Police raided apartments and offices throughout Germany in the biggest-ever action aimed at stamping out the radical-right music scene.
The historic operation was two years in the making.
German authorities searched more than 200 locations on Wednesday, March 4, confiscating 45,000 CDs, more than 170 computers and some 70 weapons.
They are also investigating 204 suspects. Though no one was arrested, the head prosecutor in Stuttgart, where the operation was based, characterized it as a significant contribution in combating racist and neo-Nazi subcultures.
“Music represents the gateway through which young people are lured in,” Siegfried Mahler said at a press conference. “Millions of euros of business is done every year producing and distributing recordings of extreme right-wing music.”
Bands such as Landser or Macht und Ehre — whose lyrics glorify the Third Reich and encourage hatred of and violence toward ethnic minorities — have been part of a small, but difficult-to-eradicate neo-Nazi music scene in Germany.
“Using aggressive, xenophobic, anti-Semitic and Anti-democratic lyrics, they spread extreme right-wing ideas and expressions of hate,” Mahler said.
Music with such lyrical content is prohibited by the German Constitution. Selling neo-Nazi music is a crime, although possessing it isn’t, as Mahler said at the press conference.
More than 60 years after World War Two and the Nazi Holocaust, right-wing radicalism is still a problem in Germany, particularly in the former communist eastern part of the country where unemployment is nearly double the rate in the west.
The BKA [Federal Crime Office] said last year that neo-Nazis appeared to have shifted their tactics and stepped up violent attacks. Government figures show anti-Semitic crimes rose at the end of last year.
The Anti-Defamation League has published much information about Neo-Nazi hate music:
In the United States, racist songs praising the Ku Klux Klan or promoting segregation have existed for many years. But starting in the 1970s, a new phenomenon emerged: the creation of an entire genre of music predicated on racism.
Today, hate music plays a central role in the white supremacist movement in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere. It is key to many aspects of the neo-Nazi world, but is especially important in three areas:
It is one of the most significant ways neo-Nazis attempt to attract young people into their movement; this source of recruitment is possibly the most important factor in the ability of neo-Nazi groups to expand or even maintain their membership.
Second, hate music has become an important source of income for white supremacists. Several prominent white supremacist groups in the U.S. receive a substantial amount or even a majority of their funding from distributing hate music, promoting hate music concerts, and selling accessories and clothing. A significant portion of these materials are distributed in Europe, even in countries where they may be illegal.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, hate music has been instrumental in the formation of a white supremacist subculture. In the 1960s, neo-Nazis such as George Lincoln Rockwell had little to offer followers except extreme rhetoric. In the 21st century, however, white supremacists around the world are linked not only by shared ideas, but by shared customs, fashions, and most crucially, music. Hate music helps bring haters together into a shared community.
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A defector from Germany’s hard-core neo-Nazi party the NPD has painted a chilling picture of the rise of new Hitler worshippers and their plans to build the “Fourth Reich”.
Uwe Luthardt was a senior member of the NPD but quit to inform on the party which Germany tried unsuccessfully to ban several years ago.
He told of weapons stores and how members greet each other with “Heil Hitler” salutes, sing the banned songs of the Third Reich and relish the idea of a new Holocaust against the Jews.
Last year neo-Nazi attacks in Germany reached an all-time high and authorities are battling to stop youngsters from being attracted to the politics of the right – particularly now that Germany is in a deep recession and jobs are being lost by the thousands every day.
Luthardt, a former board member of the party, said he was threatened that he could “disappear” if he informed on its inner workings.
“I joined because I wanted to do something for Germany, I wasn’t interest in a Greater Germany. And suddenly everyone was saying we’ll take back Silesia in Poland and then we’ll give the communists a thrashing.”
He said old Nazis living in South America still donate to the party and other funds come from the staging of skinhead-music concerts.
He went on: “The simple aim is the restoration of the Reich in which a new storm trooper organisation takes revenge on anyone who disagrees with them.
“‘Let’s kick out all the foreigners, then the Germans will have jobs again’ – that’s the basic concept the NPD talks about. They only refer to freight trains when no one from outside is listening.” That is a chilling reference to the murder of the six million Jews of Europe during the Third Reich, most of whom were transported to extermination centres in railway cattle cars.
German youths try to fight neo-Nazis with music (Reuters, Jan. 9, 2009)