With white masks, black hoods and fire lit torches you could be forgiven for mistaking this group of right wing extremists for a Da Vinci Code re-enactment of sorts, but you would be wrong.
The Immortals are a German neo-Nazi group who specialise in publicising their fascist views through the use of flash mobs and they are becoming popular with students and the middle classes in Germany.
With a catchy motto and their stylised flash mob appearances The Immortals are tapping in to a growing sentiment in Germany that the German race needs protection from ‘outsiders’.
“Your Life is Short, Make it Immortal”
Germany isn’t the only country experiencing a rise in fascism. In Greece and Hungary extremely conservative political parties are achieving seats in Parliament and their popularity is growing. With the German public turning to socially conservative groups because of economic instability it begs the question: can history repeat itself? Adolf Hitler sold a dream to financially struggling and displaced young Germans in the 1930’s, are modern neo-Nazi groups doing the same?
The People’s Association – Golden Dawn in Greece is a conservative extremist political organization and party and they have succeed in gaining 18 seats in Parliament since the General Election in 2012. They garner support from the Greek public by using a manifesto based on concerns for austerity and the economy, unemployment as well as fierce anti-immigration rhetoric. Racist attacks on immigrants have risen increasingly.
Exposed by Channel Four for having fascist ideologies and neo-Nazi beliefs they set up soup kitchens to attract support from white ethnic Greeks struggling to make ends meet. They recruit youngsters through the Golden Dawn Youth Front who distribute fliers with nationalist messages in Athens schools, even setting up a concert ‘Rock Against Communism’ to draw in young support. Gruesome racist rhetoric is used by party members to explain what they’d like to do to immigrants.
“”We are ready to open the ovens. We will turn them into soap .. to wash cars and pavements. We will make lamps from their skin”
Alexandros Plomaritis, a Golden Dawn candidate in the 2012 election
Europe is facing a new battle and it is using children and politics as the battleground. Just as in Greece, the German neo-Nazi groups target children and youths to carry their message forth and indoctrinate them. They target children by using summer youth camps as a place to instruct them on how to live as pure Aryans and rid Germany of ‘non-Germans’.
“We want to keep the German people alive with our own biological vitality…Imagine a country called Germany that’s filled only with Africans, with us importing nice little sweet n****r children”
Udo Pastörs, Deputy Leader of the National Democratic Party of Germany
Modern day neo-Nazis use text messaging, social media, social networks and technology to spread racist and fascist messages to young people and those they target are young children, students and unemployed youth and the middle classes. They are deliberately recruiting educated people so that the movement can call on their skills as Lawyers or Doctors in times of need. The technology and social media outlets they use as well as the flash-mobs mean the spread of their ideologies is far quicker than Hitler could ever have dreamed of.
The Holocaust does not feature in the Jobbik Party manifesto in Hungary. Jobbik is intent on making sure Jews do not invade their precious motherland. It is also Hungary’s third largest political party. The trade union of Hungarian police officers prepared for action allegedly printed in their newsletter:
“Given our current situation, anti-Semitism is not just our right, but it is the duty of every Hungarian homeland lover, and we must prepare for armed battle against the Jews.”
Judit Szima, a Jobbik candidate for the European Union in 2009 and Editor of the newsletter
An Israeli newspaper inquired into Szima’s view on the matter and found that she “didn’t see anything wrong with the content of the article”. Szima also ran as a candidate for the Jobbik Party in the the 2009 European Union election.
The fact that an extremist far-right party has such congenial relations with the Hungarian police force is surely a cause for concern. By definition the police force of any country should behave on behalf of the government in charge, not the third largest political party in the country.
Allegedly Krisztina Morvai, a proposed future nominee for the position of the president of Hungary, had something to say of Hungarian Jews’ opinions of her saying in an open letter to a Jewish New Yorker that she…
“would be glad if the so-called proud Hungarian Jews went back to playing with their tiny circumcised dicks instead of vilifying me”
Between 2003-2006 Morvai was a member of the Women’s Anti-discrimination Committee of the United Nations. Educated at Kings College London and graduating with a degree in Law, Morvai does not outwardly seem to fit the neo-Nazi stereotype. She is well educated, articulate and ‘liberal’. In 1989 she received the first ever British Government scholarship for students in central Europe and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher personally presented the award to her, not many fascists can boast that.
What her example shows is that there is a new breed of fascist. A highly educated fascist with the ability to locate mistrust and vulnerability in the population and divert those feelings towards anti-semitism and fascist ideologies. It is a dangerous mix. Neo-Nazis should no longer be viewed as skin head hooligans, they have evolved.
The poisonous, racist and anti-Semitic words of Morvai, Pastors and Plomaritis show that far-right extremism in Europe is entering a new phase in its history. Coupled with modern technology and economic instability Golden Dawn, Jobbik and The Immortals are creating a sinister and pervasive attitude in a Europe that has already been savaged and torn apart by two world wars.
Beate Zschaepe, 38, is currently on trial in Munich. Accused of being part of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) she is alleged to have had involvement in 15 armed robberies, arson and of attempted murder via two bomb attacks. She has been charged with involvement in the murders of eight ethnic Turks, a Greek immigrant and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007.
What is worrying about her trial is that the German secret service knew about her extremist cell and had tracked them yet they claim to have had no idea of her involvement in the murders of ethnic Turks. They claim to have believed they were carried out by the Turkish Mafia. There have been whispers that even the German secret service has right-wing sympathies and this has compounded the problem of rising neo-Nazism in Germany.
Governments are not doing enough to crush the emerging fascist movements and in Zschaepe’s case to even keep on top of neo-Nazi terrorists. Several high-ranking security officials that include the head of Germany’s secret service have resigned over blunders made during their tenure. Heads have rolled but has anything been learned?
Sebastian Edathy, the chairman of the investigation into German secret service failures, has said that the potential for far-right violence was massively underestimated even as some officers instinctively blamed the victims. This shambolic set of affairs on such a serious issue is frightening. Decisive action by governments is needed to quell the attraction to far-right extremists of the general populations of European countries.
Who stands to gain from the rise of political extremism in Europe? We know who will lose out if their power and influence grows – Jews and immigrants, but with collectively flaccid responses from Greek, Hungarian and German governments it doesn’t seem likely there will be improvements in their policies any time soon.
For the Channel 4 report on Golden Dawn click here
For information about help and support against anti-semitism click here