The Rockwell Period 1958-67
George Lincoln Rockwell has often been depicted as a figure of fun. Alternatively, Rockwell’s Jewish and liberal enemies saw him as some sort of monstrous pervert trying to resurrect the horrors of Nazi Germany’s concentration camps. Rockwell’s successors and followers meanwhile, were inclined to visualise him as a quasi-religious manifestation of racial destiny.
Rockwell’s own violent and action-filled career has, to a degree, obscured the fact that he created an embryonic American fascist movement in the turbulent 1960’s, and that he was a man of undoubted intelligence and tactical skill, who was able to manipulate social and racial strife for his own ends.
Through his exploitation of the mass-media, Rockwell was able to place his name before the public and establish himself as part of the folklore of 1960’s confrontation politics. At least one film, Getting Straight, mentioned him; singer Bob Dylan made reference to him as an expression of American bigotry in his John Birch Blues. (1) His memory was revived in the television drama Roots, with Marlon Brando playing the part of Rockwell. Rockwell was mentioned in every major American newspaper and on many television and radio stations. Mass circulation men’s magazines, like Playboy and Cavalier, were anxious to interview him. He became one of the best known figures of 1960’s militant politics.
1. Getting Straight, 1970, starred Eliot Gould. Bob Dylan’s John Birch Blues was performed in 1964. Marlon Brando’s portrayal of Rockwell failed to match Rockwell’s recordings of the Alex Haley recording.
Rockwell was the first of the 1960’s radicals to utilise the television medium through the provision of shocking and dramatic entertainment. He was not alone in this but his career definitely predated by a few years the Students for a Democratic Society and the Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Committee. Rockwell also managed, as a coiner of provocative and witty slogans, to rival the Paris situationist anarchists of the 1968 revolution. Yet, the Rockwell movement has not been treated seriously by any historian nor by any credible commentator. To see Rockwell, as many have done, as an aberrant curiosity is to ignore the facts that he culled many of his ideas from the American past and that, by the close of his career in 1967, he commanded a small following in riot-torn America.
Rockwell was born in March 1918, the son of a famous vaudeville comedian. His family life was quickly disjointed by parental schism. He attended high school and enjoyed the familial company of his father and brother. He matriculated to Brown University in 1938, but failed to graduate from that institution. While at Brown he drew cartoons and wrote for the campus paper. In his autobiography, This Time The World, Rockwell claimed that he left university to join the U.S. Navy because of elemental patriotism. He sincerely believed what Franklin Roosevelt and other Democrats said: that Nazi Germany was grabbing for global power and was a threat to the United States. (2)
Rockwell served in the Navy with distinction and rose to the rank of Commander. He was stationed in the Atlantic and the Pacific regions, and carried out various combat missions. (3) After demobilisation in 1945, Rockwell returned to his war-bride and began a normal family life. He found work as a commercial artist and became the father of three children. In many ways he was not unlike millions of other Americans of his generation. It was not until 1951 that he showed any interest in politics. In that year he decided that General Macarthur would be a good candidate for the Presidency of the United States. When Rockwell organised a "Macarthur for President" rally in San Diego, he gained his first contact with the demi-world of American extremism and anti-semitism. (4) Given copies of Common Sense by an anti-semite, Rockwell was initiated into the conspiracy theories of the 1950’s Extreme Right. (5) He studied Common Sense’s articles on the Jewish-communist nexus and came to believe that Hitler had been right on this matter. "I learned Hitler was right on the Jews; I wondered if he was right on other things." (6) He was stirred to read Mein Kampf, and the book moved him deeply:
Mein Kampf was like finding part of me In Mein Kampf I found abundant mental sunshine... I was transfixed, hypnotised...
2 . George Lincoln Rockwell, This Time The World, Parliament House, 1972, pp. 71-72.
3 .Rockwell verses Pine, Arlington, American Nazi Party recording, 1966.
4 . George Lincoln Rockwell, op. cit., p. 155.
5 . George Lincoln Rockwell, White Power, Dallas, 1966, pp. 380-8.
6 . George Lincoln Rockwell, Why Nazism? A.N.P. leaflet, dating from early 1960’s.
Slowly, bit by bit I began to understand. I realised that National Socialism, the iconoclastic world-view of Adolf Hitler was the doctrine of scientific racial-idealism, actually a new religion for our times... [Hitler was]... the greatest mind in 2000 years. (7)
Rockwell’s belief in these ideas compelled him to act. He recounted also that Joe McCarthy’s revelations proved to him the existence of some organised conspiracy against America, which, as a patriotic American, he had to oppose. (8) He opted to join the more respectable conservative groups and was active on various committees which supported Senator McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade. Rockwell moved further to the right when he went to work as a paid official for Russel McGuire, the millionaire proprietor of American Mercury magazine. After a personal rift with McGuire, Rockwell established the American Federation of Conservative Organisations, but this new group foundered after six months and was absorbed by millionaire John Snowden’s Campaign For The 48 States. (9) This association was also short-lived and Rockwell again found himself in the political wilderness.
It was at this time (1955), that Rockwell came to believe that the conservatives could not achieve any success, that they were defensive, too conspiratorial and revelled in the mentality of persecution. (10) At this juncture Rockwell was
7 . George Lincoln Rockwell, This Time, pp. 154-55.
8. George Lincoln Rockwell, Judiciary Park Speech, Liverpool, British Movement recording, 1975. This text comes from an unnamed and undated address recorded on this tape as a type of preface.
9. George Lincoln Rockwell, White Power, pp. 388-90.
10. ibid., pp. 390-91, 405.
searching for an organisation wbich minced neither its words nor its objectives. In 1956, Rockwell became associated with De West Hooker, another millionaire, and one of the prime movers and financiers of the Nationalist Youth League, the youth section of the American Nationalist Party. Ideologically, these groups were neo-fascist, but they lacked a mass base and received little publicity. (11) These two facts were observed by Rockwell who already believed that an American Extreme Right party would need to achieve both. Through the American Nationalists, he established a wide circle of contacts, including John Patler his later assassin, and Matt Koehl, his successor as head of the U.S. Nazi movement (12) Members of the A.N.P. also introduced him to their close allies, Dr. Ed Fields and Jesse B. Stoner, two Southern extremists working on the fringes of the Citizens’ Councils Movement. During the years 1957-58 Rockwell, at gatherings of these forthright anti-semites, first posited the idea of an American Nazi Party. Writing later in the U.S. Nazi recruitment leaflet Rockwell observed:
I scared even the radicals to death. The idea of a Nazi Party was just too way out, too extreme. Back then - even I to a point - doubted that, as a Nazi, I could survive. But I knew it must be tried. (13)
Such a party was to attract fighting men into a militant organisation.
