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Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/american/adl/skinhead-international/skins-findings


Newsgroups: alt.skinheads,alt.politics.white-power,alt.politics.nationalism.white
Subject: ADL: Skinhead International; Findings 
Summary: The ADL's "Skinhead International: A Worldwide Survey
         of Neo-Nazi Skinheads"
Followup-To: alt.skinheads

Archive/File: pub/orgs/american/adl/skinhead-international/skins-findings
Last-Modified: 1995/09/03

                           Findings

Neo-Nazi Skinheads are bigotry's shock troops in much of today's
world. They are street fighters for the xenophobia that has plagued
so many nations. They thrive on violence, proclaiming hatred a
virtue and criminal assaults as heroic. In Germany, they have
mobilized against the Turks; in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech
Republic, the Gypsies; in Britain, the Asians' in France, the North
Africans; in Brazil, the Northeasterners; in the United States,
racial minorities and immigrants' and in all countries, homosexuals
and those perennial "others," the Jews. In many places the targets
include the homeless, drug addicts and others who are the
down-and-out of society.

The neo-Nazi Skinhard movement is active in no fewer than 33
countries on six continents. It numbers some 70,000 youths
worldwide, of whom half are hard-core activists and the rest
supporters.

The countires where Skinheads are found in the greatest numbers are
Germany (5,000), Hungary and the Czech Republic (more than 4,000
each), the United States (3,500), Poland (2,000), the United Kingdom
and Brazil (1,500 each), Italy (1,000 to 1,500), and Sweden (over
1,000). France, Spain, Canada and the Netherlands each have at least
500 Skins. They are found in South Africa, Japan, Australia and New
Zealand.

The Skinhead movements in these various countries are extensively
linked with each other. This "Skinhead International" is maintained
through the travels abroad of popular Skinhard rock bands and their
fans; the world-wide marketing of Skinhead paraphernalia and
recordings; the sale and trading of publications known as
"skinzines"; the wide exchange of propaganda materials and other
correspondence; and, increasingly, the utilization of electronic
communications - the Internet and computer bulletin board services.

In addition to links with their counterparts abroad, Skinheads in
many countries have had domestic connections with neo-fascist
political parties. Some such ties have been openly sought and
acknowledged; others kept hidden from public view. Many right-wing
parties value the youthful zealotry and muscle of the Skins, but are
nervous about their unpredictable behavior. Thus, the connections
vary considerably - some are overt, others covert, and they are
subject to frequent change. The following are some of the far-right
parties with which Skinhards have had links:

	Belgium			Vlaams Blok
	Czech Republic 		Republican Party
	France			Parti Nationaliste Francais et
				Europeen (PNFE)
	Germany			Free German Workers Party (FAP,
				now banned); German National
				Democratic Party
	Hungary			Hungarian Interest Party
	Italy			Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI)
	Netherlands		Centrumdemocraten (CD);
				Centrumpartij '86 (CP'86)
	Poland			Polish National Community/Polish
				National Party (PWN/PSN)
	Spain			Juntas Espanolas
	Sweden			Sweden Democrats 
	United Kingdom 		British National Party
	United States		Populist Party

                    Violence, Not Votes

Although willing to connect with these far-right parties, the
Skinheads themselves reject the partliamentary road to power.
Rather, they aim to achieve their goals by destabilizing society
through the direct application of violence and intimidation. In
those instances where the Skins have had major impact, it is largely
because their views were shared by a broader segment of the
population. With their Molotov cocktails and criews of "Foreigners
out," they have expressed in extreme form what a segment of the
population in many countries has been feeling.

Nowhere has this been more the case than in Germany. The euphoria
brought on by the collapse of the East German regime and the
re-unification of the country soon gave way to strains that revealed
large numbers of people deeply shaken by the uncertainties they
faced. The world witnessed in some German towns shocking displays of
support for Skinhead arson attacks on the residencies of refugees
and guest workers. While those who cheered Skin thuggery were far
outnumbered by the masses of people who later engaged in vigils
against the violence, the Skinheads could easily have perceived that
they were acting out the inner wishes of many of their countrymen.

