FÜHRER-EX by Ingo Hasselbach


Memoirs of a Former Neo-Nazi
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 A profoundly disturbing yet ultimately hopeful story of a young man's passage through the heart of darkness. Hasselbach was once considered the golden hope of the neo-Nazi movement in East Germany. Standing over six feet with blue eyes and blond hair, he was the perfect ``Aryan.'' According to Hasselbach, as a young man in the GDR, he was repulsed by the arbitrary power and intimidation of the state. This, along with an ambivalent relationship with his father (a radio announcer considered ``the voice of the GDR'') and an abusive relationship with his stepfather, combined to foster a tremendous feeling of resentment against all symbols of authority, especially the state. Here are some subtle insights into the nature of rebellion and hatred. He came to see the neo-Nazi movement as the only available means to protest against the state. And in that movement, Hasselbach found the solidarity and community missing in both his family and East German society. Some of Hasselbach's revelations are shocking: He writes, for example, that in unified Germany, right-wing terrorists received more lenient treatment than left-wing terrorists; he reports on the well-coordinated international network of neo-Nazis (including the American movement); and, perhaps most provocatively, he notes the connection between neo-Nazism, homosexuality, and the S&M scene. The cast of characters in this real-life bildungsroman is indeed fascinating and horrifying, from sadistic youths to little old ladies demanding more desecrations of Jewish cemeteries. Eventually, Hasselbach recognized ``the psychological horror at the heart of everything we did'' and broke with the movement. Then, hunted down and marked for death by his ex-colleagues for his ``treachery,'' Hasselbach struggled to convince the authorities, the public, and his former enemies on the Left that his conversion was sincere. An ominous look into contemporary German society that reveals a thriving neo-Nazi ideology. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-679-43825-4
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1995


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