, West Wall guitarist Ed Wolbank — a former leader of the neo-Nazi skinhead group the Northern Hammerskins, and guitarist with reich ‘n’ rollers Bound For Glory/Before God and the Bully Boys — at the invitation of his friends at HR, wrote a statement intended to distance West Wall from HR; and both West Wall and HR from neo-Nazism.

This statement is included in Vine’s press release.

According to Wolbank, West Wall is a a “non-political” band, which just happens to have an enduring fascination with Nazism and — as luck would have it — so too all of Wolbank’s previous musical outings.

Note that the band’s two albums — released in 2006 and 2009 — are titled Blitzkrieg Symphony #1 and Conquest or Death. Blitzkrieg Symphony #1 was released on neo-Nazi label Old Guard Records/White Noise, while 2009’s effort was self-released.

The band’s first album features the smash hit ‘Peiper’s last stand’, a musical paen to the Nazi Joachim Peiper.

Peiper (1915–1976) was an officer in the Waffen-SS from 1933–1945, and served as Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler’s personal adjutant from April 1938–August 1941. Perhaps his main claim to fame, however, was his involvement in what has become known as the ‘Malmedy Massacre’.

The ‘Malmedy Massacre’ occurred on December 17, 1944, when soldiers belonging to Kampfgruppe Peiper killed 84 US POWs at the Baugnez crossroads near Malmedy. For his heroic supervision of this war crime against US soldiers, Peiper was sentenced to death by a military court on July 16, 1946, a sentence which was later commuted to life imprisonment. In the end, Peiper was released on parole at the end of December 1956, after having served 11-and-a-half years.

A moderately-successful businessman during the 1960s, Peiper retired to France in the early 1970s. On July 14, 1976, his house was attacked with molotov cocktails, and in the ensuing conflagration, Peiper died.

The perpetrators were never caught.

Here’s what West Wall has to warble about the Nazi war criminal:

You’ve lived, you’ll die, die a fighting man
That day had finally come
You had sent your family away
Your war had not come to an end
You had to face the blazing flames
After the smoke cleared, around your body
Lay every shell spent from your gun
Your war was finally over
The halls of heroes welcomed its son

In fairness to HR, then, it’s indeed the case that the “Legionaires” [sic] of West Wall really do “serve up their own brutal style of war metal”.

Edelweiss Pirates – Heroes Against Fascism

See also : Oh Noes! Hoelzer Reich Banned By Zuffa! (December 9, 2009) | Hoelzer Reich : White Christmas Catalogue! (December 9, 2009) | C.U.N.T., Hoelzer Reich, & Tomorrow Belongs to The Yes Men! (December 7, 2009).

Hoelzer Reich : White Christmas Catalogue!

See : C.U.N.T., Hoelzer Reich, & Tomorrow Belongs to The Yes Men! (December 7, 2009) for background. A good summary of Zuffa’s (Zuffa LLC is the private, multi-million dollar Las Vegas-based company that owns UFC/’Ultimate Fighting Champuionship’) decision to authorise Hoelzer Reich is available @ Another Hoelzer Reich Post, Watch Kalib Run, December 8, 2009. Fortunately for Hoelzer Reich/Zuffa/UFC, the corporate media — with one exception — has ignored the controversy thus far. Note that “The UFC is holding a show in Memphis this weekend, which also happens to be the site of the National Civil Rights Museum. A story about the irony of the company having HR as a sponsor in that environment practically writes itself and plays into every negative stereotype about MMA.”

Oh, the ironing!

Notes

Niko Puhakka is a neo-Nazi MMA from Finland. He has 88 friends on myspace (arf arf), one of whom is Dieter Samoy, lead shouter for Belgian neo-Nazi oi! band ‘Kill Baby Kill’ (KBK). Puhakka’s current fave toon, ‘My Name Is Hate’, is by KBK, and is taken from their album Product of Society. The album was released in July 2009 by neo-Nazi label NADSAT Productions. When the band toured Australia in 2008, the tour was organised by the local B&H and Hammerskins franchises. In addition to prancing about on stage, the band also did a little recording while here, helping local Hammerskin Jesse belt out the smash pop hit ‘Oh No Here Comes An Abo’.

Not surprisingly, Puhakka is also a fan of West Wall.

Blood & Honour was established in 1987 by two (dead) boneheads from England: Ian Stuart (Donaldson) and Nicky Crane. Ian Stuart warbled toons for the band Skrewdriver. He died in a car accident in 1993. Nicky Crane’s main claim to fame was appearing on the cover of an album, Strength Through Oi!. He also died in 1993 (of an AIDS-related disease). B&H continues to operate throughout the world, including Australia and the United States. It is banned in Germany.

West Wall is the second band to have evolved from the ashes of the Minnesota-based Bound For Glory (BFG). Between the dissolution of BFG and the establishment of West Wall, the band was known as Before God. All three bands are featured on the now-defunct site musicalterrorists.com. BFG had its ups and downs during its brief existence, one of the worst downs occurring when the band’s lead shouter, Eric Banks, was shot dead on January 1, 1993. (His murder was apparently committed by anti-racist skinheads.) The guiding light in all three bands has been guitarist Ed Wolbank; Wolbank also performed with the neo-Nazi oi! band the Bully Boys.

The Hammerskins are a neo-Nazi skinhead gang established in the United States but one which, like B&H, has established franchises elsewhere in the world, including Australia (although it has recently been proscribed in Spain as a terrorist organisation).

The bizarro neo-Nazi political cult known as the Hammerskins was established in the late 1980s in Dallas, Texas, as the Confederate Hammerskins. The group’s name is derived from the film The Wall (1979), in which the fascist followers of Sir Bob Geldof’s character appear as crossed hammers: the crossed hammers have since been adopted as the group’s symbol. An overview of the group’s first, glorious decade is available in ‘Hammerskin Nation’ (Intelligence Report, Fall 1999); in October, the gang celebrated its 20th anniversary with a party in Florida. Among those performing was Melbourne band Death[‘]s Head.

    Thor Steinar is a German clothing label established in 2002. Like Hoelzer Reich, it adapts neo-Nazi symbology in its designs, albeit much more subtly, given Germany’s laws against the propagation of Nazism. In 2004, a court decision impelled the company to change its logo; in 2008, it was sold, supposedly to a bloody Arab.

    See also : Fascist Fashion in Berlin, think demux, August 27, 2008 | Neo-Nazi Fashion: Thor Steinar and the Changing Look of the German Far Right, Rachel Nolan, Spiegel Online, November 20, 2008.