Hells Angels in Denmark
In 1975-76 the first Danish hardcore motorcycleclubs (called rockers) made contact with foreign hardcore motorcycleclubs. Iron Skulls MC from Greve (about 40 kilometers south of Copenhagen) invited Hells Angels MC Hamburg to visit them. The German angels visited Iron Skulls MC for a few hours, whereupon they rode home and informed the Iron Skulls that they could contact them again in a few years.
It went better with the contacts to Holland. On a vacation, Nomads MC from Copenhagen met some members of a club in Amsterdam, who called themselves Hells Angels. They were a so called bogus-club (unoriginal Hells Angels), but later they applied for admission to become a part of the Hells Angels MC World. The Dutchmen visited the Danes and vice versa.
In the seventies it was common that the early bikers fought against each another. They harassed and teased one another and made small attacks on members of other clubs from time to time. At a time it developed into a serious enmity between some of the clubs. At first because of codes of honour, exitement, internal reputation and revenge for humiliations, later it became a struggle for survival between two different styles, which could not exist side by side.
It was the formation of “the Union” that really shaped the Danish “rockers” course towards Hells Angels and the biker culture. Four of the biggest and (at that time) most notorious “rocker clubs” joined together under the common slogan: "Angels Friendship". The clubs were Iron Skulls, Dirty Angels, Galloping Goose and Nomads. They wanted to become a part of Hells Angels MC World; some of them with all their heart, others for the sake of excitement, and many just followed suit.
In the winter 1977, shortly after the formation, “the Union” consisted of more than 100 men. A slow process of sorting out began and the contact to Holland was intensified. However, they kept away from the Germans. They were too different and had been unsympathetic. The Danish “rockers” found themselves to be the best, and they did not like the superior attitude of the Germans. It was not comprehended that the manner of the Germans was a visible proof that they represented something else – an American inspired biker lifestyle. But the idea of becoming a part of the real and original Hells Angels MC haunted and grew in the narrow-minded brains of the rockers. There was no getting round it; they had to ask Hamburg in Germany, which was the nearest European HA-charter at that time.
A month later - in the Easter of 1978 - sixteen HA-members from Hamburg came to visit in Copenhagen. The contrasts between the two styles, the “rocker period race” and the “biker life style”, showed clearly. The Germans were older and quieter. They wore clean clothes and the Danish “rockers” made fun of the fact that the Germans had carpets in their clubhouses. It was considered ridiculous that you could not spit on the floor in your own clubhouse! “The Union” was the best in Denmark - now they stood facing the best bikers of the world - it ended in an all night brawl.
Regardless of this rather "untraditional" beginning, “the Union” received a letter from Hells Angels MC Europe shortly afterwards; saying that they had been admitted as hangaroundclub. The club now consisted of about 50 men, and by a vote they decided to pass the trial period under the common name: Galloping Goose MC. In the following period several people left the club, or they were thrown out. A few others joined, but it had already become more difficult to enter. The process of sorting out people who did not belong continued and without knowing it, the members and the club slowly changed style. It had become a serious matter for the real ones. The biker life style made its entry into Denmark.
The old conflicts between another group of “rockers” called Bullshit and now hangaround club Galloping Goose MC (G.G.MC) still smoldered, but the most important things for G.G.MC now were to be found outside the borders of the country. This development including the many impressions received from real bikers and the international biker scene, resulted in a barrier between on the one side G.G.MC and most of the other "rocker clubs" who went along with the development, and on the other side Bullshit who remained rockers. Although there were made attempts to get all to come along, the gap between the old and the new steadily deepened. The rockers and the bikers were on a collision course.
In the autumn 1979, Copenhagen was accepted as prospect-charter to Hells Angels MC Europe. 30 men had the bottom rocker "MC Denmark" sewn on their vest. Galloping Goose MC Denmark did not exist anymore. The dirty look disappeared, Nazi-flags and other unimportant junk were removed from the walls, and other pictures and symbols from Hells Angels and the biker milieus round the world now decorated the clubhouses. No citizen should any longer be provoked or walloped, unless it was a matter of self-defense.
At a meeting in Switzerland on New Years Eve, 1980-81 Copenhagen was voted in as the fortieth HA-charter of the world. During the trial period the members had grown more and more interested in the club; the close bonds between its members and the excitement and individualism which thrived in spite of the close community spirit. The free life, the rides, the parties, the girls, the travels and the resistence they met. Only 19 men had passed the trial period - they were now the members of Hells Angels MC Denmark.
The beginning of the eighties was a rather quiet time and the Danish angels enjoyed their new status. Other "new" biker clubs had problems with the "remaining" rockers from Bullshit. The change of culture was a reality, but not yet accomplished, and in 1983 Hells Angels got mixed up in the conflict again. At that time there was such a big difference between the style (way of life) of the rockers and that of the bikers, that the rockers were considered to be a real pain. Their behaviour damaged the development of the new milieu and its possibilities of integration. The press descriptions of the rockers behaviour increased the conflict. Where the rockers loved bad publicity and the accepted fights between the clubs of earlier days, the bikers would prefer to avoid it.
In the summer of 1983 the Danish police seriously began to take interest in the bikers. The interest was aroused from south of the border where German police, under influence of reports from the FBI, had begun to use American methods against Hells Angels MC Hamburg. Investigation measures and manipulation of the public which were totally out of proportion in relation to the reality were now being used against the German brothers. The terrorism in Germany had seen a real climb-down and the German police was in need of new “enemy pictures”. The bikers were just the right group for that purpose.
