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Already Hip With Neo-Nazis, Thor Steinar Opens Store Named For Norway's 'Brevik'

A clothing brand popular with Neo-Nazis has caused outrage once again. In Chemnitz, Germany, Thor Steinar has just opened a new outlet called "Brevik," a name alluding to the infamous author of last year's Norwegian massacre.

Fascist fashion statement? (InSightBlog)
Fascist fashion statement? (InSightBlog)
Christian Gehrke

CHEMNITZ - A clothing store named after a killer. Not possible? Unfortunately, it is. The Thor Steinar Nordic Company, a German clothing brand favored by Neo-Nazis, has opened a shop in Chemnitz, in the state of Saxony, called "Brevik." It is hard to get around the association with Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who last summer killed 77 people in an attack in Oslo and Utoya.

Thor Steinar denies the connection. They say each of their brand's stores is named after a Norwegian town. Brevik is located southeast of Oslo, and has 2,700 inhabitants. Years before the Norwegian terror attack, in the fall of 2008, the company opened a store called "Brevik" in Hamburg, which was quickly shuttered for other reasons.

Politicians and citizens of the city of Chemnitz are particularly outraged because the state of Saxony recently made unwanted headlines in conjunction with a Neo-Nazi trio of murderers. "A shop with a name like that is absolutely out of the question," Katja Uhlemann, the city of Chemnitz's press spokesperson, told Die Welt. "We've already contacted the landlord and we will be taking all necessary steps to see that the store is closed as fast as possible."

The landlord told the "Freie Presse" that "a chill ran up my spine" when he saw the "Brevik" sign – he hadn't been aware when he signed the lease, he said, exactly what kind of business was involved.

Blind eye to extremism

The office of local politician Hanka Kliese of the opposition SPD party is only meters away from the store. She too is outraged: "This scandalous name is a sign of a new type of aggressiveness … on the part of Thor Steinar," she said.

Kliese has argued for a while that people – wrongly, to her way of thinking – have a tendency to play down the brand's subversiveness. "But now there's no question about what we're dealing with," she said. Kliese adds that for too long, the state government in Saxony has failed to take right-wing extremism seriously.

Kliese intends to mobilize local citizens in a protest against Thor Steinar. The initiative starts Wednesday. Vigils and rallies in front of the shop are planned. The goal is to make sure the shop is closed permanently.

The launch of the Thor Steinar store also happened to coincide with local commemorations for the victims of World War II aerial bombardments 67 years ago. March 5 has for a long time been known as Peace Day in Chemnitz, and some 10 memorial ceremonies were planned for the day.

Now people were gathering for a different reason too. Gathered under the banner "It's Our City – And We Have No Room For Nazis," religious representatives, local artists and education authorities spoke to a group of 2,000 people gathered at the city's Neumarkt square. Some 200 right-wing extremists also announced a demonstration.

Press spokeswoman Uhlemann said that Peace Day was nevertheless a complete success. She rejected claims that their protest of the Thor Steniar store was in some way playing into Neo-Nazi hands. On the contrary: "Conscious thinking is particularly important in our city on Peace Day. That also means stopping any new outcropping of right-wing extremism."

Uhlemann said she was particularly saddened by the fact that the new Thor Steinar branch is located in an area the city hopes to devote more to art and culture.

"We want to make this part of the city an attractive student neighborhood – and now this. We will do everything in our power so that a business like Thor Steinar is unable to maintain a shop in Chemnitz," she said.

Read the original article in German

Photo - InSightBlog

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Thaer Ganaim/APA Images via ZUMA
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