In the light of the efforts to monitor the AfD (Alternative for Germany) the similarities and differences to the unsuccessful attempts to ban the NPD (National Democratic Party) shine through. This article tries to shed light on one aspect that has been largely neglected in both the NPDs ban application and the report on the AfD by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution: the ties of the parties as well as of single members to the White Power Music scene and its supporters. It intends to focus on selected, prominent cases instead of covering the topic in its entirety. Nonetheless, it should manage to provide a sketch of a less observed field.
In the case of the NPD, a variety of contacts with the White Power Music scene can be identified. Those can be traced back to the opening-up of the party to neo-national socialist, subculturally oriented activists by the NPD leader Udo Voigt, who was in office from 1996 to 2011. The most exposed representatives of this field are the singer of the band “Landser” (outdated for Foot Solider), now banned as a criminal organization, Michael “Lunikoff” Regener, who continues his activities with “Die Lunikoff Verschwörung” (The Lunikoff Conspiracy), and Thorsten Heise, the most important movement entrepreneur in the White Power Music business. Since its foundation in 2004, Michael Regener and his band “Die Lunikoff Verschwörung” have repeatedly acted as a musical bandwagon for rallies organized and registered by NPD cadres or the party itself (for example, Rock für Deutschland 2009 in Gera). This also applied to three-quarters of the large events (especially the Schild & Schwert Festival, but also Rock gegen Überfremdung and the Tage der nationalen Bewegung). This circumstance may also be due to the proximity of the respective organizers, as all publicly known, legally responsible organizers or meeting leaders, Tommy Frenck, Sebastian Schmidtke, Patrick Schröder, Steffen Richter, and Thorsten Heise, are former or current NPD officials. Apart from the concert business, all of the above-mentioned persons, except for Steffen Richter, make their living by selling White Power Music merchandising and/or other scene-related devotional objects including security supplies and army clothing (Heise: WB-Versand; Frenck: Druck18; Schröder: FSN-Versand; Schmidtke: Hexogen). Besides, the NPD provided a considerable proportion of the – constantly repeated – speakers for the corresponding large-scale events of their (former) functionaries, so that the events could be authorized as such according to the assembly laws. The organisers themselves, but also Udo Voigt, Ronny Zasowk and Antje Mentzel appeared more than once.
The White Power Music band “Noie Werte” (an intentional misspelling of New Values, replacing the “eu” by the skinhead-typical “oi” as a scene reference) – whose songs “Am Puls der Zeit” (At the pulse of time) and “Kraft für Deutschland” (Power for Germany) have been chosen as background music for the second version of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) video – continues to have the best contacts in the extreme-right movement even after its dissolution in 2010. Steffen Hammer (singer and head of Noie Werte) maintains contacts in extreme-right circles through his band and his professional work as a lawyer: For example, to the NPD (band member Michael Wendland, former chairman of the NPD in Baden-Württemberg), but also to the NSU-supporting environment. These are Blood & Honour connections through personal contacts and his band “Noie Werte”. Furthermore, since 2018 he has been running a joint law firm with the defense lawyer of direct NSU supporter Ralf Wohlleben, Nicole Schneiders, a scene lawyer and former deputy district chair of the NPD in Jena. Hammer had previously worked with her, as well as with Alexander Heinig, a former member of the disbanded White Power Music band Ultima Ratio, at the H3 law firm in Rastatt, which was run by the local CDU (Christian Democratic Union) politician Klaus Harsch.
