William Pierce’s meeting with George Lincoln Rockwell in Washington in 1964 began an association that was to profoundly affect the course of Pierce’s life. Rockwell was a tall, slim, dark-haired, good-looking fellow in his mid-forties when Pierce contacted him. He was the self-proclaimed Commander of the American Nazi Party he founded and headquartered at Arlington, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C.. It has been estimated that Rockwell had around one hundred active members in his organization, with a few hundred more subscribing to his publications, Stormtrooper and The Rockwell Report. Rockwell had an assertive and brash public persona, affected a dashing, rakish image with his corncob pipe, and tended to approach things with a showbiz touch. His public rallies, with him decked out like Hitler in a brown uniform and boots, and a swastika arm band, greeting his followers with the Roman salute, and surrounded by “stormtroopers” and American and Nazi flags had a theatrical as well as – to many – a frightening quality. In his speeches Rockwell would rail against Jews for being behind communism and scheming to mongrelize the American racial stock by promoting racial integration and interbreeding with blacks. He called for resettling American blacks in Africa in a new African state at American expense.1
To give a sense of Rockwell’s style – serious, but still a bit tongue-in-cheek – in response to the freedom rides, as they were called, in 1961 where civil rights activists rode buses in the South to integrate interstate bus travel, Rockwell had his own “hate bus” which he and some of his members drove through the South.2 Another example, evidently with reference to the strong Jewish presence among psychoanalysts and therapists, Rockwell put out a pamphlet which he said gave instructions on how to combat “the Jew mental health attack.”3 And then there was his booklet, “The Diary of Ann Fink.”4
George Lincoln Rockwell was born in 1918 in Bloomington, Illinois.5 He was the oldest of the two sons of “Doc” Rockwell, a vaudeville comic. Rockwell’s parents divorced when he was young, and he spent his childhood years shuttling back and forth between his mother in rural Illinois and his father in Maine, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
He enrolled in Brown University in 1938 and focused his efforts on the study of philosophy, social science, and, according to some accounts, practical-joking. At Brown, he began moving to the right politically, rebelling against the liberal, egalitarian slant of both the social sciences he was studying and his professors. He came to see liberalism as the “pimping little sister of communism.”6 He dropped out of Brown after his sophomore year and enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as a naval aviator during World War II. Rockwell commanded the naval air support at the invasion of Guam in the South Pacific in August of 1944.
In 1943, Rockwell married a woman he had met at Brown. It was the first of two marriages, producing a total of seven children. Both marriages ended in divorce. After he was mustered out of the service in 1945, Rockwell and his first wife took up residence in Maine where he eked out a living as a sign painter and free-lance photographer. He then pursued a career in commercial art and moved the family to New York City, where he studied at the Pratt Institute of Design. Rockwell proved to have considerable gifts at this new line of endeavor and was awarded a major prize for an ad he had designed for the American Cancer Society. However, he turned his back on art and returned to Maine to start an ad agency, which quickly went bankrupt.
When the Korean War broke out in 1950, Rockwell was recalled to active duty and trained fighter pilots at a naval base in San Diego. While in San Diego, he befriended a married couple who shared his conviction that General Douglas MacArthur should run for President. The wife provided him with some right-wing pamphlets that included anti-Semitic material. Rockwell found the material fascinating – the seed had been planted. When he was transferred to Iceland in 1952, he left his wife and three daughters in San Diego. Within a year he was divorced and remarried to the niece of Iceland’s ambassador to the United States.7
The 1950s were the McCarthy years, as they were called after Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, who alleged there were large numbers of communists in high positions in the United States government. During this time, there was a general anti-communist hysteria in this country. The fear was that communists were infiltrating all facets of American life, from the government to the universities to the labor unions to the motion-picture industry. Rockwell himself was certain that something was off-kilter in society and that there was some funny-business going on, but what really put it all into focus for him, he later recalled, was when he bought a copy of Hitler’s book Mein Kampf at a secondhand book store and found himself “transfixed” and “hypnotized”:
[In Mein Kampf] I found abundant “mental sunshine,” which bathed all the gray world suddenly in the clear light of reason and understanding. Word after word, sentence after sentence stabbed into the darkness like thunderclaps and lightning bolts of revelation, tearing and ripping away the cobwebs of more than thirty years of darkness, brilliantly illuminating the mysteries of the heretofore impenetrable murk in a world gone mad. I was transfixed, hypnotized…! wondered at the utter, indescribable genius of it…8
From that point on, Rockwell knew what he believed in: National Socialism.
When his second tour of duty in the Navy was completed in 1954, Rockwell took up residence in Washington, D.C., where he started a magazine for service wives called U.S. Lady. He was forced to sell the magazine enterprise after a few issues because of financial pressures. He then hit the road with his wife as a traveling salesman. He had no great success in this endeavor either and wound up broke back in Washington, where his wife’s income managed to keep food on the table.9
For a time, Rockwell was active in conservative political groups. Then he and a wealthy patron, Harold N. Arrowsmith, formed the National Committee to Free America from Jewish Domination and set up its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. The first official act of this new organization was to picket the White House carrying such signs as SAVE IKE FROM THE KIKES.10 (President Eisenhower’s nickname was Ike.) After a short time, Rockwell broke with Arrowsmith and founded the American Nazi Party. He issued uniforms and swastika arms bands to eleven or twelve recruits whom he housed in barracks he called “hatemonger hill.”11 Rockwell and his troops swaggered around their headquarters in brown shirts and boots brandishing Lugers and “heiling” one another. From that point on, Rockwell carried on the activity that would occupy the rest of his life until his assassination in August of 1967 – engaging in brash exploits to awaken what he perceived to be a sleeping and passive American public to the intertwined issues of the Jews and the blacks.
When a synagogue was blown up in Atlanta, several newspaper articles implicated Rockwell, and his headquarters became the target of bricks, Molotov cocktails, police raids, and death threats. At this point, his wife, with the strong encouragement of her family, decided it was best that she leave, and she took the children and went back to Iceland.12
Rockwell traveled to Iceland to attempt to get his family back together. When he got off the plane in the city of Reykjavik, no one was waiting for him. He hitched a ride to where his wife and the children lived. When he got to the door, he heard his children scurrying around inside. He set down the toy steam shovel and doll he was carrying and knocked on the door. His wife, whose name was Thora, opened the door and exclaimed, “You! What are you doing here?” After a couple of days, Rockwell realized that things weren’t going to work out as he’d hoped, and he returned to the United States alone. He was never to see Thora or the children again.13
From then on, Rockwell’s life was devoted to a continuing campaign of organizing, publishing, demonstrating, and speaking. His activities resulted in his becoming probably the most disdained and mocked man in America, as well as a fair amount of time in jails and hospital beds following his public demonstrations. A year before his death, a reporter asked Rockwell, “Do you believe all of this you preach?” Rockwell slowly and in a low voice replied, “This has cost me the most beautiful wife in the world. Seven kids. All my relatives. I was a commander in the Navy and a half year away from a pension [before being discharged by the Navy for his political views and activities]. Certainly, I believe all of this.”14
Rockwell authored a self-published book called White Power. In the book, he set out his National Socialist beliefs in the form of principles of group living he called “the laws of the tribe.”15 There are five of these laws according to Rockwell: biological integrity, territory, leadership, status, and motherhood.
