BERLIN (JTA) — A German anti-Nazi organization distributed so-called "Trojan" T-shirts aimed at fooling neo-Nazis at a right-wing summer concert in the former East German state of Thuringia.
Upon washing, the skull-and-cross-bone design disappears, to be replaced by the slogan "What your T-shirt can do, you can do" and an offer of assistance from the Exit organization to help the wearer break ties with the far right.
A former neo-Nazi now working with Exit told the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that new, creative and humorous methods were necessary to reach people caught up in the far-right scene.
"The neo-Nazi PR is constantly changing, so we have to react sometimes in this way," rather than only organizing counter-demonstrations, the Exit member, who remained anonymous, said.
The T-shirt is the latest of several similar projects in Germany aimed at reaching neo-Nazis through fashion. Experts say neo-Nazis are moving away from the once-typical symbols of skulls, old German lettering and references to nationalism, but they continue to gravitate toward particular brands as a way of recognizing fellow travelers.
Another watchdog organization, Endstation Rechts, or “Last Stop for the Right,” developed a satirical answer to neo-Nazi fashion: Storch Heinar – symbolized by a stork laying an egg, plays with the Thor Steinar brand name that is popular among some neo-Nazis. The satirical tee was introduced in 2008. Products may be ordered online.
“We did it mostly to give people a chance to laugh at Nazis … but we also inform people about the strategies” of the extreme right wingers, Julian Barlen, a co-founder of Endstation Rechts, told JTA in a recent interview.
His group is based in the former East German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where the right-wing extremist National Democratic Party of Germany has six seats in the state parliament.
The group also produced a satirical handbook, called “Mein Krampf,” or “My Cramp,” a play on the title of Adolf Hitler’s manifesto “Mein Kampf,” which is banned in Germany. The handbook gives an overview of developments on the neo-Nazi scene.