The right-wing anti-immigration Progress Party is now the second largest |
party in Norway. In February 1999, the White Electoral Alliance and the
Patriotic Unity Party, together with activists from the Fatherland Party and
from some fringe groups, formed a new fascist party called Nasjonalalliansen
(National Alliance). Following criticism that Norway was turning into a free-zone
for European Nazis, the Norwegian government has begun discussing
ways of dealing with the problem of neo-Nazi concerts. Michael Knutsen,
editor of the largest ultra-right magazine Fritt Forum, was acquitted in
November of racism charges resulting from his promotion of Nazi
propaganda through the mail order company NordEffekter.
THE JEWISH COMMUNITY
There are about 1,720 Jews in Norway, out of a total population of 4.4
million. The vast majority, some 1,500, live in the environs of the capital
Oslo, and about 200 can be found in the town of Trondheim. There are two
synagogues, one in Oslo and the other in Trondheim. The community's main
organizing body is the Mosaisk Trossamfund, which publishes the
community's newspaper. Shechita (ritual slaughter) is forbidden by law, and
kosher meat has to be imported.
In 1998 the Norwegian cabinet approved a draft law to earmark 450
million crowns ($ 58 million) for Jewish survivors of the Nazi death camps
and their descendants. Half of the amount is to go to individuals, 40 million
crowns to a center for Holocaust and religious minorities studies, and the
remainder to various organizations which support Jewish culture and
Following the 1997 elections, when it obtained 15.3 percent of the vote (25
seats out of 165), the right-wing populist Fremskrittspartiet (Progress
Party) became the second largest political party in Norway. A year later their
popular support had increased to about 20 percent. From a tiny anti-taxation
group in the 1970s, the party has now grown to be an influential factor on
the Norwegian political scene, due partly to the presence in office of a weak
In Encarta, Microsoft's CD-ROM encyclopedia, the Progress Party is
described as a "neo-Nazi party," a definition which has prompted the party
to consider suing Microsoft. However, they have not attempted to dissociate
themselves from racist ideas. Even though most of the party program cannot
be characterized as racist, on numerous occasions party officials and well-known
party figures have attracted public attention for their anti-immigration
views. Recently, the party suggested banning male circumcision.
Many observers consider the party's new-found influence to be mainly
due to its leader Carl I. Hagen who, in 1974, succeeded its founder, the
former fascist sympathizer Anders Lange. Hagen's rhetoric appeals to public
prejudices concerning public spending on immigration and international aid,
and to nationalist attitudes toward immigrant minorities and to the Sami
(Lap) minority in the north of Norway. Thus the party receives attention and
support from people with racist attitudes, while maintaining its image as a
The Fedrelandspartiet (Fatherland Party), led by Harald Trefall, consists
primarily of elderly males. The party strongly opposes immigration, and
nationalism pervades the entire program. Its support has been declining --
it obtained only 0.15 percent of the vote in the 1997 elections compared with
0.5 percent in 1993. The party has been almost dormant since the last
election, the only visible activity being outbreaks of internal skirmishes.
Some of the party's younger members tried to take over the party, together
with fascists from the United Nationalists (see below). When this more
militant faction failed to win the vote for the party leadership, some of the
younger members reportedly left the party.
Another party which demonstrates little activity between elections is the
Hvit valgallianse (White Electoral Alliance). This party is an amalgamation
of two fringe groups, Stopp innvandringen (Stop Immigration) and Hjelp
de fremmede hjem ellers mister vi landet vårt (Help the Aliens [non-Europeans]
Back Home or We Will Lose Our Country). The youth leader
Leonard Nesdal has been arrested twice during riots in Oslo, and was also
connected with the Viking group (see below). The party gained notoriety
when Jack Erik Kjuus (who left the party in February 1999) demanded the
forced sterilization of adopted children and of foreigners married to
Norwegians. Kjuus was subsequently convicted for these statements in 1997.
Between elections members participate in the activities of other racist
groups. The only sign of the party itself in 1998 was its website, which
moved from one server to another.
The Norges patriotiske enhetsparti (Norwegian Patriotic Unity Party),
whose ideas on organizing society seem to be inspired by Benito Mussolini
and the Norwegian wartime pro-Nazi leader Vidkun Quisling, has never
participated in elections. The party recruits its members, now mostly elderly,
mainly from among former SS soldiers and members of the wartime Quisling
Party. Some members are also connected with the Norwegian National
Socialist Movement or with the United Nationalists. Knut Westland, the party
leader is a captain in the Norwegian army. Formerly head of the Oslo branch
of the Norwegian officers' union, he was expelled in 1996.
