De Fabel van de illegaal 67, autumn 2004
Author: Gerrit de Wit
Protest against concert of ultra Right band
On September, 28th, 2004 the Austrian ultra Right industrial band Der Blutharsch played in music center LVC in Leyden in the Netherlands. The concert was visited by several extreme Right activists. Beforehand the Anti-Fascist Action Netherlands (AFA) and De Fabel van de illegaal had asked the music center to cancel the concert. But it refused, calling on "artistic freedom". Later a Der Blutharsch concert in Tel Aviv, Israel, did get cancelled after protests.
Der Blutharsch is formed around Austrian Albin Julius and openly flirts with Nazi occultism. Julius is a fan of the Austrian Right-wing extremist Jörg Haider. "Haider made statements which the government should have taken earlier", he told the Greek neo-folk/dark wave magazine L’ame Electrique. In that interview he also said that he did not consider Haider extreme Right. In another interview with the German gothic magazine Black Julius said that he hoped that Europe will in the future again consist of "national states" and that migration will "finally be stopped".
At concerts and production sessions, Douglas Pearce of the new Right neo-folk band Death in June (1) often provides Julius with musical assistance. The name of his band refers to the day Ernst Röhm died. Until 1934 Röhm was the leader of Hitler’s Nazi SA. After internal struggles the complete SA leadership including Röhm was murdered by the SS in June 1934. Strange enough the logo of the band consists of a SS Totenkopf and members of the band frequently dress up in SS uniforms. Death in June was the first European band to perform in Croatia when the civil war was still raging at the Balkans. Before and after the concert Pearce and his band also visited the headquarters of the fascist HOS militia in Croatia. In interviews with various dark wave magazines the band said they could understand the pogroms against Roma and refugees in the early 1990s in Germany. They refused to sign petitions against those pogroms.
Another musician who performs with Der Blutharsch from time to time is Boyd Rice. He also regularly parades in SS uniforms and is a good friend of Bob Heick, the Führer of the Nazi organization American Front. On the internet one can see them posing brotherly together in fascist uniforms. Rice says he adheres to social Darwinism, the ideology of the survival of the fittest. During concerts, Julius is also sometimes assisted by ex-Death in June member Ian Read. On Death in June's cd "Brown Book" Read sang the "Horst Wessel" song which is outlawed in Germany. During the eighties Read was involved in several extreme Right groups in the UK, and he also was a member of the fascist "Order of the Nine Angles". Even in Dutch extreme Right magazines like Nieuwe Bezems (New Brooms) of the Nationale Beweging (National Movement), Der Blutharsch is described as "one of the more radical bands of the scene, which openly flirts with Nazi occultism".
During their concerts and in all their material Der Blutharsch adores with Nazi esthetics. Until recently the band logo was a Sig rune, the stylized S in the SS insignia. It has now been replaced by the so called iron cross. That military symbol originates from the "Prussian liberation struggle" against Napoleonic rule at the beginning of the nineteenth century. After 1939, Hitler used it as one of the most important Nazi military decorations. On the band's website all kinds of products with iron crosses on it are offered, and the cross can also be seen on the Blutharsch video box "Gold gab ich für Eisen". On that video guest band member Wilhelm Herich can be seen screaming "Free Pinochet! Freiheit für Pinochet!". A gesture of support for the former Chilean dictator, who protected many Nazi's who had fled Nazi Germany after the Second World War. In another video fragment, a bottle with a swastika label is held up before the camera. And, on the same video, the band plays "Lisa Pien", the Finnish version of the popular Second World War song "Lili Marleen". This version is an ode to the European voluntary SS.
Der Blutharsch’s cd covers are also awash with references to Nazi Germany. Their cd "The pleasures received in pain" features the painting "Abwehr östliche Einfälle" by Nazi painter Ferdinand Staeger. And on the cd "Der Sieg des Lichtes ist des Lebens Heil" the painting "Der Schlacht im Teutoburgerwalde" by Nazi artist Werner Peiner is used. In one of their songs Der Blutharsch furthermore uses the first four lines of the Hitler Youth’s "Marching Song". The number "God punish England" is a song of revenge for the allied air attacks on Nazi Germany. In the song several cities are named on which bombs were dropped. The band members wear black uniforms at their concerts. Recently Der Blutharsch released a joint album together with the Italian fascist band Zetazeroalfa which belongs to "Rock Identity Italy", a new Right music current which tries to present fascism in a 'nice’ way. Earlier Der Blutharsch released a split ep together with the new Right band Ain Soph, which often quotes the mystical fascist mystic Julius Evola. Albin Julius also founded the Hau Ruck! music label, which released the ep "Odessa vine ill Bello" with eight Italian fascist marching songs dating from the era of Benito Mussolini. In short, the band flirts with Nazi esthetics without keeping any distance.
A few weeks before the concert in Leyden AFA and De Fabel van de illegaal wrote a protest letter to the music center LVC pointing at the Der Blutharsch's extreme Right background. "By allowing Der Blutharsch on stage, a permissive culture could arise which considers the use of Nazi symbolism to be normal", the letter also said. But the music center didn't agree. LVC manager Ruud Visser answered that he himself had also reacted "with doubts" when the record shop "La la land" from The Hague had offered to organize a concert by Der Blutharsch. Visser wrote that "he could imagine that there could be people who consider the website of Der Blutharsch too provocative", but that "he himself didn't consider that a reason to refuse the band". According to him "there have been bands before which have used provocation to get attention. Even Roy Orbison performed with the iron cross around his neck." But Visser's argument has nothing to do with this concert. Der Blutharsch shows off with many Nazi symbols and band members have extreme Right ideas and contacts. So it's no question of artistic freedom anymore, but of extreme Right activism. Visser also wrote that the band would have a concert on October, 9th 2004, in Tel Aviv. And if it is allowed there, how can we forbid them, he implied. Visser furthermore said that the concert would not attract a "wrong" audience, because "the band is not appreciated by extreme Right groups".
AFA and De Fabel van de illegaal then informed the press and the members of the Leyden city council. (2) Some of the councilors reacted furiously. The Christian democratic party CDA, the formerly Maoist SP, the green Left GroenLinks and the greens LWG/De Groenen wanted the mayor to put pressure on the music center to cancel the concert. Other parties were also critical and for instance called the band "clearly morally wrong", but they didn't want to stop the concert. Mayor Lenferink had the police investigate Der Blutharsch, but nothing came of it. An ultra right band, it appears, has to go a long way to be banned on legal grounds. The mayor did call the concert "tasteless". On the 24th of September six Fabel and AFA activists, together with GroenLinks council member Sita Dewkalie handed out leaflets to LVC visitors. (3) They were called upon to protest against the decision of the LVC management.
The leaflets were also delivered to the mail boxes of the council members in town hall. That made Leefbaar Leiden (Livable Leyden) council member Daniël van Schoonderwoerd den Bezemer very angry. He wanted to know how Fabel activists could have "illegally" entered town hall and wanted to ask the mayor official "critical" questions about it. He also mentioned that the Fabel protest was "overdone". That was not surprising because Den Bezemer gave a supportive signature to the extreme Right party Centrumpartij in 1986, making it possible for this party to join the council and parliamentary elections. In 1987 Den Bezemer signed for the extreme Right Centrum Democraten at the provincial elections.
It wasn't the first time anti-fascists acted against Der Blutharsch's concerts. In March 2003 a concert was cancelled in Clausnitz in Germany after protests, after which the band played in another hall. And in December 2003 a concert was cancelled in Chicago, also after protests.
At the Leyden concert the band members dressed in black uniforms with iron crosses on it. Although manager Visser had predicted otherwise, there were several Right extremists among the hundred or so in attendance, like for instance Jasper Velzel. In 2002 he was convicted for the possession and distribution of racist, Nazi and holocaust revisionist music through his mail order outlet, Berzerker Records. He had to do 120 hours of public service work and would go into prison for 3 months if he would do it again. Velzel was acquitted for possession of badges with swastika's and SS totenkopf symbols on them, because the prosecutor could not prove the stuff was meant for distribution. Velzel is active in the fascist Nationale Beweging (National Movement) and the drummer of the white power band Brigade M.
Another extremist present was Alwin Kerkhof from the town of Koog aan de Zaan. He was convicted conditionally to prison in 2003 for racist remarks. Kerkhof used to be an activist of the extreme Right NNP (New National Party) and visited demonstrations by the extreme Right party Nieuw Rechts (New Right). On March, 4th, 2004, he was arrested together with Clinton Aarts and M. van G. of the Jonge Fortuynisten, the youth branch of late Pim Fortuyn’s party LPF. Masked with balaclavas, the trio had threatened a press photographer, who often works at Left actions, at his home. After they rang his doorbell they made a picture of the person who opened up.
Also Jeroen van Valkenburg came to the concert. He is a member of the music label New Era Productions from the city of Maastricht, which organized a black metal concert on April, 17th 2004, in youth center Pazzop in the town of Bladel. Two of the bands at the concert, Ad Hominem and Seigneur Voland, are fascist and anti-Semitic. Pressured by AFA and national media Pazzop decided to cancel the bands. But they did play anyhow, using other band names.
Alarmed by the Leyden protests, German anti-fascists protested against the concert Der Blutharsch had planned in Israel on October, 9th 2004. On the internet a petition was spread, which people could send to the Israeli organizers. The Jewish American Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which organizes a lot of actions against anti-Semitism, condemned the concert in a press release. (4) "That this performance may upset and offend large numbers of Israeli Holocaust survivors is reason enough to cancel this event", wrote the ADL. The Right Israeli minister of Diaspora Natan Sharanski asked for the band to be refused entry in Israel (5), and Yossi Sarid, member of parliament for the centre Left party Meretz, complained in the daily Jerusalem Post.(6) He asked the minister of Justice to stop the concert. "It's very clear why they are interested in coming to Israel – to be legitimized, to have an 'Israeli passport'. With this legitimacy and passport, they will be persona grata everywhere. They would be able to say to critics "Who are you to tell us that we're neo-Nazis and fascists. The remnants of the holocaust invited us"", Sarid said. But that won't happen for now, because after the pressure of many protests, the organizer decided to cancel the concert.(7)
(Thanks to Jeroen Bosch from Alert!, who did most of the translating into English)