Arrest of German Neo-Nazi Reveals Growing Internationalization of 'White Power' Music Scene
"Free Hendrik Möbus!"
Those three words appeared as a banner headline last October on radical right-wing web sites around the United States and abroad. Click on the banner, and you learn a little bit more: "Hendrik Möbus of the black metal band Absurd sits in jail with no way to speak to the outside world. He served his sentence for murder, but now his right to free speech makes him an international criminal."
The original banner, along with an invitation to sympathizers to reproduce it on their own web sites, appears on the home page of Resistance Records, a white power music label controlled by William Pierce, the leader of America's premiere neo-Nazi group — the National Alliance.
Pierce's propaganda campaign on behalf of Möbus, 24, along with his raising money to foot the bill for Möbus' legal fees, is virtually unprecedented in Alliance history.
Although many members and allies of the National Alliance have gotten into serious trouble with the law, none of them have enjoyed this kind of heroic treatment by Pierce.
So who is Hendrik Möbus? And why is Pierce so interested?
Hendrik Albert Viktor Möbus was arrested last Aug. 26 outside a restaurant about 20 miles from the Hillsboro, W. Va., headquarters of the Alliance, on an international arrest warrant issued in Germany. Möbus, a German citizen, was wanted for violating the terms of his parole in a 1993 murder by publicly mocking and demeaning his victim and by giving a "sieg heil" salute, both actions illegal under strict German laws. He is also accused of organizing radical groups.
Pierce has framed his advocacy for Möbus as a defense of free speech, pointing out that Möbus' offending comments would have been perfectly legal under U.S. laws.
But Pierce's real interest in Möbus — who stayed as Pierce's guest for 10 weeks until his arrest — appears to be something quite different.
Möbus, a key player on the "national socialist black metal" (NSBM) music scene in Europe, was helping Pierce establish a worldwide empire of "hatecore" music — a racist genre that is producing millions of dollars in profits. More importantly, perhaps, the music is effectively bringing new recruits into the neo-Nazi movement.
Music, Money and Möbus
Whether or not Pierce knew he was harboring an international fugitive — and despite his and his lawyer's denials, it seems clear that Pierce did know — the saga of Hendrik Möbus is an important one.
It reflects the international nature of the white power music scene, the interest of the National Alliance in becoming a world leader in selling its music, and — if reports of a savage beating that Möbus allegedly suffered in Virginia are to be believed — the increasingly violent and criminal nature of the lucrative business of white power music.
Already, in several European countries where such music is illegal, serious violence has been reported in association with control of this highly profitable business. A similar situation may now be developing here.
In Europe, Interpol said in a report released last year that the manufacture, distribution and sale of neo-Nazi music has become a $3.4 million-a-year criminal enterprise.
Increasingly, racist CDs are bootlegged by criminal entrepreneurs, meaning no taxes, band royalties or record company markups are ever deducted — a situation that has lifted profit margins to the high heavens. With CDs costing underground bootleggers about $2 apiece to produce, Interpol said profit margins are better than for selling hashish.
The Möbus case also throws a spotlight on the strange world where neo-Nazism, racist neo-Paganism and strands of Satanism converge — a world peopled by both European and American extremists, many of them musicians. In a variety of ways, this ideological brew is the force driving the NSBM scene today.
On the evening of April 29, 1993, 17-year-old Hendrik Möbus and two other teenagers — all members of the black metal band Absurd — took a 14-year-old boy with whom they had quarreled earlier into the forest near Sondershausen, in the former East Germany.
Earlier, according to a book by two German journalists, Satanskinder("Satan's Children"), Möbus had sent a message, partly in stilted English, to his victim, Sandro Beyer: "The hell come to your home. You will die. Sathan [sic] awaits! Stay away from us you whimp [sic] and poser!"
Using a mutual female friend as bait, Möbus and the others lured Beyer to a cabin owned by Möbus' father. Once inside, one of Möbus' confederates used an electrical cord to begin strangling Beyer. When Beyer tried to scream for help, Möbus began to stab him, Satanskinder recounts.
It was only then, the book says, that the attackers decided they couldn't let Beyer go, despite his pleas and promises to tell no one — after all, they reasoned, Beyer would almost surely report Möbus' knife wound to his stomach.
Beyer was tied to a chair, and Möbus then reportedly held his legs while the two other teenagers finished strangling the boy.
The case produced an uproar in the German press, which carried lurid accounts of the murder and the other exploits of the members of Absurd, allegedly including Satanic "baptism" ceremonies in an abandoned quarry. Black metal, a particularly violent and often fascistic form of "extreme music," was explored in great detail.
The similarities to a case in Norway, where black metal legend Varg Vikernes was also imprisoned for murder and for helping to set off a series of anti-Christian arsons that left some 40 churches burned in the 1990s, were laid out for the public.
For their part, the killers offered little explanation for the murder until long after the trial, beyond the words of one of them: "He had to go."
Murder as a 'Beneficial Act'
Möbus was sentenced to eight years in a juvenile facility, where he managed to produce increasingly harsh and political music, growing into a kind of icon on the German neo-Nazi and NSBM scenes. In a 1997 interview in the book Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground, Möbus expounded on what the book's authors described as his "esoteric racialist mysticism."
"National Socialism is the most perfect synthesis of the Luciferian will-to-power, and neo-heathen principles & symbolism," Möbus told the interviewer for Lords of Chaos.
"If 'Aryan' stands for the noble, the illuminated creative power of the White, then 'Jewish' means just the opposite."
And then he spoke of his victim — "leftist faggot" Sandro Beyer.
"On the 29th of April, 1993, we wanted to clear up the 'Sandro problem' — and we did, albeit rather gruesomely. ... I can say we unconsciously imitated an archaic sacrificial rite: first Sandro was hit with a knife, then strangled, and after that buried in the earth."
Did Möbus have any regrets? "[E]very passing second a human dies, so there's no need to make a big fuss of this one kill."
Möbus made similar remarks elsewhere. "We always had the idea to break the 'taboo' of 'Thou Shalt Not Kill,'" he told the e-zine Mourning the Ancient. "Sandro B. was an utterly irritating guy who became a pain in the ass after a while. He has [sic] spread rumors and bullshit about ourselves, something we couldn't stand any longer. ...
"I say, it simply was a beneficial act for mankind."