NAZIS in Queensland have not died out
completely. But they have become a shadow of their former selves and
exist mostly on the Internet.
The swastika-wearing extremists
are back in the headlines with revelations in The Sunday Mail
last weekend that a National Party candidate in the state election
once mixed with Australian Nazi Party members.
On Friday, the Nationals disendorsed Dan Van Blarcom, running for
the northern seat of Whitsunday, after publication of pictures
showing him as a young man at a meeting in the ACT in 1970 dressed
in Nazi uniform, swastika on his sleeve.
Last weekend, Mr Van
Blarcom told The Sunday Mail he was working in the 1960s as
an undercover security operative for an unnamed organisation. "I was
monitoring their activities," he claimed.
FASCISM THRIVES ON THE INTERNET
NEO-NAZISM has found a new home – cyberspace. Every
imaginable strand of Nazism can be found on the Internet,
whether it's the new Right in Finland, anti-Semitic skinheads
in Britain or that home-grown Australian brand of
Enter an obvious keyword and dozens of web pages
from every corner of the globe will spring to life on your
While some form of far-right-wing organisation
exists in almost every country, the US is the home of cyber
fascism. Its main Nazi organisation, the National Socialist
Movement, is based in Minneapolis and is (using its own words)
"dedicated to the preservation of proud Aryan heritage and the
creation of a national socialist society around the
Says NSM: "We co-operate and work with many
like-minded white nationalist groups, such as the Ku Klux
Klan, Aryan Skinheads, Racial Nationalist Party of America and
many others which are either Nazi or, at least, racially aware
of our Aryan heritage."
The NSM's web page has regular
features, including a homily from "The Commander's Desk". The
commander, Jeff Schoep, entreats "each and everyone of us" to
be made of steel and emulate the deeds of past Aryans.
the website's "frequently asked questions" section, NSM says
it has a strong stance against drugs such as marijuana,
cocaine and LSD and says domestic violence and child abuse
will not and cannot be tolerated. But at the same time, it
slates "overzealous case workers" who bring matters before the
courts in "some sick attempt to destroy as many families as
The NSM has nothing kind to say about
homosexuals and says an instant death penalty would be applied
in a perfect national socialist society.
Nationalist Movement site, promoting Perth-based Jack Van
Tongeren (who has been jailed for hate crimes), describes the
movement thus: "Simple, erect, severe, austere and sublime."
In Australia, the Net, or more precisely e-mail, is
increasingly being used by racist groups to target Jews and
Aborigines, Asians and other non-whites. Anti-Semitic or
anti-Asian e-mails are systematically sent to "target"
addresses on the Net, according to anti-discrimination
To a large degree they have replaced the
swastikas and racist messages scrawled on walls that were once
the trademark of the neo-Nazis.
In Queensland in the 1960s the members of the Australian Nazi
Party would strut their stuff in full public gaze, dressed in
Their favourite haunt was Centennial Park, on the edge of the
Valley in Brisbane.
They would be there every Sunday in Speakers Corner, haranguing
anyone who would listen or being harangued by those who did not want
These public meetings of Hitler's admirers would sometimes come
to a sudden end when the communists – mostly university students –
arrived tearing down the Nazi flags and kicking over the soap boxes.
Like clockwork, waiting police would swoop. The communists would
be arrested and the Nazis would go home to mend their torn uniforms
and battered pride.
In the late 1960s concerted efforts world-wide by neo-Nazi groups
to get Hitler's deputy Rudolph Hess released from Spandau prison
touched off anti-Nazi demonstrations – including a large one in the
Valley where 2000 anti-Nazi demonstrators surrounded a handful of
Police had to rescue the Nazis.
Pantomime-like clashes between the Nazis and the commies went on
for years until Brisbane City Council relocated Speakers Corner to
It signalled the beginning of the end of public appearances by
the Nazis around Brisbane.
Centennial Park was the scene of many a good rumble between the
forces of the far Right and Left in the 1960s.
Back then John Ray, a student at the University of Queensland,
used to watch it all unfold.
Ray, now a retired university lecturer, last week recalled the
scene in Centennial Park.
"It was my regular Sunday entertainment.
"A mate of mine, Alec Barnes, who became quite a famous amateur
photographer, first got me into it.
"We'd go down to the park. He'd capture it all on film and I'd do
verbal battle with the Nazis."