11. From a review of publications issued by these groups.
12. George Lincoln Rockwell, This Time, p. 288. Rockwell used N.Y.L. contacts for an anti-Zionist rally in 1958. The American Nationalist bulletin of the Nationalist Party, records Matt Koehl and John Patler as members.
13. George Lincoln Rockwell, We Don’t Sneak, American Nazi Party leaflet, date unknown.
It was to be more dramatic than Frank Britton’s Nationalists or James Madole’s National Renaissance Party. It would need the trappings of German fascism as well as its programme and principles. (14) In this way the Right could mount the offensive. Rockwell declared:
"America is like the dinosaurs - on the way to oblivion. America is stupefied. It needs to be shocked". (15)
By early 1958, the stage for Rockwell’s Nazi Party was set. National Socialist World contended that his association with eccentric millionaire Harold Arrowsmith brought him to the brink of open Nazism. The two men established The National Committee to Free America from Jewish Domination, a publishing body designed to print documents proving the extent of Jewish involvement in the communist movement. (16) The Committee organised a successful picket of the White House in July 1958 to denounce the U.S. invasion of Lebanon and to condemn Zionism; many of the picketers were from the Nationalist Youth League. Shortly afterwards, and probably as a direct consequence, the F.B.I., while investigating a Southern church bombing, chose to intimidate Rockwell, Arrowsmith and the Fields/Stoner group (they picketed simultaneously in Atlanta ). (17) Arrowsmith
14. National Socialist Bulletin, July 1960, p. 2.
15. George Lincoln Rockwell, Lynchburg Armory Speech, July 1963, National Socialist Party of America recording, Chicago, 1977.
16. Dr. William Pierce, "George Lincoln Rockwell: A National Socialist Life," National Socialist World, Journal of the World Union of National Socialists, 1968.
17. Dr. E. R. Fields, letter to author, 15.8.79. Fields, who represented the National States’ Rights Party, believes the F.B.I. has worked to "frame" patriots since the desegregation days of the mid-1950’s.
withdrew from the Committee, which soon collapsed, leaving Rockwell, again, alone. At that point he decided to establish a Nazi organization.
The decision to establish a Nazi party was not taken lightly. In This Time The World, Rockwell recounts that he analysed his position in mid-1958 carefully. He dismissed the "respectable" anti-communist and racist groups as "boobs, tightwads and talkers:’ who could not move masses. The radical Right groups - particularly the Southern group -were accused of narrowness in their appeals - be it to Protestant Southerners or the middle-class. They had also failed to win publicity, "the lifeblood of any movement". (18) Rockwell’s account was one of despair. Certainly Rockwell’s Hitlerphilia drove him on. He believed that, since Hitler was the ultimate opponent of the Jews and of Marxism, his ideology was the antidote to similar problems in America. He saw Hitler as the ultimate German revolutionary ready to impose his views on the Right. His own mission was similar: to galvanise the Right by a militant example. (19)
The ‘World Union Of Free Enterprise National Socialists' commenced operations in March 1959. It began shakily in leased premises owned by Arrowsmith. After various internal difficulties, Rockwell re-christened it the American Nazi Party (ANP) and managed a move to better quarters in December 1959 - its "house on hatemonger hill" - North Randolph St., Arlington, Virginia. The ANP’s earliest supporters were James K. Warner, first National Secretary, John Patler, J. V. Morgan, first deputy leader, and Floyd
18. George Lincoln Rockwell, This Time, pp. 246, 308.
19. George Licoln Rockwell, White Power, pp. 433-36, 444.
Fleming, a war veteran who financed the movement. During 1959, Rockwell assembled a small group of sympathisers, perhaps no more than fifty members. (20) In October 1959, he brought public attention to his group when the Naval Reserve threatened Rockwell’s discharge for political unreliability. The American Civil Liberties’ Union intervened and won Rockwell an Honourable Discharge.
In early 1960, Rockwell devised the shock tactics which in six months were to make him a national celebrity. A short pamphlet, In Hoc Signo Vinces (In This Sign You Will Conquer), outlined his tactical formulae and basic ideology. The pamphlet maintained that, while America’s whites played at being Catholics and Protestants, Southerners and Yankees, Republicans and Democrats, the Jews and the Negroes were uniting against them. Rockwell went on to argue that whites all over the world were divided by national boundaries, while internationalist Zionist Jews were undermining the West to the benefit of the coloured world. Whites required international solidarity to survive. The pamphlet argued that Adolf Hitler posited the idea of international white solidarity and the Third Reich was the laboratory test of what the right could achieve when properly mobilised. This was contrasted with the ineffective American Right; with its "blabbermouths", "boobs" and "talkers," and its absence of youthful support. A "Nazi approach" would supposedly force the right into the open and gain mass media coverage
20. James K. Warner, letter to author, 8.7.79. Warner now directs a "Christian Nationalist" group and prints the anti semitic Christian Vanguard.
in the "Jewish owned" media. The use of swastikas and brown uniforms would drive America’s Jews to advertise the Nazi Party since they were "putty in the hands of the calculating Nazi". They would be on the defensive and the racist cause would make headway. (21)
In Hoc Signo Vinces became a sort of catechism for the early Nazi Party and illustrated Rockwell’s ability to provoke others. The title for his party was itself provocative: it was not a National Socialist party, but a Nazi party. In Hoc also showed the very raw nature of Rockwell’s thinking at the time. For example, he strongly implied that the Right had basically the correct ideas but had the wrong tactics. There was a strong suggestion that the ANP was the drummer of the superpatriotic and racist causes seeking not power for itself but power for a reinvigorated Right. In Hoc also showed a certain explosive quality in Rockwell’s fascism. He made errors in his analysis of the right (primarily in his belief that the Right was somehow "Nazi," but would not admit it) but was ready to pioneer a new ideological-tactical formulation. When he began to apply his tactics in the summer of 1960, Rockwell found that they worked and their success launched his party.
Rockwell’s shrewd manipulation of the press became clear when, in June 1960, he applied for a permit to speak in Union Square, New York. When a permit was granted the Jewish War Veterans obtained an injunction,
21. George Lincoln Rockwell, In Hoc Signo Vinces, Arlington, 1975, passim.
which necessitated a court hearing on the matter. The judicial hearing became a riot. At a packed court appearance, Rockwell called for "the gassing of traitors" and argued that eighty percent of America’s Jews were "communist traitors". (22) The court ruled against him, and not until 1961, did the Civil Liberties’ Union, by invoking Constitutional argument, win Rockwell’s right to speak. (23) Even so, some Jewish groups sought a permanent injunction against the appearing in New York, and the usually sober New York Times editorialised:
This purveyor of venom and this panderer of hate... and the handful of psychopaths who agree with him... [are] ... not going to shake the foundations of this Republic (24)
In a speech in Washington’s Judiciary Park in October 1960, Rockwell recounted the Union Square events as his greatest media extravaganza:
When I asked to speak in Union Square New York where the communists daily hold forth and preach against our government, New York went wild. The front pages of the newspapers were smeared with great big six inch letters: "Stop Rockwell" "Rockwell is coming to get us, "God Save Us from Rockwell"
He then added, in language which the media was forced to report, thus achieving for himself the coverage which he craved:
22. Nazi Rockwell, Oakleaf Productions, 1974. (This recording of Rockwell’s speeches, radio debates and discussions contains several important elements of Rockwell’s thinking).
