Ever since the early 2010s the term Reconquista has popped up among several European far-right groups, as a common denominator for their fight against foreigners and migrants in Europe.
Originally, the term denotes the emergence and expansion of the dominion of the Christian empires on the Iberian Peninsula in the Middle Ages, and the collateral suppression of the Muslim sphere of power (al-Andalus). But the notion of a Kulturkampf between a Christian Europe and a Muslim East resonates with many European racists. For example, the influential Identitarian Movement has adopted the term in one of its "battle cries" during rallies and demonstrations as early as 2014: "Europe, Youth, Reconquista" (Europa, Jugend, Reconquista).
Members of the Austrian Identiarian movement calling for a Reconquista in the streets of Vienna in May 2014.1
The idea to create a consistent pan-European project called Reconquista hatched sometime in 2015 among neo-Nazis in Ukraine. Although little is known about the early phase of the Reconquista project, it must have started out sometime in 2015 by members of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion. Originally a paramilitary group supporting the far-right regime change operation in Ukraine that started in late 2013, today the Azov Battalion is integrated into the National Guard of Ukraine, the country's gendarmerie. By now the Azov Battalion has also a political arm, the so-called National Corps. During a speech by the head of the National Corps' propaganda department, Mykola Kravchenko, in the framework of the 1st Paneuropa Conference in 2017, he "reflected on the format of the Reconquista project as a result of two years of development," pointing out that the movement had been existing as of 2015.2
... the Reconquista Movement aiming at building the Paneuropean confederation of sovereign European nations, or simply Paneuropa, remains on the positions of the classic Third Way (the so-called third political theory) in the vein of Julius Evola, Ernst Jünger, Pierre Drieu la Rochelle, Oswald Mosley and Dominique Venner, which was discussed at the Founding Paneuropa conference in Kyiv on April 28, 2017.
According to Kravchenko, the Reconquista project2
...exists as a wide and largely decentralized network movement comprised of respective national branches and a coordination board in Kyiv. However, the task is to upgrade it to the level of a single pan-European organization consisting of national delegations and initiative groups.
Link: Ukrainian Reconquista on YouTube: RECONQUISTA Україна
On July 15, 2017, in the framework of the far right festival "Rock Against Over-alienation" (Rock gegen Überfremdung), the Third Positionist minority party Der III. Weg represented the Reconquista movement.3 A post on the Interregnum-Intermarium Facebook page reporting on the event reads:3
The Reconquista movement, which recently held its 1st Paneuropa conference in Kyiv, was also represented at the event. The visitors could get the leaflets (Eng., Ger.) informing about the Reconquista's activities and plans at the stand of Der Dritte Weg's (The Third Way) party, the movement's ally.
At the festival a Reconquista flyer was made available, where Andriy Biletsky was introduced as "commander of the Azov battalion and leader of the Ukrainian nationalists."4 According to Belltower News4 :
The texts [on the flyer], which have been translated into German, advertise with a militant language to "join the ranks of the best" in order to "save Europe from extinction." Biletsky's "ranks of the best" offer paramilitary training for the "Reconquista" - the reconquest of Europe. Especially on various social networks, "Azov" members display unveiled what political image is to be reconquered: countless photos show martial "Azov" soldiers performing the Nazi salute, SS symbols and swastika tattoos.
At the festival "Rock gegen Überfremdung" festival 2017 a Reconquista flyer was available, where Andriy Biletsky was introduced as "commander of the Azov battalion and leader of the Ukrainian nationalists."
As can be seen on the picture below, both the Identitarian Movement and the neo-Nazi martial arts group White Rex have picked up the term.
Interestingly, there is also an implicitly pro-Russian movement in Germany that has adopted the name Reconquista.
