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Neo-Nazism (literally new Nazism) is the ideology of post-World War II political movements seeking to revive Nazism.
The specific policies of neo-Nazi groups differ, but they often include allegiance to Adolf Hitler, anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia (towards non-whites), nationalism, white supremacy, militarism and homophobia. Neo-Nazis often use the symbols of Nazi Germany, such as the Swastika, Sig Runes, and the red-white-black color scheme. Some groups and individuals who support the ideology openly declare themselves as Nazis or neo-Nazis, but others eschew those terms to avoid social stigma or legal consequences. Some European countries have laws prohibiting the expression of pro-Nazi, racist or anti-Semitic views; thus no significant political party describes itself as neo-Nazi in those countries. Neo-Nazi activity appears to be a global phenomenon, with organized representation in many countries, as well as international networks. Individuals who have attempted to revive Nazism include Colin Jordan, George Lincoln Rockwell, Savitri Devi, Francis Parker Yockey, William Pierce, Eddy Morrison, and David Myatt.
Holocaust denial and minimization
Many neo-Nazis promote Holocaust denial. They claim that the intentional mass murder - often in gas chambers - of more than 5,000,000 Jews is a lie or grossly exaggerated. Most people accuse them of using Holocaust denial to make Nazism more palatable by removing its association with genocide. Some Holocaust deniers don't identify as neo-Nazis, while some, such as David Cole, are actually Jewish. Some neo-Nazis who don't deny the Holocaust have pointed out alleged immoral equivalencies (e.g. the bombing of Dresden and the Expulsion of Germans after World War II), or have justified executions by the Nazis as retaliations for sabotage, terrorism and subversion.
Leading historians estimates of the number Jews who died during the Holocaust range from 5.1 to 6.2 million
Immediately after the Allies liberated Austria in 1945, the anti-Nazi parties - Socialists (SPÖ), Conservatives (ÖVP) and Communists (KPÖ) - passed legislation to overcome the effects of Nazi rule. A law passed on May 8, 1945, banned the NSDAP and Nazi activities. The denazification program designed to purge the state apparatus and society of Nazi followers was not successful, mainly because of the size of the problem and the bureaucratic shortcomings of the program. This failure was reflected primarily in the fact that ex-members and sympathizers of the NSDAP did not change their beliefs. Over 500,000 registered Nazis were allowed to vote in the 1949 general election. A considerable number of ex-Nazis were integrated into the SPÖ and the ÖVP, and several concessions were made to appease them, such as suppression of the history of the Nazizeit (literally 'Nazi Time'); a fall-off in the prosecutions of Nazi war criminals; and the reinstatement of Nazi civil servants, teachers, professors, lawyers and police officers.
In the 1949 Austrian elections, ex-Nazis in the Verband der Unabhängigen (VdU) put up candidates and won seats, and the Austrian right wing went through a process of growth. The withdrawal of Allied troops from Austria in 1955 encouraged the consolidation of right-wing groups, ranging from neo-Nazis to moderate Pan-Germans. The VdU split in 1955, but re-formed itself one year later as the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ). The first leaders of the FPÖ were former Nazis, such as Anton Reinthaller, who had been a government minister in the Nazi era, and Friedrich Peter, who had been a Schutzstaffel (SS) officer. The Austrian public saw itself confronted with the organized right for the first time in 1959, during the Schiller Celebrations, when Pan-German youth, sport and cultural organizations took to the streets. The Burschenschaften and schlagende Verbindungen (fraternities of male uniformed students), the FPÖ's students' organization RFS and its graduate equivalent Freiheitliche Akademikerverbände (FAV) attained considerable influence within student and university bodies
Neo-Nazis in the 1960s
In the 1960s, right-wing extremists, along with German Kameraden, gained notoriety by involvement in terrorist acts in the Italian province of Bolzano-Bozen. Prominent among these was Norbert Burger, the ex-RFS leader and subsequent chairman of the neo-Nazi Nationaldemokratische Partei (NDP). The influence that the extreme right had gained in the universities became dramatically apparent five years later, during the Borodajkewycz Affair. Hundreds of students demonstrated in favor 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 1970s, Friedrich Peter, Chairman of the FPÖ, started establishing his party within the democratic party system - leading up to the entry of the FPÖ into a coalition government with the Socialists in 1983. This development led to the formation of a group around Norbert Burger (condemned in absentia by an Italian court for terrorist offenses in Bolzano-Bozen), which split from the FPÖ in 1966 and set up the NDP. In contrast to its German counterpart of the same name, the Austrian NDP found little resonance in an electorate moving to the left in the late 1960s. In 1972, Kurt Waldheim, an Austrian Nazi, had been elected United Nations Secretary General. Waldheim's election had caused anger among some people who had lost relatives in the Holocaust, as well as anti-UN groups who theorized the UN was supportive of totalitarian ideologies.
