Ultra right band barred from Israel

Searchlight, December 2004

The Austrian ultra-right industrial band Der Blutharsch has been forced to cancel a planned concert in Tel Aviv, Israel, following widespread protests and demands from members of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, that it be banned.

Israeli MP, Yossi Sarid, who had asked the major of Tel Aviv and the country's justice minister, told the Jerusalem Post: It is clear why Der Blutharsch wants to perform in Israel. They want to be legitimate, have an 'Israeli passport' and then become persona grata everywhere else. Against their critics, they can then say 'Who are you to call us fascists? The survivors of the Holocaust invited us.'

The cancellation of the Tel Aviv concert was only the latest: in March 2003, a concert was cancelled in Clausnitz in Germany and, in December 2003 a concert was cancelled in Chicago after protests mobilised by Searchlight supporters and Antifa-Net members in the USA.

On 28 September the band performed a concert, attended by known right-wing extremists, at the LVC music centre in the Netherlands city of Leiden. Before the concert, Anti-Fascist Action and the Leiden-based anti-racist organization, Fabel van de illegaal (Myth of the illegal), informed the LVC centre of their objections to the concert but the LVC insisted that the band's performance was a matter of "artistic freedom".

Der Blutharsch, whose members invariably perform in black clothing and military belts, was formed around an Austrian, Albin Julius, and openly flirts with nazi occultism. Julius is keen fan of the Austrian right-wing extremist, Jörg Haider. Haider makes stands the government should have taken earlier, he told the Greek Neo-folk/Dark Wave magazine L'ame Electrique.

Julius also said in the interview that he did not regard Haider as extreme right-wing. In another interview, with the German Gothic magazine Black, he stated that he hoped that Europe would consist again of 'national states' and that there would be 'finally a halt to migration'.

At concerts and at production sessions, Douglas Pearce of the British far-right Neo-folk band Death in June often provides Julius with musical assistance. The name of Pearce's band is a reference to the day Ernst Röhm, the leader of the Hitler's brown-shirted Sturmabteilung (SA), was murdered, together with the rest of the SA leadership, by the SS in June 1934. Despite this, Death in June's logo is an SS Death's Head symbol and the band's members frequently dress up in SS uniforms.

Death in June was the first right-wing band to perform in Croatia at a time when the civil war at the Balkan was raging and Pearce and the band spent time hanging around the headquarters of the fascist HOS-militia. They have also, in interviews with various Dark Wave magazines, voiced approval for the pogroms against Roma and refugees in early 1990s Germany.

Another musician who performs from time to time for Der Blutharsch is Boyd Rice who also parades regularly in SS uniform and is a good friend of Bob Heick, führer of the US nazi organization, the American Front. On the Internet, one can find the two posing together in fascist uniform. Rice is also fan of so-called Social Darwinism, the ideology of the survival of the fittest and is member Church of Satan's 'council of nine'.

During Der Blutharsch concerts, Julius is also sometimes assisted by ex-Death in June member, Ian Read. On Death in June's CD 'Brown Book', Read sang the infamous 'Horst Wessel'-song which is outlawed Germany. During the 1980s, Read was involved in rightist circles in the UK, notably the Rune-Gilde. He is founder of the bands Sol Invictus (Black Sun) and Fire + Ice, and was member of the British nazi crank David Myatt's Order of the Nine Angles.

In Dutch extreme right-wing magazines like the Nationale Beweging's (National Movement) paper Nieuwe Bezem (New Brooms), Der Blutharsch is described as one of the more radical bands from the scene, which openly flirt with Nazi occultism. In this, the fascists are quite correct.

Der Blutharsch is in love with nazi aesthetics. For a long time, its logo was a Sig rune, the stylised S in the SS insignia, but now they have replaced it with the Iron Cross, a German military symbol originating from the Prussian liberation struggle against Napoleon at the beginning of the nineteenth century. After 1939, Hitler retained the Iron Cross as one of his most important Nazi military decorations and all kinds of Iron Cross-emblazoned nazi kitsch is touted for sale on Der Blutharsch's website.

