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Neo NazismThe term Neo-Nazism is used to refer to any social or political movement seeking to revive National Socialism or a form of Fascism, and which postdates the Second World War. Often, especially internationally, those who are part of such movements do not use the term to describe themselves. They eschew such terms as "Neo-Nazism" and "Neo-Fascism" for a variety of reasons: tactical avoidance of the stigma associated with these terms; actual ideological distinctiveness from Nazism and Fascism; or a rejection of the "neo" prefix, based on a wish to project unequivocal commitment to Fascism or National Socialism. The prefix is not universally used to describe Neo-Nazi groups, but some groups specifically endorse it.
The British National Party (BNP) is a small political party of the far-right in the United Kingdom. It is the largest of the UK's far-right groups. It has a membership of over 14,000, and had an income and expenditure of around £730,000.
The exact ideals adopted by a Neo-Nazi group movement can vary, but it often includes an allegiance to Adolf Hitler, the insignia of Nazi Germany (e.g. the swastika (not the type used in Hinduism, Buddhism, or Jainism)), extreme lack of tolerance, the Sig Runes, the red-white-black color scheme which actually was inherited from Imperial Germany), and other features specific to Germany's Third Reich (1933 to 1945). This usually includes anti-Semitism, racism, and/or xenophobia, and may also include elements such as nationalism, militarism, and homophobia. These groups often draw membership from people who scapegoat their society's problems, such as the disintegration of national unity and culture, and multicultural friction, on Jews, non-white immigrants, and liberalism in general; behind which they see a Jewish World Conspiracy.
In the United States, dedicated Neo-Nazi groups are only a sub-type of a wider array of anti-Semitic and white supremacist groups. Many of the other organizations operate in conjunction with, or at least sympathize with the Neo-Nazi focused groups. The actual Neo-Nazi groups tend to pay homage to, but are often less focused on, the specific tenets of the NSDAP than some international groups. In particular, they may look more to the German-American Bund and ideals of American Nazism of the 1920s and 30s. However there are a few Neo-Nazi groups that consider themselves national socialist.
It is exceptionally difficult to determine the exact extent of Neo-Nazi organizations, because these groups are aware that public opinion concerning them is extremely negative, not to mention the existence of organizations dedicated to monitoring their activities (such as the ADL and SPLC). While a small minority of Neo-Nazis continue to draw public attention, the vast majority operate underground, in order that they may recruit, organize and fund-raise without interference and the constant harassment which plagues openly Nazi movements. Current knowledge of Nazi activity though, indicates that it is at least a global phenomenon, with organized representation in literally every Western nation in the world, as well as strong cooperative networks and connections between groups internationally, making Nazism today the strongest it has ever been since the fall of the Nazi German government, and stronger than the original Nazi Party during the period in which it came to power. This would be of more serious concern if Nazi groups weren't marginalized by default due to the stigma inherent to their obviously emotionally and historically sensitive politics.
However, a new movement has emerged recently in the form of Euronationalism, wherein neo-Fascists and neo-Nazis seek (often quite successfully) to appear more mainstream and less obviously fascist in order to gain public support while stirring up prejudice, often against Muslims and non-white asylum seekers, instead of against Jews directly. This movement has been repeated in the United States and Canada in the form of racial organizations, which claim not to be hateful, but rather to shed legitimate scientific light on genetic racial differences, often supporting segregation or more extreme measures as rational courses of action in the face of what they claim are undeniable though unpleasant racial realities. This has caused a great deal of controversy, as many anti-racists maintain that these movements are simply deceptions, cleverly designed to fool the uninformed. Meanwhile, others doubt the validity of these assertions, believing that to call all race-based organizations "neo-Nazi" or "hateful" is to irrationally deny any possibility of a legitimate basis to race, whether or not such bases exist.
The fact remains, however, that more openly neo-Nazi movements continue to utilize the respectable veneer generated by these other organizations to lend credibility to their own names.