The volume "Rechtsextremismus in Österreich seit 1945", issued by DÖW in 1979, listed nearly 50 active extreme right-wing organizations in Austria. Their influence waned gradually, partly due to liberalization programs in secondary schools and universities that emphasized Austrian identity and democratic traditions. Votes for the RFS in student elections fell from 30% in the 1960s to 2% in 1987. In the 1995 elections for the student representative body Österreichische Hochschülerschaft, the RFS got 4% of the vote. The FPÖ won 22% of the votes at the General Election in the same year. In the 1980s, in the province of Carinthia, border issues with Slovenia - and disagreements over the rights of Carinthia's Slovenian minority - were used to orchestrate support for the far right organization Kärntner Heimatdienst.
Neo-Nazis in Belgian
A Belgian neo-Nazi organization, Bloed-Bodem-Eer-Trouw (Blood, Land, Honour and Faithfulness), was created in 2004 after splitting from the international network (Blood and Honour). The group rose to public prominence in September 2006, after 17 members (including 11 soldiers) were arrested under the December 2003 anti-terrorist laws and laws against racism, anti-semitism and negationism. According to Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx and Interior Minister Patrick Dewael, the suspects (11 of whom were members of the military) were preparing terrorist attacks in order to "destabilize" Belgium. According to journalist Manuel Abramowicz, of the Resistances network, the ultras of the radical right have always had as its aim to "infiltrate the state mechanisms," including the army in the 1970s and the 1980s, through Westland New Post and the Front de la Jeunesse.
A police operation, which mobilized 150 agents, searched five military barracks (in Leopoldsburg near the Dutch border: Kleine-Brogel, Peer, Brussels (Royal military school) and Zedelgem - as well as 18 private addresses in Flanders. They found weapons, munitions, explosives, and a homemade bomb large enough to make "a car explode." The leading suspect, B.T., was organizing the trafficing of weapons, and was developing international links, in particular with the Dutch far right movement De Nationale Alliantie
Neo-Nazis in Croatia
Neo-Nazis in Croatia base their ideology on the writings of Ante Starcevic and Ante Pavelic. At the end of World War II, many of Pavelic's Ustaše members fled to the West, where they found sanctuary and continued their political and terrorist activities (which were tolerated because of Cold War hostilities). The resurgence of the Ustaše movement in post-war Croatia is partly due to the financial support of Ustaše members who emigrated to the Croatian Democratic Union during the 1990s.
Jonathan Levy, one of the lawyers representing plaintiffs in a 1999 lawsuit against the Vatican Bank (Institute for Religious Works), the Franciscan order, and the Croatian Liberation Movement (the Ustaše), the National Bank of Switzerland and others, said: "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." To many of their modern supporters, the Ustaše are considered victims of the historically disputed Bleiburg massacre, and the late president Franjo Tudman even proposed to rebury Ustaše members together with victims of the Jasenovac concentration camp, as a sign of national reconciliation. Croatian Serbs felt insulted by that proposal.
In 1999, Zagreb's Square of the Victims of Fascism was renamed The Square of The Great Men of Croatia, provoking widespread criticism of Croatia's attitude toward the Holocaust. Many streets in Croatia were renamed after the prominent Ustaše figure Mile Budak, which provoked outrage amongst the Serbian minority. Since 2002, there has been a reversal of this development, and streets with the name of Mile Budak or other persons connected with the Ustaše movement are few or non-existent. A plaque in Slunj with the inscription "Croatian Knight Jure Francetic" was erected to commemorate Francetic, the notorious Ustaše leader of the Black Legion. The plaque remained there for four years, until it was removed by the authorities.
