The Viking Youth (Wiking-Jugend, VY),1 founded 1952, was a post-war neo-Nazi organisation based on the model of the Hitler Youth. The VY, named after the SS Viking Division, emerged when the youth organization of the Socialist Reich Party, the “Reich Youth” (Reichsjugend), was outlawed. Founder and first federal chairman became former Reich Youth leader Walter Matthaei, who during the Nazi era had been an official in the ministry for the occupied eastern territories under Alfred Rosenberg.2
Matthaei left Germany shortly after the foundation of the VY, probably to escape prosecution. He settled in Francoist Spain, from where he acted until his death as one of the leading figures in the European neo-Nazi network, and cooperated with his successors at the head of the VY.3 Subsequently the organisation was led for three generations by the sons of the Nahrath family. First by Raoul Nahrath, then up from 1967 by his son Wolfgang Nahrath (1929-2003), and finally up from 1991 by Wolfgang’s son Wolfram Nahrath (*1962).
The Nahrath Family
Next to their activity in the Viking Youth both Wolfgang and Wolfram Nahrath were later actively involved in the NPD. In 1993, Wolfgang Nahrath was elected deputy chairman of the NPD in North Rhine-Westphalia and became member of the federal executive committee of the party. From 1992 to 1994 he worked for the NPD-affiliated German Workers' Association as a social judge, but had to resign from the post, because he publicly confessed to National Socialism. After Wolfgang Nahrath had died on February 27, 2003, the right-wing extremist scene commemorated the 5-year anniversary of his death in the so-called "Schlageter meeting", dedicated to the memory of the Free Corps member Albert Leo Schlageter.
Wolfgang’s son Wolfram Narath (*1962), is a neo-Nazi “celebrity lawyer”. He was heading the Viking Youth from 1991 until its ban in 1994, and after that became active in the organisation German Youth Loyal to the Homeland (Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend, HDJ) as well as in the NPD. Currently Nahrath runs a law firm in Berlin, and was appointed to the NPD’s internal “Federal Court of Arbitration”. Lately Nahrath was in the limelight because he appeared as the public defender of local NPD politician Ralf Wohlleben, who had helped to acquire weapons for the National Socialist Underground murderer trio.
Wolfram Nahrath was a close friend of Jürgen Rieger, Holocaust denier, lawyer, and former deputy chairman of the NPD, who died in 2009. Rieger had also been a central figure in the Viking Youth, and had provided facilities for the organisation’s paramilitary camps in the 1980s.4 Nahrath had announced the birth of his children in Rieger’s “Nordic” newspaper “Neue Anthropologie”, a sister journal of Roger Pearson's Mankind Quarterly.5
Other members of the Nahrath family are still active in the far-right scene, e.g. Dirk Nahrath, a former “Gauleiter” of the VY and later involved in the HDJ, as well as his daughter Wiebke Nahrath, who is currently supporting the Würzburg section of Pegida, called WüGIDA.6
Viking Youth members had ample connections to organizations linking into the “Gladio” network, amongst them CEDADE, New European Order (NEO), Wehrsportgruppe Hoffmann, and Action Front of National Socialists. All of these organizations were subsequently implicated in terrorist activities.
“New Order” parties
In the 1950s the Viking Youth joined the Lausanne-based neo-fascist alliance New European Order (NEO), founded in 1951 by i.a. René Binet and Gaston-Armand Amaudruz as radical splinter group from the European Social Movement (ESM)7 and its national counterparts Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) and Deutsch-Soziale Bewegung (DSB). The German section, DSB, was lead by Karl-Heinz Priester, former propaganda head of the Hitler Youth and after the war involved in Nation Europa. Priester was in close contact with both René Binet and Otto Skorzeny (CEDADE).
The NEO originated in the framework of a neo-Fascist conference, which that took place 1951 in Malmö, when a group of rebels led by René Binet refused to join the European Social Movement, as they felt that it did not go far enough in terms of racialism and anti-communism. As a result, Binet and Gaston-Armand Amaudruz decided in the course of another meeting in Zurich that year to form a group more radically engaged in the war on communists and non-white people.8
Once established, NEO set up the “European Liaison Centre of the National Forces” (Europäische Verbindungsstelle, EVS) in 1953, along with a permanent secretariat in Lausanne, led by Amaudruz and his assistant Michael Schenk-Dengg, head of the German Block (Deutscher Block). The EVS became very active in the following years, organising meetings attended by members of the Falange, the Italian Social Movement (MSI), the Socialist Reich Party (SRP) and others.9
The Viking Youth together with the German Block and the Swiss People’s Party (Volkspartei der Schweiz) left NEO in 1955 over the issue of South Tyrol, with German speaking delegates attacking the MSI over their support for Italian control of the region. Despite the split-off, there remained a continuation of contacts between members of the groups over time.10
In the following years national branches of the NEO, such as the Italian Ordine Nuovo (1957) and the French Ordre Nouveau (1969) were established. Members of both the NEO and Ordine Nuovo were subsequently involved in terror attacks, which came to be known as the Years of Lead in Italy. In a commissional hearing, Stefano Delle Chiaie, one of the operational mastermind of the attacks, stated that he had worked for the "black fascist International" in the hope of creating the conditions of an "international revolution." In this context he talked about the World Anti-Communist League and admitted having taken part in the New European Order.11
Delle Chiaie became also active in Spain, where he was allegedly involved in the so-called Montejurra Massacre, where two supporters of Carlist pretender Carlos-Hugo de Borbón-Parma were murdered by a group of far-right gunmen, which at the time were suspected to be hired by Carlos-Hugo’s arch-rival brother Henri-Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma.12
Other shady affairs of the NEO in the 1960s centred around the activities of infamous Swiss financier and Nazi-collaborationist François Genoud.13 In the 1960s Genoud began supplying arms for the Palestinian liberation movement, notably the PLO, and in April 1969 attended a meeting of members of the NEO with Palestinian groups in Barcelona (see picture).14 It is claimed that in the framework of this meeting Palestinian groups received financial support by Genoud, and that he placed them in contact with former Nazis, who would assist in their military training.
