German police may use 'Nazi Shazam to detect illegal far-right songs

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 December, 2013, 9:46pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 December, 2013, 5:31am


German authorities are considering equipping police with a smartphone app that would instantly recognise illegal neo-Nazi songs.

Already dubbed the "Nazi Shazam", after the music identification program, the software would allow authorities to react instantly if far-right songs were played on radio, at concerts or demonstrations.

A song can plug teenagers straight into the ideology conveyed through the lyrics

The interior ministers of Germany's 16 regions will discuss the new practice at a meeting in Osnabruck this week.

Considered by experts as a "gateway drug" to the neo-Nazi scene, 1,090 pieces of music with a far-right or racist message are currently indexed by the Federal Review Board for Media Harmful to Minors, restricting their sale and making them inaccessible to people under 18.

They include traditional Nazi marching songs as well as more recent songs by bands such as Hate Society, Zyklon B and the British group Skrewdriver.

Simone Rafael, of the website Network Against Nazis, said she approved of the initiative and that it would help police or watchdogs attending far-right events.

"Music is indeed a weak spot through which young people can easily be recruited into neo-Nazi circles," she said. "A song can plug teenagers straight into the ideology conveyed through the lyrics."

In 2004, far-right groups tried to recruit young people by handing out compact-disc compilations in schoolyards.

Commonly referred to as "rechtsrock", neo-Nazi songs are often musically diverse, ranging from punk to heavy metal and from folk to rap.

"We've come across pretty much everything but far-right swing bands," said far-right expert Bernd Wagner.

Rafael said the only problem was that many far-right groups had already learned to avoid using the songs on the state index, instead favouring newer folk songs by nationalist singer-songwriters, such as Frank Rennicke.