Good evening people. This is my second entry for the blog and I´d like to dedicate it to the American movie classic “American History X“. Strangely enough, that movie was the first thing that popped into my mind when thinking about Nazi ideologies. The scene with Edward Norton in his underwear breaking a black man’s neck on the boardwalk will forever stay with me, I can assure you. I think the film is a good example of how dangerous the modern neo- nazi culture is. Edward Norton´s character, Derek, becomes a skinhead after his father, a police officer, has been killed. He finds a father substitute in Cameron, a hardcore anti- Semite and sympathizer of nazi ideology. Together with a group of rowdies and extremists, Derek threatens and terrorizes foreigners in his neighborhood in Venice Beach Kalifornia; until getting imprisoned for killing two black men, who were trying to steal his car. The prison fundamentally changes Derek´s way of thinking and he decides to quit with the neo- nazi gang. But his younger brother starts to show some interest for Cameron and his fellows…
The aspect of the movie that made me reflect the most, was the part toward the end where the viewer is shown a flashback in which he understands that Derek´s father was a racist himself, making a racial statement about his black teacher. This brief scene doesn’t only make the audience understand why Derek has become a neo- nazi but made me also reflect on the story of real life right extremists. It would be too easy to generalize and say that all neo- nazis come from a troubled social background, although in some cases that might be true. But if we take the german extremist gang NSU (Nationalsozialitischer Untergrund) who was responsible for killing ten people and have a closer look at its single members, it becomes clear that one cannot blame an ult- right tendency on the social background. While Beate Zschäpe´s childhood was very simple, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt had a middle-class background. The same can be said about American ex- white supremacist Arno Michaelis. I was watching an interview of his the other day which left me stunned. It was the classic story- an aggressive child feels alienated from society and starts to idealize a bunch of skinheads, with which it tries to save the “white race”. Although Michaelis claims that he comes from a troubled household where emotional abuse was happening on a daily basis, the ex- radical admits that his neo- nazi background cannot be blamed on that. After all, not every troubled child becomes a neo- nazi and some young adults from settled social backgrounds on the other hand- as we have seen- do.
It is very difficult to understand where the exact reasons for right- extremism lies. According to a theory by Theodor Adorno, prejudice is one of the fundamental aspects of an authoritative character. People that have that kind of characteristics are more likely to follow powers and other authoritarian voices. But after all, this is just a theory and cannot e taken for a fact. Whatever makes people fall for the neo- nazi trap, the important thing is that in some cases like the one of Arno Michaelis or even Derek in America History X, they manage to see the danger and the stupidity and eventually break out of the movement.
Hello and welcome to my brand new blog about Neo- Nazism and its impact on nowadays society. What I am interested in is in how far Neo- Nazi ideology still attracts people around the globe and why so many of us still fall for its ideas. I’m going to have a look at different cases in the UK, Germany, and the US and try to understand the reason behind a growing Neo- Nazi movement. Examples of racism and nationalism up to claims of racial superiority can be found in current German and American politics and the migration and financial crisis in Europe doesn’t seem to calm this situation very much either. Through a look into some neo- Nazi websites, by watching interviews, films and hopefully reading about some firsthand experiences of ex- Nazi sympathizers, I hope to gain a better understanding what really attracts people about this issue. What is so interesting to me about this particular topic is the fact that fascism never seems to lose its fascination to a lot of people, although we should know better by know. During the first part of the 20th century, Fascism obviously had its culmination in Europe with the dictatorships in Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia.
Although this dark period in European history is thankfully behind us, many of its key ideologies are still very much alive. I, myself have been confronted in the past with its ugly representatives- living in a small village in the Italian Alps, where neo- Nazism is still an issue. In the United Kingdom, where I am currently living and studying this seems to be very much the case as well. Talking to a couple of students the other day made me discover that I, as a blond, tall and more northern looking person, would have less of a problem when moving to the countryside around Halifax or Hull than a person from the south of Europe would have.
One of the most shocking and concerning evolutions of the last years for me was the rise of the ultra- right AFD (Alternative für Deutschland/ Alternative for Germany) party in Germany. Although not being on the same level as neo- Nazism and its German representatives (NPD– party/ Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands/ National democratic german party),, many of its party members have been accused of being populist, racist and misleading. AFD deputy Alexander Gauland made headlines last year by saying that football player Jérôme Boateng, member of the national football league, was appreciated as a sportsman but nobody wanted to have him as a neighbor living next door. Statements like the latter could be repeatedly found in the last American presidential elections as well, up to the point where the chairman of the American Nazi Party, Rocky Suhayda, referred to Donald Trump’s presidency as a real opportunity for his organization. This blog doesn’t have the intention to simply condemn all of the above-mentioned examples but to critically evaluate them and hopefully to make them more comprehensive. Is it pure fear that drives people into the arms of fanatics and extremists or is there more behind the latest rise of the alt- right around the globe. I will try to find out more about it.
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