December 30, 2008

YouTube condemned for showing video clips glorifying Nazi troops and Hitler

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Video-sharing website YouTube has been condemned for showing video clips glorifying Nazi troops. The scenes, accompanied by militaristic music, have drawn millions of hits from potential Nazi sympathisers and voyeurs.

YouTube, which hosts film clips from the public, has 2,880 items on the Waffen SS, the most fanatical of Hitler's soldiers who were indicted for war crimes throughout WW2.

A Nazi swastika appears in a pro Nazi YouTube video.
The website has been condemned for hosting the videos

The entries have a string of 'Sieg Heil' comments and praise for the fighting prowess of the Waffen SS, recruited for their unswerving loyalty to Nazism.

The videos, some from Nazi propaganda news reels, have angered Jewish organisations who have called for YouTube to remove the 'hugely offensive' postings, including one that features the headline 'Hitler Was Right' directly below the YouTube logo.

Senior Liberal Democrat MP Susan Kramer was shocked by the content and the amount of SS sites on YouTube.

"Glorifying the Waffen SS or Hitler in any way is sickening," she said. "YouTube must understand its responsibilities. They should be hunting this type of material down if they want to maintain any credibility."

She added that YouTube has grown from fringe influence to mainstream source of content and that many young people view it alone where extremist views cannot be challenged by parents and teachers.

Another video posted on the site shows a picture of Hitler with the words 'Hitler was Right'
The Board of Deputies of British Jews said it continues to be 'very concerned about the level of racist and anti-Semitic content on the internet'.

The YouTube clips include excerpts from history programmes but it is clear that many are directed at extremist right-wing elements around the world.

The Waffen SS regimental anthem is posted along with slickly edited montages of troops in heroic poses and Hitler addressing rallies. One viewer has simply posted a giant swastika made from 134 smaller swastikas.

Another states: "The fighting men of the German Waffen SS were true heroes - real Vikings!"

YouTube was bought by Google for $1.65 billion in a purchase described by its chief executive Chad Hurely as 'one of the most significant milestones for our company and our community."

Google has been keen for YouTube to become self-policing and has pledged to clean-up on pornographic and street violence entries. But the system is still awash with violence and soft-porn clips.

Daily Mail

German Mayor in Hiding after Far-Right Threat

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The mayor of a small town in eastern Germany has gone into hiding after a threat on his life appeared on a far-right Web site. The case follows the knife attack by a suspected neo-Nazi this month, generating fears that the far-right scene is becoming more violent.

The mayor of the small town of Warin in eastern Germany has gone into hiding after a threat against him appeared on a far-right Web site.

Hans-Peter Gossel, 53, has been under police protection for a week after the following entry appeared on Altermedia, a Web site popular with neo-Nazis: "Watch out!!! It's high time for Lebkuchen cake knives!! The next 'victim' is making himself available! Gossel?" Gossel said the Web site also contained a video showing a matchstick man being cut up with a knife.

The message appears to have been in reference to the near-fatal stabbing of the police chief of the southern city of Passau, Alois Mannichl, two weeks ago by a suspected neo-Nazi. Mannichl was stabbed in the stomach at his front door and survived after emergency surgery. His attacker is still at-large.

A spokesman for the police in the city of Schwerin, which is responsible for Gossel's protection, said: "We are treating this as a serious threat that refers directly to the attack on Mannichl."

"I was shocked," Gossel told SPIEGEL ONLINE. He said he wanted to spend the next few days away from Warin and would visit friends.

The threat may be linked to a dispute between Gossel and the obscure Interim Partei Deutschland (IPD) party, which Germany's domestic intelligence agency says has links with right-wing extremism. The agency has been monitoring the IPD for some time. The party rejects the legitimacy of the Federal Republic of Germany, and its chairman, Edgar Romano Ludowici, has described himself as "Reich interior minister of the exile government of the Second German Reich in the borders of 1937."

Gossel criticized the IPD after it purchased a house in Warin last summer. He also campaigned against the party's setting up offices in the town because he was worried it would use the property as a training center.

The attack on Passau's police chief has raised fears that Germany's far-right scene is becoming more brazen -- and violent. Recent figures show that the number of far-right crimes committed in the first 10 months of 2008 exceeded the total for the whole of last year. A report in Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper last week said the German intererior ministry had registered 11,928 such crimes by the end of October, a rise of almost 30 percent relative to the same time period last year and exceeding all of 2007's total of 9,206 crimes. The final figures will be released in early 2009.

Separately, the small Bavarian town of Gräfenberg says it is being terrorized by neo-Nazis from outside town who have been staging demonstrations there for the past two years.

The next such rally was set for Wednesday, New Year's Eve, but was prohibited by the regional authority which said it would be too dangerous for the demonstrators given all the New Year's fireworks in circulation.

The far-right protestors have been offered an alternative date of January 10 for their march. That would be the 35th neo-Nazi demonstration in the town since November 2006. The town council is involved in a protracted dispute with far-right campaigners because it has refused them access to a local war memorial.

For the past two years, demonstrators wearing combat boots, many with their faces concealed by hoods, scarves or sunglasses, have regularly marched through Gräfenberg holding burning torches and beating drums in menacing scenes that evoke Nazi-era rallies.

A local citizen's group co-founded by Gräfenberg Mayor Werner Wolf has made headlines by waging a colorful campaign to counter the far-right protestors, for example, by playing loud Samba music and running deafening motorized saws to drown out their speeches.

Mayor Wolf said last month that, in recent years, he and other members of the Citizen's Forum organizing the counter-demonstrations had received anonymous threats.

He received an e-mail, for example, stating that "those who fight us must expect to get hurt," and he had a bag of paint hurled at his house. The names and photos of fellow campaigners had been published on far-right leaflets, said Wolf, and demonstrations had been held in front of their homes.


December 29, 2008

Germany sees rise in far-right attacks

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Three hundred people recently demonstrated against far-right violence in Passau
The German government is to devise a strategy for curbing the surge of neo-Nazism as far-right offences have increased 30 per cent in 2008

The increase was announced following the attack on the chief of police in the town of Passau in Bavaria, who was stabbed in front of his home by a suspected neo-Nazi.

According to the German Ministry of Interior, the first ten months of 2008 saw up to 12,000 incidents perpetrated by far-Right offenders, including violent attacks, which is a 30 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2007. It is believed the actual numbers are much higher, as many race hate offences are not registered as such.

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, condemned the development, calling for more civil courage and saying that the far-Right offences were an attack on all Germans.

But Mrs Merkel is facing pressure from politicians across the spectrum for a ban of the National Democratic Party or NPD, the largest of the country's legally registered far-Right political groups that has often been accused of neo-Nazi links.

Previous attempts to ban the NPD were rejected as unconstitutional by the country's highest court, but an increasing number of politicians are considering another attempt in 2009 due to the drastic increase of far-Right related crimes. MPs have called for a special "democracy summit" to devise a strategy for fighting the rise of neo-Nazism.

In a separate development, an academic study found that over 20 per cent of all Germans are prejudiced against foreigners, while in the impoverished areas of former East Germany one in three citizens are xenophobic.


December 27, 2008

Richard Barnbrook's 'Nazi' complaint thrown out

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Poor Richard Barnbrook. He's not having much luck.

No sooner did he have one of his complaints against assembly members thrown out, than another one gets thrown out as well:

Ah Diddums! Did the bad man call you a bad word?

Now when Barking and Dagenham's BNP leader called the Labour group leader a 'Nazi', I don't remember Richard getting so upset.

But then I guess it's only the truth that really hurts:

You see Richard, if you look like a Nazi, sound like a Nazi and work for a load of Nazis, then you shouldn't be surprised when people go and call you a Nazi.

Of course you could always just stop being such a Nazi and get on with your job, but until that time, people will continue to say what they see.