23. New York Times, June 21, 1960.
24. New York Times, June 23, 1960, indicated the nature of their suit.
And do you know who put those things in there? Not people who are afraid I’m going to take over America but afraid I’m going to gas them ‘cause they’re traitors.And I will. (25)
Although Rockwell could not have had at the time more than two hundred members and supporters of his party, he was able to dramatise simple slogans before millions. The publicity could only have assisted the ANP drain off militant activists from other rightist formations (as well as to win it other recruits). Testimonials from former members of other groups, which appeared later in Nazi literature alluded to this fact. (26)
Following a riot on the Washington mall in July 1960, Rockwell was committed to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington D.C. for psychological observation. He was finally released and judged "sane". (27) The experience prompted the Commander of the Nazi Party to write a pamphlet, How to Get Out and Stay Out of the Insane Asylum. This short work warned against mental health legislation (a favourite right-wing theme) and explained how "patriots" could thwart attacks by Establishment (usually Jewish) psychologists. For Rockwell, the asylum episode was a major test for his party. It proved that he could survive
25. G. L. Rockwell, Judiciary Park Speech, Liverpool, British Movement recording, 1975.
26. "Why Conservatism Can’t Stop the Black Revolution," Stormtrooper, July-August 1963. Rockwell made numerous references to winning converts from rightist groups. Rockwell Report, January 1965, gives the "case" of R. Lloyd in this regard.
27. Leland V. Bell, In Hitler’s Shadow: The Anatomy of American Nazism, Port Washington, 1974, p. 114.
the ultimate attack (short of assassination) on his right of free speech. Rockwell’s pamphlet was also partly addressed to other rightists. He was trying to prove that the Jewish conspiracy was not "total" and that even a Nazi could come out publicly and use "honest" psychologists, courts and policemen against the system. That he was not "railroaded" to the bug-house" proved that the dramatic Nazi approach could not be silenced. (28)
Rockwell’s well-reported activities spurred the growth of the ANP. Speaking over a Virginian radio station Rockwell claimed:
A group of young men in Washington saw what it is like to be a Nazi. Our courage against the mob won them over. That is why we’re in the streets and not in private meeting halls. When we make news through our bruises and broken bones, we win new fighting men (29)
By 1961, the ANP was operating in Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston. The organisation was divided into three sections - Members, Official Supporters and Stormtroopers - though these divisions overlapped and may never have been clearly defined. The party had a hierarchy based on military ranks: Lieutenants, Captains and Majors, and a paramilitary demeanour, which some rightists and other youths may have found appealing. (30) Rockwell oversaw most aspects of the party’s activity, and as suggested by George
28. George Lincoln Rockwell, How to Get out and Stay Out of the Insane Asylum, American Nazi Party, 1960, passim.
29. The White Revolution, National Socialist American Workers’ Party recording, 1974.
30. Edward Robert Cawthron, conversation with author, 1979.
Thayer, maintained his authority through his ability to keep the movement continually before the public. (31) The party thrived on continuous action.
In 1961 Rockwell travelled to each of the cities where the ANP had branches, in order to picket the respective openings of the film Exodus. His brown-shirted followers carried picket-signs reading "80% of convicted communist spies were racial-Jews;’ "Gas Jew Communists," and anti-Israel slogans. The aim of these provocations was probably publicity; a riot developed in Philadelphia yielding wide coverage. Later in 1961, Rockwell journeyed to several southern states to oppose the Freedom Rides of that year. The Nazis motored through Birmingham, Atlanta and New Orleans in a "Hate Bus", a Volkswagen van decorated with slogans such as "Yes we do hate" and "Gas Race Mixers" (32) Rockwell was arrested in New Orleans for disorderly conduct, but the charges were later dropped. While the press responded as Rockwell predicted - with substantial coverage, he failed to impress local racists. Klans and other racist organisations were far from happy. Some denounced him as "an outside communist agitator". (33) In this early period Rockwell was unable to convince many rightists that his party was not merely a group aiming at provocation and
31. George Thayer, The Farther Shores of Politics: the American Political Fringe Today, New York, 1968. Thayer centres his chapter on Rockwell around his dynamism as the core of Nazi development and activism.
32. George Lincoln Rockwell, This Time, p. 396.
33. Fiery Cross, newspaper of the United Klans of America, photocopy. Informant dates article as July 1961.
consequently he was the target of much rightist criticism. Rockwell’s opposition to desegregation did, however, win support from one unusual source - the Nation of Islam, America’s Black Moslems. In February 1962, Rockwell became the first white man ever to address the annual Black Moslem congress. In Chicago, he appeared on the platform with Elijah Mohammed, the Black Moslem leader, and sang his praise as "leader of the black men. The alliance failed to endure, though precise reasons for the parting of the ways are difficult to determine. But that this pact was ever contracted showed something of Rockwell’s character and his tactical shrewdness; the alliance of an avowed white supremacist party and a black separatist movement.was startling, especially at a time of intense civil rights activity. (34) It was probably in Rockwell’s nature to try the unusual and the dramatic.
Rockwell’s strategy in the period 1959-62 was designed simply to implant the ANP in several major cities and to make himself a figure of some notoriety. (35) To articulate the Nazi ideology two publications were founded to replace the early National Socialist Bulletin -Rockwell Report and Stormtrooper. The former was an eight, twelve or sixteen page bulletin containing articles on the Nazi ideology, on the Jewish nature of communism or the development of the Nazi party. The latter was largely devoted
34. Rockwell Report, September 1962, published photographs of this event. Rockwell spoke of his "respect" for Malcolm X.
35. Rockwell Speaks to England 1962, Liverpool, British Movement recording, 1975.
to Nazi actions in the U.S. and elsewhere and featured lurid cartoons of ape-like Negroes and hook-nosed Jews. It contained racial jokes and extensive book and pamphlet lists. Each edition carried an article "from the desk of the Commander" on some ideological matter.
The early period of U.S. Nazism was also characterised by the urgent desire to spread the new doctrine internationally. Rockwell’s Nazism can be partly understood in this content.