Biological integrity, said Rockwell, is the “absolute, total, and uncompromising loyalty to one’s own racial group and absolute, uncompromising hatred for outsiders who intrude and threaten to mix their genes with those of the females of the group.” According to this idea, nature creates breeds of animals, including various species of human beings, and protects the biological purity of these breeds as a means of maintaining and improving them. Nature accomplishes these ends in humans through two powerful instincts: love of one’s own breed and hatred for outsiders. These two instincts are equally necessary. Love of one’s own is incredibly powerful and good, but it can’t and shouldn’t stand alone; it needs to be complemented by a deadly hate of that which threatens what is loved. Indeed, hate has its place. The notion that love is good and hate is evil is just the party line of “Jews, liberals, queers, half-wits, and cowards,” wrote Rockwell.
Rockwell asserted that the essence of National Socialism is grounded in this law of biological integrity: namely, the affirmation of racism. To Rockwell, racism is not about morality; it is not about right and wrong. Rather, it is about fact, whether something accords with the reality of Nature or it doesn’t. National Socialism at its core, he declared, is the belief “that humans differ in excellence of breed exactly the same as all other living things, and that the White Man is so far the finest breed to appear, while the Blacks are the Lowest.”16 Thus National Socialism turns racism upside down, from something reprehensible to something that is in alignment with Nature and in service to it.
And then there is the law of territory. To illustrate this concept, Rockwell used the example of tiny tropical fish called swordtails, who will stake out a section of a tank and ferociously attack anything that intrudes into their space. Rockwell claimed that human beings are like these swordtails: it is in our nature to stake out territory for ourselves and our people. He said that in human affairs this law takes the form of adherence to the concept of private property and to national identification and loyalty.
The law of leadership, according to Rockwell, is leadership of the group being in the hands of the very best. In the animal kingdom, he asserted, even if it were possible, leaders would not be selected by democratic vote. Nature’s method is combat, not the ballot, said Rockwell. Nature wouldn’t employ a democratic vote because that is a chancy way of bringing the very best of the group to positions of leadership. Human affairs has demonstrated that, in the long run if not immediately, voting will inevitably result in something other than the best in leadership positions. Leaders chosen in democratic fashion are very likely be the glibbest and the slickest, but they are very unlikely to be the wisest and most capable.
The law of status is similar to the law of leadership, except that it applies to all positions in the group and not just the leadership positions. The law of status says that for every individual there is a natural slot in a hierarchical ordering of members of a group. All of the group members compete for their slot or niche in this hierarchy and then settle into it and are reasonably content with it. The result of this process, said Rockwell, is that things run peacefully for the group and in an orderly and efficient way.
And then, lastly, there is the law of motherhood. Rockwell asserted that it is Nature’s way that females stay out of the affairs of males, and that they specialize in producing and rearing the young and creating healthy families.
To Rockwell’s way of thinking, we violate these five laws at our extreme peril, and that there is one group in particular that is doing its best to persuade us to do just that: the Jews. To give a sense of his rhetorical style, an extended quote from Rockwell’s book on how Jews, divorced from Nature as they are, according to him, promote the violation of the laws of the tribe:
The Jews have spread the unspeakably destructive idea of “universalism,” “one-worldism” – one mob of raceless, stateless, and atomized individuals – as the supreme idea of mankind. Even the conservatives have been suckered into paying lip service to this same unnatural, fragmented, super-individualistic, JEWISH disease of society.
We are told by the Jews that the Law of BIOLOGICAL INTEGRITY (love inside, hate outside) is “racism” – the “ultimate evil” of all time! We are told that if we do not love Yellow men, Black men – and especially Jews – as much as our own people, then we are vicious, perverted, and doomed – we are “racists.” Millions of pitiful white suckers believe that Jewish lie!
We are told that the Law of TERRITORY (private property) is an UN-natural greed, and that decent men must wish to share everything and have no desire for their own private property. They call this “Marxist socialism,” “Communism,” and various other names indicating a concern for “society” and “community” – but all of them strike at the heart of the most powerful and only motivation in living creatures: to build, create, and produce. Millions believe these Jew liars.
We are told by the Jews that the Law of LEADERSHIP (rule of the best) is “dictatorship,” and that we must strive for “democracy” (rule by mobs). Millions of White Aryans have been suckered into believing this siren song of “democracy,” until mobs of human garbage are now terrorizing our whole nation.
We are told by the Jews that the Law of STATUS (the establishment of the natural order of ability of each person in his right place) is “class exploitation” and that the natural leaders of a society – those who have been successful – must be smashed and murdered by those who have not. Whole nations full of good White Aryans have been suckered with this vile Jewish method of dividing and conquering our people through class warfare.
Finally, we are told by these ever-loving Jews that the specialization of women in child-rearing is a beastly enslavement of our females, that women are intended to be judges, locomotive engineers, army officers, and business executives. The result, of course, is the growing destruction of that sacred and beautiful institution of all healthy civilizations, motherhood, and with it the home and the family. Our entire Western world has fallen for this “democratic” Jewish swindle, which has made women the most pitiful victims of the Jewish disease. Millions of “modern” women are hopelessly lost, frustrated, and utterly miserable, even while they are squawking about more “rights” through loudspeakers and marching around in hell-raising, militant, political organizations. Meanwhile, millions of families are without warm, wonderful mothers, and homes are becoming more like luxurious jails than the miracles of love and warmth that were the homes of a century before.17
Rockwell argued that the Jews themselves adhere to the laws of the tribe at the same time that they push its violation on others:
The group loyalty of Jews is perhaps the most fantastic in the history of the world. It has propelled them into near mastery of the entire world – not because they are braver, work harder, are more intelligent or more worthy than the rest of us – but because they observe the basic laws of Nature and maintain group loyalty. While all the rest of us have fallen for their rotten “one world,” “we-are-all-brothers” garbage, which disintegrates our society, the Jews maintain their society with a group loyalty such as history has never before seen, and thus they go from one triumph to another.18
To Rockwell, National Socialism comes down to living in alignment with the natural order of things:
National Socialism is the only movement which has gained sufficient self-knowledge and insight to be able to understand this movement away from liberal artificiality and shortsightedness and toward the eternal wisdom of Nature. Our all-out belief in race, our insistence on the natural laws in society, economics, and every other field of human activity are, in every case, the conscious, scientific application of these laws, instead of conceited and short-sighted perversions of these laws…19
The National Socialist movement that Rockwell is trying to foster, he says in his book, isn’t about gaining political or economic power, at least not at this point. Rather, fundamentally it is an educational effort, an attempt to bring about a radical change in the way whites think and feel about themselves. It involves
the elimination of selfish atomism and greedy narrow “individualism,” or “democracy,” and the restoration in the hearts of Western White men of the deeply satisfying feelings of love of our own kind. This love of one’s group manifests itself in the willingness to sacrifice and give for one’s family – and the larger family of one’s race.20
For Rockwell, it comes down to bringing about a sense of racial identity and loyalty among European whites.
I obtained from Pierce a copy of an audiotape of a Rockwell speech to a college audience in November of 1966 which must have been similar to the one Pierce saw on television that inspired him to write a letter to Rockwell.21 The speech was given at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where Rockwell himself had been a student before the outbreak of World War II. I presume the audience was made up primarily of Brown students and faculty.
Rockwell’s speech took about an hour. He had an upbeat manner and a rapid-fire speaking style reminiscent of a standup comic (“Let me tell you, ladies and gentleman…”). There was a lightness and likeability about him; he wasn’t dark or harsh – except during one exchange, recounted below, with audience members who told him to stop speaking. Thus, with this one exception there was a contrast between this really quite charming presenter and the Jews-are-the-Devil-incarnate substance of his message. Throughout Rockwell’s speech, members of the audience were shouting out derisive comments. The shouting served as backdrop to Rockwell’s microphone-amplified voice and became part of the speech and to a great extent gave definition to the event. There was a stagy quality to the occasion, and it was hard for me to tell how completely real the event seemed to the people who were in the audience – real as opposed to participation in a kind of improvisational theater performance, or just a goof, the way people attending the Jerry Springer show in recent years might view the occasion.