In 2017, a several thousand strong German far-right troll group called “Reconquista Germanica” was discovered by researchers, a far-fledged network of right-wing extremists, regularly launching hate attacks against undesired websites and people.5
Reconquista Germanica, founded by a certain “Nikolai Alexander”, emerged in the run-up to the 2017 German elections. Although the activists are presenting themselves as a satirical project by gamers and LARPers, it is in fact a group of far-right extremists, coordinating targeted online attacks against political opponents, mainstream media and adverse institutions. The group has a YouTube channel with over 31,000 subscribers, which is currently blocked in Germany, but is still available in other countries.6 They organize their activities primarily via the chat app Discord with the declared aim of strengthening the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AFD). Within closed forums they discuss their next targets, and hashtag campaigns, in order to manipulate social media algorithms and the political discourse online.
The hierarchically organized network probes its future participants, mostly male and under 30, with specific questions, for example: "What does it mean for you to be a patriot?" Or: "How do you imagine Germany's future according to your personal dream scenario?” Every day there are new "orders" to flood undesired posts on YouTube, Twitter or other social networks with hate comments, and to disseminate racist content. Increased engagement can help members rise in the hierarchy. They then become “meme lords”, or “storm troopers". For targeted hate actions, they use terms like "special task force”, vocabulary borrowed from the military jargon of the Third Reich.
Martin Sellner, figurehead of the Identitarian Movement Austria, had according to SWR2 research “VIP” status on the server of Reconquista Germanica. Sellner said in an interview in this regard: "I think these are actually normal maneuvers in the information war. Hating, and trolls are simply part of the turf. If you cannot deal with that you should not enter that turf.“
One of the early victims of these online attacks was the independent journalist Rayk Anders, who, after having criticized the AfD in a YouTube video, was flooded with around 2000 hate comments in just two days.7 Shortly after, in September 2017, around 1500 members of the Discord chat group were spreading hateful memes and hashtags on social media in the context of an important TV debate between Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz, causing their comments to be displayed among the top tweets on Twitter.8
The Reconquista Germanica Youtube channel is particularly pro-Russian, and recommends Russian media, such as Sputnik and RT, over Western media. In this context it published for example a video “The credibility of Russian media: Why Russian sources are the better alternative”. Many of their videos host Russian commentators or have links to Russia, shown in titles such as “Nikolai Starikov: The Central Banking System”, “Russian state TV on the Campact conference”, etc.
Since the existence of Reconquista Germanica became known in the past two weeks, an active opposition has formed under the hashtag #ReconquistaInternet, which is trying to map out the troll army with the publication of member lists, as well as starting “counter-offensives”. They want to counter the hate attacks with “love attacks”.9
A post of the now deleted Reconquista Europa blog reads:2
Back in 2015, Pascal Lassalle delivered in Kyiv a lecture entitled “For the Pan-European Third Way. French Solidarity with Ukraine at War” and launched the French branch of Reconquista.
The historian Nicolas Lebourg had also picked up on Lassalle's Ukrainian activities:
Some marginal groups have continued to support the Ukrainians, such as the GUD [Groupe Union Défense; *1968] in Lyon and New-Right member Pascal Lassale. In 2017, both were involved in creating the Reconquista, a “pan-European” movement (with an unashamedly pro-Nazi style) that opposes “Putin’s anti-national regime,” which it considers divides European peoples. Reconquista wants to construct the “Intermarium,” meaning a Europe with frontiers at the Adriatic, the Baltic, and the Black Seas.10 Christian Bouchet has denounced the project as Atlanticist and anti-nationalist, even stressing that some Italians in the Reconquista network had formerly been members of Gladio, implying that the idea of an Intermarium would become an instrument used by NATO to divide Eurasia.11 The Intermarium notion finds itself now again on the agenda of the Polish government, but combined with a commitment to the European Union, whereas the Ukrainian Azov movement considered it an anti-liberal replacement for the EU. Neither version has been able to retain attention in the debate in France.12
Casapound Italia, the pioneer organization to support the struggle of Ukrainian nationalists captured between Putin’s neo-Sovietism and Western Cultural Marxism, closely observed the developments in the Maidan and in many respects triggered the birth of the young pan-European movement in Kyiv – Reconquista. Not incidentally, Ukrainian Cossack House (Kozatsky Dim) is designed after the Italian Pound’s House, the heart of CPI.
