Searchlight - April 2008
Nazis from the Dutch People's Union (NVU) took to the streets of Bergen Op Zoom on 1 March, their first of what they have trumpeted as eight demonstrations to be held this year. The 1 March demonstration followed a break of several months after an NVU fiasco last October in Arnhem, the home town of the party's leader Constant Kusters.
On that occasion, because of a counter-demonstration staged by antifascists on the other side of the city, the police cracked down on the nazis, especially the so-called "Autonomous Nationalists" belonging to National Socialist Action (NSA).
The Autonomous Nationalists are a bunch of young people from groups like Blood&Honour, the Action Front, Combat18, the National Socialist Action (NSA) and Youth Storm who wear black clothes, baseball caps and Palestinian scarves in a direct copy of the dress code favoured by some on the radical left.
They also demonstrate in a so-called "black block" formation which, again, copies some elements of the far left and is supposedly a means of protecting themselves from police attack or assaults from opponents. It is noteworthy that this group now constitutes the main part of NVU demonstrations and brings it own banners and shouts its own slogans.
In October, the presence of the Autonomous Nationalists attracted the immediate attention of the riot police who strip searched them and arrested some individuals, including ANS leader Eiter Homan, who is also the grandiosely titled Chief of the Security Guard of the NVU.
When the demonstration started, after a delay of an hour, it was from the start surrounded by riot police and sparked little interest from local people. In addition, the speeches were boring and a deflated Kusters announced a long winter break.
This decision was not to the amusement of Youth Storm or the NSA, who organised their own march in mid December in Zoetermeer, where some of the hardcore of Youth Storm used to live, demanding a youth centre for young people with "nationalist and socialist ideas" and calling for an immediate halt to harassment by the town's police.
The latter demand stemmed from a strategy developed by the police to make life difficult for the growing number of nazi youth in the town by harassing them, their friends and their families so that wherever they went the police would appear to talk to them, to send them packing or to discourage them from meeting together.
The December demonstration attracted only about 40 young people and included The Netherlands' very own Hitler look-alike, Stefan Wijkamp who, at the end of the demonstration, made a speech lamenting the defeat of Germany in the war and claiming that Hitler was a nice chap. Though some of the speech was probably of doubtful legality the police did not intervene.
The choice of Bergen Op Zoom near the Belgian border for the 1 March demonstration was not particularly auspicious. As soon as it became known that a bunch of nazis were going to parade through the town, anger rose amongst local residents and was not pacified when it was learned that a planned antifascist demonstration by local young people had been banned by the mayor and that the NVU would march through an area with many immigrant residents.
On the day, a colourful mixture of local Dutch youngsters, bikers, skateboarders, Turkish and Moroccan youth, football fans and antifascists were on hand to welcome the crew of around 90 nazis mainly from the Autonomous Nationalists. Also present was a delegation from the laughably titled "UK Division" of the Racial Volunteer Force led by Adrian Brooks, who made a short speech. Amongst the slogans bawled by the nazis were "national socialism, now!" and "Hamas, Jihad, Hezbollah".
Half way through the demonstration, the nazis paused to hold a minute's silence for Hezbollah leader, Imad Mughniya, assassinated in Syria on 8 February and to hear a speech by the NSA's leader, Alwin Walther, claiming that the work of the "true example for every antizionist" would "lead to the destruction of the occupiers of Palestine".
Soon after this the whole event descended into chaos as hundreds of counter demonstrators bombarded the nazis with clods of earth, eggs and bottles and greeted them with roars of derision. The riot police were barely able to clear a path through the large numbers of opponents who had gathered to show their disgust at the nazis.
Though the nazi demonstration season has reopened and the NVU showed its aggressive face, it was met by an even more aggressive reaction from people who do not want nazis fouling their streets.
Jeroen Bosch for Alert! and Antifa-Net