Written by Monitor for Center for research and action on racism and antisemmitism (CERA)
Political contextNorway is ruled by a social democrat minority government. When the prime minister Gro Harlem-Brundtland resigned in winter 1996, a new social democrat government led by Thorbjoern Jagland was created.
Both governments have pursued a restrictive asylum policy, which has consequently led to an extreme decrease in the number of persons seeking political asylum. Moreover, this policy forced nearly a hundred asylum seekers to seek sanctuary in churches all over the country.
The right wing opposition in Parliament (Fremskrittspartiet/Progress party) has gained politically from disseminating propaganda for even more strict asylum politics. Combined with their hostile attitude toward immigrants in general, this position has given them a rise in the polls.
Unemployment among immigrants has remained, while it decreased in the population as a whole.
The major political event of 1996 was the revelation given by a report of a parliamentary commission, proving the illegal surveillance of Norwegian citizens. This illegality had been going on from World War II until the 90s, and concentrated on monitoring all kinds of leftist opposition, such as the peace movement, left-wing parties and organizations and opposition trade unions. The commission's report also pointed out the close and informal connections between the intelligence services and the Social Democrat party.
The extreme rightThere has not been much neo-Nazi activity in Norway since the Second World War, and, compared with Sweden and Germany, the activity that does exist remains marginal, partly because of the five-year Nazi occupation of the country during the war. The first attempt to re-establish a Norwegian Nazi movement was in the 1970s. This attempt failed due to both the incompetence of the leaders and internal dissent. A series of bomb attacks did not help the neo-Nazis gain any public support.
So, at its peak, Norsk front (Norwegian front) did not have more than 300 members.
From 1987 on, racist groups and parties were founded around the country, and from 1993, militant youth groups started to pop up. These groups flourished especially in 1994 and 1995. Nevertheless, on the whole, the number of active neo-Nazis and organized racists is still small. Some figures will illustrate this: only around 12,000 persons are willing to vote for the two extreme racist parties. (White electoral alliance and the Fatherlands party.) And only around 1,000 persons are willing to run as their candidates for elections. As for the militant youth groups, they count, all together, less than 300 members.
Even though several violent incidents have taken place during the year, extreme-right activity was less marked in 1996 than in the recent past. In general, 1996 was the year when the neo-Nazis suffered a series of serious setbacks after two years of growth. Local communities, schools, and local police seem to have taken the problem of their existence seriously. Furthermore, public exposure of their activities, internal quarrels and untalented leaders have helped facilitate this decline in the Nazi movement. Presently, the extreme right appears to be losing members, and many of its groups are half dormant.
Fremskrittspartiet (The Progress party)Leader: Carl Ivar Hagen
This party made some headway in the 1995 local election, getting 12% of the votes mainly because the party leader, Carl I. Hagen and the MP Oeystein Hedstroem played the immigration card during the election campaign. After the elections, during the autumn and winter of 1995-96, previous members of the racist party, Stopp Innvandringen (Stop immigration) entered the Progress party as members. The Progress party was also infiltrated by a group from the violent Oslo-located Nazi group, Viking. The party's youth section leader, Klaus Jacobsen, left in protest, because the party leadership, in his opinion, did not take the Nazi infiltration seriously enough. In February, the antifascist magazine Monitor was able to identify most of the Viking members, and, after intensive media coverage the leadership of the Progress party's youth section expelled them from the organization. Nonetheless, the old racists from Stop immigration and similar groups appear to have remained the Progress party and to have even strengthened their positions. The Progress party, itself, seems to be encouraging its anti-immigration agitation for the coming parliamentary election in autumn 1997.
Fedrelandspartiet (The Fatherlands party)Leader: Harald Trefall
Youth leader: Arnljot Moseng
This party consists primarily of elderly men. They are strongly opposed to immigration, and nationalism pervades the entire party program. In the parliamentary elections of 1993 the party only got 11,546 votes, 0.5% of the electorate. In the local elections two years later it did not win more than 5,004 votes. In 1995, 4 of the party's parliamentary 1993 candidates were arrested after Nazi riots in Oslo. Among the arrested were their youth leader and party secretary, Arnljot Moseng, as well as the youth organization treasurer, Andreas Wang. Wang was also arrested on May 17, the Norwegian national holiday, after several neo-Nazis shot at antiracist demonstrators outside a house where the former were celebrating. Wang is a member of the violent Oslo neo-Nazi group Viking and was one of the Viking cadres who tried to infiltrate the Progress party. Many well-known neo-Nazis have been found to be on the Fatherland party's different lists for local elections. Normally, between the elections, the party does not show much activity . However, recently, it invited an observer from the notorious neo-Nazi group United nationalists to their 1996 summer congress.
