Weird History

What Nazis In Germany Look Like Today Without Nazi Symbols  

Melissa Sartore
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Racism in Germany is on the rise. Certain groups frequently make headlines due to their penchant for aggression, hatred of immigrants, and public demonstrations. Despite the country banning offensive symbolism and specific salutes - neither of which the United States bans - German racists have discovered ways to express their beliefs. The subversive and sometimes surprising tactics they employ reveal how far they'll go to keep their message alive. 

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They Carry Imperial Germany's Flag At Rallies

With hateful symbols and flags off-limits in Germany, racist groups often display their beliefs through other forms of imagery. From their perspective, the flag from the German Empire represents a better time.

Imperial Germany is often called the Second Reich (Charlemagne had the first; Hitler had the third). Imperial Germany was forged under the leadership of Otto von Bismark's "Blood and Iron" philosophy, which united dozens of states into one nation. He also presided over the Berlin Conference in 1885, which divided control of African between European powers.

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They Display Certain Numbers As Coded References To Racism

Groups use particular numbers during demonstrations and other public events. The numbers 14 and 88, for instance, are two numbers that share ties to the movement. 

The number 14 references the 14-word mission statement of the former leader of The Order David Lane: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."

The number 88 has two meanings: Lane's entire philosophy was articulated in his "88 Precepts;" it also represents the eighth letter of the alphabet, H, thus supposedly standing for "Heil Hitler" - a phrase also banned in Germany.

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Photo:  Rufus46/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0
Their Banners Include Offensive Slogans And Phrases

Though racists can't display swastikas or raise their arms to salute Hitler, they get around those laws. Instead, they employ a variety of statements, phrases, and words on signs and banners. Many came from straight from the mouths of hateful individuals, and others represent archaic, vile institutions.

Specifically, many use the words of Rudolf Hess - "I do not regret anything" - from his Nuremberg trial. They also employ phrases like Meine Ehre Heisst Treue - "My honor means loyalty" - the motto of the Waffen SS

T-Shirts And Bald Heads Are Common Among Their Ranks

Certain common physical characteristics help identify racists in Germany, specifically t-shirts and bald heads. At rallies and demonstrations, these individuals often wear black shirts with slogans and symbols to make their presence known. This uniform isn't set in stone, however.

Bald heads have become synonymous with the movement, and this holds true in Germany as well. Individuals with this look have ties to 1960s British nationalism and 1970s punk culture, but by the 1980s, they were appropriated by white nationalists throughout the Western world.

Bald heads may be falling out of favor, however. The "high-and-tight" haircut, similar to that of the Hitler Youth, is gaining popularity among certain groups.