Post-war support for Ustaše is also visible in the form of graffiti. The most common is the serif letter U, representing Ustaše (sometimes embellished with a cross, and/or the letters NDH). There have also been instances of more explicit hate speech, such as the phrase Srbe na vrbe! (meaning "hang Serbs on the willow trees!"). An Orthodox church was spray-painted with pro-Ustaše graffiti in 2004. Police have sped up responses to the appearance of extreme right wing graffiti and other hate-based vandalism.
During some protests in Croatia, supporters of Ante Gotovina and other suspected war criminals have carried nationalist symbols and pictures of Ante Pavelic. In 2003, an attempt was made to amend the Croatian penal code by adding articles prohibiting the public display of Nazi symbols, the propagation of Nazi ideology, historical revisionism and holocaust denial. However, this attempt was prevented by the Croatian constitutional court in the same year. In 2005, the Croatian government made a move toward the Nazi-era law interpretation and practice, by granting to the Croatian parliament the exclusive right to interpret and authenticate the law. An amendment was added in 2006 to prohibit any type of hate crime based on factors such as race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion or national origin. In 2007, Austrian authorities launched a criminal investigation into the widespread display of Ustaše symbols at the May 12 gathering of Croatian nationalists in Bleiburg, Austria.
Thompson, a popular Croatian singer, has sung "Jasenovac i Gradiška Stara" in his concerts. That song glorifies the Ustaše and their Genocide of the Serbs His May 17, 2007 concert in Zagreb was attended by 60000 people, many of them wearing Ustaše uniforms. Some gave Ustaše salutes, and shouted the Ustaše slogan "Za dom spremni" (For home[land] ready) en-masse. This event prompted the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center to publicly address a protest to the Croatian president, Stjepan Mesic
Neo-Nazis in Germany
In Germany immediately after World War II, Allied forces and the new German government attempted to prevent the creation of new Nazi movements through a process known as denazification. The West German government had passed strict laws prohibiting Nazis from publicly expressing their beliefs as well as barring them from the political process. Displaying the swastika was an offense punishable by up to one year imprisonment. There was little overt neo-Nazi activity in Europe until the 1960s. However, some former Nazis retained their political beliefs, and passed them down to new generations.
After German reunification in the 1990s, neo-Nazi groups gained more followers, mostly among disaffected teenagers in the former East Germany. Many were new groups that arose amidst the economic collapse and high unemployment in the former East Germany. They have also had an aversion to people from Slavic countries (especially Poland) and people of other national backgrounds who moved from the former West Germany into the former German Democratic Republic after Germany was reunited. Their ideology was similar to that of Otto Strasser (Strasserism).
German neo-Nazis have attacked accommodations for refugees and migrant workers in Hoyerswerda (September 17-September 22, 1991); Rostock-Lichtenhagen (August 23-August 27, 1992); and Schwedt, Eberswalde, Eisenhüttenstadt, Elsterwerda (October 1991). A May 29, 1993 neo-Nazi arson attack on the house of a Turkish family in Solingen resulted in the deaths of two women and three girls, as well as in severe injuries for seven other people. Neo-Nazis were involved in the murders of three Turkish girls in a November 23, 1992 arson attack in Mölln, in which nine other people were injured. These events preceded demonstrations in many German cities involving hundreds of thousands of people protesting against far right violence. These protests precipitated massive neo-Nazi counter-demonstrations and violent clashes between neo-Nazis and anti-fascists. Official German statistics record 178 violent crimes motivated by right-wing extremism in 1990. Statistics show that in 1991, there were 849 hate crimes, and in 1992 there were 1,485 (with a significant concentration in the eastern Bundesländer). After 1992, the numbers went down, although they have risen sharply in subsequent years. In the former East Germany, an average of 17 people have been murdered every year by far right groups
German law forbids the production of pro-Nazi materials, so such items are smuggled into the country mostly from the United States, Scandinavia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Italy. Neo-Nazi 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 the country.
An American neo-Nazi group called NSDAP/AO runs an illegal smuggling ring, for supplying pro-Nazi materials to neo-Nazis in Europe and other locations where such materials are banned by law. NSDAP/AO supplies items such as magazines, CDs, posters, portraits, clothing, patches, stickers, pamphlets.