Mass graves at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945; Neo-Nazis claim such evidence
is largely either counterfeit or misrepresented for propaganda purposes
Many Neo-Nazi groups also espouse denial of the Holocaust, claiming that the intentional mass murder of 6,000,000 Jews in gas chambers is a grossly exaggerated lie, that the German Nazi government had no extermination policy, or at least that the extent of the Holocaust is greatly exaggerated, a claim repudiated by the vast majority of reputable historians. Some doubt that Neo-Nazi Holocaust revisionists believe these claims, and accuse them of using it as a means to make their ideology more palatable by removing the stigma of association with genocide. Those who don't deny mass killings by the Third Reich (usually those uninitiated into the claims of revisionism) have engaged in pointing out 'immoral equivalencies' (e.g. the fire bombing of German cities, like the bombing of Dresden, or the ethnic cleansing of Germans in formerly German regions and Eastern Europe) and/or justifications for the executions (e.g. retaliation or punishment for sabotage, terrorism, or subversion). It must be stressed however, that most Holocaust revisionists are not neo-Nazis themselves, though many of their works are quoted and used by neo-Nazi publications.
Notable North American exceptions to this fact are Matthew F. Hale and the World Church of the Creator, which has essentially ceased functioning effectively since Hale was imprisoned for soliciting the murder of a federal judge, and Richard Butler of Aryan Nations, which lost a 6.2 million dollar lawsuit after low level security personnel at Butler's compound opened fire on a passing vehicle. Aryan Nations has since lost its headquarters and paramilitary training grounds and split into three separate organizations, two of which claim to be the true successor to the group, but all of which are significantly reduced from the sum of the former group's parts.
After the swastika became banned in Germany and other European countries, some neo-Nazis have taken to displaying an older flag, taken from Imperial Germany (Reichskriegsflagge).
A militant Neo-Nazi.
Nazi iconography remains to this day heavily restricted in Germany.
As German law forbids the production of Nazi devotionalia, such items come into the country mostly (illegally) from the USA and northern European countries.
Rock bands such as Landser have been outlawed in Germany, yet bootleg copies of their albums printed in the US and other countries are still sold. In fact, an American neo-Nazi group called NSDAP/AO (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei/Aufbau- und Auslandsorganisation) runs an illegal yet surprisingly extensive smuggling ring, for supplying Nazi materials to neo-Nazis in Europe and other locations where such material is banned by law.
Materials supplied by NSDAP/AO include, but are not limited to: magazines (published in ten languages), CDs, posters, portraits, clothing, patches, stickers, leaflets and pamphlets, and certain equipment which is not generally listed in catalogues produced by the organisation.
Current Neo-Nazi websites mostly depend on hosting in the USA and Canada and use other terms for Nazi ideas and symbols.
They also invent new symbols reminiscent of the swastika and other symbols used by the Nazis, e.g. the sun disc, sun wheel, hooked cross, wolf's cross, wolf's hook, black sun, or dark star.
In Germany immediately after World War II, Allied forces and the new German governments attempted to prevent the creation of new Nazi movements through a process known as denazification. With this and the total defeat of the Nazi regime, there was little overt Neo-Nazi activity in Europe until the 1960s. Some former Nazis retained their ideology and racist beliefs, however, and passed them down to new generations (see Socialist Reich Party, Wiking-Jugend).
After German reunification in the 1990s, Neo-Nazi groups succeeded in gaining more followers, mostly among disaffected teenagers in Eastern Germany. Many were new groups that arose amidst the economic collapse and subsequent high unemployment in the former East Germany. The activities of these groups resulted in several violent attacks on foreigners, creating a hostile atmosphere for foreigners in some towns. The violence manifested itself especially in attempts to burn down the homes for people in search of asylum in Germany.
• Attacks on accommodation for refugees: Hoyerswerda (17 - 22 September 1991), Rostock-Lichtenhagen (23 - 27 August 1992), Schwedt, Eberswalde, Eisenhüttenstadt, Elsterwerda (October 1991)
• Arson attack on the house of a Turkish family in Solingen (29 May 1993), two women and three girls die in the fire, seven people severely injured.
• Murder of three Turkish girls in an arson attack in Mölln (23 November 1992), nine more people injured.
("Arson attack" is a translation of the German word Brandanschlag, which implies throwing Molotov cocktails into houses (fire-bombing) in an attempt to burn them down.)
These events preceded demonstrations (Lichterketten, "candle chains") with hundreds of thousands of participants protesting against right-extremist violence in many German cities. In turn, these precipitated further massive neo-Nazi demonstrations, which continue today. Demonstrations often erupt in violence as Nazis and their anti-Fascist counter-protesters clash in the streets.