Rockwell’s speech was not what could be called a straight-line presentation – it went from here to there and back again. He would frequently interrupt his prepared remarks to spar with hecklers and go off into what appeared to be spontaneous digressions. But despite the zigging and zagging it seemed that Rockwell never lost his audience, and I had the distinct impression that when he finished those in attendance would have preferred that he continue. I suspect it wasn’t so much that they wanted to hear more of what he was trying to get across; undoubtedly the vast majority of them were certain that he was spouting nonsense. Rather, they were having a good time and didn’t want it to end.
Rockwell began his talk by telling the audience why he was a National Socialist. He said he was going to present a sample of the “shocking facts” that had turned him around. He then remarked that the last time he was in this hall, he was “half stewed, hanging on to a girl at a dance” – which got a sarcastic laugh. He said that he had read an article about Jewish organizations working all week to nullify what he would say in his speech that evening. But the last time a communist spoke here on campus, Rockwell offered, this communist was “invited to tea with the Pembroke girls [Brown’s sister school], and the Jews didn’t say a word! When is the last time you heard of Jews protesting a communist?”
His thesis tonight, Rockwell said, returning to his talk, is that you can’t have an educated opinion or manage a democracy unless you are given all the facts about things. Most liberals are sincere and dedicated people, he acknowledged, and, he asserted, most of the people in the academic community are liberals. But the reason they are liberals, he insisted, is that the facts that they are provided leave them no room to make any other choice but to be a liberal.
Rockwell then started to read an excerpt from a London newspaper clipping from 1920 by Winston Churchill. At this point, someone in the audience hooted, and Rockwell remarked that is the first time he had heard Winston Churchill get that kind of reaction. Rockwell said he would send copies of any of the printed material he referred to in his speech to anyone who wanted them, and that if any of it proved to be phony he would “go to work for Harry Golden and the NAACP.” He then finished reading the excerpt from the Churchill article that said in effect that the Russian revolution in 1917 was a take-over of that country by Jews. Of the three hundred eighty-three commissars after the revolution, over three hundred were Jews, Rockwell claimed. “Why haven’t you been told this?” he asked his audience.
In Russia, Rockwell went on, you have freedom of speech. You can criticize anybody you want – except the communists, that is. And the same thing holds true in China, Rockwell declared. You can criticize anybody but the communists. In Cuba, same thing – anybody but Castro. And in the United States, you can criticize anybody. “You can criticize Irishmen,” he said, “and Italians, the French, people from Brown and Pembroke, anybody you want. That is to say, anybody but the Jews. You can’t criticize them. And if you think you can, try it tomorrow. You’ll be called an anti-Semite. Nobody dares say anything critical against Jews.”
“Jews don’t burn books to keep you from reading them,” asserted Rockwell. “They are more sophisticated than that. They don’t burn them because then you’d know about it. They just quietly use their business genius. They simply say to booksellers, ‘If you sell any book that we don’t like, you won’t get any more books,’ and since they control the publishing industry they can make good on their threat. The result is that you can’t buy books they don’t like.”
Rockwell then took out another document. This one, he said, was a memorandum from the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, a Jewish organization, addressed to booksellers. According to Rockwell, it said “Scribners and Sons has just published a book by Madison Grant entitled The Conquest of a Continent22 It is extremely antagonistic to Jewish interests. Emphasized throughout is the Nordic superiority theory and the utter negation of any melting pot philosophy with regard to America. We are interested in stifling the sale of this book.” The book at no time criticizes Jews, Rockwell contended. “It simply says that the white man is the master race and created America. And you can’t read it, you can’t buy it, it isn’t available.”
“Now, I’ve written a book,” Rockwell went on. “It may be the worst book in the world, but don’t you think you should be able to decide that for yourself? Do you think the ADL and the Jewish War Veterans should be able to get together and say you will not read Rockwell’s book? And that you won’t hear him speak? And that if he does somehow manage to speak, he’ll speak in a small hall? And that he won’t be on television speaking for himself either?”
Rockwell then produced another document; this one, he said, was from the American Jewish Committee. He said that it told people how to deal with him if he does manage to get heard: “Don’t respond to the points Rockwell’s making. Don’t argue with him. Just point out what a rat he is. Call him names.”
“You are not only being denied information,” Rockwell declared. “You are being told what you will like and not like, and in case you rebel and say ‘Oh no I won’t go along with that,’ they use plain old-fashioned terrorism. Anybody thinks they don’t, get up and try to give a so-called anti-Semitic speech. Try distributing Churchill’s article I read to you, and unless you are very well organized you’ll wind up with a bloody nose. They don’t argue with you, they don’t deny what you say, they just shut you up.”
“This is supposed to be a free college [at Brown]. There are a lot of colleges around the country where people say ‘I’m a communist’ all the time. But try saying something against the equality of the races or against the Jews – that they might be involved in communism or are behind race-mixing – and you will be silenced and shut up.”
It is this suppression of the facts that accounts for liberalism, argued Rockwell. “You have been told that the Negro is a white man with a dark skin. If that is the truth, then we have no business discriminating one bit. We should marry them, we should mix [have children] with them. But if there is a difference other than the color of skin, then we ought to discuss it. But that you can’t do. The minute you try to point out the fact that there are differences other than color of skin, then you are in trouble. You are a racist, a Nazi, a fascist, a hater, a bigot. All of these are names. Nobody discusses the facts. There are plenty of facts to prove just exactly what the Negroes are.”
“If the facts are as they say they are,” Rockwell went on, “that the Negroes are wonderful and the Jews are even better, then we ought to mix and Jews ought to run the country, and we might as well fold up, us white Christians. We’ve got no business trying to run our country. We’re too stupid. But those aren’t the facts.”
“The Roman Empire perished from senility – old age,” said Rockwell. “It decayed. It went rotten. America isn’t an old country, but it is decaying. The reason this is happening isn’t because we are old, senile, or feeble. It is because we are being purposefully rotted; the soul of America is being rotted out by germs. I have a Viet Cong flag I tore down with my own hands and went to jail for doing it. The communist who was parading around the White House went on parading, and I went to jail. Treason is going on in our country, and nobody even gets indignant, nobody even cares any more. America will sit around and watch anything happen. Anything goes, and nobody will do anything about it. I’m trying to create a movement to stop the rot and decay in America.”
Rockwell then gave what he said were examples of the rot and decay he was talking about. First he offered up modern art. He said he knew something about art. He had won first prize in 1948 in a commercial art contest for a full-page ad he’d done for the American Cancer Society that ran in the New York Times. “Where did this screwy art come from?” he asked. “Paintings that look like an automobile accident. And how about the screwy poetry, and the sculpture that looks like cow dung piled up?” His point was that it came from Jews, and he then proceeded to give what he claimed were examples. He said that at first he thought that Picasso was just a Spaniard, but then he learned that he was “one of the boys.” [Picasso wasn’t Jewish.] Another example of the Jews he is talking about, he said, was this Ralph Ginsburg [a magazine publisher]; or no, he corrected himself, this other one, the poet, whose first name he couldn’t recall [Allen].
This kind of art is destroying order, he said, and when that happens you are defenseless. “Why, in Washington, D.C., right where I live, a woman can’t walk on the streets alone because they are dropping out of trees.” [Laughter] Reacting to the laughter, Rockwell added, “No, it’s true! They [undoubtedly meaning blacks] actually did drop out of a tree onto the daughter of one of the big State Department officials. I’m not making that up.”