Rockwell did not see himself - simply as an American nationalist, but as "a brother to all other white men", that is, a racial-nationalist. (36) Like most of the post-war European fascists, Rockwell maintained that his creed went beyond frontiers: it was ‘Western’. One of his first moves in 1959 was to found, on paper at least, the World Union of Free Enterprise National Socialists (WUFENS). He had proclaimed Hitler’s ideology to be universally applicable to each national environment, or at least a guide to all fascist parties; this explained his enthusiastic adoption of the forms of German National Socialism. The commitment to resurrecting Hitler’s creed internationally coloured the movement with a certain American missionary zeal; it was America which was to redeem the endangered white race. (37) This was despite the foreign nature of the
36. George Lincoln Rockwell, In Hoc, passim.
37. George Lincoln Rockwell, op. cit.; while In Hoc certainly argues for an international Nazi movement the appeal is clearly to Americans. Stormtrooper, Vol. 2, No. 3, described In Hoc as, "the book which is inspiring the growth of a tremendous Nazi movement...". The full title which means: "In This Sign You Will Conquer", is an early Christian slogan.
ideology being propounded and its pretension to international relevance. The WUFENS occupied a very central place in the ideology of the ANP. Indeed, Rockwell invented his own version of the Swastika Flag for WUFENS: a standard swastika with a globe in the centre where the black arms of the swastika intersect; this supposedly demonstrated his commitment to a global National Socialism.
The birth of American Nazism had coincided with a revival of international fascism. The public appetite for information on Hitler, the Third Reich and fascism generally was being whetted by the publication of a number of works by both historians and journalists. A number of nostalgic movements had formed in Europe to promote neo-nazism. The 1960 Eichmann Trial, Rockwell claimed, was an attempt by various liberal-democratic and Jewish forces to expose fully the horrors of Nazism and thereby defuse these movements.(38) Despite this, in the years between 1958 and 1962, neo-nazism surfaced in Europe; indeed, Neo-Nazism exploded onto the European scene. Rockwell’s movement was both a symptom and catalyst; for this phenomenon. International contacts were quickly established, though the limited world view of American Nazism restricted these contacts to nostalgics only; it therefore missed intersecting with the overall upsurge of neo-fascist activism. (39)
38. The Eichmann Trial, American Nazi leaflet, 1960. This leaflet reproduced a letter supposedly written by the imprisoned Adolf Eichmann.
39. The Northern European, No. 3, newsletter of the Northern European Ring, rejected the "Algerie Francaise" movement as one unconscious of its racist-nationalist mission.
The period 1958-62 was an auspicious one for neo-fascist movements. It saw the revival of militant Falangism in Spain, the spectacular career of the French ‘Organisation Armee Secrete’ (OAS), a sudden rise in support for the Italian Social Movement, the growth of the National Recht Partei (predecessor of the notorious National Democratic Party of Germany) and the emergence of the British National Party, one of the parent groups of National Front. (40) The growth of these assorted Extreme-Right movements led Maurice Bardeche, France’s leading neo-fascist ideologue to exclaim that "fascism was coming back"; however, Bardeche saw a new fascism maturing, with no tangible organizational or ideological links to the grand movements of the 1919-45 period. It would be a fascism which was "young, "with the face of an innocent child which we would not recognise"; more precisely, he continued: "we must be sincere. There were elements of the fascism that was that the fascism of today must refuse to accept. (41)
Basically, European neo-fascism charted this course, but peripheral to the above-mentioned movements were certain individuals and cliques who yearned to relive the fascist glories in the modern context. It was here that Rockwell assembled support for his Nazi International.
In 1961, Rockwell performed two manoevers which were designed to spread his brand of National Socialism.
40. Angelo del Boca and Mario Giovanna, Fascism Today: A World Survey, London, 1970, passim.
41. Maurice Bardeche, Qu’est ce que le fascisme?, Paris, 1970, p. 14.
Firstly he attempted to make contact with an obscure Australian racist group, the Nationalist Workers’ Party. Rockwell informed the American press that he was travelling to Australia for a "Nazi Congress," but to forestall this move Australian immigration authorities banned his entry. It may have been that the whole event was staged with the aim of persuading the Nationalist Workers’ Party leader, Arthur Smith, to initiate a Nazi movement. (42) Certainly this exercise served to publicise Rockwell’s own aims and activities. Secondly, the American Nazis developed closet links with an extremist faction of the British National Party and the affiliates of the international fascist organization, the Northern European Ring, particularly the Swedish Nordiska Riksparteit. During a secret BNP camp in 1961, Colin Jordan, the most prominent neo-nazi in that organisation, played to the participants a taped letter from Rockwell to convince the audience that they were actually "Nazis" and should act as such. The attempt to ‘nazify’ the BNP was portentious as far as the future of the British Extreme-Right was concerned. (43), since it forged the contours of the right for the next decade.
The British National Party postulated an ideology called Racial Nationalism. (44) Its’ Nordicist racism was interpreted by Rockwell as a defacto Nazism and in this
42. David Harcourt, Everyone Wants to be Fuehrer: National Socialism In Australia And New Zealand, Sydney, 1972, pp. 8-9.
43. Rockwell Speaks to England, passim and Harcourt op. cit., pp. 127-28.
44. Combat, newspaper of the British National Party; Programme Of The British National Party; leaflet, 1965.
respect he was more-or-less correct, since German National Socialism was viewed by the BNP as the first Nordic Racial creed. However, when Jordan tried to introduce Hitlerphilia into the organization, and thus forge a direct link with Rockwell, he met with firm opposition from BNP leaders John Bean and Andrew Fountaine. In early 1962 the BNP split and Jordan, Denis Pine and future National Front Chairman John Tyndall created the National Socialist Movement, the first of the Rockwell-prompted Nazi parties to emerge outside the United States. (45) The next step was a world Nazi congress, which could formally structure a Nazi-International. The planned organization was to be called the World Union of National Socialists (WUNS).
By American Nazi logic, WUNS was necessary to combat international communism, "international Jewry" and the international "coloured revolution" The WUNS would be "an international white apparatus to oppose the international Jew-communist Zionist mongrel apparatus". (46) No American fascist movement, before or since, has ever maintained such a thorough internationalism. However, while for American fascism Rockwell’s WUNS was a first, in terms of international fascism WUNS was just another world confederation of fascists, similar to many which had prospered, then withered, since the Second World War. Each of the 'Internationals' (the European Social Movement, European New Order, Young Europe,
45. Martin Walker, The National Front, London, 1977, pp. 46-47.
46. George Lincoln Rockwell, "England," Stormtrooper, Nov., l962~ pp. 6-9.
Europe Front, Northern European Ring were the main ones) had affiliates in various European countries, though their support in America appeared minimal. (47) Some 'Internationals' put forward novel ideological perspectives (for example the idea of a Third Force Europe, neither capitalist or communist, controlled neither by Washington nor Moscow). Others were nostalgic groups recalling the Waffen SS model of European Nationalism. There were also metapolitical folkloric movements, which recalled the history of Teutonic Europe and its savage vitality supposedly reborn under the Nazi New Order; the New Order was an inspiration (even if not always a perfect one), for their new Europe.
