The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Skinhead International: France

Journalists and other observers in France put the number jof Skinheads today at 500, down sharply from a high of 1,000 to 1,500 in 1985-86. At the same time, a growing number of soccer hooligans, aged 15 to 25, appear to have mixed with the Skinheads and to have been influenced by neo-Nazi Skinhead themes. They are known as "casuals," and may include some Skinheads who have shed tradtional Skinhead dress and hairstyle.

Skinheads have attacked North African Frenchmen, desecrated Jewish cemetaries, and assaulted hournalists covering a right-wing festival. They have joined with non-Skinhead soccer hooligans to assault fans of North African descent at matches, provoked violent clashes with the police, and scuffled with other far-right groups at demonstratons. Some adult extremists on the right have attempted to recruit Skinheads, meeting with short-lived success. Major population centers - the Paris region, Lyons, Lille-Arras, Marseilles - have the largest concentration of Skinheads, who collect in bands of 30 to 40. There have been smaller groups in Le Havre, Angers, Toulouse, Perpignan and Brest.

The ideological themes of French Skinheads inlcude glorification of the white race and hatred for Jews, Arabs, North Africans, Freemasons, capitalism and communism.

White Rebel

Le Rebelle Blanc (The White Rebel) appears to be the organ of the Jeunesses nationalistes revolutionnaires (JNR, Nationalist Revolutionary Youth), founded by one "Batskin" (true name: Serge Ayoub), after he broke with the far-right Troisieme Voie (Third Way), led by Jean-Gilles Malliarakis. According to knowledgeable observers, the JNR numbers some 10 members, and the publication is not so much the work of Skinheads as a JNR attempt to influence and recruit Skinheads. (Another publication, Skin Europa, attributes to Batskin's circle the following self-portrait: "Drunk, yes. Alcoholic, no.")

Le Rebelle Blanc contains neo-Nazi and Skinhead symbols. One issue carried references to "the struggle against the cosmopolitans," a codeword for Jews, and a cartoon showing figures of Hitler's henchmen gazaing horrorstruck at a caricature of a black. A photo of Skins in front of the JNR flag is captioned, "Skinheads: the nightmare of the zulus." The zine also carries advertisements for the German neo-nazi group, the Free German Workers Party (FAP) in Muenster and the German Skinhead band Werwolf.

Dark Side

Skinzines and Skinhead paraphernalia have been sold at two shops in Paris: Dark Side (the name is in English), in the 14th arrondissement, and London Styl in the 18th. Dark Side is said to be the creation of the JNR's Batskin. The shop was bombed in late 1993 and subsequently reopened in the 15th arrondissement under the name Dark Lord. A U.S.-based skinzine describes a compact disc sold through Dark Lord as a "must have": in addition to music by French Skinhead bands, the recording has a spoken introduction by Leon Degrelle, the Belgian Waffen SS general who died in Spain March 13, 1994.

A French zine called Le Cote Obscur (The Dark Side) appeals to Skinheads, casuals and other soccer hooligans. One issue contains a full-page ad for Batskin's Dark Side shop, and, given the name, is probably linked to him. Each page is bordered by a sort of Greek key design made of swastikas. Cartoons feature riot police fleeing before a hail of bottles, and Skinheads and hooligans beating people with baseball bats. One page features a score system awarding points for running down Arabs: two points for hitting a single Arab, six for a couple, three for a pregnant Arab, four for a woman with a stroller, and a medal for driving into a mosque during prayers. There are also references to the "Jadaized media" ("media enjivees").


Skinheads appeared in France around 1980. By 1984, they had split into two groups: neo-Nazis, and non-politicals, who were chiefly interested in the music. The latter, who included some black Skinheads, eventually drifted back into society.

Neo-Nazi Skinheads became targets for beatings by suburban black gangs (the Skins' dress and hairstyle having made it easy to identify them). this may have contributed to the precipitous decline in the Skinheads' numbers, and the rise of their successors, the casuals, whose numbers roughly equal the Skinheads. There appears to be some overlap between the Skinheads and the casuals.

