Fascist veteran on trial

Searchlight, october 2003

The trial of Joop Glimmerveen, the undisputed "grand old man" of Dutch fascism, began, on 28 August, on charges arising from speeches he made at nazi meetings seven years ago.

Glimmerveen, who became head of the Nederlandse Volks Unie (NVU) a few years after it was founded in 1971, is a longtime fascist activist who has stood, always on an openly racist ticket, for election to the Dutch national parliament as well in city council elections in The Hague.

As a result, he has gained notoriety in the Netherlands for his high profile association with the NVU, a party whose original aims were to win rehabilitation for Nazi war criminals, spread national socialist ideology and reunite the Netherlands with the neighbouring Belgian region of Flanders.

When Glimmerveen took charge in the NVU, however, he reshaped the party's agenda to centre on the more or less new issue of "the problem of the foreigners living in the Netherlands" and, thanks to his efforts, this theme was to become the flagship issue for the whole of the far right. At the end of the 1970s, the Dutch government attempted to to ban the party but failed because it had not properly prepared its case, a flop, which drew widespread international political flak at the time. Glimmerveen, though, subsequently quit as party chairman after the NVU failed to contest every constituency in the May 1981 national election and won only 10,522 votes.

By 1983, however, he was back in his post. As befits his long record, Glimmerveen has already notched up a series of convictions for spreading racial hatred. He was fined Euro 450 for distributing pamphlets declaring "The Hague must remain white and safe. Help to free our city from the plague of Surinamese and Antilleans!". He collared 30 days' jail for another, but essentially the same, pamphlet and six weeks for making racist and anti-Semitic remarks in a magazine interview.

The NVU gained its reputation among fascists by distributing racist leaflets and commemorating Dutch Nazi war criminals as well as Rudolf Hess. Its youth organisation also staged demonstrations, mainly when left-wingers took to the streets to protest against war or nuclear missiles, at the beginning of the 1980s. The NVU's main business, however, remained to try to gain support by provoking violent incidents with foreigners and immigrants.

In 1987, Glimmerveen threw in the towel, evidently fed up to the teeth with the NVU's lack of success, money and members and wounded by competition from the fascist CP'86 and the Centrum Democraten. Repeated brushes with the law and anti-fascists also led the NVU to drop its profile.

Glimmerveen was thus more or less unheard of until 1996, when Constant Kusters, the party's current boss, and Eite Homan, leader of the Aktiefront Nationale Socialisten (ANS), took him out of mothballs in a bid to breathe new life into the NVU.

For Kusters and Homan, the NVU was a vitally needed vehicle for recruitment of the bonehead wing of the soon- to-be-banned CP'86 and veteran Glimmerveen was wheeled out to speak passionately at several meetings with Dutch and German fascists. He was also the key figure in joint activity between the NVU and CP'86.

At the end of 1996, however, with the CP'86 rapidly crumpling under the impact of internal rows and the extreme right Centrum Democraten (CD) vanishing to the point of non-existence, the radical nazi wing of CP'86 met in Rotterdam.

Glimmerveen showed up at the meeting with an NVU delegation in support of British National Party member Stewart Mordaunt and hardcore nazi Martijn Freling, who had launched a takeover bid in CP'86 but who had been kicked out a week before by the party leadership under chairman Wim Beaux, now active in the fascist New National Party.

At this impromptu (and unofficial) congress, which was not recognised by CP'86, Mordaunt and Freling, in their turn, removed Beaux and his allies in the CP'86 executive from the party. In the end, it was Mordaunt and Freling who came out of the dispute as winners when the Chamber of Commerce adjudged their congress to have been the legal one.

It was against this background that Glimmerveen made the speeches that have landed him in the dock. In particular, he is accused of threatening a Green Left MP, declaring she would be expelled from the Netherlands and that she "should be put in a labour camp to lose some weight".

A week later, at a meeting held in a bar in Schiedam to commemorate Hitler's failed 1923 Munich putsch and the 1938 Nazi Kristallnacht pogrom, Glimmerveen threatened the chief editor of a newspaper, who had dared to call for his prosecution, by boasting that he would hang him from the highest tree when the NVU came to power.

After both meetings, the nazis present went out and attacked foreigners. Two of the nazi's, who were later convicted, stated that they had been incited by by Glimmerveen's speeches and he was charged.

In March 1998, Glimmerveen was duly given a four months' sentence having been convicted for inciting racial hatred, insulting and threatening behaviour and inciting violent behaviour. On appeal in May 1999, Glimmerveen's sentence was reduced to three months after he was acquitted of a charge of threatening the newspaper editor but, in May 2001, the Dutch High Court referred the conviction back to the Court of Amsterdam.

A key issue in Glimmerveen's latest trial is whether the 1996 meetings were public and whether the press was allowed there. At the 2 November meeting, several reporters from newspaper, radio and television were present but the 9 November meeting was split into two parts: one public - which meant that invited press representatives were able to attend - and another in which the press had to leave, except for a photographer.

Glimmerveen admits that he made the speeches and insists that he would have done so whether the meetings were public or not. However, while he used to be keen on going to prison to become a martyr for the "movement", he is now less enthusiastic about collecting a custodial sentence. Glimmerveen defended himself that with the rise of Pim Fortuyn nobody was convicted for racist remarks anymore and that the anti-racist laws shouldn't be used as a political tool to silence opponents.

The Dutch attorney general wants a two months' sentence for Glimmerveen, because his speeches were radical, made in public and reported by the press.

If so, he may yet be jailed *, having copped a prison sentence and so-called "martyrdom" rather than gaining the leadership of the NVU from Kusters…which now appears to have been the real motive for his re- emergence, seven years ago, from the fascist woodwork.

* Glimmerveen was at the 11th of September convicted for 4 months jail, of which he has to spent actually two months in prison.

By Jeroen Bosch of Alert! in Utrecht