I am thrilled to be able to tap into new archives through the HVK Fellowship to dissect how the shared struggle for the white race in West Germany and the United States has affected right-wing extremist fraternisation, mobilisation, and violence since the 1960s.

Annelotte Janse

Historian Annelotte Janse received a Hofvijverkring Fellowship to do research in various American archives for three months. The Fellowship gives her the opportunity to elucidate the seeming paradox of international cooperation between avowedly ultra-nationalist actors, a paradox of all times. This will enrich Annelotte’s dissertation on the internationalisation of right-wing extremism since the 1960s until 2000, seen from the perspectives of West German and American actors.

International nationalists?

Why do avowedly nationalist groups and politicians cooperate internationally? Throughout recent history, right-wing extremists have united over concerns vis-à-vis progressive politics, the effects of globalisation and modernisation, and migration flows. By deconstructing the apparent paradox of an Internationale of ultra-nationalists, Annelotte demonstrates that even though mechanisms for extremist networking have expanded through technological revolutions, the purposes have always remained the same: to legitimate and advance agendas of exclusion and hate on the premise of ‘white security’. But little has been written about the ‘nuts and bolts’ of organising the shared struggle for the white race.

German-American networks of hate

The Hofvijverkring Fellowship will enable Annelotte to expand her scope beyond the case of West Germany in order to answer that question, and include the use of archival resources on the American side of German-American right-wing extremist networks.

German extremists repeatedly and extensively visited their counterparts in the U.S., and they were proud to mention this to their followers back home, as a token of their international reputation. But even though these German trips overseas are well-known, the influence of such networks on the international development of right-wing extremism has remained unknown.

“During the first years of my PhD research, I discovered that many German right-wing extremists looked to America as an example and source of inspiration. But it is difficult to gauge American reactions to this interest from German sources,” Annelotte explains.

The study of new archival material can thus illuminate the how and why of emerging alliances between American and German extremists. Why did American extremists form alliances with their German counterparts, what contextual factors facilitated or blocked transatlantic visits and cooperation, and what shared ideals and enemy images fuelled these endeavours? To what extent were German neo-Nazis living in America involved in brokering international contact? “I want to investigate these issues more thoroughly, but that is impossible with German sources exclusively.”

Right-wing extremism from a new, transnational perspective

Thanks to the Hofvijverkring Fellowship, Annelotte now has the opportunity to analyse and answer these questions for her PhD research project that maps the internationalisation of (West) German right-wing extremism. During the Fellowship, she will visit four different archives in the U.S., where both archival and personal collections of prominent American right-wing extremist leaders and groups are preserved. “These collections not only contain a wealth of documents produced by and for the American right-wing extremist scene, but also personal correspondence between various right-wing extremists, a unique type of source when it comes to right-wing extremists who engaged in clandestine activities.” By combining these sources with German sources, Annelotte looks at the international fraternisation of two right-wing extremist scenes from a new, transnational perspective and makes clear how the international spread of right-wing extremism both required and inspired mutual cooperation.

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