France, LePen, and Neo-Nazis

Randy Black answers Christopher Jones: Whether or not the Front National is neo-Nazi is not the issue. The issue seems to be that, for whatever reason, the neo-Nazis favor the Front National, believing its platform supports the goals of the neo-Nazis.
August 2004, International Herald Tribune: The National Front, whose presidential candidate, Jean-Marie Le Pen, validated latent Nazi sympathies with its anti-immigration platform, according to many commentators. The party's security force, the DPS (an illegal private military force), became an inspiration for neo-Nazi youth who saw in it an echo of Hitler's private army, the brown-shirted Sturm Abteilung.  In the late 1980s, a member of the DPS formed a small neo-Nazi group called the Alsatian Patriotic Union and known by its German initials, HVE. The group, an offshoot of a larger, German neo-Nazi organization, was banned in 1993 after it was linked to a series of anti-Semitic acts in the region and some of its members were found in possession of explosives and other illegal arms.>>
From various sites, I deduce that the Front National, which Mr. Jones brought up, is a right-wing political party, often classified as racist due to its opposition to immigration. Jean-Mari Le Pen is generally considered to be far-right. The group promotes the control of immigration, the repatriation of illegal immigrants and the priority of French citizens over foreigners for access to jobs and social services. In 1995, the group published a pamphlet that proposed to “send back 3 million non-Europeans” out of France at state expense. The group focuses on greater independence from the EU and other ‘international organizations.’ They want to establish tariffs and other protectionistic measures, to make abortion illegal, to outlaw homosexuality, and to pay mothers to stay home and take care of the children. And in the elections of 1992, the party shockingly came in second in the second round of voting, before ultimately losing to Chirac.
And who is desecrating which graves? At least in the story I linked to above, it’s French neo-Nazis, not Arabs:  A few days later, more than a dozen Muslim tombstones were painted with swastikas at a military cemetery on the outskirts of Strasbourg, the Alsatian capital, and several days after that, dozens of Jewish tombstones were scrawled with Nazi symbols and anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim slurs in the southern city of Lyon.

The desecrations were part of a wave of neo-Nazi acts that have swept France this year. Many officials suggest they are meant to repudiate the 60th anniversary commemorations of the Allied offensive that drove Hitler's forces out of France and into history's dustbin.  "They are dying and they have to prove they exist," said Thomas Milcent, a Strasbourg doctor who converted to Islam during a Soviet bombardment in Afghanistan when he was delivering medicine to Afghan mujahedeen. He said he receives regular death threats from neo-Nazis in the region.

Neo-Nazism, strictly repressed in Germany, has found breathing space in France, where the fringe movement, though fainter and abhorred by the vast majority of French, is nonetheless tolerated. That's particularly true in Alsace, a traditionally German-speaking region that was annexed by Hitler in 1940.  Adrien Zeller, the president of Alsace's regional government, said one or two neo-Nazi rallies were held in the area each year. … On Aug. 6, swastikas were painted on the tombstones of members of France's North Africa Battalion, whose Arab volunteers were part of the Allied invasion of southern France in August 1944. Those buried at the cemetery died fighting the Germans in Alsace. The Hipsheim rally took place over 48 hours, with dozens of cars lining the road to the village's community hall and tents spread across the neighboring fields. Unlike in Germany, such gatherings are legal in France and neo-Nazi groups have little trouble finding Alsatian villages willing to act as hosts.

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Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: October 22, 2004