- Spitfire List - http://spitfirelist.com -

FTR #677 Update on Global Fascism

MP3: Side 1 [1] | Side 2 [2]

Rav­aged by the social depri­va­tion wrought by the Great Depres­sion, many des­per­ate peo­ple embraced fas­cism as a solu­tion to their prob­lems, a phe­nom­e­non which con­tributed great­ly to the suc­cess of Hitler, Mus­soli­ni and less­er-known fas­cist lead­ers and their par­ties. With the glob­al econ­o­my severe­ly ail­ing, fas­cism is again prof­it­ing from the social dis­lo­ca­tion stem­ming from the finan­cial melt­down.

After not­ing that the finan­cial cri­sis appears to be dri­ving a surge toward the far right [3] in Europe, the broad­cast notes the march of fas­cism on that con­ti­nent. Part of the orig­i­nal Third Reich, Aus­tria is home to a dra­mat­ic fas­cist renais­sance [4]. Of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance is the role played by Waf­fen SS vet­er­an Her­bert Schweiger [5], pic­tured at right. Schweiger is an impor­tant oper­a­tional link between the Hitler peri­od and the present.

Schweiger is one of the founders of the Free­dom Par­ty [6] (FPO), until recent­ly head­ed by the late Jorg Haider [7], pic­tured at left. Con­ceived as a vehi­cle for the rein­tro­duc­tion of Third Reich vet­er­ans into Aus­tri­an polit­i­cal life, the FPO has been dra­mat­i­cal­ly gain­ing strength. Schweiger is in reg­u­lar con­tact with con­tem­po­rary Nazi ele­ments in Ger­many and Aus­tria.

Also fuel­ing the Aus­tri­an fas­cist renais­sance are the Burschen­schaften [8], ultra-nation­al­ist duel­ing soci­eties that work with the overt­ly Nazi and fas­cist polit­i­cal par­ties in Aus­tria. (They are pic­tured at right.) A notable vet­er­an of the Burschen­schaften was SS colonel, Third Reich com­man­do chief, Hitler favorite, ODESSA [9] leader and CIA agent Otto (”Scar­face”) Sko­rzeny [10]. Skorzeny’s received his name­sake scar in one of their duels, in which mem­bers fre­quent­ly slash each other’s faces.

In Italy, the heirs to Mus­soli­ni have moved alto­geth­er into the main­stream [11], once again. Gian­fran­co Fini’s [12] Nation­al Alliance, the suc­ces­sor to the fas­cist par­ty of Ben­i­to Mus­soli­ni, has been part of coali­tion government’s with Sil­vio Berlus­coni [13] on two occa­sions. (Berlus­coni [14] him­self is a for­mer mem­ber of the Licio Gelli’s P‑2 Lodge [15], which com­prised a de-fac­to cryp­to-fas­cist gov­ern­ment that gov­erned Italy for decades. Fini is pic­tured left, Berlus­coni right.)

Against the back­ground of the ascent of Ital­ian fas­cism into an insti­tu­tion­al­ized and main­stream ele­ment, it is as impor­tant as it is fright­en­ing to note the re-appear­ance of para­mil­i­tary fascisti [16]. A group called the Ital­ian Nation­al Guard revealed uni­forms rem­i­nis­cent of those from pre-World War II fas­cist mili­tias and also uses sym­bols linked with fas­cism, such as a black insignia and the Impe­r­i­al eagle.

Turn­ing to the Fed­er­al Repub­lic of Ger­many, we see more exploita­tion of the glob­al eco­nom­ic col­lapse [17] by Euro­pean neo-fas­cists, the broad­cast high­lights the Ger­man neo-Nazi [18] NPD’s [19] co-opt­ing of the tra­di­tion­al May­day work­ers hol­i­day.

Con­clud­ing with the man­i­fes­ta­tion of Third Reich for­eign pol­i­cy by the cur­rent Fed­er­al Repub­lic of Ger­many, the pro­gram sets forth the con­tin­ued sup­port [20] by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment for the SS-linked ver­triebene groups. The ver­triebene groups aim to restore the polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic rights of the Ger­man minori­ties in East­ern Europe–groups whose polit­i­cal agit­prop aid­ed Hitler and were a major excuse for Nazi aggres­sion. Among the groups sup­port­ed by the ver­triebene [21] groups (and the Ger­man gov­ern­ment) are the Sude­ten Ger­mans and the Witiko League (Witikobund).

Pro­gram High­lights Include: More infor­ma­tion about the Nazi and anti-Semit­ic sup­port [22] giv­en to the [23]ascen­sion of Pope Bene­dict XVI (pic­tured at right as a young Ger­man priest); the surge in pop­u­lar­i­ty of Nazism [24] among Euro­pean youth; review of the Allies’ re insti­tu­tion of fas­cist ele­ments in Ger­many and Italy after the war; review of the his­tor­i­cal rela­tion­ship between fas­cism and the Vat­i­can; review of Opus Dei [25], a pow­er­ful fas­cist order influ­enc­ing the Vat­i­can; deceased Free­dom Par­ty leader Jorg Haider’s friend­ship [26] with Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger.

1. The pro­gram begins by not­ing that the fail­ing glob­al econ­o­my is dri­ving a right wing and fas­cist surge in Euro­pean pol­i­tics. With the les­son of the Great Depres­sion and the impe­tus that gave to des­per­ate cit­i­zens to embrace fas­cist extrem­ism, it should not be sur­pris­ing to see this devel­op­ment.

Among its many oth­er sins, the green­back is a press hog. The world’s reserve cur­ren­cy, loved and loathed as it is, sim­ply gets most of the ink these days. In that light many a U.S.-based com­men­ta­tor, not least your cyn­i­cal Taipan Dai­ly scribes, have repeat­ed­ly waxed elo­quent on the long-run death of the dol­lar.

But in our zeal we some­times for­get that, in order for the dol­lar to die, it has to die rel­a­tive to oth­er fiat cur­ren­cy offer­ings... and some of those oth­ers are look­ing pret­ty sick too. (The main excep­tion, of course, being gold — the one and only “state­less cur­ren­cy” not sub­ject to the whims of a print­ing press. As Grant’s Inter­est Rate Observ­er quips, “Show us a mon­e­tary asset whose val­ue is not sub­ject to gov­ern­men­tal debase­ment and we will show you a Kruger­rand.”)

In short, the dol­lar is not the only bas­ket case out there. Take the euro, for exam­ple. Now there’s a trou­bled cur­ren­cy if ever one exist­ed. As pollyan­na stock mar­ket bulls are find­ing out the hard way, ris­ing inter­est rates (via falling bond prices) can have ugly con­se­quences. The same is true of a ris­ing cur­ren­cy when cou­pled with a weak eco­nom­ic back­drop.

In this par­tic­u­lar case, the stronger the euro gets, the more it cuts into Euro­pean export sales. At a time when most all of Europe is sick, the eco­nom­ic pain of a too-strong cur­ren­cy becomes intense above a cer­tain thresh­old. On top of that, var­i­ous bits of Europe are in the process of blow­ing up... or falling apart... or both. There is deep trou­ble brew­ing in mul­ti­ple cor­ners of the con­ti­nent. Let’s take a quick look on a coun­try-by-coun­try basis to see why Europe is being held togeth­er with duct tape.

We’ll start with Britain — not an adopter of the euro, but a mem­ber of the EU (Euro­pean Union) nonethe­less.

Britain has been hurled into polit­i­cal chaos, thanks to an unholy com­bo of deep finan­cial cri­sis, explo­sive Labour Par­ty scan­dals, and the hap­less lame-duck sta­tus of embat­tled Prime Min­is­ter Gor­don Brown. Cab­i­net Min­is­ters are resign­ing left and right in protest as Brown’s pop­u­lar­i­ty plum­mets, call­ing for the PM to step down. Elec­tion results tal­lied this week showed the Labour Par­ty (Brown’s par­ty) putting in its worst show­ing since 1918.

Philip Stevens, chief polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor for the Finan­cial Times, sees an omi­nous chain of events now set in motion. “Every­one thought the [elec­tion] results would be bad,” Stephens reports. “But these [results] are calami­tous... the Prime Min­is­ter was pre­pared, if you like, for very bad results. He’s now got to grap­ple with absolute­ly ter­ri­ble results.”

If the Brown gov­ern­ment fails, Britain will be left rud­der­less in the midst of the worst fis­cal storm in decades. In a worst-case sce­nario where bad events lead to worse deci­sions, opines Stephens, the domi­no chain could even lead to a British exit from the EU.

This out­break of chaos is awful and unset­tling for the British econ­o­my — and by exten­sion awful and unset­tling for Europe. As of this writ­ing, it is not yet clear whether Prime Min­is­ter Brown can sur­vive a polit­i­cal coup... or even whether he would be bet­ter off resign­ing, Dick Nixon style, in the inter­est of spar­ing greater tur­moil.

Else­where in Europe, Latvia, a tiny coun­try of 2.2 mil­lion, threat­ens to unleash hav­oc on the entire con­ti­nent.

