10 Of The World’s Weirdest Neo-Nazi Groups
Nazis are a virus in jackboots. You can wipe them out with fire from the sky, with education, with punitive bans on their symbology, or with mockery. Somehow, they always manage to adapt and evolve, and they pop up in the strangest places and in the most bizarre forms. Here are 10 manifestations of modern neo-Nazism that Hitler would find unrecognizable.
10 National Socialistic Japanese Workers Party
Also known as the Nationalsozialistische Japanische Arbeiterpartei (NSJAP), Kokka Shakaishugi Nippon Rodosha, or the New Axis, this group is part of a trend of rising militarism and neo-fascism in Japan. Incorporating imagery and ideology from the Third Reich to attack Koreans and Chinese, it also reflects a strange fascination with Nazism and a vague anti-Semitism, bizarre in a country with very few Jews. There may be a link between the Japanese right wing’s denial of the truth about Imperial Japanese atrocities during World War II and a corresponding desire to deny the crimes of their fellow Axis member. In 2013, the publisher Nihonbungeisha distributed the book The Truth about Hitler That Is So Interesting You Cannot Go to Sleep to over 8,000 outlets of the Lawsons convenience store chain, and a man was arrested for tearing up copies of The Diary of Anne Frank in Tokyo libraries and bookstores.
The NSJWP is led by Kazunari Yamada, who caused controversy for President Shinzo Abe when two senior members of the Liberal Democratic Party, Internal Affairs Minister Sanae Takaichi and Policy Chief Tomomi Inada, appeared in photographs posing with Yamada and posted on the NSJWP website. The two women appeared smiling with Yamada holding up a Japanese flag, and were forced to apologize and distance themselves from the far-right movement following heavy criticism. Yamada’s website extols the “samurai spirit” of Japan, while praising the actions of Nazi Germany as well as the 9/11 attackers. Minister Takaichi denied any involvement with the neo-Nazis, saying of the whole incident: “It is a nuisance.”
Tore Tvedt, founder of this neo-Nazi group, claimed that in 1994 he felt a bright and warm force lift him out of bed, make him pack his things, and tell him to “follow Odin in the battle to save his chosen people from the genocide that today we are exposed to.” Vigrid has always had a mystical bent based on traditional Norse mythology, differentiating it somewhat from other neo-Nazi groups in Norway that are more inclined to street violence and heavy drinking. Norse religion is interpreted in a racialized fashion, and elements of Odinism are combined with admiration for the Hitler regime and the idea of the Zionist Occupation Government (ZOG) developed by Turner Diaries author William Pierce. The worship of Odin is a strong part of the group, which holds pagan baptisms and other ceremonies at ancient stone circles in the wilderness.
The origins of Vigrid ideology lie in the volkisch movement, a form of racial occultism that romanticized the ancient Germanic culture and religion, which was believed to have been persecuted by modern culture. Reaching a peak during the Quisling years, it was suppressed following World War II only to slowly revive later. Tvedt founded Vigrid in 1999, two years after he founded a similar organization known as the Boot Boys, who were said to have split with him due to his policy against alcohol. The group put its members through paintball training in order to promote discipline and prepare for an upcoming racial war. In 2006, Tvedt was convicted of violating the anti-racism law with his comments calling Jews “parasites to be cleansed,” and an attempt to run in elections only gained 0.007 percent of the vote. In 2012, Tvedt testified in support of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik but also criticized him for being a Freemason, Christian, and Zionist. Tvedt has since retired and is said to have closed down Vigrid in 2013. However, the organization remains active on social media.
8 Azov Battalion
A volunteer fighting force operating in eastern Ukraine, the Azov Battalion fights alongside the Ukrainian army against pro-Russian separatists. The paramilitary force was formed and is armed by the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, which denies that it is a neo-Nazi organization. However, it is pretty obvious that they are, at least informally. The battalion uses the Third Reich’s wolfsangel (wolf trap) as its symbol, though they claim it is the letters N and I crossed over, standing for “national identity,” as well as the Black Sun motif once used by the SS. Their political platform is natsiokratiya, the system of government of World War II Ukrainian nationalists who fought the Soviets but also persecuted Jews and Poles. The commander of the Azov battalion is Andriy Biletsky, also the leader of an organization known as Social National Assembly, the goals of which are “to prepare Ukraine for further expansion and to struggle for the liberation of the entire White Race from the domination of the internationalist speculative capital” and “to punish severely sexual perversions and any interracial contacts that lead to the extinction of the white man.”
