How Neo-Nazism Works

Auhtored by Thomas Klikauer and Danny Antonelli

While Italy’s Mussolini invented fascism as Fasci Italiani di Combattimento or Fascist Combat Platoons in 1919, it was, nevertheless, Hitler’s Nazis who perfected it. 

A most insightful Deutsche Welle documentary titled “What neo-Nazis have inherited from original Nazism” shows the link between today’s neo-Nazis and the original Nazis. Yet, today’s version of fascism works in many ways.

Only a few months ago, the city of Pirna became Germany’s first municipality to be ruled by a neo-Nazi sympathizer. For tactical reasons, the newly elected far-right mayor, Tim Lochner, camouflaged his direct link to the neo-Nazi AfD

Lochner did this even though the AfD – euphemistically labelled, Alternative for Germany – likes to pretend – rather successfully – that it is just another conservative populist party. Apart from right-wing extremism and outright Nazism, the AfD provides no “alternative” for Germany. 

In reality, the AfD is categorized by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency – the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz or BfV – as right-wing extremists, the state’s semi-official code-word for neo-Nazis.

Another domino fell recently. Just a 40-minute car ride west of the East-German city of Dresden, an albeit smaller city – Großschirma – followed Pirna. Today, the former East-German reactionary state of Saxony, where the neo-fascist AfD continues to receive strong support, has two cities – Pirna and Großschirma – with neo-Nazi mayors.

This region of Germany has long been known as “Dunkeldeutschland” – dark Germany, the eastern region that Federal President Joachim Gauck considered to be rife with extremists and xenophobes. 

Geographically, Großschirma is located about halfway between the neo-Nazi death squad NSU hotspot of Chemnitz and the state’s capital Dresden

The state of Saxony is by far the most diehard far-right state among Germany’s sixteen states. Recent polling has Merkel’s conservative CDU sitting at 31% while the neo-fascist AfD is set to receive a whopping 34% of voter support in the next election. It would give the AfD 45 seats in Saxony’s parliament. 

With that – after the next election which is scheduled for September 2024 – the AfD will be the strongest political party in Saxony’s parliament.

Altogether, the far-right-conservative bloc would capture as much as 63% – almost a 2/3 majority. The (AfD) fascist/conservative (CDU) contingent is set to have 87 out of 120 seats. The dubious BSW might get 17 seats. In a worst case scenario, the progressives – with only 16 seats (or 11%) – would have de facto ceased to exist. 

Saxony’s two AfD mayors were democratically elected. Perhaps Nazi-theoretician Carl Schmitt was not all that wrong when he predicted, in the 1930s, that fascism could be voted in to power. 

Beyond all historical comparisons, the recent Pirna and Großschirma elections might also indicate a normalization of neo-fascism or a Mainstreaming of Fascism as extremism expert Henry Giroux calls it.

In Großschirma, the AfD’s far right politician Rolf Weigand won the mayoral election. Rolf Weigand is an associate of the AfD’s regional mini-Führer Jörg Urban who likes to march side-by-side with Andreas Kalbitz who, in turn, enjoys neo-Nazi militia camps

Weigand also marches alongside Björn Höcke who used to write neo-Nazi narratives under his pseudonym Landolf Ladig

In recent years, Weigand and Urban relished running a far-right campaign against what they call “early sexualization”, i.e. educational programs about sex. Perhaps the plan was to crank up teen pregnancies or generate Incel hate groups. 

Perhaps their campaign was a remake of Hitler’s Mutterkreuz ideology that sought to increase the Nazi birthrate to supply a fresh cohort of soldiers for Hitler’s wars.

Meanwhile, and this is just a few weeks ago, the first far-right mayor for the AfD, Tim Lochner in Pirna, took office. He once organized right-wing esoteric anti-vaxxer rallies. His good friend Max Schreiber is the mini-Führer of a violent neo-Nazi outfit called Freie Sachsen

Meanwhile back in Großschirma, Weigand prevailed in the first round of voting with 59.4% against two competitors. The voter turnout was 73%. 

In other words, three-quarters of the local population voted and 60% of those wanted a far-right mayor – a truly democratic decision by people who, like their Nazi forefathers, prefer nihilism to life in a harmonious society.

Formally, and perhaps also thanks to obscuring his right-wing extremist associations, Weigand entered as a so-called “individual” candidate. Even his electoral posters, positioned along the streets of the city of Großschirma, lacked the distinctive blue logo of the AfD

The AfD prefers the color blue – not brown, which Germany’s political tradition assigns to the Nazis (1930s) and today’s neo-Nazis. Yet, like the true Nazis of the 1930s, the AfD likes a bit of red in their logo. Pretending to support workers works well. Such pretences helped in the 1930s and they seem to help today: Weigand collected 60% of voter support.

Still, the overwhelming support does not diminish reality. Weigand’s AfD in the state of Saxony is officially classified by the Verfassungsschutz as a “proven right-wing extremist” group, i.e. a proven neo-Nazi group. 

Despite Weigand’s best endeavours, his far-right party membership is well known in the local community of over 5,500 people. After his stunning electoral success, Weigand, the AfD local mini-Führer Jörg Urban, and Swiss lesbian and AfD-Führer Alice Weidel celebrated the AfD’s recent municipal political-ideological triumph. 

