"Und morgen schon tot"
And tomorrow already dead
SPIEGEL editor Clemens Höges about neo-Nazis, adventurer and madmen in the Croatian army
Peacefully the swastika waves above Klek. The sun rises, from the requisitioned bar below at the dock quietly penetrates "Lili Marleen", the favorite song of the unit Ćikago in the Croatian version with the machine gun salvo at the beginning. A new street sign hangs on the confiscated Serb villa diagonally over the way: the centre of the bathing resort was named "Rudolf-Hess-Platz" by the squad. On the balcony of Ćikago's headquarters underpants flap on the rope, besides the German imperial war flag and the Croatian flag. In the shadow stands the battered and painted troop carrier with the peace sign on the door. This is thier "Peacemaker", the soldiers tease.
Ćikago, 32, returned exile Croat from the USA, winks in the sun and tilts his first water glass full of gin because he had nothing else for breakfast. "I am a Nazi", he says, "I am not interested in politics."
He wears black, only his gun belt is green. This should remain in such a way, as long as one more Serb stands in his country: "What they have done to us, we will never forget." On radio the Serbs offered the equivalent of 100,000 DM for Ćikago's head.
Major Tomislav Madi, alias Ćikago has three principles. First two he reveals: "We appear from behind." And: "We have never made prisoners."
The third principle: If needed he uses his squad of about 35 mostly youthful lunatics as cannon fodder. His raiding patrol laughingly attacks hostile positions like a herd of mine-detecting dogs, and if the young men go down, the real military knows where the Serbs sit. Disposable soldiers with more courage than skills.
Their commune of children between Split and Dubrovnik bristles with weapons. In each case in a group of four or five they live in formerly Serbian houses. On beds guns and magazines pile up, bandoleers hang on coat-hangers, grenades stand in shelves.
The front meanders about 15 kilometres inland through the jagged mountains. The Croatian guerrillas mostly operate in Bosnian area. They belong to the right wing HOS militia of the Croatian nationalist Dobroslav Paraga (see interview page 246) and at the same time to the regular Croatian army since some weeks.
Since one year the group Ćikago's fights, eight were killed up to now and twelve were injured. However, no survivor thinks that he could be hit. They are all immortal, until the next raiding patrol. As with other units the rows are willingly replenished with neo-Nazis from all countries.
Nicolas, a French-German from Berlin, was caught by a bullet from a distance of five metres when Ćikago let his boys attack an artillery position in a Bosnian village. Now neo-Nazi Nicolas lies in the hospital of Zagreb.
As usual Nicolas filmed the attack with his small Sony video camera, which he usually strapped on the front of the Kalashnikov. Ducked they crept to the little wall. Movielike Nicolas crossed over as first. That was what the Chetnik had waited for in the house. He pulled the trigger once shortly.
Nicolas immediately regained consciousness and noted that the "arm hung flabby around like a sausage" and blood spurted from the bullet hole. Then also Christof jumped over the wall already. He wanted to save the video camera. In the meantime the Chetnik had changed the lever of his assault rifle to full automatic. Nicolas saw "like the chain of impacts headed to Christof's leg."
Seriously injured both figures from a shooting gallery could bring themselves in cover, however the Serbs have the video camera and the cassette.
Only two of the followers of Küssel risked it. The first one, Thomas Hainke from Bielefeld, 24, has "conquered" some "Chetnik positions" near Osijek. Most time, however, he crouched in the cellars above which the houses were just shot away.
There the neo-Nazi learnt that he is "no Rambo type" that the Croats like the Germans, "above all Hitler and Genscher", and that "in Croatia it is about the whole white race, Aryans against subhumans", even if the Serbs are just as white as the Croats. Then Hainke went back to Germany.
The Croats carry swastikas, SS runes and other Nazi junk primarily to impress the girls and to annoy the Serbs. The hit is a T-shirt which shows Hitler as a popstar. Above the portrait stands "European Tour", under it "1939 - 45" and on the back the tour stations like "Stalingrad" and "Tobruk".
For money they did not come; the pay in the HOS militia is about 130 DM in a month. Neo-Nazi Jaffa was drawn to Croatia because he thinks the HOS leader Paraga is the "reincarnation of Hitler": "Croatia could become the first national socialist country after Germany."
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE,
Tuesday, April 5, 1994, Page 1,
Germans, Austrians recruited
NEO-NAZIS HELP CROATIANS IN BOSNIA
by Eric Geiger, Chronicle Foreign Service
When wars approach their end - as the one in Bosnia sporadically appears to be doing - ugly matters that have been submerged from public view tend to float to the surface.
One such matter in Bosnia is the role that hundreds of Austrian and German neo-Nazis mercenaries have played in the 23-month-old conflict, Europe's bloodies since WWII.
The neo-Nazis, recruited for Croatian extreme-rightist irregular militias and paramilitary forces, may finally be out of work if the current Croat-Muslim truce holds. But the foreigners' legacy of brutality will not soon be forgotten by their battle-field foes and civilian victims... ... ...
Underground neo-Nazi publications in both Germany and Austria published fervent appeals for volunteers "to help out Croatian comrades in defense of the white race". A similar appeal was run by the German periodical Der Freiwillige (The Volunteer), the official organ of HIAS, the legally incorporated mutual aid Association of Veterans of the Waffen SS.
