Images of girls and boys in neo-Nazism - training, practical projects and counselling for prevention work

General Project Goal

Staff in four states (Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Bavaria) who specialize in working with children and teenagers will be trained in gender-reflective prevention of neo-Nazism and be assisted in carrying out practical projects. The importance of gender in neo-Nazism prevention work with right-leaning teenagers has until now been largely neglected. However the enactment of masculinity and femininity plays a meaningful role in right wing environments and is central to the orientation processes of children and teenagers. Establishing gender-reflection in the field of neo-Nazism prevention work and sensitizing pedagogically active staff in the field to these issues is according to current studies promising.

Project Goals

1. The main goal of our project is to provide children and teenagers with diverse possibilities and options for being an individual that are not constrained by stereotypical gender roles, enabling them to value gender equality and diversity. Having learned these values, children and teenagers will be equipped with an alternative to the confining and hierarchical gender images of neo-Nazism.

2. The pedagogical sub-goal is the facilitation of experiences beyond traditional, binary gender images. This will range from atypical gender games and activities for children to gender-reflective work orientation and life planning for young adults.

3. Work with parents and close caregivers takes on a special significance as it is these people who often have a key role in supporting their children in the distancing process.

The goals will be reached through the following intermediate steps/goals:

4. The goal of the training is to qualify pedagogical staff in gender-reflective neo-Nazism prevention in the realm of extra-curricular social and education work. When the pedagogical staff are capable of assessing the life situation of children and teenagers and their needs and motives for orientation to neo-Nazi views, the staff can submit targeted and effective prevention proposals in order to assist children and teenagers turn away from neo-Nazi images and lifestyles. Appropriate projects will be tested and evaluated in the participant's everyday work.

5. 15 trainees will have the opportunity to do a Train-the-Trainer apprenticeship in order to further convey the content and results of the projects.

6. The developments and results of the projects will be presented on a website, in a short online-pamphlet, in a conference program and in a public reference book. Ongoing publications such as lectures will inform those in the field and interested members of the public about the contents and developments of the projects.

The Training Programs

The training consists of four modules over two days. It includes methods of adult education and gender-reflective pedagogy, presentations, group discussions, individual and group work, reflection and work on professional approaches, development of a specific methodology, cooperative consultation and homework for absorbing the module contents.

Beginning in the second module the participants develop a practical project pertaining to children, teenagers and, if applicable, their parents. The projects have a central significance and are mandatory for the participants. The concrete configuration lies with the pedagogue who can best assess what occupies "their" children and teenagers, how strongly the children and teenagers are influenced by neo-Nazi images or integrated into the right-wing environment, what they respond to and what resistances can be elicited. Experiences from the practical projects will be integrated further into the training programs. Project development will be carried out on site (practical counselling); every training program participant will have a counselling day between the 2nd and 4th modules in order to cement the project on site.

The Modules

1st Module (Neo-Nazism, gender relations): Introductions, input and discussion on neo-Nazism, the neo-Nazi scene in general and the local one in particular, input and discussion on masculinity, femininity and gender relations, reflection exercises on the meaning of one's own gender in connection with the development of a professional approach and observation tasks: dynamics of the children and teenagers in one's own establishment.

2nd Module (Intersection of neo-Nazism and gender): Input and discussion on the intersection of neo-Nazism and gender (the meaning and function of masculinity/femininity in neo-Nazi attitudes, motives and practices), analysis of right-wing texts, music and pictures, input and discussion on general prevention, work on practical projects for working with children and teenagers on site.

3rd Module (Prevention): Method immersion, discussion and work on gender reflective neo-Nazism prevention, further work on practical projects.

4th Module (Immersion): Practical projects, immersion into different themes through the issues elicited from the project presentations, clarification of open questions, farewell.

The training will be applicable to concrete job requirements. It will be presented practically with a focus on the methodical avenues of prevention work. Through reflection tasks, the training also constitutes work on one's own professional approach.

Train-the-Trainer instruction rounds off the offer. The goal of this education towards the end of the training program in 2015 is to qualify participants to carry out training on the theme of gender-reflective neo-Nazism prevention.

