The controversial fashion brand Thor Steinar is omnipresent in right-wing extremist scenes. There is no right-wing extremist parade where not dozens of the brand’s sweaters and jackets could be seen. Almost all Nazi-mail-order services have Thor Steinar clothing in stock.
What was the issue?
Stores which sell Thor Steinar clothing exclusively have been around in Berlin since 2005. Just as long, civil society has reacted with anti-fascist resistance to them.
After the first Thor Steinar retail store had to close down in the Berliner Carré mall, it re-opened a few hundred metres away on Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße. The store there lasted two years and closed down in October 2010. A year later, a Thor Steinar branch opened on Berliner Allee in the district of Pankow-Weißensee, which is presently still in business. In February 2009, a further branch moved to Petersburger Straße in the district of Friedrichshain, which still exists, too.
For the Thor Steinar brand, stores like these are strategically relevant, not so much to increase profits, but to achieve an effect of normalization as National Socialist, racial and colonialist symbols and ideas become part of the city’s landscape and thus the public.
How could we help?
MBR supported and counselled initiatives, businesses, artists, and engaged citizens in each of the cases. The diverse engagement included manifestations and rallies as well as events, discussion panels, artist action groups designing containers in parking lots to raise awareness, and many further initiatives.
MBR was able to put in touch the diverse actors from the district’s as well as the county’s parliaments, contributed their assessment of design and impact of Thor Steinar, and just as well counselled landlords of retail store property in judicial procedures.
MBR arranged for the district’s mayor of Mitte, Bezirksbürgermeister Christian Hanke (SPD), the Initiative gegen den Thor-Steinar-Laden, and the representatives of the administration to carry out round-table meetings. This enabled direct and effective communication and a joint plan of action, which also made the more unconventional forms of protest possible, such as the artistically designed containers in front of the store to raise awareness.
What did we achieve and what’s next?
Thanks to the diverse engagement of initiatives, administration, business owners, and politicians, the Thor Steinar retail stores in the Berliner Carré mall as well as on Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße had to close down. The dispute about the two stores in Weißensee and Friedrichshain continues. In both districts, citizens and anti-fascists, and politicians of different parties engage in initiatives with the goal that there will be no more Thor Steinar stores in Berlin.