Subject: ADL: Skinhead International; Sweden
Summary: The ADL's "Skinhead International: A Worldwide Survey
of Neo-Nazi Skinheads"
In the past 10 years, Swedish Skinheads have become an
important part of the broader Swedish racist movement. They
have served as bodyguards and security forces for various
neo-Nazi organizations, and in the name of Aryan supremacy,
Skinheads have beaten, robbed and even killed perceived
Experts in Sweden currently put the number of skinheads at
well over 1,000, of whom some 100 to 200 are considered
"especially dangerous." The overall figure includes a large
number of so-called "Babyskins," a term coined by police in
1994 to refer to the rising number of very young Skinheads
recruited from schools in several communities.
The major populations centers - Stockholm, Gothenburg, and
Malmo - contain the largest concerntrations of Skins. Smaller
numbers are active in Norrkping, Linkoping, Karlstad,
Sodertalje, Vaxjo, Saffle and Uddevalle.
Swedish Skinheads have been heavily influenced by _Storm_, a
neo-Nazi magazine that was launched in 1990 as the successor
to an earlier racist publication, _Vit Rebell_ (White Rebel).
_Storm_ mixes classic Nazi anti-Semitism with other
anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. The magazine singles out the
Jews as the main cause of Sweden's political and economic
difficulties. The battle against immigration has failed,
according to _Storm_, on account of Jewish domination of the
media, the banks and the government. Hence, says the magazine,
the battle against Jewry is paramount, and must be waged
through armed stuggle. No new issues of _Storm_ have been
published since fall 1994.
With _Storm_ apparently publishing intermittently, three new
magazines have begun to fill the void: _Nordland_; _Blod och
Ara_ (Blood and Honor), last published in October 1994; and
_Gryning_ (Dawn), published by and for Skinheads in prison.
_Storm_ has become the single most important expression of
Skinhead "philosophy" in Sweden. The magazine offers broad
political direction to Swedish Skinheads - and has given rise
to the "Storm Network," an informal structure of cooperation
and political unity among several neo-Nazi Skinhead
organizations. The most important groups in the Network are:
_Vitt Ariskt Motstand_ (VAM, White Aryan Resistance), formed in
1991 as "a vehicle for racial war" along the lines of the
American far-right terrorist group, The Order. At its peak,
VAM consisted of at least 150 hard-core activists and perhaps
twice as many supporters. Its structure, like that of most
Skinhead gangs, is loose and informal; there are no membership
cards, elected officials or formal gatherings. VAM activits
have been convicted of a number of violent crimes, including
several armed robberies and gun thefts. In the recent year,
VAM has gone through a political reorientation, attempting to
transform itself from an underground militant group to a
semi-legal street organization.
_Riksfronten_ (The Reich Front), now led by Torulf Magnusson.
The group has emerged as the political face of Skinhead
militancy. It is believed to have at least a few hundred
_The Church of the Creator_ (COTC), led by "Reverend" Tommy
Ryden and Skinhead David Twaland (a.k.a Emilsson). This is the
Swedish branch of the now-inactive American neo-Nazi mother
church. Although the Swedish group has only a handful of
members, it is believed to have a large influence on the Storm
While the Storm Network was formed outside the control of the
traditional extreme right parties in Sweden, the Skinhead
movement is linked with the two principal racist parties: the
anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, and the traditionally
Hitlerite Nordic Reich Party (NRP), which has a few hundred
Swedish Skinheads have committed a great many crimes over the
past four years, more than can be listed here. Among the most
notorious ones have been the following:
In April 1991, four masked men raided a police station in
a Stockholm suburb and made off with 40 handguns. Two of the
culprits, both VAM activists, were subsequently arrested and
are presently serving jail time.
In May 1991, seven Skinheads were arrested during an attempted
burglary at a military arms depot in northern Sweden. One of
the group, John-Christopher Rangne, is believed to be a
leading member of VAM.
Two Skinheads were captured following an armed bank robbery in
1991. One was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison;
the other was released for lack of evidence.
In January 1992, former Reich Front leader Leif Larsson was
convicted of assault, and sentenced to a year in prison.
Also in January 1992, three Skinheads were arrested for
possession of army materiel stolen from a military arms depot.
One of those arrested was David Twaland, deputy leader of the
Church of the Creator.
In May 1992, in Uppsala, four Skinheads were arrested and
subsequently convicted of illegal possession of weapons in
connection with a plot to rob a bank.
In August 1992, six Skinheads were arrested in a VAM safehous
containing arms, ammunition and other stolen military
hardware. Two were subsequently convicted, but the charges
against the remaining four were dropped.
In November 1992, VAM activist Stefan Lund was captured and
sentenced to five years in prison for his role in an armed
bank robbery. His partners-in-crime are still missing, as are
the 1.5 million Kronor in stolen loot.
Skinhead crimes against Jews have, until now, consisted mainly
of desecrations of graves and threats against individuals.