Ray was not a creature of the Left. In fact he was from the Right
and knew many of the Nazis on first-name terms. There weren't,
however, all that many names to remember.
Looking back, Ray reckons it was a miracle there was any
semblance of a party at all.
"Most of them couldn't stand being in the same place together.
There weren't all that many genuine meetings in the real sense of
the word . . . most meetings I remember were staged for
filming purposes," says Ray.
Ray never belonged to the Nazi Party. He had good reason to take
in everything that was said and done.
Ray reported regularly to Queensland's then-special branch – the
organisation within the police force that kept watch on so-called
"And they paid me for it," says Ray.
According to Ray the special branch was largely made up of
Democratic Labor Party sympathisers, policemen who despised the
communists. The exception was Don Lane, known affectionately as
Shady Lane. Lane later became a minister in the Bjelke-Petersen
National Party government and subsequently was jailed in the wake of
the Fitzgerald corruption commission.
Ray says Lane was seen as "a leftie" in the very right-wing
He says it is difficult to accurately remember back 30 years or
more but some names of those closely associated with the Nazi Party
do spring to mind.
"There was one bloke called Chris who was a leading light and
another called Doug who looked a bit like Charles Manson. There was
also a curious fellow called Bondu who was Bangladeshi – and even
though the Nazis promoted white supremacy they accepted Bondu as a
Perhaps one of the most publicly identifiable Nazis was a
tough-looking shaven-head character Ross "The Skull" May. May, who
almost always appeared in a stormtrooper's uniform, turned up often
at rallies in Brisbane and Sydney and was not averse to intimidating
left-wing protesters. In the early 1970s he was sent to jail for
bashing a journalist.
As the 1980s rolled on, May and fellow Nazi Robert Cameron formed
the National Front.
The Skull was last publicly prominent in 1999 when he appeared at
a protest meeting organised by the Greens in Sydney, protesting over
a development project.
The old Nazi Party had many members who were memorable.
John Ray recalls one young man named Martyn Harper whom he
believed was an active member of the Nazi Party.
"That's news to me," an emphatic Martyn Harper told The Sunday
Mail last week.
Harper, a chiropractor at Ipswich, said: "John needs to get his
facts straight. I never was a member of the Nazi Party."
Martyn Harper readily admits he took a deal of interest in the
Nazis. But he says he also closely followed the anarchists and to a
lesser extent the socialists.
"I was interested in every facet of politics in Australia. I
remember once in the Domain in Sydney getting up and publicly
spruiking in favour of the Muslims."
One thing Martyn Harper and John Ray both agree on is the
assessment that the Nazis never were a party in the real sense of
Says Harper: "There was a book written in the early '70s called
something like Everyone Wants to be The Fuehrer and that
pretty much summed up the Nazis in Queensland – so many splinter
By the mid 1990s – apart from some graffiti attacks on Jewish
properties – the Nazis had virtually vanished.
There were a number of vicious racially based physical attacks on
Aborigines and Asians in the mid 1990s but they were probably the
work of "Romper Stomper" skinheads rather than any of the old-style
Dr Andrew Bonnell of Queensland University's history department –
who specialises in studying the evolution of right-wing political
groups in Australia and Europe – says the tendency for "splits" in
the ranks has prevented any significant development of a Nazi Party
Says Dr Bonnell: "By the 1970s, most right wingers in Australia
realised there was little likely political success to be gained by
going around in Nazi drag."
Dr Bonnell says present-day Nazis in Queensland at least seem
reluctant to make public appearances – preferring instead to push
their views under the cloak of anonymity offered by the Internet.
Certainly the Internet is home to an increasing number of rabid
"It's a bit hard to say how much of it is hard-core Nazism or how
much of it is adolescents letting off steam," he says.
Splinter neo-Nazi groups like "Stormfront" and "White Ayrian
Resistance" had websites which advocated patently Nazi notions. But
it was unlikely the websites represented any more than a handful of
people in Australia, Dr Bonnell said.
He says most of the real Nazis and their sympathisers are dead or
so old they don't matter.
Security agencies seem to have little beyond passing interest in
the Nazis these days.
A Queensland police spokesman told The Sunday Mail that
the Nazi Party was regarded as posing a very low threat to anyone.
Even Jewish organisations which watch the activities of racist,
right-wing pseudo-political groups say activity by the Nazi Party
seems to have dropped off.
As Martyn Harper put it last week: "I think it'd be best for
everyone if all the Nazis just passed away."