How can I hide BPD from others

Right-wing extremism

Christopher Egenberger

To person

Christopher Egenberger studied history and political science at the Humboldt University in Berlin. He was a consultant at the Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt Foundation for six years and is currently Employee of the Courage Against Right-Wing Violence editorial team of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation.

Neo-Nazis wear bald heads, bomber jackets and combat boots? This equation is long gone, if it was correct than ever. Whether clothing, music, codes or symbols: the scene has changed in recent years. An overview by Christopher Egenberger.

Only "classics" of the neo-Nazi scene? Right-wing extremist skinheads at a parade in Dessau 2005. (& copy H. Kulick)
Neo-Nazis wear bald heads, bomber jackets and combat boots? This equation is long gone, if it was correct than ever. Because the really dangerous right-wing extremists, the trained cadres, have always hidden behind a rather staid facade. In recent years there has been a development in the neo-Nazi youth scene in the course of which right-wing extremism has found its way into various youth cultures and recognizing neo-Nazism is becoming increasingly difficult.

A person's political attitudes can only rarely be recognized by their external appearance. Although young people in particular often tend to indicate that they belong to a certain subculture by wearing certain items of clothing or accessories, such phenomena are only of limited significance. Skinheads with combat boots and bomber jackets have always only made up part of the neo-Nazi spectrum. But since it was easy to point at them, other right-wing extremists were able to hide behind a bourgeois facade. In recent years, the right-wing scene has increasingly penetrated other youth culture subcultures. This development, which has to be discussed in more detail, makes it more and more difficult to identify neo-Nazis by optical characteristics.

Allusions to the Germanic-pagan and National Socialist past

Of course, there is still the "classic" right dress code, which is relatively easy to identify using the so-called scene-typical identifiers. Certain clothing brands and particularly relevant music groups indicate a right-wing extremist sentiment, as well as allusions to the Third Reich or the Germanic-pagan past. For the extreme right, the representation of elements of Nordic mythology is an essential part of establishing an identity. This reflects the longing for a romantically transfigured, unadulterated culture, as well as the rejection of Christianity as a "Jewish cultural element".

Many right-wing extremist groups practice cult acts such as solstice celebrations, "Ostara festivals" or the scooping of Easter water. The event character of such events is aimed specifically at young people. Various Germanic or pagan terms serve as names for clothing brands or right-wing music groups. Runes or symbols such as the black sun serve as decorative elements on flyers, CD covers or patches. Of particular importance is the (stylized) Celtic cross, which stands worldwide as a symbol for the common cultural heritage and the supremacy of the white race. This white power symbol has almost unlimited uses in the scene. The white power fist has a similar meaning and distribution as the Celtic cross.

References to the Third Reich always involve the risk of criminal prosecution due to the use of symbols by anti-constitutional organizations. That is why such characters or lettering are often alienated or only hinted at. Another possibility are numerical codes, which represent one of the most important creations of right-wing extremist symbolism. With numeric codes, right-wing extremists are able to express provocation, attack and subversiveness at the same time. On the one hand, the symbolism is aimed at the own group, creates a recognition mark in public space and thereby strengthens the group identity. On the other hand, the political opponent should also be addressed and provoked directly

Numeric codes and acronyms

The numbers used indicate the placement of the letter in the alphabet. The best-known and still most frequently used numerical codes are "18" (for Adolf Hitler) and "88" (for "Heil Hitler"). The latter can be replaced by "H8", which means that a play on words is integrated into the numerical code. Pronounced "H8" corresponds to the English word "hate". Almost as often the code "14" or "14 words" is used, according to a racist slogan of the American right-wing extremist David Lane ("We must secure the existence of our race and a future for white children"). Furthermore, the "28" stands for the forbidden Blood & Honor Division Germany, "13/47" for "with German greetings", the "74" for "Greater Germany and the" 19/8 "for" Sieg Heil " The number combination "168: 1" is a reference to the bomb attack in Oklahom / USA in 1995, in which the right-wing extremist perpetrator killed 168 people.

In addition to numerical codes, there are also various abbreviations or acronyms such as "WAR / WAW", which stands for "White Aryan Resistance" or the German equivalent "White Aryan Resistance". "RaHoWa" stands for "Racial Holy War" and is used as a battle cry that is common around the world as a spray on the wall, a greeting or a t-shirt print. RaHoWa was made popular in the 90s by an American neo-Nazi heavy metal band of the same name. "ZOG" is used as an abbreviation for "Zionist Occupied Government" and means "Zionist occupied government". The imaginary "Jewish world conspiracy" finds its expression in ZOG.