Neo-Nazi march in Berlin, 2005
Official German statistics for the year 1990 record 178 violent crimes motivated by right-wing extremism (Gewalttaten). In 1991 there were 849 and in 1992 there were 1,485, with a significant concentration in the eastern Bundesländer (1999: 2.19 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants in the eastern Bundesländer and 0.68 in the western ones). After 1992 the numbers went down, although they have risen sharply again in subsequent years. Because public opinion and media coverage concerning Neo-Nazi ideologies is still extremely negative, local authorities often attempt to suppress large scale organizations by such groups (sometimes unsuccessfully, and almost always only temporarily) when they reach a certain size.
A trial was held before the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitution Court), the highest court in Germany, about the prohibition of the NPD (National Democratic Party), considered (though not proven to be) a neo-Nazi party. In the course of the trial it was discovered that some high-ranking party members who should appear as witnesses worked as informants for the domestic intelligence service, the Verfassungsschutz (Constitution Protection). The trial turned into a major political scandal. It was first temporarily suspended and then finally rejected by the court because of the unclear influence of informants in the actions and image of the NPD. This issue has raised similar concerns globally, as attempts by all sides to discredit Neo-Nazi parties often hinge on the availability of evidence that such groups are violent or illegal in some way. With informants and infiltrators in such groups so common, and the very purpose of these agents being to confirm suspicions of malevolent intent, it becomes difficult to discern whether a violent or illegal action is the product of the actual Nazi Party, or of the infiltrators own personal desire to see the party discredited.
In 2004, the NPD received 9.1% of the vote in the parliamentary elections for Saxony, thus earning the right to seat parliament members. The other parties are refusing to enter into discussion with the NPD.
The "denazification" programme insisted upon by the Allies and designed to purge the State apparatus and society as a whole of Nazi followers was not successful, mainly because of the sheer size of the problem and the bureaucratic shortcomings apparent in the programme's administration. This failure was reflected primarily in the fact that ex-members or sympathisers of the NSDAP were not "purged" of their opinions, prejudices or behavioural patterns. Even in the war's immediate aftermath, there began a fundamental change in the political climate which soon put an end to the oft-cited anti-Fascist "spirit of 1945."
During the Cold War the status of the Nazis, who always purported to be in the forefront of the struggle against "Bolshevism," was once more enhanced. Over 500,000 registered Nazis were allowed to vote at the 1949 General Election. Along with their families they represented a reservoir of voters which none of the three parliamentary parties felt they could ignore. As voters, as members or officials of established political parties, a considerable number of ex-Nazis were integrated into the SPÖ and the ÖVP, in the process of which a whole plethora of political and attitudinal concessions were made to them: suppression of the history/memory of the Nazi era, a fall-off in the prosecution of Nazi war criminals, the reinstatement of Nazi civil servants, teachers, professors, lawyers, policemen, etc. The opportunism of the democratic parties was counterproductive, the "national bloc" (nationales Lager) reconstituted and, placing itself, as always, in the Pan-Germanic tradition, came to be partially identified with the extreme right- wing political spectrum.
In the aftermath of the 1949 elections, when ex-Nazis, organized in the VdU (Verband der Unabhängigen; Association of Independents), put up candidates and won seats, the Austrian Right went through a gradual process of growth. The withdrawal of Allied troops from Austria (1955) encouraged the consolidation of right-wing groups (some had existed before 1933), which now represented the entire Right - from unashamed Neo-Nazis to "moderate"
Because of disagreements between the small liberal and the much more powerful "national" (German) wing, the VdU split in 1955, but re-formed itself one year later as Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs (FPÖ; Freedom Party of Austria). Then and now the FPÖ is the only party represented in the Austrian Parliament which declares its adherence to the "German cultural community" (Party Programme). The first leaders of the FPÖ were former Nazis, Anton Reinthaller, for example, had been a Government Minister in the Nazi era, Friedrich Peter, an SS officer.
The Austrian public saw itself confronted with the organized Right for the first time in 1959, on the occasion of the "Schiller Celebrations", when "national" (Pan-German) youth, sport and cultural organizations took to the streets. Within student and university bodies the so-called Burschenschaften and schlagende Verbindungen (fraternities of male uniformed students), the FPÖ's students' organization RFS and its graduate equivalent FAV (Freiheitliche Akademikerverbände) attained considerable influence.
