Searchlight, June/July 2003
Factional warfare is an almost congenital condition of the Dutch far-right. On the rare occasions when far-rightists appear on TV, they habitually call each other "idiots" and "phoney nazis", when asked by reporters on their opinion on other fascist groups.
Nazis in the Netherlands are also very opportunistic. For example, the Nederlandse Volks Unie demonstration (NVU), the group's leader Constant Kusters branded the populist Pim Fortuyn "a bald-headed clown who should open an S&M-club" but, when Fortuyn was murdered, he tried to exploit the hysterical anti-left atmosphere by demonstrating his sympathy for Fortuyn in Harderwijk.
Kusters' acrobatics culminated in a near mutiny in the NVU's ranks because most NVU members hated the right-wing democrat Fortuyn and his eccentric life-style. German nazis, mobilised to Harderwijk by the NVU were incandescent when they found out it was not a demonstration against anti-fascists as they were told but a sympathy parade for the gay Fortuyn.
Though conflict is endemic on the non-mainstream right, it has escalated during the past two months. In earlier articles, we have described the collapse of the List Pim Fortuyn (LPF) through internal row and how the Fortuynistas in Rotterdam in Liveable Rotterdam (LR), kicked the notorious right-winger Michiel Smit out of the party.
His removal, however, has had little practical effect because Smit continues to vote for every LR resolution tabled on the city council at the same time as drawing fire away from it with his virulent racism.
Smit started now his own outfit, Nieuw Rechts, (New Right - NR) and is hoping to set up branches nationwide. NR's first more or less successful action has already taken place with a 100-strong demonstration in The Hague in support of the war in Iraq. Amongst those taking part was former LPF star Winny de Jong and a few fascist New National Party (NNP) members hovered around the demonstration's heavily guarded fringes without actually joining it. The NR march also attracted opposition from Anti-Fascist Action (AFA), which had warned that the event was a cover for anti-Islamic incitement.
The demonstration ended after less than an hour without incident and, for Smit, it was a big success and a major boost to his campaign against the building of a mosque in Rotterdam. Such a proactive extreme right-wing party has not seen for some time in the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, the NNP, another party with a supposed stronghold in Rotterdam, staged a demonstration at the beginning of March in the Feijenoord district, where it has two seats on the local council. This demonstration, against the building of a new mosque, attracted about 50 people, all members of the NNP and not locals as the fascists had hoped for. As in the Hague, there more police than demonstrators. The NNP's move to march in Feijenoord was a smart one because it knew that, on the same day, AFA would be busy in Apeldoorn preventing the nazis of the NVU from demonstrating there.
Not all NNP members were pleased, however. Prominent member and local councillor Jan Teyn, a former Centrum Democraten and fascist CP'86 activist publicly criticised the party leadership for organising the demonstration without consulting the NNP's Rotterdam branch .
In the end, Teyn participated in the demonstration, but the ground for more rows had been laid and, only weeks later, Teyn was removed from the party, officially because he was selling hate music by German nazi bard Franck Rennicke and hate band Landser on his web site. The CD "For Segregationists Only" - by the racist US country band Johnny Rebel - which openly sympathises with the Ku Klux Klan was also for sale on the same web site.
Teyn claims, though, the the real reason for his exclusion is different: that the leadership and Florens van der Kooi, his fellow councillor in Feijenoord, removed him because of his criticisms and that he had disagreed with the appointment of Stormfront Nederland activist, Paul Peeters, to the NNP's executive. Teyn, as hypocritical as ever, having been spotted at a demonstration in honour of the Waffen SS in Belgium in 1997, said he was afraid that the NNP was becoming "too radical".
Peeters is, indeed, a hardcore fascist and was convicted for daubing a Jewish cemetery in 2001. At his trial, he claimed he was sorry and had left Stormfront Nederland but still agreed with the "Juden raus" slogans he had painted. A few weeks after his trial, Peeters led a gang of Stormfront nazis on their way to distribute leaflets in Nijmegen but they was stopped by local anti-fascists.
Tension is also rising at the nazi stronghold, the De Kazerne barracks, in Eindhoven as Nationale Beweging (NB) activists there try to mobilise support from their fellow Hitler fans against an increasingly vocal anti-fascist campaign.
Not everybody in the nazi scene is so delighted by the NB's politics and when the NB tried to recruit fascists from other organisations to defend their barracks they failed because of ideological differences. Remy Hoven, for example, a former leader of Stormfront Nederland (SFN), refused to call on his gabber/skinhead network to go to Eindhoven. Even though the anti-fascist campaign is still just warming up, support for De Kazerne is already declining.