Clothing brands

In general, clothing for young people is the most important means besides music to express their own identity, affiliation or the desire to belong to a political movement or youth culture scene. The clothes reveal a lot about the respective self-image. The clothes that are put on are intended to provoke other young people in particular, but also adults. But many of the clothing brands that have the image of being mainly worn by right-wing youngsters have this reputation wrongly. Many brands derive their popularity from the English skinhead culture and are therefore also worn by left-wing or non-political skins, such as Ben Sherman, Fred Perry or Doc Martens. These companies try to get rid of the right-wing image with anti-racism campaigns, among other things. In fact, many right-wing extremists turned away from these brands as a result, in the case of Lonsdale even a right-wing counter-brand was founded with Consdaple.

Another myth is the alleged meanings of shoelace colors, according to which white shoelaces stand for a right and red for a left. Even if this can still be true in some regions, there are Blood & Honor skins that deliberately wear red shoelaces. At the same time there are many non-racist skinheads who wear white shoelaces with black combat boots to symbolically point to the origins of the skinhead cult: "Black and White - Unite". Ultimately, it is not possible to read anything unequivocally from the color of the shoelaces. The same also applies to certain hairstyles. Short hair means advantages in a fight - the opponent cannot reach into the hair - and is therefore common in the skinhead and hooligan scene, but far more people are bald for purely aesthetic reasons. An equation "short hair = right disposition" makes little sense.

The military context of the bomber jacket signals militancy. This makes them popular in various subcultures, such as with hooligans, autonomists or in gangster rap. The high-quality jackets from Alpha Industries, which produces for the US military among others, are also widespread in right-wing extremist circles due to the brand logo, which is similar to the prohibited civilian badge of the SA. However, its popularity has decreased since the scene has increasingly dressed inconspicuously. Due to the change in fashion, towards a more sporty than martial appearance, certain sports brands are gaining a high status and degree of penetration in the right-wing scene.

Nevertheless, New Balance or Helly Hanson are quite ordinary sporting goods manufacturers that are of course also worn outside the right-wing extremist scene. Their popularity results solely from the fact that their initials are reinterpreted in right-wing circles. Then the sewn "N" stands for "National (socialist)" and "HH" for "Heil Hitler". But New Balance has now also distanced itself from its right-wing extremist clientele.

The case is therefore somewhat clearer with brand names and symbols that consciously express aggressiveness and are therefore widespread in the neo-Nazi as well as the rocker or hooligan scene. These include the brands Dobermann, Pit Bull, Troublemaker, Streetwear and Pro Violence. While the Frankfurt company Pit Bull attaches a certain importance to the fact that it is not a neo-Nazi brand - according to a statement by the company, 50% of the employees are not German - the Doberman clothing brand, which is based in the Kassel area, has recognizable connections to the right scene through partly clear right symbolism, such as a motif of laced boots with the inscription "Made in Germany". Since Doberman was unable to establish itself across the scene alongside Pit Bull, the jackets, pants, T-shirts and baseball caps are increasingly being sold through right-wing mail order companies or shops, through which, however, Pit Bull can usually also be purchased.

Garments from Troublemaker and Streetwear are mainly available in army shops, but also in stores that are right-wing extremist in the narrow sense of the word. The two brands focus primarily on the hooligan scene as customers. On the Troublemaker website, this is also made very clear by the links to hooligan sites. Nevertheless, neo-Nazis are a deliberately chosen part of the target group, so an advertisement by Troublemaker appeared in the magazine of the now banned Blood & Honor Division Germany. Overlapping of neo-Nazi and hooligan scenes can also be found in the popularity of the term "Category C" or "KC". The police classification of hooligans from the always violent spectrum is also popular among right-wing extremists. Category C is registered as a trademark in various variants. The Bremen hooligan band Category C (KC - Die Band) is closely connected to the neo-Nazi scene and very popular there.

There are also relevant Nazi brands such as Thor Steinar or Consdaple. These are produced exclusively for the right-wing scene. Production and sales are mostly in the hands of people who themselves come from this scene. Almost all of the logos and names registered under trademark law by Thor Steinar refer to terms from Germanic-Nordic mythology and paganism (Nordland, Viking Company, Nordmark, Walhalla, Walk├╝re, etc.). After a legal dispute as to whether the logos composed of different runes were identical with symbols of forbidden organizations and thus violated paragraph 86a, Thor Steinar brought a new logo onto the market in 2005. The rune now depicted was not used during National Socialism and is therefore not punishable, but the right background of the brand became more than clear in the course of this dispute. Nevertheless, Thor Steinar is also available in clothing stores that are unfamiliar to the scene.

The English sports brand Lonsdale was also popular in the right-wing scene because with a half-open bomber jacket the impression could be given that the sweater would say NSDAP. After Lonsdale had credibly distanced itself from its right-wing image, Consdaple, a brand within the neo-Nazi scene, was designed and established that contains the complete letter combination, but superficially reminds of the English word for policeman (constable). Consdaple clothing is only sold in neo-Nazi stores. The same applies to the brands "Masterrace Europe", "H8wear" or "Max H8". Those who wear these brands demonstrate that they are part of the right-wing extremist scene. Other important identifying marks are patches which, in addition to the usual right-wing extremist symbols, mainly show band logos.