Latvia’s cur­ren­cy, appro­pri­ate­ly known as the lat, is offi­cial­ly pegged to the euro. Latvia set up the cur­ren­cy peg to speed up offi­cial entry into the EU. But now the fis­cal dis­ci­pline of main­tain­ing the peg is crush­ing the Lat­vian econ­o­my.

At one time, Latvia was an East­ern Euro­pean tiger, grow­ing by leaps and bounds. But, like many oth­er coun­tries, Latvia found itself bad­ly caught out by the finan­cial cri­sis. Just when cred­it lines were need­ed the most to shore up a cra­ter­ing home front, Latvia found it sud­den­ly impos­si­ble to bor­row. Cred­it was des­per­ate­ly need­ed. An attempt to issue $100 mil­lion worth of lat-denom­i­nat­ed bonds result­ed in no tak­ers.

Nor­mal­ly, a small coun­try with an implod­ing econ­o­my would sim­ply deval­ue the cur­ren­cy to make exports more com­pet­i­tive. But if Latvia deval­ues now, all kinds of ugly fall­out will fol­low.

For one, the Swedish and Aus­tri­an banks that lent heav­i­ly to Latvia would take huge, desta­bi­liz­ing loss­es. Worse, oth­er East­ern Euro­pean neigh­bors, like Lithua­nia and Esto­nia (and Bul­gar­ia far­ther south), would see their own cur­ren­cy pegs threat­ened.

And even worse still, a whole­sale lat deval­u­a­tion would crush many Lat­vian busi­ness­es (due to loads of for­eign cur­ren­cy-denom­i­nat­ed debt on the books) and kill Latvia’s shot at even­tu­al EU accep­tance.

So, with the help of emer­gency financ­ing from the IMF and Euro­pean Union, Latvia has vowed to keep on keep­ing on. The cur­ren­cy peg will not go unde­fend­ed. But in order to main­tain that peg in the face of eco­nom­ic hard­ship, Latvia will need to cut wages and spend­ing to the bone. This, too, is dire med­i­cine for a small coun­try strug­gling under the weight of great debt.

Some believe Latvia will be forced to deval­ue, in spite of all the pain it would cause for both the tiny coun­try itself and many sur­round­ing neigh­bors. The pres­sure might just prove too great, as the pres­sure was too great in 1992 when Britain was forced to deval­ue the pound and drop out of the Euro­pean Exchange Rate Mech­a­nism (ERM).

In a way, Latvia is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. Some argue that the peg must be defend­ed at all costs, lest the whole of East­ern Europe be lost. If Lithua­nia and Esto­nia are sucked into a cur­ren­cy pain vor­tex, the EU could lose its polit­i­cal hold on the region — and Rus­sia could rush in to fill the tor­ment-filled vac­u­um.

It would be so much eas­i­er (and sim­pler) if the val­ue of the euro were to fall from cur­rent high lev­els. This would ease Latvia’s pain, as well as a num­ber of oth­er strug­gling coun­tries. But there is a huge and intractable obsta­cle there — Ger­many.

As the glob­al finan­cial cri­sis has unfold­ed, Angela Merkel, the Chan­cel­lor of Ger­many, has been looked on with increas­ing amounts of admi­ra­tion and hor­ror, depend­ing on the observer’s van­tage point.

Those who admire Merkel do so because Ger­many has appeared to com­plete­ly go its own way in the midst of tur­moil. As oth­er coun­tries have stim­u­lat­ed and relaxed and eased to fight the fires of slow­down, Ger­many has said “Nein!” to any­thing that smacks of lax fis­cal pol­i­cy.

In a speech last week, Chan­cel­lor Merkel even went out of her way to slam the Fed­er­al Reserve and the Bank of Eng­land, stat­ing plain­ly that “I view with great skep­ti­cism the pow­ers of the Fed... and also how, with­in Europe, the Bank of Eng­land has carved out its own line.” With­in the sub­tle con­text of diplo­ma­cy and state­craft, those are amaz­ing­ly blunt words. Merkel has all but called the stim­u­la­tors a bunch of out-of-con­trol fools.

Many admire Germany’s fis­cal back­bone. But oth­ers are hor­ri­fied, and ter­ri­fied, by Germany’s lack of will­ing­ness to show any type of bend or flex in mon­e­tary pol­i­cy.

Remem­ber the Latvia prob­lem? Many oth­er rapid­ly implod­ing Euro­pean economies, like those of Ire­land and Spain, are also strug­gling with the weight of a too-strong euro hurt­ing export prospects. But in its zeal for fis­cal respon­si­bil­i­ty, Ger­many will prob­a­bly remain stead­fast in its oppo­si­tion to any loos­en­ing of the purse strings.

The stance is cul­tur­al and his­tor­i­cal. Hav­ing lived through the hor­ror of hyper­in­fla­tion in the Weimar Repub­lic in the 1920s, Ger­many emerged from its bap­tism by fire as a zeal­ous hard-mon­ey advo­cate. Rigid fis­cal dis­ci­pline has been a polit­i­cal ral­ly­ing cry in Ger­many ever since. So when Chan­cel­lor Merkel takes an espe­cial­ly hard line against the easy-mon­ey infla­tion­ists, she is doing so with an eye for pub­lic approval rat­ings at home.

The trou­ble is, even Ger­many can bare­ly afford its own right­eous­ness. The Ger­man econ­o­my still depends heav­i­ly on exports... and so an over­ly strong euro hurts Deutsch­land too.

Last but not least, a sur­pris­ing new trend has arisen from the EU-wide elec­tions held in the past few days.

“Con­ser­v­a­tives raced toward vic­to­ry in some of Europe’s largest economies Sun­day,” the Asso­ci­at­ed Press reports, “as ini­tial results and exit polls showed vot­ers pun­ish­ing left-lean­ing par­ties in Euro­pean par­lia­ment elec­tions in France, Ger­many and else­where.”

The rise includes not just the right, but the far right. In Britain, the British Nation­al Par­ty — an open­ly racist par­ty that only admits whites — gained a seat for the first time. In var­i­ous oth­er coun­tries, open­ly nation­al­ist par­ties gained fresh pow­er either for the first time also, or for the first time in quite a long while.

“It is not clear why a chunk of the blue-col­lar work­ing base has swung almost overnight from Left to Right,” says Ambrose Pritchard of the U.K. Tele­graph. “But clear­ly we are see­ing the delayed det­o­na­tion of two polit­i­cal time-bombs: ris­ing unem­ploy­ment and the growth of immi­grant enclaves that resist assim­i­la­tion.”

There are still oth­er prob­lems in Europe we haven’t real­ly touched on, like the Span­ish real estate mar­kets head­ed for freefall, the dire state of the Irish econ­o­my (joke du jour on the Emer­ald Isle: What’s the dif­fer­ence between Ire­land and Ice­land? The let­ter ‘C’) and the tox­ic lever­age still lurk­ing in Euro­pean banks.

Put all this togeth­er, and what you get is a tru­ly poi­so­nous stew. Half of Europe is still com­mit­ted to fis­cal stim­u­lus and eco­nom­ic coor­di­na­tion... while the oth­er half has swung inward and hard right, towards a nation­al­ist and iso­la­tion­ist stance, at a time when exports are weak and the whole con­ti­nent is in trou­ble.

If Pritchard is right in his gloomy assess­ments, we could be wit­ness­ing a sce­nario where steely fis­cal dis­ci­pline, though a virtue ear­ly on, becomes a ter­ri­ble vice this late in the game. “The irony is that those fret­ting loud­est about infla­tion may them­selves tip us into out­right defla­tion, with all the per­ils of a debt com­pound trap,” Pritchard opines. “It is Angela Merkel who plays with fire.”

By now the trad­ing take­away should be fair­ly obvi­ous. The dol­lar is not the only paper cur­ren­cy with crash and burn poten­tial. The euro could make for one hell of a great short when the time is right. Whether that time comes soon­er or lat­er depends on how events unfold... and how quick­ly the threat of defla­tion­ary vice grip leads to infla­tion­ary pan­ic (as ulti­mate­ly occurs in all unsound paper regimes, when the des­per­ate hope of the print­ing press is embraced as last resort). Macro Trad­er will be watch­ing the charts with keen inter­est.

“Euro­pean Union Being Held Togeth­er with Duct Tape” by Justice_Litle; www.marketoracle.co.uk; 6/10/2009. [3]

2a. Next, the pro­gram exam­ines the reemer­gence of fas­cism in Aus­tria. Home­land of Adolph Hitler, the “East­ern Reich” is revert­ing to old ways. Of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance here is the degree of con­ti­nu­ity between the fas­cism of the Hitler peri­od and the con­tem­po­rary Aus­tri­an Nazi milieu. A founder of the Free­dom Par­ty, head­ed until recent­ly by the late Jurg Haider, Waf­fen SS vet­er­an Her­bert Schweiger is very active in the Nazi scene. Con­ceived as a vehi­cle for the rein­tro­duc­tion of Third Reich vet­er­ans into Aus­tri­an polit­i­cal life, the FPO has been dra­mat­i­cal­ly gain­ing strength. Schweiger is in reg­u­lar con­tact with con­tem­po­rary Nazi ele­ments in Ger­many and Aus­tria.