Tory Troll

December 24, 2008

It's the Christmas BNP fugly contest (with a sexy T-shirt display thrown in)

23 Comment (s)
Click on the image if you can bear to enlarge it
One of our readers made the suggestion several weeks ago that we should have an ugly BNP competition to tie in with the fact that BNP voters are the thickest around. This seemed like an excellent idea, so here they are. After weeks of deliberation by our panel of judges at a secret location somewhere near Lancaster, we've managed to cull the many suggestions down to a mere eleven of the BNP's astonishing collection of grotesques.

Some of them may not look too bad to the untrained eye but we've given them a high rating because they're vile on the inside even if presenting a relatively passable face to the world (rather like the BNP itself, in fact).

We're not posting on Christmas Day (unless something interesting like Nick Griffin and Mark Collett eloping happens) so we've got a couple of days for you to add your votes to the poll over on the top-right of the page. Take a good close look at these creatures of the night, then cast your votes (multiple voting allowed, by the way) and we'll see who the winner is after the nut roast has been digested.

Here they are then, from top-left...
  1. Mark Collett: commonly referred to as a rat-faced little bastard (even inside the BNP), Collett is the unrepentant star of Young, Nazi and Proud and Russell Brand's Nazi Boy but has achieved more recent notoriety for trying to smuggle a couple of underage girls into the BNP's conference hotel along with Nick Griffin's pet moron Dave Hannam.
  2. Clive Jefferson: he of the dodgy number plates and the look that suggests he's about to haul off and kill someone for tonight's dinner. Is bidding to become the BNP's Head of Security over the disgraced and useless pervert Martin Reynolds.
  3. Dicky Barnbrook: the BNP's representative on the London Assembly, Dicky's drunken mishaps and sober stupidities are the delight of anti-fascists everywhere. His latest cock-up is to claim a number of murders in his borough that never actually happened. What a dick.
  4. Nik Eriksen: an all-round piece of shit really. It was he who claimed that women were more troubled by bag theft than rape.
  5. Lee Barnes: worryingly disturbed legal beagle for the BNP - created a stir both within and without the party when he went too far in attacking the late Rachel Whitear.
  6. Mike Ashburner: his main claim to fame is that he's stood for the BNP in Barrow about four hundred times and failed dismally every time. Give it up, Mike, you're only embarrassing yourself.
  7. Paul Cromie: Bradford BNP councillor and repeatedly tainted by sleaze allegations, including his giving fivers to 200 pensioners living in sheltered accomodation just before his wife was due to be elected, and slinging around emails containing porn. The Standards Board might have let him off but he's still bloody ugly.
  8. Nick Griffin: leader of the BNP, Holocaust-denier, racist and general all-round vile bastard, he deserves to win any contest that disparages or insults him - not that I'm biased, you understand.
  9. Lynne Mozar: star of the Sky TV documentary, BNP Wives. Utterly disgusting and probably certifiably insane. Who can forget her lunatic babbling as the programme opened? Not us, so here it is. 'The British National Party is my baby. It's not, not necessarily my family's or my husband's or anyone elses, it's mine. All mine. My own. For me. And I love it...mine. [cackle, cackle] All mine! [more cackling]'. Etc.
  10. Linda Cromie: I'm saying nothing...
  11. Gnasher: I gather this picture was taking just after a wasp flew into her mouth. Or was it just after she'd eaten a lemon? Whichever, she doesn't look a happy bunny, does she? Not surprising really - she's married to serial loser Mike Ashburner.
Oh yes, I nearly forgot the sexy T-shirt display. Here they are - two fine examples of the master race dressed in their finest (if not their cleanest) outfits. Just be grateful this isn't a wet T-shirt competition and you've been spared the horror of seeing these two showing off all their rippling er, musculature.

It's Christmas. Time to get that washing powder out again, lads.
Okay, vote away, people. And do all have a great Christmas. We've got busy times ahead of us in 2009, so now's the time to relax. Have fun. :-)

And the clear and resounding winner is...Mark Collett (which shouldn't really suprise anybody). Well done Mark, your popularity just shines through.

A well-deserved win and the prize (the book 'Bad Haircuts for Freaks and Pervs' by acclaimed nobody Jonathan Bowden (not to be confused with any other Jonathan Bowden who may or may not be a complete nobody) will be winging its way to you sometime this century (probably).

The complete poll results are posted above. Thank you everyone who voted. :-)

December 23, 2008

Merseyside "BNP" policeman to face misconduct charge

15 Comment (s)
A serving police officer named in a leaked list of British National Party members will face a misconduct panel, his force said today.

Pc Steve Bettley, of Merseyside Police, was included in the list of the far right party’s entire membership register which was leaked on an internet blog. The officer, who was briefly the driver for chief constable Bernard Hogan Howe, has been suspended from duty since the list became public last month.

A Merseyside Police spokeswoman said today: “Merseyside Police has completed its investigation of an officer alleged to be a member of the BNP. It has been recommended that the Police Constable face a misconduct panel. The matter is now in the hands of Merseyside Police’s solicitors for further consideration. The Constable remains suspended.”

The leak provoked outrage after members of the BNP were revealed to be current and former servicemen, teachers and doctors.

The list included the names, professions, addresses and telephone numbers of thousands of BNP supporters. When the list was published, BNP leader Nick Griffin pledged to take court action against those behind the leak.

Dyfed-Powys Police is leading a joint investigation with the Information Commissioner’s office into the alleged breach of the Data Protection Act.

Liverpool Echo

At last, the Searchlight covers...

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As promised a couple of months back when Searchlight celebrated its 400th edition, we've got a selection of front covers from the past thirty years for you to take a look at. It's been a bugger trying to work out how to do tables on the blog so the pictures would display properly, then someone suggested Picassa, which worked very nicely indeed. So here they are at last. Click on the image and take a look...

Searchlight Covers

December 22, 2008

Barking madness

9 Comment (s)
Political controversy based on race – and fake facts – is still being stirred up by the BNP in east London

According to some, race-based politics will soon be over. The battle has been won and we can all go home.

Boris Johnson was one of the first to see it coming. Writing back in October, the London mayor declared: "If Barack Hussein Obama is successful next month, then we could even see the beginning of the end of race-based politics, with all the grievance culture and special interest groups and political correctness that come with it."

As an unhappy target and an unwilling associate of such race-based politics, you can understand why he would hope this to be so. Unfortunately, nobody has got round to telling the British National party about it.

Speaking about the prospect of Obama's election, its leader, Nick Griffin, said: "The core impact on the millions of third worlders is that if you have a third worlder there... they will see the most powerful job in the world has gone to a black man that means that there is nothing that a black man can't do which is unfortunate because the black men and women who aren't very clever and I am not saying that's all of them, but some of them aren't very clever...

"The moment they can't get promoted because they're not actually very clever, they will think 'well I'm being held back, I'm being discriminated against' and they have already got a chip on their shoulder because of all the stuff about slavery... and so they see one of theirs who can make it to the top of America but think 'well I can't make it to the top of this branch of Jewsons and I am being discriminated against' and instead of one chip they get a second chip so there will be trouble.

"And some of them, when they have got a chip on their shoulder, well they can't take it out, they don't want to work anyway, so they find a white kid on the street and they beat the hell out of them... and the result of Barack Obama being at the top is that it will strengthen that, it will make them feel more confident, more pushy, more resentful if they don't get their own way. So it will just add a bit of a tweak to what is in fact a one-way, low-level race war."

In order to give it a tweak of its own, the BNP have been busy distributing a leaflet called Racism cuts both ways to schools, businesses and homes across the country.

Daubed with blood-red splashes and dodgy case studies, it is everything you would expect a BNP leaflet to be.

However, since then they have suffered the public humiliation of their membership list being leaked and the public realisation that their numbers, if not their support, are remarkably small.

But despite this setback, the BNP are determined to let their low-level war carry on. In order to take a look at it in operation, I took a journey to the east London borough of Barking and Dagenham. The borough, which is the BNP's stronghold in southern England, now has 12 BNP councillors.

