Nazi party membership is verboten in Germany, but what The Daily Beast is calling its “racist American cousin” isn’t, and membership is on the rise in the country which gave us Adolf Hitler and friends. Recent raids around Germany have turned up the whole KKK kit, including white hoods, patches, and of course, weapons.
In eight German states in the last week, police went on raids of a group called National Socialist Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Deutschland which combines the American KKK with the Nazi party of the past. Over one hundred weapons were seized in the raids as there is a surge in violence against immigrants and minorities.
The KKK isn’t banned in Germany, but the symbols associated with it are, and that’s what police are seeking. Cross burning, white power symbols, and slogans and logos are not allowed. In the raid, the police gathered shirts and patches (some with Nazi images) along with guns, knives, throwing stars, swords, and collapsing batons.
This new Klan is recruiting online and funding its growth with membership fees, says Frederik Obermaier, a German journalist and author of a book on Germany’s Klan.
“German authorities definitely underestimated the KKK and considered it as not a dangerous group.”
Obermaier says that the KKK is not new in Germany, but as membership in the Nazi party was banned, like-minded people made the move over to the organization with American roots.
TM Garret, a former German KKK member who has now launched an anti-racism group in the United States says that the first taste of the KKK was brought to Germany by a German-American reverend in the 1920s.
“The U.S. was always the land of endless opportunities. A lot of racist skinheads define themselves not just through nationalism, but as a white-power movement worldwide.”
Garret says that American culture, freedom of speech, and access to guns is alluring in Germany and is used as propaganda. He says that ironically, the American klan is fascinated with Germany and the Nazis, while German alt-right groups are interested in the culture of the KKK.
And while it’s not illegal to own guns in Germany, they are harder to come by than in the U.S.
“Guns aren’t banned in Germany, but they’re very hard to get. The U.S. gun culture was very attractive to the German far right can also talk openly about things, things that are banned in Germany, like national socialism and the race war. It was the ultimate freedom of speech.”