He then went on to talk about a “big convention of queers at one of the major hotels in Washington – the Sheraton or the Shoreham.”
“There comes a time when you draw a line and say this is wrong and immoral and we are going to put a stop to it,” he declared.
Rockwell then turned back to the Jews: “You hear about the six million [killed in the Holocaust], but do any Jews ever show you what they did in Russia to the Christians, killing twenty million of them? [He was referring to the extermination of political opponents and independent farmers, called kulaks, during the Stalin era.] No movies, no tears.”
Then to communism and the civil rights movement: “Now, blacks are truly oppressed people,” Rockwell acknowledged. “They have a tough life. The commies move in and say ‘We are going to help you poor people.’ And then they have march-ins and crawl-ins and squirm-ins and wet-ins [building laughter] and they get all you people to go down to Selma [Alabama, the site of a major civil rights demonstration] and help them. The guy leading it all is Martin Luther King. I look at all the red organizations he belongs to, and he’s got communist assistance. I say he’s a red!”
Rockwell then goes on to assert that the Jews are behind the civil rights movement because they are communists and want to promote miscegenation and the disintegration of the white race.
Rockwell told his audience that when he saw all this going on in this country, he first joined with the conservatives as a way to do something about it. But he quickly became disenchanted with conservatives, who he said turned out to be “the most cowardly bunch of finks I ever had to deal with.” He said he gave up on them and told himself that he was going to “fight, tell the truth, every bit I know.”
“So I have been telling the whole truth since then, and even though it has been tough, I have been winning some of the most wonderful people I have ever met, people who are no hypocrites and cowards. This country is drowning in hypocrisy and cowardice. Conservatives say ‘I love Jews and Negroes are my best friends.’ How is that going to save the country? So I became a Nazi because I found out what a Nazi is. A Nazi is a man who believes in the white race above all things. That doesn’t mean we have to persecute anybody, but it does mean that we have to keep our country white. If Israel is a Jewish country and has a right to be Jewish, if Ghana is a black country and has a right to be black, why don’t we have the right to keep a white country white and Christian? How long do you people think you’d last if you went to Israel and campaigned in the Jewish schools against singing Jewish songs? And yet they are over here campaigning against us singing Christmas carols in ours. They won’t tolerate it, but we must.
“They are destroying our culture, our civilization, and they have millions of good Americans like many of you helping them to do it because you really believe you are helping to build a better world. They tell you about what happened to the poor Jews in Germany, but they don’t tell you what the Jews did to Germany, and what they are trying to do here. And anybody who tries to tell you, they use terrorism to shut him up. Every time I speak, I get letters saying ‘I agreed with what you said but I was afraid to say it.’ This has to stop. No man in America should be afraid to say what is in his heart, and we are. And that is why I am a Nazi, because I am no longer going to be a slave to fear. I’m no longer going to be afraid to say what I believe to be the truth. If I’m wrong, show me and I’ll quit, but stop calling me sick and calling me names and trying to punch me in the face. It will never stop me. It never stopped our forefathers. No American worthy of the name in the history of this country has ever backed down because somebody beat on him or called him sick or threw something at him, and I’m not about to either.”
At this point several people in the audience shouted. I couldn’t pick up what they were saying.
“I’m going either to run this orderly or I’m not going to speak,” Rockwell responded.
“Don’t speak!” yells a male voice. Cheers follow.
“Would you like me to quit? I’ll be glad to quit.”
Much yelling, blending into a roar.
Rockwell takes that to indicate that he ought to go on. “Then tell these Jews to shut up and I’ll go ahead!. I’m not going to speak in the middle of disorder!”
“You aren’t saying anything anyway!” Cheers.
“When the Jews are quiet, I’m going to continue.”
“Now’s your chance, Jews. Let the Christians see how you operate.”
“The Negroes in my opinion are biologically inferior,” Rockwell continued. “Not all of them – you may have some in this room who are smarter than I am. I’m talking about the average ghetto Negro. The great mass of Negroes just can’t make it in a modern urban society. That is not their fault and it is not mine, but the way to remedy it is not to take your rights away and give it to the Negroes, because it won’t help either one of you. It just pulls everybody down. I think we [the races] ought to separate. I don’t think segregation will work, and I know integration won’t work. If we can’t get them [blacks] to Africa, I’m willing to give them part of the U.S. – namely Miami Beach and Brooklyn!” [Laughter]
Rockwell then went into how “Jews’ business genius” has gotten them in control of television, “an industry that controls the minds of America.” “Television is the most powerful medium in the world,” Rockwell asserted. “There are only [at this time] three television networks. At NBC, the Chairman is Robert Sarnoff, a Russian Jew. At ABC, the Chairman is Leonard Goldenson, a Russian Jew. At CBS, there’s William Paley – Palinsky – another Russian Jew. They control everything you see on television, and as a result, even though eighty-five percent of the serious crime in this country is committed by Negroes, have you ever seen a Negro criminal? Every time you see a Negro he’s a judge or a lawyer or a very great man. On the opposite hand, whenever you see a whodunit and you are trying to figure out who the dirty rat is that did it, and a guy comes along and says ‘Hi y’all, I’m from Alabama,’ he done it, that’s the guy! He’s usually unshaven and dirty and filthy – Southern white Christian Protestant, no good. That is what has happened to your television. What I am getting at is Jewish businessmen have gotten to the top, which is their privilege, but then they use and abuse their position to brainwash our country so that you don’t any more know what is going on.
“I believe communism is rapidly disappearing as an issue in this country. I think the issue is rapidly going to become race. And I’m going to fight. I did it in World War II and I did it in Korea and I’m going to do it again, right here. Thank you very much.” [Silence and then scattered applause.]
“Did Rockwell have a major influence on your thinking?” I asked Pierce.
“Rockwell didn’t have any philosophical influence on me, but I did learn many practical things from him, how you get a publication printed and so on. When I was living in Connecticut I used to drive down to Washington every weekend – for a period of several months. [By that time, Rockwell had moved his headquarters to a white, sixteen-room house loaned him by an elderly woman.] I just sat in Rockwell’s office and watched and listened and absorbed as much as I could of how he was going about things. Telephone calls would come in, members of his organization would come in and talk to him. I would talk to him just like you and I are to try to orient myself more to exactly what it was that I could do. He was an unthreatened person – you could ask him anything. We got to know each other, and even though we were very different – he was gregarious and I’m not, and so on – I really liked the guy. I was there in his office in 1965 during the interview he did with Alex Haley for Playboy magazine.”
