Zdf documentary on right-wing rock: a source of money for neo-nazis

The neo-Nazi music scene is professionally organized and internationally networked. This is shown by a new documentary with disturbing concert footage.

Supporters of right-wing rock gather at the "Days of the National Movement" festival in Tremor Photo: Detlef Muller/ZDF

A horde of bouncing and staggering men, including many with tattoos, their right hands raised high, a beer in their left, blare anti-Semitic lyrics to hard rock. This is followed by a call to burn synagogues and throw hand grenades into parliament. Another scene: hundreds of bald men show the Hitler salute in a tent, there is an eerie silence, it is a minute’s silence for a Nazi comrade, finally the crowd chants "Sieg Heil!" and shouts more Nazi slogans. It is these scenes from the documentary "Right-wing Rock in Germany – The Network of Neo-Nazis" that get stuck in your head.

The disturbing scenes of the documentary were recorded by investigative journalist Thomas Kuban at neo-Nazi rock concerts behind closed doors – masked and with a hidden camera. The film shows supposedly "private" rock events as well as the big ones. Thousands came to "The Days of the National Movement" in Themar or the "Shield and Sword Festival" in ostritz. In 2018, the State Protection Service counted 320 concerts nationwide. Experts assume a total of 35,000 visitors.

Although the ZDF team was not allowed to shoot freely anywhere, it managed to get deep insights into which people attend these right-wing rock concerts. People from "Division 28" show up openly, a cover for the long-banned formation "Blood and Honour". The number 2 stands for the second letter and the 8 for the eighth in the alphabet. 28 means "BH", so the camouflage succeeds. The violent neo-Nazi formation "Combat 18", to which the alleged Lubcke murderer Stephan Ernst is also said to have had contact, uses the gap: The number 1 stands for A, the first letter in the alphabet, the 8 for the eighth. "Combat 18" is the self-proclaimed fighting force "A "dolf "H "itler.

The guests of the concert also understand the cynical play with NS ideology and symbols. T-shirts say "HH" or "HKNKRZ" and this message is also clear: "Who says A, must also say DOLPH. Others go on. "A tree a rope, an antifa neck"; they threaten on T-shirts. "One day they’ll wish we’d just make music!" it says, or the shirt shows a fist with a knife stabbing: "Blood in, blood out!" is the equally banal and frightening commitment to violence.

"Right-Wing Rock in Germany – The Network of Neo-Nazis" Sat., 2. November, 8:15 p.m., ZDFinfo, then in the ZDF Media Library.

The documentary succeeds in proving that the scene was able to develop for a long time in almost lawless areas. It shows the players and profiteers of the business and their international network. Last year, the scene took in one million euros in Thuringia alone, says Stephan Kramer, head of the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution. They "abused" the right of assembly to save taxes, he reports. In 2018, 32 labels put 89 new recordings of "volkisch" rock music on the market – a million-dollar business.

"Right-wing rock is the accompanying music to murder and manslaughter," says photographer Andre Adam, who has been following the scene for years. He calls on the authorities to intervene in the financial flows. The lack of intervention is also lamented by the journalist who shot the disturbing videos. "They sing bloodthirsty songs that call for violence against political opponents, to the point of calling for murder," Kuban says. Kramer, the head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, also admits that the authorities stood by and watched for a long time. The argument was, "Let them do one or two concerts, then the spook will be over."

There is another way. In July 2019, the "Days of the National Movement" took place under tough conditions and strict controls by state security and police. It was the first right-wing rock concert after the murder of Walter Lubcke. Two performances by bands were canceled because they sang indexed songs. Police logged 45 criminal offenses and 13 misdemeanors. "The Nazi trio would never have worked if they hadn’t been able to use the network of the right-wing rock scene," says musicologist Thorsten Hindrichs, who advised the team of authors. He thinks it’s time to take a closer look. For that, documentaries like this one can be a start.

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