German Neo-Nazis Market 'Nazi Hipster' Lifestyle

Conscious movement to embrace popular genres of music, high fashion, and social media makes neo-Nazism harder to spot.

Tova Dvorin ,

Neo-Nazis (illustrative)
Neo-Nazis (illustrative)

Neo-Nazi culture has traditionally been a legion of counterculture, with many skinheads taking pride in shirking the badge of multiculturalism the West proudly donned post-Holocaust. 

But now, an entirely new generation of neo-Nazis and white supremacists seek to slip their hate ideology into mainstream culture - a worrying trend to top off a year of dramatic escalation in anti-Semitic activity. 

Rolling Stone released an in-depth report on the "Nazi hipster" - or "nipster" - movement earlier this month, providing a close look at the blending of pop culture and hate culture.

The weapon of choice seems to be the unexpected, as young neo-Nazis utilize viral videos, street fashion, and even hip-hop to spread their racist ideologies. There is even a popular "neo-Nazi vegan" blog. 

"If the definition of the nipster is someone who can live in the mainstream, then I see it as the future of the movement," Patrick Schroeder, a 30-year-old co-host of the only neo-Nazi webcast in Germany, explained to the magazine.

Schroeder's shows follow the format of many webcasts - except they feature a running commentary on neo-Nazi news instead of a general survey on current events, and are laced with remarks on pop culture and "white power" music. The episodes reflect his ideology that anyone can join the hate movement, no matter what they wear or what music they listen to - as long as they have the "right" values.

The same can be said of music and fashion in the "nipster" world, with at least one active far-right neo-Nazi political recruiter saying he'd use rap and hip-hop to spread Nazi ideology.

A plethora of brands are emerging using the large range of neo-Nazi symbols - including "88" to symbol "Heil Hitler", several logos traditionally associated with European supremacy throughout the ages, and even sayings (e.g. American Nazi David Lane's '14 word' slogan). 

The change has been marked with an online revolution, with Nazi experts noting to RS that hundreds of Tumblrs and Instagram accounts exist using the tag "nipster" and promoting extreme imagery that, at first, looks similar to any teen or young adult pop-culture blog. 

"These aren't just dumb East German youth - they understand how to package their political ideology," Daniel Koehler, director of research at the Institute for the Study of Radical Movements in Berlin, stated. "When we first saw it, it was something weird, but now it's pretty normal."

Anti-Semitism, hate crime on the rise

Neo-Nazis have tried to "blend in" to mainstream culture before. One of the most famous cases of conscious "marketing" attempts includes the media furor in the early 2000s over "Prussian Blue," a "white power" pop duo of young teenage twins Lamb and Lynx Gaede.

Both sisters eventually moved away somewhat from the Nazi movement, which was later revealed to be forced upon them by their infamous mother and prominent American neo-Nazi April Gaede. 

But now, news of a dressed-up neo-Nazi movement proves extra-worrying for the future of Europe's minorities, at a time when racism - and particularly anti-Semitism - is more virulent, more global, and more accessible than ever before. 

Just two months ago, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) revealed that 1.09 billion people26% of the world's population - is estimated to be anti-Semitic. 

The statistics in Europe last year were equally damning. An online survey conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights revealed that between 77%-90% of all hate crimes in the EU remained unreported in 2013, with respondents saying they feared social ostracism.  

The Jewish community is particularly at stake - 66% view anti-Semitism as having a major and constant impact on their lives; 77% of European Jews are unwilling to report any incident of anti-Semitic bullying or violence to authorities - whether governmental organizations or non-governmental religious groups; and 75% of European Jews said they had been exposed to anti-Semitism online, in several different forms - through blog posts, social media, YouTube videos, and more.