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  • John Riceburg: They’ve arrived! The Nazi Hipsters!


John Riceburg: They’ve arrived! The Nazi Hipsters!

An ironic tote bag, piercings, unruly beards, orange sunglasses – it looks like a hipster, but is that the whole truth? John Riceburg looks at the Nazis who may have been Nazis back before it was cool.

Image for John Riceburg: They’ve arrived! The Nazi Hipsters!
Photo by Jesko Wrede

What do you see in this picture? An ironic tote bag, piercings, stretched earlobes, unruly beards, orange sunglasses, starred Converses – nothing that would stand out around Neukölln. The scene might be worth a groan but not a whole blog entry, right?

But this wasn’t Neukölln. This picture was taken in Magdeburg on January 21 at a demonstration of 700 Nazis to commemorate the allied bombing of the city in 1945. It gives a whole new meaning to the tote: “Please don’t shove, I have a yoghurt in my bag.“ Shoving was on the cards because 1500 antifascists were trying to block the Beutel-carrying fascists’ route through the city.

“I was a Nazi before it was cool.” Social media is buzzing with speculation about what these Nazi hipsters think. “I was into Hitler back when he was ranting in basement bars in front of 30 people. Now he’s gotten too mainstream. But I have some of his early speeches on vinyl.” Or maybe they’ll complain that the Nazi bar Zum Henker is “full of [right-wing] tourists these days. Did you hear about that new Nazi café that opened in Treptow?”

Then again, Nazis have never been above borrowing from youth subcultures. The original skinheads in London weren’t Nazis at all – they were working class youth who listened to music from Jamaica and wore clothes with the logo of a Jewish tennis player. Not exactly a natural fit to white supremacism… but nonetheless, fascists were able to appropriate many elements of skinhead culture.

Over time there have been autonomist Nazis, hip hop Nazis, eco-Nazis… and let’s not forget the whole movement started with rampant plagiary of the 20th century’s most influential subculture: communism. That’s why Hitler gave his movement red flags, a “socialist” name and militant demonstrations. So maybe it was only a matter of time before Hipster Hitler would escape from comics into reality. What’s next? #FascismWeek?

Then again, what if these are just normal, non-Nazi hipsters who are joining Nazi demonstrations as some kind of art project? Just get some friends together, make ironic comments about the Nazis’ clothing and take lots of pictures for Instagram. Is all this fodder for a new Nazi Safari meme? It’s really the only option now that guerrilla knitting is out of style.