January 31, 2008

BNP told: 'Don't come to Holocaust service'

12 Comment (s)
A row has erupted after two BNP councillors were asked not to attend a Holocaust memorial service.

Cllr Robert Bailey says he was asked to stay away from the service, marking National Holocaust Memorial Day, at the Peace and Memorial Garden, Rainham Road North, Dagenham, on Monday. But Barking and Dagenham Council leader Cllr Charles Fairbrass said Cllr Bailey had no reason to attend when the national leader of his party denies the Holocaust ever happened.

Cllr Bailey, who said he attended the service with party colleague Cllr Lawrence Rustem, despite the apparent ban, said he "expected an invite" as he was an elected councillor.

But Cllr Fairbrass, referring to BNP party leader Nick Griffin, said: "To quote his words, 'I have come to the conclusion that the extermination tale is a mixture of allied wartime propaganda, extremely profitable lie and latter day witch hysteria'."

Cllr Fairbrass said: "In addition, on a recent TV programme, a member of the BNP commented that they had never thought much about the Holocaust, but does query the number of deaths. Cllr Bailey is a member of the BNP. Why would he want to attend an event that remembers the Holocaust, when the leader of the BNP said it didn't happen?"

But Cllr Bailey, who says he received a letter on Friday explaining Cllr Fairbrass thought it would be "inappropriate" for him to attend, said he did not support Mr Griffin's views.

"What Mr Griffin speaks is for himself. He doesn't speak for the party. If he said those things in the past, that's up to him. We have no policy on the Holocaust. We are not a party of Holocaust deniers. Mr Griffin has acknowledged that what happened during World War Two, and consequently in many countries, has been a very sad event for everybody concerned. It's a time of remembrance. People died and suffered, they should be remembered by all.

Barking and Dagenham Recorder

January 30, 2008

Jan Kucera - Another victim of neo-nazis

6 Comment (s)
About one thousand people gathered on 19 January, 2008 in Pilsen, Czech Republic, to commemorate the victims of nazi terror: 66 years ago, Jews from Pilsen were deported to concentration camps, but nobody knew that another victim of current neo-nazi violence is at the very same time fighting for his life in a hospital.

On 18 January in Pribram, a town 50 km south-west of Prague, 20-year-old neo-nazi Jiri Fous stabbed 18-year-old Jan Kucera in the groin and back about an hour to midnight. Before this attack, young local neo-nazis were provoking with nazi salutes and offending a group of young punks and antifascist skinheads, to which Jan belonged. Jan’s friends were trying to stop the bleeding from his femoral artery and called for an ambulance. Neither the paramedics nor Jan’s friends realized that Jan had also been stabbed in the back before it was too late. Jan lost massive amounts of blood and fell unconscious. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, but even though he was in the hands of professional doctors, he died on Sunday morning.

Jan Kucera was an antifascist skinhead from Pribram, and he was never afraid to express his opinions. In his Internet profile, he wrote: "I’m a normal boy and I consider myself a SHARP skinhead. I don’t care who my friends are - I don’t judge people because of their musical taste, their clothes or the colour of their skin. I judge people by what they do. Anybody can write to me. I hate nazis, the bourgeoisie, communists and similar scum! Antifascista Oi!"

He stood by his opinions until the very end. He will stay forever in the hearts of his family, friends, and all people with an antifascist attitude. Honour to his memory.


Hatewatch for the week of January 30th 2008

0 Comment (s)
Man Indicted On Federal Conspiracy Charges For Displaying Noose
Jeremiah Munsen, 18, and a juvenile member of the Ku Klux Klan allegedly conspired in criminal threats and harassment by attaching nooses to pick-up trucks and then repeatedly driving past civil rights marchers gathered at a bus depot last September...

Bombmaker Suspected Of Targeting Synagogues
A man with an arsenal of weapons in his apartment who was arrested for making pipe bombs confessed to scrawling swastikas on synagogues in his neighborhood, police said...

FBI Investigates Mormon Seminary Vandalism
The FBI considers anti-Mormon graffiti spray-painted outside a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seminary building to be a hate crime...

Accused Cross Burners Charged With Hate Crimes
Two white men who allegedly burned a cross on a black family's lawn last November were charged with criminal mischief as a hate crime in addition to aggravated harassment and arson...


Fears over BNP candidate for Sussex council

2 Comment (s)
A quaint village is in turmoil after a BNP bid to join the local parish council. Next month three candidates will battle it out at the polls for the vacant seat on Upper Beeding Parish Council after a British National Party member forced an election.

Councillors fear that Donna Bailey, an unsuccessful BNP candidate in last year's Horsham District Council elections and a contender for the Upper Beeding poll, could win the seat. Senior members tonight said they were concerned that is she was elected it would associate the village of 1200 homes, near Steyning, with an "abhorrent" party.

Parish councillor Bob Harber said: "I think someone who has the public face of the BNP is not someone that we want to represent our village community. People will lose trust in the council if she gets in. It's fair to say it will certainly split the council."

Mother of three Donna Bailey has lived in the village for four years. When a seat became available on the parish council last year she made a requests to be co-opted on but these were turned down. She reported three councillors to the standards board for the way she was treated but they were later exonerated. Mrs Bailey then turned up to a parish council meeting in December with 23 supporters requesting she be co-opted.

Coun Harber said: "I've never seen anything like that in village meetings.

"The atmosphere really soured and it was quite threatening." [Our emphasis.]

After councillors rejected her argument for being co-opted onto the council a second time, Mrs Bailey petitioned for the poll, which is likely to cost the parish's 3,700-strong electorate about £3,500.

Simon Birnstingl, the vice chairman of the council, said: "I can't speak for the council because we're not party political, which is a tradition north of the Downs. What's agreed by councillors is that party politics doesn't enter the council unless elections are coming along. But I find the BNP an abhorrent political organisation and I dislike what they stand for. If you look at their manifesto they'll jump on any band wagon to get a stronger power base and then implement their horrible racist, hate-fuelled politics. And to me this is the worry. They're about hating your neighbour, rather than loving them.

"Upper Beeding is a lovely place to live in. People smile and say hello to each other when they walk past. It's already split the village. I thought long and hard about blowing the whistle on the fact she was a member of the BNP because I recognised her from a previous election."

Mrs Bailey defended her corner and said she was not trying to infiltrate the parish council for the BNP.

She said: "I have chosen to stand because I want to make this village a better place to live in. At the end of the day people have a choice. They will look at my leaflet and put their vote in the ballot box. That's how it should be in this country."

Mrs Bailey, who runs her own beauty and holistic therapy business from home, said she felt she was being intimidated by a minority on the council because she was prepared to question their decisions.

She said: "There's a very small number of people who have grouped together and orchestrated a campaign against me going back to May last year. It has less to do with party politics and more about the fact I might try and change things. I can make a contribution and I love the work I do. I'm not racist or homophobic. I'm just a normal person with normal concerns about the environment we live in."

Mrs Bailey is a member of the village's youth council and does fundraising work at the primary school.

A poll will be held in Upper Beeding on February 7.

Brighton Argus

'Holocaust' mayor attacks BNP from synagogue pulpit

3 Comment (s)
The East End's outspoken woman mayor took the unprecedented step of making a political plea at Sunday's interfaith Holocaust Memorial service to blast the British National Party.

Cllr Anne Jackson urged East London's Jewish, Anglican, Muslim, Hindu, Bhudist and Bahai leaders to mobilise their communities for May's London elections.

They had to get to the polls to reduce the right-wing extremists' percentage and prevent them getting a foothold at City Hall, she warned.

"This is not a political arena, but I have to bring up politics," she told them.

"We have to be vigilant with the London elections coming up. Proportional representation on the Greater London Authority may mean we end up with the BNP getting some seats. They only need five per cent. Then they would be part of London's ruling body. Imagine how awful that would be for us and the world."

The Tower Hamlets Mayor, whose civic role bars her from party politics, defied protocol at the synagogue pulpit on Sunday when she urged the different faith leaders: "Make your communities aware they musty vote for their preferred candidate to lower the BNP percentage and make it hard for them to gain seats. People are still out there spreading the same poison that caused the Nazi holocaust 60 years ago.

But Sunday's memorial was more about remembering the six million Jews and a million others who perished in the Nazi death camps in between 1939 and 45.

The community leaders at Sunday's service at East London Central synagogue sat silently as Holocaust survivor Henry Glaze, now 83 and living in retirement in the East End, gave his story.

Henry was, at 15, undoubtedly one of the very last Jewish youngsters to get out of Hitler's Reich, on the day Germany invaded Poland which triggered the Second World War. The invasion began just five hours after he crossed the frontier into neutral Denmark on September 1, 1939, after being sent on the Kindertransporte scheme to get Jewish children out.

"It was very tense that day I got out when the fighting began," Henry remembers. "But my brother and parents were trapped in Kiel and ended up in the camps. I never saw them again. My father died at Auschwitz, my mother at Belsec."

Britain took in 40,000 Jews escaping Hitler's persecution by the outbreak of war.

Of special importance to Henry was the British Government's decision to admit 10,000 youngsters under 18 sponsored by Jewish organisations. Henry Glaze was one of them. He ended up in East London where he has lived in freedom from fear for the past 60 years.