Recent antics by Tim Mudde, the NB's leader and boss of the nazi hate music band Brigade M, have also poured petrol of the fires of internal squabbles. At the end of March, at a farewell gig for the English nazi band English Rose in Belgium, Mudde sacked two of the members of Brigade M, singer Dave Blom and a second guitar player, claiming it was "a non-political" move but the inevitable rumours that it was down to politics were proven correct.
Mudde, it appears, had reacted badly to an internet discussion about Brigade M's rules in which Blom came across as too national socialist oriented, being a member of the NVU and not sufficiently interested in the topics that Mudde finds important, anti-globalism, the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, the war against Iraq etc.
Blom, who was a singer at the beginning of his "career" in the nazi band Landstorm but was kicked out of that, too, because of his heavy drinking, probably has big difficulty adjusting himself to the strict requirements of Brigade M membership which include vegetarianism and abstention from alcohol, drugs and tobacco.
One of the biggest eruptions of the most recent fighting in Dutch nazi ranks has - not for the first time - been in the Nederlandse Volks Unie and centred on its self-styled "Führer" Constant Kusters.
After the NVU's abysmal attempt at a demonstration, in Apeldoorn on the 8 March, uproar broke out against Kusters' decisions and strategy on the day. The slogan for the demonstration - "Stop Asylum Now!" also came under fire, the critics pointing out that there are hardly any refugees arriving in the Netherlands any more due to the stringent curbs imposed by the Dutch government. Kusters' gigantic error of telling NVU members to gather at Apeldoorn railway just at the time when anti-fascists were about to end their demonstration there hardly helped either.
The critics, led by Eite Homan, the veteran leader of the Aktiefront Nationale Socialisten (ANS), had wanted to demonstrate in another town in the near Apeldoorn but Kusters dismissed that as an illegal act.
After hours of negotiating with police and frantic messages coming in from Apeldoorn that 500 anti-fascists were still awaiting the nazis' arrival, Kusters insisted on going ahead in the hope of grabbing some publicity. In the meantime, however, the police blocked their path and an attempt by the ANS faction in the NVU to stop traffic on a nearby motorway turned into a huge flop.
One of those most energetically trying to block the motorway was the German nazi, Michael Krick, one of the NVU's most radical members, who is firmly in the camp of the ANS faction and, on the day, was armed with a riot police helmet and a home made shield.
Krick now has his own problems following his extradition to Germany on 14 April. The German authorities want to prosecute him for several criminal offences, including displaying an SS tattoo at a nazi demonstration in Berlin and possessing CDs with Holocaust denial lyrics.
Throughout the months-long extradition process, Krick was on bail and able to walk around freely and call for terrorist acts against political opponents, judges and police officers at NVU meetings. Krick fled to the Netherlands in February 2001 and married a female NVU activist some months ago, wearing a SA uniform at the ceremony. At present, he is awaiting trial - and helping police with their enquiries in an attempted murder case - in a Munich prison but is expected to return to the Netherlands after serving his expected prison term in Germany.
Whether the NVU will still exist by then is another matter. Krick's ANS faction is not at all enamoured by Kusters' attempts of Kusters to follow a "consensus policy" of negotiating with the police and then staging legal demonstrations of a mere 15 minutes in an empty industrial area.
The ANS nazis are far more eager to try to connect with Islamic fundamentalists and take part in their demonstrations, boosting their own antisemitism and anti-Americanism, a strategy that contradicts the more traditional nazi approach of anti-Islamic racism and xenophobia which are treasured by the rest of the NVU.
On the other side of the party, one of the biggest critics of Kusters is Joop Glimmerveen, the face and leader of the NVU since the beginning of the 1970s and party ideologist until the end of the 1990s.
Glimmerveen actually gave up NVU membership two years ago but kept control of the editorial rights of the party magazine Wij Nederland. Kusters writes and edits the party newspaper Wij Europa but Glimmerveen cannot stand either its ideological course or its shoddy production.
Last month, Glimmerveen published a special edition of Wij Nederland full of letters to Kusters, the latter's answers, and his own vision of the NVU. Among other things, Glimmerveen has charged Kusters with misuse of NVU funds for his own benefit and threatens him with court action.
None of this arguing and infighting in the ranks of the extreme right and the nazis is by any means new. Just to gloat over it is na´ve, however, and anti-fascists need to continue their close monitoring of developments in the enemy camp and not laugh too soon.
By Jeroen Bosch of Alert! in Utrecht