In June 2018, a far-right conference was organized in Rome entitled "The beginning of the Reconquista. Italy in the center of a sovereign Europe. Myth and necessity." The eminence gris of CasaPound, Gabriele Adinolfi, had participated in the conference.14
Reconquista has also a Swiss branch, one of whose representatives is the French-Swiss Björn Sigvald, "closely connected with the French segment of European third positionists as a natural born Francophone."2 He appeared as an attendee of the 1st Paneuropa Conference in Kyiv in 2017.2
Björn Sigvald is collaborating with the leader of the French Reconquista branch, Pascal Lassalle. For example, he had invited Lassalle to a Swiss Reconquista conference, according to a report on the 1st Paneuropa Conference:2
Besides, Pascal Lassalle co-organized and participated in multiple events in France, Switzerland and Ukraine aimed at highlighting historical foundations of the Ukrainian right to the national self-determination and developments of Ukrainian nationalists’ struggle for the third geopolitical way between the Euroatlanticism and Eurasianism. One of such conferences was arranged by Bjorn Sigvald...2
In 2016, Winds of Change—Notes for the Reconquista was published, co-authored by Udo Voigt (NPD), Nick Griffin (former BNP), Roberto Fiore (Forza Nuova), and others. A bluntly white-supremacist and eugenicist pamphlet, it calls for a variety of autocratic measures, but Griffin’s contributions are the most explicit in their demands. According to him, immigrants should be deported and their property expropriated;15 they would then be kept from trying to enter “white Europe” through the “deployment of heavily robotized armed forces with standing orders to shoot to kill any outsiders trying to crash their way into a society….”16 He sees the “white race” as endangered and is committed to a significant increase in white birth rates, particularly in point four of his “Ten Point Program,” which promotes the abolition of abortion rights and of the right to contraception:17
To impose on the entire population the measures needed to boost the birth rate to at least four and preferably ten children per woman of child-bearing age: The abolition of the right of young women to go into higher education until they have had at least three children; punitive taxes on all those—of either sex and whatever sexuality—who chose to remain childless; ruthless action to ban all propaganda or lifestyle choices which reduce the birth rate; the abolition of contraception and abortion save in cases of genuine medical need. Finally, population controls to prevent those who do not accept such measures simply emigrating.
Griffin also pledges to redistribute land expropriated from immigrants to white families in a move that he describes as “White Flight to rural idyll,”18 urging them to give up their urban lifestyles in exchange for a self-sufficient family life in the countryside. To achieve that goal, he makes explicit reference to medieval feudalism and the guild system as the ideal form of political organization.
All of the contributions to Winds of Change are united by a belief in the Great Replacement: that due to the negative demographics in Europe, elites have to import people from other countries in order to maintain their profits, a process that will lead the number of these immigrants to exceed the native white population. Udo Voigt calls for a “Fortress of Europe” that would put “an end to the criminal policy of racial mixing, of resettlement and replacing our peoples by immigrants.”19
The authors see themselves as already being at war against this “racial dilution” and call for it openly. Derek Holland, for instance, does not shy away from evoking Adolf Hitler’s “final victory”:20
Launch the Holy War that cleanses our soul, purifies our mind and casts out forever the traitors and cowards in our midst! Fight with courage, a granite determination and happy heart until Final Victory!
- 1"Identitäre Parolen - Rechtsextreme Demo in der Kaiserstraße, Wien 17. Mai 2014," NewKidzFromTheBlog on YouTube, May 22, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtHYjIPJhdo.
- 2 a b c d e f g "1st Paneuropa Conference Report," Reconquista Europe, June 15, 2017. Archived version from June 13, 2018. https://web.archive.org/web/20180613133924/http://reconquista-europe.tumblr.com/post/161847863121/1st-paneuropa-conference-report-the-1st-paneuropa.
- 3 a b Post on the Interregnum-Intermarium Facebook page from July 18, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/interregnum.intermarium/posts/828018977372431.