Schweiger was also one of the prime movers in the South Tyrol inde­pen­dence move­ment, which embraced ter­ror­ism in the ear­ly 1960’s in an attempt to annex that part of North­ern Italy (claimed by Aus­tria). The South Tyrolean inde­pen­dence move­ment has col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Tibetan inde­pen­dence move­ment, both seen as exam­ples of what the Ger­mans called “volksgruppenrechte”–the right of native peo­ples. The Nazi ori­gins of the South Tyrolean inde­pen­dence move­ment and its col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Tibetans is dis­cussed in FTR #‘s 615 [27] and 616 [28]. The South Tyrolean cadre is close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with the ver­triebene groups, dis­cussed below.

Anoth­er note­wor­thy insti­tu­tion is the milieu of the Burschen­schaften, ultra-nation­al­ist duel­ing soci­eties that work with the overt­ly Nazi and fas­cist polit­i­cal par­ties in Aus­tria. A notable vet­er­an of the Burschen­schaften was SS colonel, Third Reich com­man­do chief, Hitler favorite, ODESSA leader and CIA agent Otto (“Scar­face”) Sko­rzeny. Sko­rzeny’s received his name­sake scar in one of their duels, in which mem­bers fre­quent­ly slash each oth­er’s faces.

Beneath a lead­en sky the solemn, black-clad crowd moves slow­ly towards a mod­est grey head­stone. At one end
of the grave, a flame casts light on the black let­ter­ing that is engraved on the mar­ble. At the oth­er end, an elder­ly sol­dier bends down to place flow­ers before stand­ing to salute.

From all over Aus­tria, peo­ple are here to pay their respects to their fall­en hero. But the solem­ni­ty of the occa­sion is cut with ten­sion. Beyond the crowd of about 300, armed police are in atten­dance. They keep a respect­ful dis­tance but the rasp­ing bark of Alsa­tians hid­den in vans pro­vides an eerie sound­track as the crowd con­gre­gates in mist and light rain.

We’ve been warned that despite a heavy police pres­ence jour­nal­ists have often been attacked at these meet­ings. If trou­ble does come then the mob look ready to fight. There are bull-necked stew­ards and young men who swag­ger aggres­sive­ly.

This is a neo-Nazi gath­er­ing and in the crowd are some of Austria’s most hard-faced fas­cists. Among them is Got­tfried Kus­sel, a noto­ri­ous thug who was the show­man of Austria’s far-right move­ment in the Eight­ies and Nineties until he was impris­oned for eight years for pro­mot­ing Nazi ide­ol­o­gy.

Today he cuts a Don Cor­leone fig­ure as he stands defi­ant­ly at the grave­side. His neo-Nazi acolytes make sure no one comes near him and our pho­tog­ra­ph­er is uncer­e­mo­ni­ous­ly barged out of his way.

Omi­nous-look­ing men with scars across their faces whis­per to each oth­er and shake hands. These are mem­bers of Austria’s Burschen­schaften, an arcane, secre­tive organ­i­sa­tion best known for its fas­ci­na­tion with fenc­ing, an ini­ti­a­tion cer­e­mo­ny that includes a duel in which the oppo­nents cut each other’s faces, and for its strong links to the far right.

Incred­i­bly, stand­ing shoul­der to shoul­der with these hard-line Nazi sym­pa­this­ers are well known Aus­tri­an politi­cians. At the grave­side, a speech is made by Lutz Weinzinger, a lead­ing mem­ber of Austria’s Free­dom Par­ty (FPO), who pays trib­ute to the fall­en.

This is a gath­er­ing in mem­o­ry of an Aus­tri­an-born Nazi fight­er pilot, who dur­ing WWII shot down 258 planes, 255 of them Russ­ian. Such was Major Wal­ter Nowotny’s stand­ing at the time of his death in 1944 that the Nazi Par­ty award­ed him a grave of hon­our in Vienna’s largest ceme­tery, close to the musi­cal leg­ends Mozart, Brahms and Strauss.

But in 2005 that hon­our was revoked and his body moved to lie in an area of pub­lic graves. The deci­sion infu­ri­at­ed the far right and made their annu­al pil­grim­age an even greater event.

Today, the anniver­sary of Nowotny’s death, also coin­cides with Kristall­nacht, the ‘night of bro­ken glass’ in 1938 when 92 peo­ple were mur­dered and thou­sands attacked across Ger­many as stormtroop­ers set upon Jews in an out­pour­ing of Nazi vio­lence.

Some 70 years on from that infa­mous pogrom, the world faces a sim­i­lar finan­cial cri­sis to the one that pre­cip­i­tat­ed the rise of Hitler and, in chill­ing echoes of Thir­ties Europe, sup­port for far-right groups is explod­ing. Hitler’s birth­place has become the focus for neo-Nazis across the world.

And so I have come to Aus­tria to inves­ti­gate how Fas­cism and extrem­ism are mov­ing, unchecked, into the fore­front of its soci­ety.

Last Sep­tem­ber, Austria’s far right gained mas­sive polit­i­cal influ­ence in an elec­tion that saw the FPO along with anoth­er far right par­ty – Alliance For The Future (BZO) – gain 29 per cent of the vote, the same share as Austria’s main par­ty, the Social Democ­rats. The elec­tion stirred up ter­ri­fy­ing mem­o­ries of the rise of the Nazi Par­ty in the Thir­ties.

And just as the Nazis gained pow­er on the back of extreme nation­al­ism and vir­u­lent anti-Semi­tism, the recent unprece­dent­ed gains in Aus­tria were made on a plat­form of fear about immi­gra­tion and the per­ceived threat of Islam. FPO leader Heinz Chris­t­ian Stra­che, for exam­ple, described women in Islam­ic dress as ‘female nin­jas’.

Embold­ened by the new pow­er in par­lia­ment, neo-Nazi thugs have des­e­crat­ed Mus­lim graves. Recent­ly, in Hitler’s home town of Brau­nau, a swasti­ka flag was pub­licly unveiled.

The FPO wants to legalise Nazi sym­bols, while its fire­brand leader has been accused of hav­ing links to far right extrem­ists.

After the FPO’s elec­tion vic­to­ry, Nick Grif­fin, leader of the British Nation­al­ist Par­ty (BNP), sent a per­son­al mes­sage to Stra­che.

‘We in Britain are impressed to see that you have been able to com­bine prin­ci­pled nation­al­ism with elec­toral suc­cess. We are sure that this gives you a good spring­board for the Euro­pean elec­tions and we hope very much that we will be able to join you in a suc­cess­ful nation­al­ist block in Brus­sels next year.’

The mes­sage fol­lowed on from a secret meet­ing last May in which a high-rank­ing FPO politi­cian paid a vis­it to Lon­don for a meet­ing with Grif­fin.

The rela­tion­ship between the FPO and the BNP becomes more wor­ry­ing as I learn of the strong links between Austria’s polit­i­cal par­ty and hard-line Nazis.

Her­bert Schweiger makes no attempt to hide his Nazi views. At his home in the Aus­tri­an moun­tains, the for­mer SS offi­cer gazes out of a win­dow to a view of a misty alpine val­ley. Described to me as the ‘Pup­pet Mas­ter’ of the far right, Schweiger, 85, is a leg­endary fig­ure for neo-Nazis across the world.

‘Our time is com­ing again and soon we will have anoth­er leader like Hitler,’ he says.

Still remark­ably sharp-mind­ed, Schweiger was a lieu­tenant in the infa­mous Waf­fen SS Panz­er Divi­sion Leib­stan­darte Adolf Hitler, an elite unit orig­i­nal­ly formed before WWII to act as the Führer’s per­son­al body­guards.

This is his first inter­view for four years and the first he has ever giv­en to a jour­nal­ist from out­side Aus­tria. It hap­pens a few weeks before he is due to appear in court charged with pro­mot­ing neo-Nazi ide­ol­o­gy.

It will be the fifth time he has stood tri­al for break­ing a law, the Ver­bots­ge­setz, enact­ed in 1947 to halt the spread of fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy. He has been found guilty twice and acquit­ted twice. It quick­ly becomes appar­ent that lit­tle has changed in Schweiger’s mind­set since his Third Reich days.

‘The Jew on Wall Street is respon­si­ble for the world’s cur­rent eco­nom­ic cri­sis. It is the same now as in 1929 when 90 per cent of mon­ey was in the hands of the Jew. Hitler had the right solu­tions then,’ he says, invok­ing the lan­guage of Goebbels.

The room is filled with memen­tos from his past and indi­ca­tors of his sick­en­ing beliefs. His book­shelf is a library of loathing. I spot a book by con­tro­ver­sial British Holo­caust denier David Irv­ing and one on the ‘myth of Auschwitz’. On a shelf hangs a pen­nant from the SS Death’s Head unit that ran Hitler’s con­cen­tra­tion camps. Such mem­o­ra­bil­ia is banned in Aus­tria but Schweiger defi­ant­ly dis­plays his Nazi pos­ses­sions.

