The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/american/war/skins-czech-republic


Newsgroups: alt.skinheads,alt.politics.white-power,alt.politics.nationalism.white,soc.culture.czecho-slovak
Subject: ADL: Skinhead International; Czech Republic
Followup-To: alt.skinheads

Archive/File: pub/orgs/american/adl/skinhead-international/skins-czech-republic
Last-Modified: 1995/08/29

                    Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, as in other Central and Eastern
European countries, the Gypsies (also known as Roma) --
targets of Nazi extermination programs during World War II --
have been facing a rising tide of racist hate. Skinheads, if
not the most numerous among the racists, are often the most
visible.

The primative Skinhead racism in the Czech Republic is of the
neo-Nazi variety. Although Czech Skins spew anti-Semitic
rhetoric, the Roma are their chief targets. Others have been
"guest workers" (mainly from Vietnam), Arab and African
students, and foreign tourists. The Czech word _vycisteni_
(cleansing) has come into wide use by the Skins and other
hatemongers.

Estimates vary as to the number of Skinheads in the Czech
Republic. Some observers estimate that between 800 and 2,000
are active in Prague, with several thousand more active in
other cities and towns. Czech Police calculate that there are
at least 400 in Prague and 3,000 to 4,000 nationally. The
largest concentrations are in the industrial areas of northern
Bohemia.

                  Skinhead Violence

April and May 1990, Prague and other cities. There were
reports in April and May 1990 of Skinheads attacking groups of
Gypsies with clubs and chains in several northern Bohemian
cities. On May 1, some 200 Skins attacked Gypsies and foreign
workers (mainly Vietnamese) in Prague's main square and
afterwards assaulted a group of Canadian tourists.

February 1991, Prague. In a highly publicized case, a Czech
sculptor, Pavel Oporensky, came upon a gang of Skinheads
(including some Austrian Skins) that had just assaulted a
passerby who had taunted them and viciously attacked another
man who had come to his rescue. Jumping in to help, Oporensky
was quickly surrounded by threatening Skins. While defending
himself, he fatally slashed one of the gang with his pocket
knife. He was tried for manslaughter, found guilty and
sentenced to four years probation. Oporensky had been a
Charter 77 dissident under the Communists and later lived in
New York for 10 years. The victim, 17-year-old Ales Martinu,
was buried in his Skinhead clothes while Orlik, a Skinhead
band, performed.

October 1991, Teplice. Two Gypsies in an automobile were
attacked at a railroad station and their car was demolished.
Following this, a group of some 60 Skinheads attacked citizens
in the center of the city, later escaping aboard a train bound
for Prague.

November 1991, Prague. More than a thousand Skinheads and
supporters marched for several hours through Wenceslaus Square
and then through Zizcov, a largely Gypsy neighborhood,
shouting "Gypsies to the gas chambers!"

February 6, 1993, Pilsen. Some 15 or so Skinheads attacked a
dozen Bulgarian tourists with clubs, brass knuckles and tear
gas at the railway station in Pilsen. Several of the tourists
were injured, including a man and a woman who were
hospitalized with concussions. The Czech news agency reported
the arrest of the youths, who ranged in age from 14 to 18. All
were released to their parents.

More recently, on the weekend of March 19 and 20, 1994,
various Skinhead factions joined with other right-wing
demonstrators in Prague and other cities to commemorate
Hitler's division of Czechoslovakia 55 years earlier.

                Stalking Gypsy Children

Schoolchildren have not been safe from attack. A 12-year-old
Gypsy girl told of an assault by Skinheads as she and her
friends walked home from school: "They shouted 'Gypsies!' and
they started to beat us. One of them pulled a knife...." There
have been many such reports of Skins stalking Gypsy children
near schools.

In December 1993, the Czech Ministry of Internal Affairs
released a report on racial violence in the country, blaming
"extremist groups propagating extreme nationalism, fascism,
and anti-Semitism," and mentioning among such groups at least
10 different factions of Skinheads including neo-Nazis. At the
same time, the Ministry reported that three Gypsies had been
killed by Skinheads since 1990. Another authority, however,
Ladislav Goral, a Gypsy who is a senior member of the
government's Council on Nationalities, disputed the estimate,
stating that there were at least twice that many fatalities.

An evaluation by the Institute for Criminology claims that the
general populace of the Czech Republic tends to:

  sympathize with anyone who at least verbally, but better
  "in reality" stands up for their protection.... Thus, for
  example, members of a group of skinheads are forgiven and
  ultimately supported by a considerable part of the
  population, which mistakes their racist, fascist intolerance
  for the protection of society from criminality.

Miroslav Martinu, whose Skinhead son Ales had been killed in
the aforementioned Oporensky brawl in 1991, insisted that the
gangs attacking Gypsies were only going after "criminal
elements." But a policeman was quoted in the Czech newspaper
_Krety_ has saying: "If nothing is done quickly about the
Skins, they will soon be running around here in SS uniforms.
And if there are no Gypsies around, they will find other
targets."

Commenting upon violence against Gypsies in the Czech
Republic, the 1993 Human Rights Report of the U.S. Department
of State noted:

  Newspaper reports often link such violence with Skinhead
  provocations. Such was certainly the case in incidents in
  Plzen [Pilsen] and Pisek in the fall, in each of which a
  young Roma died as a result of Skinhead violence. There are
  credable reports that police ignore or condone incidents of
  violence against the Roma, although the Government has
  denounced such violence.

As elsewhere in Europe, Skinheads in the Czech Republic
gravitate towards the far-right political parties, of which
there are several. The leading such party is the Republicans,
whose leader, Miroslav Sladek, is notorious for his
anti-Semitic, anti-Gypsy, racist speeches. The party
registered significant gains in the 1992 elections, garnering
600,000 votes and 11 seats in the 200-seat Czech National
Council. It jumped from less than one percent in 1990 to over
six percent in 1992, and opinion polls since then indicate
public support for the party hovering around four to five
percent. While in the past Sladek courted the Sknheads, he
currently claims not to seek their support. Nonetheless, these
gangs find his party's views appealing.

                    Bands and Zines

There is an active Skinhead music scene in the Czech Republic.
The leading band, Orlik, reportedly sold 120,000 copies of its
first LP and has drawn as many as 600 Skinheads to its
concerts. Other active bands are Buldok, Valasska Liga, and
Kon-Kwista.

The Czech Skinhead movement boasts a number of popular
skinzines that are blatantly Nazi in tone and ideas, and that
carry advertisements and articles on neo-Nazi groups and
causes around the world. The more ambitious ones are _White
Warriors_ (a Czech-language publication despite its English
name), _Stuermer_, and _Fenix_, which is written in English in
an attempt to reach an international audience. Some zines
regularly publish materials from Tom Metzger's White Aryan
Resistance in Fallbrook, California, Gary Lauck's NSDAP-AO in
Lincoln, Nebraska, and the SS Action Group in Dearborn,
Michigan. (Anti-Defamation League, 26-29)






                          Work Cited

Anti-Defamation League. The Skinhead International: A Worldwide
Survey of Neo-Nazi Skinheads. New York: Anti-Defamation League,
1995. Anti-Defamation League, 823 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY
10017.

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