It also figures in the video Gold gab ich für Eisen on which Der Blutharsch the German guest player Wilhelm Herich is seen screaming 'Free Pinochet! Freiheit für Pinochet!' in a gesture of support for the decrepit Chilean ex-dictator.

In another video fragment, a bottle with a swastika label is held up for the camera. And, on the same video, the band plays 'Lisa Pien', the Finnish version of the popular Second World War song 'Lili Marleen' and dedicate it to the European volunteers of the SS.

Der Blutharsch's CD covers are awash with references to Nazi Germany. A CD, titled 'The pleasures received in pain', features the work of the German Nazi painter, Ferdinand Staeger, while another CD - Der Sieg des Lichtes ist des Lebens Heil - displays a painting by the German Nazi artist, Werner Peiner. Der Blutharsch also uses the first four lines of the Hitler Youth's 'Marching Song'.

Der Blutharsch recently released a joint album with the Italian fascist band Zetazeroalfa which belongs to 'Rock Identity Italy', a New Right music formation whose main aim is to present fascism in a 'nice' way. This is not Der Blutharsch's first joint venture: it has, in fact, previously released a collaborative album with the Italian New Right band Ain Soph which is fond of quoting the fascist mystic, Julius Evola.

Albin Julius does not just sing. He also runs the Hau Ruck! music label which has released an album 'Odessa vine ill Bello', on which you containing Italian fascist marching songs from the time of Benito Mussolini.

In their letter to the LVC, AFA and Fabel van de illegaal wrote: 'By giving Der Blutharsch a stage, you appear to have a policy of closing your eyes to the use of Nazi symbolism, with the danger of allowing it to become normality'.

The LVC did not agree. Though accepting that the website of Der Blutharsch is 'provocative', it still saw reason to hire the band, on the grounds of 'artistic freedom'. The LVC also used the supposed approval of the not-yet-cancelled Tel Aviv gig and laughably claimed there would be no right- wing audience, because 'Der Blutharsch is not appreciated by extreme right groups.'

AFA and De Fabel van de illegaal then informed the press and local councillors in Leiden. Some of the councillors reacted furiously and demanded that the city council should put pressure on the LVC to cancel the concert. Henri Lenferink, the city mayor asked the police to investigate Der Blutharsch but nothing came of it. An ultra right band, it appears, has to do a lot to be banned on legal grounds or for threatening public order. AFA and De Fabel then leafleted at another gig at LVC a few days before the Der Blutharsch concert, calling on those attending to protest to LVC's management.

Despite this, the concert went ahead and Der Blutharsch duly performed in black uniform and sporting the Iron Cross. Among the hundred or so in attendance were known right-wing extremists like Jasper Velzel (see Searchlight August 2002), convicted in 2002 for the possession and distribution of racist, nazi and Holocaust Denial music through his mail order outlet, Berzerker Records. Velzel was acquitted for possession of swastika badges and SS Death's Head's, because the prosecutor could not prove the stuff was meant for distribution. Velzel is an activist in the nazi National Movement and is drummer for the hate rock band Brigade M.

Another extremist present was Alwin Kerkhof who was convicted in 2003 for racist remarks. Kerkhof used to be active in the fascist Nieuwe Nationale Partij (NNP) and was also an activist in NieuwRechts. On 4 March this year, he was arrested together with two prominent members of the Jonge Fortuynisten, the youth branch of late Pim Fortuyn's party, the List Pim Fortuyn (LPF). Masked with balaclavas, the trio had threatened a photographer at his home.

Jeroen van Valkenburg, yet another notorious right wing extremist was present at the Der Blutharsch concert. Van Valkenburg belongs to the New Era Productions music label (see Searchlight July 2004), which organised a black metal concert, at which the French fascist and anti-Semitic bands Ad Hominem and Seigneur Voland performed, in a youth centre in Bladel near Eindhoven on 17 April.

By Jeroen Bosch of Alert! and Antifa-Net [with thanks to De Fabel van de Illegaal]