Europe of Right-Wing Extremists (II)
COLOGNE/ANTWERP/VIENNA (Own report) - At an international congress to be held in Cologne over the coming weekend, right-wing extremist parties, from several EU nations, will seek to consolidate their cooperation. The chairman of "Pro-Koeln," which is organizing the congress, announced that the "intermediate" objective is the founding of a "European right-wing party." Among the participants are organizations from Belgium (Vlaams Belang), the FPÖ (Austrian Freedom Party - AFP) and the Italian (Lega Nord). The European right-wing party, whose German partner is yet to be determined - even the Nationalist Party of Germany (NPD) is in consideration - is supposed to field candidates for the European parliamentary elections and constitute a parliamentary group once elected. The campaign focuses on the fight against Islam. This campaign is using the animosity prevalent also outside of right-wing extremist circles that is being strongly fomented in the context of the "war on terror." This could "possibly lead to an electoral success of the prospective right-wing party," according to Alexander Haeusler, an expert on right-wing extremism in a discussion with german-foreign-policy.com. The new structure, to be extended to all of Europe, is based upon the old tradition of collaboration with Nazi Germany.
"Well over 100 European parliamentarians" will be participating in the "Anti-Islamization Congress" organized by the "Citizen's Movement Pro Koeln (Pro Cologne)," which is due to open next Friday and climax in a rally in downtown Cologne on Saturday. The announced speakers will be from the Belgian Vlaams Belang Party, the Austrian Freedom Party (AFP), the Lega Nord, a coalition partner in the Italian government and the Front National from France. Alongside prominent strategists of European right-wing extremism, such as Jean-Marie Le Pen (Chairman of the Front National in France), Andreas Moelzer (EU Parliamentarian of Austria's AFP) and Filip Dewinter (Chairman of Belgium's Vlaams Belang parliamentary group in the Flemish Parliament), Henry Nitzsche a member of the German Bundestag is also scheduled to appear. Nitzsche, who currently is independent of the parliamentary party groups in the German parliament, had been expelled from the Christian Democratic group, after using an electoral slogan taken from the French Vichy collaborator government and having expressed opinions characterized in his former party as "first class NPD statements." Markus Beisicht, Chairman of the "Citizen's Movement Pro Koeln" will also address the rally on Saturday.
"Pro Koeln," seen as one of Germany's most successful the right-wing extremist organizations, is pursuing "a relatively new strategy" according to information furnished by Alexander Haeusler of the "Arbeitsstelle Neonazismus" at the Technical University of Duesseldorf. "Pro Koeln" has to its advantage that, since 2001, "terrorist Islamism (...) is falsely equated with Islam, as a religion in public discourse." This provides the opportunity for the organization to "propagandistically take up a theme" that is "a subject that public opinion already considers anxiety-provoking." "Pro Koeln" agitates primarily against Islam and seeks to portray itself as a "civic movement" - not without success. The association was voted onto the city council with nearly five percent of the votes in the last local elections. The majority of the leading "Pro Koeln" functionaries clearly have a right-wing extremist background. Some of them come from the "Deutsche Liga für Volk und Heimat" ("German League for Folk and Homeland"), one had been active in the NPD youth organization, still others had been with the "Republikaner." "Pro Koeln" functionaries accorded interviews to various right-wing extremist journals and were on several occasions on hand for the NPD in events and discussions.
The "Civic Movement Pro Koeln" has been systematically extending its field of operations. At the beginning of 2007, it founded a subsidiary, the "Civic Movement Pro NRW" that is covering the entire state of North Rhine Westphalia. A nationwide expansion ("Civic Movement Pro Germany") is not to be ruled out, but for the moment it has a hesitant start. Since 2007 "Pro Koeln" has also been systematically extending its contacts abroad - because decisive forces of European right-wing extremism, the AFP as well as the Vlaams Belang, have been seeking cooperation structures in Germany. "Both formations are interested in finding serious partners in Germany for networking the nonconformist opposition in Europe" explained the vice-chairman of "Pro NRW" in April 2007 following his visit to Vienna. This "also means common patriotic electoral lists in future European parliamentary elections."