Inside the chamber last week, there was little sign of an end to race-based politics. Barking's BNP group leader began by calling for the immediate resignation of the council leader for allowing immigration into the borough, before shouting "Nazi" at him across the chamber. Another BNP councillor refused to apologise for having likened sex education to paedophilia, before launching into a lengthy rant about immigrants, which got him removed from the chamber.

Other vital matters raised by Barking BNP have included the supply of Halal meat to schools (they think it shouldn't be) and the plight of the "native minority" in the "Labour borough of Ealing" (it's a Conservative borough and there's no "native" minority).

Outside of the chamber and the BNP's Richard Barnbrook has also been fighting hard, spreading mistruths about knife crime in Dagenham and making time-wasting "complaints" about non-existent bullying in City Hall.

But beyond these passing rows, the long-term effect of the BNP's low-level war in London has been the kind of small but often paralysing disruption that I saw in Barking last week. And as long as London politicians continue to be distracted into squabbling about Halal meat and Barnbrook's dyslexia, the real meat of their work is being put to one side.

So while it is convenient for some to herald Obama's victory as a sign of the beginning of the end of race-based politics, in areas where BNP support is rising, a debilitating battle continues every day.

Adam Bienkov
Comment is Free

Archbishop of Canterbury warns recession Britain must learn lessons from Nazi Germany

1 Comment (s)
The Archbishop of Canterbury warns today that Britain must learn the lessons of Nazi Germany in dealing with the effects of the recession

Dr Rowan Williams risks causing a new controversy by inviting a comparison between Gordon Brown's response to the economic downturn and the Third Reich. In an article for The Daily Telegraph, he claims Germany in the 1930s pursued a "principle" that worked consistently but only on the basis that "quite a lot of people that you might have thought mattered as human beings actually didn't".

Dr Williams, the most senior cleric in the Church of England, then appears to draw a parallel between the Nazis and the UK Government's policies for tackling the downturn, which he says fails to take account of the "particular human costs" to the most vulnerable in society.

"What about the unique concerns and crises of the pensioner whose savings have disappeared, the Woolworth's employee, the hopeful young executive, let alone the helpless producer of goods in some Third-world environment where prices are determined thousands of miles away?" he asks.

In an apparent reference to the Prime Minister, who has claimed to be guided by a moral compass, the Archbishop also observes "without these anxieties about the specific costs, we've lost the essential moral compass". It follows a disagreement with the Prime Minister last week in which the Archbishop likened Government policy on spending to "an addict returning to a drug". This prompted Mr Brown to allude to the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan by claiming he could not "walk by on the other side" as people suffered.

The Prime Minister has pledged to spend his way out of the economic downturn, increasing public borrowing to a record £200m a day. The Government has pledged £500billion of taxpayers' money to bail out the banking system, and cut VAT by 2.5 per cent to get consumers spending again. But unemployment is predicted to top 2 million by the New Year as high street names such as Woolworths and MFI go under. Thousands have fallen into negative equity as the property market has fallen by 15 per cent. Millions of prudent savers are also suffering as interest rates have been cut to 2 per cent.

Dr Williams' comments may be perceived as a further attack on Mr Brown's efforts to boost the economy, and risk damaging the relationship between Lambeth Palace and Downing Street. It threatens a return to the 1980s, when the Conservative Government came under fierce attack from the Church over its social policies which were said to exclude the poor deliberately.

This summer, the Archbishop invited the Prime Minister to speak at a rally by Anglian bishops and hailed his commitment to ending world poverty. But after the collapse of banks around the world in September, Dr Williams called for governments to increase regulation of the financial sector and claimed Karl Marx had been right in his analysis of the dangers of capitalism.

Last week, the Archbishop admitted it would not be "the end of the world" if the Church's links with the state were severed, as it would no longer have to rely on ministers' approval for changes to canon law. He also claimed he did not take account of MPs' opinions before making public pronouncements, saying: "While there might be many reasons for watching what I say, being a nuisance to the people across the river [Thames] is not a big consideration."

He then denounced Mr Brown's plans to increase debt, saying: "I worry about that because it seems a little bit like the addict returning to the drug. When the Bible uses the word 'repentance', it doesn't just mean beating your breast, it means getting a new perspective, and that is perhaps what we are shrinking away from."

In response, the Prime Minister defended his "fiscal stimulus" policies by alluding to the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan. Mr Brown said: "I think the Archbishop would also agree with me that every time someone becomes unemployed or loses their home or a small business fails it is our duty to act and we should not walk by on the other side when people are facing problems."

However, Dr Williams has continued his criticisms of current economic policy in this newspaper. In his article he warns of the dangers of "unconditional loyalty to a system" that turned into a "nightmare" in Germany under Hitler, in which only certain groups and ideas were valued, while others were deemed dispensable and suffering was ignored.

He cites the lectures given by Karl Barth, a theologian who was driven into exile by Hitler, who had claimed that one of the benefits of Christianity is that believers are able to live without the "principles" that drive politics.

The Archbishop concedes some of the "principles" now being put forward are not as destructive as the 20th century ideologies of Fascism or Communism. But he goes on to suggest that some "principled" defences of the economy "block out actual human faces and stories", and defends the right of religious leaders to raise questions about the social implications of financial plans.

Dr Williams concludes that the message of the Christmas story is one of unconditional love, and the idea that every human life must be valued.

Meanwhile, a member of his staff has been sacked for making an offensive comment about a senior bishop in an official document that was sent to 10 Downing Street as well as other clergy. The obscene word was written next to the name of the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, in a confidential job application sent from Lambeth Palace.


December 21, 2008

The new spate of Nazi films

3 Comment (s)
There is a disturbing tendency in recent films to offer a sympathetic portrayal of servants of the Third Reich

A spectre is haunting Europe. It wears jackboots, a swastika and a delicate tear-stained expression of angst-ridden introspection. And it's called the Touchy-Feely Nazi. It can be found in your local multiplex in a quartet of high profile movies - three of which are coming soon, one is already out - that take a fresh and sometimes bold new look at the Second World War almost exclusively and often sympathetically from the Nazi point of view. These movies are filled with stars (step forward Tom Cruise and Kate Winslet), they are primed for awardsseason kudos, and yet they speak of a profound and ultimately queasy shift in the way that we regard National Socialism, the Holocaust and Nazi Germany on screen.

Valkyrie is the biggest of these and stars Cruise as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, the leader of the failed plot to assassinate Hitler in July 1944, and a kind husband and father who hates the Führer just as much as he loves Germany. He's a man of action and nobility who is surrounded by a cast of equally honest souls, played with convincing sincerity by quality British actors such as Terence Stamp, Bill Nighy and Kenneth Branagh. In fact, with the exception of Hitler himself, and a few surrounding cronies, it's hard to find a nasty Nazi among them.

Then there's The Reader, with Winslet starring as Hanna Schmitz, a German tram conductor who becomes a concentration camp guard almost by default. She is, naturally, haunted by her part in the Nazi atrocities - and indeed Winslet plays her internal trauma with sterling conviction - but through her new relationship with a younger man (played by David Kross) and her love of literature, she has the chance to be partially redeemed.

We've already had The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which took a look inside the unfortunate family of the sensitive camp commandant David Thewlis, who nobly tried to shield his innocent son, Bruno (Asa Butterfield) from the horrors of the Final Solution. And still to come is Good, the story of a gentle German university professor, John Halder (played by Viggo Mortensen), who joins the SS simply because it's easier than remaining politically neutral. Naturally, when a close Jewish friend, Maurice (Jason Issacs), begins to feel the sharp end of Nazi rule John begins to regret his decision. But it's too little, too late.