East London Advertiser

January 29, 2008

Second Lancaster UAF Yearbook available now (and it's still only January)

18 Comment (s)
After the (ahem) slightly tardy arrival of the Lancaster UAF Yearbook last year (July) we decided to make an effort to get the 2007 Yearbook out in January and, surprise-surprise, we've made it. Just. Last year's Yearbook was packed with all the original blog articles from 2006 and contained 180 pages and a massive 79,000 words. The 2007 Yearbook is rather more hefty, weighing in at an enormous 377 pages and 135,000 words

2007 was a busy year for the Lancaster UAF blog. Not only did we get another regular writer and blog administrator (our Denise) but we also introduced our reader articles, which have rightly proven to be extremely popular. Readership has grown exponentially, which seems to indicate that we're doing something right.

The book is a fascinating snapshot of the murky world of the fascists - the revelations of the BNP's Croatia interest, rigged leadership elections, chaos in the BNP's ranks, dodgy accounts and expulsions seemingly every other day, all the way through to buggings, illegally entering other people's property, the collapse of the BNP's fake businesses and the worrying and persistent rumours of underage sex and predatory senior officers within the party - the BNP is shown up time and again for precisely what it is, an organisation packed from top to bottom with thieves, liars, criminals and perverts.

The smaller fascist groups get a look-in too as we watch the demise of ex-BNP racist Sharon Ebanks' New Nationalist Party, have a laugh at the dismal National Front who couldn't even manage to re-register their party with the Electoral Commission in time for an election and the England First Party, dead on its feet and run by a convicted election-fraudster. What a fine bunch of people.

We’ve greatly enjoyed producing the book and we hope you enjoy reading it and, if you’re not already involved in fighting fascism, it encourages you to get active. Whether your activity involves raising awareness in your community, waving placards at demonstrations, delivering leaflets or starting your own website, we don’t mind – it’s the activity itself that’s important.

Fascism is a dire threat to our communities. The BNP and other fascist groups will exploit and encourage division for their own ends, regardless of the damage it causes, and it’s up to all of us to fight division and intolerance wherever we find it. We can only win if we are united in, if you’ll excuse the expression, our intolerance of intolerance.

Lancaster UAF Yearbook 2007
Introduction by Gerry Gable: Publisher Searchlight magazine

Download (6445KB PDF) £3.99
Paperback book £11.99
(Printed: 377 pages, 6" x 9", perfect binding, black and white)

The Lancaster UAF Yearbook 2007 is available here.
The Lancaster UAF Yearbook for 2006 is also available from here.


European nationalists to form new right-wing party

1 Comment (s)
Ultra-conservative factions inside Europe are reuniting to form a new right-wing party. The new party, known currently as the “European Freedom Party” or the “European Patriotic Party,” is coming together under an anti-immigration, anti-Islamization banner.

The leaders of ultra-conservative parties in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria and France announced in Vienna on Friday that they are in talks with several countries and hope to obtain as broad support as possible. EU law requires a European political party to have a minimum of members from seven states.

“Our goal is clear, we want more than 10 parties as members and ideally one party from each EU country,” Austria’s Freedom Party leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, told journalists.

“We say: Patriots of all the countries of Europe, unite! Because only together will we solve our problems,” he said, adding that “irresponsible mass immigration” was one of Europe’s main problems.

Supporters hope to launch the new party by November 15.

That date comes almost exactly one year after the demise of the Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty (its) European parliamentary group Nov. 14, 2007. The bloc collapsed a week after Italian mep Alessandra Mussolini, the granddaughter of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, told a newspaper, “breaking the law has become a way of life for Romanians” (BBC News, Nov. 14, 2007). Romanians, who contributed five members to its, promptly withdrew from the party, putting it under the 20-member limit for a European parliamentary group.

its consisted of some of the same political forces that will make up the new EU party, including the French National Front, the Austrian Freedom Party, Belgian Flemish Interest, the Bulgarian Attack Coalition, Greater Romania, Italian meps and a British mep.

National Front leader and past French presidential hopeful Jean-Marie Le Pen, a former member of its and supporter of the new far-right party, is staunchly anti-immigration, and has been convicted in the past of anti-Semitism. The party’s chairman, Bruno Gollnisch, has denied certain facts about the Holocaust. The head of the Greater Romania party has been accused of xenophobia and anti-Semitism, and the predecessor to the Flemish Interest party, the Flemish Block, shut down when it was declared a racist organization by Belgium’s highest court. Austria’s Freedom Party is the former home of the infamous Jörg Haider, and the Attack Coalition seeks a “mono-ethnic” Bulgaria and has been accused of racism (ibid., Jan. 12, 2007).

Although its is defunct and the new party is small and looked upon with disdain by Europe’s mainstream, ultra-conservatives with extreme views like these will always find a home in the halls of European power.

When crisis strikes Europe and its leading nation, Germany—particularly if it is directly or indirectly related to non-indigenous threats like Islamist extremism—watch for Europe to unite quickly and for far-right sentiment to become more mainstream.

The Trumpet

January 28, 2008

Rebel faction still in a state of limbo

8 Comment (s)
The strategy of the rebels faction is no clearer a day after they met to discuss tactics. Nick Lowles reports from inside the rebels’ den.

About 120 rebels, drawn from around the country, met in Brinsley Parish Hall yesterday afternoon. With a police helicopter buzzing overhead they discussed the limited options available to them.

The rebel leaders were clearly boosted by the attendance, coming as it did amid signs that the rebellion was faltering and the leaders were falling out amongst themselves. The upbeat mood amongst many in the audience showed that there was still life left in the troublemakers.

It was clear from the opening speakers that there were disagreements amongst the rebel leadership. Some, like former South East regional organiser Roger Robertson, were keen to form a new party immediately. Others, including Steve Blake and veteran London nazi Richard Edmonds, wanted to remain in the BNP and fight for a change of leadership.

However, even amongst the latter group there were differences. Should Griffin be challenged this year or next? Who had the credibility to be a strong candidate? Who was still a party member?

Some of the old Tyndallites were keen for Chris Jackson to run again. The newer rebels were lukewarm to this idea and even suggested delaying a challenge to 2009 for fear of being seen to disrupt the London elections.

Others, meanwhile, pointed out the shortcomings in a leadership challenge. Declaring a candidate now would likely lead to that person’s expulsion before too long. Waiting until 2009 could allow the Griffin-led BNP to win in London and possibly gain MEPs a year later. Against this background any challenge would be futile.

There was no clearer position about standing in the forthcoming May elections. There was a general consensus that the Griffin camp would block any attempts by the rebels to stand on the BNP ticket so that left standing as ‘Independent nationalists’, as many seem prepared to do. However, surely that would automatically lead to their expulsion from the party and so be at odds with the overall strategy of trying to win it back from within.

There appeared an acceptance that they would eventually be out of the party but few wanted to publicly propose establishing a rival to the BNP immediately. It almost seems as though they wanted to wait to be thrown out, a course many believe is inevitable, but the reality is that this would be a drawn out affair and in the meantime the rebellion would slowly disintegrate and be forgotten.

Griffin would not have been too concerned with the outcome of this meeting. It finished with the rebels being in the worst possible position. They are no longer in the party (or at least in positions of influence) in any real sense yet they have backed away from launching an alternative party at a time when they still have a degree of support around the country. Launching a new party is of course not easy and would alienate some of their key supporters who wanted to remain in the BNP but when is there ever a good time to split. The answer surely has to be when you can achieve your maximum influence and that is certainly now and not after a possible BNP London or European victory.

One day the rebels will surely look back at the meeting as being an opportunity wasted. Massed in the room were many of the BNP’s super activists and surely a nucleus of a new party and if ever they had the momentum to launch an alternative the time is now. Throughout Griffin’s career he has shown himself to be a master of factionalism and spitefulness and as night follows day it is clear that over the next few months he will drive his opponents out of the party one way or another.

In the meantime we can enjoy watching the spectacle of official BNP candidates standing against ‘Independent Nationalists’ in some of their key local authority areas in Yorkshire and the North West.

Stop the BNP

Local anti-fascists condemn British National Party 'Mark II'

0 Comment (s)
Local anti-BNP campaigners have condemned the “Voice of Change” conference held in Brinsley Parish Hall, Brinsley, Nottinghamshire on Sunday.

The conference, which drew an enormous police presence to the area, was organised by a split within the far-right British National Party (BNP), of which local Broxtowe BNP councillor, Sadie Graham, is a major protagonist. The split has seen a bitter feud within the BNP, with claims and counter-claims of nazi sympathies and other accusations being traded between supporters of Sadie Graham’s grouping and BNP members loyal to Nick Griffin, the party’s leader.

Notts Stop the BNP, which held its own conference last Saturday (19 January), with in excess of 100 people in attendance, have been conducting extensive leafleting of the Brinsley and Eastwood areas, despite receiving threats from unknown individuals, alerting local people to the real nature of the BNP.

A spokesperson for Notts Stop the BNP said, “No-one should be fooled by the so-called “Voice of Change” supporters within the BNP. Recent events have only confirmed that they do not represent any softening of the BNP’s extremist policies, but rather it appears to be about individuals within the party locked in a power-grabbing exercise. We appeal to the people of Nottinghamshire not to be taken in by the BNP or whatever guise in which they appear. We need positive solutions to the problems our communities face, not fear and hatred.”