Later, I found the Playboy article to which Pierce referred.23 The interview was published in the April, 1966 issue of Playboy and received a lot of attention at the time. Haley, who has since died, was an African American writer best known for helping Malcolm X with his autobiography and for the book that was the inspiration for the phenomenally successful late-1970s television mini-series, “Roots.” In the preface to the interview, Haley described his introduction to Rockwell:
About a dozen Nazis stared icily as the guards walked me past them and up the stairs to Rockwell’s door, where a side-armed trooper frisked me expertly from head to toe. Within arm’s reach, I noticed, was a wooden rack holding short combat lengths of sawed-off iron pipe. Finding me “clean,” the guard ceremoniously opened the door, stepped inside, saluted, said “Sieg Heil” – echoed brusquely from within – then stood aside and nodded permission for me to come in. I did.24
Haley began the interview by asking Rockwell why he kept a pistol at his elbow and an armed bodyguard (Pierce says that he wasn’t a bodyguard or armed) in the room. Rockwell answered:
Just a precaution. You may not be aware of the fact that I have received literally thousands of threats against my life. Most of them have been from cranks, but some of them haven’t been. There are bullet holes all over the outside of this building. Just last week, two gallon jugs of flaming gasoline were flung against the house, right under my window. I keep this gun within reach and a guard beside me during interviews because I’ve been attacked too many times to take any chances.25
In the interview, Rockwell went over his “four phase” plan, as he called it:
The first phase is to reach the masses: you can do nothing until you’ve reached the masses. In order to reach them – without money, without status, without a public platform – you have to become a dramatic figure. Now, in order to achieve that, I’ve had to take a lot of garbage: being called a nut and a monster and everything else. But by hanging up the swastika, I reach the masses. The second phase is to disabuse them of the false picture they have gotten of me, to educate them about what my real program is. The third phase will be to organize the people I’ve educated into a political entity. And the fourth phase will be to use that political entity as a machine to win political power.26
In the interview, Rockwell talked about “raising hell to keep people aware.” His latest ideas included staging a “back to Africa” rally at the corner of Lenox Avenue and 125th Street, the heart of New York’s Harlem, and skywriting a swastika over Manhattan on Hitler’s birthday.27
Rockwell talked about two of his times in jail:
… the Jew-dominated officials of New Orleans had us all thrown in jail on phony charges that were later dropped. We finally got out by staging a hunger strike: eleven of us went eight days without a bite… Another time in Virginia, they put me in jail, and I was facing ten years’ possible imprisonment for “starting a war against the niggers.” You’ve never seen a man act as guilty as the sheriff who arrested me… He felt he was doing the wrong thing. Here I was, a white man fighting for the same things he believed in, and he was throwing me in jail.28
He even discussed his plans to be President in 1972:
By 1972, with the economy coming apart at the seams, with the niggers pushing, with the Communists agitating, with all this spiritual emptiness, with all this cowardice and betrayal by our government, the masses of common, ordinary white people will have had it up to here. They will want a real leader in the White House – no more spineless jellyfish, no more oily, two-faced demagogues…29
“Was it your idea,” I inquired of Pierce, “to start up The National Socialist World and be its editor?”
“It was a confluence there – it came out of both Rockwell and me. When I was working up in Connecticut I used to go to the Yale University library, and I found all these wonderful books about race and demographics and so on that had been written in the 1920s and ’30s warning about where the policies we were putting in place would lead, and they hadn’t been checked out in thirty years. So I thought, what is the point of my writing a book as I had been thinking of doing? These authors are learned men – one of them, I remember, was the head of the New York Zoological Society – and they can write better than I can, and nobody reads their books. I thought, I’ve got to do something besides just write a book and have it sink without making a ripple. I decided that I wanted to do something that was more interactive and that was going to build on itself. I decided I would start a journal, and I had a title in mind, National Socialist Thought. But I had never put out a publication of any sort. I didn’t know how to proceed. How do I get it into print? It turned out that my connection with Rockwell taught me a lot about that.
“After I had known Rockwell for a while, I approached him with the journal idea, and he said that that was exactly what he had been thinking about too, and that we ought to call it National Socialist World. I thought his title was better than mine, and I said OK. Rockwell had already done sketches for a cover layout, design, and everything – art was his thing – but he didn’t have anybody to put out the magazine. We talked about it some more, and I told Rockwell that I couldn’t work with the kinds of people he had around there – he had a lot of really defective people around him – and so it has to be completely separate from his operation. What I am going to need from you, I told him, is half the money to get this journal launched, the use of your printing plant, your mailing list, and your expertise. I’ll put it together. Rockwell went with that, although when it came time to pay the printer he didn’t have the money, so I had to pay for the whole thing. It turned out to be successful, though – at least it paid for itself.
“I condensed the book by Savitri Devi that I had read at Oregon State, The Lightning and the Sun, to about a quarter of its original length and reprinted it in that first issue.30 I wrote her and sent her my condensation and asked her whether it was OK with her that I do it, and she said it was all right with her. Almost no one had seen her book – nobody was selling it anywhere. She had printed it herself and if someone would write her, which I did back in Oregon, she would send him a copy of the book. Rockwell was a little taken aback when he found out I was going to use that in the first issue – it may have been a little dry for his taste – but he went along with it. The reprint took up most of the space, and then I had a couple of articles, one of them by Rockwell, and some book reviews and that was it.”
Pierce’s publication of Savitri Devi’s book in his new journal brought it to the attention of a much larger audience than her own self-published effort had and contributed significantly to sparking the increased interest that was to develop in her writings. Devi is an example of the intriguing characters one encounters on the far-right political fringe. Although a French national by birth, Devi – then Maximiani Portas – as a young woman identified with Greece, the country of her father’s birth. Her biographer, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, describes her experience when she went to Greece to study:
The beauty of Athens conjured a vision of its ancient society before her mind’s eye: the physical perfection of the slim and athletic Grecian youths, the order and simplicity of daily life, and the martial bearing and courage of the soldiers. She saw the merchants and townspeople in loose-fitting white garments going about their business on the concourses of the Agora, where philosophers sat conversing on its low stone walls. Everywhere she perceived beauty, order, and light, an image of classical man in harmony with nature, creating admirable buildings and great public spaces. In her opinion, this noble culture of “Hellenism,” “an out and out beautiful world of warriors and artists,” could only be the product of a pure race.31
In time, Devi came to connect Hitler and National Socialism with the dream she had of a new racial order based on classical Greek antiquity.
Devi acquired Greek citizenship and did graduate work there in science, mathematics, and philosophy, and was awarded a doctorate in 1931. She then went to India hoping to find in Hindu India a living equivalent to ancient Greece and the Teutonic tribes of northern Europe before Christianity took hold there. From 1932 to 1935, she lived at Rabindrath Tagore’s ashram and adopted the Indian name she would carry for the rest of her life.
Devi soon rejected Christianity as being solely interested in man and embraced Hinduism, which she viewed as concerned with the entire universe of existence, with man but a part of this larger, all-encompassing reality. Goodrick-Clarke:
Savitri Devi did not accept a demarcation line between man and the rest of the living world. She criticized monotheistic creeds from Judaism on for positing a god who gave special rights to man to use other creatures for his own benefit. In her opinion, the concern of Jehovah with his chosen people, the Jews, typified the limitations of a tribal or local deity. Christianity, she maintained, was nothing more than a globalized tribal religion; the Christians had raised Jesus Christ to the deity of an extended tribe, namely, mankind, which was no more than one species among many others in the endless variety of nature. She detested Christianity and other creedal religions for making man, not life, the center of their creative myths and the basis of their scale of values.32
During her first five years in India, Devi traveled extensively throughout the country, taught English and Indian history at two colleges, and lectured at a Hindu mission, which was set up by independence-minded Hindu political organizations to counteract declining Hindu influence in the country. She was impressed with Indian nationalist political elements who sought closer ties with Hitler’s Germany as part of their effort to achieve independence from British rule and made the acquaintance of independence leader Subhas Chandra Bose. The Hindu mission where she lectured had a distinct pro-Hitler slant, its president describing Hitler as the “saviour of the world.”
