Pieter Wisse - a world to know

In 1995 I was an adolescent, young and rebellious. With friends I went to downtown Vienna to demonstrate against rightwing extremism. Before we got to the demonstration we encountered a group of neo-nazis. A boy of about 17 was right opposite me with a knife in his hand. We looked at each other for a few seconds. I did not see an evil animal as I had imagined but rather a person like me, young and craving attention, even so the boy decided to stick the knife in my belly.

It was the eye contact that was the trigger for me to go Wismar in former East Germany. I asked myself questions like: who are these people who call themselves neo-nazis, what drives them and is there love in this world of hatred?

Neo-nazis are often in the media, always portrayed as alcohol-consuming and foreigner-beating animals. This is also the comfortzone for neo-nazis, because from there they can say and do anything they’d like. The essence of a right-wing extremist is knowing what he/she is: a neo-nazi, someone at the edge of society against the order.

Having a common enemy they become loyal to eachother and therefore comrades. When one strips away this comfortzone, one would be left with a few men who are searching for something. However this will take a long period, because the deep-rooted right-wing beliefs are passed on from parents to children and their offspring.

text and photos © Pieter Wisse
Pieter Wisse is a Rotterdam based photographer who completed the School of Fine Arts in Utrecht in 2007. He also is the owner of the Four Eyes Photography & Art Bookstore and Gallery in Rotterdam where I found the book online. 

In April 2010 Pieter started the website 500photographers where he features five contemporary photographers a week for a period of 100 weeks.

His book "I believe in 88" contains not only great and strong photographs but also a very interesting insight of young neo-nazis in today Germany and I wanted to share a glimpse of it with you.
- Paolo


Mikael said…
Yes for many so called gangs the search "to belong somewhere" is the essence to attract young lost individuals but the big question does that justify their actions?
Not according to me
Mr Urbano said…
I would look for political and ideological explanations rather than sociological or psychological to the growth of right wing extremism in Europe.
I guess that racism, xenophopia is something that unite these people. Not unlike the nazis from the 1930s and 1940s. In their opinion (especially) Jewish people were the root of all evil.

But their ideology also consisted of anti-Slavism and a belief in the superiority of the White, Germanic, Aryan or Nordic races.

History speaks to us. Do we as Europeans want history to repeat itself?
Anonymous said…
I feel like in Pieter's research there are deep questions, deep like when our phisical body really suffered in a related situation...
Every time we cross the line of hate to know, like he did, we are doing something new in this world, for not repeating the violence of history.
In my experience there's a lot of movement now in the world about this question, looking deeply at what stand behind the violence we don't like, on behalf of our personal responsabilities, let's go forward to see...

thanks for sharing
Mr Urbano said…
I can see your point Nicoletta - but only if we are talking about an isolated subgroup
But xenophobia and recism are gaining ground in Europe - there is no question about it
In the Netherlands, France, Italy Hungary, Denmark, Sweden...

I forgot to mention that apart from political and sociological explanations we should of course look at economic issues, unemployment etc

What I am saying is that the "hate" of these people is not "hate" in general - it is a very specific hate directed against immigrants, Roma people or people that they consider as a threat to their nationalistic beliefs

It is an absurd ideology, but keep in mind that right wing extremism is entering the parliaments of many countries in Europe

Of course it is good that photographer Pieter Wisse gives us some insight - although I think it is necessary to read the text that goes along with the pictures in the book.