Hundreds of skinheads and neo-Nazis in both countries - including many sought by the police for variety of offenses - reportedly responded to the appeal, designed chiefly to woo volunteers for the rightist Croat militia HOS, led by Dobroslav Paraga...
Volunteers sent back glowing reports about their enthusiastic reception in Bosnia by their comrades-in-arms of the HOS, a welcome complete with "Heil Hitler" salutes and the waving of swastika flags. Some also found their way to regular paramilitary units of the Bosnian Croat army and were accorded an equally warm welcome. ...Most of German speaking volunteers in Bosnia, however, are not remorseful. A young Austrian neo-Nazi recently on brief "home leave from the Bosnian front" was quoted by newspapers as saying that German speaking mercenaries - paid $60 a month - have often been involved in "ethnic cleansing operations"... ... "Our job actually is quite simple," the youth said. "After regular Croat militiamen capture a village, they earmark houses of Serbs... for us so we can loot and destroy them." He said the swaggering German-speaking mercenaries generally have an image among the Bosnian Croats as exceptionally tough and merciless - "a sort of new German SS" - and for that reason are often given dirty, dangerous assignments.
THE NEW ORDER (American Nazi periodical. It has American flag to the left of the title of the magazine and swastika inside "O" of the word "ORDER"), Front page article January/February 1993, (#104):
National Socialist volunteers from France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Hungary, England, Austria and other countries are fighting in an openly National Socialist in Croatia...
The NSDAP/AO recently received combat footage from this unit. It was aired on the NSDAP/AO sponsored public access television program "Race and Reason" on October 30th and November 6th. The following is an article by the French National Socialist volunteer Michael Faci:
"In France we are a team of "old" National Soicialists who were members of "Ordre Nouveau", F.A.N.E., etc... As it is nearly impossible for us to engage in openly National Socialist political activity in France, we have specialized ourselves for foreign paramilitary action... Then came the possibility to help the Croatian people against the Serbo-Communist aggressor... The head office of the HOS sent us along with some French volunteers to Vinkovci...
Our assignment was to hold village of Komletinci, the very first point of Croatian defense in front of Vukovar... On the morning of December 19th we were attacked by nearly 1200 Serbo-Communists. But they did not know that we have asked for - and received - six T-55 tanks the previous night! Our tanks counterattacked and droved off the Serbs who lost 17 dead....
I think it was the first National Socialist tank attack since April 1945!
FUHRER-EX, Memoirs of a Former Neo-Nazi by Ingo Hasselbach with Tom Reiss
Chatto and Windus, London, 1996.
IN THE SPRING of 1991, the civil war in Croatia began. The Movement saw it as the perfect chance to give those who wanted it real experience killing people. Moreover, there was a historical tie: during World War II Nazi Germany had played an active role in Yugoslav ethnic politics; the Nazis had supported a puppet dictatorship in Croatia, the Ustashe, that had built concentration camps in which mostly Serbs but also Jews were killed.
The current government in Croatia was reviving the tradition of the Ustashe and in many other ways honoring the former Fascists. Units of the Croatian Army were flying swastika flags, and many more were flying the old Croatian Fascist symbol. Croatia had become the first European government since World War II to openly embrace these symbols.
The effort to organize young German neo-Nazis and send them to Croatia to fight and kill for the Ustashe - as the SS had once done - was organized largely by the Movement representatives in Hesse, Bavaria, and-for logistical reasons, as it was directly on the border with Yugoslavia-Austria. The main man in charge in Germany was Nero Reisz. He organized transport and took care that everyone got uniforms and weapons. Then Michel Faci and his right-hand man, Nikolas, organized most of the Croatian neo-Nazi units, training both young Croatians and Germans who'd come down for the ride. Faci trained Croatians as young as ten years old to kill "Communists" while teaching them the basics of Nazism. With his childish antics, he is good at making murder seem like a game.
The neo-Nazis mostly fought independently from other units, as a legionnaire corps. But they received arms and ammunition, even tanks, from the Croatians.
From what I heard from men who came back, they fought against Serbs but also against Bosnian Muslims, even though the Muslims had been in the SS during World War II. They simply fought against whomever they could get an excuse to kill. They kept track of how many Serbs they killed and tried to collect per-body pay from the Croatians, but they actually got hardly anything, apart from invaluable experience.
I NEVER WENT down there. Personally, I wouldn't have gone to Croatia for anything in the world. I saw no reason to risk my neck for another nation. I was only interested in the potential of getting battle-hardened recruits back from the front. The actual fight in Yugoslavia didn't interest me.
So I organized paramilitary camps and helped provide training, tested the recruits with the help of a few sympathetic people from the Bundeswehr. There was a lot of physical training-jogging, crawling, scaling. Recruits learned how to use firearms and how to dismantle, clean, and reassemble them. There was explosives training and practice in throwing grenades and using bazookas. We modeled our course on Bundeswehr training exercises and what we could piece together about the old Waffen SS training with the help of training manuals and the memories of our retired SS supporters. But the basic source for our training was the West German Federal Army.
Tags: neonazi, nazi, hos, croatia, croatian, army, tudjman, pavelic, hitler, nato, fascism, ustasha, ustashe, war, lili marleen, arms, 1992, yugoslavia
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