In 1938 Devi met and married Asit Krishna Mukherji, the editor of a pro-German, National Socialist magazine. It appears that to a large extent it was a marriage of convenience, as she was worried that with her reputation as a Hindu mission lecturer and Nazi sympathizer she would be deported by British authorities as a suspected alien or forbidden to travel abroad and return. Marriage to Mukherji would make her the wife of a British subject and able to travel freely. Devi describes their marriage as based on shared ideals and a cordial friendship rather than a romantic attachment. There were no children. After work at the Hindu mission, evenings were spent at home with her husband discussing Hinduism, racial ideology, and Mein Kampf Devi also studied yoga and Indian cuisine, and worked on a book about a “religion for a New Order” based on the solar cult of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhnaton called the religion of the Disk.33 Goodrick-Clarke:
The injunction to live in accordance with nature was the single commandment of the religion of the Disk. Man should understand nature as a rational, beautiful, and loving order and not seek to superimpose upon it his own needs or ideas of right. Any philosophical or moral notions reflecting a “supernatural” world view lead to error. The religion of the Disk is quite simply a romantic religion of nature.34
Devi considered Nazism to be consistent with the religion of the Disk, as it too was based on an integral truth grounded in an understanding and love of nature. The book she wrote on this topic entitled Son of God was published in 1946. All of her books were self-published with the help of her husband.
Devi’s writings after the war, Impeachment of Man being one example, argued passionately for animal rights and care for the environment. She demanded that mankind end what she saw as its exploitation of animals and called for the end of meat eating, the wearing of furs and feathers, hunting, bullfighting, circus performances, employing animals as beasts of burden, and the use of animals in medical and scientific experiments. She deplored what she saw as the brutalization of nature that had taken place in the United States, a country she said was “a land of forests as late as the middle of the nineteenth century.” About America Devi wrote:
And there in the place of murdered trees are roads and railways, towns with endless suburbs, villages rapidly growing into towns, and vast expanses of cultivated land; more and more cultivated land to feed more and more people who might as well never have ever been born.35
As for human beings, in Devi’s eyes, there is simply too little quality and far too much quantity. Goodrick-Clarke:
She is in revolt against the whole utilitarian ethos of the West, which seeks the greatest good for the greatest number. In her view, people are simply not equal. She is convinced that this emphasis upon universal welfare at the expense of nature will ultimately degrade the planet into a crowded polluted slum. She seeks a qualitative improvement of the world by which she understands the creation of a hardy, physical breed of superior Aryans inhabiting an aesthetic world of natural beauty. For her, racism is an ecological imperative to conserve the good in nature.36
As Devi saw it, Nazism accorded with her reverence for nature. Goodrick-Clarke:
The Nazi philosophy set at naught man’s intellectual conceit, his naive pride in “progress,” and his futile attempts to enslave nature, and instead made the mysterious and unfailing impersonal wisdom of forests, oceans, and outer space the basis of a global regeneration policy for an overcrowded, overcivilized, and technologically overdeveloped world.37
While Devi saw the Nazis as allies, she viewed Jews as her antagonists. She believed Jews were on the side of everything she didn’t want: racial mixing, cosmopolitanism, Marxism, liberalism, skepticism, and the idea of an international raceless brotherhood. She believed that the Jews pushed these things on others all the while adhering closely to their own tribal identity and thus protecting themselves from their negative consequences.38
After World War II, Devi left India leaving her husband behind. It appears she and her husband parted on amiable terms and they never divorced. For a time she worked in Iceland as a tutor in French. She then went to Germany where she made contact with Nazi loyalists and engaged in such activities as passing out leaflets saying “Hold fast to our glorious National Socialist faith, and resist!!” This got her arrested for promoting militarist and National Socialist ideas on German territory in violation of occupation law, a crime which carried a maximum sentence of death. She responded to her arrest with defiance and scorn and was sentenced to three years in prison, although she only served a few months. While imprisoned, she finished The Lightning and the Sun. When the book was published in 1958, she was working in Edinburgh, Scotland as a wardrobe manager for a traveling dance company.
Devi became active in international neo-Nazi activities in the 1960s, which included becoming a founding member of the World Union of National Socialists. She worked closely with British neo-Nazis, including Colin Jordan and John Tyndall. One of the rallies of the National Socialist Movement party in Britain that she attended in 1962 was marked by the well-publicized appearance of American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell.
In the last years of her life, Devi traveled here and there staying with friends and sympathizers. Pierce told me Devi would just show up with a backpack and stay for a time. Following her death in 1982, her ashes were placed in a shrine at the headquarters of the National Socialist White People’s Party (Rockwell had changed the name from the American Nazi Party in early 1967). In 1983, there was a memorial service for her at this site. The urn containing her ashes sat on a pedestal in front of a Nazi flag. To each side were candles and bouquets of flowers. To the right was a somewhat idealized picture of a younger Savitri Devi in profile surrounded by a wreath over which was draped a sash once worn by Adolf Hitler.
Although she has received little or no attention in the media, Savitri Devi has attained, since her death, cult status in certain circles outside the mainstream of society. Her uncompromising approach to life, her disdain for the masses and vision of a pristine new Aryan order, her love of animals, her nature-centered view of existence, her criticism of an increasingly congested and automated world, and her search for a more fitting religion than Christianity have struck a chord in our time. She is talked about and read – more now than when she was alive – by neo-Nazis, radical environmentalists, paganists, those pessimistic about the effects of increasing human population and technological change, and animal rights advocates around the world.39
“You say Rockwell had a lot of limited people around him?” I asked Pierce. “‘Defective’ is the term I think you used to describe them.”
“Rockwell was courageous and honest and he didn’t have an ego problem,” Pierce answered. “So many people are terrified of taking an unpopular public stand, but not Rockwell. He wasn’t afraid to stick his neck out and get vilified and beaten up. I admired that. But he was this flamboyant showman, that was his style, and I had problems with that. The sensationalist approach, the publicity stunts and so on, it just wasn’t dignified, it looked foolish; and, really, what we are about is no laughing matter. If you put on a show as he was doing, calling yourself the American Nazi Party and waving swastika banners around in front of the White House, if you come on with an incendiary approach, most level-headed people, even if they think of themselves as National Socialists, are going to be hesitant to get involved with that kind of circus. Rockwell had gathered around himself a group of people who for the most part were quite defective in one way or another. They were cripples. Things were in constant chaos. One damn thing after another. People were fighting with each other and organizing mutinies. People had to be gotten out of jail. I thought to myself, ‘I couldn’t put up with this. I’m never going to do anything that is dependent on defective people like this. I’ve got to have normal, moral, capable people around me if I am ever going to get anything done.’ That was the most important lesson I learned from Rockwell: do things in a way that will attract the kind of people you can work with.”
“Your major project at that time with Rockwell was getting out the first edition of National Socialist World, is that right?”
“Yes. During the magazine’s production I was still living in Connecticut. I pasted up the pages of the magazine up there after it had been set in type by an outfit in Dallas. Then I used my annual vacation from work to go to Virginia where Rockwell had a print shop to oversee the actual printing. It was on a piece of land in the country about fifty miles south of Washington given to him by a sympathizer. It had a chicken house made out of cement blocks about one hundred feet long and maybe twelve feet wide. It had been fixed up with running water and electricity, and they had used it as a combination barracks and print shop. They had a printing press in there and racks on the wall for ink and rollers, a darkroom, a lithographic camera – everything you needed for lithographic printing.
“The guy in charge of the print shop – and remember this name – was John Patler. While I was around there, I had a chance to observe Patler. His real name was Yanacki Patsalos. He was this dark, greasy-looking little guy from New York, and he felt bad he was Greek instead of Swedish or German. It really bugged him. He tried to disguise his origin by changing his name. He had this feeling of inferiority, and he had an envy and hatred for people with light eyes, hair, and complexion. I don’t know exactly where this came from. Maybe it was because he had grown up in New York and he was from a poor immigrant family and was at the bottom of the pecking order, and at the top around where he was from were the English, Irish, and Germans. Anyway, he was organizing the darker members of the party against what he called the blue-eyed devils. He was a very aggressive little turd. It was wild, surreal. Patler was sort of talented, though. Besides the printing, he was an artist. He did cartoons for Rockwell. He was smart and had a lot of willpower and drive. The other people in the print shop were real losers of one sort or another, and they did the grunt work for him.