If Schweiger was an old Nazi liv­ing out his final days in this remote spot, it might be pos­si­ble to shrug him off as a now harm­less man liv­ing in his past. But Schweiger has no inten­tion of keep­ing qui­et.

‘My job is to edu­cate the fun­da­men­tals of Nazism. I trav­el reg­u­lar­ly in Aus­tria and Ger­many speak­ing to young mem­bers of our dif­fer­ent groups,’ he says.

Schweiger’s lec­tures are full of hate and prej­u­dice. He refers to Jews as ‘intel­lec­tu­al nomads’ and says poor Africans should be allowed to starve.

‘The black man only thinks in the present and when his bel­ly is full he does not think of the future,’ he says. ‘They repro­duce en masse even when they have no food, so sup­port­ing Africans is sui­cide for the white race.

‘It is not nation against nation now but race against race. It is a ques­tion of sur­vival that Europe unites against the rise of Asia. There is an unstop­pable war between the white and yel­low races. In Eng­land and Scot­land there is very strong racial poten­tial.

‘Of course I am a racist, but I am a sci­en­tif­ic racist,’ he adds, as if this is a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Schweiger’s rai­son d’être is pol­i­tics. He was a found­ing mem­ber of three polit­i­cal par­ties in Aus­tria – the VDU, the banned NDP and the FPO. He has giv­en his sup­port to the cur­rent leader of the FPO.

‘Stra­che is doing the right thing by fight­ing the for­eign­er,’ says Schweiger.

He is now in close con­tact with the Kam­er­ad­schaften, under­ground cells of hard­core neo-Nazis across Aus­tria and Ger­many who, over the past three years, have start­ed to infil­trate polit­i­cal par­ties such as the FPO.

His belief that the bul­let and the bal­lot box go hand in hand goes back to 1961, when he helped to train a ter­ror­ist move­ment fight­ing for the reuni­fi­ca­tion of Aus­tria and South Tyrol.

‘I was an explo­sives expert in the SS so I trained Burschen­schaften how to make bombs. We used the hotel my wife and I owned as a train­ing camp,’ he says. The hotel he refers to is 50 yards from his home.

Thir­ty peo­ple in Italy were mur­dered dur­ing the cam­paign. One of the men con­vict­ed for the atroc­i­ties, Nor­bert Burg­er, lat­er formed the now-banned neo-Nazi NDP par­ty with Schweiger.

Schweiger’s involve­ment earned him his first spell in cus­tody in 1962 but he was acquit­ted.

At Vienna’s Doc­u­men­ta­tion Cen­tre of Aus­tri­an Resis­tance (DOW), I speak to Herib­ert Schiedel, who mon­i­tors neo-Nazi activ­i­ty. He tells me that the glue between peo­ple like Schweiger and the politi­cians are the Burschen­schaften fra­ter­ni­ties. Schiedel draws two cir­cles and explains.

‘In the cir­cle on the left you have legal par­ties such as the FPO. In the cir­cle on the right you have ille­gal groups. Two dis­tinct group­ings who pre­tend they are sep­a­rate.’

He draws anoth­er cir­cle link­ing the two togeth­er. ‘This cir­cle links the legal and ille­gal. This sig­ni­fies the Burschen­schaften. They have long been asso­ci­at­ed with Fas­cism and have a his­to­ry of ter­ror­ism. Adolf Eich­mann, Rudolf Hess and Hein­rich Himm­ler were Burschen­schaften – as are promi­nent mem­bers of the FPO in par­lia­ment.’

There are Burschen­schaften groups all over Aus­tria and 18 in the cap­i­tal alone. Their activ­i­ties range from quaint to dis­turb­ing.

At the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vien­na, mem­bers of the Burschen­schaften come to pay homage to a stat­ue called the Siegfried­skopf (the Head of Siegfried, a war­rior from Ger­man mythol­o­gy). Their rit­u­al takes place every Wednes­day.
The uni­ver­si­ty author­i­ties want­ed to remove the stat­ue, but the gov­ern­ment insist­ed it should stay as it is a pro­tect­ed mon­u­ment. Instead, the piece was relo­cat­ed to the court­yard.

Today, the Burschen­schaften have been pre­vent­ed from enter­ing the court­yard and at the main entrance police stand guard as they hand out leaflets. Dressed in tra­di­tion­al uni­forms, the Burschen­schaften resem­ble colour­ful bands­men and are a far cry from the shaven-head­ed thugs nor­mal­ly asso­ci­at­ed with Fas­cism.

But the groups have a 200-year-old his­to­ry steeped in patri­o­tism and loy­al­ty to a Ger­man state. In 2005, Olympia, one of the most extreme Burschen­schaften fra­ter­ni­ties, invit­ed David Irv­ing to Aus­tria.

As oth­er stu­dents gath­er, there is ten­sion in the air. One girl whis­pers that this group recent­ly attacked stu­dents protest­ing out­side the Aus­tri­an Par­lia­ment against the FPO.

A young stu­dent with round glass­es and a scar on his left cheek, wear­ing the pur­ple colours of Olympia, is hand­ing out leaflets. Roland denies being a neo-Nazi but he quick­ly starts relay­ing his fierce­ly nation­al­ist views.

‘The anti-fas­cists are the new fas­cists,’ he says. ‘We are not allowed to tell the truth about how for­eign­ers are a threat.’

The truth, accord­ing to Roland, is that Mus­lims, immi­grants and Amer­i­ca are destroy­ing his way of life.

‘We are Ger­man-Aus­tri­ans. We want a com­mu­ni­ty here based on Ger­man nation­al­ism,’ he adds. ‘We must fight to save our her­itage and cul­ture.’

The Burschen­schaften hold reg­u­lar, secre­tive meet­ings in cel­lar bars around Vien­na. Jour­nal­ists are not usu­al­ly admit­ted, but I man­age to per­suade a group of Burschen­schaften stu­dents to let me see their tra­di­tions. Once inside, I find myself in a bar filled with 200 men sit­ting at long tables drink­ing steins of Aus­tri­an beer.

The Burschen­schaften are resplen­dent in the colours of their fra­ter­ni­ties. Old and young, they sport sash­es in the black, red and gold of the Ger­man flag, and as the beer flows in this neo-Goth­ic build­ing, chat­ter fills the room and cig­a­rette smoke ris­es in plumes up to chan­de­liers hung from a vault­ed ceil­ing.

‘Prost!’ the man sit­ting to my right toasts loud­ly. His name is Chris­t­ian. He is no neo-Nazi thug, but instead a psy­chol­o­gy stu­dent. His white peaked cap sig­ni­fies that he is a mem­ber of a Burschen­schaften group called Goth­ia.
Most of the men at this table are Goth­ia, includ­ing the man sit­ting oppo­site who ordered the beer. He glares at me again. He has long scars on both sides of his face that run from his cheek­bones down to the edges of his mouth, and when he sucks on his cig­a­rette he reminds me of the Jok­er from Bat­man. Chris­t­ian has a dozen wounds from fenc­ing, includ­ing five on his left cheek.

‘It is a badge of hon­our to duel,’ he says proud­ly, before explain­ing that this is an annu­al event and that one of tonight’s speech­es will be on the ‘threat of Islam to Europe’.

Sud­den­ly, every­one at our table stands amazed as FPO leader Heinz Chris­t­ian Stra­che enters.

He is wear­ing a roy­al blue hat – sig­ni­fy­ing his mem­ber­ship of the Van­dalia Burschen­schaften – and after shak­ing hands with each of us he sits at the far end of the table. Short­ly after­wards I’m asked to leave.

Although the Burschen­schaften claims to be polit­i­cal­ly neu­tral, FPO fly­ers had been placed in front of each guest and it was clear this event was a polit­i­cal ral­ly in sup­port of the FPO – an event that would cul­mi­nate with these Aus­tri­ans, includ­ing a lead­ing politi­cian, singing the Ger­man nation­al anthem.

After my encounter with the leader of the FPO among the Burschen­schaften, I con­tact Strache’s press office to ques­tion his mem­ber­ship of an organ­i­sa­tion linked to far right extrem­ism, and ask why the FPO wish­es to revoke the Ver­bots­ge­setz (the law ban­ning Nazi ide­ol­o­gy).

In a response by email, Mr Stra­che replied that the FPO wants to revoke the Ver­bots­ge­setz because it believes in free­dom of speech. He denied hav­ing any links to neo-Nazi groups and says he is proud to be a mem­ber of the Burschen­schaften.

‘The Burschen­schaften was found­ed dur­ing the wars against Napoleon Bona­parte in the begin­ning of the 19th cen­tu­ry. These are the his­tor­i­cal ori­gins I am proud of,’ he wrote.

Back at Nowotny’s grave­side I think of the Pup­pet Mas­ter in his moun­tain home. How can a for­mer Nazi still hold so much polit­i­cal sway? The Burschen­schaften are here, too.