In 1960, during the so-called "South Tyrol Crisis", such right-wing extremists, along with German Kameraden, gained widespread notoriety by involvement in terrorist acts ("freedom struggle") in Italy. Prominent among these was Norbert Burger, the ex-RFS leader and subsequent chairman of the Neo-Nazi NDP (Nationaldemokratische Partei). The influence which the extreme Right had gained in the universities became dramatically apparent five years later, during the so-called "Borodajkewycz Affair". Hundreds of students demonstrated in favour of the anti-Semitic university professor Borodajkewycz and were involved in street battles, in the course of which Ernst Kirchweger, a former concentration camp inmate, was beaten to death.
During the 1960s and 70s, Friedrich Peter, Chairman of the FPÖ, endeavoured to anchor his party within the democratic party system, preparing the ground for the entry of the FPÖ into a Coalition Government with the Socialists in 1983. This development led, on the other hand, to the formation of a group around Norbert Burger (condemned in absentia by an Italian court for terrorist offences in South Tyrol), which split from the FPÖ in 1966 and set up the NDP (Nationaldemokratische Partei). In contrast to its German counterpart of the same name, which had some electoral successes in the mid-1960s, the Austrian NDP (banned as a neo-Nazi organization in 1988) found little resonance in an electorate moving to the left in the late 1960s.
Because of the politically motivated and misguided tolerance shown by the authorities and Government in Austria, extreme right-wing groupings continued with their activities in the 1970s as well. The volume Rechtsextremismus in Österreich seit 1945, issued by DÖW in 1979, listed nearly 50 extreme right-wing organizations active in the country. Their true significance and influence, however, waned gradually due in no small part to effective liberalization programmes (emphasis on Austrian identity, democratic traditions) carried out in secondary schools and universities. The most striking evidence for this change was the declining vote attained by the RFS at student elections, which fell from 30% in the 1960s to 2% in 1987. At the polls for the student representative body (Österreichische Hochschülerschaft) in 1995, the RFS could muster only 4%, in contrast, its "mother party" FPÖ won 22% of the votes at the General Election in the same year.
At the beginning of the 1980s Neo-Nazi student groups never attained more than 1 % of the student vote and went through a period of stagnation and defeat. The single exception in this regard manifested itself in Carinthia, Austria's most southern province. There, old conflicts with Slovenia (then part of Jugoslavia) on the border issue or disagreements concerning the rights of Carinthia's Slovenian minority were used to orchestrate a permanent fever of Großdeutsch resentment (Kärntner Heimatdienst (KHD)).
Many children in Croatia are raised in Ustashe tradition.
Neo-Nazism in Croatia is scarcely, if at all, restricted by the law - as of year 2004, and Croatia silently allows people to use symbols of the Independent State of Croatia and Ustaše freely. Since gaining independence, Croatia has often been accused of ignoring its dark past and erasing evidence of former Fascist and Nazi crimes. In one prominent case, Zagreb's "Square of Victims of Fascism" was renamed the "The Square of The Great Men of Croatia", provoking widespread criticism of Croatia's attitude toward the Holocaust. Many streets have been renamed after prominent Ustasha figures such as Mile Budak, which provoked outrage in the Serbian minority, that still numbered 12% in 1991. despite of WWII genocide. The memory of the Ustasha genocide was still very vivid when Croatia started secession from SFRY, and Serbs in Croatia were frightened from the new developments.
Croatia has no laws against historical revisionism and holocaust denial, nor does it regard denazification as a major priority. Unlike Germany and Austria, Croatia places no restrictions on the exhibition of Nazi and Ustaše symbols. Although prohibitions existed under the Communist regime of Yugoslavia, they disappeared with Croatian independence in 1992, and public display of such symbols is now relatively common, if controversial.
To their modern supporters, the Ustaše are considered to have been merely victims of the Bleiburg massacre and there have even been proposals by President Tudjman to rebury them together with victims of Jasenovac concentration camp as a sign of national reconciliation, although it should be noted that Croatian partisans were only a very small proportion of casualties at Jasenovac. Croatian Serbs, whose cousins died in the Jasenovac concentration camp and other concentration camps in Croatia, were insulted by such proposals. The resurgence of the Ustaše movement in present-day Croatia is partly due to the financial support of Ustaše emigration to HDZ during the 1990s.