What these films share is a common revisionist tone, and an urge to be taken seriously as morally mature storytelling. Indeed they were collectively applauded last month in Newsweek magazine for being “remarkable” and “more than black and white”, and for refusing to take an unambiguous stance on the ideological perils of living in Nazi Germany. “Look,” these movies seem to say, “being a Nazi wasn't that easy, and furthermore not everybody caught the bug.” Bryan Singer, the director of Valkyrie, was even more explicit when he announced recently: “Nobody wants to believe that all of a people are indoctrinated into evil, into murder and such hate. Nobody wants to believe that. So I think Valkyrie will be inspiring to people. I hope it will.”

And yet is there not a danger that this urge to redress the balance, and this desire to tell morally intriguing tales from the Nazi side, comes at a price? Richard Evans, Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University and the author of the definitive Third Reich historical trilogy, certainly thinks so. “There is a tendency, perhaps derived from the sources that film-makers use for these films, to show everyone as being very rational and reasonable,” he says. “Whereas only Hitler and just a few people around him - the top-level Nazis - are seen as absolute raving maniacs. And the fact is that Nazi ideology did go fairly wide and deep.”

Evans elaborates further, and points to plot holes in some of these movies - the child protagonist in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, for instance, would have been well-versed in Nazi ideology and not the innocent that he was on screen. Von Stauffenberg, though clearly an icon to Cruise, had characteristics that would have made him wildly unpalatable to a modern audience, namely he was an anti-Semite and someone who held, “a mystical belief in an eternal sacred Germany”. However, the von Stauffenberg whom we meet on film is unquestionably heroic, and someone who meets his martyr's end with near Christ-like dignity.

Trudy Gold, the chief executive of the London Jewish Cultural Centre and senior lecturer in Jewish history, says that this revisionism is more sinister than just fact-fudging. “Personally, I find this need to explain Germany away very peculiar,” she says. “Obviously, when it comes to the Holocaust, it is important to understand the perpetrators, and the fact that they were human. But when you start approaching this gradation of evil, it becomes morally dangerous.”

The film-makers, naturally, are sensitive about being described as Nazi apologists, and Stephen Daldry, the director of The Reader, has been careful to distinguish between the atrocious actions committed by Hanna Schmitz (she locks hundreds of Jews in a burning church) and the essential humanity of her character. Similarly, Viggo Mortensen, the star of Good, says that the film is actually asking you, at every narrative step, to question your own moral judgments. Cruise, for his part, simply announced recently with classic Cruise-like idiosyncrasy: “When I was a kid I always wanted to kill Hitler.”

Nonetheless, the intellectual subtlety of these defences is often lost in the mechanics of a medium that's at the mercy of visual iconography (the leather coats, boots and swastikas all carry a giddy primal thrill - part of what Gold calls “the human compulsion to go to the dark side of the moon”). More importantly, a mainstream movie's essential need for empathetic protagonists will inevitably render saintly what was once demonic. “The question of who you empathise with in a film that involves people who, historically speaking, are difficult to empathise with is a very important one,” Evans says. “It does involves a certain simplification of moral complexities.”

It is thus ironic that the very same quality that distinguishes these movies - their ostensible moral complexity - is actually responsible for their moral simplicity. Their 21st-century need to see both sides of the story has, taken cumulatively, resulted in an unfortunate Nazi whitewash. And though their intentions may be clear and honest, these films and their film-makers are ultimately, like Blake's description of Milton, “of the Devil's party without knowing it”.

NAZIS ON FILM The story so far

Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)

Filmed while the outcome of the Second World War was very much undecided, Major Heinrich Strasser (played by Conrad Veidt, who himself fled Nazi Germany) is the model of eerie intimidation. “Do you mind if I ask you a kvestion?” he says, glaring at Humphrey Bogart’s Rick. “Vot is your nationality?”

The Young Lions (Edward Dmytryk, 1958)

Marlon Brando hams it up deliciously as the idealistic, blond-haired ski instructor with a penchant for the ladies who becomes a Nazi lieutenant stationed in Paris. He eventually asks for a transfer, is sent to North Africa and suffers a magnificent, spinning, rolling, bullet-ridden death scene.

Marathon Man (John Schlesinger, 1976)

Laurence Olivier is utterly sinister as Dr Christian Szell, a former concentration camp sadist, dubbed “the White Angel” of Auschwitz. In 1970s New York, he frets about his secret stash of diamonds, carries a retractable blade up his sleeve and can do terrifying things with a dentist’s drill. Remember,“Is it safe?”

Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)

Major Arnold Toht (Ronald Lacey) is the giggling, leering, crazy-eyed SS hatchet man who calls women “Fräulein” and then tortures them with hot pokers. He meets an unfortunate end, however, when his screamingface is melted away by a floaty blue spirit from inside the Ark of the Covenant.

Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

The banality of evil is masterfully underscored by Ralph Fiennes as Amon Goeth, a camp commandant who kills Jews for sport and because he can. Fiennes humanises Goeth with moments of eccentricity and doubt, but never once makes him sympathetic.

Times Online

Jane Haining, Scotland's Schindler

2 Comment (s)
Campaigners urge recognition for the missionary who sacrificed her life in Auschwitz to stay with the Jewish children in her care.

A British woman who sacrificed her life by refusing to leave Jewish orphans in her care is being hailed as one of the forgotten heroes of the Holocaust. Jane Haining's story of personal sacrifice and bravery is emerging only now, nearly 65 years after her death. She is among a list of British people whose selfless heroism during the Second World War should be recognised posthumously in the honours list, campaigners say.

A Presbyterian missionary, Miss Haining is one of only 10 Scottish people believed to have been killed in a Nazi death camp. After the Nazis invaded Hungary in March 1944, she was ordered to leave the school in Budapest where she worked and return to Scotland. But the 47-year-old refused, saying: "If these children need me in the days of sunshine, how much more do they need me in the days of darkness?"

Miss Haining was ordered to sew yellow Stars of David on the clothes of the orphan girls. A month later she was arrested for "offences" that included spying, working with Jews and listening to the BBC. She admitted to all but political activity and was deported to Auschwitz, tattooed with the number 79467, along with some of her wards. She was gassed in August that year.

Gordon Brown has praised Haining's bravery in his latest book, Wartime Courage: Stories of Extraordinary Courage by Ordinary Men and Women in World War Two, and he spoke about her on his first trip to Israel as Prime Minister this summer.

A film of her life is in production, drawing comparisons to Oskar Schindler, the industrialist who saved more than 1,200 Jews and whose story was portrayed in the 1993 film Schindler's List. BBC Scotland will broadcast a programme about her on 29 December.

The personal acts of resistance of Miss Haining and others like her are also being remembered on Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January, whose theme in 2009 is "Stand Up to Hatred". The Holocaust Educational Trust is campaigning for the Government to change the honours system to allow posthumous knighthoods and honours to be awarded to British rescuers such as Frank Foley, the MI6 spy who is known as the "Stourbridge Schindler" for saving thousands of Jews.

Miss Haining's name is inscribed near to Schindler's on the Holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem in Israel.

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: "Jane Haining was a remarkable woman who took a stand during the Holocaust by refusing to leave the Jewish orphans in her care in Budapest, defying calls for her to return to Scotland. Her form of resistance ultimately ended with the sacrifice of her own life and today stands as an example of how ordinary people can do extraordinary things that make such a difference to others' lives.

"At the Holocaust Educational Trust we believe that the time is right to raise awareness of British Holocaust heroes and heroines. Their brave acts have never been appropriately recognised in this country, so we are calling on the Government to review the statutes governing the honours system so these British heroes can receive a posthumous honour they truly deserve."

Miss Haining, from the village of Dunscore in Dumfries and Galloway, worked in Glasgow before volunteering to become a matron of a girls' home in Budapest at the age of 35. She was on holiday in Cornwall when the Second World War broke out and immediately returned to Budapest.

According to her death certificate, she died in July 1944 at Auschwitz of "cachexia following intestinal catarrh", yet it is almost certain she was gassed with a group of Hungarian women on 16 August 1944.

