The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Skinhead International: Germany

Eastern Factor

The collapse of the Communist regime in East Germany significantly affected the Skinhead situation. The emergence of the eastern Skins radicalized the Skinhead scene in both numbers and militancy. The aforementioned annual reports of the German intelligence services placed the total number of militant right-wing extremists (the majority of them Skinheads) at 6,400 in 1992 (2,600 in the west, 3,800 in the new eastern states) and 5,600 in 1993 (3,000 in the west and 2,600 in the east). Taking population figures into account, these estimates show a disproportionately high Skinhead presence in the new states.

Among the principal beneficiares of the radicalization was the FAP, with a spillover membership in Michael Swierczek's National Offensive, Frank Huebner's German Alternative, Christian Worch's National List, and the Nationalist Front; all have subsequently been banned. The latter four were youth-oriented groups that emphasized street marches and "direct action." The Hamburg-based National List was banned by Hamburg authorities, and the others by federal officials.

Another group recently outlawed was the Viking Youth, a neo-Nazi organization with about 400 young members. Members of the organization have in recent years associated with the Skinheads. Federal Interior Minister Manfred Kanther announced the ban in early November 1994, saying there was no place in Germany for "groups like the Viking Youth that propagate racism and anti-Semitism and teach youths to be violent, intolerant and to hate democracy."

While slow at first to counter the neo-Nazi menace of recent years, the German government has since demonstrated increasing vigor in dealing with the problem. Utilizing the tools available to it under the postware German Constitution, it has banned some neo-Nazi groups, confiscated their propaganda materials and arrested many (including Skinheads) who have broken the law. The controversial constitutional change adoped in 1993, limiting the flow of refugees into the country, has moderated the anti-foreigner fever that earlier gripped the land.

The consequence has been a gradual decline in the strength and rate of crime of Skinheads and other right-wing extremists. At the same time, the far-right political parties - the Republikaners and the DVU - have fared poorly in the recent federal elections.

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.

Disclaimer: not all skinheads are neo-nazis or white supremacists. There are many skinheads who are non- or anti-racist, and who come from a variety of different religious and cultural backgrounds. Nizkor recognizes their achievements in anti-racism: they are part of the traditional, non-racist skinhead subculture and are not the perpetrators of the hate crimes discussed here.

Unless otherwise specified, the word "skinhead" within these pages refers only to neo-Nazi and white supremacist skinheads, the perpetrators of hate crimes and participants in racist organizations. We cannot edit the body of the text above, because it was not written by Nizkor, and to change the wording would be fraudulent. Please keep in mind that not all skinheads are racist.

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