That resurgence is today publicly visible even at the Croatian government level.
An attempt was made to bring to the justice Nada Sakic who was a guardian at the Stara Gradiska concentration camp; her cruelty towards the prisoners is reflected in diverse testimonies that were the basis for her extradition in in November 1998 to Croatia - where she was held until her release. Croatian government granted her Croatian citizenship. Mrs. Sakic, then 72, was never even indicted by the Croatian authorities. The Croatian government falsely claimed that no evidence or witnesses exist to indict Mrs. Sakic. However, the New York based Jasenovac Research Institute was in contact with Survivors living in Yugoslavia who had given eyewitness testimony to Mrs. Sakic's crimes at Stara Gradishka (part of the Jasenovac camps). At the First International Conference on Jasenovac in New York City in 1997 one of these Survivors, Mara Vejnovic, gave an eyewitness account of Nada Sakic's activities as a death camp commander.
Proving the existence of a ready audience for fascist thought in Croatia, Mein Kampf was published and sold in the year of 1999 - in the number more than 600 copies in hardback within days at the remarkable price of 500 kuna (75 dollars each) - roughly equivalent to a week's average salary here. That time German foreign minister Joschka Fischer was prompted to press his Croatian opposite number Mate Granic to have Hitler's book banned in Croatia.
In 1999 a suit was filed at a court in San Franciso against the Vatican Bank (Institute for Religious Works) and against the Franciscan order, the Croatian Liberation Movement (the Ustashe), the National Bank of Switzerland and others. The suit was filed by Jewish, Ukrainian, Serb and Roma survivors, as well as relatives of victims and various organizations that together represent 300,000 World War II victims. The plaintiffs demanded accounting and restitution.
One of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs is Jonathan Levy. "Many of the plaintiffs have been reluctant to be pictured, after all these years," says Levy. "Many are still terrified of the Ustashe, the Serbs particularly. Unlike the Nazi Party, the Ustashe still exist and have a party headquarters in Zagreb."
In protests, supporters of Ante Gotovina and other suspected war criminals often carry nationalist symbols and pictures of Ante Pavelic. Among children, black Ustaše uniforms are now more commonly seen in Croatia than are those of the Young Pioneers. Public appearance of the Ustashe veterans seen in Zadar are tepidly condemned by some newspapers. Singing infamous Jasenovac i Gradiska Stara song which glorifies Ustashe and their genocide over Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies is popular even among schoolchildren and treated more like as yelling or screaming in public.
The most important Neo-nazi political party (or rather, movement, despite having taken contest in Greek national and regional elections) was Hrisi Avgi, which stopped its activities in late 2005. During the 90's, Hrisi Avgi was considered a model National Socialist movement among Neo-nazis and White supremacists worldwide, and was regarded as one of the most influential and best organized Neo-nazi organizations in Europe. It held 10 offices across Greece and published a monthly youth magazine which was pretty popular among Greek teens. Members of Hrisi Avgi (including it's former leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos) continue their activity through Patriotiki Symmachia, a nationalist party formed two months before the 2004 European Parliament elections where it gathered 10,000 votes.
Neo-nazis in Greece take pride in the Metaxas quasi-fascist dictatorship (see Greek fascism), in the participation of thousands of Greek volunteers in the Waffen-SS during the Second World War, and in the collaborationist regimes which were held as puppet-governments by the Nazis during the German occupation of Greece (1940-1944) such as those of Tsolakoglou, Ioannis Rallis and Logothetopoulos.