One of Miss Haining's wards who survived the war said later: "I still feel the tears in my eyes and hear the siren of the Gestapo motor car. I see the smile on her face while she bade me farewell. I never saw Miss Haining again and when I went to the Scottish Mission to ask the minister about her I was told she had died. I did not want to believe it, but a long time later I realised that she had died for me, and for others."

The only memorials to Miss Haining in Britain are a stained glass window in Queen's Park church, Glasgow, where she once worshipped, and a tiny plaque in the Dunscore kirk.

The Church of Scotland said of her life: "Typical of all that is best in the Scottish tradition of missionary service, she gave the best years of her life to enhancing that tradition, and at the last gave life itself."


December 19, 2008

“New” London Swinton Circle Announces Break from Springbok Club

7 Comment (s)
As I have blogged several times over the past few months, the right-wing London Swinton Circle has been riven by factional strife, which has now led to there being two Circles of Swinton: one is led by Alan Harvey, while the other is chaired by a certain Allan Robertson. The latter groupsicle insists that Harvey has been expelled, while Harvey declares that he is now in charge of the “official” London Swinton Circle. A few weeks ago I noted that the Robertson faction’s website included a message directed at Harvey, berating him for getting into certain arguments and warning him not to “pass yourself as acting on behalf of the Swinton Circle or allow anyone else to do so”; that message has now been removed, and Harvey’s rival website (which has been running for some years) carries the notice that
An Emergency General Meeting of the London Swinton Circle, at which the crisis resulting from the events of July 22nd will be discussed and the appropriate decisions taken, is planned for next month…After this EGM it is anticipated that normal regular activities of the organisation will be resumed.
Unfortunately, however, he also promised that last month…

The Robertson faction website does now include a notice that
The London Swinton Circle is not associated or affiliated with “The Springbok Club”, nor does the Swinton Circle hold joint meetings with “The Springbok Club”.
Harvey, by contrast, tells us that there was another joint LSC-Springbok Club event in November:
…at which the guest of honour was Mr. Michael Shrimpton, the famous barrister and national security consultant. In his most revealing and powerful address Mr. Shrimpton told something about the international forces which lay behind the abandonment of the British Empire post-World War II, which culminated in the betrayal of Rhodesia, and also gave an in-depth account of some of the little-reported facts about those involved in the recent US Presidential Election.
There was also a “joint event” in October.

I have blogged on the Springbok Club in the past; as Alan Harvey himself puts it:
In a nutshell our policy can be summed up in one sentence: “We want our countries back, and believe this can now only come about by the re-establishment of civilised European rule throughout the African continent”.
The Springbok Club website also has a page dedicated to Harvey’s S.A. Patriot magazine, where he declares his support for “separate racial development” and “global white leadership”. A few indistinct sample covers are given; here’s an older one that Harvey removed from the site a while ago:

Clive Derby-Lewis is currently serving a life sentence for his part in the assassination of communist politican Chris Hani; he told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1997 that his action was religiously motivated:
As a Christian, my first duty is to the Almighty God before everything else. We were fighting against communism, and communism is the vehicle of the Antichrist.
Despite Harvey’s far-right and racist background (he was also formerly in the National Front), the Springbok Club has had a stream of fairly high-profile speakers, although it is not here alleged that any of them were aware of the views propounded on the Springbok Club website, or that any of these speakers sympathise with Harvey’s opinions in any way.

However, some of the speakers are preposterous: the barrister Michael Shrimpton, for instance, boasts of how he “expose[d] propaganda operations such as the faked ‘hood’ Abu Ghraib photo”, which was supposedly created by the Syrian secret service. There’s also the disgraced ex-MP Neil Hamilton, who is shown on the Springbok Club website posing in front of the apartheid-era South African flag; Harvey tells us he “gave a riveting keynote speech in which he recalled his own fond memories of South Africa during the era of civilised rule” (that was in 1998; ten years on, as Oliver Kamm has noted, Hamilton and his wife appeared in a London pub performing a “camp cowboy act” as ”second billing to a chain-wearing, whip-lashing S&M duo called Topping and Butch”).

Also on the list is the historian Andrew Roberts, who in 2007 half-heartedly - and vulgarly - threatened to sue journalist Johan Hari for “tens of thousands of pounds” for (among other things) suggesting in the New Republic that his praise for the Springbok Club reflected poorly on him; and Anthony LoBaido, who writes pieces on South Africa for WorldNetDaily. Intriguingly, the Springbok Club website has also recently been updated to include the names of some past speakers which had previously not been publicised.

UPDATE: How’s this for timing? Hugh Muir in the Guardian reports on the latest from the Robertson faction of the Swinton Circle:
we see that in February, the Swintonites [Harvey] left behind will have as their guest speaker Alistair McConnachie, who, in 2001, triggered resignations from Ukip by writing to the Scottish press saying the Pope had been duped over the Holocaust. Clarifying his position, he later wrote, “I don’t accept that gas chambers were used to execute Jews for the simple fact there is no direct physical evidence to show that such gas chambers ever existed.” No one can guarantee similar controversy when he speaks, but we guess he won’t be dull.
There’s more on McConnachie here.

Bartholomew's Notes on Religion

BNP lose out in 'knife-edge' council by-elections

2 Comment (s)
The last 2008 council by-elections produced a night of high drama with mainstream parties holding off the BNP by knife-edge majorities in two contests and the outcome in a third being decided by drawing lots. The only change was a gain by Liberal Democrats at Newchurch, Isle of Wight where the previous councillor, elected as a Tory, had become independent.

The BNP, which called the poll at Kells and Sandwith, Cumbria County, finished just 16 votes behind Labour. The margin was 15 at Ibstock and Heather, North West Leicestershire District where Tories squeaked home.

This was a disappointing result for Labour which had defended another seat in the ward in a by-election last January in which Conservatives had trailed the BNP. The ward is in the marginal Leicestershire North West constituency.

At Clarence and Uphill, North Somerset Council, Tory Ami Patel and independent John Ley-Morgan both finished on 477 votes with Mr Patel winning on a drawing of lots.

Analysis of 11 comparable results this month suggests a projected 8.6% Tory nationwide lead over Labour. A calculation based on wards fought both times by all three major parties gives a line-up of: C 38.5%, Lab 33.0%, Lib Dem 21.6%. Tories were hard hit by independent interventions at North Somerset but clearly benefited from the disappearance of an independent challenge at Braintree, Essex earlier this month.


Cumbria County - Kells and Sandwith: Lab 434, BNP 418, C 190. (May 2007 - Lab 1367, Ind 357, C 355). Lab hold. Swing 12.5% Lab to C.

East Northamptonshire District - Thrapston Lakes: C 475, Lab 168, Ukip 111. (May 2007 - Two seats C 558, 458, Ukip 380). C hold. Swing 16.9% Ukip to C.

Isle of Wight Council - Newchurch: Lib Dem 389, C 377, Ind 213. (May 2005 - C 701, Ind 620, Ind 187). Lib Dem gain from Ind.

North Somerset Council - Clarence and Uphill: C 478, Ind 477, Lib Dem 421, Ind 228, Lab 132. (May 2007 - Three seats C 1800, 1777, 1708, Lib Dem 836, 672, 670, Lab 310, 295, 280). C hold. Swing 17% C to Lib Dem.

North West Leicestershire District - Ibstock and Heather: C 660, BNP 645, Lab 614, Lib Dem 174. (May 2007 - Three seats C 737, 731, Lab 707, 620, C 599, Lab 559, Ukip 411, Lib Dem 225, 222; January 10 2008 by-election: Lab 699, BNP 637, C 515, Lib Dem 411). C hold. Swing 0.4% C to Lab.

Rhondda, Cynon, Taff County Borough - Glyncoch: Lab 217, Ind 143, Plaid Cymru 47, Communist 12, C 11. (May 2008 - Lab 413, Plaid Cymru 192). Lab hold. Swing 1.5% Plaid Cymru to Lab.


