Tattooing the Enemy: Nazi Tattoos
03:45 PM
nazi tattoo.jpg
As previously discussed in my Superior Race? post, Nazi Skinhead tattooing is a popular albeit confused subsection of our culture. "Not our culture!" you exclaim. In fact, I am certain that we would all rather it -- and the inherent concerns about racism, bigotry and mid-western in-breeding that it evokes -- ride back into hell and take with it gang ink, prison scratching and regrettable celebrity tattoos.

But it will not. Anecdotal evidence -- the amount of criminals arrested with ridiculous white power tattoos and the amount of dedicated sites to this phenom among them -- suggests that Nazi skinhead tattooing is quite prominent and ever increasing around the world. Just check the many hate tattoo video montages posted on YouTube like this one below from the UK (turn off sound unless you want to hear hate anthems) :

A review of message boards find older, wiser racists counseling their younger cohorts to avoid the allure of multiple, elaborate and prominent tattoos for fear of arrest or detection. Nowhere was the practice derided for aesthetic or cultural taboos. But it seems the new Hitler youth isn't listening.

And so, with a built-in belief system that you can do no wrong and lax cultural mores against the practice, hate tattooing can continue to grow apace. While it moves onward, consider that Supremacist tattoos have a long reach into the history of the art form. While we hope that the meaning of spider-web tattoos might devolve into nothingness as more under-informed young adults get them, there is no mistaking the many German flags, swastikas and SS's that adorn a large portion of America's prison population. These are signifiers 50 years old. Certainly, no other iconography in the tattoo lexicon maintains such an uncorrupted understanding for so long.

[For more information on these symbols, the ADL has put together a visual database of hate emblems that are often tattooed on Nazi dregs.]

What troubles me is not that individuals seek these tattoos. More so, I am bothered by the supposed professionals that ink them. Surely, there are racists, criminals and degenerates within our lauded profession.

Curtis Allgier pictured above and interviewed in the video below is one such tattoo artist:

Upon further review of online Nazi skinhead tattoo discussion forums, I realized there are whole shops (like in Pennsylvania) dedicated to such ink: They are self-identified "white only" parlors that must find business strong enough to be able to be so selective about their clientele.

With such places accessible via a quick internet search, it would seem that anyone so dedicated to a movement, regardless of how terrible and ridiculous this movement might be, would have no problem finding and traveling to one of these shops. The fool who walks into a liberal parlor seeking an embellishment to his Doc Marten ink is proof that either those of us who are not racist would never treat them as they might treat us or that their intelligence is not quite as keen as their sense of superiority would have them believe.

I undertsand that it is included as an explanation of this person's tattoos but hatebreed is not a racist band - sure they may have racist fans but I bet there are racists who dig the beatles as well. I have worked with Hatebreed and they do not have a racist or white supremist message.

That graphic is from the Anti-Defamation League. I see why they used it but I agree with your point that racist fans don't make a band racist. Thanks for pointing that out.

Ok, Lizzy - here's my proposed scenario...

You've got a picture of a guy with a zillion swastikas and "HATEBREED" tattooed on his face. You google Hatebreed and say you find tracks like "Beholder of Justice" and "Straight To Your Face" on an album called "Rise of Brutality." You listen to the first 13 seconds of "Choose or be Chosen" on iTunes (because that's all your wussbag copy-editor ass can handle) and it sounds angry. Really angry. And, ya know, only *racists* are *angry*, right?


Whoever made that infographic is a fucktard to lump Hatebreed in with racist ideology - a (totally not racist) friend of mine was their guitarist for many years and I *highly* doubt that MTV would allow the singer of a known white supremecist band to host Headbangers Ball.

Regardless... excellent post, Craig! I shal tip my Manischewitz to you tonight.

Also concerning the tattoo meaning image, the iron cross is not 'associated with Nazi Germany's third reich', in fact it is still the insignia of the German armed forces.

on the topic of racist tattoos, I read an interview with Louis Malloy (I can't remember where, it was probably linked from here) and he told a client about his black grandfather half way through tattooing a swastika on his back. I bet that guy lays awake at night worrying that he's no longer pure because he let a non-white man tattoo him.

I have an unbelievable story about skinhead tattoos.

In the late '70s or early '80s I went to explore the old Long Beach Pike. The tattoo par lours there were naturally the main attraction for me. At one tattoo parlor (not one of the famous, historical ones), I saw something really strange.

There was a black woman getting a small tattoo on her chest, with her husband and boy present.

The tattooist was shirtless. Emblazoned on his chest was "White Power", with perhaps a few Nazi emblems added on for good measure.

There are a zillion reasons why this should scene should have been impossible. If I did not see it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Maybe when some of these skinhead boys grow out of it they'll add a gun in Hitlers mouth to their Hilter portraits.

Great post! Informative, interesting!

thanks for the interesting post craig - i do have one exception to it though...skinheads are not the only people that wear doc martens!

Wait a minute, I just looked at that picture again, does his chin say FUN? I like the idea that when he's not hating people or in prison he's all about having good times.

I'm am currently facing a predicament concerning this - so I found it doubly interesting.

Born and raised (and having lived in or visited all of) Scandinavia, I am currently in the process of having a full sleeve and chest-piece done (and continuously further designed as the process goes along) at a formidable studio in Scotland.

The theme of the work deals with accurate Norse archaeological findings all the way from Greenland to northern Finland. Patterns, knots and symbols that are seen throughout the age of the vikings. None of them having any original racist or xenophobic meanings whatsoever.

The main problem so far, has been the double-edged sword of balancing an artwork that I will carry around with me for the rest of my life - staying true to the original culture, while at the same time maneuvering around the obstacles of nazi-taintedness.