Notts Stop the BNP have pledged to organise against the BNP’s annual Red, White and Blue” event, due to be held near Denby, Derbyshire, later this year.

Nottinghamshire Stop the BNP

Teenagers of all faiths remember Holocaust

1 Comment (s)
The warmth which encompassed every faith community in Liverpool yesterday embraced elderly survivors of the Holocaust and victims' relatives at a memorial concert in the city. There to welcome them were teenage Jews, Christians, Hindus and - for the first time in an official capacity - Muslims who had been on a "walk of faith" to call for tolerance, friendship, and the sanctity of individual life.

"The Holocaust was not so much six million deaths as one death six million times," said the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, taking up the theme which won Liverpool the honour of hosting National Holocaust Memorial Day this year.

He and Sir Jonathan Sacks, the Commonwealth chief rabbi, prayed together by a huge heap of spectacles, sent to Liverpool town hall from across the world and piled on a set of railway tracks like the infamous ones at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

"This is the darkness," said Liverpool councillor Tina Gould, who worked for a year to organise the mixture of religious service, music, poetry and drama, before visiting Auschwitz earlier this month. "As a Jew and as someone who loves Liverpool, I find it very hard to bear. But look, here is the light."

She opened one of the big, mahogany doors of the town hall and colour flooded in from thousands of paper butterflies - an age-old symbol of the human spirit - made by children in honour of named individuals who died in the Nazi camps.

The main commemoration at the Philharmonic Hall, on Hope Street, which unites the two once warring cathedrals, also dealt in names rather than numbers. The packed audience listened to music by Hans Krasa, who died at Auschwitz, and Hans Gal, who escaped and ended up in Liverpool interned as an "enemy alien" during the war, but was shown around the city by friendly Scouser guards.

Martin Bell, the former independent MP and BBC reporter in the Balkans, then introduced the true story of Bosko and Admira, the Romeo and Juliet of Sarajevo whose love was destroyed by the hatred between Serbs and Bosnians.

Tahira, 15, a Muslim who joined Catholic, Anglican and Hindu teenagers on the faith walk, said: "That is what we must prevent, and we do it by meeting together and making friends - simple, and just what we do in Liverpool's youth council."


January 27, 2008

Light a candle for Holocaust Memorial Day

0 Comment (s)

Show your support for Holocaust Memorial Day 2008 and light a virtual candle.

Take the time to remember the past, reflect on the present and react to create a better future.

HMD Trust

The dark spectre haunting West Sussex

2 Comment (s)
Once the far right was confined to the inner cities. Now they turn up in the most surprising places

Nothing happens in Upper Beeding, David Coldwell, editor of the village newsletter, used to complain. The 'mooted bus shelter in the high street' had been delayed by the planning process, along with the refurbishment of the village playground. As for his proposal to put up signs pointing visitors to the shops in Hyde Square, West Sussex County Council was so shocked by their radicalism it threw them out.

Until now, the most newsworthy event was the annual boat race in which well-lubricated contestants paddled down the River Adur to Shoreham-by-Sea in adapted baths, while being pelted from the banks with flour bombs, eggs and anything else that came to hand. Although it occasionally got out of hand, the jolly competition only reinforced Upper Beeding's charming image.

'The wheels turn slowly, but they do turn!' Coldwell cried as he explained the sluggish pace of progress, but I wonder if he believed it. Upper Beeding seemed to fit a sentimental ideal of an English village where nothing changes.

Supplies of charm ran out just before Christmas when 23 villagers marched from the pub to the parish buildings to demand that a member of a neo-fascist party be put on the council.

'I never realised the speed with which neighbours can turn,' Simon Birnstingl, a gardener who sits on the council, told me. 'One minute, we were discussing how to get the swings fixed, the next a crowd burst in calling for me to be barred from the meeting. I've learnt to toughen up. I look at politicians when they're in trouble and feel sympathy now. Gordon Brown must go through the struggle I'm going through every day, so I am determined to see it through.'

However absurd it sounds to talk about an anti-fascist struggle in Upper Beeding, that is what he's facing.

It began when he was talking to his wife about villagers who wanted to be co-opted into empty seats on the parish council. She heard the name Donna Bailey and thought something was wrong. She checked and found that Bailey had run twice for the British National Party in district elections.

Birnstingl assumed that once he told the rest of the council their task was to improve Upper Beeding, not divide it on racial lines, that would be the end of Bailey. Not so or, rather, not entirely. After her friends heard what Birnstingl was saying, they stormed into the meeting. Undeterred, the council twice voted not to co-opt Bailey as a member, but only by a majority of one on both occasions.

She has now forced a byelection on 7 February and although two candidates are standing against her, she may have many supporters in the village. Townies will say that they've always known that the countryside is full of dangerous fanatics. But it's clear that not all Bailey's friends think they are fanatics. They simply can't see what is wrong with a member of BNP participating in village life.

Bailey put her case best when I tracked her down. She had helped raise funds for the local school for four years, she said. When the Round Table decided to stop supporting the Bath Tub Race because of the ubiquitous worries about health and safety legislation, she intervened to save it. The parish council didn't make political decisions, but dealt with street lights and playgrounds. Why shouldn't she be a member?

Many in Upper Beeding agree that being a member of the BNP is like being a member of the Liberal Democrats, a choice that has no effect on personal standing or moral worth. If she's a help at the school, her politics don't matter.

The same view can be found across the country, although how deeply it is held is impossible to determine. As I said a few weeks ago, the notion that the mass of people are racists, programmed by our imperial past to despise outsiders, has been shattered by the population movements of the past decade. The largest wave of immigration in British history wasn't accompanied by riots, just grumbles.

But there has been a small but palpable electoral impact. Sean Fear of the politicalbetting.com website says that the BNP won an average 14.4 per cent of the vote in the 38 council byelections it fought between May and November and polled higher than 20 per cent in 10. This was a far better performance than the National Front managed in the Seventies and way above the average vote the Greens or Ukip win today. Like most other analysts, he expects that proportional representation will bring the BNP seats on the London Assembly in May.

The far right is as crippled by sectarian hatreds as the far left. The backstabbing of its leaders and rank incompetence of its councillors would make all but the most committed neo-Nazi despair. Nevertheless, significant minorities are prepared to vote BNP, even in districts with few or no immigrants. There are those, like Donna Bailey's neighbours, who think there's nothing wrong with being a BNP activist.

Gerry Gable, of the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, told me theirs was a hard attitude to confront. The press and BNP rivals like to seize on the criminal convictions of BNP leaders or chronicle its splits and purges. Less easy to document is what happens when far right views become normal in a pub or social club. Are there more racial attacks by whites and blacks and Asians? Do blacks and Asians attack whites? No one can say for sure.

In Upper Beeding, Donna Bailey's candidature is being opposed by Joyce Shaw, a former stalwart of the parish council, who's come out of retirement, and Becki Davoudi, who has an Iranian father, and, like the Asian family who have revived the village shop, has good reason to oppose the far right. What they're fighting is nothing as concrete as a political programme or the certainty of violence, but something vaguer: a chilling of the atmosphere, a potential for disgrace.

'When I take my children to school, there are people who used to smile and say "hello", who now give me hostile looks,' said Simon Birnstingl. 'They don't realise that we're trying to stop this village falling into disrepute.'


January 26, 2008

Stop the BNP’s RWB Festival 2008

15 Comment (s)
Conference report and further actions against the BNP

A number of decisions were taken at the regional meeting that took place in Nottingham on January 19th called by Nottinghamshire Stop the BNP and sponsored by a number of trade unions and campaigning organisations in the Notts area and elsewhere in the East Midlands. The meeting, attended by over 100 people with significant representations from the FBU and other unions from Lincoln, Loughborough, Leicester and even Gloucester, decided:

To call for a major mobilisation against any attempt to repeat the 2007 BNP Red, White and Blue festival in the Region including demanding that councils block permission for any repetition of this event; calling on trade unions to refuse to do any work that might facilitate the BNP event calling on thousands of local people to join the campaign in filling the surrounding area in mass protest should any such event take place in 2008.

To continue to organise against BNP events as the Notts Stop the BNP campaign had done in October when it peacefully blockaded a meeting of the BNP that was to be addressed by their party leader Nick Griffin, thereby preventing it going ahead.

To extend the campaigning begun by organisations such as Notts Stop the BNP in the towns and villages of the region. It was considered that that campaigning must deal not only against the BNP's racist policies but also encourage local communities to address the causes of the BNP's growth: the political frustrations with the government that exists in working class communities because of failures to address inequalities in education, housing and health-care provision the scapegoating of immigrant and minority communities that much of the press and the major political parties are complicit with. The campaign also noted a split in the BNP which had led to many leading BNP figures locally, including Broxtowe councillor Sadie Graham, leaving the BNP and setting about forming their own party. It was noted that this new party looked as though it was going to be essentially the same as the BNP with the same racist policies, the same connection with individuals and organisations promoting race hate and having Nazi histories. The meeting decided it would deal with this new ‘party’ in the same way as it does the BNP.