December 18, 2008

From Welshpool with love...

45 Comment (s)
Do you remember the ludicrous story the BNP tried to inflict on a weary public back in April 2006 in which Nick Griffin was alleged to have been the target of an assassination attempt? It doesn't really matter if you do or not because the story wasn't true, as we explained here. In the same article, we referred to another work of fantasy - the story that, in February 2007, Griffin had been attacked by a bunch of thugs on his way to a meeting but that his assailants were fought off by his heroic, if steroid-bound, bodyguard, Martin Reynolds. That one also never happened.

We referred to these flights of fantasy as a couple of the top-ten list of classic BNP lies and up until today I personally would have expected the fake assassination attempt to make the number one spot. Now though, we have a new contender...

Simon Bennett, supposedly some kind of computer whiz (though he seems to have made a real dogs dinner of the BNP site), has, it is alleged by the fantasists at BNP HQ, been approached by Special Branch, who not only asked him to provide them with information on what went on at branch level but also offered him £200 in used notes as an incentive.

According to the report on the BNP's website, Bennett had just returned from a 'business trip' to Northern Ireland when he was stopped and held by the police, the offer being apparently made at that point using the pretext that SB was keeping an eye out for potential extremists inside the party.

If this is the case, why on earth would Special Branch approach a known Griffin-loyalist who makes money out of the party (and apparently has his own business) to take him on as an informer and, a rather better question, why would they offer him an amount like £200 which, to the likes of Bennett, who can afford to gallivant to and fro across the Irish Sea, is a pittance?

Although highly improbable, the story isn't that bad so far - or at least until the BNP try being clever in the report and go just a little over the top.
Having told Nick Griffin and several other key officials about the approach, Mr Bennett was given the ‘OK’ to continue and to see how long it took them to get down to their real business. He met them several times over the following few weeks and, once again, they didn’t do anything other than say how much they agreed with large amounts of BNP policy.

When they called him to another meeting in a local pub, however, one of the two handed Mr. Bennett a menu. Inside were several photos of individuals and he was asked if he could identify any of them. He said that he couldn’t and gave the menu back, only to have a roll of twenty pound notes shoved into his hand...the SB men told Mr Bennet that they had prepared a safe house for him because he had to “be protected.” Mr Bennett was given the code name ‘Nicky Price’ and told to text in a message to the agents every night “to let them know he was safe.”

“The safe house story was obviously made up,” Mr Bennet said. “They said they were on their way back down from Windermere, which told me that they had gone up there to carry out surveillance on the premises where the meeting was to be held, and most likely to bug it with a listening device.”

(The meeting went ahead as planned, but the attendees, all warned in advance, were careful to ensure that they did not discuss anything indoors which they did not want the Special Branch to know.)

“That’s far enough for me. I’ve donated their bribe to the party, and am going public so they know that they have no hold on me. I think it’s disgusting that, at a time when they still haven’t caught the Islamic extremists who groomed and duped a Special Needs youngster into trying to bomb the Giraffe restaurant in Plymouth, the secret police are wasting time and taxpayers’ money trying to subvert the British National Party.”
Oh dear. A safe house? A menu with photo's tucked away inside? A fake name? All this on a pay-off worth a measly £200? I suppose we should only be grateful that the whole thing didn't take place on a bench in Kew Gardens. You know the kind of thing. Scene opens with man sitting at bench eating an ice cream, another man sits on bench putting newspaper down beside him, second man leaves a couple of minutes later without newspaper, ice cream man picks up newspaper and wanders off, inside newspaper are plans for secret Russian submarine base in Norway, world is saved from encroaching threat of Communism, play music, roll credits, fade out. Ian Fleming, eat your heart out.

So let's take a quick look at Simon Bennett. Is he the serious kind, who would risk all to play the role of James Bond within SPECTRE SMERSH the BNP? No, because he's a childish idiot. Look at this tosh. And it seems he runs three websites that one would have assumed to be completely independent; those belonging to the BNP, NLP and Third Way. Bennett is a strange and dodgy character and is, I would have thought, a very unlikely candidate for Special Branch to select as an informer. On the other hand, he seems to be trusted by Griffin, as witness his trip over to Northern Ireland where he was, we are told, negotiating a new rental deal for the Lie Lorry - the vehicle the membership of the BNP raised money to purchase, not rent.

Special Branch must be on overtime if the BNP is to be believed, for it claims that there has been a second recruitment attempt, this of one Kieran Dinsmore, the party's Northern Ireland organiser. Dinsmore, it seems, was followed home from work but was not offered a safe house, a false name, a fake moustache or a tiny spy camera the size of a molecule. That'll teach him not to watch James Bond films.

Just to drive the point that we are actually in the middle of a film set and that the BNP is in fiction a good deal more exciting than in real life, the party claims that a further two attempts have been made to recruit for Special Branch.
We can also report that we are already aware of two other BNP members — one of them not even a local official — who have been approached by Special Branch officers under the guise of making inquiries into people’s safety after the List leak, in an attempt to recruit them as informers.
We wondered what had caused this attack of fantasy mania - but the end of the article suddenly makes everything clear.
“In all probability there are other individuals out there right now who have been sucked in completely and are now wracked with guilt over letting down their friends and colleagues. Fortunately, there is no need for anyone to bear that burden...All anyone who has been groomed by the Special Branch into becoming an informer has to do to put it all behind them is to come and tell us...We’re not worried about what Smith’s Snoops have been told, or how long it’s been going on. We want to get their snouts out of our lawful business, and will not hold anything against anyone who comes clean. We’re not even going to shout about it, but we do need to be told.
Nick Griffin, no doubt encouraged by his South African spook-run 'Intelligence Team', is on his annual paranoia kick. Last year it was Searchlight moles and December rebel supporters; before that was the furore over the party's treatment of Sharon Ebanks and its obsession with kicking her and her supporters out, and this year it's Special Branch recruiting wholesale - all of which leads us to the final and most important part of the story.
Finally, for the large numbers of non-member readers who may not have come across this sort of thing before except in novels, please ask yourselves if you are happy living in a country where a politicised police force spies on opposition parties and arrests their activists, MPs and leaders. And, make up your mind to do something to help restore the democracy for which so many of our people have sacrificed so much...You could make up your mind to join the British National Party right now, or at least make a donation to help our fight back against Labour’s creeping tyranny. Persecuted BNP teacher Mark Walker needs £3,000 in legal fees URGENTLY to get his appeal finalised. Civil Liberty has already found £500 but it’s up to us to give him the rest...Mark has a young family to look after this Christmas, so it wouldn’t be fair to leave him to find that money. He’s at the frontline of our fight, at the frontline of the struggle to preserve your freedom. Please hit back by helping him now. Thank you.
Yes, that's what all the James Bond rubbish leads to - yet another piss-poor attempt to screw a load of money out of the BNP membership, by making use of the party's corporate persecution complex and using Mark Walker's case (and a mention of Christmas) as a final twist. Why does Walker need money? Isn't he represented freely by Solidarity? Isn't he taking legal advice freely from legal whiz Lee Barnes?

The truth is he doesn't need the money any more than any of us do - but what's the betting that the next payment for the Lie Lorry is around £2500-3000?

The BNP's stories and lies get more extravagant all the time but it's difficult to know how they'll get better than the rubbish they've used on this occasion. Perhaps next time, the story will involve Batman in some way. Or possibly Jack Bauer. The only thing we can be absolutely sure of is that it won't involve the truth.

December 16, 2008

Where is ex-BNP councillor Sadie?

16 Comment (s)
A councillor has called on Sadie Graham to clarify her position on Broxtowe Borough Council following her arrest in connection with the unauthorised leak of the BNP party membership list.

Richard Jackson, leader of the Conservative opposition on the council, said no-one there had heard from the independent nationalist councillor since her arrest at her home in Church Lane, Brinsley, on December 4. Coun Graham and a second person, arrested by Notts police officers on behalf of Dyfed Powys Police, have since been bailed pending further inquiries.

