Povl Heinrich Riis-Knudsen (born 1950) is a prominent Danish Neo-Nazi. Riis-Knudsen is best known as the author of the articles National Socialism: A Left Wing Movement (1984) and National Socialism: The Biological World View (1987).
Life and ideas
Riis-Knudsen first came to prominence when Matt Koehl took charge of the World Union of National Socialists (WUNS) and sought out Riis-Knudsen, already a leading neo-Nazi in Denmark, as his European contact. Riis-Knudsen, who felt that Nazism in Europe was hamstrung by the continent's historical experience, welcomed the move as he felt the United States had less of this and so he became General Secretary of the WUNS. At the time he at the head of an expansion for the group with the likes of Gaston-Armand Amaudruz in Switzerland, Ramon Bau in Spain and Victor DeCecco in Italy affiliating. Before long, however, Riis-Knudsen lost this position as he did not then share Koehl's desire to form a religion based on Nazism, claiming that "normal people were few and far between" when he visited Koehl's supporters. Following the breakdown of this relationship, Riis-Knudsen began to concentrate more on writing.
His seminal work was the 1987 article National Socialism - The Biological World View in which he argued that National Socialism had its basis in the laws of nature and was in effect the culmination of the search for truth as the founding principle of life. Much of what he has written is based on the mysticism of Savitri Devi.
He also published National Socialism - A Left Wing Movement (1984), which argued that the revolutionary nature of Nazism set it apart from the reactionary ways of the right and so Nazism was in fact a left wing ideology.
According to Riis-Knudsen in National Socialism - A Left Wing Movement:
- "It is a historical fact that nothing good has ever come out of the right wing. If it had not been for such revolutionaries as Copernicus, Kepler, Giordano Bruno and Galileo, we should still believe that the earth is flat and the center of the universe. When capitalism developed, the establishment made no attempt to solve the social problems resulting from the industrial revolution, but went on to exploit the new working class mercilessly— thus giving rise to revolutionary thoughts as expressed in Marxist ideology. And all the necessary and just social improvements we have seen during the past 100 years have only been introduced after hard pressure from the left wing, with right-wing conservatives in constant retreat, pitifully trying to preserve as much as possible for themselves."
Riis-Knudsen had come to look for more of an accommodation with communism, becoming part of a tendency in the European far right at the time to think this way. Alongside Jean-François Thiriart, he rejected abstract Marxism but was nonetheless attracted to the practice of communism. He even went as far as to visit the Soviet Union in 1978, a move which led to controversy in the Danish press who knew Riis-Knudsen as a neo-Nazi. He came to view Russia, rather than the USA, as the saviours of the Aryan race and made this break clear in A Left Wing Movement.
In Denmark itself Riis-Knudsen served as chairman of the Danmarks Nationalsocialistiske Bevægelse (National Socialist Movement of Denmark), an openly neo-Nazi organisation founded in 1970. The movement had around 1000 members by 1988 In this capacity Riis-Knudsen built up a network of contacts across Europe, working with German Michael Kühnen and Holocaust denier Thies Christophersen. He also wrote for CEDADE in a special edition of their bulletin which also featured Salvador Borrego, Wilfred von Oven and Richard Edmonds. In more recent years his international contacts have included Mark Cotterill and former New Order spokesman Martin Kerr.
Riis-Knudsen caused further controversy in the late 1980s when he appeared on TV calling for Denmark to be purged of all immigrants, the death penalty for anyone caught transmitting AIDS, labour camps for his political opponents and sterilization of non-whites. The appearance caused outrage in Norway and Sweden and was banned from being screened in Denmark. He has also declared his support for Palestine against Israel and a sympathy with Islamic fundamentalism, albeit balanced against a desire to see Islam expelled from Europe.
Expelled from the DNSB in 1992 for "race mixing" in an engagement to a Palestinian Christian whom Riis-Knudsen argued was a "white Arab", As a consequence the DNSB left the WUNS and switched its allegiance to the NSDAP/AO, a rival international network. Riis-Knudsen has since turned his attention to running his own publishing house, Nordland-Verlag, from Aalborg. This has courted controversy as it has published a series of books on the topic of Holocaust denial in the Danish language.
- Martin A. Lee, The Beast Reawakens, London:Warner Books, 1998, p. 166
- Jeffrey Kaplan & Tore Bjørgo, Nation and Race: The Developing Euro-American Racist Subculture, 1998, p. 57
- Lee, op cit
- P. Riis-Knudsen, 'National Socialism - The Biological World View'
- P. Riis-Knudsen
- Lee, op cit, p. 168
- Glyn Ford, European Parliament Committee of Inquiry on Racism and Xenophobia - Report on the Findings of the Inquiry, 2.2.1
- Ford, op cit, 2.2.3 & 2.2.4
- José L. Rodríguez Jiménez, 'Antisemitism and the Extreme Right in Spain (1962–1997)'
- 'The Ties that Bind' from the Southern Poverty Law Center
- Ford, op cit, 2.2.5
- George Michael, Confronting Right-Wing Extremism and Terrorism in the USA, 2003, p. 200
- Tore Bjørgo & John Horgan, Leaving Terrorism Behind: Individual and Collective Disengagement, p. 38
- Tore Bjorgo & Rob Witte, Racist Violence in Europe, St Martin's Press, 1993, p. 87
- Overview of Danish far right