A mass leafleting of Brinsley by over 20 activists on the next day followed. This informed local residents of the
Nazi allegations being made by each side of the current internal BNP civil war and called on Brinsley people to demand the resignation of councillor Graham. Great pleasure was taken in delivering a copy of the leaflet directly to Sadie Graham’s door to the anger of a group of burly men who came out of the door but decided to take no action against the large group of anti-fascist leafletters.

There will be a meeting of the campaign on Thursday, 24th Jan to consider the way forward. The venue will be announced tomorrow if you require information please get back to this email address: nottmstopbnp@yahoo.co.uk. Extensive activity is expected on Sunday, 27th Jan. All supporters are asked to trying to help out on the day. More later...

Neo-Nazi charged in fatal stabbing

0 Comment (s)
A 20-year-old neo-Nazi has been charged in the murder last week of teenage anti-fascist activist in Příbram, central Bohemia.

Local daily Příbramský deník reported that the suspect, wearing a Wehrmacht army uniform, stabbed 18-year-old Jan Kučera on 18 January, one day before far-right groups planned a march in nearby Plzeň. According to witnesses, Kučera was attacked after confronting a group of extremists after they gave the Nazi salute in a Příbram restaurant. The incident was captured on video by security cameras and posted by several news servers 22 January.

Kučera died in hospital as a result of his wounds on 20 January. Dozens of police officers were on watch at Kučera's funeral five days later.

The suspected assailant was taken into custody and has been charged with murder. Central Bohemian Police spokeswoman Soňa Budská described the motive in the killing as a "personal dispute", according to Příbramský deník. Police said the assailant was on probation at the time of the incident, having been given a suspended sentence for a different crime, the daily reported.

Prague Daily Monitor

January 25, 2008

The war children born to Nazi fathers in a sinister eugenics scheme speak out

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They were the blue-eyed blonds born into a sinister SS scheme to further the Aryan race. But the defeat of the Nazis left Norway's 'Lebensborn' facing the vengeance of an entire nation. Here, five former war children talk for the first time about their ordeal – and their fight for compensation

They stare blankly into the lens, their lips tellingly pursed. All are the Norwegian subjects of a terrifying Nazi experiment. All were involved in one of the most shocking trials of eugenics the world has ever known. All are Lebensborn – the "spring of life". And all are here to tell their stories for the first time.

The Lebensborn Society was born on 12 December 1935, the brainchild of Heinrich Himmler, Hitler's right-hand man and head of the SS. He had designed a project to promote an "Aryan future" for the Third Reich and turn around a declining birth rate in Germany. People were given incentives to have more children in the Fatherland as well as in occupied countries, most importantly in Scandinavia, where the Nordic gene – and its blond-haired, blue-eyed progeny – was considered classically Aryan.

But after the conflict had ended, many of the Norwegians born into the programme suffered. In an attempt to distance itself from the occupying forces, the Norwegian government publicly vilified the children born by Norwegian mothers and Nazi fathers. Many of those children subsequently experienced intense bullying, and in some cases, extreme mental and physical abuse. In recent years, a Lebensborn group in Norway has been fighting what it sees as the Norwegian government's complicity in their horrific ordeal.

Now, these once-persecuted children, many of whom are in their sixties, have been brought together by British photographer Lucinda Marland, who travelled to Norway to interview them and take their portraits, with a 1940s 5x4 plate camera, reproduced exclusively here.

"The people I met described themselves as the lucky ones and maintain that hundreds of others were never able to come to terms with the prejudice and cruelty they ' suffered," says Marland. "They were incredibly humble and proud people still coming to terms with their demons; many of them would be welling up when they were talking to me."

The Lebensborn programme arrived in Norway in March 1941, six years after the scheme was started in Germany. The occupying soldiers were officially encouraged to father children with the local women. They were reassured that the Third Reich would take care of the child if they did not wish to marry the mother, or were already married. As well as paying all the costs for the birth, the Lebensborn association gave the mothers substantial child support, including money for clothes, as well as a pram or cot. It was noted at the time that only a small proportion of the German fathers wanted to marry the pregnant women and bring them back to the German Reich.

Hotels and villas were requisitioned and 10 Lebensborn homes were established from scratch. Here, more than 8,000 children were registered, and issued with a Lebensborn number and file containing their medical records.

For many of the young, impressionable Norwegian girls who had become pregnant at the hands of the invaders, it was a convenient place to give birth – well away from the disapproving eyes of their peers, with access to the best available care.

But towards the end of the war, the exiled Norwegian government – which had set up shop in London – started broadcasting ominous warnings to collaborators in Norway. One said: "We have previously issued a warning and we repeat it here of the price these women will pay for the rest of their lives: they will be held in contempt by all Norwegians for their lack of restraint."

Soon afterwards, the war ended, Himmler committed suicide and Norway's pre-war leaders returned. Norwegians cut off the hair of many of the "German whores" who had sired children with the Nazi soldiers, and they were paraded through the streets and spat at. Though the women hadn't broken any law, several thousand were arrested and many interned. A large number lost their jobs, for as little as having been seen talking to a German, and many were traumatised for life. "We will never be rid of the stigma, not until we are dead and buried," says one of the Lebensborn interviewed by Marland, Paul Hansen. "I don't want to be buried in a grave; I want my ashes to be scattered to the winds – at least then I won't be picked on any more."

The condemnation escalated. The Norwegian government tried to deport the Lebensborn to Germany but the scheme was vetoed by the Allies. In July 1945, one newspaper expressed the fear that Lebensborn boys would "bear the germ of some of those typical masculine German characteristics of which the world has now seen more than enough". A leading psychiatrist advised that a large proportion of the 8,000 (officially registered) children must be carrying bad genes and therefore would be mentally retarded; "genetically bad", he said, they "belonged in special institutions". As a result, hundreds of children were forcibly incarcerated in mental institutions. Here they were often abused, raped and their skin scrubbed until it bled. A member of the Norwegian ministry of social affairs said of them in July 1945: "To believe these children will become decent citizens is to believe rats in the cellar will become house pets." '

Through legal action, many of the children have sought compensation from the Norwegian government for its discrimination against them. A few were offered limited financial recompense. But still officials refuse to take the blame. "The government has acknowledged that several war children have been subject to harassment in society," says government lawyer Thomas Naalsund. "But it is highly difficult to say now, 50 years later, that the government was responsible for these events."

Last year, 157 of the children appealed to the European Court of Human Rights but lost on the grounds that their problems happened too long ago. "There is a hypocrisy at the heart of Norway, home of the Nobel Peace Prize, a country that prides itself on resolving conflicts around the world but refuses to acknowledge its own victims of war," says the Lebensborns' lawyer, Randi Spydevold. "I'm disappointed and embarrassed on behalf of Norway. I thought Norway was a great country, the best country for human rights; I didn't disbelieve that for one moment until I took this case."

Now, what hope that still exists among the Lebensborn is in their desire that by sharing their stories, one day an international standard will be set that will prevent future war children from being discriminated against, and enduring the atrocities that they themselves have had to live through. Their chilling tales, some of which are reproduced here, are just one small step towards that potential resolution.

Ellen Voie: 'I was locked in a dark room'

I was born in 1942 in a Lebensborn home, where I stayed until I was adopted aged two. My adoptive parents were incredibly cruel: they beat me and locked me in a small, dark room for hours. To this day I'm still afraid of the dark and have nightmares.

We lived in a small community where everyone seemed to know I was a German child and told me how awful I was. I was very disruptive; I couldn't concentrate. When I was 16 the local priest refused to confirm me because I did not have a baptism certificate. I had to go to the local authority where I found out that my parents had changed my name.

Then I went to Denmark to study. While there I worked as a nursery nurse, and fell in love with a German, but my parents disapproved and I had to return to Norway to continue studying.

A year after I returned, a friend and I were walking to the cinema when a car pulled up with some boys in it. My friend said she knew them so we got in, but the car broke down. My friend went off with one of the boys to get spare parts and left me alone with the other boy, who raped and almost killed me. A taxi driver saved my life.

I later discovered I was pregnant from the attack. I was 19 years old. My parents threw me out of the house and put me in a home, where I stayed until my son was born. My parents then insisted I give up my baby; I was only allowed to hold him for a few minutes before they took him away. But I was determined that history would not repeat itself and with the help of a social worker I got my son back.

Despite all the hardships, I got an education and my work as a social worker has helped me deal with my past. I've dedicated my adult life to helping others, children in particular. It helps me to forget my own tormented past. I now live with my husband and dogs in Oslo.

Paul Hansen: 'They classed me as a retard'

I think my mother's family put pressure on her to give me up, so I was born in a Lebensborn home in 1942 and my mother left me there.

I later learnt that after the war a government delegation came to the home to decide what to do with the 20 war children, including me, who had been left there. We were lined up and the doctor said he would take us. It turned out that he was the head of a mental institution. There was no medical prognosis behind his decision; it was just that we were war children, and therefore must be "retarded" due to our parentage. They made no effort to trace any of our family members, they just locked us up with children so sick that some were incontinent and incapable of feeding themselves. I was four years old.

By the time I was released I had lost any chance of a proper education and for the next few years I went from one home to another.

