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Germany bans neo-Nazi group with US links, conducts raids in 10 states

German police raid the residence of a pro-Nazi Hammerskins Germany member in the east part of the capital city, Berlin, on Sept.18, 2023. (Photo by EPA)

The German government has banned a neo-Nazi group known for organizing far-right concerts and selling racist music, raiding the homes of more than two dozen of its members in 10 states.

The right-wing group, Hammerskins Germany, is an offshoot of an American extremist organization, the Hammerskins Nation, founded in the United States in 1988.

“The ban of the Hammerskins Germany is a hard blow against organized right-wing extremism,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said on Tuesday, adding that the ban included the association’s regional chapters and its sub-organization, Crew 38.

“With this ban, we are putting an end to the inhumane activities of an internationally active neo-Nazi association in Germany,” she added. “This sends a clear signal against racism and anti-Semitism.”

Police seized assets belonging to the group. It is yet unclear if any members of the group have been arrested by police. Several members of the group had licenses to carry weapons, German media reported.

The Texas-based organization has a top-down structure, with the Hammerskin Nation as the global umbrella of its national offshoots located across the US and several other countries.

Members of this organization refer to themselves across the globe as “brothers” and see themselves as an elite “brotherhood” practicing the teachings of right-wing pro-Nazi ideology.

Hammerskins also see themselves as the elite of the right-wing skinhead movement, according to Germany’s interior minister.

For more than a year we had the group under close scrutiny, Faeser said, adding that “we also worked closely with our American partners”.

The core element of the group’s ideology is the propagation of a far-right racial viewpoint based on Nazi ideology.

The group was one of the most influential far-right organizations in Europe and was actively involved in setting up neo-Nazi music labels, selling anti-Semitic records and organizing underground music events featuring a range of neo-Nazi bands.

The group spread its worldview by selling racist products, particularly at concerts, trying this way to appeal to non-members, the ministry said.

The German domestic intelligence agency previously said the group had also set up Germany's biggest far-right martial arts event, called Fight of the Nibelungs, which has been banned since 2019.

The ban on Hammerskins Germany is the 20th time a right-wing extremist organization has been outlawed by the German Interior Ministry.

“The right-wing extremist orientation of the international networking group manifests itself in particular through the distribution of recordings of right-wing extremist and anti-Semitic music, the organization of right-wing extremist concerts, and the sale of right-wing extremist merchandise,” it said.

In 2000, Blood and Honor, which had close contacts with members of a neo-Nazi group that carried out 10 racially motivated murders in Germany, had been outlawed.

According to Germany's domestic intelligence agency, there are approximately 38,800 loyalists in the country's right-wing extremist scene, with more than a third of them considered to be "potentially violent" people.

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