German neo-Nazis lure youth with music
In a dark seedy club, tattooed skinheads face the stage. In unison, they raise their arms in a Nazi salute and sing along, “Adolf Hitler come down from heaven and govern Germany again. We raise our hands to the Fuehrer.”
This frightening scene is one of many from a new documentary created out of six years of secret recording in neo-Nazi clubs. Shot in more than 50 underground venues, the murky footage is a window into the hateful scene of extremist right-wing rock.
Blood Must Flow: Undercover Among Nazis, by TV-documentary veteran Peter Ohlendorf, looks at the persistence of the neo-Nazi scene through the proliferation of its music, proving that extremist rock is a way to lure youth culture into the fold and radicalize it.
“The concerts are a gateway for young people to enter this neo-Nazi scene,” said Ohlendorf. “There are no clubs for young people in the countryside. So these concerts offer a place where they can gather and do whatever they want. And this is where the neo-Nazis get their big chance to make impressions.”
On an investigative road trip, Ohlendorf follows journalist Thomas Kuban (an alias) on his journey across Germany, as well as parts of Austria and Hungary, to revisit venues where Kuban had secretly filmed wearing his “fascist pig getup,” basically a bomber jacket outfitted with tiny cameras and audio recording equipment.
Kuban’s horrifying footage is cut between scenes of their trip and interviews with locals. In several clips, singer and fans chant racist obscenities and the anti-Semitic “Blood Must Flow,” a favourite anthem among the scene, seducing impressionable minds to join them in the slander and violence.
Martin Langebach, featured in Blood Must Flow, is a sociologist who has been researching right-wing extremism for 20 years, in particular its implications on youth culture.
According to Langebach, some bands become popular because they play a more “indie” type of Nazi rock with simple melodies, while others gain notoriety for having extremely racist and cynical lyrics.
More than 100 Nazi rock CDs are released each year in Germany, from around 30 different record labels. “The merchandising has grown enormously in the last years,” said Langebach. “The special feature of the German scene is that is has a number of original clothing brands.”
Apart from selling T-shirts and CDs at underground shows, merchandise sales are common through online shops, some of which Langebach says are quite professional.
Blood Must Flow uses Kuban’s findings to create a larger argument, which is that public authorities and state officials are dismissing a very real and dangerous problem.
Stranger still is the fact that police are often aware of these illegal neo-Nazi concerts, sometimes waiting outside the club in case violence erupts. In fact, publicly inciting hatred in both lyrics and speech is a criminal offence in Germany. Yet Kuban’s footage is riddled with evidence.
However, state officials were forced to react last November, when a series of murders of Turkish and Greek immigrants were attributed to the National Socialist Underground (NSU), a far-right German terror group.
“The NSU has made it clear that this issue still exists,” said Ohlendorf.
Premiering at the Berlin Film Festival last February, Blood Must Flow is currently on tour across Germany, screening to packed audiences. Ohlendorf is still looking for television distribution for his film.