Although there were subtle differences between the innovative neo-fascists and the nostalgic folkloric Internationals, they viewed the New Order as a summation of classical fascism’s passion for seeking alternatives to left and right, capitalism and socialism, U.S.A.and U.S.S.R. Rockwell’s Nazism however never saw fascism (1919-45) evolving from extreme nationalism to pan-Europeanism; the Nazi doctrine was taken as some sort of complete creed, final at the moment of its creation. Rockwell’s International, through its Hitlerphilia and the romantic desire to relive the past, drew on some of the cadre of the more nostalgic Inter-nationals (like the N.E. Ring) and it is perhaps no accident
47. Angelo Del Boca and Mario Giovanna, op. cit., pp. 82-90.
48. Kurt P. Tauber, Beyond Eagle and Swastika: German Nationalism Since 1945, Vol. I, Middletown, 1967; pp. 206 - 250. Paradoxically to this and what follows Rockwell had called Hitler an "incurable chauvinist" which made a global racial nationalist movement necessary from the start. This shows a tension in Rockwell - which later allowed him to proceed to American fascism.
that these people were quick to break from their former associations to establish Nazi parties (49)
To launch the WUNS, Rockwell smuggled himself into England in August 1962 and initiated the movement amidst a blaze of publicity, which spread to many nations. Scathing judgement was offered by one British paper: "World Fuhrer Elected By 27 Idiots." (50) The semi-secret gathering produced a charter document, the Cotswolds Agreement, which enunciated certain fundamental principles of the new Nazism. The document informed the reader that no movement which refused to accept the unique historical role of Hitler was eligible for membership. The Cotswold Agreement also promised an "international solution to the Jewish problem," and a second WUNS conference (which was never held). (51) A West European Federation of WUNS was directed from London by Jordan and, by early 1964, the WUNS possessed affiliates in the U.S.A., Britain, France, Australia, Chile, Argentina and Sweden; correspondents were present in Austria, West Germany, Italy, New Zealand and Canada (where a party was formed in 1966). (52) On paper, WUNS was the most far-flung of the fascist Internationals, though numerically the weakest. It was probably the most well-known., though the most unoriginal in ideological terms.
49. The Northern European, No. 3, lists Yves Jeanne leader of the French neo-nazis, and the Swedish Nordiska Riksparteit - later Rockwell supporters. The Nordicist racism of The Northern European was in line with the attitudes of the U.S. Nazis 1959-63.
50. London Daily Mail, August 8, 1962, p. 1.
51. The Cotswolds Agreement, American Nazi Party leaflet, 1962.
52. WUNS Bulletin, West-European Federation of WUNS, January 1964.
Unfortunately for Rockwell, the WUNS fortunes were never buoyant, and it turned out to be a drain on ANP finances. By late 1964, its French section had collapsed and its British affiliate split; the Australian party had languished after the jailing of Arthur Smith and despite Rockwell’s faith in the people from "down under", Australian Nazism remained schismatic and unstable. (53) WUNS was only as strong as its affiliates and its overseas sections were never as effective, dynamic or as politically relevant as Rockwell’s movement became. The Swedish party left WUNS in the 1960’s while the British section passed into history when Jordan abandoned open Nazism in 1967-8. By the time of Rockwell’s death in 1967 WUNS was a shadow of the hopes of 1962. In 1966 WUNS commenced publication of a theoretical journal, National Socialist World, which ran to six issues. Later Nazis claimed this journal served an "essential purpose" in the evolution of WUNS (54); it was more likely a tombstone for a failed experiment. It may also indicate that Rockwell’s Nazism was relevant, politically, only in the United States.
Rockwell’s return from Britain in September 1962 closed one of the three distinct phases of the American Nazi Party. Rockwell’s first period, 1959-62, had seen him win prodigious banner headlines, create a raw Nazi doctrine and develop his Nordic racism into WUNS. Rockwell’s movement
53. David Harcourt, op. cit., pp. 16-25.
54. White Power: The Newspaper of White Revolution, Sept. - Oct. 1969, p. 5.
was very much politically isolated. A collection of speeches, produced in 1974, contained a narrative reference to "these being lonely and very dangerous times," (55) where Rockwell was often forced to go alone or with a handful of supporters to violent demonstrations. Nonetheless, he had survived, and the period 1962-65 saw Rockwell better equipped to dramatise his message. Issues such as civil rights and New Left activism were available, and the Nazi Party ideology was developed more cogently; Rockwell’s Nazism was also modified.
Shortly after returning from Britain (he had been deported), Rockwell commenced a reorganisation of his shakey movement. (56) A new Deputy Commander, Karl Allen, was appointed and a four stage plan for the achievement of political power in the United States, promulgated. Rockwell sought to show his followers that he had a strategic plan. Stage One involved publicity-gathering at any price, picket lines, sensationalism and numeric expansion. Stage Two demanded the construction of a sound leadership cadre and a professional party structure, along with the steady introduction to the American people of the actual, as distinct from media-image, National Socialism. Stage Three called for the development of a mass organisation to cater for a predicted rise in public disaffection with "race mixing" and
55. Nazi Rockwell. This comment comes from an unnamed narrator who introduced Rockwell’s speeches.
56. Seth D. Ryan, letter to Arthur Charles Smith, Australian Nazi leader, Nov. 1962. Viewed by author.
economic decline. Stage Four was the acquisition of government and the implementation of the Nazi programme. The assumption of power was to be legal and Rockwell adopted another provocative phrase to express his programme: "The Jews are through in ‘72." The revolution-by-stages concept was more seriously stated in 1967, when Rockwell proclaimed the beginning of Stage Two, but in 1962 Stage One was the ANP’s immediate concern. (57)
The second period of Rockwell’s Nazism showed his ability as an agitator well able to exploit race issues. This period coincided with what Rockwell called "the black revolution;’ an explosion of racial rioting and Negro protest, and "the tide of anarchy in our streets," the anti-war and New Left movements. As a self-proclaimed radical Rockwell hit at these new phenomena directly - and violently.