Regardless of claims that the battalion isn’t a neo-Nazi group, it is clear that many of its members are. Common beliefs among the fighters are that the Holocaust never happened, Hitler was a great leader, and that Putin is Jewish. Many of the fighters sport SS or swastika tattoos, though some claim that the latter is just a sun symbol. Interestingly, many of the fighters are actually Russian, and the Russian language is the lingua franca of the group. The group has attracted foreign neo-Nazis, including a number of Swedes, to fight for a “white Ukraine.” The problem with the Azov Battalion is that it is being used in a policing role, even as it attracts extremist elements. Meanwhile, attacks on minorities in Kiev are being linked to its sister organization, the SNA.
7 Creativity Movement
The modern Creativity Movement is a descendant of the Church of the Creator, a religious movement founded in 1973 by Ben Klassen, who was once a Florida realtor, state legislator, and, believe it or not, inventor of the electric can opener. Born in a family of German-speaking Mennonite refugees from the Ukraine, he had pro-German sympathies in his youth. He reacted to the civil rights movement by becoming radicalized, as he became enraged that conservatives were targeting communists and liberals rather than what he saw as the real threat: the Jews. The Church believed that race represented absolute cosmic truth and that the white race was superior and “creative,” unlike the “mud races,” his reference to Jews and people of color. The obsession with the white race extended to their logo, which was a capitol W with a halo and a crown above it. The group has promoted what it calls Rahowa, racial holy war, and so-called Creators have been arrested for hate crimes and murders.
After the death of Klassen in 1993, the movement was renamed the World Church of the Creator (WCOTC) by Matt Hale, who made himself the “pontifex maximus” of the new group. The movement expanded rapidly in the 1990s, and Hale was linked to a murder spree by ex-Creator Benjamin Smith in 1999, but he managed to avoid punishment. His luck ran out in 2003 after a copyright battle with a non-racist Pacific Northwest church over the name of the WCOTC. After losing the court case, Hale suggested to his security chief to murder the judge, which led to his imprisonment. The church collapsed and was renamed the Creativity movement, which in the intervening years has waxed and waned in numbers and influence, with multiple incidents of violence and murder.
A prominent figure in the modern Creativity Movement is Craig Cobb, who made headlines in 2013 for attempting to set up a white-only enclave in North Dakota and for claiming that the word “gay” was created by the Jews to oppress white people. “When you’re teaching kindergarten boys to have flaccid sphincter muscles, look, what’s gay about it? They have high STDs, high alcoholism, high rate of sexual partners . . . what’s gay about it?” He was publicly embarrassed on Trisha Goddard’s Race in America series when his submitted DNA test turned up 14 percent African, particularly ironic considering a history of leaving nasty notes on the door of the only biracial couple in town saying, “What are you doing married to a negro?”
6 Sao Paulo Skinheads
The industrial city of Sao Paulo is a major center for white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups in multi-ethnic Brazil. Along with Jews, black people, and gay people, these groups also harbor a hatred for nordestinos (northeasterners), those from poorer northeast provinces who move to southern cities in search of employment. These groups emerged in the early 1990s, distributing anti-Semitic pamphlets called “fanzines,” marching on Hitler’s and Himmler’s birthdays and demanding that northeasterners be placed in concentration camps. There were also a number of violent attacks and murders on Jews, black people, northeastern migrants, and homosexuals, though Brazil’s crime rate is underreported, so it is difficult to get a clear picture of how widespread the attacks were.
In 2009, members of the neo-Nazi group “Hooligan Impact” set off a bomb outside a bar in the city’s gay district following a pride parade. The following year, the Sao Paulo government passed a law requiring all public schools to teach about the Holocaust in reaction to several attempted attacks on synagogues and the desecrating of Jewish cemeteries. The problem of homophobic violence appears to be getting worse, however. In 2014, an 18-year-old gay man, Bruno Borges de Oliveira, was murdered while returning from a shopping mall by a gang of “neo-Nazi skateboarders,” who stole his shoes, mobile phone, and public transport ticket before beating him to death with a skateboard. Due in part to the powerful Evangelical lobby, there are no hate crime laws in Brazil.
5 Golden Dawn
Nikolaos Michaloliakos, a former mathematician that had been convicted of assault and possession of illegal weapons, formed the Golden Dawn in the mid-1980s in the form of a neo-Nazi magazine. His supporters were few in number throughout the 1990s, but in the 21st century the financial crisis caused a sudden swell of support. Golden Dawn took advantage of the situation to take over the provision of social services that the state could no longer afford, such as legal and medical assistance, while engaging in attacks on foreigners in the streets of Athens under the guise of “cleaning up the streets.” As Golden Dawn entered politics, this violence intensified, aimed first and foremost at immigrants and refugees but also with a wider set of goals. In 2012, fliers that read “AFTER THE IMMIGRANTS, YOU’RE NEXT” were distributed outside gay clubs in Athens. The Golden Dawn prospers by encouraging Greeks stressed by the economic troubles to take their frustration out on the immigrant population. They spread anti-immigrant myths, such as the idea that Muslims have been stealing Greek dogs to eat them, an act that is strictly forbidden by Islam.