The Swedish Skinhead movement has forged extensive links with
hate movements in other countries, especially Britain and the
United States. Skinheads first appeared in the streets of
Sweden in the mid to late 1970's, when they were viewed as
simply another fringe youth cult - like the punks or rockers -
whith their own style of dress and brand of music. However,
they shortly developed a distinctly fascist outlook. Swedish
Nazi groups had influenced them somewhat, but from England
came the very potent impact of a full-blown Skinhead movement
replete with racial ideology and music. Britain's leading
Skinhead band, Skrewdriver, twice played in Sweden, in 1987
and 1989. During the first visit, Skrewdriver's leader, Ian
Stuart, met with the Swedish Skins and made arrangements to
help them publish a newspaper, the aforementioned _Vit
Rebell_. During the same period, and English Skinhead, Tommy
Edwards, became active in the leadership of the Swedish
movement and served as liaison with its British comrades.
There have also been links to the American hate movement - for
example, the formation in Sweden of a unit of the Church of
the Creator. The Swedish branch, like the American, actively
sought Skinhead recruits, with some measure of success.
The pages of _Storm_ magazine also reflect considerable
contact with American neo-Nazis, particularly the imprisoned
members of The Order, the terrorist organization that murdered
Denver talk radio host Alan Berg in 1984, and committed other
serious crimes. From their prison cells, Order members David
Lane, Frank Silva, Bruce Carroll Pierce, and Gary Yarbrough
have been in correspondence with the publishers of _Storm_.
They are, in effect, serving as advisors to the Swedish
Skinhead movement, thereby intensifying its anti-Semitism and
proclivity to terrorism.
Much American printed hate material circulates among the
Swedish Skinheads. "The Turner Diaries," a novel by William
Pierce, leader of the National Alliance, a West Virginia-based
Nazi group, is a particular favorite. The book, which served
as the bible of The Order, offers a blueprint on how to
conduct a violent Aryan revolution. Printed materials also
come from the American Nazi Gary Lauck, who publishes the
organ _Sveriges Nationella Fo"rgund_ (Swedish National League)
for the neo-Nazi organization of the same name. The League's
Malmo unit, headed by 35-year-old Lars-Go"ran Hedengard, is
affiliated with Lauck's Nebraska-based NSDAP-AO (National
Socialist German Wrokers Party-Overseas Organization). Lauck
linked up with Hedengard during a trip to Sweden in 1990. The
name of the Skinhead group White Aryan Resistance (Vitt Ariskt
Motstand, VAM) is identical with that of the American Nazi
organization, WAR, headed by Tom Metzger, which was the first
to use it. However, VAM's attitudes more closely resemled
those of The Order and Aryan Nations.
The Music Scene
Sweden's Skinheads are also linked to their counterparts
abroad through their bands. Direlewanger, a leading Swedish
Skinhead band, played at an Aryan fest in southern California
in September 1992. The band also has close ties to the German
Skinhead scene. (Dirlewanger was the name of a German SS
officer, Oskar Dirlewanger, who commanded an _Einsatzkommando_
unit on the easter front in World War II.) The traffic runs
both ways, with foreign Skinhead bands - among them the
British bands No Remorse and Bully Boys - appearing in Sweden
There have been several other bands active in the Swedish
Skinhead musical scene, including Vit Aggression (White
Aggression), Division S, Agent Bulldog, Midgard Soner,
Svastika and Ultima Thule (which has successfully entered the
On February 4, 1995, several hundred Skinheads turned out for
a white power concert in Stockholm that featured Division S,
Midgard Soner and Svastika. According to the California-based
zine _Blood and Honor_, the American band Bound for Glory also
made an appearance.
Since about 1993, Skinhead music - compact discs as well as
videos - has become a principal source of income for
individual Skinheads and Skinhead political organizations. A
number of Nazi mail order outlets have sprung up, providing a
substantial revenue. Few, if any, major record shops in Sweden
sell Skinhead recordings, but during 1194, several
Skinhead-owned shops opened in Stockholm and Gothenburg.
A popular Skinhead hangout in Stockholm is Fryshuset (the
Icehouse), a youth club partly funded by local authorities in
the (questionable) belief that it would "keep them off the
streets." The Skins formerly had their own (partly
state-subsidized) headquarters, located alongside Fryshuset.
Piles of copies of the British Skinhead magazine _Blood and
Honor_ and the American Nazi publication _Racial Loyalty_ and
"The Turner Diaries" were seen in the headquarters.
Finally, as stated earlier, Swedish Skinheads are part of the
broader Swedish hate movement, although their relationship is
sometimes strained. That was the case in 1988, when the
far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) party was launched. The party
was formed by persons long steeped in racism, who decided to
clean up their public image in the hope that it would broaden
their appeal, in the style of the French Front National. Since
Skinheads hardly fit the desired new image, they were
The SD strategy paid off. The party's membership grew; it got
4,900 votes in the 1991 parliamentary elections and 14,000
votes in 1994 (much higher numbers than usual for an
ultra-right party in Sweden). The SD now has five seats in
local assemblies. Nevertheless, there has been growing
evidence that despite its protestations to the contrary, the
SD's back-door links with the Skinheads were never actually
broken, or, if broken, have been restored. (Anti-Defamation
 _Vit Rebell_ was founded in 1988 with the help of British
Skinhead leader Ian Stuart. It folded after its publishers
were charged (they were later convicted) with violating
Sweden's anti-racist laws.
Anti-Defamation League. The Skinhead International: A Worldwide
Survey of Neo-Nazi Skinheads. New York: Anti-Defamation League,
1995. Anti-Defamation League, 823 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY