Community service for hate music distribution

Searchlight, August 2002

On 27 May, Jasper Velzel, chief of the extreme right-wing record label Berzerker Records, was convicted in The Hague for possession and distribution of hate music.

Velzel, 21, was sentenced to 120 hours community service, given a three months conditional jail term and put on probation for two years. In addition, the judge ruled that Velzel's computer and hundreds of CDs, cassettes and LPs will remain confiscated.

In October 2000, police raided Velzel's house, arrested him and seized, among other things, 300 CD's and 200 cassettes. The move by the Dutch justice department came followed heavy pressure from the Dutch intelligence service, a complaint by the local Anti-racism Bureau and several press articles.

In its complaint, the Anti-racism Bureau listed the names of bands whose music was being touted by Berzerker Records, for example, the Dutch band Holocaust and the American band Rahowa, which stands for 'Racial Holy War'.

Holocaust is a national socialist black metal band which made a cassette titled Holocaust revival and covered with swastikas, a Celtic Cross and an SS Totenkopf. Berzerker was apparently planning to distribute a CD by the band with the disgusting title Limited edition of 6,000,000.

Holocaust later changed its name to Wotan's Order, which seemingly stands for the 'Will of the Aryan Nation's Order'. The logo of the new band is the infamous Schwarze Sonne (Black Sun), featured at the Wewelsburg castle, near Paderborn in Germany. Wewelsburg was designed by SS leader leader Heinrich Himmler who wanted to establish a centre for training SS leaders in the building, which was constructed by slave labour. In the so-called Gruppenführer room, Himmler had a floor laid with a mosaic depicting a twelve legged-swastika, better known as the Schwarze Sonne.

Another band listed, Attack, is a fascist group which sings about massacring Jews. In the ordering instructions in Berzerker Records' catalogue, Velzel makes no secret of his opinions: 'Berzerker Records supports hate, terror, violence, murder and crimes against mankind! Berzerker Records wants you dead if you are a christian, jew, gay, humanist, pacifist, politically correct or human.'

Velzel's enterprise also distributed music from bands like Kreuzfeuer and Kraftschlag, both of whom are banned in Germany for inciting violence and racial hatred. Members of Kraftschlag were convicted in 1993 for inciting racial hatred on their CD Trotz verbot nicht tot.

The Anti-racism Bureau also cited the compilation CD 'Keep it White' on which various extreme right bands scream their hatred. According to the Bureau, the title had nothing to do with washing powder, but everything to do with the demands of the bands to keep their 'race' white.

Berzerker's customers include fascists in the United Kingdom, the USA, Germany and Eastern Europe. The company has also played an important role in taking over the distribution of the German label Darker than Black Records from convicted killer Hendrik Möbus.

Darker than Black Records was raided by German police at the end of 1999 and Möbus was later jailed for 26 months but fled to the United States where he was again arrested.

Velzel's own conviction centred on his possession and distribution of music with racist, nazi and Holocaust denial lyrics during the period from the summer of 1998 until October 2000. He was also found guilty of possessing stickers from the now defunct extreme right splinter group Nationaal Offensief (National Offensive) and copies of one edition of Resistance, a glossy nazi music magazine from the United States.

For the last few years, Resistance's owner has been the notorious National Alliance boss and terrorism advocate, William Pierce, and the magazine has been distributed throughout the world by mail order and in the internet. Besides articles about fascist music, Resistance publishes material about fascist politics and consistently denies the Holocaust.

Velzel was acquitted of having several swastika and SS Totenkopf badges, however, because it could not be proven that they were intended for distribution. Velzel claimed that the material was sent to him from the UK. In a catalogue from 1999, however, Velzel was offering the same badges for sale.

Velzel's conviction is undoubtedly a heavy blow for Berzerker Records but the police did not manage to seize Velzel's entire stock. Thanks to the lack of interest shown by the Dutch prosecution authorities at the outset, Velzel was able to move most of his material.

Despite that, the case marks one of the rare occasions on which the Dutch authorities have brought a successful prosecution for distribution of hate music. In two previous cases, against the extreme right labels, Viking Sounds and Nordisc in 1995 and 1998 respectively, the justice department failed to even to take the charges as far as a trial. In 1999, a police swoop on Viking Sounds seized an enormous quantity of fascist CDs but their owner escaped prosecution by making a deal with the public prosecutor and payed an unknown amount of money and distanced himself from the material seized.

The only other time the public prosecutor was successful dates from 1997, when three members of the British nazi band Celtic Warrior were convicted for the possession of racist material intended for distribution, 17 copies of their CD We will never forget. They were duly fined several hundred pounds after a case that took almost two years to reach a court. Due to that fact, the fines were less hig than was asked for by the prosecution.

In Berzerker's case, it took the prosecution authorities eight months after receipt of the first reports about Berzerker to raid Velzel's place and a further 19 months to get a conviction.

In the meantime, another distribution label, Satans Millennium Records has appeared and become active in the fascist music market, hawking fascist black metal music especially. Bands whose music is sold and promoted include Kristallnacht and Buchenwald Oven. On its web site, Satans Millennium Records claims to have no political stance but says it supports the 'total annihilation of mankind'. Last year, a call to free Hendrik Möbus appeared on the site.

There are also strong indications that Dutch nazis have now taken over distribution of the German Blood & Honour magazine after the organisation was outlawed in Germany in September 2000 and are organising Blood & Honour concerts close to the German border.

As long as the Dutch authorities continue to ignore warnings by anti-fascists about the international distribution of hate music from the Netherlands, the country will more and more become a bolt-hole for the nazi music business.

By Jeroen Bosch of Alert! in Utrecht