Sex, Drugs, & NS Rock ’n‘ Roll
Right-wing Extremist Brotherhoods and their Mafia-like Structures.
By Elias Vander.
They wear leather outfits with the insignia of their gang, imitate well-known and international motorcycle clubs with their attire and make money in similar ways as as their apparently (in)famous idols.
Since the beginning of the nineties, so called „brotherhoods“ have been an integral part of the right-wing extremist scene in Germany. With their international connections and networks, they are known to play a crucial role in the far-right music scene. They distribute music, support musicians, organise concerts, provide properties or security services. However, their activities go much deeper than that, as the developments of the last few years inside of the Nazi movement in Germany and current events have shown.
One of the best-known networks was is the illegal Blood and Honour (B&H) network. Its primary function was the international networking of right-wing extremist bands and the coordination and organisation of the corresponding concerts. In this context, music has the function of creating personal contacts and spreading National Socialist ideology. B&H was illegal as early as 2000, but the armed arm [Begriff gibt es im Englischen nicht. Lieber: the terroristic arm bzw. the martial arm] of this the network, Combat18, was not banned in Germany until 20 years later had not been banned in Germany until this year. However an estimated 10,000 members worldwide, the network is still very active. In addition to the illegal B&H network, other vielonet right-wing extremist brotherhoods are still active in Germany today. These include the „Turonen“ „Hammerskins“ and their supporter network „Crew 38“, „Barnimer Freundschaft“, the „Hermunduren“ or the Berlin „Vandalen“ who go by the alias „Ariogermanische Kampfgemeinschaft“. These brotherhoods leave no doubt about their extremist ideology]. Due to their strict hierarchy, these groups try to uphold a strict code of secrecy. This is enforced by internal sanctions for members who violate this code and has ensured that little is known about their internal workings/procedure]. Videos of meetings or annual celebrations, as those which have been recently published, are rare and dropouts [former members] who publicly and critically engage reflect upon this groups are rare.
Cut and Conspiracy
That the activities were not limited to the areas of music and concerts was has been shown by the various connections of right-wing extremist assassins [assassins: Auftragsmörder. Hier eher: terrorists/murderers] to these groups in the past. Thus, links to illegal arms purchases, murders ,and politically motivated violence can be traced are proven. The National Socialist Underground (NSU) – a neo-Nazi terrorist organisation that murdered nine migrants and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007 and carried out 43 attempted murders, three bomb bombings and 15 robberies – counted several members of B&H amongst its supporters . The attaker of the mayor of Kassel Walter Lübcke, also had contact to the „Combat 18“ network which had been strongly established for a long time in Kassel]. Again and again, members of these so-called „brotherhoods“ are conspicuous [suspects in] serious acts of violence. In February 2014, for example, some later members of the Turonen were involved in an assault on the organisation for fairs in Ballstädt [a city in the federal state of Thuringia].
Due to the fact that these groups consider themselves to be under constant observation by federal security authorities is made clear it is forbidden, among other things, by that forbidden symbols are only partly visible in club rooms or are banned completely. In general, these networks are invisible to the public. This is done mainly in order to avoid possible persecution. But also in order to be able to have an organisational and structural effect on other social spaces, they deliberately avoid associating themselves too openly in public as a group. Some brotherhoods have forbidden their members to wear cuts, t-shirts or other clothing with the group’s symbol in public. This behaviour is intended to make it difficult for federal security authorities to make a connection to the groups, to detect networks or to determine group sizes. Other clubs prohibit wearing club clothing at demonstrations. Law enforcement plays a decisive role for the changed appearance, but also the possibility that members of the group can instrumentalise demonstrations incognito. Still other brotherhoods appear visibly in public with their club clothing. They do this to have a socio-spatial presence and on the other hand, to signal dominance and their own claim to power. Club clothing also has a communicative function internally: it determines affiliation and status in the respective association. Deviations from this communication code or non-legitimised wearing of the fraternity’s symbols are sanctioned accordingly.
Clear rules, Sanctions for Misconduct and a Strict Hierarchy
In order to enforce these sanctions structures capable of action, clear hierarchies, credibility and authenticity is required. These brotherhoods have all of this. This is one of the reasons why they are repeatedly involved in the organisation of large-scale right-wing extremist concerts. Can well-known bands provide the security with the help of other other brotherhoods. Like other NS rocker clubs (national socialist rocker clubs), the „Turonen“ from Thuringia are tightly organised and hierarchically structured. The club usually becomes a kind of „surrogate family“ because you see your „“brothers” become more important than the member’s family. There are members who discuss issues and make decisions „democratically“. Below the members in the hierarchy are the prospects, who perform all the „menial“ tasks, such as serving at the tending bar and entertaining the members and good friends of the club at club meetings or larger celebrations. At the lowest level are the „Hangarounds“. These are people who show an interest in the club and are regularly “hang out” with the club. An elitist cohesion is propagated amongst the organization as well as absolute obedience and loyalty to the group is required of the members.
In the case of the “Turonen Thüringen”, the fact that, in the case of the Turonen Thüringen, the organisational structures of rocker clubs are obviously being transferred can be seen, among other things, in the establishment of so-called supporter clubs. These are befriended clubs that take over certain services and are subordinate to the actual club in the internal hierarchy. As a rule, these groups are responsible for activities with which the actual club does not want to be associated.
