Eyes wide open. On repression and nazis “on holiday”

Who were the four characters inside the minivan stormed in Via Bixio during the “Casapound Not Welcome” protest of May 21st? It is not a superficial question, especially if 13 comrades have been placed under pre-trial detention orders or house arrests for assaulting and damaging that minivan

Both Casapound and the mainstream press (who obviously does not go beyond pushing forward the fascist, police and judiciary convenient versions) rushed themselves in demoting this episode to a moment of meaningless violence, an act of uncalled vandalism probably dictated by the excessive tension brought into the hearth of the capital city by the neofascist parade. It is use to recall that this parade was authorized, endorsed and protected by that same commissarial city administration – in concert with Police Office – which closed the antifascists in Piazzale Esquilino and authorized Casapound to hold a concert in front of the Colosseum, with a side dish of roman salutes and nostalgic slips live on tv.

However, shedding light onto the passengers of the van in Via Bixio not only allows us to tell the truth, but also to pose questions about the disturbing connections between Casapound and the German neonazi scene.

Indeed, Jan Weissberg, Andreas Gaus, Sven Goehner and Robert Kempeter are not just four friends with a lot of tattoos on a holiday trip in Rome: the information coming from Germany paints a much more complex profile. Coming from the region of Ostwestfalen – Lippe, Land Nordrehin-Westfalen, all four of them are prominent figures in the musical and underground far-right scene and under the radars of both the antifascist movement and the Polizei investigation services since a long time. Well known all around Germany, they all have been part of a biker gang (Road Crew Ostwestfalen) and of several music bands. Particularly, Andrea Gaus and Jan Weissberg turned out to be the owner of the gang old base: an old abandoned train station in the Lage Kachtenhausen area, as shown in this article.

Local newspapers, namely Neue Westfalische and Lippische Landes – Zeitung, have shown interests in their activities. Just a year before the hazardous manoeuvre on the sidelines of the antifascist parade in Rome, the Road Crew OWL was under the spotlights of the Land debate about negationism and far-right activities, in particular about that same base run by Gaus and Weissberg.

Both newspapers reported the interests of German security agencies on the activities of this circuit, as well as the protests of civil society against the group’s activities. In particular, we recommend these articles:

200 Lagenser planen Protest gegen “Road Crew OWL”

Widerstand gegen rechtsextreme “Road Crew OWL” wächst

Rechtsextreme Road Crew hat einen neuen Treffpunkt in Lage

Indeed, a number of projects (not only about music) revolve around the bikers’ crew and the names of the “random tourists”. Gauss and Goehner played in music bands such as Knock Out and Sleipnir. The latest, born around the figure of Marco Bartsch (coming from the same region), is clearly far-right lined up without ambiguity, with lyrics and iconography recalling for a Wilhelminian Reich’s nostalgia, a boorish xenophobia and identity nationalism. But it’s not all about music. A name pops out, not onboard of the van at the centre of the investigations of Rome’s DIGOS (Divisione Investigazioni Generali e Operazioni Speciali – General Investigations and Special Operations Division. A special operational division of State Police charged with investigating on terrorism, organized crime, and with a constant eye on the evolution of social unrest and political underground movements – ndt) but very active in the homeland nazi bikers’ circuit: Bodo Greweling. In a previous police operation, he was found in possession of 6.5kg of explosives together with propaganda materials.

These few lines were written to highlight two simple things. The first, is that the Police Office’s choice (and therefore the media’s) to uphold the thesis of the random tourists on holiday victims of a brutal aggression not only does not stand up, but it is an index of the limited investigatory capability and public order management of the Office itself. Indeed, the news we report have been found after only few hours on the internet starting from the names of the neo-nazis onboard the stormed van. The second, is that the authorized, endorsed and protected by police forces Casapound parade of 21st May 2016 was not an ordinary political convention but an international rally filled with nostalgic and negationist neofascists.

Traduzione di Michele Fazioli per DINAMOpress