The AFP, Vlaams Belang and "Pro Koeln"/"Pro NRW" have since been pushing for right-wing extremist structures in Europe. One component is a "city alliance against Islamization" founded with collaboration of these three organizations in January in Antwerp. Also in January, the party chairmen of the AFP and the Vlaams Belang announced the founding of a "European right-wing party" in Vienna, with the inclusion of the French Front National as well as the Ataka (Bulgarian National Union Attack Party). Contact has been established to many other organizations. Of structural importance is that there are parties involved that maintain a tradition of Nazi collaboration. This is particularly true for the Vlaams Belang, whose predecessor, the anti-French Flemish Movement, drew its strength from its collaboration with the German Reich. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.)
A link to the Nazi tradition is also to be found with the AFP. Founded in 1956, it is the successor of the disbanded Union of the Independent (Verband der Unabhängigen, VdU) which had been a post-war safe-haven organization for former members of the NSDAP. Anton Reinthaller, the first AFP chairman, was an ex-SS brigade commander. Reinthaller, who had been imprisoned from 1950 - 1953 for his Nazi activities, had joined the NSDAP even before Austria was annexed by Germany. Reinthaller's successor, the AFP chairman (from 1958 - 1978), Friedrich Peter, was also a former NSDAP member. During the Second World War, he rose to the Nazi Party rank of senior storm leader of the Waffen-SS. His last unit was part of the detachment responsible for the liquidation of hundreds of thousands of Jews behind the frontlines. The Waffen-SS deserves "all honors and respect" alleged the long-term AFP chairman Joerg Haider in 1995. The AFP European parliamentarian, Andreas Moelzer, attempted to explain the significance of Nazis in the concept behind a European alliance: Nazi Germany sought "to unite the continent". Moelzer, who at the moment is in charge of international cooperation for the AFP, will also make an appearance at the "Pro Koeln" congress this weekend.
It has yet to be decided, which of the German organizations will be included in the European structures of the Nazi collaborators. Only "Pro Koeln"/"Pro NRW" and the NPD are among the top-ranking candidates. All others (DVU and "Republiker") are excluded. Currently their chances of winning are very low. But, whereas "Pro Koeln"/"Pro NRW" for the time being is limited to the federal state North Rhine Westphalia, a cooperation with the NPD will be problematic, particularly for Belgium. This party revives memories of Nazi terror through its links to the violent Neo-Nazi scene and its open identifications with the "Third Reich." Last June, during informal talks at the "Europe Congress" of the "Republikaner", Filip Dewinter, the figurehead of the Vlaams Belang, implied a solution to the problem, integrating all of the parties under consideration - including the NPD. Dewinter, who spoke on the question of setting up Europe-wide structures, said in reference to Germany's splintered right extremists, "it would be wonderful, if unity could be possible." Dewinter considers that "in the next few years" a cross-party unification is conceivable including both "Pro Koeln" and the NPD, to create a powerful German cooperation partner.
Regardless of which German organization joins the emerging European right-wing party, it would be part of a prospective EU-wide coalition founded on the basis of a tradition of collaboration in the Nazi period, whose structures are linked to current right-wing extremist agitation. The Congress taking place at the end of this week in Cologne, is a contribution to the creation of this coalition.
Please read also On the Rise.
 "Multikulturelle Schwuchtel"; Der Tagesspiegel 30.11.2006
 see also Deckmantel "Bürgerbewegung"
 Alexander Häusler, Jürgen Peters: Rechtspopulismus in Gestalt einer "Bürgerbewegung". Struktur und politische Methodik von PRO NRW und PRO DEUTSCHLAND, Düsseldorf 2008; www.arbeitsstelle-neonazismus.de
 Chance für Neuanfang nutzen!; www.pro-koeln-online.de 24.04.2007
 see also Accession Plans
 Hubertus Czernin (Hg.): Der Westentaschen-Haider, Wien 2000
 Andreas Mölzer (Hg): Europa im rechten Licht. Rechtsdemokraten und Patrioten über Zustand und Zukunft des Kontinents, Wien 2004
 Europa der Rechten; taz 23.06.2008