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  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 . Of particular significance is the role played by Waffen SS veteran Herbert Schweiger , 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  (FPO), until recently headed by the late Jorg Haider , 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 , 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  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.
In Italy, the heirs to Mussolini have moved altogether into the mainstream , once again. Gianfranco Fini’s  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  himself is a former member of the Licio Gelli’s P-2 Lodge , 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 . 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  by European neo-fascists, the broadcast highlights the German neo-Nazi  NPD’s  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  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  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  given to the ascension of Pope Benedict XVI (pictured at right as a young German priest); the surge in popularity of Nazism  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 , a powerful fascist order influencing the Vatican; deceased Freedom Party leader Jorg Haider’s friendship  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.
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  and 616 . 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.
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.
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. . . .”
3. In Italy, the heirs to Mussolini have moved altogether into the mainstream, once again. Gianfranco Fini’s  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  himself is a former member of the Licio Gelli’s P-2 Lodge , 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.”
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.
5. Noting more exploitation of the global economic collapse by European neo-fascists, the broadcast highlights the German NPD’s  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.' 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). . . .”
6. Revisiting the profound connections between fascism and the Vatican , 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  during World War II and has long-standing links to the fascist Opus Dei  order.) The current Pope’s background and political associations are discussed at greater length in FTR #’s 508  and 559 .
“. . . 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.” 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.' He later opened ‘for Ratzinger, the doors to the Habsburgs and Franz Josef Strauss,’ according to the Swiss press. . . .”
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  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.
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.” 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”  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. 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. 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”. 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. 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. 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.