• Germany edition
 
Film shines light on neo-Nazi music scene
Photo: Screenshot, Blut Muss Fließen, Film Faktum

Film shines light on neo-Nazi music scene

Published: 11 Oct 2012 09:55 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 Oct 2012 09:55 GMT+02:00

A German journalist who spent six years undercover at neo-Nazi rock concerts has collaborated with film-maker Peter Ohlendorf to make a documentary about the country's far-right music scene. The Local spoke with the director.

For much of this year, the German media has been awash with news of the National Socialist Underground (NSU), a neo-Nazi terrorist group thought to have murdered at least ten people over a decade. The NSU's existence only became public when two of their members committed suicide after police cornered them following a botched bank robbery.

Many media outlets treated the revelation as surprising new evidence of an armed far-right underground network, but one undercover journalist has been investigating the scene for years, filming footage from neo-Nazi concerts that showed a flourishing music scene and a growing readiness for violence.

Along with Ohlendorf, Thomas Kuban (an alias) made the footage into a documentary, which, other than being screened at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival, is yet to receive widespread attention. The title of the film, “Blood Must Flow,” is taken from a track repeatedly played at concerts.

Kuban spent six years dressing as what he called a “typical fascist pig” and wangling invites to secret concerts, where he secretly caught images of braying crowds and hundreds of arms raised in the Sieg Heil salute. He risked his life every time, Ohlendorf told The Local.

Seeing hall after hall of self-declared “Aryan warriors” chanting along with lyrics like “we shit on the freedom of this Jewish republic,” – Kuban and Ohlendorf hoped to help open Germany's eyes to homegrown extremism and the role music plays in recruiting young people to the far-right.

In fact, the film shows a thriving neo-Nazi music industry. Over 100 records are released each year from around 30 specialist record labels and there are countless online shops where merchandise is sold along with the music.

Hidden and ignored

But the scene remains largely ignored, and not one German television channel has opted to air the documentary despite its unsettling content. Ohlendorf says this has nothing to do with the often shaky camera work and questionable soundtrack, but to a lack of mainstream interest. “You have to ask what media outlets want, just to drive traffic?” he asked.

“People are more interested in religious extremism and would rather be distracted by that than concentrate on what's going on under their noses,” he explained. “When Muslims are made out to be the dangerous ones, then politicians are playing into the hands of neo-Nazis.”

In the film, Kuban can be seen at a number of Bavarian Interior Ministry press conferences, asking politicians what they are doing to stop neo-Nazis. Often they simply dismiss him and move the discussion on.

The police also feature heavily in “Blood Must Flow,” and Ohlendorf thinks that they are also being far too passive. “Often action from the police at these events is more of a token gesture,” he said.

This is evident in the film, where police officers are seen waiting outside concerts. “We'll wait until they do something illegal,” one says, as a crowd of hundreds roar along to a band urging them to kill Turks. “We'll just let them finish the party,” said another.

Door to the far-right

Ohlendorf believes that not only do the lyrics incite violence, the music is actively used to recruit young Germans for the far-right scene. “In villages, where there is often little else to do, recruitment starts with the offer of free beer and live music,” he said.

But what was perhaps more shocking for the 51-year-old director was the well-educated Germans that Kuban met on his travels. “It's not just skinheads at the concerts, but intellectual people whose involvement is threatening to bring neo-Nazism into the mainstream.”

“People have lost trust in the government and are starting to think politicians are only bothered about money,” he said. But he added that responsibility should not just be passed off onto the state - the police and the public should also raise awareness and “take control of their own destiny.”

After revelations about the extent of the NSU murders broke last year, many editorials argued that, when it came to fascist activity, the country suffered from a “blindness in the right eye” - as the German phrase has it. But Ohlendorf thinks this eye has never really been open. Moves to ban the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party are yet to come to fruition, but even that – the “legitimate” political face of neo-Nazism - is just one head of the hydra.

“Banning the NPD is just one aspect, but what is important is how we combat day-to-day far-right violence,” he says.

He sees one positive model in the Berlin police force, whose zero-tolerance policy on extremism is a model that police forces and intelligence authorities should adopt in the rest of the country.

Anti-fascist jester

During the filming, the pair also met a group of vigilantes who managed to stop an annual far-right festival from being held in their village.

“There are lots of engaged citizens, but there needs to be more who stand up against racism,” says Ohlendorf. Prevention, he added, was vital, and should start as early as possible. Ohlendorf spent the summer touring schools with his film, and discussing it with pupils. “Generally the film was well-received, but in most schools there were one or two who watch the film and say 'yeah, but..foreigners,' ” Ohlendorf explained.

Meanwhile, Kuban remains undercover after receiving death threats from neo-Nazis who found out they had been secretly taped. He still disguises himself in a mustard-yellow suit, wig, and sunglasses when he goes to press conferences.