Hvit valgallianse (The White electorial alliance)Partyleader: Jack Erik Kjuus
Youth leader: Leonard Nesdal
This party is an amalgamation of two fringe groups, Stopp innvandringen and Hjelp de fremmedkulturelle hjem ellers mister vi landet vårt. (Stop immigration and Help the remote culturals back (meaning non-europeans) home or we will lose our country). Both parties were led by Jack Erik Kjuus.
The party became infamous for having demanded the forced sterilization of adopted children and foreigners married to Norwegians. During 1996 the party had secret meetings in a café in the forests outside Oslo. One of the items on its agenda was the state of imminent civil war created by immigration. In January 1997, party leader Kjuus faced trial for breaking the Norwegian anti-racist legislation. The youth leader, Leonard Nesdal, has been arrested twice during neo-Nazi riots in Oslo. He is also connected with the Viking group.
Norges patriotiske enhetsparti (The patriot unity party of Norway)Leader: Knut Westland
This party has never participated in any elections. Its membership is suggestively low, though it is still the most consistent nationalistic party in Norway. Its ideas about how to organize Norwegian society are, in many ways, similar to those of Benito Mussolini or the Norwegian wartime Nazi leader, Vidkun Quisling. The party claims it is not national-socialist, but supports a third way between capitalism and socialism. One of its members declared that the only real difference between his party and Nazism is that between a "Prince", a Norwegian cigarette brand name, and a "Prince light".
Westland, the party leader is a captain in the Norwegian army. Formerly in charge of the Oslo branch of the Norwegian officers' union, he was expelled in 1996. Westland started his political career as a board member in the now almost dormant Folkebevegelsen mot innvandring (The popular movement against immigration). He is now the chairman of Det norske aasatrusamfunn (The Odinist society of Norway) where he works together with two other well-known rightist extremists. Some of the party's members have made an attempt to create an umbrella organization for all extreme-right groups in Norway: the United nationalists.
Extra-parlamentary groupsThese groups include all racist, fascist and extreme-right movements which share one thing in common: they do not, as organizations, participate in elections. Many of their members are active in different extreme right groups and parties. The contradictory alliances between persons and groups are numerous, overlapping and changing all the time. Yet, essentially, we can divide these groups into two different types: militant youth groups and more legal groups with mainly elderly members. Nevertheless, it is also true that some cadres are using their work in one group or party as a front for the illegal activities on the agenda of other more radical groups.
Den norske forening (The Norwegian association)Leader: Torfinn Hellandsvik
This organization tries to present itself as a legal think-tank concerned with problems linked to immigration. In fact many of its members have a past in the notoriously racist organization Folkebevegelsen mot innvandring (see below).
One such member is the organization's leader, Torstein Hellandsvik who was a parliamentary candidate for Stopp innvandringen in 1989. In the 1993 parliamentary elections, he was also a candidate for Fedrelandspartiet.
The organization and its members concentrate on misrepresenting immigration statistics. Its members also write loads of readers' letters to newspapers. Like Hellandsvik, many of the members belong to political parties.
Folkebevegelsen mot innvandring (The popular movement against immigration)Leader: Bjoern Voldnes
When founded in 1987 this was the first racist organization with some public appeal. At its peak it had several hundred members. This however did not last long. The leader, Arne Myrdal, was arrested and later convicted for planning to bomb a refugee camp at Tromøya in the south of Norway. Myrdal was subsequently expelled from the organization and its support vanished. Almost every member of any Norwegian racist and fascist groups started their "career" in this group which, today, is almost practically nonexistent. The group manages to arrange an annual convention designed to re-elect its leaders, however. This excepted, the only visible sign of activity can be found in one local branch on the west coast of Norway. As in Den Norske Forening, many members of the Folkebevegelsen mot innvandring are members of or have connections with other parties and organizations. For instance, the leader of the Fatherlands party, Harald Trefall, was present at the last convention in June 1996.
Institutt for norsk okkupasjonshistorie (Institute for norwegian occupation-history)Leader: Knut Baardseth
This institute is not an authentic research institution. It is a revisionist organization for such wartime criminals as former members of the Quisling party and the Waffen SS. Its main purpose is to clean up their reputation and defend their actions during World War II. The institute is giving scholarships to students who want to write about the Second World War.
The only other visible external activity of the institute is its monthly newspaper called Folk og land (People and country) This disturbing publication has no other purpose than to express wartime nostalgia and fret over the post-war treason convictions of its contributors.
Zorn 88Leader: Erik Rune Hansen
This group is avowedly national-socialist. The Hitler portraits and swastikas in its publications leave no doubt over where it stands. In all probability, its membership does not exceed fifty persons. They are Holocaust deniers and publish lots of well-known revisionist material. Some of the members are former wartime criminals while others once belonged to the now defunct neo-Nazi party of the 70s, Norsk Front (Norwegian Front).