Coun Jackson said: "I've heard that she has bought a house down south but it's said that she's not planning to resign as a Broxtowe borough councillor. Brinsley is a one-member council ward and I would argue that someone living hundreds of miles away cannot properly represent its people. They deserve to know where they stand, and so do we."

The Post spoke to a close friend of Coun Graham's last week who revealed how the councillor had received threats prior to her arrest and had been preparing to move with her family to the south of England, where she is believed to be after her release from police custody.

A spokeswoman for Brinsley Parish Council who told the Post they were "unsure" about Coun Graham's membership status said: "She attended our December 3 meeting but we are unsure of what's happening."

Simon Smith, head of legal services and monitoring officer at Broxtowe Borough, said Coun Graham last attended a council meeting in mid-November. He said: "I am not aware of her being anything else than a member of this local authority."

He said that any member who did not attend a committee or full council meeting for six months would be automatically disqualified from being a councillor.

The leaked BNP list was published on an internet blog last month but removed after complaints from the party. The BNP has since obtained a High Court injunction banning publication.

Coun Graham left the BNP in 2007. She was unavailable for comment last night.

Nottingham Evening Post

Frank Foley – the British Schindler

1 Comment (s)
Ian Austin says the national hero who stood up against fascism is shining example for us today.

Whoever said the era of the public meeting is dead should have been at a packed-out hall at Stourbridge College last week to discuss where hatred, bigotry and racism can lead. The vast majority of people there were not political activists, but a cross-section of the communities represented by Stourbridge Labour MP Lynda Waltho and me, interested in hearing about Frank Foley, who has become known as the British Schindler.

Lynda and I invited our constituents to attend the inaugural Annual Frank Foley Memorial Lecture, organised with the Holocaust Educational Trust, to honour the memory of a man who made a real difference during the Second World War, refusing to stand by when people were being singled out because of their race or religion and instead doing whatever he could to help.

I’ve been fascinated by Foley’s story since I first heard of him. He was an MI6 agent working undercover as the passport control officer in Berlin in the 1930s, where he witnessed the rise of the Nazis at first hand. He saw the persecution suffered by the Jews and did everything he could to help them, providing papers and forging passports to let them escape.

He sheltered families in his own home and even visited concentration camps to get people out. There is no doubt that he took massive personal risks, while his courage and compassion saved tens of thousands of lives.

When he retired, he moved to Stourbridge, where he lived in anonymity until his death in 1958 and what he shows us is that seemingly ordinary people can find within themselves the courage to do extraordinary things, instead of just walking away.

He stood up for the great British values of democracy, freedom, fairness, equality and tolerance and it is this which marks him out as such a great British hero.

Despite growing up in Dudley and my interest in the Holocaust, I’d never heard of Frank Foley until I stumbled on the biography by Michael Smith that brought him and his heroism to public attention, so this year – the 50th anniversary of his death – Lynda and I launched the lecture with Michael and Auschwitz survivor Ziggy Shipper as the guest speakers.

Although recognised as “Righteous Amongst the Nations” by Israel, Foley never received formal recognition from his own country during his lifetime, so Lynda has worked with the Holocaust Educational Trust to launch a national campaign to change the honours system to recognise the brave actions of deceased British heroes during the Holocaust – people like Frank Foley.

It is right to organise a lecture to honour this great man’s memory, but in an area like ours, targeted by the British National Party, demonstrating that the British heroes we should admire are people who fought fascism and stood up for freedom and democracy, it is of even greater importance.

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears was right to argue that the BNP takes root in areas the mainstream parties have either taken for granted or ignored.

That has left a vacuum in which the racists can use easy answers to exploit general feelings of resentment, perceptions of unfairness, economic insecurity or concerns about housing, crime, anti-social behaviour or immigration.

So first we’ve got to be out on the doorsteps showing that it is Labour which is in touch and on people’s side dealing with the issues they’re concerned about, not the BNP.

And we’ve got to work harder than ever before in areas we’ve perhaps taken for granted and allowed the BNP to exploit our absence.

The BNP won a council seat in Dudley in 2003 and gave the Labour Party, trade unions and the wider community such a shock that they all joined together and worked harder than ever before to win the seat back the following year.

When I was elected in 2005, we made beating the fascists our number one priority. Since then, we’ve worked with Searchlight and its fantastic “Hope not Hate” campaign and with local unions to build a much broader, community-based campaign and ensure we keep them out.

Searchlight’s strategy of mass campaigning, the long hard slog of grassroots politics and community engagement has seen similar successes elsewhere.

Hazel Blears was right, too, to say that tactics which worked in the 1970s, just 30 years after the Second World War, such as calling them Nazis, won’t work in defeating them today.

But we do have to be clear about what they stand for – and we do have to be just as clear about spelling it out. The BNP claims to be respectable, mainstream, and democratic but its new image masks a very ugly truth.

So when I meet people who are considering voting for the BNP, I point out that its members do not believe what normal decent Dudley people believe. I’m very clear that they are not a mainstream political party, but a bunch of extremists stirring up hatred and dividing people on the basis of where they were born and the colour of their skin.

Many are often shocked to discover the truth about what the BNP believes, but if the BNP won’t tell the public the truth, we must do it for them.

The fact that the BNP believe black or Asian people can never be British, even if they were born here or have served in the forces. They oppose any racial integration and even mixed marriages. They believe ethnic minorities should be second-class citizens under the law. That people should be given preference in the jobs and housing market, and even in choice of schools on the basis of the colour of their skin.

And I tell young men tempted by the BNP’s message that they even believe footballers such as Ashley Young and Rio Ferdinand should not be able to play for England because of the colour of their skin.

No one, apart from a tiny number of hardcore racists, believes this nonsense nowadays. But we must not be complacent. As we hit tough times, extremists will try to exploit insecurity and divide our communities.

Now more than ever we must take a lead locally, find new ways in which communities and politicians can work together, in an economic downturn, to tackle the problems the fascists will try to exploit, and show how the Labour Government is on their side.

And if we spell out the truth about the racists, campaign harder than ever on the doorstep where it counts and find new ways, as we have with the Frank Foley Lecture, of mobilising the wider community in the fight against racism, persuading people to stand up for what is right and confront extremism and racism wherever it appears, then we can beat the BNP and come through the downturn with our communities strong.

Ian Austin is Labour MP for Dudley North


The 'new' BNP is still the Nazi BNP

34 Comment (s)
The BNP's merchandising wing - Excalibur - has hit tough times recently since Searchlight exposed its whereabouts and it got kicked out.

But, fear not, for the BNP still has its nascent digital downloads service. There are currently only four songs available, but, rest assured:
This may not be MTV, in fact it is of better cultural quality that the disposable factory-produced music that glorifies violence, drug use and sexual depravity, but this is our first steps towards developing our own music broadcast channel.
What is on offer at present are three tracks by the ever-unpopular BNP minstrel Dave Hannam, and a song called 'We are one', of which we read: 'Battlecry, an American based rock band have produced this powerful track with patriotic lyrics'.

Taking a look at Battlecry's website we discover that this track was indeed specially produced for the BNP. We also find that the band likes neo-Nazi symbolism:

Their albums also have some rather dubious content, it seems. Here's a sample of the lyrics to their self-titled track:
For I am revenge
The furrowed seed
grown to avenge
In Dresden's fire
First breath was born

Come and seal your fate

They feed on their Prey
The carrion of social decay
The scavengers shall now disgorge
For I am the sword
The tempered blade of Aryan lore
In tower fire I was forged
Then there's the song 'Triumph of the Will'. Does the title ring a bell? It should.

