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Neo-Nazis infiltrate community sports clubs
But what is he thinking? Photo: DPA

Neo-Nazis infiltrate community sports clubs

Published: 02 Jan 2013 12:41 GMT+01:00
Updated: 02 Jan 2013 12:41 GMT+01:00

As New Year resolutions lead many to join German sports or community clubs over the coming weeks, one official has warned that many need to do more to protect themselves from infiltration by neo-Nazis.

"Sports have long had difficulty [taking action] because they have been regarded as non political," said Winfriede Schreiber, head of the Brandenburg state intelligence service.

But she said sports clubs were increasingly recognizing the danger. "More and more, the associations realize that that they must profess their dedication to democracy," she said.

The kick-boxing scene in the Lausitz region has a bad reputation for having many neo-Nazi members, despite many successful anti-fascist initiatives in the area.

"Neo-Nazis do not exist in a vacuum. They have families, go to school, develop careers, play sport or are in the volunteer fire brigades," said Schreiber.

"Many neo-Nazis are in no way uneducated these days, and can be successful in their careers. Civil society now has the problem of how to deal with them. In small places this is sometimes particularly difficult. The boys are the sons of people, or brothers. And often enough it is pure chance where someone ends up - in the fire brigade or the Nazis."

She said neo-Nazis were using sports groups to reach young people and either influence their thinking, or recruit them to their gangs. They attended club meetings and sports events wearing neo-Nazi T-shirts or showing off their tattoos - and then organise tournaments at which their scene meets, she suggested.

"The neo-Nazis pull in young people in this way and alienate them from democracy. They use normal life to push their movement," she said.

"It doesn't always work. But those concerned are often successful and are therefore admired. Apart from that many neo-Nazis are successful professionally these days - they run pubs or produce T-shirts which are popular with young people and a profitable field. Some of them are sponsors of sports clubs or events. Over and above this, they have close connections to security companies. This interleaving is dangerous because it intimidates."

She said that the case of Nadja Drygalla, the rower who represented Germany at last year's Olympics but who was sent home early after her relationship with a neo-Nazi became public, showed how difficult it could be to keep even high level sport clear of far-right influences.

"I have great respect for small clubs or societies which have to find a way to deal with each other every day," said Schreiber. She said a mobile advice centre was available to offer help around Brandenburg, while advisers were working with kick boxing clubs in Cottbus to help them deal with the topic.

"One cannot of course forget the economic aspect. We have been worried for years by a group of fans of the Energie Cottbus Football Club because of their far-right connections. But the club has not yet been able to clearly make a move against them. Things such as annual tickets or sponsorship money must play a role."

She said that an angling club had provided a great example when members told far-right colleagues they had to decide what they wanted to stay in - their fascist groups or the angling club. "Volunteer fire brigades have also made great progress in this regard - and there we can see the success of advisers and discussions," said Schreiber.

DPA/The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:48 January 2, 2013 by Joho
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
14:54 January 2, 2013 by ChrisRea
I thought we can use sport clubs or other community clubs to show Neo-Nazis how a democratic and tolerant society works.

@ Joho

You are aware that Neo-Nazis, like in other countries, are only a minority in Germany, right?
15:50 January 2, 2013 by sonriete
This sounds an awful lot like discrimination to me.

Telling people that they must choose between a sport club membership and unpopular political views!

Let's not forget that communists, christian democrats and others have used sporting to influence youth.

We should remember the mass murderer in Norway targeted a sporting island retreat sponsored by social democrats, that party's motivation in sponsoring that retreat was also obviously to impress children when they were very young. Do we use the term "infiltrate" to describe what they were doing?

I'm the last person who would support nazi views, but supressing those views to such an extreme extent I'm afraid will just make the forbidden fruit that much more appealing.
18:47 January 2, 2013 by IchBinKönig
^^^ Real Talk
19:25 January 3, 2013 by StoutViking
In GDR they applies similar tactics for "holding unpopular political opinions" and even took harsher measures. The result? They actually bred more Nazis with this policy...

In all the time I spent in Germany since my first visit in 2001, I only encountered 2 actual Neo-Nazis and about a dozen who left the scene and are now "normative people" (with the most outstanding stories of how they left the scene).

By excluding them, as well as others with "unpopular thinking", you get isolation and let them stew in their own foul juices and become more aggressive. You exclude them from one club? They'll create their own and start agitating and recruiting others.

The story with the olympic rower was the biggest farce so far. She WAS (in the past) romantically involved with an NPD activist. Does it mean she was a Neonazi? There's an old Russian proverb saying "Love is mean, will even make you fall for a goat" (meaning you don't choose who you fall inlove with, could even be a horrible person).

Two wrongs don't make a right. I hold the opinion that if they see there's a world outside their marginal parallel reality, they might quit on their own, like the people I met have.
17:28 January 4, 2013 by soros
"The neo-Nazis pull in young people in this way and alienate them from democracy." What bs.

Alienate people from a democracy that is poisoning the culture with foreign ideologies? If we were in the 50s, and we were talking about Communist infiltration of Europe or of German culture, there would be no problem. But now that we have nativist movements defending what is left of Euro culture, we brand it as unacceptable.

We immediately stigmatize it with the Nazi label to make sure we can snuff it out and allow the agenda to internationalize and wipe out German and all European cultures completely. That is the agenda for globalization. Greeks have a right to Greek culture. Italians have a right to Italian culture. Ditto for the French, the English, the Irish, the Scots, the Spanish and the Swiss. If the defenders of European cultures are nationalistic, that is their RIGHT. And if the so-called democratic political cultures disagree, they are traitors to their own people.
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