Friday, June 19, 2009

The British National Party and racist Neo-Paganism: is there common ground? 5

This morning I went to the farmers market, the one in South Sacramento. I love going there for more than just the fresh vegetables and brown eggs; I love the wonderful sights and sounds of the many different ethnic groups who both sell and buy there.
The Indian women in their beautiful saris and the Sikh men with their colorful turbans mix with various Asian people, African Americans and Hispanic people as well as those of my ancestry who could probably be called Anglo-Saxon, Celtic or maybe even Normans and/or Picts! Various languages can be heard as the sounds intermingle. And as I listened I couldn’t help thinking of the subject I have been writing about, the British National Party.

This British political party, which is racist, has some traits akin to the Nazis. Their manifesto for the 2005 elections which I wrote about yesterday shows some of the same interests covering such subjects as the celebration of ancient festivals to “proper” architect to hatred for both Marxism and Capitalism. Their Constitution shows their deep roots in totalitarianism.

The Pagan Past: The picture above is from Nazi Culture, by George L Mosse. It is a picture of young women supposedly dressed as Bronze Age women. This kind of activity, including the celebration of ancient Germanic festivals, was encouraged by the Nazis as a means of reinforcing the importance of German Culture. The Asatru groups close to Sacramento not only incorporate such rites and festivals in their own religion they make use of other non-religious Northern European activities. And the BNP is also encouraging building connections to ancient British culture.

Under the sub-title “Art and Culture,” they write, “Schools in England will be encouraged to celebrate May Day and other ancient festivals, whilst the other folk nations of the British Isles will be encouraged to resurrect their ancestral folk traditions.” The document states that those with a “foreign” ethnic background would be encouraged to study their own traditions but this would be in different and non-public schools.

The importance of this link with fascism and Nazism seems trivial but it is not when linked with policies that encourage all ethnic groups but those that are white to leave Britain. It should also be pointed out that while BNP seemingly supports Christianity they are taking very definite measures to link with Britain’s pagan past by celebrating pagan holidays in the schools.

Totalitarianism: The Constitution of the BNP lays out an extreme hierarchical structure for government within the party, with the National Chairman acting as an absolute ruler, including, “Power to determine, and where necessary change, all organizational structures within the party, and to determine all rules and procedures whereby such structures are governed. Also, the National Chairman has, “Power to determine all routine executive, administrative, policy and tactical decisions made by the party.” While there are other countless rules, a Chairman with that kind of authority can change any of them.

Both Capitalism and Marxism as enemy: A constant tirade against both Capitalism and Marxism is characteristic of fascist literature. In an article written in 1932 by Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, he constantly fires at both forms of economics lifting up National Socialism as the ideal solution. He writes:

“If a Communist shouts "Down with nationalism!", he means the hypocritical bourgeois patriotism that sees the economy only as a system of slavery. If we make clear to the man of the left that nationalism and capitalism, that is the affirmation of the Fatherland and the misuse of its resources, have nothing to do with each other, indeed that they go together like fire and water, then even as a socialist he will come to affirm the nation, which he will want to conquer.” (Bold Goebbels)

The BNP in their Manifesto does the same, blaming the “problem” of having a multi-cultural society which they see in turn as causing the death of distinctive British languages such as Gaelic and Welsh on Capitalism. They write: The poison is in large measure the blind economic force of global capitalism, with its insistence on the unrestricted flow of goods, capital and labour to wherever in the world they will make the maximum shot-term profit.”

Anti-Semitism: The most telling similarity between Fascism, Nazism and the BNP would be anti-Semitism. While this can be clearly shown in the history of the BNP at the moment it is partially dormant and instead a strong dislike for Islam replaces it.

However it is not completely dormant. In the 2005 Manifesto, toward the end, when writing of Britain’s relationship with the United States and the armed conflicts going on in several countries, the authors write, “We are utterly opposed to attempts by American imperialists, the Zionist lobby, the neo-con movement and the US’s British puppets in the Labour and Tory parties to drag us into a ‘Clash of Civilisations’ with the Islamic world. (Emphasis mine)

The last subject here is important. In a later posting I will detail the history of the BNP and anti-Semitism. Another important issue is the BNP and Christianity. A later posting well also address that subject.
To end this posting, when doing research on Nazism and the BNP I discovered an essay in a book I have owned for quite awhile. It is the book mentioned above, Nazi Culture. The essay was written by Inge Scholl the sister of Sophie Scholl the young woman martyred because of her participation in the Nazi resistance movement, The White Rose. A movie was made about her in 2005. The essay is mostly about the brother Hans who was also martyred.
The essay is about how the brother was at first enthusiastic about Hitler and the Nazi party because he thought it was about loving Germany. He found instead that it was 'only' about loving Germany, and that as one loves an idol.
His sister tells how as an enthusiastic Hitler youth camper he taught the young men he was in charge of folk songs, singing and playing his guitar. The problem? The songs were from many other lands and cultures. He was finally forbidden to do so. He had heard his father call the Nazis wolves and beasts, and in the end he would find that it was true.


Ruth Hanna Sachs said...


Actually the Inge Scholl "essay", books, and so on highlight the complexity of dealing with the Holocaust, especially as we try to learn from it.

Because Inge Scholl was one of those Nazis who taught anti-Semitism and racial ideology. As "Ringfuehrerin" and #2 in Ulm's Jungmaedel organization, she was entrusted with the 'education' of all JM leaders in the city. She wrote plays incorporating Nazi ideology, and gladly taught Nazi principles using their materials.