“When it came time to print the magazine, I stayed down by the print shop. I ate my meals in a little kitchen in one end of the chicken coop and slept in a station wagon I had at the time. Rockwell had told me that I had better stay down there all the time because he suspected that Patler was going to sabotage the whole damn thing. Patler hates you, Rockwell said. Rockwell said Patler doesn’t want this magazine produced because he looks upon it as a competitor to his own magazine, the one he edited, called Stormtrooper. And it did turn out that Patler and I were in constant warfare during that time.
“But I had to get the magazine done, and through sheer will I did get it done. I just sort of pushed Patler. It was a nightmare. He came to hate me intensely, and I’m sure he would have gladly killed me if he had thought he could get away with it. I didn’t know how to do this lithographic work when I got there, but I watched Patler do it and I learned pretty quickly. So when Patler tried to stall me, I said ‘OK, I’ll do it,’ and I operated the camera and made the negatives. You’ll notice on that first issue of the magazine [of the six in total] there is uneven print density. That was because of my inexperience in doing that sort of thing.
“When we got to the final stages of stapling and gluing all the covers and so on, we recruited all the little kids from the neighboring farms. Free labor. They didn’t know what it was all about, but they seemed to be having a good time. I remember one of the little kids, about five years old, was nicknamed ‘Turd.’
“On June 6th, 1966, I hauled all those magazines off in my station wagon to the post office. I said to myself, iacta alea est – the die is cast. I have to make it work now. For me it was like jumping into unknown waters; would I sink or swim? I just assumed that I wouldn’t be able to continue working at Pratt & Whitney once the magazine was published. So I quit my job there. I also had all these fantasies about what might happen to me when I made that first public commitment, publishing the first issue of the magazine. I thought that maybe I would become the target of black militant organizations or Jewish gangsters, that I’d get attacked or shot or something, I didn’t know. But I was inspired by the example of Rockwell’s courage. And I wanted to use my own name. I didn’t want to be anonymous because I wanted to be in contact with people. As it turned out, nothing really happened. My theory is that the printed word doesn’t mean all that much to blacks. They will only react when you actually get right in their face and confront them. As for Jews, if they sense a threat they’ll use one of their organizations, or they’ll form a new one and jump on you that way.
“My wife had been anticipating this change – I had told her I was going to have to quit my job in Connecticut when the magazine came out – so she had been looking around for employment. She was able to find work as an assistant professor of mathematics at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We lived in Fredericksburg, and I had an office at home. I commuted up to Arlington where I had a P.O. box for the magazine and a small space in the place Rockwell was living in where I kept my records. It was an old mansion on a hill with about forty acres of land. It was worth millions of dollars. The owner of the land was an old woman who let Rockwell stay there. I guess she liked Rockwell, but also partly, I think, having him there served her purposes by keeping other people off the land.”
“I do happen to know that John Patler, your adversary at the print shop, was the one who shot and killed Rockwell. What do you know about that?”
“We used to call Patler the ‘animal trainer’ because he would gather the most defective people around him, the ones nobody else could put up with, and convert them into essentially his slaves by stroking them. He was a guy who was very much centered on his own immediate personal situation and not the goal of changing America. How can John Patler climb up the next rung of the ladder, that was his concern. He very much resented anybody he saw as a threat to him. That would cause problems because every once in a while somebody would come along with a bit more talent than he had and he would try to sabotage the guy the way he tried to sabotage me. Rockwell told me when I was down there putting the magazine together that he had thrown Patler out of the organization once before and that it looked as if he was going to have to do it again. Rockwell said Patler had always been a real problem, that he was wound too tight and that there had been more incidents at the print shop and Patler had been doing his organizing. A few months after my magazine came out, Rockwell did throw Patler out – this must have been in the fall of 1966.
“About June of the next year, 1967, Rockwell drove out of the headquarters to run an errand. As usual he was accompanied by somebody when he went out. That wasn’t always the case, though – he could be very careless about his personal safety. There was a long drive, maybe one hundred yards, from the house down to the street, with forest on both sides. When Rockwell got back from his errands there was some brush piled in the driveway. Rockwell was driving and had to stop, and the other guy got out of the car to clear the brush off the driveway so they could continue.
“It turned out that Patler had put the brush there and was hiding in bushes alongside the driveway. While the other guy was out of the car clearing the brush, Patler took a shot at Rockwell sitting in the car. It missed and ricocheted off the car just above the door where Rockwell was sitting. Rockwell, who was unarmed, jumped out of the car and began running toward where Patler was. Patler panicked and took off running through the woods with Rockwell at his heels. Patler was armed, Rockwell wasn’t, and Rockwell was chasing him. Patler was about twenty years younger and a faster runner and got away. Later I asked Rockwell who did it, and he said, ‘I couldn’t get a clear look at the guy, all I could see was his back – but I would swear it was John Patler.’ I said, ‘You’d better be careful from now on. That son of a bitch Patler is crazy.’
“Well, he wasn’t careful enough. Because about two-and-a-half months later – August 25, 1967 – Patler killed him. It was a Saturday morning, and Rockwell drove out of that same driveway to do his laundry at a laundromat at a shopping center just across the street. Patler was at the same place waiting in the bushes and saw Rockwell go into the laundromat. Patler went over there and climbed up on the roof of the place and waited for Rockwell to come out. Rockwell came out and started to get into his car and Patler shot him through the windshield of the car from the top of the laundromat. Rockwell hadn’t yet closed the door and fell out of the car dead, shot in the chest. Patler was caught within an hour and got twenty years in prison, and I think he served something like seven. [Patler was paroled in 1975 but violated his parole and served an additional six years.40]
“I had never had an official position in Rockwell’s organization. In fact, I had never even been a member. The previous January Rockwell had changed the name of the party to the National Socialist White People’s Party. I may have influenced him there. I had told him that this American Nazi Party thing was a circus, not a political party; it doesn’t sound real. But even with the name change, I still didn’t join. But then after Rockwell was shot I did join. Rockwell had responded to me and been a kind of anchor, and I had launched a magazine with his help, and I didn’t feel I should walk out. When Rockwell was killed I had been publishing a little over a year. I could have left easily enough, as I had the mailing list I had gotten from Rockwell for my initial mailing of the magazine and the subscriptions were coming in and I had my office down in Fredericksburg, but I didn’t want to see everything fall apart. I felt very much indebted to Rockwell for allowing me to say the things I really wanted to say and for providing me with the infrastructure I needed, a printing plant and the know-how and an initial mailing list to get subscriptions. Plus I was picking his brain. I was learning a lot about people and how things worked, interactions with the government, things like that, so I felt an obligation to him.
“During the time I had been in Rockwell’s circle, I had met only two or three people I had much respect for – people who I thought were sincere and of reasonably good character – and one of them was a man named Matt Koehl. [Koehl rhymes with mail. From the pictures of Koehl I have seen taken in those years, he was in his early thirties, dark-haired, and nondescript in appearance.] Koehl was Rockwell’s number two man, so there was Koehl left with the responsibility with Rockwell gone. I tried to help Koehl keep things going. I decided if I was going to try to help salvage things at least I should become a member of the party. So I said, ‘Give me a membership card. I’m going to put my name on the dotted line. I’m going to be a member of the National Socialist White People’s Party, and I’ll try to help you in any way I can.’