Except for its participation in the Rudolf Hess memorial march in Denmark in 1995, the group does not have much external activity and concentrates on promoting study groups and social gatherings, waiting for its time to come.
Forente nasjonalister (United nationalists)The purpose of this movement is to affiliate all the different Norwegian groups with one organization and coordinate their work. It uses such well-known Nazi symbols such as the Celtic cross and the SS totenkopf (skullhead) as logos. The organization claims to be built on non-democratic principles. No one is actually elected but rather selected. Only one person in the leadership has complete control over the organization. On one of its posters, the group threatens to use terrorism if it is not taken seriously. It has three leaders, one of whom is responsible for collecting intelligence on political opponents. Whether this group is but another desktop product or a serious political reality remains yet to see.
Ariske brødre(Aryan brothers)/Toensberg skinsLeader: Fredrik Bakke
These are neo-Nazis, some of them skinheads, in the small Norwegian town of Toensberg, for some years now a stronghold for violent neo-Nazis. Toensberg is also one of the very few places in Norway where the neo-Nazis have managed to recruit new members during 1996. Two young members of this movement were arrested in autumn 1996 for a firebomb attack against a Kurd family. One of its spokesmen claimed that they are presently members of the local branch of Forente nasjonalister.
VikingLeader: Eirik Ragnar Solheim
This violent group is based in Oslo. Its members are mainly middle-class adolescents from "respectable" neighborhoods. Members wear a uniform with a brown shirt and black trousers. In spite of rapid growth in 1994 and 1995, the group seems to be entirely inactive since the summer of 1996. Its leader Solheim was sentenced to a three month suspended jail term on two occasions for threatening people with a gun. Viking's biggest fiasco was when it tried to infiltrate the youth organization of the Progress party. The plan was publicly exposed, and, some time later, the infiltrates were expelled from the party. The group's members have also participated in several attacks against antiracist activists and young immigrants.
ValkyriaLeader: Mette Holter
This is a female neo-Nazi group with branches in Oslo, Hoenefoss and Drammen. It was founded to keep girls in the Nazi movement even after they have broken up with their Nazi boyfriends. Another female neo-Nazi group is Jenter for Norge, (Girls for Norway), in the southern town of Risør, an organization connected to the neo-Nazi group, Hvit revolusjon (see below). More female groups to be mentioned are: Embla at Romerike just outside of Oslo, Huldra in Trondheim (mid-Norway) and Gyda in the northern town of Bodø.
BootboysLeader: Ole Krogstad
This is the oldest Norwegian youth groups. It is a skinhead group from Hokksund an Drammen, just south of Oslo. Earlier, Bootboys had a violent reputation. Recently, its political activity seems virtually nonexistent as the group concentrates its efforts on running a mail order business. Its leader, Ole Krogstad, was previously a militant in the now defunct Norwegian front and has been convicted for a bomb attack against the Oslo immigration office. He is one of the major figures behind attempts to create a Norwegian neo-Nazi rock movement and is also the singer in the neo-Nazi band Vidkuns venner (Vidkun's friends), a name alluding to Vidkun Quisling.
Varg(Short for Vern av rikets grenser/protect the countrys borders. The name allso means wolf)
Leader: Stig Runar Woxen
This group, from Romerike (east of Oslo) participated among others in the Hess memorial march in Trollhättan (Sweden) in August 1996. Otherwise, it is not very active. Its members are famous in their neighborhood for their capacity for drinking and their eagerness to fight.
Hvit revolusjon (White revolution)Leader: Kjetil Remen
This neo-Nazi group in the southern town of Risoer has not been too active and its membership is low. Some of the group's central members also belonged to Vern om Risoer (Protect Risoer). This extreme right group proved to be something of a flop, and even manages to evoke the ridicule of other neo-Nazis.
Folkets motstandsbeveglse(The peoples resistance movement)Leader: Alfredo Olsen
This is perhaps the most bizarre of all the Norwegian extreme right groups. It probably has less than ten members. The group is Catholic, Fascist and extremely antisemitic.It has extensive contacts with Holocaust deniers all over the world. The leader, Alfredo Olsen, was convicted for receiving ten stolen assault rifles from the army. He produces lots of booklets in which he discusses various conspiracy theories, most of them including Jewish plots to take over the world.
Norsk arisk ungdomsfront (Norwegian aryan youthfront)Leader: Fred Ove Olsen
This group is based in the small town of Hoenefoss, about 50 kilometers west of Oslo. This is one of the few neo-Nazi groups which did not see its membership decrease over the course of 1996. In January, its leader, Fred Ove Olsen, was expelled from the army because of his Nazi activities. The group has been involved in shooting incidents and attacks against young antiracists. For instance, one Iranian refugee family was attacked with military tear gas grenades while its members were sleeping.