Project Target Groups

The target groups are social workers, child care workers, youth workers and other professionals working with children and teenagers who come into contact with right-oriented children and teenagers and those who recognize the necessity of prevention work on this theme.

Further target groups are the children and teenagers and, where applicable, their parents, who the training participants work with in their own establishments.

Content related rationale for the planned proposal

Prevention work against neo-Nazism is an important factor in fighting ideologies of inequality, such as racism, anti-Semitism, social Darwinism, sexism and homo- and transphobia. However, most prevention work in Germany is gender-blind, that is to say, it does not recognize that structures and hierarchies of neo-Nazism are gendered. Recent studies indicate, amongst others, the following contexts:

  • The meaning of gender and gender relations has until now played a minor role in the prevention of neo-Nazism.
  • Traditional and conservative notions of masculinity and femininity are central attractive moments in neo-Nazi scenes and promote an orientation process in youth in an early phase of orientation to a neo-Nazi environment.
  • Gendered differences play only a minor role in attitude characteristics, right-wing oriented females and males basically share the same beliefs and attitudes. However, behavior, motives, strategies, degrees of organization and the politicization of spheres of life show clear gender-specific differences.
  • Neo-Nazi offers differ for male and female youth. They build on traditional-conservative and/or radicalized societal images of masculinity and femininity. The specificity of masculine neo-Nazism is competition (defense of the "Self" and "one's own"), the specificity of feminine neo-Nazism is conventionalism (the politicization of everyday life). Boys are allured by the promise of being "a real man" whereas girls are allured by the promise of being "a real woman". Taking this into account, gender-reflective work with children and youth and experiencing different ways of being a girl or a boy is in its best sense preventive against neo-Nazism.
  • The focus on violence in neo-Nazism prevention means that female youth are often left out of the scope of prevention work.
  • For male youth, the production of sovereignty is the most important demand and also the biggest promise of masculinity. For female youth it seems that the promise of protection, but also of independent roles as wives and mothers, play important roles.
  • The programmatic promise of protection emerges as an illusion within neo-Nazi structures. Female youth within these structures are often exposed to blatant sexism and sexual violence. Likewise, the promises of aspects such as camaraderie and rebellion are more than flawed. Young men seldom find fulfilling lives for themselves in neo-Nazi contexts.
  • Out of the few prevention projects that do reflect gender issues, most are problematic in that they uncritically refer to essentialist views of masculinity and femininity. Thereby, they rather reproduce traditional gender images that are prevalent in neo-Nazi communities instead of offering alternatives to them. Eventually, the children and youth that take part in such prevention work are more likely to identify with such gender images, which in turn make them more likely to be attracted to neo-Nazi communities.

With gender-reflective work we want to make prevention work against neo-Nazism more effective. Gender-reflective approaches do not constitute a comprehensive prevention strategy but rather a sensible addition. The following problems can arise if neo-Nazi prevention is not gender-reflective:

  • Girls in neo-Nazi scenes are often overlooked, even though they take on important functions in these scenes (networking, communication, organization, logistics, funding, concealment, investigation, publicity work,...)
  • Gender-oriented attraction moments in neo-Nazi circles are not apprehended, though they are central to understanding why girls and boys enter neo-Nazi circles.
  • The focus can be placed too much on violent behavior and a too little on attitudes and micro-processes of exclusion.
  • Neo-Nazi ideologies cannot be comprehensively analyzed and critiqued without a gender perspective.
  • Traditional gender images can be strengthened during the prevention work ("Hard men work hard with hard boys"), which consequently leads to an identification with, rather than a distancing from, neo-Nazi images of men and women, creating a vicious circle.
  • The potential of a critical contestation of masculinity and femininity (a very early contestation/primary prevention, individual strengthening against masculinity and femininity demands...) will remain unexhausted in neo-Nazism prevention.

Inclusion of the project in local structures on site/planned cooperation

The network partners represent an important component for continuing agreement and governance in neo-Nazism prevention. The training programs will be held in the states of Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Bavaria and will be carried out closely in agreement and coordination with local actors in neo-Nazism prevention and gender-reflective pedagogy.

For contact and further information don't hesitate to get in touch: and


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