In the late 1970s members of the Viking Youth itself were implicated in terrorist activity. In 1979, Manfred Börm and Uwe Rohwer had attacked soldiers in a Bundeswehr camp in order to get hold of their weapons.15 After the Oktoberfest bombing in September 1980, members of the Viking Youth allegedly went to Lebanon with parts of the Wehrsportgruppe Hoffmann,16 a paramilitary formation made responsible for the attack. While the matter has never been entirely cleared, the Wehrsportgruppe Hoffman has been repeatedly brought in connection with Gladio and the Strategy of Tension, but so far I have not come across an established source mentioning the Viking Youth in this context. In 1983, weapons, bomb building manuals and time-fuses were found with VY members. In 1984, the VY absorbed various members of paramilitary gang Action Front of National Socialists/National Activists (Aktionsfront Nationaler Sozialisten/Nationale Aktivisten, ANS/NA) around Michael Kühnen (see below),17 but despite the growing mass of evidence pointing to terrorist activity, it would take another 11 years until the organisation got banned in 1994, when finally classified as neo-Nazi organisation. After the ban, up from 1995, the VY kept on carrying out its winter camps in Belgium and in several decentralized locations in Germany. Many VY members were subsequently absorbed by the right-wing extremist Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend.
- 1. "Katrin Himmler berichtete von den Recherchen über ihren Großonkel Heinrich Himmler," Bergsträßer Anzeiger, Freitag, 30 September, 2016, published by Goethe Gymasium Bensheim, https://web.archive.org/web/20170228222147/http://goethe-bensheim.de/index.php/unterricht/gesellschaftswissenschaften/geschichte/285-katrin-himmler-berichtete-von-den-recherchen-ueber-ihren-grossonkel-heinrich-himmler.
- 2. Michael Lausberg, "Wiking Jugend (WJ),” Indymedia, 26 November 2015, https://de.indymedia.org/node/6710.
- 3. Franziska Hundseder, "Lagerfeuer und Bomben: Militante Pimpfe und Jungmädel,” Zeit Online, 1 April 1988, https://www.zeit.de/1988/14/militante-pimpfe-und-jungmaedel/seite-3.
- 4. Andrea Röpke, Ferien im Führerbunker. Die neonazistische Kindererziehung der „Heimattreuen Deutschen Jugend (HDJ),“ 2nd edition, Bildungsvereinigung Arbeit und Leben, Braunschweig 2008, ISBN 978-3-932082-32-0, p. 28 f.
- 5. Martin A. Lee, The Beast Reawakens: Fascism's Resurgence from Hitler's Spymasters to Today's Neo-Nazi Groups and Right-Wing Extremists, Routledge, 23 October 2013, ISBN 978-1-135-28124-3, p. 362.
- 6. https://www.facebook.com/contrawuegida/posts/1415225095437972.
- 7. Declassified CIA document on the European Social Movement https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP78-00915R000400120004-0.pdf.
- 8. Kurt P. Tauber, "German Nationalists and European Union,” Political Science Quarterly, Academy of Political Science, 74 (4), 1959: 564–89.
- 9. Kurt P. Tauber, "German Nationalists and European Union,” Political Science Quarterly, Academy of Political Science, 74 (4), 1959: 573-4.
- 10. Kevin Coogan, "Achmed Huber, The Avalon Gemeinschaft, and the Swiss ‘New Right,’" SpitfireList, 1 May 2002, http://spitfirelist.com/news/achmed-huber-the-avalon-gemeinschaft-and-the-swiss-new-right/.
- 11. Hearing of Stefano Delle Chiaie on 22 July 1997 before the Italian Parliamentary Commission on Terrorism headed by senator Giovanni Pellegrino, http://www.parlamento.it/service/PDF/PDFServer/DF/16061.pdf & http://www.parlamento.it/service/PDF/PDFServer/DF/16063.pdf.
- 12. Frédéric Laurent and Nina Sutton, L'Orchestre Noir: Enquête sur les réseaux néo-fascistes, p. 357.
- 13. "Jacques Vergès proche de François Genoud, banquier nazi et confident d'Amin el-Husseini,” Philosémitisme (Blog), 17 August 2013, https://philosemitismeblog.blogspot.com/2013/08/jacques-verges-proche-de-francois.html.
- 14. Martin A. Lee and Kevin Coogan, "Killers on the Right: Inside Europe's Fascist Underground" Mother Jones, May 1987, pp. 45-52.
- 15. "1974 -1994: 20 Jahre Neonazis in Hamburg,” Antifaschistische Gruppe “DRUSCHBA NARODNYCH,” 7 October 1994, "https://www.nadir.org/nadir/archiv/Antifaschismus/Regionen/Hamburg/NaziBrosch_scr.pdf.
- 16. "Wiking Jugend e.V. (WJ),” apabiz, 1996, https://www.apabiz.de/archiv/material/Profile/WJ.htm.
- 17. European Parliament, Committee of Inquiry into the Rise of Fascism and Racism in Europe Report on the findings of the inquiry, December 1985, p. 34 (German version).