The ANP instigated a riot in Washington in 1963 during a peace march, arguing that, since no American patriotic organisation was actually fighting treason, they would carry out this function. (58) This was the first violent Nazi attack on peace marchers, but not the last. In 1965 Rockwell harangued a mob of Hells Angels motorcycle riders into violence in Boston. Fifty of them gave him an escort to Boston Harbour, where Rockwell threw a wreath into the ocean for U.S. servicemen killed in Vietnam and betrayed at home. (59) Nazis were encouraged to souvenir Viet Cong flags
57. G. T. Parker, "Nothing Can Stop Us Now," Australian National Socialist Journal, Autumn, 1970, pp. 4-5.
58. American Nazi Party members’ leaflet, 1963.
59. Arthur Charles Smith, conversation with author, 1979. Smith claims news of this made the Australian press.
from peace demonstrations and obstruct persons trying to burn American flags. In a Stormtrooper editorial entitled "When They Burn Our Flag It’s Time For Terrorism,’ Rockwell claimed that, like Hitler’s party in Weimar Germany, only one party was willing to oppose treason. (60) The experience with the New Left also modified Rockwell’s perception of communism. Whereas he continued to view historical communism as largely Jewish, he realised the domestic movement was somewhat different. In a radio debate on KNX Radio in Los Angeles in 1965, Rockwell alleged that American youth was heading nowhere except to "pills" and communism. He added: "spiritually we’re going down hill faster than we go up materially. I don’t see how rich we are, we’re poor in spirit.". (61) Communism was no longer simply a conspiracy, but a social movement. It could be destroyed only by an opposing social movement. (62) Similarly, black revolution could be stopped only by white revolution.
In 1963 a young Nazi managed to assault Martin Luther King ("Martin Lucifer Coon"), and in 1965 Rockwell personally confronted King in Montgomery and informed him that he was not truly for civil rights, but for communism. (63)
60. Stormtrooper, Summer 1967, pp.3-16.
61. Rockwell Verses Michael Jackson, KNX Radio, Los Angeles, American Nazi Party recording, 1965.
62. G.L. Rockwell, Dallas Speech, Arlington, ANP recording, 1965.
63. Rockwell Report, January, 1965. It was claimed that Martin Luther King would have liked to "enforce his race mixing edicts on the quiet God fearing and decent people of Selma, to beat them so far down that no other Christians in Alabama would ever again try resistance".
In 1963, the ANP had mounted its first major campaign on the civil rights issue, with its opposition to the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Rockwell toured Virginia and other nearby states to gather support for a counterdemonstration in Washington against the mass Negro civil rights march on the capital. In Emporia, Virginia, he was arrested and charged by local police with "inciting a war" against local blacks. At a speech in the Lynchburg Armory, Rockwell denied the charge but added:
Some people say why do you want to come and agitate our peaceful little town? Well I think its time the white man agitates back! (64)
Despite all the promises of support, only eighty seven people turned up in Washington. The call made by Rockwell at Lynchburg for "mass action" remained ineffective and the ANP was forced to rely on media-orientated publicity stunts. Certainly, the Nazis were adept at that. In early 1966, one young Nazi disrupted Congress; dressed as an African savage "Captain" Lloyd "demanded" that southern Negroes be allowed to visit Congress to obtain their rights. (65) Some Dallas Nazis with a perverse sense of humour enrolled a Chimpanzee at a local desegregated high school just so the "ape" could benefit from equal education. (66) On another occasion, Washington Nazis disrupted a homosexual convention
64. George Lincoln Rockwell, Lynchburg Armory Speech.
65. George Lincoln Rockwell, White Power, p. 473.
66. Another example of Nazi "humour"was Boat Ticket to Africa a slip which resembled an excursion ticket for any Negro to return to Africa on "Coonard Lines:’ Watermelon and heroin were offered as "refreshments:’ A leaflet, The Diary of Anne Fink, made light of Nazi concentration camp atrocities.
by delivering amidst great fanfare "four quarts of vaseline for the queers." (67) However, despite the large amount of newsprint devoted to its exposure, the Nazi Party had severe internal problems.
The main problem concerned individual rivalries, a critical problem for an organisation of less than 1000 members, supporters and contacts. The Nazi Party had been designed by Rockwell to impress "fighting men. In a pamphlet, Legal Political And Psychological Warfare, Rockwell suggested that his Nazis were frequently ex-convicts, war veterans, petty criminals and men of ego. (69) On KNX Radio in Los Angeles in 1965, Rockwell referred to "juvenile delinquents" and others whom he had "straightened out." (70) The Nazis also attracted some mentally disturbed persons. Persons such as Dan Burros of New York, a Jewish Nazi, and Leo Holstein, a part Jewish Nazi from San Diego, who joined as radical activists, exhibited signs of mental instability. (71) In such a party, disputes were a regular occurrence.
In 1962 John Patler, a leading Rockwell lieutenant, deserted the party to establish the American National Party and to edit Kill! magazine. Some Nazis followed Patler,
67. George Lincoln Rockwell, radio interview, Nazi Rockwell.
68. Rockwell’s Brown University Speech, Chicago, National Socialist Party of America recording, 1975. At Brown University, Rockwell claimed a membership of 1800 plus stormtroops. Speculation on membership should centre around this figure, but it was inclusive of contacts and friendly subscribers.
69. George Lincoln Rockwell, Legal, Political and Psychological Warfare, Reedy, 1977, pp. 18, 52-3.
70. George Lincoln Rockwell, Rockwell Verses Michael Jackson.
71. G. L..Rockwell, "The Burros Business," Rockwell Report, December, 1965, pp. 7-9.
and even after he decided to rejoin the ANP in 1964, continued in their course by joining the Nationalist Party. This was the ANP’s first schism. It was followed by another, which almost brought the party to ruin. (72)
In late 1963, Rockwell fell out with his deputy, Karl Allen, who seceded and founded the American White Party. Supposedly, Allen was inspired by the works of Oswald Spengler and Francis Parker Yockey, and rejected Rockwell’s preference for Hitler.(73) A later Nazi publication called Allen "Rockwell’s mortal enemy." (74) Allen acquired one of the ANP’s printing works in Spotsylvannia and from there organised a book company and orchestrated a smear campaign against Rockwell. (75) The actual cause for the feud is impossible to disentangle and Allen’s role continued to be disruptive until he dropped out of politics in 1967. The loss of membership and prestige as a result of the Allen schism weakened the Nazi Party.
Another example of organisational instability can be found in the case of "Lieutenant" Roy Frankhouser. Frankhouser, who was later exposed as an F.B.I. agent, worked to sensationalise the Nazi Party to the point of absurdity. For example he once rode a horse throuqh rural Virginia to warn that "the niggers were coming". (76)
72. George Thayer, op. cit., p. 29.
74. The American Nazi Party: Brief Sketch , NSPA pamphlet, Chicago (date of publication not stated).
75. Arthur Charles Smith, interview with author, 1979. Smith, as director of Australian Nazi activities, also commanded a good knowledge of U.S. Nazi activities.
76. Arthur Charles Smith. Smith claimed to have corresponded with Frankhouser. The Constitution and Foundation Charter of the White Nationalist Confederacy of Understanding mentioned Frankhouser as an F.B.I. agent.