In addition to Pirna and Großschirma, the AfD already has a mayor in the small town of Raguhn-Jeßnitz, with a population of 8,800. It is also in the former East-Germany (Saxony-Anhalt). 

The AfD also has a district administrator in Sonneberg in Thuringia – again in the former East-Germany. It gets worse because in the mayoral election in Nordhausen and in the election in the state of Brandenburg’s district of Dahme-Spree, the AfD also had some success. 

The election in Großschirma has a tragedy as its initiating factor. The previous incumbent, Volkmar Schreiter (of the neoliberal FDP party) took his own life on 16 October 2023. 

One of the key reasons for the suicide of this democratic mayor was the increasingly toxic climate in local politics. According to one study, almost two-thirds of all city mayors and local politicians in Germany are regularly exposed to anti-democratic hostility. In general, attacks come from the right, far-right, AfD-supporters, and adjacent neo-Nazis. 

As a result of sustained and often violent far-right/AfD attacks, democratic officials and parliamentarians tend to withdraw from democratic institutions. Neo-fascism wins – democracy loses. 

Attacking democratic parliamentarians is one of the many well-targeted strategies of Germany’s far-right, the neo-Nazis and the AfD. Experts who study Germany’s far-right see this as a great danger for democracy. The same tactics are used by the far-right in the USA.

A survey of local and regional politicians in almost 80 German cities by the highly respected Heinrich Böll Foundation found that

  • 60% of parliamentarians report insults, threats, or physical assaults;
  • 33% say that they are less likely to express certain topics in public.

The far-right/AfD threat against democratic politicians is not a purely East-German phenomenon. In Frankfurt am Main, Omar Shehata is a city councillor of the mainstream SPD. In multi-cultural and international Frankfurt, every second person has an immigrant background.

Shehata is committed to integration and equality and is against right-wing extremism. In the summer of 2022, after he confronted a well-known right-wing radical in downtown Frankfurt, he received online abuse and hate mail. This is a common tactic by right-wing internet trolls.

Virtually the same happened to Nele Bär, a parliamentarian of the environmental the Greens party for the district council at East-Germany’s Wartburgkreis in Thuringia. 

Bär spoke of columns of marching far-right thugs. These intimidating neo-Nazi, far-right, and AfD marches tend to happen directly in front of her party office and at campaign booths.

It makes democratic parliamentarians feel insecure. Historically, attacking democratic parliamentarians was the raison d’être of the Nazis during the 1930s. In 2024, this is still the reason for the threatening marches of Germany’s far-right and adjacent neo-Nazis. Bär says: 

“Usually, we are not sitting there with 50 people … you are rather outnumbered and of course, that makes you queasy because you don’t know what is going to happen.”

Right-wing hate messages are regularly sprayed on Bär’s office, particularly after the infamous Monday rallies that began with the deeply racist PEGIDA street thugs. 

Still, Nele Bär continues to work in East-Germany’s Gotha as a democratic parliamentarian. She spends almost all of her time with local politics – on a voluntary basis. The anti-democratic far-right/AfD hates this.

As a local parliamentarian, the far-right knows her name and her face. Repeatedly, Bär has become a target of far-right anger. Bär says, “…and then you’d better think twice … ok, am I walking home in the dark or am I calling a taxi or am I just asking a friend to walk with me?” 

Meanwhile, colleagues and family are worried about her, especially during election campaigns and at electoral booths. At the same time, far-right/AfD hostilities are rising. This is how modern-day neo-Nazism works.

Meanwhile back in Großschirma, AfD fighter Weigand once served as a councillor working for Schreiter, who at that time was the mayor. 

Since 2018, Weigand has been outed as a far-right agent who is dead set against democracy. He significantly contributed to the attacks against the liberal-democratic mayor Schreiter, and many cite this bullying as one of reasons for the mayor’s suicide. 

A local newspaper – The Freie Presse – quoted a city councillor on Weigand’s attacks against Schreiter, saying that AfD strongman Weigand had “declared war on the mayor [the liberal-democratic politician Schreiter] and was just looking for the next opportunity to knock him out.” 

Weigand also launched several complaints against the democratic mayor. This modus operandi follows a proven far-right strategy. During Nazism, Hitler’s chief propagandist Goebbels once outlined this when (our translation) noting: 

“… it will always remain one of the best jokes of democracy that it provided its mortal enemies with the means by which it was destroyed … the costs of our activities are paid by our enemies …we made excellent capital out of democracy’s stupidity.”

Progressive parliamentarian Rico Gebhardt wrote, after Weigand’s election, that “he probably had a share in the suicide of his predecessor.”

Modern fascism works in a three step process:

  1. The far-right/AfD creates a toxic anti-democratic environment that will drive its stated enemies into resigning and even suicide;
  2. once a democratically elected politician is removed, the far-right/AfD gets elected by almost 60% of the local population; and finally, the outcome of all this is that
  3. democracy is replaced by fascism.

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

The Hollow Men by T. S. Eliot

Source: Screenshot German Public TV – the sign reads: “We already had Nazis – it was shit”

Born on the foothills of Castle Frankenstein, Thomas Klikauer is the author of over 970 publications including a book on Alternative für Deutschland: The AfD – published by Liverpool University Press.

Danny Antonelli grew up in the USA, now lives in Hamburg, Germany and writes radio plays, stories and is a professional lyricist and librettist. 

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content