The Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) is a pan-Scandinavian neo-Nazi movement heavily rooted in Scandinavian far-right history and culture. Originally founded in 1997 as the Swedish Resistance Movement, a then-splinter group of the militant neo-Nazi network Vitt Ariskt Motstånd (White Aryan Resistance), their main objective is to replace liberal democracy with a white nationalist pan-Scandinavian government through a nationalist revolution.
Throughout its early years, the movement was only active in Sweden and Norway. In 2016, however, branches of the Nordic Resistance Movement in Finland, Iceland and Denmark and Sweden joined forces in order to merge the group’s different branches. This led to the birth of the Nordic Resistance Movement as it is known today. Although there are no official records which disclose how many members are active in the NRM, estimates from 2016 suggest that the group’s size extends to around 250 people. In 2019, the organization was banned in Finland and designated as a terrorist organization (1).
History & Foundations
Founded in 1997, the Nordic Resistance Movement has been at the epicenter of the rapidly-growing Swedish neo-Nazi culture. Sweden – renowned for its blooming skinhead movement in the 80s and 90s – has been home to some of the most extremist (the most violent, per se) far-right groups seen in Europe post World War II. Out of this movement, prominent figures from the hardline far-right movement in Sweden created the Swedish Resistance Movement. Together with individuals from the neo-Nazi magazine Folktribune (‘People's Tribune’) and Nationell Ungdom (‘National Youth’), a neo-fascist and openly racist organization known for the murder of a Swedish anarchist in the 90s, Klas Lund founded what would later become known as the NRM (2).
Despite gaining no significant recognition in their early years, the late 2000s featured an immense spike in popularity for the movement. Following the Swedish branch of the NRM, a Norwegian branch had been founded before another branch in Finland was also formed in 2007. The group’s increasing sphere of influence signified that – by 2009 – its activities more than doubled in frequency compared to previous years (which also implied more public activities). A few years later, a Danish branch of the NRM was also founded, henceforth consolidating the group’s notoriety in the Scandinavian region.
The movement found widespread recognition in 2013 when the Expo Foundation documented a steep increase in activities by the movement. The years to come would mark a shift of change for NRM. The movement began consistently calling themselves the Nordic Resistance Movement, now marking a fully-merged and organized pan-Scandinavian, neo-Nazi movement. Simultaneously, Klas Lund stepped down as the leader of the NRM; this structural change paved the way for Simon Lindberg to become the NRM’s leading figure (a role he still occupies since 2014). Lindberg has been ranked as the 17th “most dangerous extremist around the world” by the Counter Extremism Project (3).
Objectives and ideology
The Nordic Resistance Movement's main objective is to overturn liberal democracy with a pan-Scandinavian Nazi government built upon values such as traditionalism, eco-fascism and biological racism. The movement's ideology is highly built upon classic conspiracy theories such as the anti-semitic Zionist Occupied Government theory, The Great Replacement theory and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The members of the NRM believe that the Nordic Aryan race – which they view as the superior race – is under attack and at the brink of replacement. Therefore (according to their values), a national revolution must take place, and the ‘invaders’ must be ‘pushed back’ (4).
The NRM’s worldview is built on the core assumption that the Nordic race and the Nordic countries are being corrupted and poisoned in a war primarily waged by the Jews. According to their perceptions of the modern world, their government and their national institutions are merely being manipulated by Jews in order for them to push their alleged anti-white agenda. A core belief of the NRM is that culture, identity and religion is under attack by an outside, elite Jewish conspiracy. As an example of this, the movement launched a campaign targeting what they call the ‘gay LGBT-lobby’, essentially saying Jews are behind the LGBT-movement in the Western world.
Approach to Resistance
The Nordic Resistance Movement’s identity is highly militaristic and its members actively practice combat training. Although the movement’s main activities are primarily non-violent, the mindset and ideology of the Nordic Resistance Movement is relatively oriented towards violence. For instance, members are ideologically radicalized through the narrative that a nationalistic revolution is inevitable and that armed struggle is an inalienable component thereof. Moreover, a part of the NRM’s militaristic ideology involves the notion that members must be taught to maximize their capacities and readiness for physical confrontations (5).