In February 1999, the White Electoral Alliance and the Patriotic Unity
Party, together with activists from the Fatherland Party and from some fringe
groups, formed a new fascist party called Nasjonalalliansen (National
Alliance), led by Kjell Tore Vogsland and Jan Björnflaten. The new party
plans to apply for membership in EuroNat, in order to get financial support
from the French Front National.
EXTRA-PARLIAMENTARY GROUPS AND ANTI-SEMITIC ACTIVITIES
After World War II anti-Semitism was seldom expressed openly in Norway.
However, in the last few years neo-Nazi groups, which had previously
focused on opposing immigration, have been publicly espousing anti-Semitism
and Holocaust denial. This shift has come about as a result of the
state's very restrictive asylum and immigration policy and the electoral success
of the Progress Party, which have forced neo-Nazi-groups to radicalize
their position in order to attract support.
Several groups are dedicated to fighting immigration, such as
Folkebevegelsen Mot Innvandring (Popular Anti-immigration Movement),
led by Bjorn Voldnes, and Den Norske Forening (The Norwegian
Association), led by Torfinn Hellandsvik. The latter group presents itself as
a legal think-tank, and publishes misleading immigration statistics in their
magazine Nordmannen (The Norwegian).
Many neo-Nazi groups exist only on a local basis, and most do not exceed
twenty members. Even though Norwegian neo-Nazis are few, divided
and poorly organized, they have always had some potential for violence, and
their history is filled with murder, bombings, arson, assaults and shoot-outs.
Young Nazis not serving long prison sentences tend to occupy themselves
with anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, and weapon and dynamite thefts, but
mainly, at the present time, with internal feuds. Over the last two years
probably half of Norway's militant Nazi cadres have left the ranks.
Using the Celtic cross and the SS skullhead as logos, the Forente
Nasjonalister (United Nationalists), led by Kjell Tore Vogsland, seek to unite
all the various neo-Nazi groups into one movement. Some members also
belong to the Norwegian National Socialist Movement and the Patriotic Unity
Party (see below), and some sympathizers have reportedly been connected
with criminal activities. In summer 1998 the group failed in their attempt to
take over the leadership of the Fatherland Party. They also attended the
meeting of the fascist international EuroNat in Stockholm.
One of the leading neo-Nazi groups is Norges Nasjonalsosialistiske
bevegelse (Norway's National Socialist Movement -- NNSB; formerly Zorn
88), headed by Erik Rune Hansen. Portraits of Hitler and swastikas adorn its
publication Gjallarhorn and its web pages. In all probability, its membership
does not exceed fifty, some former war criminals, others former members of
the now defunct neo-Nazi party which was active in the 1970s, Norsk Front.
The group publishes materials of well-known Holocaust deniers.
Except for participating in the Rudolf Hess memorial marches in Sweden
and Denmark, the group had been relatively dormant in the past years.
However, evidence suggests that it has become more active since it formed
a pan-Scandinavian network, together with the Danish National Socialist
Movement, the Swedish National Socialist Front and the Scandinavian branch
of Blood & Honour, led by the former Norwegian Nazi leader Erik Blücher
(see Sweden). The creation of this network has led to a shift in emphasis on
the part of Norwegian Nazis. While in the past they were mainly anti-immigration,
their propaganda in the last year has become increasingly anti-Semitic.
A rising figure in the NNSB, Jan Erik Kvamsdahl, is one of the main
forces behind this shift. Besides being a leading Nazi, Kvamsdahl is also a
prominent figure within the New Age (alternative life style) movement in
Norway and was one of the mentors of the convicted murderer and church
arsonist Varg Vikernes, aka Count Grishnak (see below). Kvamsdal has
declared that the time has come to print a new Norwegian edition of The
Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The last edition was published in 1944 by
Ørnulf Myklestad, still an active Nazi and anti-Semite.
Another group involved in disseminating anti-Semitism, albeit more
discretely, is Institutt for norsk okkupasjonshistorie (Institute for the
History of Occupied Norway -- INO), the oldest and largest organization of
fascists, led by Knut Baardseth. Its main purpose is to cleanse the reputation
and defend the actions of former members of the Quisling Party and the
Waffen-SS. The increasing activity of this organization includes a successful
campaign to erect memorial stones dedicated to the Waffen-SS, in Estonia,
Hungary and, in August 1998 in Russia, where one was erected outside St.
