Searchlight - December 2006
In our August edition, we looked at the pro-Combat 18/Racial Volunteer Force Blood&Honour (B&H) faction in the Netherlands. Following massive media coverage of the weapons raids on B&H nazis in Flanders on 7 September, attention turned to contacts between Dutch and Flemish nazis, nudging the Dutch secret service, the AIVD, to declare that right-wing terrorism has its full concentration. Time, then, to focus on the Combat 18/Racial Volunteer Force Blood&Honour (B&H) faction's flourishing rivals, the so-called Blood&Honour Traditional network.
By Dutch standards, Blood&Honour Traditional is a big network with around 200 people, with a core of 30 activists. It has more or less the same ideology as the C18/RVF faction, but is different in some key aspects. Both factions are openly national socialist, both sympathize with the Third Reich and both worship Hitler. Where the differences between them lie, however, is the place given to this ideology in the daily operation of the competing organisations.
The C18/RVF mob sees herself as a revolutionary front-organisation, which carries out ideologically-based radical actions. B&H Traditional, on the other hand, sees itself more as an international community of skinheads. In this schema, ideology is of lesser impotance than the skinhead culture.
In practice, this means that parties, boozing, brawling and even the physical appearance and skinhead dress code have primacy over waving swastika flags. The fact that aficionados of B&H Traditional delight in publicly drowning in a putrescent pool of beer, fat and sweat, is taken for granted and regarded as a badge of honour by all those who belong to this circle. The Dutch branch also, incidentally, organises barbecues, drink fests, bootcamps and concerts.
B & H Traditional has several localised sections headed by a national leadership. In this leadership are to be found some veterans of the nazi scene but the recruits come mainly from the huge following of the radicalised white gabber milieu, some of whom have partly "evolved" into becoming skinheads.
In the northern section, for example, its ringleader, Martin van de Grind, fell out of sight after collecting some convictions for violence but in B&H he and his flirtations with violence have been ever-present. In his hometown of Winschoten, he and his pals caused a riot, in April 2005, by posing in full nazi uniform at a fresh inaugurated Jewish memorial.
Visitors to a pub opposite the memorial did not appreciate this revolting spectacle and reacted with disgust. Van de Grind took this as a signal to attack and wreck the premises and to assault its customers. Five of the attackers, among them van de Grind were subsequently arrested.
The police later found weapons in his house. Besides that, van de Grind has been actively involved in organising training camps in Flanders for which he contributes, among other things, military outfits.
Another B&H Traditional veteran is Richard van der Plas, a former councillor in Purmerend for the late Hans Janmaat's racist Centrum Democrats and activist in Eite Homan's Aktionfront National Socialists which has now been absorbed by the RVF. Van der Plas is also notorious for his criminal behaviour and possesion of weapons. It is no surprise that, with the involvement of van der Plas in B&H Traditional, weapons are found in the hands of other members.
A key reason for the relative success of B&H Traditional has been the huge reservoir of potential recruits among former Gabbers as opposed to the never really popular bonehead scene in the Netherlands. A second important reason for its growth is the political freedom it has. Since the rise and demise of the right-wing populist Pim Fortuyn, the will of politicians and the authorities to attack outfits like B&H has diminished almost to zero, a fact that the veteran leaders of B&H have been able to exploit to their advantage.
While similar organizations in the 1990s had huge problems with money, transport and securing venues, this mob has cash, secure incomes, houses and cars. Meetings are far easier to organise and also more accessible to potential members.
And, of course, the internet is a potent factor. In recent years, B&H Traditional has acquired a kind of cult status in the ranks of right-wing Gabbers. Despite a properly functioning central website for B&H Traditional, its main recruitment work is done on discussion fora and contact and friendship sites.
This mix of a veteran leadership, recruiting radicalised youth interested in national socialism, weapons, training and violence and organised in a semi-clandestine network is a pan waiting to boil over.
By Jeroen Bosch of Alert! and Antifa-Net in Utrecht reports