There are no ‘sieg heils’ and no swastikas for the cam­eras, but it’s clear that Fas­cism is back. These are not thugs mere­ly intent on racial vio­lence, who are eas­i­ly locked up. These are intel­lec­tu­als and politi­cians whose move to the fore­front of soci­ety is far more insid­i­ous.

Through the polit­i­cal influ­ence of the FPO it is entire­ly pos­si­ble that the Ver­bots­ge­setz could be revoked – and if that hap­pens swastikas could once again be seen on Austria’s streets.

The ideas and racial hatred that I have heard over my two weeks in Aus­tria are just as threat­en­ing and just as sick­en­ing as any I have ever heard. And they are a lot more sin­is­ter because they are spo­ken with the veneer of respectabil­i­ty.

The open defi­ance of these men hon­our­ing their Nazi ‘war hero’, and the sup­port they are gain­ing in these trou­bled eco­nom­ic times, should be set­ting off alarm bells in Europe and the rest of the world.

“The Far Right Is on the March Again: The Rise of Fas­cism in Aus­tria” by Bil­ly Brig­gs; MailOn­line; 3/18/2009. [4]

2c. An arti­cle pub­lished since the record­ing of this pro­gram high­lights the change in atti­tude expe­ri­enced by young “Euro-Nazis” toward their polit­i­cal belief sys­tem. Viewed as losers a few years ago, they are now gain­ing accep­tance by their peers. Suc­cess­ful­ly using Nazi rock out­lets, the inter­net and oth­er “new media,” the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of Nazi youth are suc­cess­ful­ly mar­ket­ing their ide­ol­o­gy to con­tem­po­raries in the cur­rent socio-eco­nom­ic cli­mate.

They sell CDs of lit­tle girls who sing soft­ly about white pride to a pub­lic of pre-ado­les­cents, video games where it is essen­tial to shoot all those who are dark-skinned, and t‑shirts with cryp­tic slo­gans. They are British, Roma­ni­ans, French and Swedes. They mis­trust the var­i­ous media and, instead, cre­ate their own press agen­cies to pro­duce and broad­cast their infor­ma­tion. Gabriele Adi­nolfi, the co-founder of terza posizione (‘third posi­tion’, Italy) con­firms that: ‘Today, the only way of being fas­cist is by being prag­mat­ic.’

The ‘right to cen­tre right’ par­ties are in the process of change hav­ing been unre­spectable for a long time. The EU has been look­ing to fight against acts of racism and xeno­phobes, and to bring leg­is­la­tion into line in mem­ber states on the mat­ter of strength­en­ing police co-oper­a­tion. The extreme right has had a resur­gence over the years in France, Aus­tria and Italy and has had to face up to reac­tions from pub­lic opin­ion. The extreme right has there­fore moved with the times.

They are now made up of a myr­i­ad of small groups, and when the dots are all joined up they form a ‘show­case’ polit­i­cal par­ty. The extreme right have placed them­selves into the mass media (via music, cloth­ing and mer­chan­dis­ing), and are now impos­ing them­selves on the media-relat­ed net­works across the EU. This strat­e­gy is pay­ing off; the extreme right is the lead­ing polit­i­cal par­ty amongst 15–30 year olds in Hol­land, Aus­tria and Czech Repub­lic. Their influ­ence is grow­ing every­where.

His strat­e­gy is called ‘metapol­i­tics’; it’s the art of doing pol­i­tics with­out it hav­ing the look of pol­i­tics. In line with those who think like Guil­laume Faye (nou­velle droite or ‘new right’ par­ty in France), the extreme right is ‘surf­ing’ on being anti-polit­i­cal­ly cor­rect, the loss of impe­tus by gov­ern­ment par­ties in putting for­ward new venues on the out­side of offi­cial cir­cuits. Métapé­dia was cre­at­ed in 2007 by young Swedes based on the mod­el of a well-known mass ency­clopae­dia; the Wikipedia mod­er­a­tors then gath­ered up the pages and exclud­ed them.

The extreme right is now in nine coun­tries in the EU and their ambi­tion is to ‘have an influ­ence on polit­i­cal and philo­soph­i­cal debates and they way in which art and cul­ture are pre­sent­ed’. Alter­me­dia offers a plat­form for 17 dif­fer­ent EU coun­tries to dif­fer­ent cir­cles of influ­ence with a right wing iden­ti­ty (from rad­i­cal chris­tians to anti-cap­i­tal­ist pagans), who want to chal­lenge the chal­lenge the tra­di­tion­al left wing suprema­cy in the domains of ideas and cul­ture. It’s Denis Diderot who wel­comes the vis­i­tor to Meta­pe­dia France, and the author and poet Mihai Emi­nes­cu who wrote Emper­or and Pro­le­tar­i­an, on Meta­pe­dia Roma­nia.

Jacques Vassieux is the Rhône-Alpes region­al advi­sor to the French FN Par­ty (‘nation­al front’). He has tak­en charge of the nation­al asso­ci­a­tion obser­va­toire et riposte inter­net (‘inter­net obser­va­to­ry and riposte’) from French far-right politi­cian Jean Marie Le Pen, and cre­at­ed Nations Presse in 2008. The site gets 350, 000 hits a month and has 25 con­trib­u­tors; two of which are pro­fes­sion­al jour­nal­ists. ‘It is more than evi­dent that we are treat­ed bad­ly on the inter­net, and on a dai­ly basis too,‘explains Vassieux. ‘This is one of the rea­sons, essen­tial­ly, why pro­ceed­ed to cre­ate our site and this asso­ci­a­tion. We can admin­is­ter the anti­dote on a dai­ly basis too.’

Clau­dio Laz­zaro is the author of the doc­u­men­tary Nazirock. ‘The extreme right has made itself more straight­for­ward,’ he says. ‘It takes what it needs and changes it in order to com­mu­ni­cate with­out mak­ing it sub­tle.’ Laz­zaro advo­cates dia­logue with the extreme right as long as this dia­logue ‘does not seek to jus­ti­fy their fas­cist ideas.’ He also finds it alarm­ing that ‘fas­cism and neo-fas­cism are devel­op­ing in par­al­lel on two fronts, as if it’s about choos­ing ‘a pri­ori’ (with­out pri­or knowl­edge) more than ratio­nal thought and reflec­tion.’

Noua Dreap­ta (‘new right’) is spear­head­ing the Roman­ian extreme right; they’re not reg­is­tered as a par­ty but present them­selves as a ‘move­ment’, hav­ing been in exis­tence since 2000. It’s a way of declin­ing elec­toral con­fronta­tion in order to bet­ter place their sym­pa­this­ers into the train­ing which is being read­ied for them. The British nation­al par­ty (BNP) have swapped their Doc Martens for suits and ties, they dis­trib­ute guides amongst their fol­low­ers on how to speak prop­er­ly, made space for women (in the par­ty) in order tone down their image and have estab­lished the birth rate as one of their ‘call to arms’.

This new gen­er­a­tion of young edu­cat­ed lead­ers have a per­fect com­mand of 21st cen­tu­ry com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and know their pub­lic well. Rock con­certs have replaced grand­dad meets. Project School­yard is a series of com­pi­la­tions pro­duced by the neo-nazi music label Panz­er­faust Records; their elo­quent slo­gan is ‘we don’t just enter­tain racist kids, we cre­ate them’.

The EU is strug­gling to keep up with the dec­la­ra­tions of ‘good inten­tions’ and a real lack of involve­ment from the mem­ber states; the major­i­ty are ‘con­tin­u­ing to escape from con­trol of their indi­vid­ual poli­cies and prac­tis­es at EU lev­el’. The 2009 report on the sit­u­a­tion of fun­da­men­tal rights in the EU was panned. It has to be said that the extreme right’s elec­toral plat­form great­ly inter­ests the right wing of the gov­ern­ment. When the right fail to vis­i­bly woo their vot­ers, they don’t hes­i­tate in tak­ing the extreme right’s cam­paign themes. A few ‘iden­ti­ty’ rock con­certs have closed nation­al front and casa delle lib­ertà (CDl, ‘house of freee­dom’) cam­paign meet­ings. As for the left, they seem hin­dered by their own con­tra­dic­tions. From now on they cham­pi­on the upper and mid­dle class­es but haven’t been known to lis­ten to their tra­di­tion­al vot­ers when grap­pling eco­nom­ic dif­fi­cul­ties, and the ten­sions stir­ring up amongst com­mu­ni­ties in work­ing class areas.

The epi­cen­tre of this ‘renew­al of nation­al­i­ty’ is now cen­tral and east­ern Europe. ‘Ten years ago we were ‘losers’ to be nazis, now it’s ok to be a nazi. Who knows where we’ll be in ten years time?’ con­cludes Peter, a cam­paign­er for the nation­al demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty (NPD) in Bavaria, Ger­many.

“Europe’s Far-Right Youth: ’10 Years Ago, We Were ‘Nazi Losers.’ Now It’s OK to be a Nazi.’ ” by Cleo Schwey­er; cafebabel.com; 7/15/2009. [24]

2c. Anoth­er item not includ­ed in the orig­i­nal broad­cast con­cerns the late Free­dom Par­ty leader Jorg Haider’s friend­ship with Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger. Numer­ous For The Record pro­grams high­light the prob­a­bil­i­ty that Schwarzeneg­ger is an oper­a­tive of the Under­ground Reich.

“. . .Haider was a friend of Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger, and his own pub­lic image was relent­less­ly cul­ti­vat­ed to rein­force the per­cep­tion of a hand­some man of action: a per­ma­nent­ly sun­tanned fit­ness fanat­ic who was a dev­il on the ski slopes, he also enjoyed go-kart­ing, roller-blad­ing, bungee-jump­ing and moun­taineer­ing, and com­plet­ed the New York marathon in three hours 52 min­utes. . . .”

“Jorg Haider”; telegraph.co.uk; 10/12/2008. [26]

3. In Italy, the heirs to Mus­soli­ni have moved alto­geth­er into the main­stream, once again. Gian­fran­co Fini’s [12] Nation­al Alliance, the suc­ces­sor to the fas­cist par­ty of Ben­i­to Mus­soli­ni, has been part of coali­tion gov­ern­men­t’s with Sil­vio Berlus­coni on two occa­sions. (Berlus­coni [14] him­self is a for­mer mem­ber of the Licio Gel­li’s P‑2 Lodge [15], which com­prised a de-fac­to cryp­to-fas­cist gov­ern­ment that gov­erned Italy for decades.)

Although decried by some of the more overt, venal fas­cist ele­ments in Italy, the for­mal syn­the­sis of Fini’s par­ty with Berlus­coni’s actu­al­ly con­sti­tutes a main­stream­ing of fas­cist val­ues, exem­pli­fied by the grad­ual polit­i­cal reha­bil­i­ta­tion of the Salo Repub­lic. Estab­lished under the aus­pices of the SS in North­ern Italy late in World War II, the Salo Repub­lic and its vet­er­ans con­tributed sig­nif­i­cant­ly to post­war Ital­ian fas­cism.

In addi­tion to many Salo vet­er­ans who became mem­bers of the MSI (Ital­ian Social Move­ment, pre­de­ces­sor of Fini’s par­ty), noto­ri­ous fas­cist ter­ror­ist Pino Rauti had served Salo. Rauti, too, was part of Berlus­coni’s coali­tion.

The flames are going out all over Italy. Tomor­row, the flame which for more than 60 years has been the sym­bol of neo-Fas­cist con­ti­nu­ity with Mus­soli­ni, will dis­ap­pear from main­stream pol­i­tics. The Nation­al Alliance, the last impor­tant home of that inher­i­tance, is “fus­ing” with Sil­vio Berlus­coni’s Peo­ple of Free­dom par­ty to give the gov­ern­ing bloc a sin­gle iden­ti­ty and a sin­gle unchal­lenged leader.

The change has been a long time com­ing – 15 years and more. Mr Berlus­coni broke the great taboo of Ital­ian post-war pol­i­tics after he won his first gen­er­al elec­tion vic­to­ry in 1994 and incor­po­rat­ing four mem­bers of the Nation­al Alliance into his coali­tion.

Embrac­ing the Fas­cists and neo-Fas­cists was taboo for good rea­son. For one thing, their return after they had led the nation to ruin in the war was banned by the new Con­sti­tu­tion, whose Arti­cle 139 states, “the re-organ­i­sa­tion, under what­ev­er form, of the dis­solved Fas­cist par­ty, is for­bid­den.”

That veto had been hon­oured in the breach rather than the obser­vance since 1946, when Gior­gio Almi­rante, the leader of the Ital­ian Social Move­ment, picked up the baton of Mus­soli­ni where he had left it at his death and led the new par­ty into par­lia­ment. But the neo-Fas­cists remained in par­lia­men­tary lim­bo, far from pow­er. Berlus­coni blew that inhi­bi­tion away.

Under the wily lead­er­ship of Gian­fran­co Fini the “post-Fas­cists” have been gain­ing ground since. Tall, bespec­ta­cled, but­toned up, the oppo­site of Berlus­coni in every way, the Alliance’s leader impressed the Euro­crats with his demo­c­ra­t­ic cre­den­tials when he was brought in to lend a hand at draft­ing the EU’s new Con­sti­tu­tion.

He leaned over back­wards to break his par­ty’s con­nec­tion to anti-Semi­tism, pay­ing repeat­ed offi­cial vis­its to Israel where he was pho­tographed in a skull cap at the Wail­ing Wall. On one vis­it, in 2003, he went so far as to con­demn Mus­soli­ni and the race laws passed in 1938 which barred Jews from school and result­ed in thou­sands being deport­ed to the death camps.

“I’ve cer­tain­ly changed my ideas about Mus­soli­ni,” he said at the time. “And to con­demn [the race laws] means to take respon­si­bil­i­ty for them.” States­man­like: the word stuck to him like lint. Par­ty hard­lin­ers such as Alessan­dra Mus­soli­ni, the glam­orous grand­daugh­ter of Il Duce, were furi­ous and split away to form fas­cist micro-par­ties of their own. But Mr Fini’s strat­e­gy pre­vailed. Under Mr Berlus­coni’s patron­age, he became for­eign min­is­ter then deputy prime min­is­ter and now speak­er of the low­er house, a more pres­ti­gious job than its British equiv­a­lent. As Berlus­coni’s unques­tioned num­ber two in the new “fused” par­ty, he is also his heir-appar­ent.

The puri e duri, the hard­core fas­cist ele­ments, have been grit­ting their teeth and scream­ing defi­ance. One group want­ed to stage a cer­e­mo­ny to mark the extin­guish­ing of the flame at the “Altar of the Nation”, the wed­ding cake-like sym­bol of Italy that tow­ers over Piaz­za Venezia in Rome. The city’s may­or, iron­i­cal­ly him­self a life­long “post-Fas­cist”, banned it.

But the puri e duri will not give up. “The Nation­al Alliance dies, the Right lives!” declares a fly­er scat­tered about by one of the hard-right par­ties, whose sym­bol sports an over­sized flame.

“Today, with the betray­al of our ideas, of our sto­ry and our iden­ti­ty,” roars one of their lead­ers, Teodoro Buon­tem­po, the nation­al pres­i­dent of The Right par­ty, “we have the duty to make clear­er than ever that our par­ty was born to assure the con­ti­nu­ity of our ideals ... [Join us] to scream your indig­na­tion against a rul­ing class of trim­mers and nobod­ies.”

Black Bands, an inves­tiga­tive book into the hard right by Pao­lo Berizzi pub­lished in Italy this week, claims “at least 150,000 young Ital­ians under 30 live with­in the cults of Fas­cism and neo-Fas­cism. And not all but many in the myth of Hitler.” Five tiny reg­is­tered par­ties account for 1.8 per cent of the nation­al vote, between 450,000 and 480,000 vot­ers. These are sig­nif­i­cant num­bers, yet even com­bined they are not near­ly enough to reach the 4 per cent thresh­old to break into par­lia­ment.

By this read­ing, the Fas­cist ele­ment in Italy is no more sig­nif­i­cant than the BNP in Britain: an embar­rass­ing irri­tant that can make noise and win insignif­i­cant vic­to­ries, but noth­ing more.

Despite the claims of the loony right to the con­trary, the going out of the Fas­cist flame does not mean Fas­cist ideas have dis­ap­peared from the Ital­ian polit­i­cal scene. Quite the reverse. Fif­teen years after Mr Berlus­coni brought the neo-Fas­cists in from the cold, their impact on pol­i­tics has nev­er been more strik­ing, nev­er more dis­turb­ing.

Accord­ing to Christo­pher Dug­gan, the British author of Force of Des­tiny, an acclaimed his­to­ry of mod­ern Italy, the fusion of the two par­ties does not mark the dis­ap­pear­ance of Fas­cist ideas and prac­tices but rather their tri­umphant insin­u­a­tion. “This is an alarm­ing sit­u­a­tion in many, many ways,” he says.

“The fusion of the par­ties sig­ni­fies the absorp­tion of the ideas of the post-Fas­cists into Berlus­coni’s par­ty ... the ten­den­cy to see no moral and ulti­mate­ly no polit­i­cal dis­tinc­tion between those who sup­port­ed the Fas­cist regime and those who sup­port­ed the Resis­tance. So the fact that Fas­cism was bel­liger­ent, racist and illib­er­al gets for­got­ten; there is a qui­et cho­rus of pub­lic opin­ion say­ing that Fas­cism was not so bad.”

One exam­ple of the way things are chang­ing is the treat­ment of the vet­er­ans of the Repub­lic of Salo, the pup­pet Fas­cist state ruled by Mus­soli­ni on the shores of Lake Gar­da in the last phase of the war. Under the thumb of Hitler and respon­si­ble for dis­patch­ing Jews to the death camps, Salo was seen by Ital­ians after the war as the dark­est chap­ter in the nation’s mod­ern his­to­ry.