Hans and Sophie Scholl (along with sister Elisabeth) similarly participated in Hitler Youth and Nazi activities. [Youngest brother Werner was the only Scholl sibling who never was an enthusiastic Nazi.] But while Sophie and Elisabeth were publicly humiliated and discharged from leadership duties, and while Hans eventually came around to the opinions shared by Sophie, Elisabeth, and Werner, Inge never did.

Inge Scholl never, ever recanted her National Socialist teachings or beliefs. After the war, she merely pretended it had never happened and hid behind the skirts of her younger siblings, who had left her out of their resistance work because she was unreliable (as was their father, Robert Scholl).

The example of Inge Scholl teaches us to examine closely the biographies and histories of our politicians and teachers who have flip-flopped on critical issues like anti-Semitism and racial propaganda. Have they REALLY changed their tune and recanted, or is it merely a "change" for political expediency?

Because Inge Scholl sadly is not an isolated case.

Best regards,
Ruth Hanna Sachs
Center for White Rose Studies
Los Angeles, California

Viola Larson said...

Thank you so much for that information Ruth. I really didn't know the history of the other members of the family, but just read the essay by Inge and did some research on Sophie after seeing the two movies.

I do have a question was it a step father then who called the Nazis wolves and beasts?

Ruth Hanna Sachs said...

No, not a stepfather. Robert Scholl (father of the Scholl siblings) was simply a chameleon-type individual, an opportunist who could be all things to all people without really holding any steadfast POV.

For example, the top 30 Nazis in Ulm were his accounting clients; he was pretty anti-Semitic himself (the Scholls' beautiful residence at Muensterplatz 33 had belonged to a Jewish family before Kristallnacht); his two best friends (according to Inge Scholl) were high-ranking Nazis, one the head of the Gestapo in Stuttgart, the other a county NSDAP leader.

But he also associated with Communists and democrats. It was like he kept all his options open, so he would be on the right side of the fence post-war no matter what.

Both Robert and Inge Scholl continued this behavior in post-war Germany when the political climate remained unstable. They courted allies from the US and Britain, along with Communists in East Germany. No matter who won out in the struggle, they were sure to have well-connected 'friends' in high places.

To me as a historian and writer, this sort of behavior is much less "noble" and commendable than say the attitudes and actions of Willi Graf, Alex Schmorell, Traute Lafrenz, Christl Probst, Lilo Ramdohr, Kaethe Schueddekopf, Wilhelm Geyer, and others who - once they realized what the Nazis were all about - completely turned their backs on the conventional wisdom of their society and fought for liberty and justice.

It seriously makes me wonder why so many people wrongly honor the Scholl family, whose opportunism reflects no courage or backbone...

Viola Larson said...

But you are not saying that there was something wrong with Sophie or Hans Scholl are you? I do know that new papers were found documenting the movie.

Ruth Hanna Sachs said...

Those papers were not new. They had been accessible for about 15+ years before the 2005 movie was made.

The screenwriter unfortunately cherry-picked the information he wanted to use, so the movie isn't accurate.

Re Hans and Sophie: They were not Nazis like Inge (except when they were younger), but they had deep, deep personal issues that made them a lot more unstable than the movie or most books will let you know. Hans was addicted to crystal meth (the go-drug for the German Army in those days) and suffered a great deal because of his repressed homosexuality. The latter caused all his relationships to be dysfunctional and friendships (ALL of them) to be short-lived.

Sophie was suicidal, insecure, and difficult for several people in the White Rose. She had a stronger moral compass than her brother Hans, but her self-doubt and view of herself as Augustinian worm-like creature whom God could not and would not love kept her distant from almost everyone.

Interestingly, Elisabeth Hartnagel nee Scholl told me in 1995, and confirmed in a very public interview a few years later, that her siblings were NOT the leaders of the White Rose, that the portrayal of them as such was a fabrication invented by Inge (post-war, Elisabeth and Fritz Hartnagel were all but estranged from Inge).

That is why we insist on honoring the other friends whose moral compass and backbone far exceeded anything found in the Scholl family. Including with Hans and Sophie.

For more about the movie, see my review of it at: ... At the bottom of that Web page, I deconstruct the movie scene by scene.

I want to emphasize that our work in general and my work specifically is NOT geared at dishonoring Hans and Sophie Scholl. We merely wish to put them in their rightful place alongside their friends, and honor their friends to the extent they deserve.

Viola Larson said...

I have been rereading my source material and your site. I am sorry but, and I also have a degree in history, and am terribly interested in this period of history including the Confessing Church, I find your writing more vindictive than historical and not very helpful. I am saying this publically because I have given you ample time and space on my blog. And of course I did ask the questions I will certainly grant you that. But I do have a strong disagreement with you.

And I must say that 15 years is not too long ago to call it new material when writing a book or making a movie.

And there is no good reason why the maker of the movie should change facts about morality or religion since he is an athist. This is a quote by him:

The director Marc Rothemund in an interview writes, "I admire her courage. She turned down the 'golden bridge' offered to her by the interrogation officer Robert Mohr--thus practically signing her own death sentence. I find this approach to death quite startling: how does such a life-affirming, positive minded young woman like Sophie Scholl come to terms with the fact that her life is being taken away from her? How does she find meaning in her death? And, of course, as an atheist I ask myself; Is it easier to face death as a believer?"