“The outfit was supposed to provoke a reaction,” said Ohlendorf. “It's meant to give him the role of a jester, who was the only person in a royal court allowed to tell the truth. His outfit made him into a lighthouse shining on the fact that there was a huge deficiency of information on neo-Nazis.”

Kuban explains in the film that setting foot in the concert venues never stopped being terrifying. If anyone in the audience spotted the cables inside his coat, he could well have been beaten up, or worse. But this was, he and Ohlendorf felt, a necessary risk.

For Ohlendorf, ignoring the far-right has only served to create an environment in which underground networks like the NSU can grow. Without action, new groups could easily emerge to take their place.

Jessica Ware

jessica.ware@thelocal.com

twitter.com/jesscware

Watch a clip from Blood Must Flow here:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

12:29 October 11, 2012 by herr_james
brave man. well done!

total admiration for this guy's willingness to enter the wolves' den and try to hold a mirror up to our society. interesting to see the intellectual element involved— this is not just attracting poor thugs.

nationalism is certainly not unique to germany. this poisonous message is flowing everywhere. it fills the cracks in societies built on a materialism that can only ever offer quality of life for some, not all.

it is a sign of the times when hate is the most accessible path to joy.
13:55 October 11, 2012 by StoutViking
When a Jewish-American journalist infiltrated into a Neonazi cell in the 90's, no one made such a big fuss about it...

Wake me up when Luni gets another sentence. I'll ship him a Made in Israel soap on a rope.
17:10 October 11, 2012 by IchBinKönig
'it fills the cracks in societies built on a materialism that can only ever offer quality of life for some, not all.'

Why turn this into a social justice, welfare rant? Its the neo nazi scene. I don't think they are much interested in the new iPhone. But I guess that's how you've been conditioned to see all problems, from a purely socialistic bent. Where a lack of 'free' money and services makes violence and anti-social behaviors understandable and acceptable.
19:23 October 11, 2012 by herr_james
aw, gee thanks— being trolled by IBK really makes me feel like i'm part of the local family now...

of course you're right. nationalism has never been related to social justice (not my terms, btw), welfare or ranters. how could anyone living in berlin see some sort of connection between these things and thriving nazis? oh, wait...

it makes much more sense to draw a line from new iphones to free money and services, string it to a bow of "accepting anti-social behaviours" (again, do not recall mentioning anything about acceptance) and fire barbs of "being conditioned", or "socialist" at me. oh ouch. and so much more relative to the topic... how?

so i guess you worked real hard for your money to be so justified in your anti-social behaviour?

fyi: obviously neo-nazis love the iphone —duh! android is too open-source. fool.
16:34 October 12, 2012 by henry1544
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
19:10 October 12, 2012 by Berliner1978
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
21:34 October 12, 2012 by gtaglia
There seems to be a lot of effort devoted to making neo-nazi groups appear to be much larger and more dangerous than they are. These people have the right to believe and say whatever they please, regardless of how much they deviate from the "norm". The pressures to have everyone educated in the same theories, to think alike, act alike and support the present power structure are destroying personal liberty. independent thought and society in general.
08:39 October 13, 2012 by nightynight
The far right is a sign of a healthy, free society, and will always be with us. Despising the German republic is a valid opinion - urging people to kill Turks isn't.

I am dismayed by reading some of the comments here against Muslims - do the commenters realise that they sound just as narrow-minded as the worst kind of liberals?
02:44 October 14, 2012 by Valkyrie1944
Have you German journalists not learned from your history?

Nazism was never a right wing movement, but a Leftist national socialist struggle against the Soviet model.

Any attempt by the State, or by actors in an attempt to influence the State to infringe on the liberty of free peoples, is by definition Left Wing.

You missed the lesson of World War Two: It is noble to fight evil by all means available to the total destruction of Leftists.

It pains me that I did not learn this lesson from my German-born mother, but from my American-born father who saw combat on Okinawa, and later served in the Occupation of Germany, and from my own service in Germany from 1982-1988.

Gott und Volk.
12:35 October 15, 2012 by b-c
@Berliner1978:

They would turn to romanis, jews, homosexuals, communists/anarchists etc, instead. The list is long. But you were just trolling about something obvious, right?

@Valkyrie1944:

I suggest you read about marxism, how fascism came about and what it stands for, what a state is. Maybe not focus so much on what is "left" or "right". If you really believe the nazis were leftist you have a lot to learn. Doesn't matter what military service you or your dad did (I don't see your point there) - you are still politically very very confused.
03:54 October 17, 2012 by wendyb
This has nothing to do with lack of free money or social services. It stems from atheism. These young people have no solid foundation in their lives. They have turned away from God and the Bible and there is no telling how deeply rooted this behaviour can go. Take it seriously. Probably not too many took Hitler seriously in the beginning.
10:23 October 17, 2012 by Firmino
Neo-nazism caused by atheism? Now I've heard it all. First of all, what makes you say these people are atheists? Second, lots of far right and violent movements were also fiercely Christian.
10:39 October 20, 2012 by soros
For those of us who can still read a whole book, cover to cover that is, Eric Hoffer wrote an interesting analysis of what brings individuals to fanatical mass movements, Left, Right, Islamic or other: The True Believer (1951). His observations are still relevant and suggest that such people will always be with us because they always have been.
16:34 October 29, 2012 by Beachspirit
Germany has ignored its past for the most part it seems. Ignoring elements like this for decades has turned into a large problem and its spreading. I guess we have to wait for them to start knocking off foreigners in large masses, before the government deals with this problem.