I was eventually sent to a special school for children with learning disabilities and mental illness. This was the only formal education I received. War children were segregated from the rest of the school. We were not allowed any contact with the outside community. I was then moved to a boys' home and then another mental institution, where I was finally old enough to sign myself out. The people there helped me get a job in a factory. My colleagues used to taunt me mercilessly until one day I stood up and told them what had happened to me. They never taunted me again and I stayed there for 17 years.

In 1975 I got married but my wife had a nervous breakdown and we divorced in 1977. Then I lived with someone for nearly 20 years but she died of cancer.

I now work as a cleaner and janitor at the University of Oslo and have a long-term girlfriend. As much as it hurts to talk about my past, I do so because it's important that people know what happened to us. I spent the first 20 years of my life in mental institutions just because my father was a German.

Kikki Skjermo: 'I was raped when I was 10'

I was born in 1945 near Trondheim. My mother was away a lot, finding work. It was my grandparents who brought me up and told me about my father. They provided for me, but never showed me any warmth. I felt like I lived behind a wall of silence; life was very empty and confusing.

At 10 years old I was raped by a local man, who had a deep hatred of the Germans. I didn't know him but he knew I was a German child. He told me people like me were born to be used. I didn't dare tell anyone; I stayed in bed for a week pretending I had a stomach upset.

At 15 I was granted special permission to marry my husband. It took me a couple of years to tell him about my history but he has always been a huge support and we've been married for 47 years.

Both he and my children encouraged me to trace my father, who I met for the first time when I was 42. We have a wonderful relationship and, when my daughter got married, she asked if my father could walk her down the aisle to show the world that the spell was broken.

It's taken me a long time to be able to say, it's OK, I'm a German child. It's important to speak out to help other war children who aren't as fortunate as me.

Bjorn Drivdal: 'They beat me up at school'

Growing up in Oslo, I was told my father was sent to the Eastern Front, where he died in action. But my mother would never tell me anything more about him.

I later learnt that when my mother discovered she was pregnant she tried to get an abortion, but the German authorities wouldn't let her.

I endured school until I was 15; I was always being beaten and couldn't understand why. I then went to sea, working mainly on cargo ships. On shore leave, I'd often find myself on the shadier side of town – I found it easier to be around people with something to hide.

I've been married twice and have five children. Both marriages ended in divorce; I wasn't easy to live with.

When I turned 57 I took early retirement because I couldn't concentrate and was having nightmares, and it was then that I confronted my past. I started seeing a psychologist and learnt to explore who I was.

I decided to go to Germany. I knew where my father had lived, so I went to the local newspaper, which helped me with my research. I found my father's grave and discovered he had actually died in 1974 in a car crash, not in the war as I had been led to believe. It was a devastating blow. But my trip to Germany wasn't all bad; I met my two half-sisters, who had no idea I existed, and this summer my nephew and his children are coming to visit me.

Gerd Fleischer: 'I was called a whore'

My mother and father planned to marry, but to marry an SS officer you had to prove three generations of Aryan blood. My mother's Lapp heritage meant she was not pure enough.

I was born in 1942. My father returned to Germany while my mother fell into poverty, not qualifying for any support from the state, my father or even the Lebensborn programme.

We lived a relatively untroubled life in Lapland until I went to school. One day a fellow pupil called me a "German whore"; I didn't know what this meant so I ran home and asked my mother. She told me that not everyone is open-minded.

My mother then married a former resistance fighter, who hated anything German, particularly me. Abuse and beatings soon became a regular part of my home life. At 13, I ran away.

Somehow I survived, putting myself through school. I remember being lonely, hungry and cold. The authorities knew about me but did nothing to help.

When I was 18, I left Norway and didn't return for 18 years. I worked as an au pair in England, and worked and studied in Germany. I managed to trace my father, who initially denied all knowledge of me. But when we met it was physically obvious I was his daughter. I was furious at him – even more so when he spoke ill of my mother. I successfully took him to court for the maintenance he had never paid to me.

Before returning to Norway I spent several years in Mexico, where I fostered two street children. I brought them home with me, but soon realised that Norway hadn't progressed in its attitude towards ethnic minorities. So I founded the organisation Seif [Self Help for Immigrants and Refugees] to fight for justice for all.


January 24, 2008

Germany's right-wing extremists in disarray

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Germany's far-right National Democratic Party is in turmoil, according to internal party documents obtained by SPIEGEL. It is beset by financial problems and a deeply divided leadership. Leaders are also unsure what to do about the skinhead problem.

The old two-story building on Seelenbinderstrasse in Berlin's Köpenick neighborhood is like a fortress. To enter the building, through its reinforced-steel door, one has to pass through a beefed up security system. Monitors inside record every movement transmitted by cameras in the courtyard and on the roof.

When the master of the house drives up, burly men jump out of his mid-range sedan to secure the area. The man is a party leader who describes himself as both "enthusiastic" and "dogged." Some would describe him as the most dangerous man in Germany today. For more than 10 years Udo Voigt, a former aviation engineer and captain in the German army, has been the chairman of the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), a position that makes him the leader of about 7,000 right-wing extremists.

Voigt, who has also been an elected member of a district council in Berlin for more than a year, has good reason to be taking security precautions. In addition to militant anarchists, the entire German state, including its intelligence apparatus, has set its sights on Voigt and his followers. All parties represented in the German parliament, the Bundestag, are constantly looking for ways to fight his right-wing realm -- either by attacking his party outright or investigating its finances.

Voigt and his followers have repeatedly, and deliberately, provoked the country's democrats, sometimes by referring to the Allied forces' bombing of Dresden in World War II as a "Holocaust of bombs" and sometimes by staging rallies at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. The NPD has also surrounded itself with an aura of violence. The boundaries are all too often unclear between the party and extremist right-wing thugs who target and assault foreigners, weaker members of society, leftists and gays.

Nevertheless, Germany still hasn't quite figured out how to respond to these erratic, right wing extremists. An attempt to ban the NPD failed miserably when it was brought before Germany's Federal Constitutional Court in 2003.

To Ban or Not to Ban

In the late summer of 2007, Kurt Beck, the leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), launched a new debate about banning the party. (more...) Beck wants to see German lawmakers "take on the brown demagogues with the full force of the law". The SPD even turned Beck's call to ban Voigt's party into an official resolution at its party convention. The interior ministers of the German states have also placed the NPD issue on the agenda, once again, for their next meeting.

Germany's domestic intelligence agency plans to complete an investigation of the NPD's internal affairs by late March. The report will be used to determine whether there is enough evidence to make a new legal attempt to ban the NPD.

Despite these official efforts, the public knows very little about what really happens behind the walls of the NPD headquarters building at Seelenbinderstrasse 42 in Berlin. Until now, that is.

SPIEGEL has obtained thousands of internal NPD documents, including copies of e-mails, concept papers and top-secret dossiers on the party's leaders, as well as lists of its members and donors. The documents provide a rare insight into the innermost workings of the extremist right-wing party.

Although this collection of information about the NPD leaves many questions unanswered, it does prove one thing beyond a doubt: This feared opponent of the German republic and its democratic ideals is a deeply divided group wracked by virulent infighting among its leaders. The party's financial affairs are in a shambles, and even its top leaders fear that it could fall apart. One of the most divisive issues within the NPD is its stance toward "free forces," radical right wing thugs prone to violence.

Just in time for a slew of parliamentary and municipal elections in 2008, a dispute over the NPD's direction has erupted within Voigt's entourage. With state elections in Lower Saxony and Hesse just a week away, little remains of the Berlin NPD leadership's hopes that an "offensive in the West" would produce a "turning point" in state parliamentary elections. While some within the extreme right-wing party seek to project an image of the NPD as a "clean" German nationalist party of law and order, others are apparently unwilling to do without the support of violent neo-Nazis.

A dispute between Voigt and his second-in-command, Holger Apfel, illustrates this schism. Apfel, a trained publishing executive who heads the NPD's group of eight deputies in the regional assembly of the eastern state of Saxony, has gained a reputation for his bluntly provocative rhetoric, but the so-called free forces are no longer acceptable even to him. In December 2007, he issued an unmistakable warning to Voigt that "a few hundred idiots nationwide are destroying the work of the last few years" and are "driving the biggest possible nail into our coffin regarding possible proceedings to ban the party."

The party, Apfel added, is on a "sectarian course," while the NPD party leadership's financial situation is "shit." The NPD politician has declined to comment on his e-mail correspondence with Voigt.

"Elephant in a China Shop"

Apfel is not Voigt's only critic from Saxony, an NPD stronghold. Referring to the party's public image, Jens Pühse, a member of the party's executive committee, recently wrote, in a letter to the NPD chairman: "We appear to have chosen the proverbial elephant in a china shop as our role model." Pühse added that efforts within the leadership to develop the NPD's position are being "torn apart" at grass roots level. Voigt was apparently annoyed by this "condescending advice," especially coming from Saxony, where the parliamentary leadership "can't handle its own affairs and hardly leaves the office anymore." Pühse promptly responded: "If you are serious about the things you write, the breakup of the party will be only a matter of time."

