Searchlight, April 2003
Anti-fascists inflicted a humiliating defeat on the nazis of the Nederlandse Volks Unie (NVU) in Apeldoorn on 8 March.
The date and venue were not chosen at random. The NVU is contesting regional elections in Apeldoorn under the slogan "Stop asylum now" and 8 March was selected provocatively to celebrate a gruesome anniversary in the annals of Nazism: it was on that date 58 years ago that 117 Dutch citizens were murdered - just a month before Apeldoorn's liberation - by the German SS as reprisal for a Resistance action in which food had been stolen.
This event is still commemorated in Apeldoorn but the value of the commemoration of the Nazi atrocity was thrown into question when the city council unhesitatingly gave the NVU demonstration the green light. To make matters worse, the council also outlawed a counter-demonstration by Anti-Fascist Action (AFA).
On the morning of 8 March, however, over 500 people turned up - ban or no ban - for an anti-fascist demonstration and determined to stop the NVU nazis. And that is exactly what they did. The NVU's march, which was scheduled for the afternoon, failed to take place because the anti-fascists blocked their path and chased those nazis who turned up in small groups out of the city. On a nearby motorway, meanwhile, the main body of the NVU was ringed by riot police at a filling station.
By the start of the afternoon, the city's mayor was forced to outlaw the nazi march, because the police were unable to remove the anti-fascists from the march route.This cancellation of the nazi parade was jubilantly celebrated as a major victory by the anti-fascist demonstrators, among them many football fans and Moroccan and Moluccan youth from Apeldoorn and surrounding towns.The only casualty on the day was the stabbing and hospitalisation of a young boy by nazis in the city centre.
Nazi boss Constant Kusters was, as expected, furious at his humiliation at the hands of the anti-fascists and, in a fit of rage, led an attempt by his nazi playmates to block the motorway, where riot police duly forced them back into their cars. The day after the elections the NVU got in the end 1.120 votes at the provincial elections, by far not enough to win a seat.
For the city council, the day was a rude awakening and it has pledged that it will not allow any further NVU demonstrations. This should have been its policy in the first place and the fact that council members needed to see a swastika-tattooed mob brandishing brownshirt SA-type shields before taking such action is nothing short of a disgrace. AFA had already warned the council about the nazis but it had refused to listen.
Unfortunately, Apeldoorn council has not been isolated in its naivety when it comes to allowing nazi stunts. In Kerkrade, in March 2001, it was left to 3,000 anti-fascists and local people to stop the NVU after a court in Maastricht had allowed it to march.
In January 2002, the NVU was again granted permission to demonstrate, this time in Rotterdam, and it took 800 riot police to keep anti-fascist protesters at bay. The nazi turnout was minimal and it was not long before German nazis, who had travelled to Rotterdam for this supposed Dutch nazi showpiece, were loudly complaining that it had turned out to be a short stroll through a derelict industrial area. In the end, some of the nazis were given a thrashing by anti-racist Feyenoord supporters.
Finally, last May, the NVU staged a demonstration in Harderwijk, where Volkert van der Graaf, the alleged killer of right-wing populist Pim Fortuyn, used to live. On that occasion, AFA decided that holding a counter-demonstration would lead to its being scapegoated by a local authority that had failed to prevent the nazis from fouling its streets. The NVU nazis did not escape unscathed, however, because when they turned up with 40 people they were insulted and shouted down by local people.
By Jeroen Bosch of Alert! in Utrecht