Germans are good from history for blaming foreigners for their problems.
15:21 November 2, 2012 by Floriansamsel
soros: great comment - thanks!

As a matter of fact, the stupid and ignorant will never die out. They just believe what they want to believe in. Period.
Today's headlines
April wraps up with stormy week ahead
Lightning over Lake Starnberg, in Bavaria. Photo: DPA

April wraps up with stormy week ahead

The end of April is looking stormy for Germany with hot and cold air mixing and making for wild spring weather over the coming few days, state forecasters DWD said on Wednesday. READ () »

Germany sold €40 million of arms to Russia
Russian troops pictured in March in Crimea. Photo: DPA

Germany sold €40 million of arms to Russia

German arms sales to Russia have come under fire following the crisis in Ukraine. In 2012 Germany sold €40 million worth of rifles, pistols and armoured vehicles to the country. READ () »

Munich to get 'Tetris cube' hotel
Photo: Nieto Sobejano Architects, Berlin

Munich to get 'Tetris cube' hotel

Munich's old city centre is to receive an ultra modern addition to its skyline in the shape of a new hotel dubbed 'the Tetris cube'. READ () »

The Local List
German beer culture in 11 gulps
Photo: DPA

German beer culture in 11 gulps

Wednesday marks the 498th anniversary of Germany's celebrated beer purity law, so in honour of nearly half a millennium of hoppy history, this week's Local List tells some beer truths you may not know. READ () »

Feminist's apartment advert goes viral
Photo: Screenshot/Facebook

Feminist's apartment advert goes viral

Finding accommodation in Berlin is notoriously tricky. But one woman on the hunt might have a particularly hard time of it, with an advert for an apartment so absurd it has gone viral. READ () »

Russian spies step up activity in Germany
The Russian embassy building in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Russian spies step up activity in Germany

Russian spies are increasingly targeting potential informants in German politics and business by taking them out to dinner, according to counterintelligence services. READ () »

Jobless benefits to get leaner and meaner
Photo: DPA

Jobless benefits to get leaner and meaner

The German government is planning a shake-up of the country’s unemployment benefit system, Hartz IV, by introducing stricter rules on claimants in a move which supporters say will cut bureaucracy. READ () »

Germany's oldest woman dies aged 112
Gertrud Henze. Photo: DPA

Germany's oldest woman dies aged 112

Germany’s oldest woman died at the age of 112 on Tuesday. Gertrud Henze was born on December 8th 1901 and joked her long life was down to never getting married. READ () »

Exchange student 'murderer' stays silent
Police search the area near where Gabriele's body was found in October 2013. Photo: DPA

Exchange student 'murderer' stays silent

The alleged murderer of an exchange student in southern Germany stayed silent in the dock on Tuesday on the first day of his trial. READ () »

European Elections 2014
'If Britain goes, Europe is lost'
Hans-Olaf Henkel (r) celebrates the one-year anniversary of the AfD with leader Bernd Lücke. Photo: DPA

'If Britain goes, Europe is lost'

In an interview with The Local, one of the leaders of Germany's eurosceptic party talks about Europe's future, why Britain is a model country and why he will not work with UKIP's Nigel Farage. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Politics
Interview with AfD - 'If Britain goes, Europe is lost'
Photo: DPA
National
Police damage own water cannon with eggs
Photo: DPA
National
Let us start work later after World Cup nights, unions says
Photo: DPA
Society
Crystal meth use hits record level
Photo: DPA
Rhineland
Elderly man taped €200,000 to his genitals
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
What's the unemployment rate in your area of Germany?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Nine ways to celebrate Easter like a German
Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt
Gallery
World War I in colour photos
Photo: DPA
Society
JobTalk: Why you should teach English in Germany
Photo: DPA
National
330,000 sign up against TV licence fee
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
School kids hospitalized after 'porno' party
Photo: Submitted
Frankfurt
'I'll get even with my old pal Schwarzenegger'
Advertisement:
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten great inventions you (probably) didn't know were German
Photo: J. Arthur White
Berlin
Clashes in Berlin as refugees tear down their own camp
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Munich's baby polar bears are finally named
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The 10 best German employers to work for
CurrencyFair
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Mr. Lodge
Sponsored Article
How to find a furnished rental in Munich
Sponsored Article
How to make a lasting impression in business
Hult International Business School
Sponsored Article
What they don't teach you at Business School
Photo: DPA
Society
Nine jobs you can only do in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,051
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd