Australian Screen

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Nazi Supergrass (1993)

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clip Political soldiers education content clip 1, 3

Original classification rating: PG. This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

In an interview, Willey explains that the leadership of the Australian Nationalist Movement in Perth justified its actions with the mantra, 'He who saves his nation breaks no laws’, and saw themselves as political soldiers serving to protect White Australia.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip shows members of the neo-Nazi Australian Nationalist Movement (ANM) outlining the justification used by ANM to conduct a campaign of racial terror in Western Australia in the 1980s. It includes footage of Jack van Tongeren, leader of the ANM, explaining to journalists that the ANM stands for 'white Australia’ and will go to any lengths to 'save’ the nation. Russell Dean Willey, a former member of the ANM who became a police informant, explains how van Tongeren’s mantra, 'He who saves his nation does not break the law’, was drummed into ANM recruits and enabled them to see themselves as 'political soldiers’ rather than criminals.

Educational value points

  • The Australian Nationalist Movement (ANM) is a neo-Nazi group that, in the late 1980s, conducted a campaign of racial terror in Perth aimed at Asian, Jewish and Indigenous Australians that included verbal and physical assault and the firebombing of a number of Asian restaurants. The ANM also spray-painted racist graffiti on synagogues and businesses owned by Jewish and Asian Australians, as well as producing posters that racially vilified these people and called for their expulsion from Australia. The group funded its activities by robbing warehouses.
  • Jack van Tongeren is the founder and leader of the ANM. He was active in the Sydney-based neo-Nazi group National Action (NA) in the 1980s, but left because he felt they were 'soft on Jews’. In 1989 he was found guilty of conspiracy, arson, theft, assault and fraud and subsequently spent 12 years in prison. In 2005 he again faced charges relating to the activities of the ANM including the firebombing of three Chinese restaurants in Perth.
  • Russell Dean Willey is the Nazi 'supergrass’ (police informer) of the film’s title. The former treasurer and third-in-command of the ANM, he was persuaded by police to become an informant in exchange for immunity and a new legal identity. His testimony was responsible for the conviction of van Tongeren and a number of other ANM members. Willey now lives overseas but returned to Australia in disguise to be interviewed for this film.
  • The neo-Nazi ANM is an extreme right-wing group whose members believe in white supremacy and an ideology informed by racism and a fanatical form of nationalism. It is opposed to Asian people immigrating to Australia and argues that Australia’s immigration program should preserve the nation’s colonial Anglo-Celtic heritage. The ANM is also anti-Semitic and, paradoxically, both denies that the Holocaust took place and lauds Hitler for the genocide. The ANM’s insignia (the badge worn by van Tongeren on his suit lapel) is based on the Nazi swastika.
  • Neo-Nazi groups are active in Australia but, despite the ANM’s 3-year campaign of racial terror, evidence suggests that the number of neo-Nazi groups in Australia, and their membership, is relatively small, and that these groups are destabilised by bitter infighting. Typically, supporters are socially and economically disaffected and blame their own and society’s problems on multiculturalism, non-white immigrants and the notion of a Jewish 'world conspiracy’, a belief that the world is run by a powerful, but unseen and unelected, group of Jewish elites.
  • The clip is an example of the work of documentary filmmaker David Bradbury, who has been exposing political oppression and environmental vandalism in his critically acclaimed films since he made Frontline in 1979. He befriended Russell Willey, who candidly revealed details of the ANM’s activities to him. Bradbury combined Willey’s story with archival footage and interviews with van Tongeren and members of the Jewish and Asian communities in Perth to expose not only the ANM but also the inaction of police and government in dealing with the group.

This clip starts approximately 40 minutes into the documentary.

The clip opens a montage of a hot Australian city. It cuts to Russell Dean Willey, reading from a prepared speech to the Press as he stands outside court.
Russell Dean Willey, Nazi police informer (Reading) We stand for white Australia where hard-working Aussies stand for the fruits of our labour. As such patriotic Australians are morally bound to change the system. Thus, we nationalists will whatever is required to save our nation, regardless of draconian laws, regardless of Asian threats, come hell or high water. He who saves his nation does not break the law.
Journalist When you say you’re not going to have a case – you’re pleading no case to answer…
Journalist 2 Does the ANM have a cache of arms and explosives?
Willey No comment.

The scene cuts to racist graffiti on a wall, and we see Willey and his entourage walking down the street away from the journalists as he speaks in voiceover.
Willey (voice-over) The basic difference between me and them was that I was a criminal and they were fanatics, and by fanatics I mean they looked at themselves as political soldiers so they weren’t breaking the law as far as they were concerned. And Jack would always say, 'You always quote Napoleon – “He who saves his nation breaks no laws”’, and that was drummed into us day after day after day, and that was part of the ethos for us going out and committing ah, you know, acts of terrorism on Chinese restaurants, blowing them up and-and bashing people senseless. 'He who saves his nation breaks no laws.’ We were saving the nation through all these things. We were ridding Australian society of communists. We were ridding Australian society of Asian immigration. We were making people pack up and piss off. It was working. 'He who saves his nation breaks no laws.’ Beautiful – let’s go. You know, let’s go and do another day. (Sighs) And so, you know, that was them. That’s the political soldier.

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