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Encyclopedia > Neo Nazism

The terms Neo-Nazism and Neo-Fascism refer to any social or political movement to revive Nazism or Fascism, respectively, and postdates the Second World War.

The Neo-Nazi movement is identified by allegiance to Adolf Hitler, the national insignia of Nazi Germany (e.g. the swastika), and other features specific to Germany from the period 1933 to 1945. These usually include anti-Semitism, racism, and/or xenophobia. These groups often draw membership from people who blame their society's problems, such as the disintegration of national unity and culture, and multicultural friction, on non-white immigrants and an alleged Jewish conspiracy.

Some Neo-Nazi groups espouse violence, and for this reason they are a source of concern to law enforcement. However, it is often surprisingly difficult to implicate Neo-Fascists in violence or illegality in any meaningful way. This is because these groups have adopted a proxy system whereby organizations which the Nazis intend to be financially, politically and socially successful are made to be extremely professional and respectable, whereas other, less important organizations and individuals are almost always the ones responsible for intimidations, violent acts and terror tactics. This makes it extremely difficult to track neo-Nazi criminal liabilities, because the culprits are often obscure and unimportant within the larger Nazi movement, and when groups or individuals are found guilty of crimes in these cases, they are almost always of little financial or political worth to the Neo-Nazi goals. In this way, prominent neo-Nazis may inspire, incite or even order violent crimes without much fear that their involvement will be traced in any meaningful way back to an organization which has a great deal to lose. Notable North American exceptions to this fact are Matt Hale and the World Church Of The Creator, which has essentially ceased functioning effectively since he 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 his 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 groups parts.

Many Neo-Nazi groups also espouse Holocaust denial or Historical revisionism, claiming that the Holocaust slaughter of 6,000,000 Jews is a lie, and that the German Nazi government had no extermination policy, or at least that the extent of the Holocaust is greatly exaggerated. It is not known whether Neo-Nazi Holocaust revisionists believe these claims or if it is simply a means to make their ideology more palatable by removing the blemish of the Holocaust.

Significant people in the effort to revive Nazism include Colin Jordan, George Lincoln Rockwell, William Pierce, Savitri Devi, and David Myatt.

Neo-Nazi desecration of a Jewish cemetery in France

Neo-Nazism in Germany

Nazi iconography remains to this day heavily restricted in Germany. As German law forbids the production of Nazi devotionalia, such items come mostly (illegally) from the USA and northern European countries. Current Neo-Nazi websites mostly depend on hosting in the USA and Canada, and use other terms for Nazi ideas and symbols -- for example, the swastika may be referred to as a 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.

Neo-Nazi in Germany in 2000

In the 1990s, after German reunification, Neo-Nazi groups succeeded in gaining more followers, mostly among 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 and 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), and attempts to burn a house down.)

These events preceded demonstrations (Lichterketten; candle chains) with hundreds of thousands of participants against right-extremist violence in many German cities. These further precipitated other massive neo-Nazi demonstrations later on, which continue today. Demonstrations often erupt in violence as Nazis and their anti-Fascist counter-protestors clash in the streets.

The official German statistics for the year 1990 record 178 right-extremist motivated violence crimes(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 have risen sharply again in subsequent years. Because the strong public opinion and media coverage concerning Neo-Nazi ideologies is still extremely negative, large scale organizations by such groups are often attempted by local authorities to be surpressed in some way (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, was first temporarily suspended and 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.

Neo-Fascism in Italy

Organizations that have been described as 'Neo-Fascist' and/or 'Neo-Nazi' include;

Since the 1990s, Alleanza Nazionale has distanced itself from Mussolini and fascism and made efforts to improve relations with Jewish groups, with most die-hards leaving it; it now seeks to present itself as a respectable rightwing party. Lega Nord is primarily a secessionist movement, but has often been accused of xenophobia and racism; however, it has also lately presented its goals as a more moderate quest for local autonomy.

Neo-Nazism in the USA

Neo-Nazi Alliance rally in front of Capitol in Washington D.C.

In the USA, broad freedom of speech allows political organizations great latitude in expressing Nazi, racist or anti-Semitic ideology. Several White supremacist or white separatist groups share large parts of their ideology with Nazism. Due to First Amendment restrictions, the federal government generally cracks down on such organizations only after members engage in hate crimes and violence.