German neo-Nazi websites mostly depend on Internet servers in the US and Canada, and use other terms for Nazi ideas and symbols. They also invent new symbols reminiscent of the swastika and adopt other symbols used by the Nazis, such as the sun disc, sun wheel, hooked cross, wolf's cross, wolf's hook, black sun, and dark star. A trial was held before the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany over the prohibition of the National Democratic Party (NPD), which had been accused of being a neo-Nazi party. In the course of the trial, it was discovered that some high-ranking party members worked as informants for the domestic intelligence service, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz. The trial was temporarily suspended, and then rejected by the court because of the unclear influence of informants within the NPD.
In 2004, NPD received 9.1% of the vote in the parliamentary elections for Saxony, thus earning the right to seat local parliament members. The other parties refused to enter discussions with the NPD. In the 2006 parliamentary elections for Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the NPD received 7.3% of the vote and six seats in the local parliament. Other neo-Nazi groups that have been active in Germany and have attracted government attention include the Volkssozialistische Bewegung Deutschlands/Partei der Arbeit (which was banned in 1982), the Action Front of National Socialists/National Activists (banned in 1983), the Nationalist Front (banned in 1992), the Free German Workers' Party of Michael Kühnen and Friedhelm Busse, the German Alternative and National Offensive.
The most notable Greek neo-Nazi political organization was Hrisi Avgi, which stopped its activities in late 2005. Hrisi Avgi held 10 offices across Greece, and published a monthly youth magazine. Members of Hrisi Avgi have continued their activities through the Patriotic Alliance, a nationalist party formed two months before the 2004 European Parliament elections (in which it gathered 10,000 votes, corresponding to 0,17% of the general vote). Neo-Nazis in Greece are influenced by the Metaxas quasi-fascist dictatorship, the Security Battalions during the Second World War, and the collaborationist regimes which were placed in power by the Nazis during the German occupation of Greece (1940-1944) - such as those of Tsolakoglou, Ioannis Rallis and Logothetopoulos.
Neo-Nazis in Greece have been tied to hate-driven attacks on immigrants, homosexuals and leftists. One of the most deadly attacks was the murder of three immigrants in central Athens by Pandelis Kazakos. Twelve Greek neo-Nazis participated as volunteers in the Yugoslav wars in Bosnia, aiding the Serbian Army in capturing the town of Srebrenica. Greek neo-Nazis have been active in football hooliganism. In September 2004, during a football match between Albania and Greece, Albanian hooligans set the Greek flag on fire, so members of Hrisi Avgi and The Blue Army (a nationalist group of football fans) launched a series of riots. They targeted Albanian immigrants in Greece, killing one and wounding seven.
The post-Soviet era has seen the rise of a variety of extreme nationalist movements in Russia, some of which are openly neo-fascist or neo-Nazi. Neo-Nazi groups of Russia are characterized by extreme xenophobia towards non-whites, racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism.
Social Roots of Neo-Nazis
The collapse of the Soviet economic system in the early 1990s caused great economic and social problems,including widespread unemployment and poverty. Several far right paramilitary organizations were able to tap into popular discontent, particularly among the marginalized, lesser educated, and habitually unemployed youth. Of the three major age groups - youths, adults, and the elderly - youths may have been hit the hardest. The elderly suffered due to inadequate (or unpaid) pensions, but they found effective political representation in the Communists, and generally had their concerns addressed through better budget allocations. Adults, although often suffering financially and psychologically due to job losses, were generally able to find new sources of income. Moreover, Soviet-era indoctrination into the ideals of egalitarianism predisposed most adults against the message of right-wing extremists. Younger Russians were much less likely to have such inclinations.
