Germany bans the Hammerskins

Germany has officially prohibited the neo-Nazi group known as Hammerskins, renowned for organizing far-right concerts and distributing racist music. This action is deemed a resounding statement against racism and antisemitism by Germany’s interior minister. In a nationwide operation, authorities conducted raids on the residences of 28 leading members of the group. Hammerskins, with approximately 130 members in Germany, was characterized as a significant threat of organized right-wing extremism.

The group’s primary objective was disseminating far-right ideology through concerts, particularly employing a prominent role in establishing neo-Nazi music labels and promoting antisemitic records. They were linked to venues like the Hate Bar in Saarland, Germany, where arrests were made for displaying banned symbols during far-right concerts earlier this year.

The ban on Hammerskins follows close collaboration between German and US authorities. Originating in Texas in 1988, Hammerskins expanded globally, and its national branches were united under the Hammerskin Nation.

In Germany, Hammerskins operated through 13 regional chapters, some referencing Nazi Germany. Similar to biker gangs, initiation steps were required for new members, administered by their supporting group Crew 38, which has also been outlawed.

The police raids focused on leaders in 10 German states, targeting group assets. Some members possessed licenses for firearms. They referred to each other as “brothers” and considered themselves the “elite of the right-wing extremist skinhead scene.”

Previously, the group organized Germany’s largest far-right martial arts event, Fight of the Nibelungs, which has been banned since 2019. Despite this, Hammerskins persisted in organizing concerts featuring various neo-Nazi bands.

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This marks the 20th occasion of banning a right-wing extremist association in Germany, according to the interior ministry. Hammerskins was the last prominent right-wing skinhead organization in the country following the outlawing of Blood and Honour in 2000, which had close ties to a neo-Nazi group responsible for ten racially motivated murders in Germany. Another neo-Nazi group involved in far-right concerts, Combat 18, was banned in 2020. Germany’s domestic intelligence agency estimates that there are 38,800 individuals in the country’s right-wing extremist community, with over a third considered “potentially violent.”

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