In September 2013, Golden Dawn member Giorgos Roupakias stabbed anti-fascist musician Pavlos Fyssas to death, kicking off a murder investigation that soon expanded into a major crackdown on the organization. In late 2014, a prosecutor’s report on dozens of Golden Dawn members was obtained by Foreign Policy magazine, which revealed the extent of the movement’s preparations to overthrow the government. The movement is alleged to have hired a butcher to teach members how to use a knife to cut the jugular of opponents, the theory of which was then carried out on thousands of sheep. Videos obtained by authorities showed Golden Dawn members dressed in SS uniforms giving Nazi salutes as well as training with firearms. A former Golden Dawn member acting as a government informant known only as “Witness E” said of the group’s ultimate goal: “They kept telling us that we’ll break into the parliament with tanks.” Despite the crackdown, Golden Dawn remained the third-largest party in Greece in the January 2015 elections with 6.3 percent of the vote and 17 seats in the 300-member national parliament.
4 Gay Aryan Skinheads
In Russia, homophobia is quite mainstream, and neo-Nazi groups in the country are usually associated with vicious attacks on members of the LGBT community. Not so with the Gay Aryan Skinheads (GASH). This organization fights for rights for gay men, as well as white nationalism and “clearing the planet of dirty nationalities.” The movement opposes all interracial relationships, whether heterosexual or homosexual, and refuses to admit lesbians and transgendered people into their ranks, believing themselves to be in a war and a “man’s fight.” Some in the movement believe that only gay men can be true patriots for the motherland, as heterosexual men are distracted by women and the need to support a family.
The group opposes the homophobia in Russian society but also believe that the gay community engages in actions that exacerbate it. The group is closely connected with BDSM, with a developed ideology around sex: “By our nature, sexual intercourse is rough. This is similar to primitive passion. Some of us have slaves, but they often aren’t nationalists. We treat sex as something sacred. This is similar to how believers treat God. Sex is a transmission of passion, emotions, pleasure and—last but not least—sperm into the body of a brother.” For an organization with a symbol featuring a swastika and two crossed penises, this is perhaps unsurprising.
Russia isn’t the only country that produces gay Nazis, however. A fringe online subculture also exists in the West on websites such as Gay Aryan Resistance, Gays Against Semitism, and even the extremely fringe Diapered Skinheads. One website, the Gay Racialist Network, claims that gay men are “nature’s elite” and “charismatic leaders,” while heterosexuals are largely useful for breeding stock. The main problem these groups have is the extreme homophobia of the neo-Nazi “mainstream,” which expels any member they discover or even suspect is gay. One gay neo-Nazi online asked, apparently without irony, “What does belonging to a group, who would kill you along with everyone else the second they found out what you were really, make you feel like?”
The neo-Nazi movement has been in decline in Germany, forcing some to try and change their image and branding in order to attract a younger following. The classic image of the skinhead was increasingly seen as intimidating, anachronistic, and uncool. The solution has been to incorporate the style and fashion of New York hipsters into the neo-Nazi movement. Nipsters are sophisticated and much harder to immediately recognize than traditional neo-Nazis. The new “friendly” face of fascism is made up of stylish clothes, Converse shoes, vegan cooking, and a presence on Tumblr and other social media platforms.
Patrick Schroeder is the man behind the movement and the host of only Neo-Nazi Internet show, FSN.tv, a slickly edited web series based around the latest Nazi news and pop culture, interspersed with Rechstrock—neo-Nazi rock music. He also conducts seminars telling young neo-Nazis that they can wear hip-hop fashion or skinny jeans and still be a part of the fascist movement. He considers American neo-Nazis deeply uncool: “It’s like they’re always dressing up for a costume party.” The 21st-century Nazi needs to blend in, according to Schroeder: “If the definition of the nipster is someone who can live in the mainstream, then I see it as the future of the movement.”
