Right-wing extremists around the world have well-functioning networks. Through these they spread information, music and propaganda. They cooperate and provide assistance to one another. Due in part to such cooperation, more and more openly right-wing extremist events are being organized, and Western neo-Nazis have begun connecting in greater numbers with with like-minded Russians.
“I know from my own experience that American and German neo-Nazis, for instance, are in close contact,” says Esa Holappa, the former leader of the neo-Nazi Finnish Resistance Movement (FRM). “German neo-Nazis run their web sites on American servers, they publish music, make records and visit each other. Inspiration is sought in other countries, organization models are borrowed, and lessons are drawn from the experiences of other groups.”
Holappa now denounces right-wing extremism.
A Neo-Nazi leader no more (Hate Speech International)
Repentant Nazi: “What I was doing was crazy.” (YLE English)
One example of such cooperation is the British organization National Action, founded in 2013. The leader of National Action, Benjamin Raymond, visited the Finnish Resistance Movement in Turku, Finland, in January 2015. Another example is the Greek Golden Dawn. Its political successes have inspired FRM’s sister organization, the Swedish Resistance Movement (SRM), to found a parliamentary branch – a political party of its own. We interviewed Holappa to learn more.
Does the FRM have additional contacts with foreign right-wing extremists?
“Yes, there have been contacts with Casa Pound in Italy since the very beginning. There were contacts already before the FRM was established. The organization has also had longstanding contact with NPD and Freie Kameradschaften in Germany. They have visited Golden Dawn in Greece, and their most recent partner is National Action in the UK. The strongest ties are found with Germany and Italy, however.”
How are contacts managed?
“Through visits, email, phone calls. They come visiting in Finland, and activists in the Finnish Resistance Movement go abroad to visit them.”
In recent years, FRM activists have visited Greece, Germany and Italy, and they have received visitors from the United Kingdom, Italy and other countries. In 2011, the Finnish group arranged a meeting in Helsinki with invited guests from both Casa Pound and Freie Kameradschaften.
In recent years, the “big brother” of the FRM, the Swedish Resistance Movement, has regularly visited extreme right-wing organizations in former East bloc countries. Activists in the organizations have written travelogues on such topics as military training they received at a training camp run by Magyar Nemzeti Arcvonal (the Hungarian National Front).
Friends in Russia
In recent years, the Nordic Resistance Movement has become steadily more embracing of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. To the movement, Russia is seen as a state defending traditional values, unlike the European Union, which is seen as increasingly degenerate. Emil Hagberg, now a member of the leadership council of the Swedish branch, explained in a web radio broadcast from the organization that he would rather see Sweden occupied by Russia than run by the current Swedish government. Klas Lund, who led the organization at the time, touched on a similar note. He said he regarded the view of Russia as a threat as nonsense, and claimed that the real threat is found to the south and the west.
According to Esa Holappa, those who criticize Putin or Russia or side with Ukraine in the armed conflict raging in that country are branded as Jews or Zionists. In this manner, the leadership of the organization has been able to stifle inner dissent.
In 2015, the Nordic Resistance Movement participated in the extreme right conference International Conservative Forum, held in St. Petersburg. The conference was arranged by the Russian party Rodina (the Motherland), and the participants passed a resolution supporting what they described as “avant-garde conservative political forces” in Russia and Europe. NRM representatives were present at the conference, though not as officially invited guests.
In Finland, the extreme right wing has traditionally been anti-Russian. Consequently, FRM members have been more reticent than their Swedish comrades.
An early start
Esa Holappa started building an international contact network at an early age, establishing contact with infamous neo-Nazis and racist organizations around the world and writing on a variety of racist, fascist and Nazi-oriented web forums.
In this manner the 17-year old Esa from Oulu found his National Socialist mentor in an American prison. At the time, Richard Scutari was 55 years old and had already been imprisoned for 14 years. Scutari was a member of the militant American Nazi group The Order (also known as Brüder Schweigen) and had been sentenced to 60 years imprisonment for a series of spectacular, politically motivated crimes. He had also been suspected in the murder of radio talk show host Alan Berg, but was never convicted of this crime. Richard Scutari is still incarcerated, and his earliest possible release on parole is in 2025. In spite of his imprisonment he remains active on the extreme right, his texts regularly published by extremist groups.
“I found his address in the ‘Prisoners of War’ column of the British, racist newspaper Stormer,” says Holappa. “They had included a picture of Scutari and a short text about him and about his military background. I found his CV to be impressive, and that’s why I wrote to him. Already as a 17-year old, I regarded myself as a National Socialist. However, it was mostly his military background that fascinated me. So I decided to write to him, and he replied. In the beginning, the letters were largely about his military days, but eventually we discussed ideology, too. We never wrote about violence or terrorism. If we had attempted that, the letters would never have been received.”
Holappa adds: “He seemed serious, and I wanted to get to know people who took National Socialism seriously. I simply wanted to get to know a real Nazi.”
Scutari played a central role when Holappa obtained contacts in Sweden, leading to the establishment of the Finnish Resistance Movement. The correspondence between Holappa and Scutari continued for years, until the summer of 2014. After Holappa decided to leave the movement, he stopped responding to the letters arriving from the United States.
During his years as an active neo-Nazi, Holappa was also personally in touch with numerous murderers and violent criminals, including members of criminal, racist gangs such as Aryan Nations and the prison gang Aryan Brotherhood.
This article is a shortened version of one originally published in Swedish and Finnish by the national broadcaster YLE, which has cooperated with Hate Speech International on this project. The article remains under copyright.