These internal party exchanges, on which both the party leader and Pühse declined to comment when contacted by SPIEGEL, hardly correspond to the image Voigt and his associates seek to project to their own supporters during the current election campaigns. They portray themselves as squeaky-clean politicians fighting against the supposedly decrepit "establishment parties." Voigt, at any rate, describes himself and his supposed national mission with these words: "I am proud to be the chairman of such a united community of action."

That seems a bit of an overstatement. In the Hesse state election campaign, for instance, the NPD put forward Marcel Wöll as its candidate, a man with a criminal record who appears to specialize in friendly fire.

Too Little Money, Too Much War Propaganda

Wöll recently snubbed many of his fellow party members with an amateurishly produced campaign ad. The ad depicts three gnomes with false beards digging for gold in the forest. An amateur actor made up to look like a foreigner, who is apparently supposed to represent a politician, promptly shows up and deprives the Hesse gnomes of their treasure. Suddenly candidate Wöll appears on the scene -- on horseback and carrying the NPD flag -- to put a stop to the supposed exploitation of the gnomes, and chases away the suit-wearing politician. According to Wöll, the bizarre ad is the "best the NPD has ever had".

If Wöll had had his way, a shovel would also have figured prominently in the ad. In another version, the politician was not just chased away by the NPD but was also beaten with a shovel. But party Chairman Voigt apparently felt that the alternate version was "not funny anymore". The "beating with the shovel," he warned, was a "clear depiction of attempted murder," which would only help the state interior ministers build their case to outlaw the party.

"War Propaganda"

The campaign ad wasn't the only instance in which Hesse candidate Wöll went a little too far. The man who likes to begin his e-mails to Voigt with the salutation "Heil to You!" has a history of putting his foot in his mouth. He ended a press release from his regional Hesse NPD organization, which according to the most recent opinion polls will garner a barely measurable share of the state vote in the January 27 election, with military rhetoric: "There will be victory in the end." Once again, Voigt felt compelled to censure the candidate. "Given these kinds of ambitious slogans," he wrote to Wöll a few weeks ago, "you must end up getting into the state parliament." Otherwise, he said, Wöll would merely be inviting ridicule and evoking memories of the "propaganda during the last days in the big war." Wöll has told SPIEGEL that his campaign is going well, although he declined to comment on the content of his e-mail correspondence.

A number of party officials apparently sensed early on that a right wing band of hooligans stand little chance of succeeding in a state governed by conservative agitator Roland Koch, a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and would have preferred to abandon the campaign in Hesse altogether. In an e-mail to Voigt in early December, Sascha Rossmüller, the NPD's deputy chairman, wrote that the party should "seriously consider how much additional benefit" even the modest sum of "€5,000 in the low-budget Hesse campaign" would in fact deliver.

NPD strategist Pühse described the party's dismal situation in a top-secret concept document. According to Pühse, the NPD has

"not enough membership revenue and only a few financial backers;"

"too few members and officials to be capable of conducting large-scale election campaigns;"

"and not enough support within the 'nationalist environment.'"

Pühse's last point must have been a particular source of debate at the NPD's Berlin headquarters. Even in other states, like Lower Saxony and Bavaria, motivation among party members and supporters doesn't appear to be very high. In a December memo titled "Emergency Report from Munich," deputy party chairman Rossmüller wrote to his fellow party members in Berlin that "hardly anything has been going well" during the preparations for municipal elections in Bavaria. The local organization in Munich, Rossmüller wrote, is "too weak" to perform its own duties -- so much so that "legionnaires" are needed to distribute flyers.

Hired Helpers

In Lower Saxony, where state parliamentary elections are likewise scheduled for Jan. 27, these hired hands should more aptly be referred to as "mercenaries." To prevent the campaign of the top NPD candidate in the state, Andreas Molau, from turning into a fiasco, the party's state organization apparently tried to recruit outside -- and paid -- campaign workers from within the neo-Nazi community. The party has been hiring people on a part-time basis to put up posters and hand out flyers, and has been paying them handsomely. In addition to a flat payment of €5,000, the party leadership agreed to pay a bonus of up to €20,000, depending on the outcome of the election. Employment contracts like these have only helped the cause of Voigt's adversaries. In a confidential e-mail to Voigt, Pühse lambasted the party organization in Lower Saxony for "cozying up to the free forces," adding that he found it inconceivable that Molau, the party's leading candidate in the state, "now has to shop for his campaign workers." Molau's actions, he wrote, are "serious mistakes that other state organizations will have to pay for in the next election campaigns."

Admitting that his own party lacks the clout to run an election campaign must be a bitter pill to swallow for any right-wing extremist. But the party has been ailing financially ever since state interior ministers did everything within their power to cut off its government funding. In the wake of the scandal (more...) in the eastern state of Thuringia over fabricated donations to the NPD, as well as the Bundestag administration's demands that the party repay roughly €870,000, money is scarcer than ever in Voigt's outfit -- and internal divisions have only made matters worse.

With the loss of government funding sources, the right-wing extremists are now dependent on a handful of financial backers, especially Jürgen Rieger, a neo-Nazi lawyer with an extensive criminal record who has been a member of the NPD's executive committee since 2006. Rieger was the executor of the estate of Wilhelm Tietjen, a former Nazi from the northern city of Bremen who had left his fortune to an obscure group, headed by Rieger, called the "Society for Biological Anthropology, Eugenics and Behavioral Research."

According to the will, Rieger was to use Tietjen's estate - apparently worth more than €1 million - in part to "establish a suitable sperm bank" for the purpose of propagating elite genetic material. But in addition to the intended breeding of a new Aryan race, Rieger apparently became involved in the money-lending business. According to German domestic intelligence, the NPD lawyer used the money from the Tietjen estate to issue loans totaling about €500,000. And when it comes to money, it appears that even far-right solidarity has its limits. "I'm working my ass off," party Chairman Voigt complained last spring to his deputy Apfel, to "get Rieger to give me an extension to repay the loans."

Other members of the executive committee are apparently eager to put the party's controversial benefactor out to pasture. In an e-mail, NPD ideologue Jürgen Gansel described Rieger as a "sperm banker and skull measurer" living "in his Aryan world." Gansel has also declined to comment on his e-mail correspondence.

Bad News from the Provinces

The current state of the NPD is characterized by provincial troubles and minor quarrels that could very well jeopardize its survival. Indeed, Voigt has recently been the recipient of bad news from all across the party:

In the NPD's local organization in Kelheim-Landshut, located in southern Germany, for instance, officials were desperately trying to figure out what happened to €1,100 that had disappeared from the party's bank account. Axel Michaelis, who manages the NPD's affairs in Bavaria, was incensed over this example of shoddy bookkeeping. "The books have to be cleaned up," he wrote to the organization. "The Bundestag is breathing down our necks; they're just waiting for us to make these kinds of mistakes." The Bavarian official, who has declined to comment on his e-mails, insists that the local organization's accounts have since been cleaned up with a cash deposit.

Strange things are also happening in the NPD's local organization in another Bavarian district, Altötting. The local officials, an irritated Michaelis wrote in an e-mail to Altötting on June 29, "must have been out of their minds" to "post a donation form on the Internet," especially with "home telephone numbers and addresses." If anyone hits upon the idea to print out the form, he added, "and engage in donation fraud, we might as well close up shop." According to Michaelis, "any fool" can have a treasurer's stamp made.

In the southern Bavarian city of Passau, party officials accused one of their own of attempting to misappropriate donations with the help of supposedly fabricated travel expense reports. The affair escalated to the point where the offending party member was even threatened with criminal prosecution. In an e-mail under the heading "Urgent, action needed!," the horrified Voigt wrote to his Bavarian state chairman: "We make ourselves look like fools when we air our party's dirty laundry in full view of the police. NPD comrades threatening other NPD comrades with legal action -- those are probably the worst possible headlines we can produce!"

The comrades, it appears, are more involved with themselves than with the reviled "democratic pigs." A story that aired last year on "Panorama," a program broadcast by the NDR television network, triggered a war of words within the party. Norman Bordin, a member of the NPD's Bavarian state executive committee, was caught on hidden camera giving banned Hitler salute during a skinhead concert in Hungary. NPD General Secretary Peter Marx was the first to react, when he distanced himself from what he described as "anti-Semitic excesses" and called for disciplinary action against Bordin.

Marx's press release, however, met with derision from Uwe Meenen, another party official in Bavaria. "If the state executive committee were to offer the Star of David as a reward for the slimy achievements of philosemitism," Meenen wrote in a venomous e-mail, "NPD General Secretary Peter Marx would certainly be at the front of the line." Deputy Chairman Rossmüller became involved in the exchange and noted: "Citizens don't want to vote for a skinhead party or a Nazi party." After Bordin's performance, he added, it would be advisable for "the NPD to no longer associate itself with skinhead concerts."

These words came as a shock to many a party worker. Meenen, who declined to speak with SPIEGEL, said he was distressed over the "devastating impact" of the Marx statement, and warned that it could lead to "young and revolutionary forces refusing to become involved in the state leadership in the future," and that the party "might as well forget about the state parliamentary elections."

"Foolish Amateurs"

Despite the NPD leadership's color-conscious resolution ("Our flags are black -- but our units are not"), the tiresome quarrel over how to handle "free forces" dragged on throughout the year. Shortly before Christmas, the discussion over masked, so-called autonomous nationalists appearing at NPD rallies injected even more controversy into the party dynamic.