Anti-nazi laws existed in Greece for decades, but the legislation has failed to stop Neo-nazi activities in Greece. The last (and pretty notorious) activity of Greek Neo-nazis was a festival called HateWave Festival which was announced by Hrisi Avgi and counted on the participation of the German NPD, the Italian Forza Nuova as well as on Romanian and Spanish correligionists. Neo-nazis in Greece have been tied to hate-driven attacks on immigrants, homosexuals and leftists. One of the most deadly attacks were the murder of 3 immigrants in central Athens by Pandelis Kazakos an alleged member of Hrisi Avgi. Greek Neo-nazis even participated as volunteers in the Yugoslav wars in Bosnia, aiding the Serbian Army to take the town of Srebrenica and committing the worst war atrocity in Europe since the Second World War. They are also active participants in nationalist demonstrations and in sport events, especially football and basketball. In September 2004, during a football match between Albania and Greece, Albanian hooligans set fire on the Greek flag and Greeks got furious. Members of Hrisi Avgi and The Blue Army (a nationalist organization that represents football fans) launched a series of riots targeting Albanian immigrants in Greece, which ended up with 1 dead and 7 wounded. Many blame the media for creating a hysterical atmosphere around the burning of the flag.
Anti-racist and human rights organizations have periodically critized Greece for having failed to stop xenophobia (and especially albanophobia), anti-semitism and racism to become mainstream in Greek politics and media. The accusation is also based on statistical facts which show that many Greeks hold racist and anti-semitic (as well as anti-american) views, on the wide availability of racist and xenophobic publications in most kiosks all across Greece and even the existence of racist and anti-semitic TV stations such as Tele-Asty. Greece is also criticed for not having gone through a process of de-nazification after the period of fascist Greece (1936-1941), the following German occupation and the quasi-fascist Greek military junta of 1967-1974.
After WWII, new organizations eventually formed which had varying degrees of adoption of Nazi principles, and again built ties with older organizations. As of the 21st century, there are some actual Neo-Nazi groups as well as a number of White supremacist, white separatist, anti-Semitic, and Fascist groups that share some or large parts of their ideology with Nazism. It should be noted that the Ku Klux Klan is different from, and predates Nazism; it is not a Neo-Nazi organization. The KKK has, however, often maintained ties to and sympathized with Nazi groups, including the original Bund during the 1930s.
U.S.-based Neo-Nazi and Nazi sympathizer groups often have web sites, occasionally have public demonstrations, and even maintain international ties to groups in Europe and elsewhere. However, they are a vocal few and a tiny percentage of the population. More often than not, they are outnumbered at public demonstrations by counter-protesters and are quickly prosecuted for any crimes. The U.S. congress passed extra penalties for what are known as Hate crimes, such as vandalizing a synagogue with a Swastika.
• The British Movement
• The British Nazi Party also known as the November 9th Society.
• The International Third Position
• The National Front
• The National Socialist Movement - linked to London nail bomber David Copeland
• The NF Flag Group
• League of St. George
• Combat 18
• The Wolf's Hook White Brotherhood
• The White Nationalist Party
Bookcover of The ABC of a Russian Nationalist by A.P. Barkashov
Russia may seem like an unlikely place for a flowering of Neo-Nazi movements due to the strong memories of the devastation that was wrought on the nation by the Nazi German invaders during World War II. Nevertheless, the post-Soviet era has seen the rise of a variety of extremist nationalist political movements, some of them paramilitary organizations of openly neo-Fascist or Neo-Nazi persuasion. These organizations are characterized by extreme xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and an active interest among a few of these groups in overthrowing the government and taking power by force. However, Neo-Nazis still represent a small minority when it comes to rebellious groups, with much of that category actually filled by Communists and Islamic extremists.
This discontent found its main outlet in the major political parties that stood in opposition to the Boris Yeltsin government (1991-1999), especially the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (Kommunisticheskaya Partiya Rossijskoj Federacii, KPRF) which generally advocated a return to the Soviet economic policies, and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (Liberal'no Demokraticheskaya Partiya Rossii, LDPR) led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a xenophobic and chauvinist movement without a clear agenda beyond the opposition to the "democrats", i.e. the ruling political factions allied to Yeltsin.
However, soon enough it became clear that neither of these parties was capable of accomplishing any serious changes in the national policy, and indeed soon they came to be widely seen as having had "sold out" to the "anti-people regime" (anti-narodny rezhim, a label widely used by the Communists to refer to Yeltsin's government).
Consequently, a number of extremist paramilitary organizations of the Neo-Nazi persuasion were able to tap into the wellspring of discontent and despair among those who saw no future for themselves under the established conditions, particularly among the marginalized, lesser educated, and habitually unemployed youth.