The nipster movement is broad and multi-faceted. Neo-nazi rap, hip-hop, techno, and reggae bands have formed, co-opting the genres to promote the German race. There was even the above neo-Nazi version of the Harlem Shake, featuring a sign reading, “Have more sex with Nazis, unprotected.” The movement has expanded into other areas of concern, such as the environment and women’s rights, that are not usually associated with the far right. Nipsters staged viral campaigns such as dressing as Cookie Monster to hand out pamphlets to schoolchildren and as a man in a bear costume, the “deportation bear,” posing in front of Turkish shops in Hanover. This is the globalized face of neo-Nazism, posing as postmodern hipsters but peddling the same hate as ever before.
2 Tsagaan Khass
With the rise of China’s economic and political influence, resentment and fear in neighboring Mongolia has brought the rise of far-right groups. Among these has been Tsagaan Khass, or White Swastika, a movement that has declared itself dedicated to Hitler’s ideal of ethnic purity, while claiming to stand up for ordinary Mongolians against foreign crime, economic inequality, state corruption, and Chinese imperialism. The movement is connected to Mongolian hip-hop, particularly anti-Chinese hits like “Don’t Go Too Far, You Chinks” by 4 Zug, with the chorus “shoot them all, all, all.” The appeal of neo-Nazism is related to the fear of the Mongolian race and culture being swamped by the Chinese: “Adolf Hitler was someone we respect. He taught us how to preserve national identity.” Despite the fact that Soviet POWs with Mongolian features were singled out by the historical Nazis for summary execution, Tsagaan Khass is happy to use Nazi iconography and symbols to promote their own ethnic struggle.
In their headquarters located behind a lingerie shop in Ulaanbaatar, tasks are assigned to young Mongolian men and women in crisp, SS-style uniforms. Before 2013, these tasks were what the group claimed to be “law enforcement.” Claiming not to use violence, they were nevertheless accused of attacking foreigners, interracial couples, members of the LBGT community, and women suspected of sleeping with Chinese men. Jackbooted thugs were sent to do checks on hotels, restaurants, and other businesses, ostensibly to “make sure Mongolian girls don’t do prostitution and foreigners don’t break the laws.”
More recently, the movement has rebranded itself as an environmental organization, criticizing the pollution caused by foreign companies mining in Mongolia and sending out patrols of young men with shaved heads and jackboots to mining sites to demand to check their papers or check the soil for contaminants. Ariunbold Altankhuum, the leader of Tsagaan Khass, explained the change of tactics: “We used to talk about fighting with foreigners, but some time ago we realized that is not efficient, so our purpose changed from fighting foreigners in the streets to fighting the mining companies.” That’s all well and good, but their SS uniforms and reverence for Adolf Hitler haven’t changed one bit.
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Israel’s Law of Return allows anyone who has at least one Jewish grandparent to emigrate, which led over a million ex-Soviet citizens to enter the country in the 1990s. This has led to ethnic friction, as many of the new Israelis had only a tangential connection to Judaism through grandparents or distant relatives, and some were even raised to hate Jews. Their choice to emigrate was based largely on economic reasons, encouraged by the Jewish Agency for Israel, the primary organization for attracting immigrants to Israel. It has also led to discrimination, which has led to some young immigrants complaining that while they were treated as “dirty Jews” in Russia, they are now treated as “stinking Russians” in Israel. Many that were expecting a warm welcome in the Jewish homeland have been met with unemployment and neglect.
This is ground ripe for the development of far-right groups. In Petah Tikva, a city east of Tel Aviv, a group of young men formed around leader Dmitry Bogotich and staged attacks against homosexuals, Jews wearing skull caps, drug addicts, and foreign workers. They often filmed these attacks and uploaded the clips to YouTube and a neo-Nazi website called Format 18. One uploaded clip showed the neo-Nazis attacking a drug addict and making him apologize for being a Jew, interspersed with images of Adolf Hitler. They also attacked a synagogue in Haifa, spray-painting swastikas and naked women on the outside walls.
The group was broken up and arrested in 2007 after police were alerted to the group’s activities through an unrelated case involving a Russian psychopath that had been hanging cats. Bogotich escaped to Kyrgyzstan and had to be extradited before being being given a prison sentence of five years and nine months in 2011. His punishment was commuted thanks to an apology given in an earlier hearing: “When I get out of prison, I will be a loyal Israeli, either in Israel or out of Israel.” This group isn’t the only sign of neo-Nazi elements emerging in the state of Israel, however. In 2014, an anti-war protest in Tel Aviv was attacked by far-right extremists screaming “Death to Arabs!” and wearing T-shirts reading “Good Night Left Side,” a slogan associated with neo-Nazi groups in Europe and the US.
David Tormsen looks pretty good with a little toothbrush mustache but Hitler ruined that, too.