The German government's initial delay in effectively responding to
the Skinhead threat no doubt contributed to the growth of the
movement. Gains at the polls by far-right political parties, limited
though they were, further emboldened the young racists. The Skins
had become the shock troops of a malevolent anti-foreigner
groundswell, and it has taken considerable effort on the part of
German law enforcement and concerned members of the public to begin
to curb the menace.

Similarly, in the Czech Republic and Hungary, Skins have been viewed
by some members of the community as their protectors because they
attack Roma (Gypsies), a group that is popularly blamed for much of
the crime. Roma and others regarded as aliens have found themselves
surrounded by frenzied drunken Skinheads who maim them with crude
weapons such as boots, bats, knives and iron rods. Certainly there
is popular opposition to these attacks, but there is also some
support, particularly if the attack follows an incident in which a
Gypsy is blamed - rightly or wrongly - for a local crime.

                         U.S. Impact

By contrast, the danger posed by neo-Nazi Skinheads in the United
States lies not in their public support, which is nil, but in their
demonstrated willingness to kill and wreak havoc. They have been
responsible for no fewer than 37 murders (of racial minorities,
homosexuals, even other Skinheads), and wherever their gangs have
surfaced, hate-motivated crime has invariably followed. Further, the
Skinheads appeared on the American scene in the mid-eighties at a
time when most racist and anti-Semitic groups, including the Ku Klux
Klan and paramilitary neo-Naiz sects, were in decline. The new faces
and raw energy of the Skinheads provided a shot in the arm for the
organized hate movement in America.

In some countries, Skins have devised plans to spread terror through
the use of sophisticated weapons rather than through riots and gang
fights. In Sweden, for example, well-organized Skin gangs have
constituted veritable terrorist organizations. They have raided arms
depots, robbed banks and planted powerful explosives in an avowedly
armed struggle to create their racist vision of Sweden's - and
Europe's - future.

                     Ties to Other Thugs

The Skins often rely upon a ready reserve of other violence-prone
youth as allies in their campaigns of intimidation and destruction.
Chief among these are the football (soccer) hooligans, who have
engaged in rioting in stadiums across Europe.* It is actually often
difficult to distinguish between the Skins and hooligans, especially
where the "hools" have taken on some of the characteristics of the
Skins. Indeed, it often serves no purpose to distinguish between the
two, as they operate similarly and at times in concert. Both Skins
and hooligans can be found, for example, waving Nazi banners and
chanting bigoted slogans at football matches.

A phenomenon similar to the relationship between Skinheads and
soccer hooligans exists on the musical front. Through their music,
some Skinhead rock bands have succeeded in attracting large
non-Skinhead followings.

Apart from Skinheads and their near cousins among football hooligans
and Skin music fans, there are young people in many of the countries
in this survey that harbor similar bigoted attitudes and have
demonstrated the capacity to act on them. Desecrations of Jewish
cemetaries, for example, are as likely as not to have been committed
by unaffiliated youths. But it must also be said that, judging by
their handiwork, some of these freelance vandals take their cue from
the Skins.

In sum, while it is nowhere a serious threat to the established
order, the Skinhead movement has shown that it can inflict damage to
the fabric of civil life. It engages in murderous assaults on
innocent victims whose only crime is that they are different. It is
an extreme expression of the xenophobia that today plagues a large
portion of the world. It exerts a baleful influence on the ideas and
behavior of young people in many countries.

Through multiple links with their counterparts abroad, the use of
modern electronic communications equipment, close alliances with
football hooligans, connections with extreme right-wing political
parties, and the promotion of racist music, the Skinheads have
clearly shown that they warrant serious public concern.

* In a parallel to non-racist Skinheads, there have long been soccer
hooligans who take part in brawls without necessarily espousing an
extremist ideology or indeed any ideology at all.

                          Work Cited

Anti-Defamation League. The Skinhead International: A Worldwide
Survey of Neo-Nazi Skinheads. New York: Anti-Defamation League,
1995.


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