And a sample of the song's lyrics:
Like a phoenix we will climb
From the ashes of mankind
For together we are strong
And now it won't be long

In victory we raise our hands
From all across our sacred lands
Shouting out the triumph of the will
Our enemies shall fall disgraced
As we march out to save our race
Now they'll see the
triumph of the will
The band's website features an embedded YouTube video for the 'Triumph of the Will' song, which includes images of Nick Griffin, former Klansman and anti-Semite David Duke, and Don Black, founder of the neo-Nazi Stormfront forum, as well as a logo supporting Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel. And which YouTube account might be hosting this video? None other than that of the Thurrock BNP branch!

Finally, there's the song 'My Awakening'. Again, the name rings a bell. Of course, it's the title of David Duke's 'political' autobiography:

According to Duke's website, 'My Awakening is the most powerful book in print on the race and Jewish Question'.

It turns out that Battlecry's song 'Keepers of the Light' features a guest appearance by 'Prussian Blue', a two girl act that promotes neo-Nazism:
Lamb and Lynx Gaede, adolescent twin girls who make up the band Prussian Blue, have gained recognition in white supremacist circles while preteens by singing about preserving the white race and Nazi heroes. Prussian Blue is the name of the blue residue left over by the use of Zyklon B, the poison the Nazis employed to kill millions of Jews and others in concentration camps during World War II.
Their perfomances are unambiguous:
"Strike force! White survival. Strike force! Yeah," they sing, punctuating each "Strike force!" with miniature sieg heils. Some of the men in the audience return the salute, and when the girls finish, thunderous applause fills the room.
As is their image:

And they come from a 'lovely' family background:
April home-schools the girls, teaching them her own unique perspective on everything from current to historical events. In addition, April's father surrounds the family with symbols of his beliefs -- specifically the Nazi swastika. It appears on his belt buckle, on the side of his pick-up truck and he's even registered it as his cattle brand with the Bureau of Livestock Identification.
No wonder Battlecry like the girls! And how kind of them to sell the girls' music via their site.

But then Battlecry are a very philanthropic pair. Not only have they written a song to support the BNP but they also donate $1 from every CD sale to the neo-Nazi Stormfront forum.

Such kindness is not without its rewards, of course, and they have been interviewed by none other than Blood & Honour Magazine. And Blood & Honour is the name of the neo-Nazi race hate music organisation founded in the '80s in the UK, and allied with:

...Which in turn brings us back to the BNP's leader Nick Griffin and his connections to Blood & Honour and Combat 18:
Particularly illuminating was the testimony of the Scottish Blood and Honour boss Steve Cartwright who went on record with his memories of Griffin in Wales in the mid-1990s. “Our meeting with Griffin went well,” recalled Cartwright, “he pushed all the right buttons, emphasising militancy as well as paying due respect to the Nationalists and National Socialists of the past. He also spoke of the need to re-package and modernise our beliefs in the hope of reaching the British public.”


[A]s Griffin hastily prepared for his trial on charges of inciting racial hatred in 1997, he decided that one of the planks of his defence would be that C18 had produced far worse and had never been prosecuted for it. Needing some documents he asked Steve Cartwright, head of Blood and Honour, to contact Will Browning, leader of C18, telling Cartwright to reassure Browning that he and C18 were on “the same side”.

Browning later sent Griffin a “bumper pack” of C18 material. Griffin phoned Cartwright asking him to pass on his thanks to Browning. As Cartwright recalled, “Griffin was particularly tickled by the name of the parcel sender – Mr Beast, London”.
The 'modernised' Nick Griffin is trying hard to disassociate the BNP from its Nazi roots. Trying, but constantly failing. As we have seen, the BNP currently offers a track for sale on its website that was specially made for the Party by a band that is clearly pro-Nazi and is connected to the international neo-Nazi and skinhead movement (and a BNP branch has uploaded one of its music videos). This speaks volumes about how hard Griffin and his 'new BNP' are finding it to cut the chord tying them to the Third Reich. And they are finding this hard for the very good reason that, beneath the modern sheen, the BNP remains, as it always has been, a neo-Nazi organisation.

I kid you not

December 15, 2008

BNP leader's speaking tour postponed

30 Comment (s)
The Australian Protectionist Party says it has had to postpone a planned speaking tour this week featuring the leader of the far-right British National Party (BNP), Nick Griffin.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Evans says Mr Griffin had lodged an electronic visa application earlier this year. But he says Mr Griffin has been asked to submit a full written application, as he appears on Australia's "movement alert" list.

Mr Griffin was refused entry in 1998 under former immigration minister Phillip Ruddock.

ABC News

Warning on rise of neo-Nazi groups as police chief stabbed

1 Comment (s)
Investigators in southern Germany warned yesterday of a rise in far-right criminal activity after a police chief known for leading a crackdown on neo-Nazi groups was stabbed in the chest by an unknown attacker outside his family home.

Alois Mannichl, head of the police force in the Bavarian city of Passau, had to undergo emergency surgery to repair a knife wound close to his heart after the attack on Saturday evening. His assailant, who lay in wait for his victim at his front door, said he brought greetings from the "national resistance", a term that is often used by right-wing extremist groups to describe their movement.

If a neo-Nazi link is confirmed, the murder attempt would mark a far more aggressive strategy from local groups, said the Bavarian interior minister, Joachim Herrmann.

"Attacking a working police chief, to punish or bully him for his actions against the far-right, is a totally new kind of violence," he said. "It is an escalation of violence."

Mr Mannichl (52) has made no secret of his desire to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to the activities of far-right groups in and around Passau since becoming chief of police in 2004. He has ordered the force to step up its observation of neo-Nazi rallies and earlier this year asked it to carry out a series of raids on groups' headquarters.

According to the Bavarian interior ministry, the number of crimes related to right-wing extremists in Passau has more than doubled in the past year, with 83 reported incidents so far in 2008 compared to 40 in 2007.

Mr Mannichl was an obvious target for the more aggressive elements as he was seen as such a "strong enemy", Mr Herrmann said yesterday.

Investigators said his attacker, described as bald and 6ft 2in, delivered a threatening message before plunging the knife into his chest, warning Mr Mannichl: "You'll not trample on the graves of our comrades any more."

In an interview with the Passauer Neue Presse , Mr Herrmann said the attack would reopen the debate over whether the far-right NPD party should be banned.

Only last month the organisation, which endorses an array of anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and racist policies but continues to receive public funding as a legitimate political party, launched a withering verbal attack on Mr Mannichl, accusing him of harassing its members at a commemorative rally to Germany's war dead.

Irish Times

December 13, 2008

Jail for neo-Nazi terror offender

11 Comment (s)

A neo-Nazi found with bomb-making materials at his flat and who harassed a mixed-race couple has been jailed for more than seven years

Grimsby Crown Court heard Nathan Worrell, 35, had bomb ingredients and far-right propaganda at the property. A jury found him guilty of possession of material for terrorist purposes and of racially aggravated harassment.

Terror police described Worrell, from Grimsby, as a "dangerous individual who harbours extreme anti-Semitic views".

The court was told that police found books and manuals on how make bombs and detonators using items such as weedkiller, lighter fluid and sugar. Two tubs of sodium chlorate weedkiller, three bottles of lighter fluid, and fireworks were also discovered.

The trial heard Worrell left racist stickers on the gate of the home of Susan Crofts and Mohammed Chowdhery and on a nearby lamppost. One sticker read: "Only inferior white women date outside their race. Be proud of your heritage."

Judge John Reddihough sentenced Worrell to six years for the terror offence and 15 months for the harassment, to run consecutively, giving a total of seven years and three months.

After the trial, Det Ch Supt David Buxton, of the Counter Terrorism Unit, said: "Literature found at his flat exposed his interest in creating explosives and even more concerning a number of items were recovered that could have been used to create these devices. We are thankful for his early arrest that has stopped Worrell from taking his interest further."

He added: "It is to my sadness that one family in particular have suffered at the hands of these extreme beliefs and the unforgivable actions of this man. No-one should be made to feel like an outsider in their own community because of their race or religion. I wish to thank them for their bravery during this investigation during what has been an extremely difficult time for them."