Kraftquell

Kraftquell ("Power Source") is an obscure neo-pagan and neo-Nazi "Ukrainian-Norwegian-German" support group, ostensibly helping war veterans fighting on the Ukrainian side on the Eastern Ukrainian front, particularly the Azov battalion.

The Kraftquell initiative describes itself as follows on its Facebook page:1

“Kraftquell is a Ukrainian-Norwegian-German non-profit organization based in Germany. Our main task is the support of Ukrainian families whose fathers, husbands or brothers are on the front lines in the east of Ukraine. To support them, we want to help them spend some free days in Norway or Germany, to have some rest together as a family. To reach this goal, we work in groups and cooperate with our partner organization in Ukraine to establish a respective infrastructure. In our logo, the symbol of the Germano-Scandinavian 'axis mundi' of our common European homeland, the Yggdrasil ash tree, is combined with the Slavonic symbolism of Alatyr Star, a mythical stone on which the Tree of Life grows, a visualization of the unfolding Universe and an ancient sign of protection. Placed against the trunk of Yggdrasil, it symbolizes the idea of Ukraine as a shield of Europe, a protector of the European cultural and civilizational type.”

Next to neo-pagan lore, Kraftquell seems to have a militaristic outlook, and is strongly aestheticizing the warrior motive in the few publicly available pictures of the group, with historical references to the Teutonic Order, and even further back to the times of pagan warlords.

The group seeks to make a link between Nordic and Slavic forms of neo-paganism, as its logo indicates. As partner organization for this effort it has chosen no less than the notorious Ukrainian Azov battalion, a volunteer militia formed during the Ukrainian crisis, that is now part of the National Guard of Ukraine.

That Kraftquell seems to be particularly supporting the Azov battalion, is shown by some of the few existing Facebook posts. For example, one flyer shows the Azov logo in the background of a call to support Kraftquell's work.

 UPA Propaganda Poster
UPA propaganda poster

The Azov battalion is in various aspects, for example in the choice of its banner, making reference to the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (Ukrayins'ka Povstans'ka Armiya, UPA), a Ukrainian nationalist paramilitary and later partisan formation during WWII. It was the primary perpetrator of the ethnic cleansing of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia.23

The UPA was organised by a faction of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists around Stepan Bandera (OUN-B).

After WWII former members of the both OUN-B and its rival, the OUN-M around Andriiy Melnyk, were employed by various Western secret service in their fight against communism.

In March 2015 Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced that the Azov Regiment would be among the first units to be trained by United States Army troops in their Operation Fearless Guardian training mission.45 US training however was officially withdrawn on 12 June 2015, as US House of Representatives passed an amendment blocking any aid (including arms and training) to the battalion due to its Neo-Nazi background.6

Thomas Rackow

The original initiator of Kraftquell is the neo-Nazi Thomas Raсkow, who is also a representative of Haus Montag Pirna, an open house built on the model of CasaPound which is closely linked to Kraftquell’s activities. A Facebook post by the Intermarium Support Group describes the context in which Rackow and Kraftquell started working with the Azov battalion, and its international secretary Olena Semenyaka:7

“Having listened to the report by Olena Semenyaka, international secretary of National Corps, at the Regeneration Europa conference in Riesa in spring of 2018, Thomas Raсkow invited her to highlight the struggle of the Ukrainian volunteer movement also at a meeting with Norwegian associates. The latter, in the aftermath of her lecture near Oslo in summer of the same year, eagerly joined the Kraftquell project, which is potentially open to other participating countries, too (for example, this summer, Croatian volunteer of the Azov Regiment Denis ‘Pena’ Šeler organized a vacation for wife and daughter of the fallen soldier of Azov, ‘Frenchmen,’ on the Adriatic Sea). Likewise, in February, Olena Semenyaka gave a lecture in Pirna after which Thomas Raсkow announced the opening of the Kraftquell project in Germany.”

Thomas Villmannen

One of Kraftquell's leading figures is Thomas Villmannen,8 a straight-edge neo-pagan and neo-Nazi, who is probably Norwegian. Villmannen, a member of the youth section of the neo-Nazi "National Democratic Party of Germany" (NPD), the "Young Nationalists" (Junge Nationaldemokraten, since 2018 Junge Nationalisten, JN), is also the administrator of the Kraftquell Facebook page, which exists since July 2018.9

His Facebook page is a pastiche of nature pictures, far-right news clippings and references to his favorite fascist literature. His Facebook profile picture shows him posing in a traditionalist embroidered garb8 and also other references point to a preference for völkisch lifestyles.