Obviously, a number of Rockwell’s officers were unreliable and unstable, suitable at best for Stage One activities.
Cataclysm of another sort hit the Nazi Party in 1965, when the U.S Department of Internal Revenue demanded the settlement of unpaid income tax liabilities. All party property was temporarily seized and only a series of involved court actions restored the property to Rockwell. (77) Somehow, the party managed to raise $5000 to settle accounts. Yet, despite internal troubles of one sort or another, the period 1963-65 was an active one for the party and Nazi publications indicated that it was a time of increasing support.
In 1965, Rockwell entered the gubernatorial race in Virginia, an action which helped to restore the movement’s morale. Rockwell conducted his campaign as a "white people’s candidate" and toured widely through Virginia. He was developing a distinctive style, based no longer on provocative stunts but on agitation. On the podium, Rockwell carried a Winchester rifle and announced that "only white revolution can stop the black revolution" The race riots in Watts (1965) and elsewhere were proof of the foolishness of integration.(78) The Nazi leader polled some 6500 votes, or 1.2% of the poll. (79) The campaign may have appeared unsuccessful but for the tiny ANP it was a major victory, since it resulted in a stream of invitations for the
77. David Harcourt, op. cit., p. 125.
78. George Lincoln Rockwell, Speech at the University of North Dakota, Arlington, ANP recording, 1966.
79. George Lincoln Rockwell, "Election Analysis;’ Rockwell Report, December, 1965, p. 7.
Commander to lecture on college and university campuses. Of his Virginia campaign, Rockwell wrote:
We are a radical counter revolutionary organisation with a radical and powerful solution for a radical situation. The people at this time still do not see the situation as radical and fear a radical organisation. (80)
The campaign may also have convinced Playboy magazine to publish an interview with Rockwell in its April 1966 issue. In an article written in early 1966, entitled "The State of the Party" Rockwell claimed that Alex Haley’s Playboy article was largely fabrication, but would gain his movement publicity and cause further invitations to speak to student audiences to be forthcoming. (81) Rockwell’s speeches at North Dakota University, Brown University, the University of Minnesota, New York University and various Texas and New Mexico tertiary institutions revealed a definite movement away from Hitlerphilia and Nordic racialism. Rockwell addressed himself to the New Left, claiming that its parent-communist ideology was a Jewish fraud, which did not answer the real problems of modern America. He also spoke on the race issue. His literature generally, in the period 1965-66, showed a definite bias towards these issues. Further, revising the opinions of In Hoc Signo Vinces, Rockwell came to claim leadership of the white racist movement and rejected the conservatives and the Klan’s claims
80. ibid., p.6
81. George Lincoln Rockwell, "The State Of The Party", Rockwell Report, March 1966. (Photocopies in author’s possession do not indicate page numbers.)
to a monopoly on patriotism. (82) By the close of the second phase of his Nazi career, Rockwell had become a competent agitator who was able to exploit issues of political relevance. He was making an effort to overcome the marginalisation to which he had been confined. All that was now needed, he believed, was a specific campaign to make the ANP a political movement with a mass base, to make the masses ready for radicalism.
The last phase of Rockwell’s career was centrally linked to the Chicago race riots of 1966. Rockwell had predicted "race war" in America. In one radio interview he argued that he had "staked his claims to a piece of ground" on the political spectrum, where white Americans, after experiencing integration, would eventually shift. (83) His intervention in Chicago in 1966 was intended to provide leadership for those whites willing, in the embittered atmosphere produced by racial rioting, to embrace an extremist option.
A series of racial confrontations in Chicago in July and the announcement by Martin Luther King of an intended march through white neighbourhoods provided the Nazi Party with its first taste of real popular acclaim. The local Nazi unit distributed leaflets in the troubled Marquette Park in July and August and was encouraged by a favourable response. Rockwell dispatched John Patler to capitalise on Chicago’s growing white militancy. A Chicago-
82. A general conclusion based on Rockwell’s publications of 1966-67.
83. Nazi Rockwell, (Interview source unnamed.)
wide ANP membership of between twenty and thirty was boosted to over a hundred supporters and hundreds of dollars could be collected at meetings. (84) These somewhat unexpected events caused the Nazis to escalate their activities. On August 21, Rockwell addressed a mass rally in Marquette Park. Over 3000 people gave him a thunderous welcome and hailed him as their deliverer from black power. "A slogan was born in struggle," said his successors: "White Power!" (85) Rockwell denounced Jewish and liberal organizations for supporting black power and called for a mass march, which took place in September with 2000 participants. On that occasion Rockwell was arrested. Nonetheless, for his party the emergence of the white backlash was a decisive moment: "it will spread all over the country," Rockwell declared. From this point Rockwell took up the slogan "White Power" as the descriptive term for his political philosophy. It implied mass action, the essential ingredient for his success.
However, as FBI records now show, that agency’s "Cointelpro" program disrupted the Nazi Party during 1967, causing inter-organizational disputation and ineffectiveness, and partly for this reason, Rockwell was unable fully to capitalise on resentment against black power in Chicago. (86)
84. Reverend Ralph Forbes, letter to author, April 6 1980. Forbes cited this incident to illustrate the rise in support for Rockwell’s party.
85. White Power, National Socialist Party of America leaflet,1972.
86. Martin Kerr, letter to author, 3.7.79. Kerr was a major NSWPP organiser in the 1970’s. Cointelpro was directed against organizations of the Right and Left. Harassment, infiltration and, in the case of the Black Panthers, probable murder, were used.
Even so, the rise in support for the party caused the Nazi leader to proclaim that Stage Two in his scheme for power in the United States could now commence. In January, 1967, the ANP was re-christened the National Socialist White People’s Party (NSWPP). A newspaper, White Power, was founded in July. The paper sported the American Flag, not the swastika on its masthead. A professional newsletter, NS Bulletin began in January as an internal members’ bulletin. Rockwell also took time to write a second book, White Power, which finally appeared just prior to his murder. The book was a new manifesto and, as I will show, demonstrated a certain transition in Rockwell’s thinking towards an American-centred ideology, as distinct from the Nazism of his early periods.
In early 1967, Rockwell surveyed the problems of his movement. His major difficulty resulted perhaps from the nature of his propaganda, which produced a party of "fighters;’ but one devoid of intellectuals and professionals, a party which lacked discipline. (87) The membership though it was increasing, was still under 2000. (88) A programme of cadre-training was commenced; some NSWPP units were suspended and their leaders transferred to Arlington to build a more stable organisation. A Leadership Conference was held in July 1967 to plan the party’s expansion and its new image. (89)
87. George Lincoln Rockwell, "Der Tag Approaches", Stormtrooper, Spring 1967, p.93
88. Arthur Charles Smith maintained that Rockwell informed him that he should have had 2000 Members and Official Supporters in the party. This figure was certainly exaggerated. It could only have included subscribers to ANP publications.
