The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Skinhead International: Norway

The Norwegian Skinhead movement is young and rather small, probably numbering some 100 to 150. Not all of them fit the neo-Nazi label. In addition to a small group of leftist SHARP (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice) Skins, many of those calling themselves "nationalist" or "patriotic" Skins do not necessarily sucscribe to Nazi ideology. Some of the leading figures are, however, unabashed neo-Nazis and ideological racists.

The first tiny group, Boot Boys, started up in 1987. Their leader was (and still is) Ole Krogstad. He was a regional youth leader in the now-defunct and partly Nazi-inspired Nasjonalt Folkeparti (National People's Party). Together with other leading party activists, Krogstad was arrested in 1985 after a bomb attack on a Muslim mosque. The culprit in this attack was another young Skinhead member of Nasjonalt Folkeparti, but the police investigation brought other crimes to the surface. Krogstad was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment for a dynamite attack on an immigrant welfare office, painting Nazi slogans on a Jewish synagogue, and illegally possessing explosives and weapons. After serving his term, Krogstad became an activist in the now-defunct Nasjonal-Demokratisk Union.

Bodyguard Service

During the late eighties, Boot Boys linked up with the racist movement Folkebevegelsen Mot Innvandring (FMI, The People's Movement Against Immigration), and later its split-off Norge Mot Innvandring (NMI, Norway Against Immigration). The Boot Boys turned up as bodyguards at many of FMI's and NMI's rallies and meetings. These meetings regularly ended up in clashes with the police and/or the Skins' leftist SHARP opponents.

Partly on account of the small number of Norwegian "nationalist" Skins, they have had to cooperate with other (non-Skinhead) groups and individuals both in Norway and abroad. The Skinhead and Nazi movements in Sweden have always been admired by their Norwegian "smaller brothers." In 1991, some Norwegians were allowed to join the Swedish Nazi terrorist network Vitt Ariskt Motstand (VAM, White Aryan Resistance). VAM is modeled after the American terrorist group The Order and its fictional version in "The Turner Diaries," a novel by the American neo-Nazi William Pierce. A Norwegian branch of VAM was set up during 1991 (HAM, Hvit Arisk Moststand), but it was soon exposed and deeply discredited (especially in relation to international Nazi circles) when one of its members turned out to be an anti-fascist mole. He went public and told the media and the police about plans to bomb a leftist youth club in Oslo and to set fire to the cottage belonging to the President of the Norwegian parliament, who is Jewish. After this blunder, the Norwegian "Aryan warriors" had to keep their heads low for a while.

New Groups

During 1992 and '93, a couple of new Skinhead-inspired groups surfaced. The first was Birkebeinerne (a name derived from an old Viking saga). The leading members of this gorup were identical with leaders of the Norwegian branch of the Swedish VAM (HAM), but they were also reinforced with some activists from NMI and the crumbling FMI. Unlike HAM, Birkebeinerne try to present themselves as non-Nazi nationalists. ("Selling" Nazism and patriotism in the same package is highly problematic in Norway, due to memories of the Norwegian Nazis' collaboration with German occupiers during the Second World War, which gave rise to the label "quislings," after the name of their leader.)

Another new local group is called Ariske Brodre (Aryan Brothers). Some members from Ariske Brodre have secretly cooperated with leading members of Fedrelandspartiet (The Fatherland Party). This party is the biggest anti-immigation party in Norway, having received around 12,000 votes in the 1993 election to the Norwegian parliament (0.6% of the total). A third group, with ambitions to serve as a kind of umbrella organization, is Norsk Ungdom/Ung Front (Norwegian Youth/Young Front). Skinheads comprise part of the membership of another recently formed group, Viking.

During spring 1993, members of the different Skinhead groups worked together in the planning of attacks on anti-fascist meetings. The attacks failed completely, as the police knew their plans in advance. Neither could these groups prevent the anti-fascist demonstrators from breaking up most rallies and meetings held by the racist Fedrelandspartiet in the Norwegian election campaign.

First Band

Late in the summer of 1994, the first Skinhead band, The Rinnan Band, surfaced in Norway. Henry Rinnan, after whom the band was named, was Nazi-occupied Norway's most hated and feared torturer. After threats of lawsuits from Rinnan's relatives, the band changed its name to H-band or the Hirdmen. That name, too, has an association with Nazism: although the old Norwegian Viking kings' bodyguards were called Hirdmen, the name was also used by the armed and uniformed followers of the Norwegian traitor Quisling during the Nazi occupation.

Dozens of Skinhead members of Vicking, Ariske Brodre and Boot Boys were among over 75 extremists detained in Oslo in February 1995 after they attacked left-wing protestors with slingshots and other crude weapons. The incident took place at a building rented out by neo-Nazis and other extremist groups under the guise that it was a "cultural center." The police confiscated weapons as well as Nazi propaganda and paraphernalia from the building.

Since their arrival on the scene, Norwegian Skinheads have generally been looked upon as outcasts and madmen with their shaven heads and admiration of Adolf Hitler. Perhaps because of their modest numbers, the Skins and other right-wing extremists have recently tried to recruit school children as young as 12 into their ranks, although these efforts so far have been unsuccessful. After seven years of activity, they number no more than 100 to 150 (but slowly growing), and their names and faces are well known.

However, to other Nazi groups and "respectable" anti-immigration parties and organizations, the Skinheads are important as foot soldiers. Over the last couple of years they have helped more sophisticated Nazi groups to gather information about leading anti-fascists, politicians and journalists. A Norwegian harassment (and possibly death) list has been compiled by a secretive group called Anti-antifa (anti-anti-fascists). A leading member of Anti-antifa is a right-wing extremists who has been convicted of bombings and arms theft. He spent a short time in the French Foreign Legion, and his name has been linked to the Boot Boys. Together with other militarily experienced persons he is now trying to discipline both Skinheads and ordinary youth who have been dragged into the web of the Nazis. Their plan has two focuses: to establish a reign of terror in the streets (by the use of Skinheads) and by selective terror to silence their main political opponents. (Anti-Defamation League, 56-58)

Work Cited

Anti-Defamation League. The Skinhead International: A Worldwide Survey of Neo-Nazi Skinheads. New York: Anti-Defamation League, 1995. Anti-Defamation League, 823 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017.

Disclaimer: not all skinheads are neo-nazis or white supremacists. There are many skinheads who are non- or anti-racist, and who come from a variety of different religious and cultural backgrounds. Nizkor recognizes their achievements in anti-racism: they are part of the traditional, non-racist skinhead subculture and are not the perpetrators of the hate crimes discussed here.

Unless otherwise specified, the word "skinhead" within these pages refers only to neo-Nazi and white supremacist skinheads, the perpetrators of hate crimes and participants in racist organizations. We cannot edit the body of the text above, because it was not written by Nizkor, and to change the wording would be fraudulent. Please keep in mind that not all skinheads are racist.

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