Organizations that describe themselves as being 'Neo-Fascist' and/or 'Neo-Nazi' or do not object to the label include:

Organizations which have been described as Neo-Fascist or Neo-Nazi, but which object to the label include:

Neo-Nazism in the UK

The following British organizations have been described as neo-Nazi:

Neo-Nazism in Russia

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. As of 2004, the Russian neo-Nazis constitute one of the greatest potential threats to the political and social stability in Russia. Whereas Vladimir Putin's government seems to keep them in check, if the economic and social conditions in the country deteriorate significantly in the future, an attempted neo-Nazi rebellion could well be on the horizon. 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.

Social roots

The collapse of the Soviet economic system which culminated the early 1990s caused an economic and social meltdown of epochal proportions, one often described as far exceeding the devastation the USA has experienced during the Great Depression. There was a great deal of popular discontent with the widespread unemployment and poverty, as well as the widely perceived humiliation with the end of the Cold War that was generally seen as constituting an unconditional surrender to the nation's enemies.

This discontent found its main outlet in the major political parties that stood in opposition to the Boris Yeltsin government (1991-1998), 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 were 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 value system generally inoculated most from the message of the right-wing extremists. The youth generally had no such protections. 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 was thus similiar to Nazism.


Russian neo-Nazi organizations generally defined themselves as standing outside of the political process, disdaining the electoral system and advocating the overthrow of the government by force. Their ideological programs centered on Russian national identity, defending the Russians against what they perceived as a takeover of the country by people from ethnic minorities, notably Jews and migrants from the Caucasus region. Cleansing the nation by killing or expelling the non-Russians was a generally accepted goal, claimed to be a way to solve pretty much all of the woes facing the country. Their ideology became epitomized in the short slogan "Russia for the Russians", a catchphrase adopted more widely by less extremist factions later on. They did not generally have discernible economic programs, quite unlike the German NSDAP.

The neo-Nazis did openly admire and imitate the German Nazis and Hitler. Mein Kampf stood high on their reading list. The most prominent organization, Russian National Union (Russkoe Nacional'noe Edinstvo) 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 as 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 while at times had adequate living conditions, still suffered greatly in the Soviet economic collapse.


The neo-Nazis made it an explicit goal to take over the country by force, and they did put in serious effort into preparing for this. The paramilitary organizations operating under guise of sports clubs organized training for their members in squad tactics and weapons handling. Weapons were stockpiled, generally illegally (due to very restrictive Russian gun laws) (Note: These gun laws were, and still are, for most part ignored. This is evidenced by the ease of which the Russian Mafia can obtain guns, especially Ak-47s.) Reputedly, many were interested in martial arts and unarmed combat, and did a good job organizing realistic hand-to-hand combat classes. Despite these extensive preparations, quite incredible 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 building of the State Duma (Russian parliament) against government forces during the standoff between Yeltsin and the Communist dominated parliament in 1993, which Yeltsin won. The neo-Nazis did generate considerable anxiety because of their potential for pogroms against people they do not like and indeed of actual power seizure. No such things have so far materialized, although rumors of impending pogroms did circulate widely in the early 1990s.

The Russian police and security establishment has generally turned a blind eye to the activities of the neo-Nazis. In a country where the law enforcement is essentially unaccountable to anybody, shutting down such openly treasonous and illegal activities would not have been hard, were there political will to do so. The failure of the government to do so suggests that the officials are either apathetic, sympathetic to the movement, or intending to use it for their own purposes. The latter seems particularly likely for the higher level officials of the FSB (a successor to the Soviet KGB), some of whom may view the neo-Nazi paramilitary groups as a potential tool in a future struggle for power, whether as storm-troopers of a revolution or as an easy to unleash threat to the constitutional order that may require and justify imposition of state of emergency and military rule.

Neo-Nazism in Scandinavia

The following Scandinavian movements, parties and associations have been described as neo-Nazi:

  • Den Danske Forening (The Danish Association) - Denmark
  • Norges Nasjonalsosialistiske Bevegelse (Norway's National Socialistic Movement) - Norway
  • Vigrid - Norway
  • Nationalsocialistisk Front (National Socialist Front) -Sweden
  • Vitt Ariskt Motstånd (White Aryan Resistance) - Sweden
  • Svenska Motståndsrörelsen - (Swedish Resistance Movement) - Sweden

Neo-Nazism in other countries

In many European countries there are laws that prevent the expression of Nazi, racist or anti-Semitic ideology, thus no political party of significant importance will describe itself as being neo-nazi.

Organizations that have been described as 'Neo-Fascist' and/or 'Neo-Nazi' include the following.

See also

External links



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