Earlier this year, the Danish anti-fascist collective Redox turned 15 years old. The Varis network reached out for an interview about their work and the recent state of politics in Denmark.
Hello, and congratulations to your 15th anniversary as a journalist collective investigating the far-right in Denmark! Our readers in Finland are perhaps not that familiar with Redox, so is this an accurate description or how you would describe yourselves?
Redox is a left-wing anti-fascist research collective. We research the activities and structures of the radical right-wing and publish the results of our research mainly in form of articles but also in larger reports, books and podcasts.
We are anti-fascists who use journalism and the media as our tools. Stopping the radical right-wing requires many different tools used in various ways – we are just one of them.
Why did you found independent group for investigating and writing about far-right instead of doing this work inside political group that also does other kind of anti-fascism? Is there some good or bad sides to organize independently from other political work as you have done? Does this for example make it easier to work with mainstream media etc.?
To us it was the right decision. Copenhagen had several groups doing different types of anti-fascism, all of them specialized in their parts. To us it made sense to make a separate group to focus solely on one part of anti-fascism: The research and documentation. There was not a big strategic motive behind the decision, but later we found out, that it perhaps had made it easier to do collaborations with mainstream media. For us the prime goal was to have a group with enough resources and activist power to keep up with the many right-wing groups at the time.
The research work is very time consuming and demands patience and dedication to achieve your goals, and we think that became easier because our group only had that one focus. If we also had to plan demonstrations or other types of activities it would take focus, time and resources from our main area of expertise. But even though we are our own organization we’ve always had relations to other antifascist and anti-racist groups and networks. We’re just a part of a larger movement.
Can you tell our readers shortly about your origins, how you were founded and how your work has changed during these years?
Redox was founded during the winter of 2005-2006 by younger activists from the anti-fascist movement. The name Redox is a contraction of “research” and “documentation”. Our webpage Redox.dk was launched in February of 2006. During the summer of 2006 our first major headlines were published, when we helped one of the larger newspapers, Ekstrabladet, to reveal the leadership of the neo-Nazi network called Dansk Front.
In 2007 we published a book called ‘Postboks 38’ concerning the production of Nazi music, clothing and merchandise in Northern Europe. The book was created in a collaboration with research groups from Norway, Sweden and Germany and is still available in public libraries all over Denmark. The following year we published a report called ‘Århus ‘08’ on the far right in Aarhus (the second largest city in Denmark). The report led to massive media coverage. During these early years of Redox we had a close relation to several media in Denmark who often used us as a source when covering the far-right.
Early in 2010 the Danish intelligence service launched a major operation targeting the anti-fascist movement in Copenhagen here among us. Two members were put in custody and charged with terrorism, hacking and violence targeting Nazis. The case dragged on, but was decided in 2013 by the city court. Three persons were acquitted, three people received two months probation for possession of hacked information and one person received five months probation for possession of hacked information, complicity to violence against a group of Nazis as well as vandalism and illegal possession of weapons. The terror charge was never a part of the court case.
In 2010 we closely followed the publication of Charlotte Johannsens book ‘Forklædt som nazist’ (“In disguise as a Nazi”). In collaboration with us she had infiltrated the Nazi hooligan environment around the group White Pride in Aarhus and subsequently wrote a book in collaboration with two newspaper journalists. This led to extensive media attention and dramatically weakened the Nazi environment in Aarhus.
In 2011, we interrupted everything that was called summer vacation, when Anders Behring Breivik murdered 77 people in Norway. The following weeks we struggled to answer all the press inquiries, while putting the final touches on a report about the secret lodge called ORG. The report revealed a secretive network that for more than three decades operated behind the scenes of the far right in Denmark and actually served as shadow leadership for many right-wing radical organizations and projects. A month after the publication of the ORG-Report our webpage was closed by the Danish Data Protection Agency because we were not registered with the Press Board. In 2013, we then returned with both the editor-in-chief and the Press Board registration.
From 2015 until today, we have broadened our coverage area, which means we not only write about the neo-Nazi movement, but also about the national conservative currents that have become large in Denmark. In 2017 and 2019 we had major coverage of the elections, during which we published several articles concerning the various national conservative and far right parties.
This year was our 15th anniversary that we celebrated with a much needed and really cozy barbecue evening in the company of people from all parts of the anti-fascist movement.
Has the far-right in Denmark changed during this time? Has the changes in far right affected your work?
Yes. In the beginning we had Dansk Front, a street-based militant neo-Nazi organization inspired by Freie Kameradschaften in Germany and Info 14 in Sweden. During the same period the group White Pride from Aarhus also existed. Both groups carried out a lot violence targeting both minority groups and the left wing. Our activities, during the existence of those groups, was mainly about mapping out who they were and reveal their plans.
Today we don’t face any strong violent groups although the danger still exists. The Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR) exists in Denmark and is the only group with the capacity and outspoken ambition of violence, but the group consists of very few members compared to how the NMR in Sweden were a few years ago.
Instead, we’ve seen a resurgence in mini demonstrations where 1-10 people from the right wing show up in areas with many residents with ethnic minority backgrounds. They show up with massive police protection and verbally assaults the residents. Therefore, to a certain extent, our work is about revealing their connections to the established national conservative groups and organizations.
In the Nordic countries, the Nordic Resistance Movement has gone from being a strong co-ordinated organization to losing members, getting into legal problems and becoming increasingly inactive these last years. How do you see the political situation in Denmark today? Is the far-right strong on the streets or in parliament?
The right wing is strong in the public debate, but weak on the streets. We do not see large far right mobilizations at street level as we did in the nineties and 2000’s. In return, they have largely won the battle over the Internet and have great ideological influence, both in the media and in parliament.
Are there similar patterns or developments among the far-right in other Nordic or European countries, or is Denmark unique in some aspect?
The development is not exactly the same, but in many ways reminiscent of what we have seen in the other Nordic countries: The militant Nazi movement lost the battle for the streets, but their ideological comrades-in-arms have succeeded in gaining a foothold in the public debate.
How would you describe anti-fascism in Denmark? What kind of anti-fascist actors there is and what is your relationship to them?
Right now, it is difficult to give a status to anti-fascism. There have been a year and a half of lockdowns in large periods due to the corona pandemic, and the level of activity has been lower than otherwise. But last year, more than 20,000 people took part in a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Copenhagen, the largest anti-racist demonstration in the country. It is an expression that many people are tired of racism and xenophobia.
When it comes to anti-fascism, what do you consider to be the threats and possibilities in Denmark during the coming years?
Denmark is a pioneer for an ultra-nationalist line. The majority of the political spectrum, including the Social Democrats and the traditional center-left, have joined a line in which Muslims and ‘foreigners’ are the enemy. We are not facing a threat at street level, but the political right-wing movement is going strong in these years, and we really see the political wishes of the far right becoming a reality with Social Democratic ministers at the helm.
We are facing a long and hard struggle to reverse that trend. We do not have the solution, but we are some of the many who want to stop the racist policies.
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