In contrast to the NPD, the AfD tries to keep its contacts to certain groups within the extreme right as invisible as possible, which is why only a few connections have become publicly known and verifiable. The best-known cases of AfD (and NPD) or individual (former) members being involved in the White Power Music scene can be traced back to Tommy Frenck, the members and closest associates of the White Power Music band “Noie Werte”, and Steffen Hammer and his wife Meike Hammer. Meike Hammer has been working as a parliamentary advisor to the AfD parliamentary group in the Baden-Wuerttemberg state parliament since 2018, despite the AfD’s incompatibility resolutions. It affects Meike Hammer not only indirectly through her husband, but also directly, as she was already included on a list of violent right-wing extremists by the Baden-Wuerttemberg State Office for the Protection of the Constitution in 2000. Tommy Frenck, an extreme-right movement entrepreneur, is a former NPD and current district council member for the party Bündnis Zukunft Hildburghausen (Future Alliance Hildburghausen) in the corresponding district. He called to vote for the AfD in the imminent Bundestag elections in September 2017. In contrast to the NPD and other, especially small(er) extreme right parties, the AfD entered the Bundestag again and could influence the political climate in the sense of the extreme right movement. While this recommendation was contradicted by the NPD and the AfD, Frenck received encouragement from his supporters. Also, Frenck has maintained a business relationship with the (former) AfD local politician Bodo Dressel, which has now lasted for two years. Dressel rents the (concert) space in Themar to Frenck (and, through Frenck, to other interested parties). Without Dressel, it would be much more difficult for the White Power Music scene to hold concerts of this size on a secure site, as the events and ownership situation at Rock gegen Überfremdung III in August and October 2018 showed. There, after two relocations or attempts to relocate, the replacement event was cancelled after riots in Apolda city center. Financial losses and a massive loss of image were the result.
These examples reveal one overall pattern: The AfD officially tries to keep distance from the White Power Music scene, whereas the NPD has been closely and publicly linked to it. Both parties have their particular reasons for their approach: The AfD is currently represented all sixteen state parliaments, the Bundestag, and the European parliament. The party wants to preserve its parliamentary power and the MPs want to keep their mandate. Therefore, the party adopted incompatibility resolutions – proposed by the party leadership – that are thought to keep former members of extremist parties and organizations out of the party, to decrease the likelihood to be monitored by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Practically, the large influential faction “Der Flügel” (The Wing) pursues a different strategy, as the report on the AfD reveals. Only some exposed representatives, like the now former Brandenburg party chairman Andreas Kalbitz, have been expelled. Lower-ranking members as for example the city council member of Hoyerswerda, Toni Schneider who shared a quote of the White Power Music group “Stahlgewitter”, took part in extreme-right martial arts events and has been active for the “Identitäre Bewegung” (Identitarian Movement), are still in the party. The NPD also had adopted incompatibility resolutions in their early days. These were abandoned by Udo Voigt shortly after he became the party chairman in 1996. This is part of the “four-pillar strategy” which is about fighting for: 1. hearts and minds; 2. the streets; 3. parliament; and 4. the organized will. This approach allowed the party to mobilize supporters for election campaigns. In turn, they supported the groupuscular right, i.e. “Freie Kameradschaften” (Free Comradeships), by supplying them with a robust legal framework for demonstrations by the so-called ‘Parteienprivileg’ (lit. party privilege; article 21, German Basic Law) and the subcultural scene (such as providing a platform for concerts). This “division of labor” seemed to be successful for both: the NPD twice entered the state parliaments of Saxony and Mecklenburg-Hither Pomerania between 2004 and 2011 and East Germany, especially Saxony, could further establish as a stronghold of White Power Music. After the electoral decline of the NPD, the party strengthened its profile as a movement party focusing on “the streets” and “the organized will” as the examples above illustrate.
Maximilian Kreter is a Doctoral Fellow at CARR and a Doctoral candidate at Hannah Arendt Institute Totalitarianism Studies, TU Dresden. See full profile here.
© Maximilian Kreter. Views expressed on this website are individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect that of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). We are pleased to share previously unpublished materials with the community under creative commons license 4.0 (Attribution-NoDerivatives).
 Precisely the type of movement entrepreneur who entirely lives politically, socially, and economically of, by and for the scene and the movement. They are often involved since years or even decades, thereby have a lot of (professional) knowledge and are often charismatic leaders with distinct organizational skills.