The movement’s main approach to resistance can be divided into three primary sectors – propaganda distribution, combat-related training, and ideological indoctrination. Other activities such as rallies and marches, publicity stunts and instances of internet activism are also relevant. At marches, the members of the movement are often seen in Nazi-inspired uniforms influenced by visual aesthetics of earlier Nazi-movements.
The organization is structured into small, local units that its members refer to as ‘nests’. It is those nests that are responsible for local propaganda distribution. Leaflets can be found in mailboxes, posters on public squares, and banners hanging from highway bridges.
Another approach employed by the NRM involves vandalism, and it is often directed towards Jewish infrastructure. Between 2018 and 2019, the Israeli embassy in Finland was vandalised 15 times, having suffered from shattered doors, tagged Swastika iconography, or floods of NRM stickers (6). On the night of November 10th 2019 (the anniversary of the Kristallnacht – a pogrom against Jewish landmarks, business and religious instances conducted by Nazi paramilitaries in 1938 - the NRM coordinated acts of vandalism in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. During this coordinated attack, Swastikas were sprayed on synagogues, and some members spray-painted and vandalized 84 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in Denmark. One member was subsequently sentenced to a year in prison (7).
Sweden's Security Service assessment is that the Nordic Resistance Movement both has the capacity to commit acts of terrorism, but also the intent to commit crimes against the country’s constitutional order.
In the winter of 2016 to 2017, a series of bombings in the Swedish city of Gothenburg took place. Following the bombings, three members (individuals with ties to the NRM) were convicted for their actions. One person received life-threatening injuries. However, two of the three individuals convicted – Anton Thulin and Viktor Melin – had undergone paramilitary combat training in Russian camps on the outskirts of St. Petersburg, organized by the Russian Imperial Movement (an ally of the Nordic Resistance Movement) (8).
In its own ideological programme – ‘Where is the Nordic Resistance Movement in five years?’ – the NRM states that it has the responsibility to influence any like-minded organizations around the world to shift towards a radical national-socialist direction.
In a 2016 report, the Expo Foundation found that a significant proportion of the NRM’s foreign contacts were German extremists. Ties with Germany’s National Democratic Party (NPD) were found, with members of the NRM having visited the youth wing of the NPD in 2000. These members had also participated in a march which honored Rudolf Hess – a leading politician of the German Nazi party – and had additionally sent a delegation to visit the convicted Nazi terrorist Manfred Roeder in 2009.
The NRM holds further connections to neo-Nazi movements in the United States, although physical meetings aren’t as common. The Anti Defamation League (ADL) noted in a 2019 report that, while the NRM’s physical presence wasn’t large in the United States, movements are continuously learning from each other and showing support in order to reach new audiences.
Works Cited (Chicago-style)
(1) - expo.se (2022) Nordiska motståndsrörelsen (NMR), Expo Foundation
(2) - Askanius, T. (2021). On Frogs, Monkeys, and Execution Memes: Exploring the Humor-Hate Nexus at the Intersection of Neo-Nazi and Alt-Right Movements in Sweden. Television & New Media, 22(2), 147-165 https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476420982234
(3) - Counterextremism.com (2022) The Top 20 Most Dangerous Extremists Around the World, Counter Extremism Project https://www.counterextremism.com/press/top-20-most-dangerous-extremists-earth
(4) - Bjørgo, T., & Ravndal, J. A. (2020). Why the Nordic Resistance Movement Restrains Its Use of Violence. Perspectives on Terrorism, 14(6), 37–48 https://www.jstor.org/stable/26964724
(5) - Keneş, B. (2021). NMR: A Nordic neo-Nazi organization with aims of establishing totalitarian rule across Scandinavia. ECPS Organisation Profiles. European Center for Populism Studies (ECPS). April 28, 2022
(6) - Eicher, I (2019). ‘Israeli embassy in Finland subjected to relentless anti-Semitic attacks’. Ynet News https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5557304,00.html
(7) - Særkjær, M (2022). I dag falder dommen: Sag om "nazistisk hærværk" mod jødisk kirkegård i Vestre Landsret. Kristeligt Dagblad
(8) - Fielitz, M. et al. (2020) Från Nordiska motståndsrörelsen till alternativa högern : En studie om den svenska radikal nationalistiska miljön. Stockholm: Försvarshögskolan (FHS). http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-9387