He seems to have the difficult calling to convince his fellow NPD cadres to re-consider their generally prevailing pro-Russian attitude when it comes to the situation in Ukraine, and their "brothers-in-arms" in particular.

In October 2018 he appeared at the Intermarium Support Group conference and wrote a report on Facebook about the experience:10

“The initiators of the Intermarium see in the three national [German] parties - Der III. Weg, the NPD and also the AfD - either actual allies (Der III. Weg), or potential and desired allies (NPD, AfD). The latter two, however, have a clear pro-Russian orientation. Especially in the NPD, but also in the AfD, the concerns of Eastern Europeans should not be forgotten, ignored or dismissed, since this could backlash one day. As a member of the NPD I must emphasize that the Intermarium Conference is having a much more effective foreign policy than the NPD ever had. The lack of NPD mandate holders and the subsequent criticism of the small JN delegation in Kiev do not necessarily make things any easier. The clear EU skepticism that I experienced at the conference provides a strong basis for talks that I am currently trying to initiate. None of us can reject potential allies and friends! Rather should we take the progress in the East as an example. While the three big Ukrainian right-wing parties, the National Corps, Swoboda and Pravyi Sector form an alliance for the election taking place next year, people in the FRG are still grappling with incompatibility decisions and insulting each other. This must stop! If you are not careful, events will overrun you. The weekend in Kiev was clearly marked by one slogan: The Sun Of Europe Rises In The East!”

In February 2019, Olena Semenyaka, the "coordinator of the Department of International Relations of the 'Azov' regiment,"11 visited Kraftquell in Pirna, a small East German town with 37 000 inhabitants.12 The event was organized in collaboration with the  department of the NPD in Saxon Switzerland according to the blog Intermarium-Interregnum, presumably run by Olena Semenyaka.13 According to a post by Kraftquell that is not accessible anymore, but was preserved as a screenshot, two local far-right initiatives, the house project "Haus Montag Pirna"14 and the local neo-Nazi hangout "Klub 451 Pirna" were also involved in the event.15

That the three formations, Kraftquell, Haus Montag Pirna, and Klub 451 are intrinsically linked with each other can be seen on the picture below, where Thomas Villmannen and Olena Semenyaka are presenting merchandise of Kraftquell, Haus Montag Pirna, and the Azov battalion during her Pirna visit.

A closer look at these locations shows that they are veritable neo-Nazi havens.

Klub 451 Pirna

The Klub 451 Pirna seems to be a popular neo-Nazi hangout in the small East German town of Pirna in Saxony. The interior is decorated with faintly disguised fascist references. A flag of CasaPound, of the Hogar Social Madrid, and of the Holy Roman Empire hang on the ceiling.

Picture of the Klub 451 Pirna interior sporting the flag of the Holy Roman Empire on the ceiling.
Klub 451 Pirna with Casa Pound flag.

Fahrenheit 451

The community attached to the Klub 451 Pirna and the Haus Montag seems to be venerating Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 and its screen adaption with an almost cult-like rigor. The walls are plastered with references to the book and the movie. Furthermore, the “451” resounds in the name of the “Klub 451 Pirna,” and in the one of the Haus Montag, which is called after “Guy Montag,” the main figure of Bradbury’s novel, whose job it is to burn books for a fictitious regime, and in the course of the novel slowly realizes his mistake.

Haus Montag Pirna

The Haus Montag Pirna ("House Monday Pirna," HMP) is another neo-Nazi hot spot in Pirna and serves as "the brain" of the local far-right scene. According to the HMP Facebook page, the community was founded in 2012.16

The main initiators of the HMP are Thomas Sattelberg, a far-right extremist local NPD politician as well as Kraftquell member, and the historian Dr. Olaf Rose, known in the scene for his historical-revisionist books and movie productions. In an interview with the two in Der Aktivist, the publication of the Young Nationalists, both say that the house is primarily used for local party meetings and events.17

The “open house project” hosts a conference room, a library, and even a fitness studio. The library, as of 2013, consisted of 1500 non-fiction books.17

Conference room of the Haus Montag Pirna.
Fitness room of the Haus Montag Pirna.
Library in the Haus Montag Pirna.
News stand in the Haus Montag Pirna.