For the „Turonen“, it is „Garde 20“, whose members are promised full membership in the main club later on. Central to all rocker clubs is the clubhouse. It serves as a meeting place, a venue for events and a place of retreat. In the case of the Turonen, it is the so-called „Yellow House“ in Ballstädt.
Groups like the Turonen have long understood that organising right-wing extremist concerts with well-known bands brings in a lot of money. The group uses its connections to national and international „right-wing rock stars“ to mobilise as many concert attendants as possible with their names. The money earned, which is likely to amount to several 100,000 Euros, is probably put back into the organisation of new concerts, as well as into the purchase of real estate. Concerts were verifiably organised in Switzerland and Germany. The neo-Nazi festival „Rock gegen Überfremdung“ [Rock against Loss of Cultural Identity] attracts many fans every year. A concert in Themar [Zusatz Information: a small town in Thuringia] in 2017, there were attracted about 6000 visitors who in turn paid about 30 euros each in admission alone. How much money remains with the organisers of such a concert after deducting all costs only be roughly calculated. This does not include the sale of merchandise and CDs, or the profit margin on the sale of drinks and food. The financial aspect is not always in the foreground. The concerts serve equally as as a chance to meet others and a stage for propaganda. They are thus part of the extremist event culture. They thus contribute decisively to politicisation and identity building, as well as to the expansion and establishment of international networks.
The Drug Use of Outsiders
Not so popular but also done is dealing drugs. This behaviour is rather frowned upon and unwanted in these circles, probably also because drug dealing in Germany is attributed to people with a migration background. Nevertheless, evidence of neo-Nazis involved in the trafficking and/or consumption of narcotics can be found time and again in this milieu. In Saxony, the NPD exposed itself with a campaign against crystal meth. A short time later, the police uncovered a network of drug dealers in the state. At the centre of this network: Saxon neo-Nazis. In 2012, a member of the skinhead band „Bollwerk“ was arrested. The accusation: he dealt crystal meth „in no small quantity“. The operator of the neo-Nazi fashion brand Ansgar Aryan has also come into conflict with the law several times in the past for violations of the Narcotics Act. And the list goes on. Overall, the impression is created that besides the consumption, the sale of drugs also seems to be a tolerable business for parts of the right-wing extremist scene.
Nevertheless, the narrative of the criminal immigrant is maintained in in violent right-wing extremist circles. Internally, however, these groups no longer seem to care about this. Members of the Turonen are the most fitting example. They apparently do not allow themselves to be dictated by which means they are allowed to earn money – and by which they are not. According to the Thuringian State Criminal Police Office, 27 residential and business premises were searched at the beginning of this year in Gotha, in the district of Gotha, in Bad Langensalza, in the district of Saalfeld-Rudolstadt, in Saxony-Anhalt and in Hesse. One kilogram of drugs was found at the premises of 21 suspects from the neo-Nazi brotherhoods „Turonen“ and „Garde 20“, and 120,000 Euros and weapons were seized. These people probably don’t care about the livelihoods of the users. Apparently, a veil of silence is drawn around the topic of drugs and the „easy“ money is invested in other matters.
But not only drugs and music seem to be lucrative businesses: brothels are also run. For example, by members of the „Turonen“. During house searches in the Gotha district, flats and business premises of the „Turonen“ were searched. Among them was the „Blue Lagoon“, a brothel in Gotha, which had been owned by the „Turonen“ since around 2015. The brothel is registered as a room rental, as they probably do not want to attract the attention of the authorities. There are said to be other brothels owned by the „Turonen“. These developments are not new. Until 2013, a neo-Nazi cultural association in the Austrian municipality of Desselbrunn operated under the name „Objekt 21“. The association, which was officially dissolved in 2011 but remained active until 2013, was made up of Austrian and German neo-Nazis. The group’s criminal activities included armed robberies, extortion, bodily harm, kidnapping, drug and arms trafficking. Furthermore, the association had contacts in the red light milieu. “Project 21″ seems like the blueprint for the structures that the „Turonen“ established in Thuringia a few years later.
As early as 2014, the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution of Saxony-Anhalt pointed out that of around 1,400 right-wing extremists observed by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, approximately three per cent belonged to a motorbike club. „Both groups have an affinity for violence. And we fear that right-wing extremists could try to obtain weapons and explosives from the biker milieu,“ said Karl-Heinz Willberg, head of the police at the Ministry of the Interior.
It becomes clear that these groups have very little to do with „doing something good in the interest of the people“. The „Turonen“ and their followers clearly have a mafia-like structure. They make a lot of money from the suffering of others, intimidate people who think differently and trample on their own values, such as „protecting the family“, „loyalty“ or „protecting German citizens from drugs“. If one applies the general definition of organised crime to the activities described, it becomes clear that these are not loosely oriented activities. According to the Federal Criminal Police Office, organised crime is „the planned commission of criminal offences which are individually or collectively of considerable significance, if more than two participants work for a longer or indefinite period of time in a division of labour a) using commercial or business-like structures, which is the case with many groups at least in the area of music distribution and concert organisation. Or b) by using violence or other means suitable for intimidation or c) by exerting influence on politics, mass media, public administration, justice or the economy“. The first two points in particular are an integral part of the scene and the structure of these groups found must therefore be described for itself or in parts as being interwoven with organised crime.
It is to be hoped, also for the sake of the residents, that the public prosecutor’s office will also see it that way and that the haunting in Ballstädt, Gotha and all of Thuringia will soon be put to an end.
*With support from ACD and Fabian Wichmann.
Foto: Screenshot mdr.de