In December, Deputy Chairman Rossmüller announced harsh measures to deal with these "foolish amateurs" who, in his words, "behave like crazy Coca-Cola Americans." As the official in charge of party rallies, he told Voigt, he would "have no qualms" about ordering the removal of these "enemies of the movement in response to even the slightest provocation" -- "even with the help of the police." Rossmüller has also refused to comment on the contents of his e-mails.

The NPD having neo-Nazis arrested -- this is a paradox that would hardly fit into the party leadership's PR strategy of producing headlines at all costs. This craving for public attention appears to have triggered desperate measures in some cases, as evidenced by a strategy Andreas Molau, the previously unknown NPD candidate in Lower Saxony, proposed to Chairman Voigt last summer to raise his profile in the media. According to the plan, Molau would publicly announce that he was looking for property in Lower Saxony. Under the assumption that potential sellers could be found, the NPD candidate would "visit properties in the state, announcing his visits in advance, once every two or three weeks."

The strategists apparently expected protests from local people opposed to having the NPD set up shop in their communities. As a result, Molau writes, "we would be guaranteed regular local media coverage of the top candidate." Chairman Voigt apparently thought the deceptive maneuver was an excellent idea. In an e-mail, he promptly instructed Molau to hold off on the plan until the fall, "otherwise its effect will have disappeared completely by the time the election rolls around." When SPIEGEL confronted him with the contents of the e-mails, Molau declined to comment. Chairman Voigt, however, noted that he has "no way of verifying the authenticity, completeness and general context" of the "quotes."

Whatever the right-wing extremists quarrel about internally, and whatever they happen to be planning, it always seems more ridiculous than threatening. This raises the question of whether they should in fact be treated as political adversaries worth taking seriously -- and whether proceedings to outlaw the party are even necessary. Perhaps the best way to deal with the NPD is to emulate the pope's approach.

On April 16, 2007, the NPD chairman sent a birthday e-mail to the Holy Father in Rome. Voigt wrote in his obsequious message that he admires Benedict XVI for his "argumentative disposition, respectability and intrepidness," ending the e-mail with the words: "May your pontificate lead to a revival of moral and cultural values."

The pope simply didn't respond.

Spiegel Online

BNP activist barred from BNP meeting

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A former senior British National Party activist was thrown out of a meeting over his part in a bid to overthrow controversial leader Nick Griffin.

Hartley Wintney resident Roger Robertson (right in picture) tried to attend the BNP meeting in Sandhurst Community Hall on Monday night but was barred.

Mr Robertson, who has stood down as the BNP’s south-east England regional organiser to set up a rival faction, said: “One of the chaps acting as security on the door said ‘sorry Roger, you can’t come in’. I forced my way past him and there was a little shouting match in which I said I was entitled to attend the meeting because I am a fully paid-up member. I thought it would be best if I kept it low key so I said ‘OK I will leave but I’m not happy with this because I am perfectly entitled to be here’.”

Hart district and Hampshire county councillor Jonathan Glen said: “It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that Roger is trying to distance himself from mainstream BNP policy. Roger is now a parish councillor in Hartley Wintney and I am quite sure he wishes to fulfil his duties in an honourable way and not be associated with the extreme politics of the far right BNP.

“I welcome the news that Roger has seen the light on the road to Damascus. Maturity is a wonderful experience. I’m quite certain that Roger was feeling as uncomfortable in the circle of BNP members as the rest of us. There is no place in politics for racist agendas.”

Mr Robertson, who has stood as a BNP candidate at a number of recent Hart District Council elections, has now joined the newly-launched Voice of Change, an independent pressure group trying to bring about a leadership challenge to Mr Griffin. He will chair a meeting of the group in Nottingham on Sunday. Among the items up for discussion will be ways in which it can pressure the leadership into listening to its membership.

Mr Robertson, who has lived in Hartley Wintney all his life, admitted: “We have an internal split within the BNP. There is a group of us who are not happy with the way the party is being run, a lack of transparency in financial terms and the baggage of senior members. A lot of us who are not as out and out as some members have got tainted with the same brush,” he claimed.

“Nick Griffin is proving himself to be not capable of carrying on as party leader so we are looking to remove him.”

The official statement added: “Nick Griffin arrogantly told some of the expelled personnel to get on with their ‘non-political lives’ as if he has a monopoly of nationalist politics. Thankfully for the future of our people and our country Mr Griffin deludes himself. The movement is much bigger than one man’s ego and the Voice of Change will take the nationalist message to new levels of success without the sleaze, immorality and financial corruption of Griffin’s cabal, a message which millions of our beleaguered kinfolk are eager to heed.”

Mr Robertson believes that at least 100 senior party members are unhappy with Mr Griffin’s style of leadership.

He added: “I’ve resigned as the BNP regional organiser because I just cannot be party to various things that have been going on. As a result I am one of the ringleaders of the rebel faction and that is why they barred me from the meeting.”

Mr Robertson believed the Voice of Change could transform the party, which was widely viewed as racist. He said: “I think a lot of people will now sit up and say ‘hold on, this is what we want’. They may have thought the previous leader was a step too far and as a result they may not have been able to vote for the party previously, but they could now.”

The BNP said it expelled two senior members, Sadie Graham and Kenny Smith, who it accused of “gross misconduct” for masterminding a blog site critical of Mr Griffin and demanding the sacking of Mr Collett and Mr Hannam. It also accused the pair of illegally hacking into email accounts of BNP members, including Mr Griffin.

BNP deputy leader Simon Darby said the vast majority of the party’s 10,000 members were behind Mr Griffin’s leadership. He denied the BNP was irrevocably split, claiming it was simply going through a cyclical period of “tension”, the like of which had characterised the party’s history.

Sandhurst News and Mail

German railways admits complicity in Holocaust

1 Comment (s)
German railways today admitted the central role its Nazi-era predecessor played in the Holocaust, saying that without the cooperation of the network the systematic murder of millions of people could never have happened.

Launching its first ever touring exhibition about the Holocaust, the state rail company Deutsche Bahn (DB) said the tracks and freight of the Reichsbahn were integral to the Nazis' extermination plan.

"Without the Reichsbahn the industrial murder of millions of people would not have been possible," said DB's in-house historian, Susanne Kill. Three million Jews and Roma - including around 1.5m children - were gathered from across Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe and transported on Reichsbahn railway tracks in cattle wagons to extermination camps. The process involved carefully kept timetables, reliable contingents of drivers and precise coordination with the military that always had priority over the tracks.

Prisoners were even charged a fare for the journey, allowing the railways to earn millions of Reichsmarks from the death transports. Adults paid 4 pfennigs per kilometre, children 2 pfennigs, while those under the age of 4 travelled free. Trainloads of 400 or more, which amounted to massive overcrowding, received a 50% discount.

But the exhibition, Special Trains to Death, which has opened on Berlin's Potsdamer Platz and will move to railway stations around the country, has courted considerable controversy. The head of DB, Hartmut Mehdorn, long resisted the idea of showing it at a working railway station, lest it "put off" commuters from using the trains.

He has also refused to allow a "Train of Memory" full of biographies of child Holocaust victims, which is due to reach Auschwitz concentration camp in May, to use its tracks unless it paid tens of thousands of euros. Mr Mehdorn argued that the topic was better suited to a museum. But supporters said exhibiting it at a railway station would increase its impact and the numbers of people who saw it.

Today the transport minister, Wolfgang Tiefensee, who pushed for the station option despite resistance from within DB, told the Guardian: "I'm glad that people will be confronted with this topic in a public place on their way to or from work, because the question is still one for everyone, not just the railways to answer - how was it possible that people allowed such crimes to happen?"

Max Ansbacher from Würzburg recalled the fear, hunger and cold he felt when, at the age of 15, he was transported by windowless cattle wagon to Auschwitz in October 1944.

"The journey began in the dark," he said. "The wagon shunted backwards and forwards for ages, adding to our sense of insecurity ... people screamed and children and the sick cried constantly. We drank water from melting icicles ... we didn't know what Auschwitz was, we only knew it was where we were going. The farmers in the fields laughed at us when we asked them where it was and symbolically sliced their hands across their throats."

A large amount of documentation has helped historians detail the close cooperation between the Nazi regime and the railways which was necessary for the Holocaust to succeed.

In January 1943, Heinrich Himmler, who was head of the SS, the Nazi elite force, wrote to Albert Ganzenmüller, the secretary of state for transport and the deputy director of the Reichsbahn, pleading for more train stock.

"If I have any hope of quickly dealing with matters, I must have more haulage trains. Help me to get more," he said.

Ganzenmüller was the only member of the railways ever to go on trial for organising the deportations. But on his first day in court in 1973 he suffered a heart attack and was declared medically unfit. Although he lived for a further 23 years, he never faced a further probe into his role.


January 23, 2008

BNP chief on police march

26 Comment (s)
A senior member of the BNP marched at the head of a huge police demonstration over pay in London today.

Richard Barnbrook, the far-Right party's leader in London, walked alongside top members of the Police Federation and at one point was yards from Liberal Democrat Mayoral candidate Brian Paddick.