Petersburg. Its journal, Folk og Land, has recently published articles defending
The INO has also recruited younger activists, including the physician
Inger Cecilie Stridsklev, who claims that the Quisling Party was not at all
anti-Semitic. Stridsklev has organized a "children's group," consisting of
descendants of members of the Quisling Party and the Waffen-SS. Her efforts
have not proved very successful, as the group's blatant attempts to rewrite
Norwegian history have deterred potential recruits.
A third group, solely dedicated to Holocaust denial, is the very small
Foreningen for sann historie (Association for True History), led by Tore
W. Tvedt. Except for promoting revisionist material, such as "The Leuchter
Report" and the writings of David Irving on their website, there is little sign
Perhaps one of the most bizarre of all Norway's extreme right groups is
Alfred Olsen's Folkets motstandsbeveglse (People's Resistance Movement).
With perhaps fewer than ten members, the group is Catholic, fascist
and extremely anti-Semitic. It has extensive contacts with Holocaust deniers
all over the world. Olsen produces numerous booklets in which he discusses
various conspiracy theories, mostly Jewish plots to take over the world. He
also operates a website called Holy War, where he promotes his theories. His
rabid anti-Semitism is admired by hard-core former SS members.
Another tiny group, the Norsk Hedensk Front (Norwegian Heathen
Front), led by Varg Vikernes, caused a public outrage when the anti-fascist
magazine Monitor revealed that Vikernes was running the operation from a
high-security prison cell, where he was serving a 21-year prison term for
murder and arson, and that the group's official address was the prison
mailbox. The Heathen Front's website is probably one of the most disturbing
Scandinavian Nazi sites due to its highly abusive and extremely anti-Semitic
content. The group also calls for the killing of the physically and mentally
disabled and homosexuals. The Norwegian Heathen Front claims to be the
Norwegian chapter of Allgermanische Heidnische Front (Pan-Germanic
Heathen Front), with local chapters in Germany, Sweden, Iceland and
Flanders. Although the group is tiny, Varg Vikernes is a cult hero among
young black-metal fans all over Europe.
In addition, there are numerous other small skinhead and Nazi groups,
such as the militant Vikings in Oslo, led by Eirik Ragnar Solhein, the
Norwegian Aryan Youth Front in Honefoss, led by Fred Ove Olsen, and
the Tonsberg Skins, led by Fredrik Bakke.
The Norwegian extreme right imports most of its music from abroad and
its links with Swedish organizations are especially strong. Members of
Norwegian groups often go to neighboring countries to take part in concerts
and demonstrations. In the last few years the Norwegian extreme right has
used concerts and music to recruit young members. One consequence of this
strategy has been an increase in the number of Nazi bands, as well as efforts
to organize mass concerts. However, due to public pressure and anti-racist
demonstrations, these concerts have not attracted large numbers, even
though they have enjoyed police protection. Following criticism that Norway
was likely to turn into a free-zone for European Nazis, the government has
begun discussing means of dealing with the problem. On 16 May police
broke up a Nazi gig at Rykkin, just outside Oslo. The participants were given
ten minutes to leave and thirty Swedish Nazis were escorted out of the
country. In contrast, a month previously the police failed to intervene as
some 100 neo-Nazis participated in a gig in Råde, starring the convicted
bomber Ole Krogstad.
The largest magazine of the extreme right is Fritt Forum (Free Forum), edited
by Michael Knutsen. Once considered to be only moderately nationalist, in
the last few years it has opened its columns to militant Nazi commentaries,
thereby consolidating the magazine's position in the market as the leading
extreme-right publication. From time to time, other openly neo-Nazi
publications spring up.
Via the mail order company NordEffekter, Fritt Forum advertises T-shirts,
books, magazines and music. Some of its selections openly promote Nazi
propaganda, such as William Pierce's Turner Diaries and CDs of the groups
No Remorse (UK) and Pluton Svea (Sweden), among others. Consequently,
at the end of 1996, police began investigating NordEffekter and its leader
Knutsen for violating the anti-racism law. Knutsen was acquitted in
November 1998 due to the prosecution's failure to prove that he was legally
responsible for NordEffekter.
While NordEffekter promote products of the violent British group C-18,
Free Forum has remained neutral in the ongoing struggle within the
international Nazi/ skinhead movement between C18 and Blood & Honour
on the one hand, and the American-based Resistance Records on the other.
Internet. Because of their diminishing membership and relative inactivity,
Norwegian Nazis have turned increasingly to the Internet. There exist at least
twelve different Norwegian websites, dedicated, to a greater or lesser extent,
to open fascism, anti-Semitism and racism. The presence of these sites does
not seem to have any impact on recruitment, and their existence is very often
the only visible sign of the group running it.