A Facebook page of the HMP appeared sometime in 2013, and ever since provides an endless stream of far-right merchandise and neo-Nazi memes.18 The HMP’s preference for hipster aesthetics is not much unlike the one of the Identitarian movement. For example, the program HMP had published in 2014 has a very modernist and professional design, and on the first look could be almost confused with the flyer for a hippie festival, if there was not the last line: “More Fascism.”19

But looking deeper, its nasty neo-pagan and militaristic character becomes fully visible. 

Kryptonit Mail Order

Prominent among the far-right merchandise the community is pumping out are t-shirts with slogans such as “Make Love and War” or “Defend the Occident,” sporting Mary with a machine gun. The items can be bought in an online shop called Kryptonit mail order (Kryptonit-Versand).20

"Make love and war" t-shirt by Haus Montag Pirna.
"Defend the Occident" t-shirt by Haus Montag Pirna.

Connections to CasaPound

The HMP, located in the center of Pirna (Hauptstrasse 26), is very much modeled after the Italian neo-fascist house project CasaPound, and from the start the HMP had close connections with the organization. In 2014 it hosted a lecture on CasaPound, and in July of that year posted pictures of a graffiti that showed the logos of the two organizations side by side, together with a sticker by the JN, the youth cadre of the NPD.

How strongly the HMP links into the European neo-fascist scene is shown by a flyer the group had posted on Facebook in September 2015. It advertised an event with the who-is-who of European neo-fascist and neo-Nazi organizations and parties:

  • Associazione Culturale Zenit21
  • Blocco Studentesco, the youth organization of CasaPound
  • Lotta Studentesca,22 the youth and student organization of the Italian far-right Forza Nuova party
  • Dělnická Mládež,23 the youth cadre of the Czech neo-Nazi "Workers' Party of Social Justice" (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti, DSSS)
  • Српска акција ("Serbian Action")24
  • Suomen Vastarintaliike ("Finnish Resistance Movement"), Finnish chapter of the Nordic Resistance Movement
  • Golden Dawn, Greek neo-fascist and neo-Nazi party
  • Hogar Social Madrid,25 the CasaPound of Spain
  • Democracia Nacional, neo-Nazi party from Spain
  • Liga Joven,26 the youth arm of the now defunct Falangist party Movimiento Social Republicano (MSR) - Spain
  • Nation,27 the largest extreme right-wing party of French-speaking Belgium founded by Hervé Van Laethem
  • Ľudová strana Naše Slovensko ("People's Party Our Slovakia")
  • Nationalististische Studentenvereinigung ("Nationalist Student Association") - Flanders
  • Národní demokracie ("National Democracy") - Czech Republik

The speakers were:

  • Sebastian Richter, a German neo-Nazi cadre who heads the youth wing of the NPD, the Young Nationalists, since January 2018, and was formerly a member of the Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend, banned in 2009;
  • Dr. Tomislav Sunic, a Croatian-American translator and a former professor close to Alain de Benoist;
  • Udo Voigt, former MEP and chairman of the NPD party sentenced for incitement on several occasions;
  • Frank Franz, the leader of the far-right NPD since 2014.

The event was accompanied by several neo-Nazi bands among them Kraftschlag, Agharta, Heiliges Reich and Saubande.

2019

On August 10, 2019, Kraftquell appeared in Kiev again, as the Intermarium Support Group reported.28 During the lecture, the party Der III. Weg must have been topic since its logo is shown during a power point presentation. Der III. Weg had also been part of the Paneuropa Conference.

The HMP, seems not to be affiliated with Der III. Weg directly, instead posts regularly calls to vote for the NPD, or flyers of its youth organization, the JN.

Olena Semenyaka and Thomas Sattelberg. In the background a presentation showing the party logo of Der III. Weg. Facebook post by the Intermarium Support Group on August 14, 2019.
Olena Semenyaka (left) and Kraftquell members Thomas Sattelberg (center) and Thomas Villmannen (right). Facebook post by Olena Semenyaka on August 12, 2019.
Lecture by Kraftquell member Thomas Sattelberg in Kyiv, Ukraine. Facebook post by Olena Semenyaka on August 12, 2019.
Kraftquell in Kyiv, Ukraine. Facebook post by Olena Semenyaka on August 12, 2019.