Germany has taken decisive action against the neo-Nazi group known as Hammerskins, notorious for organizing far-right concerts and distributing racist music. The move was hailed as a significant step against racism and antisemitism by Germany’s interior minister. In a coordinated effort, authorities conducted raids at the residences of 28 prominent members of the group across the country.
Hammerskins, which had its origins in the United States in the late 1980s, is estimated to comprise approximately 130 members in Germany. Observers described the ban on the group as a significant blow to organized right-wing extremism, effectively halting the inhumane activities of an internationally active neo-Nazi association.
Germany’s interior minister, Nancy Faeser, emphasized that right-wing extremism remains the most significant extremist threat to democracy and underlined their commitment to acting decisively against it. A central objective of the Hammerskins was to spread their far-right ideology through concerts.
Neo-Nazi music labels
The group played a prominent role in establishing neo-Nazi music labels, promoting antisemitic records, and organizing covert music events. It has connections to venues such as the Hate Bar in Saarland, Germany, where authorities made arrests in April for individuals displaying banned symbols during far-right concerts.
The ban resulted from close cooperation between German authorities and their American counterparts. Hammerskins, founded in Texas in 1988, has a global umbrella organization known as the Hammerskin Nation, overseeing its national branches.
In Germany, the group has been active since the early 1990s and held a significant position among far-right organizations in Europe. It operated through 13 regional chapters, some of which referenced Nazi Germany in their names. These chapters functioned across the country, mirroring the structure of biker gangs.
Much like biker gangs, they mandated that new members undergo initiation steps overseen by their supporting group, Crew 38, which authorities have also banned.Some members possessed licenses to carry weapons, according to German media reports.
Members of Hammerskins referred to each other as “brothers” and saw themselves as the “elite of the right-wing extremist skinhead scene.” The group was responsible for Germany’s largest far-right martial arts event, Fight of the Nibelungs, banned since 2019. Despite previous bans, Hammerskins continued to organize concerts featuring various neo-Nazi bands.
According to the interior ministry, this ban signifies the 20th occasion on which Germany has prohibited a right-wing extremist association. Hammerskins was the last major right-wing skinhead organization in Germany, following the outlawing of another group, Blood and Honour, in 2000. Blood and Honour had close ties to a neo-Nazi group responsible for ten racially motivated murders in Germany.
In 2020, Germany banned Combat 18, another neo-Nazi group involved in far-right concerts. The country’s domestic intelligence agency estimates that there are 38,800 individuals in Germany’s right-wing extremist scene, with more than a third of them considered “potentially violent.”