Nazi Propaganda Is a New Fashion

Russia has caught World War II fever 60 years after the war's end, but the books and DVDs flying off store shelves are far from patriotic. They contain Nazi themes and often offer Nazi ideology.

"It's already a fashion," said Sergei Stepanich, an expert on fascist literature at the Center for Human Rights.

Nestled among pornographic DVDs at kiosks at Leningradsky Station are numerous discs offering original Nazi propaganda from the 1940s. The DVDs carry the original newsreels that were shown in German cinemas. A DVD on the Nazi SS has a blurb on the back of the box that talks about the troops' "genuine professionalism."

"The DVDs are very popular," said one merchant, who refused to give his name.

The propaganda is not only on sale at Moscow's railway stations. At a central Moscow outlet of Soyuz Records, one of the capital's biggest music and video chains, a series of DVDs on the actresses of the Third Reich shares a shelf with Audrey Hepburn box sets.

A few hundred meters away from the Kremlin monument to the victims of World War II, an ordinary kiosk in a metro underpass sells a pirated nine-disc DVD collection called "A Chronicle of the Third Reich." The series is a compilation of serious documentary films on the Nazi regime but wrapped in a sensational cover.

Buyers may just be interested in history, but Jewish and human rights organizations believe it is a sign of an increased fascination with fascist ideology.

"It is probably not simply interest, but either young radicalism or a xenophobic-chauvinistic viewpoint," said Yevgeny Altman, the head of the Holocaust Fund in Russia.

There has been an interest in fascist and specifically Nazi ideology since the early 1990s, but now the interest has taken on a commercial aspect, said Stepanich, who helped organize a campaign titled "The City Without Fascist Literature" over the summer.

Among books, perhaps the most popular are a series written by Yury Mukhin, the editor of the newspaper Duel, that argues the Holocaust did not happen. The books are published by Yauza-Eksmo Press.

It was unclear who was behind the publishing house, with a spokesman for Eksmo, one of the country's largest book publishers and the publisher of the Russian translation of the Harry Potter books, saying his company had no connection with Yauza-Eksmo Press.

When a reporter telephoned the Eksmo bookstore, however, a sales clerk offered a 20-page catalog of books published by Yauza-Eksmo Press.

It is the literature that most worries human rights campaigners.

Stepanich said respectable publishing houses were now publishing books that embrace fascist ideology. "It was marginal in the 1990s," he said.

"Russia is becoming one of the world centers for Holocaust denial," Altman added. "We're worried that you can now find it in bookshops like Biblio Globus."

Biblio Globus, a leading Moscow bookstore, had no immediate comment.

When human rights activists discovered a series of books that espouse fascist ideology at a recent book fair, their protests were ignored, Altman said.

The problem, he said, is that bookstores have difficulty singling out the books with fascist propaganda. He said booksellers sometimes call him to ask whether they could sell a certain book.

The country has seen an increase in attacks on minorities in recent years, and rights activists link it to an increase in nationalist sentiment. A suspect held in the recent stabbing death of a Congolese student in St. Petersburg reportedly had a swastika on his cell phone, The Moscow Times reported.

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