The extreme right scene in Spain. Part I: Neo-Nazis in Malaga

By Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH Pro Igual 

This article is part of the series of blogs investigating connection between the neo-Nazi movement and hate crimes in Spain.

As discussed in the earlier articles of this series (see here and here), many high-ranking Nazis fleeing criminal prosecution after the WWII found a safe refuge and a new home on the Spanish shores. Malaga was one of the most important destinations for Nazi fugitives.

In Marbella (the province of Malaga), Nazis enjoyed personal support and protection of Honorary Consul Hans Hoffmann, a former Gestapo official and a suspected Nazi spy. “Juanito Hoffmann,” the nickname under which he was known around, owned vast amounts of land which he used during one of the past Spanish property booms to amass a great fortune. Remarkably, decades later, the Hoffmann´s son – a lawyer and legal administrator of various companies – would be one of the major figures implicated in the Marbella corruption case.

The Hoffmann´s empire provided a safety net to hundreds of fugitive Nazis, including notorious Leon Degrelle and Otto Ernst Remmer who lived undisturbed in Spain until their natural deaths. Another high-profile Nazi and Holocaust denier finding a safe haven in Malaga was Gerd Honsik. He was arrested only in 2007 after the previous request for his extradition to Austria, in 1995, was rejected on grounds of possible “double jeopardy” (sic).

That cozy existence under the Spanish sun was interrupted by the international hunt for Dr. Death (Aribert Heim), which uncovered scores of the former Nazis hiding in Spain. By then the damage had been done: the decades of unfettered influence from the “old guard” turned Malaga, along with select other areas, into a fertile breeding ground for neo-Nazis and extreme right groups of all sorts.

According to a Spanish Daily Malaga Today (Malagahoy.es), citing the police officials, growing numbers of young people have been joining neo-Nazi ranks in that Andalusian province in recent years. The largest concentrations are estimated in the poorer working class neighborhoods of Carretera de Cadiz and Nueva Malaga. In addition, Fuengirola in the province of Malaga is considered the skinhead “hard nucleus” and one of the preferred hangouts for neo-Nazi leaders from all over the country.

They (the youth – Pro Igual) are genuinely brainwashed; it starts with the adoption of philosophy of total nullity of one´s own personality … and continues with the distribution of pamphlets and literature about past Nazi leaders, and even conferences with the former officials of the Third Reich who had settled in the Costa del Sol (Malaga).

However, according to the UJCE:

the presence of the extreme right is not limited to organized groups demonstrating around the city, but even at the University there is a notable increase of proponents of (the Nazi) ideology who insult and bully students belonging to the left-leaning associations.

In 2011, the Malaga section of the Communist Party (PCA) complained of the ongoing harassment and even physical attacks on its members by neo-Nazi groups. The PCA in addition claimed that the police did not always adequately respond to the neo-Nazi demonstrations and assaults on opponents. Here is a video, courtesy of Alerta 112, which shows a striking contrast between a timid and pacifist attitude of the police vis-a-vis an aggressive and unapologetic behavior of the skinheads.

Particular notoriety was gained by a row between the neo-Nazis and leftist youths that took place during the Feria de Malaga (an annual Spring festival) in 2011. Following the demonstration of the National Alliance (an extreme right organization), about 40 skinheads carrying neo-Nazi attributes surrounded the PCA office in an attempt to provoke a fight. Fortunately, violence was averted by the prompt arrival of the police. However, captured on video, the row shows how easily combustible the situation is, with tensions running high among the extremist youths. Against the background of an ongoing economic crisis gripping Spain and leaving nearly half of the young people aged 18-25 jobless and hopeless, such incidents are disturbingly reminiscent of the Germany of the late 1920s.

Continuing with the series, in the following weeks we will publish articles probing the neo-Nazi scene in other Spanish regions: Valencia and Madrid.