“In retrospect, that was a mistake. I should have quit and gone my own course. But it did give me a context in which to work and continue to develop ideas. I did three more issues of the magazine. I had done three before Rockwell got shot, so there were six in all. The last issue was in 1968. One of them had a short biography of Rockwell I wrote in it. I also wrote articles for a little newspaper they had and generally problem-solved. One of my functions, I would go to demonstrations they would have in Washington and take pictures, and I’d carry a wad of cash to bail out whoever got arrested.
“There was one other fellow involved trying to salvage things after Rockwell got killed – Robert Lloyd. Lloyd had been with Rockwell from the time he was seventeen years old. I liked Lloyd and worked well with him. He was a bright and very gutsy young guy. [Lloyd was in his late twenties, fair-haired, and approaching soap-opera handsome.]
“To show you what Lloyd was like, it must have been in ’64, there was a big debate in Mississippi between the official Democratic party faction and the civil rights faction [the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party] made up of a lot of Jews and blacks who considered the traditional faction to be too traditional, too old-boy-network, too white. The civil rights faction was claiming that they were the true representatives of Mississippi. So Rockwell decided to do some political theater. He sent Lloyd over to the Capitol. [In January of 1965, the House of Representatives was prepared to take a roll call for its opening session of the new term. Three black women elected in an unofficial ballot among Mississippi African Americans were planning to demand to be seated as the true representatives from that state.41]
“Lloyd went into the Capitol wearing ordinary street clothes, but he was carrying a briefcase and got into one of the washrooms and changed clothes. He put on black face, a bone arrangement that looked like it went through his nose, a lion skin, and a stovepipe hat, one of those tall hats, like a top hat. Then he ran out of the washroom and dodged the cops and got onto the floor of Congress and yelled ‘I’s the Mississippi delegation and I demands to be seated!’ That put the place into an uproar, with Lloyd yelling and the guards trying to catch him. He ran across rows of seats and dodged the guards for about five minutes before they finally got him out of there. It was on television and made the headlines. Lloyd got a hundred dollar fine. They decided not to lock him up because they didn’t want to generate any sympathy for him. They didn’t want any kind of political trial. They did tell Lloyd, though, that if he ever did anything like that again they’d shoot him. [Three of Lloyd’s other stunts: jumping up on stage at a banquet of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and throwing “back to Africa boat tickets” at the audience; going to civil rights demonstrations dressed in an ape costume; and attempting to deliver to the featured speaker at a convention of homosexuals a box labeled as containing an emergency shipment of twenty-four quarts of vaseline.42]
“I always admired Lloyd because he was an intelligent guy who was fearless. He looked on an assignment like that one Rockwell gave him as a challenge to make it come off successfully. We need a lot more people like that. Lloyd had sort of dropped out of things. He had a family to support, and he had his father’s rest-home business to help run. I brought him back in to help out with National Socialist World. I made him circulation manager.
“So it was Koehl, Lloyd, and I trying to keep the organization going. I had made up my mind during this time that if I was going to stay with this thing it was going to have to evolve into something more effective than it was. Nothing could really be done in the long run with the losers the organization was attracting: motorcycle gang dropouts, ex-convicts, and so forth. So very soon I was suggesting to Koehl that this business of “sieg heil” and swastika armbands and all that didn’t cut it. We weren’t making a movie, and we might as well dispense with the Hollywood stuff and make a better impression on the type of people we really needed to attract. I never participated in that sort of business, and that is why the Jews have never been able to come up with a photograph of me dressed up in a uniform or wearing an armband. I thought it was foolish, and I wasn’t going to participate in it, and I told Koehl that.
“Lloyd agreed with me that we were going nowhere with this circustype approach, but Koehl thought what Lloyd and I were doing was heresy of the worst sort. To Koehl it was like having a Lutheran on the College of Cardinals. Koehl was an admirable guy in some ways. For one thing, he was very reliable – but he wasn’t very imaginative. To figure out what to do he would take out Mein Kampf or see how Hitler did it in 1928. I said, ‘Jesus, Matt, we’ve got a different situation now. For one thing, wearing uniforms was normal back in Germany. Everybody did it – even the Catholic party had uniforms and flags and so forth. But doing it in America now makes us seem weird. If you try to run an organization with the kind of weirdos and unstable people who are pulled in by what we are doing, we are just going to have constant problems.’
“As time went along, Koehl and I had more and more strenuous disagreements. Finally, in June of 1970 we had a violent argument, and I quit the party. Koehl had gotten it into his head that Lloyd and I were plotting a coup to take over the organization and run it our way. We weren’t. I had no interest in running the organization. My only interest was in writing. I just thought it would make more sense if Matt operated along different lines. But Koehl didn’t see it that way. So I quit and Lloyd quit, and Koehl kept doing it the way he wanted to. Eventually Koehl dropped all the Nazi rigmarole himself and went to plain clothes and started an organization called the New Order and tried to present a more American image to the general public. He bought some land near New Berlin, Wisconsin – an appropriate enough place for the new party headquarters – where he was going to establish a sort of a colony, but it never really got off the ground, and Koehl faded from sight.
“I was sort of adrift for a few months. I decided I needed to change my approach. I discontinued National Socialist World. It didn’t make sense to keep on with it. There was just too small an audience; there wasn’t even a National Socialist organization. I needed to deal with a bigger audience and with more normal people – there were too many crackpots where I had been. Then I met Lou Byers and learned about his enterprise, the National Youth Alliance. Byers told me he was going to fold the organization, and I told him I was interested in picking it up.”
1 For biographical information on Rockwell, see Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Hitler’s Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth, and Neo-Nazism (New York: New York University Press, 1998), pp. 197-199, 205-206.
2 William Schmaltz, Hate: George Lincoln Rockwell and the American Nazi Party (Herndon, VA: Batsford Brassey, 1998), p.115.
3 John George and Laird Wilcox, Nazis, Comunists, Klansmen, and Others on the Fringe (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1992), p. 356.
4 Schmaltz, p. 180.
5 See the biographical sketch of Rockwell in “Playboy Interview: George Lincoln Rockwell,” Playboy, vol. 13, April 1966, pp. 71-72.
6 Goodrick-Clarke, pp. 197.
7 George and Wilcox, p. 355.
8 Goodrick-Clarke, pp. 197-198.
9 Playboy Interview, pp. 71-72.
10 Schmaltz, p. 33.
11 Goodrick-Clarke, pp. 198-199.
12 Schmaltz, p. 38.
13 Ibid., p. 56.
14 Ibid., p. 301.
15 George Lincoln Rockwell, White Power (Los Angeles: World Services, 1972), pp. 444-448.
16 Ibid., p. 453.
17 Ibid., pp. 449-450.
18 Ibid., p. 452.
19 Ibid., p. 457.
20 Ibid., p. 461.
21 “Rockwell at Brown University,” American Dissident Voices, audio tape no. 448 (Hillsboro, WV: National Vanguard Books, 1992).
22 Madison Grant, The Conquest of a Continent (New York: Scribner, 1934).
23 Playboy Interview, pp. 71-72, 74, 76-82, 154, 156.
24 Ibid., p. 72.
26 Ibid., p. 80.
27 Ibid., pp. 72, 80.
28 Ibid., p. 56.
29 Ibid., p. 82.
30 Savitri Devi, “The Lightning and the Sun,” in National Socialist World, no. 1, Spring 1966, pp. 13-90.
31 Goodrick-Clarke, pp. 14-15.
32 Ibid., p. 99.
33 Ibid., pp. 70-74.
34 Ibid., pp. 103-104.
35 Ibid., p. 106.
37 Ibid., p. 120.
38 Ibid., p. 122.
39 Ibid., p. 225.
40 Schmaltz, p. 333.
41 Ibid., p. 232.
42 Ibid., pp. 215, 235, 275.