But steadi­ly and qui­et­ly it has been reha­bil­i­tat­ed in the Ital­ian mem­o­ry. The lat­est step, before par­lia­ment, is the cre­ation of a new mil­i­tary order, the Cav­a­liere di Tri­col­ore, which can be award­ed to peo­ple who fought for at least six months dur­ing the war – either with the Par­ti­sans against the “Nazi-Fas­cists”, with the forces of the Repub­lic of Salo on behalf of the Nazis and against the Par­ti­sans, or with the forces in the south under Gen­er­al Badoglio.

In this way, says Dug­gan, the idea of moral inter­change­abil­i­ty is smug­gled into the nation­al dis­course, treat­ing the sol­diers fight­ing for the pup­pet Nazi statelet “on an equal foot­ing moral­ly and polit­i­cal­ly with the Par­ti­sans”.

Dug­gan con­trasts the post-war process in Italy with that in Ger­many, where the Nurem­berg tri­als and the purge of pub­lic life super­vised by the Allies pro­duced a new polit­i­cal land­scape. Noth­ing of the sort hap­pened in Italy.

“There was nev­er a clear pub­lic water­shed between the expe­ri­ence of Fas­cism and what hap­pened after­wards. It’s part­ly the fault of the Allies, who after the war were much more con­cerned with pre­vent­ing the Com­mu­nists from com­ing to pow­er.

“As a result very senior fig­ures in the army, the police and the judi­cia­ry remained unpurged. Take the fig­ure of Gae­tano Azzari­ti, one of the first pres­i­dents, post-war, of Italy’s Con­sti­tu­tion­al Court, yet under Mus­soli­ni he had been the pres­i­dent of the court which had the job of enforc­ing the the race laws. The fail­ure of the Allies to put pres­sure on Italy also reflects a per­cep­tion that still exists: that the Fas­cist revival is not to be tak­en seri­ous­ly because Italy is ‘light­weight’. Where­as if the same thing hap­pened in Ger­many or Aus­tria, you’d get real­ly wor­ried.”

The wide­spread defi­ance of the anti-Fas­cist Con­sti­tu­tion can be seen in the pro­fu­sion of par­ties deriv­ing inspi­ra­tion from Mus­soli­ni; in the thou­sands who pour into Preda­pio, Mus­solin­i’s birth­place, to cel­e­brate his march on Rome on 20 Octo­ber every year; in shops and on mar­ket stalls doing a live­ly trade in busts of Il Duce and oth­er Fas­cist memen­toes of every sort.

Far more alarm­ing, Dug­gan says, is what is hap­pen­ing out of the spot­light to the nation­al tem­per, where the steady ero­sion and dis­cred­it­ing of state insti­tu­tions is play­ing into the hands of a dic­ta­to­r­i­al elite, just as it did in the 1920s.

“What is so dis­turb­ing is not just the sys­tem­at­ic reha­bil­i­ta­tion of Fas­cism but the ero­sion of every aspect of the state, for exam­ple jus­tice, with the result that peo­ple have the urge to throw them­selves into the arms of the one man who they believe can sort things out.

“You cre­ate very per­son­alised rela­tions with the leader, so that in Mus­solin­i’s case, he received 2,000 let­ters a day from peo­ple plead­ing with him to help. If the state does­n’t work, you trust in one man to pick up the phone and sort things out. This is how lib­er­al­ism dis­ap­peared in the 1920s, with the steady dis­cred­it­ing of par­lia­ment so that in the end there was no need for Mus­soli­ni to abol­ish it, he mere­ly ignored it. Some­thing very sim­i­lar is hap­pen­ing in Italy today.”

“The March of Mus­soli­ni into Italy’s Main­stream” by Peter Popham; The Inde­pen­dent; 3/20/2009. [11]

4. Against the back­ground of the ascent of Ital­ian fas­cism into an insti­tu­tion­al­ized and main­stream ele­ment, it is as impor­tant as it is fright­en­ing to note the re-appear­ance of para­mil­i­tary fascisti.

The cre­ation of an extreme right-wing para­mil­i­tary-style vig­i­lante group has trig­gered an uproar in Italy. A group called the Ital­ian Nation­al Guard over the week­end revealed uni­forms rem­i­nis­cent of those from pre-World War II fas­cist mili­tias and also uses sym­bols linked with fas­cism, such as a black insignia and the Impe­r­i­al eagle.

The Guard — dubbed “the black patrols” by crit­ics and the media — was formed with the sup­port of a neo-fas­cist polit­i­cal move­ment that mod­els itself on Britain’s Nation­al Front. With its uni­forms, the Guard is rem­i­nis­cent of the so-called Hun­gar­i­an Guard formed by Hun­gary’s far-right Job­bik par­ty.

Pros­e­cu­tors in Milan and Turin have opened inves­ti­ga­tions on sus­pi­cion that the Guard vio­lates a law that bans the re-estab­lish­ment of the Fas­cist Par­ty. Main­stream right-wing politi­cians joined left­ists in con­demn­ing the group.

“Para­mil­i­tary Guard Alarms Ital­ians” [Jew­ish Tele­graph­ic Agency]; JTA; 6/15/2009. [16]

5. Not­ing more exploita­tion of the glob­al eco­nom­ic col­lapse by Euro­pean neo-fas­cists, the broad­cast high­lights the Ger­man NPD’s [19] co-opt­ing of the tra­di­tion­al May­day work­ers hol­i­day.

“. . . Just in time before today’s ‘Inter­na­tion­al Work­er’s Day’ ral­ly, the NPD has launched a new ‘Cam­paign on the Eco­nom­ic Cri­sis.’ The par­ty is sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly attempt­ing to exploit the eco­nom­ic col­lapse to broad­en and sta­bi­lize its mem­ber­ship. ‘The months ahead will be marked by reduced hours, mass lay­offs and grow­ing social injus­tice,’ writes the NPD. ‘More and more Ger­mans are becom­ing aware that it can’t go on like this.’[2] The par­ty pro­vides ‘nation­al respons­es to the eco­nom­ic cri­sis’ and wants ‘to show its col­ors in the van­guard.’ ‘Regard­less of if it is the shut­down of a plant, a demon­stra­tion in front of the unem­ploy­ment office or protest actions against the exploitive cap­i­tal­ist sys­tem’ the NPD is deter­mined ‘to bring the nation­al and social alter­na­tive to the peo­ple.’ Already a few years ago, sim­i­lar cam­paigns in cri­sis-rid­den areas (‘against Hartz IV’), brought the NPD region­al elec­toral suc­cess­es in Saar­land (4.0% in 2004), in Sax­ony (9.2% 2004) and in Meck­len­burg West Pomera­nia (7.4% 2006). . . .”

“Nation­al Respons­es”; German-Foreign-Policy.com; 5/1/2009. [17]

6. Revis­it­ing the pro­found con­nec­tions between fas­cism and the Vat­i­can [29], the broad­cast high­lights the Nazi sym­pa­thiz­ers and anti-Semi­tes that backed the rise of Car­di­nal Ratzinger, now Pope Bene­dict XVI. Among Ratzinger’s sup­port­ers was Bish­op Rudolph Graber, a sup­port­er of Hitler and a doc­tri­naire anti-Semi­te. (Recall that the Pope him­self served in the Hitler Youth and the Wehrma­cht [30] dur­ing World War II and has long-stand­ing links to the fas­cist Opus Dei [31] order.) The cur­rent Pope’s back­ground and polit­i­cal asso­ci­a­tions are dis­cussed at greater length in FTR #‘s 508 [30] and 559 [31].

“. . . With the renewed Catholic anti-Semi­tism in mind, crit­ics point to the ori­en­ta­tion of Ratzinger’s ear­li­er milieu — for exam­ple the fact that today’s Pope ‘owes his career to sup­port­ers who were Nazi sym­pa­thiz­ers.’ Of major sig­nif­i­cance was Bish­op Rudolf Graber from Regens­burg, who, toward the end of the 1960s had ‘the planned Jew­ish stud­ies pro­fes­sor­ship trans­formed into a pro­fes­sor­ship for dogma.”[6] Graber was con­sid­ered a self-pro­claimed anti-Semi­te. In a pam­phlet writ­ten in 1933 he asked ‘why should the scorned Israel rather than the Volk der Mitte (peo­ple of the mid­dle) rule the world.’[7] He lat­er opened ‘for Ratzinger, the doors to the Hab­s­burgs and Franz Josef Strauss,’ accord­ing to the Swiss press. . . .”

“The Pope and the Anti-Semi­tes”; German-Foreign-Policy.com; 5/11/2009. [22]

7. Con­clud­ing with dis­cus­sion of the man­i­fes­ta­tion of Third Reich for­eign pol­i­cy by the cur­rent Fed­er­al Repub­lic of Ger­many, the pro­gram sets forth the con­tin­ued sup­port by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment for the SS-linked ver­triebene groups. The ver­triebene groups aim to restore the polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic rights of the Ger­man minori­ties in East­ern Europe–groups whose polit­i­cal agit­prop aid­ed Hitler and were a major excuse for Nazi aggres­sion. Among the groups sup­port­ed by the ver­triebene [21] groups (and the Ger­man gov­ern­ment) are the Sude­ten Ger­mans and the Witiko League (Witikobund).

Com­pris­ing major ele­ments of a Nazi fifth col­umn in Czecho­slo­va­kia, the Sude­ten Ger­mans were the pre­text for Nazi annex­a­tion of that coun­try in 1938. Forcibly expelled from the coun­try at war’s end for aid­ing Hitler’s aggres­sion, the Sude­ten Ger­mans con­tin­ue to enjoy the sup­port of the Ger­man gov­ern­ment in their attempts to force resti­tu­tion from the Czech and Slo­vak republics.

This week­end the “Sude­ten Ger­man Home­land Asso­ci­a­tion” is cel­e­brat­ing its six­ti­eth “Sude­ten Ger­man Day” with the active par­tic­i­pa­tion of promi­nent politi­cians and an extreme rightwing orga­ni­za­tion. As always, this mass meet­ing put on by the “Ver­triebe­nen” (“Expellees”) Asso­ci­a­tion in Augs­burg, Bavaria, is being billed as a protest against laws, with con­sti­tu­tion­al sta­tus, in two EU mem­ber states — the “Benes Decrees” of the Czech Repub­lic and Slo­va­kia. The event will be hon­ored with a mes­sage of greet­ings from the Ger­man Min­is­ter of the Inte­ri­or. Also present will be the “Witikobund,” which rep­re­sents the rad­i­cal­ly eth­nic chau­vin­ist wing of the “Sude­ten Ger­man Home­land Asso­ci­a­tion” and main­tains con­tact to rightwing extrem­ists. A func­tionary of the NPD (the neo-Nazi Nation­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty of Ger­many) is a mem­ber of the pre­sid­i­um of its youth orga­ni­za­tion. Notwith­stand­ing, gov­ern­ment sup­port for this week­end’s event is assured, because the Ger­man gov­ern­ment declares the post-war reset­tle­ment of Ger­mans an “injus­tice” and with the sup­port of the “expellee” asso­ci­a­tions seeks to add empha­sis to this opin­ion. For the same rea­son, the Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion­er for Cul­ture and the Media just recent­ly announced that the “Cen­ter against Expul­sions” (Foun­da­tion Flight, Expul­sion, Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion) has begun to func­tion. Berlin is keep­ing its east­ern neigh­bors under pres­sure with its legal opin­ion that Ger­man reset­tle­ment was an “injus­tice”.

With a press con­fer­ence and a wreath-lay­ing com­mem­o­ra­tion cer­e­mo­ny, the “Sude­ten Ger­man Home­land Asso­ci­a­tion” will open its six­ti­eth “Sude­ten Ger­man Day” today in Augs­burg, Bavaria. Approx­i­mate­ly 15,000 are expect­ed to par­tic­i­pate in this mass meet­ing, sched­uled to close fol­low­ing the Bavar­i­an Prime Min­is­ter, Horst See­hofer­’s (CDU), keynote address on Sun­day. As always, the event will be cen­tered on the protest against the Benes Decrees of Czecho­slo­va­kia, which still have con­sti­tu­tion­al sta­tus in the suc­ces­sor states, the Czech Repub­lic and Slo­va­kia. The Benes Decrees served the recon­struc­tion of the Czechoslo­vak state in the after­math of Ger­man occu­pa­tion, and laid the ground­work for the expul­sion of the “Sude­tendeutschen” (Sude­ten Ger­mans), which is the rea­son why the Home­land Asso­ci­a­tion is still cam­paign­ing for their annul­ment today. The Ger­man Min­is­ter of the Inte­ri­or is hon­or­ing this year’s “Sude­ten Ger­man Day” and its protest against the Benes Decrees, with a mes­sage of offi­cial greet­ings, while the pres­ence of high-rank­ing Bavar­i­an politi­cians are insur­ing exten­sive media cov­er­age of the event.

As in the past, the “Witikobund” will also be par­tic­i­pat­ing in the “Sude­ten Ger­man Day” and has announced the orga­ni­za­tion of an event with speech­es and an infor­ma­tion stand. The “Witikobund” was found­ed in 1948 by for­mer SS and NSDAP par­ty mem­bers. It rep­re­sents the rad­i­cal­ly eth­nic chau­vin­ist wing of the “Sude­ten Ger­mans” and main­tains con­tacts to the extreme right. A for­mer long-stand­ing chair­man of the “Witikobund” was a “Repub­likan­er”, back when the “Repub­likan­er” Par­ty, was the lead­ing par­ty of the Ger­man extreme right. Today the links are to the NPD. Last year the chair­man of the Regens­burg coun­ty chap­ter of the NPD, Willi Wiener, was elect­ed vice chair­man of the “Witiko” nation­al youth orga­ni­za­tion “Junge Witiko­nen”. This led the May­or of Regens­burg, Hans Schaidinger (CSU) to refuse, in March, to attend the “Sude­ten Ger­man Home­land Asso­ci­a­tion’s” event. He demand­ed that they pub­licly renounce their ties to the “Witikobund,” and this not forth­com­ing, stayed away, in protest, from their event.[1]

It is not to be expect­ed that for, this week­end’s event, sim­i­lar stands will be tak­en by Bavar­i­an politi­cians or the Ger­man Min­is­ter of the Inte­ri­or. This is because of for­eign pol­i­cy inter­ests. Ger­many insists on its legal inter­pre­ta­tion, that the post-World War Ger­man reset­tle­ment con­sti­tutes an “injustice.”[2] There­fore, events, in sup­port of this con­tention, that draw exten­sive media cov­er­age, such as the “Sude­ten Ger­man Day,” are desir­able and will be sup­port­ed by the gov­ern­ment. For this same rea­son, Berlin has been push­ing for the estab­lish­ment of a “Cen­ter against Expul­sions” [3] over the past ten years. The Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion­er for Cul­ture and the Media announced on May 13 that the “Foun­da­tion Flight, Expul­sion, Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion’s” board of direc­tors has now been con­sti­tut­ed. The “Cen­ter against Expul­sions,” which also declares that Ger­man post-war reset­tle­ment was an “injus­tice” will be cre­at­ed in Berlin under the same name. Remain­ing unclear, how­ev­er, is whether this alle­ga­tion, of Ger­man reset­tle­ment con­sti­tut­ing an “injus­tice,” opens the door to a law­suit for resti­tu­tion or com­pen­sa­tion for for­mer prop­er­ty of the reset­tled. The Ger­man gov­ern­ment is still try­ing to keep these claims on the table.[4] In any case, this issue places Ger­many’s east­ern neigh­bors under pres­sure to the advan­tage of Berlin’s for­eign pol­i­cy. A boy­cott of these “expellee” events, in protest of the far-right, appear there­fore unat­trac­tive to pow­er-con­scious politi­cians.

The event tak­ing place in Augs­burg this week­end will be fol­lowed by a sim­i­lar event in Hanover (Low­er Sax­ony), planned for the last week­end in June (June 26 — 28) this year’s “Annu­al Meet­ing of Sile­sians”. Chris­t­ian Wulff (CDU), the Prime Min­is­ter of Low­er Sax­ony is to present the keynote address; the Vat­i­can’s Apos­tolic Nun­tius to Ger­many will hold mass.[5] The “Sile­sian Home­land Asso­ci­a­tion” came under pres­sure at last year’s “Sile­sian Annu­al Con­fer­ence”, because crit­ics had point­ed to its links to the extreme right. These accu­sa­tions did not ham­per the par­tic­i­pa­tion of Prime Min­is­ter Wulff. Before Wulff had deliv­ered his speech, jour­nal­ists had dis­cov­ered such slo­gans on posters in the hall as “Sile­sia is not in Poland — the truth will set you free”.[6] Giv­en such slo­gans, the extreme right’s par­tic­i­pa­tion can also be expect­ed this year.

The chair­man of the “Sile­sian Home­land Asso­ci­a­tion”, who will give his speech at the Annu­al Con­fer­ence after Wulff, is also a lead­ing activist of the “Pruss­ian Trust” — an orga­ni­za­tion fil­ing numer­ous claims against Poland for the return of prop­er­ty that had belonged to expellees.[7] The “Sile­sian Youth”, the offi­cial youth orga­ni­za­tion of the “Home­land Asso­ci­a­tion” is a forum also for “extrem­ist forces”, who “par­tial­ly put the Ger­man con­sti­tu­tion into ques­tion,” accord­ing to some of its for­mer members.[8] The “Sile­sian Youth” has also been invit­ed to Hanover. The events in Augs­burg and Hanover show a sim­i­lar polit­i­cal con­stel­la­tion: offi­cials at the high­est state lev­els join with activists of the extreme right — in favor of an aggres­sive for­eign pol­i­cy against Ger­many’s east­ern neigh­bors.

“Days of Aggres­sion”; German-Foreign-Policy.com; 5/29/2009. [20]