The audience had already sat down for a scheduled event on the “Intercultural Weeks” program in Frankfurt, when suddenly three men in white masks with a boom box stormed into the lobby of the municipal library. They danced through the rows to techno music, holding up banners reading: “Blast Away Multiculturalism.”
The appearance on Oct. 30 lasted less than a minute before a security guard escorted the troublemakers out of the room.
A video of the event has since created a sensation. The clip by the right-wing activists, who call themselves Identitäre Bewegung Deutschland, or the “German Identity Movement,” has been viewed online more than 21,000 times. More than 30 local groups affiliated with the previously unknown movement have since established pages on Facebook, from Stuttgart in the south to Essen in the west and East Frisia in the north.
A new generation of right-wing extremists is trying its hand at an image makeover, emulating the methods of the leftist protest culture. In addition to the “Identity Movement,” authorities are focusing on another group called the Die Unsterblichen, or “The Immortals.” Their approach is always the same: The activists put on white masks similar to the ones used by people identified with the Internet collective “Anonymous,” hold up banners and stage a torchlight procession through a city at night. Then a short film with a dramatic soundtrack and right-wing slogans is placed online.
The method turns a local campaign that hardly attracted any notice into a theatrical clip capable of drawing nationwide attention. Seemingly harmless hoodies and techno music replace the combat boots and shaved-head aesthetic of earlier neo-Nazi generations. But the slogans are often the same.