- 4 a b "Ukrainische Faschisten-Miliz rekrutiert deutsche Neonazis für die “Rückeroberung” Europas," Belltower News, July 25, 2017, https://www.belltower.news/ukrainische-faschisten-miliz-rekrutiert-deutsche-neonazis-fuer-die-rueckeroberung-europas-44788/.
- 5"Wie Rechtsextreme Hass im Netz organisieren," SWR2, April 26, 2018, https://www.swr.de/swr2/leben-und-gesellschaft/article-swr-11346.html.
- 6Reconquista Germany on YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/user/ReconquistaGermany.
- 7"Wahlkampf: Wo sich die Rechte sammelt," ZDF, September 20, 2017, http://web.archive.org/web/20171125002900/https://www.zdf.de/nachrichten/heute/zdfcheck17-wahlkampf-wo-sich-die-rechte-im-netz-sammelt-100.html.
- 8Karsten Schmehl, "Diese geheimen Chats zeigen, wer hinter dem Meme-Angriff #Verräterduell aufs TV-Duell steckt," BuzzFeed News, September 3, 2017, https://www.buzzfeed.com/de/karstenschmehl/willkommen-in-der-welt-von-discord-teil1?utm_term=.qwYmREMLx7#.rhYwpAjDr3.
- 9Alexander Pearson, "German satirist Jan Böhmermann wants to shower online hate with love trolls," Deutsche Welle, May 3, 2018, https://www.dw.com/en/german-satirist-jan-b%C3%B6hmermann-wants-to-shower-online-hate-with-love-trolls/a-43644818?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf.
- 10See Reconquista Europe (blog), archived version from April 12, 2018. https://web.archive.org/web/20180412180924/http://reconquista-europe.tumblr.com/. See also Olena Semenyaka, “Compte-Rendu de la Première Réunion ‘Paneuropa’ (2e partie),” Europe Maxima, October 2, 2017, http://www.europemaxima.com/compte-rendu-de-la-premiere-reunion-paneuropa-2e-partie-par-olena-semenyaka/.
- 11Christian Bouchet, “Intermarium, L’Extrême - Droite Contre le Continent,” Geopolitika.ru, September 19, 2017, https://www.geopolitica.ru/fr/article/intermarium-lextreme-droite-contre-le-continent.
- 12Nicolas Lebourg, "The French Far Right in Russia’s Orbit," Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, May 15, 2018, 33. https://www.carnegiecouncil.org/publications/articles_papers_reports/the-french-far-right-in-russias-orbit/_res/id=Attachments/index=1/Lebourg-EN%20revised%203.pdf
- 13 "1st Paneuropa Conference Report," Demon of an Old World (undated), https://demonofoldworld.tumblr.com/post/161878114630/reconquista-europe-1st-paneuropa-conference.
- 14Facebook post by Alexander Markovics, June 15, 2018, https://www.facebook.com/AlexanderMarkovicsIB/posts/1924365041188265.
- 15Nick Griffin, “An Introduction to Distributism,” in Winds of Change—Notes for the Reconquista (Helsingborg: Logik Förlag, 2018), 25.
- 16Nick Griffin, “Reconquista: The 100 Years War—And the Only Way to Win It,” in Winds of Change—Notes for the Reconquista (Helsingborg: Logik Förlag, 2018), 65.
- 17Roberto Fiore, Nick Griffin, Udo Voigt et al., Winds of Change—Notes for the Reconquista (Helsingborg: Logik Förlag, 2018), 65.
- 18Nick Griffin, “An Introduction to Distributism,” in Winds of Change—Notes for the Reconquista (Helsingborg: Logik Förlag, 2018), 25.Nick Griffin, “An Introduction to Distributism,” in Winds of Change—Notes for the Reconquista (Helsingborg: Logik Förlag, 2018), 25.
- 19 Udo Voigt, “Who Are the Real Enemies of Europe,” in Winds of Change—Notes for the Reconquista (Helsingborg: Logik Förlag, 2018), 9.
- 20Derek Holland, “The Political Soldier,” in Winds of Change—Notes for the Reconquista (Helsingborg: Logik Förlag, 2018), 31.