The casuals use rabid support for their soccer teams as an excuse for violence and extreme nationalism, sometimes verring into neo-Nazism. Observers describe them as "little whites," who are outnumbered by African or Arab immigrants in their housing projects, mainly located in the suburbs rather than within the limits of large cities. They vent their resentments by giving Nazi salutes and chanting "Sieg Heil!" at soccer matches, where they deface the stands with swastikas and anti-immigrant graffiti and assault the police and other spectators.

Some of the individuals in the stands frequented by Skinheads, casuals, and "hools" (hooligans) identify themselves as members of Jean-Marie Le Pen's Front National; others distribute fliers from the white supremacist Parti Nationaliste Francais et Europeen (PNFE); still others say they come to soak up the atmosphere and revel in the camaraderie.


In September 1993, Skinheads in Paris doused with gasoline and set fire to two young Frenchmen of North African descent, at who they yelled racist insults. The victims, who suffered burns mostly on their faces and hands, were expected to recover.

In January 1993, two Skinheads who had desecrated a Jewish cemetery in Lyons four months earlier were sentenced to eight months in prison. The pair had been drinking heavily after watching a soccer match. They later broke gravestones in the city's Jewish cemetery and daubed them with slogans such as "Adolf Hitler is our father" and "Death to the Jews."

In the fall of 1993, there were serious incidents at the Paris soccer stadium, the Parc des Princes, during a game between Paris-St. Germain (PSG) and a visiting team. Riot police were driven out of the Kop de Boulogne enclosed stands where Skinheads, casuals and PSG hooligans congregate. A dozen police officers and a police commissioner were injured. The perpetrators appeared to be the Skinheads' putative successors, the casuals.

During the Front National's 1995 St. Joan of Arc's Day parade, held in Paris on May 1, a 29-year-old Moraccan immigrant was murdered by drowning. Witnesses told police that three Skinheads broke away from the parage and hurled insults at Brahim Bouarram before one of the Skins threw him in the Seine. The Front National denied any link to the killing. A Skinhead, Mickael Freminet, 19, reportedly has confessed to pushing Bouarram, but said he did not intend to kill him.

Foreign Links

There are reports of links between French and Belgian Skinheads. French Skinheads have been interviewed by British skinzines. Some French skinzines carry advertisements for German and American Skinhead bands. Still, French Skinheads tend to be ultra-nationalist, and are less eager than their foreign counterparts to forge close ties with Skins in other lands.


The French Skinhead music scene is limited because bands are unable to rent space on account of their record of violence.

Skinheads Pour Eternite (S.P.E.) was a skinzine in Gentily which folded in late 1991, after five years of publication. However, it has continued distributing records, tapes and magazines and has started releasing records on its own label.

French Skinhead bands have included Force de Frappe (a name taken from the term for the French nuclear force), Kontingent 88, Legion 88 (88 stands for "Heil Hitler," H being the eighth letter of the alphabet), Brutal Combat, Plastic Gangsters, Evil Skins, Guitar Gangster and Urban Gones (both from Lyons), and Viking (from Le Havre). The ideology of some of these bands is unclear' not all are necessarily neo-Nazi.

Record labels include S.P.E., Lion Records, Bird Records, Rebelles Europeens, and Bulldog Service. Rebelles Europeens, of Brest, has been headed by Gael Bodilis and Brigitte Maljak, who was a law student in the early 1990's. Both were active in the Front National Jeunesse (the youth wing of Le Pen's movement), and Bodilis in the Troisieme Voie as well. Among the label's offerings are titles by the English Skinhead band No Remorse, with record jackets emblazoned with swastikas and portraits of Adolf Hitler. According to the Paris newspaper Le Monde, Rebelles Europeens was dissolved at the end of 1988, but quietly revived itself in July 1991 with Maljak as president and Bodilis as treasurer. After resuming operations, the firm was very active in producing openly neo-Nazi recordings. During 1995, however, it has shown no signs of functioning.

The French police have actively monitored and countered the Skinheads with arrests, prosecution, and exposure. The Renseignements Generaux (police intelligence division) has applied a strategy of exposure in which information is shared with journalists. Some observers believe timely and effective law enforcement has successfully contained the French Skinhead movement. (Anti-Defamation League, 30-33)

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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