Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Co-founder of neo-Nazi terrorist group performed Hitler salute inside concentration camp, court hears

Alex Davies is accused of remaining a member of National Action after it was banned as a terrorist organisation in 2016

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Editor
Wednesday 20 April 2022 18:41 BST
National Action shared a photo of Alex Davies and another member performing Hitler salutes at a Nazi concentration camp
National Action shared a photo of Alex Davies and another member performing Hitler salutes at a Nazi concentration camp

The co-founder of neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action posed performing a Hitler salute inside a concentration camp, a court has heard.

Alex Davies, 27, travelled to Buchenwald in Germany in April 2016 - months before National Action was banned.

Winchester Crown Court heard that he was photographed standing alongside a fellow member in an “execution chamber”.

Prosecutor Barnaby Jameson QC described the image, which was displayed to the jury, as Mr Davies and the other man “giving the Nazi salute above the National Action banner in the execution room at Buchenwald”.

He said the photo “sparked international outrage” after an edited version, blurring Mr Davies’ face, was posted online by National Action.

Mr Jameson told jurors that Mr Davies was “steeped in a violent and fanatical ideology” and had been “continuously scheming to advance an unflinching terrorist agenda”.

“For the defendant and his cohorts, the work of Adolf Hitler was, and remains, unfinished,” he added.

“This was a tiny and secretive group of white jihadists arming themselves for direct and violent confrontation.

“They were not armchair neo-Nazis - the ultimate aim of the group was to exploit racial tensions as a means to an all-out assault on the democratic order.”

The court heard that when Mr Davies posed inside Buchenwald, membership of National Action was not illegal, but it became a crime after it was proscribed as a terrorist group in December 2016.

The court was read a message allegedly sent by the defendant to a fellow neo-Nazi at the time, where he wrote: “It’s nothing to get worked up about. I’m sure we’ll come up with some creative way to overcome the obstacles put in front of us.”

He allegedly went on to continue meeting National Action members across the country, as well as engaging in “fight training days”.

Mr Davies denies remaining a member after the ban, when he is alleged to have set up a spin-off neo-Nazi group that was banned as an alias of National Action in September 2017.

“The defendant was the co-founder of National Action and the founder, in his own right, of NS131 which came into existence in the spring of 2017,” Mr Jameson said.

He told the court that the name was a combination of initials and numerical symbols standing for National Socialist Anti-Capitalist Action, adding: “If you take out the three middle words you are left with two words: ‘National Action.’ That gives you, I suggest, enough of a clue.”

Among NS131’s members was a teenager called Ben Hannam, who went on to join the Metropolitan Police, and the court heard that National Action had worked to “place its people covertly in positions of authority”.

Mr Jameson told jurors that Mr Davies acted as a “recruiting sergeant” and vetted young neo-Nazis for inclusion in both groups.

In 2014, another member of National Action asked Mr Davies about a potential new recruit and whether he should “groom him for NA”.

The defendant replied: “Haha, of course.”

The court heard that Mr Davies founded the group with Ben Raymond, who has been convicted of membership, when they were both students in 2013.

Mr Jameson said it went “from expansion to infamy and from infamy to prohibition”, following outcry over a regional faction’s celebration of the murder of Jo Cox.

The court heard that neo-Nazi terrorist Thomas Mair was not a member of National Action, but it “seized on the murder for their own political ends, calling for other MPs to befall the same fate”.

“It is perhaps no surprise National Action became the first fascist group to being banned as a terrorist group since 1940,” Mr Jameson told the court.

“It is chilling in the extreme to see how much ammunition and firepower the group had, in fact, amassed by the time arrests happened the following year.”

The prosecution said that Mr Davies had been “careful enough not to stockpile weapons” but that other members were found to possess knives, daggers, machetes, crossbows, rifles, shotguns, knuckle dusters, bats and disabling sprays.

Mr Davies, of Swansea, denies membership of a proscribed group between 17 December 2017 - the day after National Action was banned - and the date of his arrest on 27 September 2017. The trial continues.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in