Of the three major age groups, the youth, adults, and the retired elderly, it was the youth who in a sense had been hit the hardest. The elderly suffered greatly due to inadequate, or often unpaid, pensions (social security benefits), but they found effective political representation in the Communists, and generally their concerns were addressed sooner or later through better budget allocation. The adults, though often suffering financially and psychologically, such as due to a breadwinner's loss of work, still were generally able to find some employment and get by. Moreover, an established egalitarian system of indoctrination instigated by the Soviet Union generally predisposed most against the message of right-wing extremists. The youth generally had no such prior inclinations. Also, the youth had only experienced the last days of the Communist regime, which were made up of brutal crack downs, but without any idealistic presence, and were thus similar to Nazism.
The Neo-Nazis did openly admire and imitate the German Nazis and Hitler, but Mein Kampf stood high on their reading list. The most prominent organization, Russian National Union (Русское Национальное Единство) led by Aleksandr Barkashov, adopted a three ray swastika as its emblem (the Nazi swastika can be thought of consisting of two "rays", i.e. the _|¯ (Z) shaped segments). Some others preferred the original version. In order to harmonize Hitler's notion of the Germanic master race with the Russian national feeling, the doctrine was updated to include all Aryans or Indo-Europeans, both Germanic and Slavic. The definition explicitly excluded Jews and the people from the Caucasus (widely seen as alien and "black" because of a slightly darker skin color). On a more practical level, the Neo-Nazis considered the Russians to be a special and chosen nation, while looking down on others, including the non-Russian Slavic peoples.
These groups then exploited the vulnerability and discontent of young people, as explained above. However, Nazism did also attract many of the old, who suffered greatly in the Soviet economic collapse, even their living conditions were sometimes at least adequate.
The Neo-Nazis made it an explicit goal to take over the country by force, and they did put serious effort into preparing for this. Paramilitary organizations operating under the guise of sports clubs organized training for their members in squad tactics and weapons handling. The Neo-Nazis were never able to take over the country, but still had a huge impact on society. Weapons were stockpiled, generally illegally (due to the very restrictive Russian gun laws). Reputedly, many were interested in martial arts and unarmed combat, and did an efficient job of organizing realistic hand-to-hand combat classes. This activity played out when two lightly-armed African-American US Marines guarding the wife of a Congressman were beaten by Russian Neo-Nazis with bats in broad daylight.
Despite these extensive preparations, extraordinary by the standards of a Western nation, the Neo-Nazis have not yet carried out any well-known attacks or otherwise come out into the open. Their most notable action so far was the participation in the armed defense of the State Duma (Russian parliament) building against government forces during the standoff between Yeltsin and the Communist-dominated parliament in 1993, a conflict which Yeltsin won. The Neo-Nazis did generate considerable anxiety because of their potential for pogroms against people they disliked and indeed the possibility of actual power seizure. To date these outcomes have not eventuated, although rumors of impending pogroms did circulate widely in the early 1990s. (See also Pamyat.)
Human right groups have expressed concerns over what they see as the inability or unwillingness of the Russian police and security establishment such as FSB to act against the activities of the domestic Neo-Nazi movement. It has been alleged that the failure of the government to take decisive measures suggests a possibility to use paramilitary groups as a potential tool in a future struggle for power. Disturbing and unfortunate parallels have been drawn between this situation and the situation in 1930s Germany, just before the NSDAP took power. In Germany, the rich and the powerful in government often supported the Nazis, if for no other reason than because, of the three major political powers at the time (the Communists, the National Socialists and the democrats), the Nazis were the only group with the strength and will to do something about the rising tide of Communism. In practice, this made the Nazis defenders of the traditional German middle and upper-classes.
Neo-Nazi hate vandalism in a Jewish cemetery in France
Organizations that have been described as 'Neo-Nazi', or Neo-Fascist, with varying degrees of justification, include the following:
A profile of historian and holocaust denier David Irving
White Aryan Resistance
White Aryan Resistance
Was Enoch right with his ‘Rivers of Blood’?
Ku Klux Klan
Rivers of Blood speech
Notable Names from Britain’s far Right
British Nationalist Party
BNP's Nick Griffin
Cameron less popular than BNP?
BNP - 'going forward' ?
Beware - neglected voters are angry
Sex, Drugs and Cameron
Political corruption: sleaze
Is Multiculturalism doomed?
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