Not being even slightly racist or emphatic to the neo-nazi cause, I am saddened and angered by douche-bags that actively insist on carrying on a false and utterly stolen symbolism to further hate and intolerance in this way.

During the process of having my work done - large parts of the design have been altered or scrapped, simply due to the fact that a) it was too reminiscent of neo-nazi symbolism or b) that people who do not know any better, might MISTAKE it for neo-nazi symbolism - having the whole thing reflect badly on myself or worse, my family and children.

For example, the top video (the one with the slide-show) at around 1:30 shows an image of Celtic knot-work and the face of a viking warrior. None of these two are in any direct way linked to neo-nazi doctrine - but are perceived as such.

My heart goes out to Marisa for her inclusion of the chapter on Colin Dale and his work in "Black Tattoo Art" (officially the heaviest and prettiest book I own). Colin Dale's so-called "Neo-Nordic" style has inspired me more than anything - and the work I am having done, has now morphed into a black/grey quest for the representation of my heritage that is free from hate, bigotry and the unjust burden of WWII.

While the mocking of hate-filled tattoos can go on for all I care - please do remember that most of these symbols have been stolen from a culture that wants nothing to do with the attached meanings. It is a proud culture that still incorporates many different people and nationalities around northern Europe - a culture that takes offense to its heritage being used in agendas for which it was never intended...

...and so help me, I'll fight your nazi-ass to reclaim it!

Mid-western inbreeding? Nice random insult to a large diverse area. I'm all for making of the neo nazis but do we need such an ignorant elitist sounding slam?

mid-western in-breeding? Nice random elitist insult to a large diverse population. I'm all for making fun of neo nazis, but that's just lame and as ignorant as being a racist.

Hear hear. Randomly assigning in-breeding & neo-nazis to the midwest for no other reason than you apparently don't know what you're talking about isn't the greatest move ever. A quick scan of the ADL site shows groups being headquartered everywhere from California to Tampa, & even Jersey & Washington D.C.

"Mark' em and take their money" is what my exceedingly professional, well-respected and Jewish tattoo master peacefully advised.

This after my WASPish, pontificating college-aged ass ranted loudly on emotional topics similar to above.

Thank Yaweh I listened!

It's already been said, but Hatebreed are not a white power band or any way affiliated with racist attitudes. They are a hardcore band who have broken out into the mainstream, so have attracted a variety of fans that they have no control over.

The worldwide hardcore scene is very outspoken against racism. Tattooing is very popular amongst hardcore fans too.

I really like how Needles & Sins can do articles that focus in on a particular type/style of tattooing, in this case Neo-Nazi/Skinhead tattoos. I think the in-depthness and attention to detain make these types of articles very interesting.
That being said, I think that there should be a post about biking tattoos-- not 'Biker' tattoos, but bicycle tattoos. I live in East Hollywood home to the Bicycle Kitchen and Orange 20 which is bike central. There is a particular flavor of tattoo sported by the bikers here, especially among fixie and single speed riders. It would be very interesting and informative to see an article about them here on N+S.


fuck the swastika
death to nazis

I suggest anyone who claims that the Swastika is a racist symbol should go back an educate themselves on the true meaning of the symbol. The true meaning and creation is far older than Hitler, and just because one asshole used it for te wrong purpose and got a nation to follow him while wearing it, does not mean that many cultures for thousands of years saw it as the same. As anyone who knows anything about the Nazi's would agree, most of the German people thought Hitler was insane, which is why he had what, like 15 attempts on his life by Germans alone. Single minded thinking like this is why Jihad is allowed to ruin Islam, the Far Right are allowed to ruin Christianity, and Idiots like Hitler, Stalin, and many Asian dictators are allowed to ruin atheism. People hate and people love. We shouldn't let a few bastards kill positivity, thus turning us(the opposition) into horrible little monsters like them. Sorry for the long post but most people don't seem to understand this. You can check Wiki or any other encyclopedia for reference. Fuckin get that sleeve and chest piece,Martin, and we should make a sight with this info featuring our artwork with the true heritage. Been fighting the battle of information on this topic and the origin of skins(traditional workers movement based on conditions of job) for awhile now, even though I'm not a skin myself.

to each his own right your body free country everyone has a opinion so if i want a picture of hitler on me fine my body if i want a picture of a tree my body so no one has a right to judge someones reasons behind his art right if you hate you hate if you love everybody fine to each his own you live with what you do no one else

Fuck those racist pieces of shit!

They stole images and symbols of my Celtic heritage. I wouldn't even be able get a Celtic knot or celtic cross tattoo without being mistaken for a neo-Nazi.

Those bastards ruined my heritage.

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this is how ignorant neo-nazis are. they copy skin heads :the style of a sub culture that started in Jamaica with rude boys and reggae, if you dont believe me look it up. skinheads have been of all ethnicities since the 1960's in England. it didnt attract facsists until the late 1970s. original skinheads were never racist or had ANYTHING to do with nazis.once nazis started to copy the style, groups have formed that show extreme hate to facsists such as S.H.A.R.P. (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice) what many people dont know that there are traditional skinheads in mainstream music for example the DROPKICK MURPHYS. check out some of their history. Al Barr the vocals was the vocals for The Bruisers a known anti facsist skinhead band from new hampshire. look it up

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I cannot believe that people are walking around sporting Nazi symbols knowing full well what those fuckers did - and i dont mean the jews i mean EVERYBODY who have been affected by this brutal and horrible regime.

There must be something lacking in their lives if this is what they count as enjoyment.

Also i am so fucking angry when they are using celtic symbols to further their idiotic cause!!

i am celtic with celtic tattoos i am not a racist i also have a skinhead and wear doc marten boots.

these people give people like me a bad name.

they are idiotic pondlife

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