German right-wing extremist youth camp in Sweden

Vi bevakar de största händelserna och sänder live varje dag.
German right-wing extremists have organised a youth camp in the forests of Småland. This is the camp site. The landowners have denied that there is a Sturmvogel banner on their land.
Foto: KVP/EXPRESSEN
The children have traditional hairstyles and wear military-style clothes that bear the red, white and black emblem.
Foto: KVP/EXPRESSEN

SMÅLAND. The red and white banner is adorned with a bird of prey. Standing to attention beneath the banner are the children, all blonde with traditional hairstyles, wearing military-style clothes that bear the red, white and black emblem.

At a given signal they line up, raise the flag and start singing.

It is the end of July 2016 and German right-wing extremists are organising youth camps in southern Sweden. For a week, young children - some barely school age - are drilled at a remote site in the forests of Småland.

Expressen and Expo have documented German organisation Sturmvogel and their week-long summer camp in Sweden.

It is just after 7 am in the Småland forest, miles from the nearest major town.

Children's voices can be heard and, a few minutes later, a group passes really close by us - around 15 children, the oldest aged 15-16, the youngest barely school age. All boys, all dressed the same: shorts and white vests. They are running in single file, with the older children spread out alongside the troop.

On the other side of the road are two large plots of land with a number of buildings on them. Expressen's documentation shows that, via a telephone subscription and prior ownership details, the properties can be linked to a German married couple, the man in his 90s and both of whom are documented as having been leading figures within German right-wing extremism and Nazism for decades.

Traditional, German folk songs

The current owner has the same surname as the previous owners - they still have a telephone in one of the properties. Parked on the site, adjacent to the main building, are several German registered vehicles. A little further down alongside the long, narrow plot, which leads straight into the privacy of the woods, there are more vehicles. Here, further in, the group has set up camp: tents, washing lines, water tanks and dining areas fill the clearing.

Just before 8 am, the place is buzzing with activity. As 8.30 am approaches, everything goes quiet. It is time for morning assembly and, through the trees, we watch as the red, white and black banner is raised. A few loud shouts. Then everything goes quiet again. Suddenly all you can hear is the pleasant sound of children singing. The morning assembly begins with a traditional, German folk song.

Deeply rooted in Nazism

The banner, adorned with the silhouette of a bird of prey, belongs to German organisation Sturmvogel (storm bird). German experts describe Sturmvogel as a German nationalistic youth organisation, deeply rooted in Nazism and Holocaust denial. The organisation was established in 1987 and has personal ties with the Wiking Jugend and Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend (HDJ) organisations, both of which are now banned in Germany. Sturmvogel was started by people who had previously been active members of Wiking Jugend. Children of people who denied the Holocaust - a crime according to German law - are among those who have attended previous camps in Germany.

One example is Swiss national Bernhard Schaub, a known convicted Holocaust denier.

They have kept an extremely low profile for years, and by not drawing attention to themselves, not holding demonstrations and never giving interviews, they have managed to stay under the radar - not least from the German domestic intelligence service (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz), which prohibits Nazi organisations.

In order to find premises and locations in Germany for their regular summer and winter camps, they have posed as an ordinary scout organisation.

Now they are holding a week-long camp in south west Småland, in rural Sweden.

"The most important explanation is that they are trying to hide, to avoid attention from the Swedish Security Service. Other, similar organisations have been banned before and Stormvogel wants to avoid that," says German journalist Andrea Röpke, expert in right-wing extremist child and youth movements in Germany.

No talking

A few days earlier, the group arrived by ferry from Germany to Trelleborg. The journey continued by train to a small rural area of Småland, where the group were met up by several German-registered cars. The destination for the trip, a remote woodland spot, lies another short journey away. When Expressen returns to the site a few days later, the group has set up its tent camp.

Parked on the site are the German-registered cars that transported the campers for the final leg of the journey.

The group concludes its morning assembly, known as an appell. The assembly is very strict - according to German experts, the children must stand still and not talk. From German sources, there are photographs in which children have collapsed during the appell.

After the assembly, the group withdraws into a large, round tent that has been erected right at the back of the site. We hear laughing and talking, then suddenly an adult voice, "Alles Aus!" - "Silence!".

A few minutes later, breakfast is over. Shortly after, the camp is buzzing with activity again.

Strict discipline

The structure at Stormvogel camps usually follows the same routine: after the morning flag ceremony, there are sports, parades and various work projects on the agenda.

The discipline is strict. The clothes and hairstyles are traditional: long skirts and plaits for the girls, green military shirts with an emblem. Non-German words are to be avoided. According to German experts, the organisation is very much a family affair. In a lot of cases, the families have been Nazis for several generations. Traditions from the Third Reich have been in hibernation.

"Nationalist youth education is very important to them and the camps are an important part of that activity," says Andrea Röpke.

There has been a so-called Völkisch movement - a movement that was embraced by Nazism - in Germany, since the end of the 19th century. Today it has a new image, one which commends a traditional lifestyle and distances itself from modern conveniences. Nature romanticism, the outdoor life and traditions are what guides them.

Just before lunch, small groups have made their way out into the surrounding area - in a clearing, a small group of boys about the age of ten collect twigs. A short distance away, a couple of young teenage girls are picking blueberries.

Suddenly a trumpet sounds, and some of the camp's 30-40 attendees run through the forest to yet another parade beneath the red, white and black banner.

Translation: Laura Åkerblom

Youth organisation Sturmvogel

Sturmvogel (German for storm bird) is a German nationalistic youth organisation that is deeply rooted in Nazism and Holocaust denial.

Sturmvogel, founded in 1987 and aimed at children aged 3-18 years. The children come from families who are nationalists and interested in keeping the German heritage pure.

The 2015 summer camp was held in the small village of Grabow, Mecklenburg in northern Germany. One of the roughly 70 children who attended the camp was the son of infamous Holocaust denier Bernhard Schab. The parents of the other children at the camp were active members of the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany.

Several of the adult leaders and workers at the 2015 summer camp were known from other German right-wing extremist and Nazi contexts.

The organisation's roots date back to Wiking Jugend, a nationalistic and right-wing extremist youth organisation in which members were schooled according to Hitler Jugend methods - openly militant and with Nazi characteristics. For a long time, Wiking Jugend was the largest Nazi youth organisation but it was banned as early as 1994. Neo-Nazi youth organisation Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend (HDJ) was active up until 2009. Both of these organisations attracted attention by spreading Nazi propaganda, singing old Nazi songs and having signs that contained images from Hitler's bunker - something that led to them being banned in accordance with the German Constitution.

Sturmvogel was founded in 1987 by former Wiking Jugend stewards. From the outset, the strategy was to lay low and, for a long time, they escaped the watchful eye of the German domestic intelligence service (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz) and the German police. Many of the people who were active in both of the - now banned - youth organisations have, according to German experts, continued their schooling of German nationalist children through Sturmvogel.

Erik Sidenbladh, Anna-Sofia Quensel, Daniel Vergara, Expo


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