Versteckspiel, lifestyle, symbole und codes von neonazistischen und extrem rechten gruppen (2002/5)

Since both my musical and ‘spiritual’ interests are under the suspicion of ‘antifascists’ who write about them in their publications, I am fairly familiar with those publications. Mostly just for finding out what they have to say, but also a bit of being curious what else they write about. And this brings us of course to a few points with this kind of publications. First, since they often put things very black and white, so for the audience that they aim (similar thinkers I presume) there are hardly nuances between different subjects / scenes. Then again there are ‘subjects’ who also read this literature in order to be able to do the same in the other direction. And then there is the grey area of vaguely interested people (on either side of the spectrum) who can use this kind of publications to get ideas.

There is a film called “Hideaway” which in Germany is known as “Das Versteckspiel”. In this case I think the title of this publication is better translated as “hide and seek”. The brochure has a long subtitlemeaning “lifestyle, symbols and codes of neonazistic and extreme right groups”. It is published in the form of a well printed A4 size magazine in full colour. Just released is the fifth printing (the first was in 2002) which is revised and updated. I’m not totally sure, but I think that the first pressing had 30.000 copies and the rest 5.000 per printing, which means that by now 50.000 of these brochures are on the market! I suppose it is mostly meant for people working with youth groups in order to make these youth-working able to recognise ‘hidden symbology’. This is exactly where the title refers to. Supporters of ‘far right’ ideology are not so easily recognisable anymore. Clothings styles make cross-breeds with other styles, such as urban- and streetwear. Also there are symbols that they can no longer use so they changed them a bit. First only the ‘initiated’ know what the symbols mean, then authorities find out and the symbols change again: ‘hide and seek’. Obviously there are not many people walking around with a swastika, I think you can even be arrested when wearing it. There are other symbols that are no longer allowed or at least, not allowed in a certain context. Over the years a large and complex system of ‘new symbolism’ came up, such as clothing brands (for their history, style or logo), symbols that where (mis)used 60 years ago, or symbols that get a new meaning (such as heathen symbols or originally neutral brand-logos). These symbols are explained and put in the historical and current context. A good part of this publication is dedicated to number symbology. An example: since the “H” is the eight letter of the alphabet, clothing with the number 28 (“AH”, Adolf Hitler) and 88 (“HH”, heil Hitler) are popular among certain groups. Since 88 had become well-known it is now refered to as “2×44” or “87+1”. Other number-symbology is spoken about too. Also groups/organisations and music styles are spoken about and towards the end publications.

Most clothing and symbolism, etc. seems to come from the skinhead scene(s), but the music section also shortly speaks about neofolk and Sinnober is among the publications. In the neofolk section Death In June and Der Blutharsch are named as extreme right bands, but the scene in general comes “partly in the neonazistic spectrum” however it “lets the borders become thinner”. I agree with the quotes. Von Thronstahl is named under the “neue Deutsche Härte” music style and the “Identität Durch Musik” project that Von Thronstahl is part of (or founded?) is spoken about. Only mentioned are Rasthof Dachau and Genocide Organ as industrial bands.

So what about recognisabilit? Many of the subjects spoken about are (I think) from the skinheadscene(s). I am not familiar with it or them. In the music scenes where I find my music, there are hardly any of the clothing brands or symbols that can be found in the brochure, but a few are. The ‘iron cross’ (“not necessarily an extreme right symbol”) became popular when Der Blutharsch used it as a logo. Runes are popular too and of course the ‘black sun’ from the Wewelsburg which has an unmistakable nazi background (the others were misused, this one was invented by them). Pagan symbols are used too. Not much is said about the wearing of uniforms or uniform-like clothing, however in the beginning is mentioned that neonazis try to look more neutral by going up in other scenes, such as the neofolk scene.

Did I find something new? Well actually I did. I had no idea that pagan symbols were and are misused on such a large scale. A while ago I experimented a bit with printing my own shirts. I used a very stylistic Thorshammer (which seems to be popular in groups on both sides of the spectrum) that was found in Iceland , but people see a swastica in it (symbolically not incorrect, but I hadn’t noticed it myself), but another shirt has an Irminsul in a circle. According to the brochure this same depiction is was used during WWII as symbol of the “Ahnenerbe” and nowadays it is the symbol of the “pagan-German Art-society” (whatever that is). Also the Celtic triskel is unfortunately used a large scale (a replacement for the swastica I presume) which is too bad.

So then what about this brochure? It looks good, it is rather informative, not too black-and-white and most of all: it is cheap. More even, it can be entirely found online (click on the cover above). On the website are instructions how to get a copy. When you live in the Netherlands you can also get a copy from the AFA. After reading the website or obtaining a copy of the brochure you will know what to stay away from, what is in the grey zone or (if you are a naive as some people in the scene) what to buy. Oddly enough the brochure gives hints or directions where some items can be obtained and there is even ‘reference kit’ with a lot of card, photo’s, sheets, etc…

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