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Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Michelle Lynn Kahn


This thesis analyzes the rise in rightwing violence perpetrated by neo-Nazis and skinheads in Germany during the 1980s and 1990s as well as efforts by punks to combat the forces of hate across borders. I argue that, as punks fought back against skinheads in the streets, concert halls, and even at churches, they directed public attention to the downplayed threat of neo-Nazis on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Nevertheless, authorities in East, West, and reunified Germany demonstrated a willingness to crack down more harshly on leftwing punks than on rightwing extremists, revealing the paradoxes of Germans’ relationship to their fascist past. The first chapter examines the origins of punk in West Germany, the fluidity of the punk and skinhead scenes, and the 1983 and 1984 “Chaostage” (Chaos Days) events in Hanover, at which punks violently clashed with rightwing skinheads and local police. The second chapter travels across the Berlin Wall to analyze the origins of East German punk, the Stasi’s reaction to it, punks’ efforts to smuggle music across the border, and the 1987 Zionskirche attack in East Berlin. The third chapter crosses the 1989/1990 divide to examine the onslaught of neo-Nazi attacks in reunified Germany, the culture of squatted houses in Berlin, and the heightened violence at the 1995 Chaostage. The epilogue examines this history from the late 1990s onwards, tracing the emergence of techno from punk as well as the lack of memorialization of these events in Hanover and Berlin today.

Available for download on Friday, May 07, 2027