The situation in Germany culminated with the imprisonment of the whole Hamburg-charter. A few of the members were charged with various criminal acts, but most were charged with “being members of a criminal organization”. Two years later 5 out of 16 members were sentenced to between two and seven years imprisonment in minor and individual cases. The other members of the charter were found not guilty in several trials concerning membership of a criminal organization, but still, the Hamburg-charter was shortly afterwards prohibited as being “harmful to the German society”. What the FBI had not been able to achieve in USA, seemed to come off in Germany.
After a series of meetings between the German and the Danish police, the Danish bikers also felt that they had become a political means of action. And when the conflict between the rockers and the bikers broke out in September 1983, things went quickly. From having exclusively occupied itself with combatting crime within the milieus, the police changed its strategy. Now the biker milieu should be exploited at a maximum to obtain grants and powers. "The rocker war", as the media named the conflict, lasted for five years. Eight people were killed, and more than 100 years of imprisonment were handed out, until the last big rocker club, Bullshit broke up in 1988. Hells Angels MC and Denmarks other biker clubs remained as victors. With a big, strong and dominant club at the head the days with violent clashes in the MC-milieus were over in Denmark, everybody thought!
Not until the beginning of the nineties, did it really come to the attention of the bikers that the authorities had made a secret war against Hells Angels MC since the end of the "rocker war" in 1988. The police had done its homework: An unstable rocker milieu was worth its weight in, if not gold, then grants and powers. But as long as there was only one big and thus dominant club, the conflicts failed to appear. The pressure on Hells Angels MC and its supporters was intensified. Under cover of "combatting crime" and by means of a so called "secret" report, which was leaked to the media in 1991, the Hells Angel’s member’s public reputation and esteem was brought into disrepute. Factual information and falsities were mixed together and although undocumented, they appeared credible to the public.
Despite the good intentions of the biker milieu, the name "rocker" was being maintained by the police and parts of the press, and they were even able to stick the word "crime" to it so that there was created a false notion in 1991 that the "rockercrime" in Denmark was increasing and a scourge for the whole Danish society. That was a lie, but journalists and politicians believed or wished to believe the manipulating allegations of the police. The biker - as a person - was kept hidden for the public while the authorities and the media jointly ensured that "the rocker ghost" was always present.
The next phase in the authorities’ strategy was systematically to create adversity regarding social acceptance and job possibilities. The bikers were met with sackings from their workplaces, destruction of their businesses, and even with the fact that their acquaintances were kept out of the labour market. The authorities tried to stop public appearance such as bike-shows, concerts and lectures with all imaginable means. All positive elements of the biker culture were ignored or denounced as being cover for organized crime, and the result of the undermining activity did not fail to appear.
Through the nineties Hells Angels and its surroundings were subject to a pure terror activity from the (now necessary!) special police units. And with the general alienation that had already taken place, the nations police could now for the entire world to see (TV-News, in the winter 91) declare open war on the biker culture as a whole. They effectively harassed members of the clubs, their girlfriends and friends and tried to push them out of society, into unemployment, new crime or what was worse.
Hells Angels MC Denmark succeeded in keeping calm and responding. In January 1994 at the City Court of Copenhagen, most of the allegations against Hells Angels from the police and the media were declared unwarranted. At the same time the club was strengthened internally and Hells Angels grew bigger in Denmark and spread to all of Scandinavia. The freedom of Hells Angels MC and the other biker clubs had been limited, but the members’ ability to survive made the culture considerably stronger.
Regardless of Hells Angels ability of adaption and strength of survival, the police and the press unfortunately succeeded in weakening the clubs reputation. The smearing campaign and the amount of energy that Hells Angels MC had to employ in containing it had made room for another biker milieu. With the previous "rocker war" fresh in their memory, members of Hells Angels tried with all their might to avoid new conflicts, but the continual talk from the police and the press about a upcoming war as well as provocations, were more than the biker culture could bear. With a carefully planned strategy, parts of the Danish police had succeeded in strenthening the most negative forces of the milieu and leading them directly into conflict.
The trouble which began in the outer circles as a consequence of the many provocations and the intolerable conditions which reigned in the biker milieus, escalated to something which most of all reminded of a small civil war. With their alienation of "the bikers", the police and the media had contributed to create a monster. A monster which no one could control until the worst aggressions had been discharged. "The Big Nordic Rocker War", which was how the authorities named the conflict, lasted for a year and a half, and cost the lives of 11 persons.
Today there is peace and quiet in the milieu, and the members work on reestablishing the situation which existed before the authorities began their smearing campaigns. Through participation in public arrangements, this homepage and interviews it is again sought to improve the relations to the surrounding society. The old as well as the new biker milieu have had a clout on the head, but the same could be said about the authorities. In the period after the so called “war” the police kept a low profile, but soon the good intentions from the so called “peace talks” were forgotten and the police began to exploit the bikers again.
In the beginning of the new millennium other parts of government authorities followed the way of the police and everybody within the establishment united in the fight against the bikers. Blown out of proportions, but still a way for the authorities to get what they wanted to strengthen their powers and combat other subcultures in the country. The police are still busy with controlling the members of the Hells Angels and the other biker clubs in Denmark, but since 9/11 and the general terror treat, they have found other enemies to concentrate on. Today parts of the Danish police are trying to start up a new conflict between the bikers and so called street criminals, using the same methods they used to get the bikers to go at it with each other, back in the nineties. Times will show what happens, but no matter what Hells Angels MC Denmark are here to stay. With all its charters strengthen, a lot of good new members and a lot of young men showing up to join the club, and ofcourse the good relations with all the other clubs in the country, things are looking real good.