Ideology on Neo-Nazis
Russian neo-Nazi organizations have generally defined themselves as standing outside of the political process, disdaining the electoral system and advocating the overthrow of the government by force. Their ideology has centered on defending Russian national identity against what they perceive as a takeover by minority groups such as Jews, Muslims and Caucasian immigrants. Cleansing the nation by killing or expelling Muslims, Jews and dark-skinned people has been a generally accepted goal for Russian neo-Nazis. Their ideology became epitomized in the slogan "Russia for the Russians", a catchphrase also adopted by less extreme factions. Russian neo-Nazis have generally not outlined discernible economic programs. They have openly admired and imitated the German Nazis and Adolf Hitler, and Hitler's book Mein Kampf stood high on their reading list. The most prominent organization, Russian National Union, led by Aleksandr Barkashov, adopted a three-ray Swastika as its emblem (the German Nazi swastika can be thought of consisting of two rays; the Z shaped segments).
Activities of Neo-Nazism
Russian neo-Nazis have made it an explicit goal to take over the country by force, and have put serious effort into preparing for this. Paramilitary organizations operating under the guise of sports clubs have trained their members in squad tactics and weapons handling. They have stockpiled and used weapons, often illegally. Reputedly, many were interested in martial arts and unarmed combat, and have organized realistic hand to hand combat classes. Russian neo-Nazis' most notable action so far was their participation in the armed defense of the Supreme Soviet building against government forces during the standoff between Boris Yeltsin and the Communist-dominated parliament in 1993.
On August 15, 2007, Russian authorities arrested a student for allegedly posting a video on the Internet which appears to show two Muslim, migrant workers being executed in front of a red and black swastika flag. Alexander Verkhovsky, the head of a Moscow-based center that monitors hate crime in Russia, said, "It looks like this is the real thing. The killing is genuine...There are similar videos from the Chechen war. But this is the first time the killing appears to have been done intentionally." A Russian neo-nazi group called the National Socialists of Rus claimed responsibility for the murders.
United States Neo-Nazis
In the United States, neo-Nazi groups are a sub-type of a wider array of anti-Semitic and white supremacist groups. American neo-Nazi groups tend to pay homage to - but are often less focused on - the specific tenets of the NSDAP than some neo-Nazi groups in other countries. Neo-Nazi groups in the United States can be traced back to the 1920s, with the US branch of the Nazi Party. This organization merged with Free Society of Teutonia to form the German-American Bund. The Bund and other groups achieved a limited popularity in the 1930s (at one point staging a rally with over 20,000 people), but rapidly faded with the onset of the Second World War. The groups either disbanded or were dismantled by force during the war period. After the war, new organizations formed, with varying degrees of support for Nazi principles. It is difficult to determine the extent of neo-Nazi organizations in the United States, because these groups are aware that public opinion concerning them is negative, and there are organizations dedicated to monitoring their activities (such as the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center).
While a small minority of American neo-Nazis draw public attention, most operate underground, so they may recruit, organize and raise funds without interference or harassment. The American correctional system houses many white supremacist and neo-nazi prison gangs, but more often than not, white prisoners join said gangs for protection from the other prison gangs, and do not necessarily subscribe to the ideologies that political neo-Nazi groups tend to emphasize . The United States Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, which allows political organizations great latitude in expressing Nazi, racist and anti-Semitic views. One notable event in the United States in which neo-Nazis were legally allowed to assemble is known as the Skokie Affair. American neo-Nazi groups often operate websites, occasionally stage public demonstrations, and maintain ties to groups in Europe and elsewhere. However, neo-Nazis are a tiny percentage of the national population. More often than not, neo-Nazis are outnumbered by counter-protesters at public demonstrations, and are quickly prosecuted for any crimes, such as hate crimes. In addition to targeting Jews and African Americans, neo-Nazi groups are known to harass and attack Asian Americans, Latinos, Arab Americans, homosexuals and people with different political or religious opinions. The life of a neo-Nazi living in Venice Beach, California is depicted in the 1998 movie American History X.
Some American neo-Nazi groups incite violence, however it is sometimes difficult for authorities to implicate them in violence or illegality in any meaningful way. In this way, prominent neo-Nazis may inspire, incite or even order violent crimes without much fear that their involvement will be traced back to an official organization. One notable North American exception to this fact is The Order, which had members convicted of crimes such as racketeering, conspiracy, violating civil rights and sedition. Other exceptions are Matthew F. Hale of the World Church of the Creator, who 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 Aryan Nations members opened fire on a passing vehicle. Aryan Nations has since lost its headquarters and paramilitary training grounds, and has split into three separate organizations.
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