Nazis run the gauntlet

Searchlight - October 2008 (short news)

The Dutch People's Union's (NVU) promised quarterly demonstration hit Zwolle on 30 August. This time, the cover for an exhibition of national socialism was a protest against European Union's Lisbon Treaty but the mayor of Zwolle saw it coming and slapped an unprecedented ban on a formidable list of symbols and slogans the nazi demonstrators might use.

The mayor was not the only one angered by the prospect of nazis stomping through his town. There was also rage among the population of Zwolle with young skateboarders and supporters of the local first division club FC Zwolle preparing a warm welcome for the nazis and anti-fascists distributing leaflets and stickers.

On the appointed day, at an abandoned building near Zwolle's main station, the nazis of National Socialist Action (NSA), Blood & Honour and a few members of the National People's Movement (NVB) – normally a rival of the NVU – and some NVU-members, numbering eighty-five in total, gathered for a close examination by waiting police.

A minority complied but the now infamous "black block" – accounting for a clear majority of the demonstrators – refused to be searched, resulting in a stand-off of almost two hours. During that time the "black block" insulted the police, with the chants like "Hang the cops on the Wailing Wall" (in Jerusalem). The police did not react and let the nazis start their parade.

Everywhere along the route, anti-nazi protestors popped up with banners and slogans and the demonstration had to draw to a halt several times. The nazis looked like a pack of injured dogs, with adhesive tape on their heads and bodies to cover up fascist tattoos, t-shirts and banners with Blood & Honour blotted out. Bawling the German nazi slogan "Ruhm und Ehre für die Waffen SS" (Fame and honour for the Waffen SS) was all that was left to them.

The nazis had worked hard on their new "autonomous" style, carrying flags whose design is lifted from anti-fascist banners but with the words "National Socialist Action" and a banner bearing the legend "Squatting continues". Despite their loudmouthed bravado, without the protection of the police they would have been chased straight back to the railway station.

At a park, where NVU-leader Constant Kusters would have liked to have made his usual keynote speech, the nazis were given a hot reception by about two hundred angry youngsters whom riot police on horseback were only able to beat back after several charges and the deployment of police reinforcements and dogs against local residents.

If the nazis and their protectors thought it was over, they were wrong: paint bombs were thrown into the nazis' ranks from a block of flats, stopping the march again while the crowds on the pavement jeered the nazis so loudly that their speeches were inaudible.

The day ended with twenty arrests, among them three nazis for throwing stones, and several people injured by batons or dog bites, but none severely.

NVU leader Kusters' reaction was typical: he asked for more police to protect his demonstration and for tougher actions against the people of Zwolle who had dared to taunt him.

Nazi comments on the internet, meanwhile, urged a return to Zwolle to "empty the city's budget for demonstrations", making it clear how demonstrations are an end in itself whose only aim is to provoke public outrage and create political space for their fascist slogans.

The major of Zwolle has suggested that Kusters should take his provocation to another city and told him that that he should be happy that the police protected his demonstration. Local football supporters and youngsters, meanwhile, say they will be ready if the nazis show up again.

Jeroen Bosch for Alert! and Antifa-Net