Mr Barnbrook, a BNP councillor in Barking & Dagenham and a candidate in the election to pick London's next Mayor, told the Standard he took part to support the police and denied his presence was an embarrassment. An estimated 22,500 off-duty police officers, many wearing white baseball caps with the logo "Fair play for police", walked from Park Lane to Millbank, passing close to the Houses of Parliament.

Police Federation officials claimed they were powerless to prevent Mr Barnbrook from marching. Spokesman Metin Enver said he was not invited specifically but police officers recognised him when he turned up. He said: "Some of my colleagues saw we had the BNP Mayoral candidate with us. The one thing we want to make clear is we didn't invite him. It wasn't a closed march. He chose to attend by his own accord which is his right in a democracy. It is disappointing if anyone chose to join the march for their own agenda. We didn't ask him to leave because whether we like it or not we live in a democracy."

Mr Barnbrook said: "I was there to support the police. I spoke to one of the organisers of the march and I explained who I was and he was quite happy about it. We did some interviews for BNP TV. I spoke to a few Pcs and they were happy to talk."

Mr Paddick said: "I felt very uncomfortable that there was someone from the BNP. I was aware of him being there and I pointed it out to federation officials but there was nothing more that I could do. I was very uncomfortable that he was anywhere near me."

Gerry Gable, publisher of the anti-fascist Searchlight magazine, said: "The police federation leaders should have told him to get lost."

The demonstration by officers from all over the country was unprecedented in its scale and there will be anger that it was effectively "hijacked" for political purposes. It was organised by the Police Federation and was the culmination of weeks of wrangling over a government-imposed pay settlement.

Alan Gordon, vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "We are staggered by the turn-out. We want a dignified march that causes the minimum disruption for Londoners. People are very angry but, being cops, we are not having demonstrations or showing our anger, we will be dignified."

One protester, Pc Michael Ramsden of Thames Valley police, said: "I feel we have been lied to."

Officers claim that because their 2.5 per cent increase was backdated to 1 December instead of 1 September, it is effectively only a 1.9 per cent rise. In Scotland, the Scottish government agreed to backdate the increase fully to 1 September, as recommended by the Police Arbitration Tribunal.

Pc Neil Hunwick, 41, from Hackney, said: "We go out and put our lives on the line and we deserve to be treated fairly. People are angry that one minute we're being praised for doing a good job and the next this happens."

Evening Standard

An apology from Nick Lowles

2 Comment (s)
It is always embarrassing to have to admit you were wrong and even more so when one has to apologise in public, but yes, today I have to accept a mistake. Yesterday I derided the BNP claims that they had 250 activists out in London over the weekend and delivered 100,000 leaflets.

I stuck my neck on the line and suggested half this number of activists and only 35,000 leaflets. It now appears that I was too generous. The latest figures doing the rounds is just 90-100 and that comes from BNP election chief Eddie Butler.

As I mentioned yesterday the campaigning weekend was as much for internal party consumption as it was to kick-start the London campaign. It would appear that Griffin and friends deliberately sought to exaggerate their numbers so as to give the impression that the party was fully behind his leadership. You only have to read Richard Barnbrook’s account of the weekend to see how he was trying to ‘big’ up Collett, Darby et al to see the real agenda at play.

As reports were coming in of BNP activity it did indeed seem impressive. Small groups of BNP activists were out in a number of wards across East London. However, on closer inspection not all was what it seemed. It appears that BNP team were out but just doing the main routes through areas rather than the entire ward so as to give the impression that more was actually being done.

So, yes, I admit I was wrong, but my embarrassment isn’t anywhere near that of the party leadership. Given that this was a national turnout then a figure of only 100 is not too impressive. I was in Sandwell earlier this year when we had 221 people (yes, that is the number who signed in), virtually all from the Black Country and Birmingham area. On that particular day we managed to deliver 45,000 newspapers. Now that was impressive.

HOPE not Hate

January 22, 2008

BNP leader Griffin in Brum pub meeting

6 Comment (s)
BNP leader Nick Griffin has been rallying the party faithful at a Birmingham pub, following a series of recent setbacks. Stirrer editor Adrian Goldberg who was allowed in to the meeting but then thrown out, gives his first hand account of a bizarre evening.

Bradley couldn’t get his head around it.

“You what?” he asked. “They’re having a racist meeting in there? Why can’t you just call the Police and ask them to break it up?”

Poor lad. At 19, he was struggling to come to terms with our democratic system. He was, he told me, one quarter Scottish, one quarter Indian, and half Pakistani and was curious to see the people who would – purely on account of his skin colour – regard him as a second class citizen.

His mate Dwayne (three-quarters Jamaican, one quarter Indian) was equally puzzled but less interested than Bradley in heading upstairs to check out the BNP meeting in the Function Room. Canoodling with his (white) girlfriend Georgina was more his thing.

So there we stood, an unlikely quartet, in the car park of the Black Horse in Northfield.

Me? I was hanging around because I’d been thrown out of Nick Griffin’s first West Midlands meeting since his far-right party went into meltdown.

The first I knew about the event was when one of his former members, Birmingham’s ex-BNP councillor Sharon Ebanks posted a comment about it on our Message Board yesterday afternoon. Proper journalistic curiosity meant I had to be there. The BNP has been in turmoil over recent weeks, and although the West Midlands has remained loyal to the leadership, as reported yesterday, the first cracks are starting to show in the local organisation.

Would those splits in the ranks be evident? Would there be awkward questions about the controversial state of the BNP’s finances? Would members take Griffin to task over allegations that his Development Officer Sadie Smith had a laptop stolen by party security officers who broke into her house? There was only one way to find out.

The entrance to the pub’s Function Room was blocked by two burly security guards, who asked if I had a membership card. I said I didn’t and explained openly who I was, and what I was there for. They brought down local organiser Mike Bell, and when I said I wanted to be there as an observer, he seemed happy enough – “as long as you’re not recording anything” he said.

Leading me up the stairs, he commented drily, “You’re no supporter of our organisation”, but that didn’t stop him politely showing me into the bar where Griffin’s arrival was expected anytime soon.

And there I was, in my first BNP meeting – let’s face it, not many Goldbergs can say that.

There were no more than 25 people in the room at the time, including half a dozen women – one with a child, about 18 months old in her arms. To the right was a trestle table laid out with newspapers, magazines, T-shirts and posters – nothing offensive that I could see, mostly adorned with the St George’s flag. Behind was a bar with a small queue, and up ahead a table draped with the union flag – presumably where Griffin would sit.

Mostly it was blokes in their 30s and 40s. A few fitted the shaven-headed bulldog stereotype, but another chap had his purple v-necked “Harry Shaw Travel” jumper over his spreading midriff while an older man was wearing a suit. In other words, a typical pub gathering from this neck of the woods – except that, of course, everyone was white.

As I waited in the queue, one man explained that he hadn’t been able to go to the “London meeting” because he’d been entertaining Koreans. Another was surprised that there’d been no reception committee of “Reds” after “Sharon had mentioned it on The Stirrer.”

I sat down, and just as I clocked a “South Birmingham BNP” banner at the far end of the room, a voice behind me demanded to know, “What are you doing here?”

It was Obergruppenfuhrer Simon Darby, the party’s West Midlands Regional Organiser. I explained that I’d been invited in, but he insisted that we discuss the matter outside. Darby then told me I wasn’t welcome, even though Griffin was apparently aware of my presence and happy to let me in. I could see the leader, now in the room, pressing the flesh of the faithful whose numbers were now closer to 40. It was clear there’d be no protests here.

Meanwhile Darby was verbally letting fly.

“You are a persistent critic of the party. You and your Labour friends are trying to ruin us,” he said.

I explained that I wasn’t a member of any political party, but mere facts didn’t trouble him. He accused me of “putting the lives of our party members in danger” although when challenged to explain this, he headed off of another tack.

“The Birmingham Post and Mail, you’re all in league with each other” he ranted.

The fact that I was there on my own initiative, writing for the website didn’t seem to register. I wasn’t going in and that was that.

“Right, now we’ve sorted that out” Darby said, “are you going to watch Albion at Peterborough on Saturday?”

Here was one of the most senior figures in Britain’s leading racist party banning me from a meeting attended by his leader – then trying to engage me in a conversation about football. Surreal. I headed downstairs to the public bar where a rough-looking middle-aged bloke wandered in from the direction of the meeting, and eyeballed me.

“What are you doing here?” he bellowed. This time it wasn’t Simon Darby, but presumably one of his fellow members who’d got wind of my presence.

“I’m buying a drink,” I told him.

“You’re an evil bastard,” he menaced, before eventually turning on his heels and heading back towards the Function Room.

Chatting with the regulars who were gathering for the televised Liverpool/Villa game it was clear that they had no idea the meeting was taking place – and were disgusted it was happening. Although the clientele were mostly white, there was a smattering of black faces, including Dwayne and Bradley, aged 18 and 19 respectively.

When they took their cigarette (and canoodling) break outside, I chatted and laughed with them, and discouraged loose canon Bradley from breaking into the meeting, “just to see what happens.” Thankfully, he eventually understood why it might not be a good idea.

Although as I walked away, this quarter Scottish, quarter Indian, half Pakistani was still trying to work out why racists were being allowed to hold a meeting in his local.

The Stirrer