Attendees at the Rock for Germany festival took home free t-shirts expressing neo-Nazi messages similar to the ones the concert-goers are spreading around the region. However, by the time the shirts made it home from the concert and in and out of the washer machine, the right-wing extremists discovered a completely different message on the shirts.
The words “Hardcore Rebels” had been replaced by the message “What your T-shirt can do, so can you – We’ll help you break with right-wing extremism.” The German organization Exit Deutschland partnered with the apparel company Trojan T-shirts to help spread the message that right wing militants can get out of their neo-Nazi lifestyles, especially with hopes they could reach teens who might not yet be fully involved in the growing movement.
“We wanted to raise awareness about our program, especially among the young and less committed. There were so many points along the way where our plan could have failed, but it all went perfectly,” said Bernd Wagner, founder of Exit Deutschland.
Exit Deutschland used a fake name and offered the festival organizers 250 free t-shirts for the rockers. The concert was called Rock für Deutschland (Rock for Germany) and was put on by the National Democratic Party( NDP), known as a right wing extremist group.
The NDP is gaining steam in Germany, especially in the eastern areas of the country where in some towns, anyone of a different mindset is quickly being driven out of the region. Neo-Nazis have almost completely taken over the small village of Jamel, said to host the Braunau am Inn, the birthplace of Adolf Hitler. The area is described as being the stomping grounds of right-wing radicals who have complete control over the citizens. Even children in town are seen raising their hands in the Nazi salute as a part of normal everyday life.
Now considered to be a lawless village, even authorities are afraid of entering the town of Jamel. “The police, the authorities, no one dares to intervene,” says Mayor Uwe Wandel. “The Nazis are laughing in our faces.” Most believe the town has come to its current condition under the heavy influence of NDP member Sven Krüger, a right extremist who grew up in the area, saluting each morning in the snow next to his Nazi-radical father. Krüger owns a demolition company with a logo depicting the Star of David being smashed. He boasts the slogan, “We do the dirty work.”
However according to him, “Nothing that’s written about me is true. I don’t stand a chance against the system.” But with no one in the “system” daring to even enter the village, neo-Nazi protesters are finally taking a stand. Just last week, demonstrators gathered against the Nazism in Bad Nenndorf as well as a couple areas in the east, Jamel included.
Are their peaceful demonstrations making a difference? If not, there’s always the more sneaky approach of the Trojan T-shirt company.