The Hitler Deal – crafty market with Nazi symbols

On Friday 20 March, it is going to be 128 years since Adolf Hitler was born. Czech neo-Nazis will celebrate as they which – some demonstrating, others will work. Other then shouting around, Nazis are getting better in business as well: Own their shops, make clothes and sell racist records.

Right next to the pub „U Pecek“ in Bass St. Prague, near the „Vysocanska“ metro stop, resides down-the-line shop. Above the glass door with brown framing, a large white board is reflecting the sun beams. With a bit of effort is possible to read sign ‚Hate Core‘. Reading the text is not easy – someone spray it over, maybe spilled color over it. Hooligans who damaged the sign were most probably left wing activists from Antifascist Action (AFA). Hate Core shop is ex-owned by Martin Franek (owner from 2010 is Lada Hartmannová and new adress of the shop is Hořická 401 Letňany) , well known Prague Nazi-skinhead and neo-Nazi concerts organization; He was a part of an autumn session of bald-heads in Dresden. He is operating the shop approximately from that time.

Hate Core shop doesn’t look any extravagant, only on the door are stickers of Thor Steinar, Troublemaker or Pit Bull brands. Inside, just few would still contemplate: speakers are shouting aggressive hardcore music, shelf is full of Nazi-bands CDs like Vinland Warriors, Race Riot or Burn Down (just what we saw in the shop), racks are bending under amount of sport, otherwise not cheap, clothes of right-wing brands. „What would you like? “ says willingly behind a computer, one of two large short-haired man, whilst standing up. Without a mark of suspicion he gives us music records. Asks if we need anything else and kindly says goodbye. Shopping goes as in any other shop – business is business.

TS’s sells
Martin Franek and his shop are a perfect example of a fact that stiff looking neo-Nazi movement learnt how to make money in past few years. Above that: They are getting much better in it and mainly can do it in borders –or legislative blank space – of the law.

Right-wing was stagnating recently. Main income was coming from illegal music and concert organization. Risk large, income not as big. Specialists from Ministry of internal affairs, police and people from nonprofit organizations agree, that more than 10.000.000 CZK can flow through the Nazi business each year, whereas the number is going to grow.

Most of this money is at the moment related to clothes retail. Domestic importer of German brand Thor Steinar, very popular by right-wing extremists, had in 2005 income around 3.000.000 CZK based on information provided by Onrej Kacl from Tolerance organization. It could be more for past year, since TS is becoming popular in apolitical public community.

It is the same producer causing huge discussions in Germany 2004: Behind this brand are people related to local neo-Nazi movement; a company which also faced a number of complaints was forced to change their logo evoking symbols of Hitler’s empire. In relation to that, there is no surprise

Toys and runes
Successful Nazi business has three main benefits. Money, which Nazis invested into fancied brand, however with „their“ thing not related, such as Lonsdale, Fred Perry and Umbro, are now fluctuating into companies owned by right-wing extremists. They can use gained assets to make their ideology even stronger. „Trendy“clothes is also handy propaganda, mainly allowing Nazis to address the public. Ultra-right wing bald-heads learnt how to hide their symbolic, they also don’t organize showy chases to Romany fellow-citizens, they are being careful with heiling and distribution of clearly illegal production. A number of people have no idea that the picture on their jacket is hiding a reference to the Third Reich; by buying such a product probably supported production of racist or anti-Semitic music, even worse, could support new ultra-right wing political party. Neo-Nazis found a way, after years of trying, how to legalize their activities and get even closer to be normal.

This aspiration can be proven by issues in Slane and Most. In the central Bohemia were people able to buy Thor Steinar clothes in a toy store, decorated by a poster of an iconic Nazi band Screwdriver. In Most, people close to football hooligan club Radical Boys, opened a shop with ultra-right wing clothes, directly in premises of fist-league football club FC SIAD Most. FC management found out about this after being told by the journalists.

Shall we be worried?
If a few million Czech crowns flew through the business, mainly related to neo-Nazi movement, does it meant something critical for the society? “Introducing current extremist to political mainstream is an effective method of getting larger support base and power”, said ex-leader of security department of the Department of Home Affairs, Michal Mazel. He is relating his comment to Germany where local right-wing is getting financed this way for number of years. Nothing like that should affect the Czech republic any time soon.

Political scientist Miroslav Mares sais that for the most manufacturers is the biggest motivation the financial one. “Most of the people are after money rather than having a good feeling from supporting their ideology. An effective election campaign costs more, then these retailers can put together. In the same time, it’s not clear if all of them are up for it anyway.” Based on Mazla’s opinion, most of the money from this income goes back into extremist circles and is mainly used for concert organization, ideology propaganda and public activities. 

TÝDEN č. 16/2007