Einsatzgruppen (The Einsatzgroup)/Ku klux klanLeader: Tom Kimmo Eiternes
This group is not active at the moment because most of the members are imprisoned after a robbery attempt at a gunsmith's in the western town of Stavanger. During the robbery a shop assistant was stabbed in the back with a knife. The group's members are known to be more violent than politically skilled. After attacking people in Haugesund, one of the members could not be put on trial because, according to the police psychiatrist, his intelligence was too low. The group also tried to start a Norwegian branch of the Ku Klux Klan, the only visible sign of such plans as of present being the two of them posing in a newspaper in Klan-garb.
Vern av ØstfoldLeader: Oeyvind Olsen
This is an extremely violent and vicious group whose members openly carry Nazi symbols such as the swastika and also wear uniforms. It is based in Moss, not far from the Swedish border. The members participated over the last two years in the Hess memorial marches in Denmark and Sweden. Leader Oeyvind Olsen was arrested in February 1995 after neo-Nazis shot at antiracist demonstrators.
Satanism/Pagan religionIn Norway there is a quite large black metal/Satanist environment. Satanic rock in Norway has attracted the same groups as Nazi rock has in, for instance, Sweden and Germany.
Many of the bands have declared themselves nationalist or racist. For some of the bands it is unclear whether they are Satanists or Odinists. Many of their texts are anti-Christian or antisemitic. Norwegian Satanists have burned a number of churches and vandalized graveyards. One of the leading figures in Norwegian black metal is "Varg" Kristian Vikernes, also named "Count Grishnak", now serving a 21-year prison term for murder and arson. Vikernes has become a cult figure for young black metal fans. After being imprisoned he declared himself a neo-Nazi and Odinist. Norwegian Nazis have, with some success, tried to recruit people from the Satanists' ranks. Satanist fanzines also print ads for Nazi magazines. Different Nazi publications have published interviews and articles from the Satanist scene. The Zorn 88 magazine Gjallarhorn, for instance, named Vikernes as "an apprentice without a master".
Right extremists have also tried to establish the Norwegian Aasatrusociety, a group of Odinists (a pagan cult referring to old Scandinavian mythology). The leader of this organization also leads The patriot unity party of Norway. One other, Vilfred Hansen, has a past in the popular movement against immigration and the third, Lillian Evant, is a member of the editorial group of Fritt Forum .
Music and mediaThe largest magazine is Fritt Forum (Free Forum), edited by Michael Knutsen. Although traditionally it has considered to be moderate nationalist, in the last couple of years it has begun opening 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, the people behind Fritt Forum advertise t-shirts, books, magazines and music. Some of its selection is openly Nazi propaganda, such as the book Turner diaries (by William Pierce, leader of the American National Alliance) , and CDs from such groups as No Remorse (U.K) and Pluton Svea (Sweden). Consequently, at the end of 1996, the police began to investigate NordEffekter for breaking the legislation against racism. Among other things, the Nord Effekter selection contains products from the violent British thugs, C-18, but Free Forum stays neutral in the ongoing internal struggle within the international Nazi/skinhead movement between C-18 and Blood and Honor on one side, and the American- based Resistance Records on the other.
Until recently the Norwegian extreme right imported most of its music from abroad and its links with Swedish organizations have been especially strong. Members of Norwegian groups often go to the neighboring country to take part in concerts and demonstrations such as the Rudolf Hess memorial march in Trollhättan in August 1996.
In the last couple of years the Norwegian extreme right has adopted the strategy of using 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 the efforts to organize mass concerts.
1996 was also the year when Norwegian neo-Nazis and right extremists conquered the Internet where, with more or less professional web-pages, they are now promoting their hatred. All together there are about ten website Norwegian pages with racist or fascist content
What now?Even though Norwegian neo-Nazis are few, divided and miserably organized, they have always had some potential for violence. Every time their dream of parliamentary success is shattered, they turn to physical force. Their history is full of killings, bombings, arson, assaults and shootouts. There is a possibility that out of electoral frustration, they will try to escalate their assaults against immigrants, antiracists and leftists. For the time being, they seem content to occupy themselves with running hate pages on the Internet and ordering Nazi music and paraphernalia from mail-order companies. It is unlikely that they will make any headway in the coming parliamentary elections of August 1997, as the Progress party will probably win the racist votes. Apparently condemned to an eternal existence in the shadows, the Norwegian extreme right can only really be a threat to democracy by means of brute force, resorting out of desperation to the violence of individual actions.