89. NS Bulletin, August, 1967.
Not much more was done under Rockwell’s auspices, for he was (allegedly) assassinated by John Patler in August 1967. The reasons behind the killing were obscure and the question has since become entangled in the rivalries between different Nazi factions. The National Socialist Party of America contended that "a mutiny in the ranks the officer corps of the old party" was behind Rockwell’s assassination. (90) Some aspersions were thereby cast on Matt Koehl, NSWPP National Secretary, and Rockwell’s designated successor. Koehl’s NSWPP has refused to acknowledge any such "mutiny," and held to the basic police version of the events, that Rockwell was murdered by a vengeful Patler. In 1980, however, given public exposures of various FBI-connected killings and political activities, the NSWPP queried whether the FBI may have been involved. (91) The National Socialist White Workers’ Party meanwhile asserted that Koehl authorised the murder. (92) While it is possible that Patler did not act alone, this has not been established. Patler was expelled by Rockwell from the NSWPP on personal grounds, and this grievance may have sparked a desire to kill the Nazi leader. (See new Introduction)
Rockwell’s death removed the most dynamic personality from the world of American Nazism, causing many defections from the party. Because of this loss the Nazi movement would undergo a profound change.
90. National Socialist Handbook, Chicago, National Socialist Party of America, 1975, p.5
91. NS Bulletin: Newsletter of the National Socialist White People’s Party, No. 265, April, 1980, p. 3.
92. Bob O’Leary, letter to author, March 15, 1979. Bob O’Leary was a corresponding secretary of the NSWWP.
Several questions concerning the existence of a Nazi movement in post World War Two America present themselves, questions relating to the character and abilities of George Lincoln Rockwell, the relationship of the American Nazi movement to both the conservative and extreme sections of the American Right and the context, social-political and historical, within which American Nazism emerged. The last question is discussed in chapters four, five and six, in which an attempt is made to locate American Nazism within a specifically American context. The other two issues can be examined here as a prelude to, and a necessary basis for, the later systematic examination of American Nazism.
Bob De Pugh, leader of the radical Minutemen organisation, argued that, had Rockwell cultivated a more American image and additional sophistication, he could have emerged as the "man on horseback" for the disjointed U.S. Extreme Right.(93) I would argue that, despite his political colouring, Rockwell in fact became something like that type of leader. Rockwell, the man, had a certain flair and intelligence. His language in debate was often folksy and popular, his method of presentation simple but effective for his purpose. Rockwell’s oratory had an explosive quality, (94) a classical attribute of fascist demagogues such as Belgian fascist Leon Degrelle or Adolf
93. J. Harry Jones, The Minutemen, New York, 1970, p. 288.
94. George Lincoln Rockwell, Lewisburg Speech, Arlington, American Nazi Party recording, 1963. This address, like that in Marquette Park, showed Rockwell’s ability to incite crowds.
Hitler. His ability to manipulate a crowd was illustrated by his speech at Brown University in 1966. He maintained on that occasion, that his beliefs were based on easily documentable proofs (such as U.S. Army reports on the Jewish nature of Bolshevism), not on emotive prejudices. Similarly, he presented himself as a friend of the Negro people, "who’ve got it tough" and not as a bigot. When Rockwell was faced with disruption from a number of Jewish interjectors, the crowd intervened, shouting at the interjectors to secure his right of free speech. Such reactions cannot be obtained by a poor orator. (95)
Rockwell’s intellectual abilities and quick-wittedness came through in his debate with Stokely Carmichael (1967), co-author of the book Black Power, and prime mover of The Black Panther Party. Rockwell managed to paint Carmichael as a racist "who won’t admit it" and alleged successfully that black power in black communities "would mean the whites there would have no power." The moderators, who asked Rockwell "where in our Constitution or Bill of Rights does it say that Negroes are not equal citizens?", were rebuffed when Rockwell (with Carmichael’s assent) asserted that under the Constitution a Negro was defined as three fifths of a person. (96) The black publication, Jet magazine, commented on its front page: "Rockwell KO’s Carmichael" (97)
95. George Lincoln Rockwell, Brown University Speech.
96. Rockwell Verses Stokely Carmichael, Chicago, National Socialist Party of America recording, 1975.
97. American Nazi Party members' leaflet, 1966.
The Nazi leader was also an effective artist, who could produce witty cartoons with shocking captions. However, the pungent phrase reproduced on picket signs and banners remained his speciality. Such phrases were offensive but very newsworthy. Slogans such as "Gas Jew Traitors," "White Man, Fight;’ "They Don’t Want Equal Rights, They Want Special Rights;’ "Smash the Black Revolution With White Revolution;’ were among the many which Rockwell produced.
While his slogans generally were aimed at immediate issues, Rockwell’s spoken words were laced with references to American mythology. His public speeches were introduced usually with "My Fellow Americans" and contained invocations of "The Republic;’ "General Douglas Macarthur," "The Constitution" and even, "Abraham Lincoln." Jacques Ellul has argued that successful propaganda must be based on such references: to popular national myths. (98) Rockwell’s continual references to the American past (when he was a gubernatorial candidate in 1965 he raised the issue of the Civil War in his literature and used the Confederate flag in his campaign) suggest a certain ambivalence in him, a suspicion that he was not what he often claimed to be -a dedicated militant anxious to resurrect Hitler’s creed. There was, even in his early literature, such as In Hoc Signo Vinces, a suggestion that the adoption of the Nazi forms for his party was a technique to obtain various desired ends,
98. Jacques Ellul., Propaganda: the Formation of Men’s Attitudes, New York, 1973, p. 86. Effective slogans are necessarily based on accepted "myths" and "irrational" reference points.
possibly to be discarded at a certain stage of the movement’s development. Rockwell’s attitude to German fascism is also revealing: he did not stand in awe of the formless power of Hitler’s Germany. Certainly he did initially speak of Hitler as a Christ-like figure, and name himself as the "Saint Paul" of National Socialism. However, at various times Rockwell managed to laugh at some Nazi leaders, something a contemporary Nazi would not have done. (99) As undisputed diviner of the new National Socialism, Rockwell had a certain license to model the movement’s ideals and philosophy. This he appears to have done and as the 1960’s wore on, the Hitler idolatry receded from U.S. Nazi literature. If his book White Power is any indication, Rockwell ignored those aspects of Hitler’s fascism which did not appeal to him or fit the American context. Hitler’s obvious totalitarianism and belief in German master race philosophy found little echo in Rockwell’s ideas. Rockwell also placed his movement in another context when formulating his philosophy of western renewal. Writing in White Power of this regenerative ideology, he said: "In the 1930’s, it was local: Germany Italy Spain," a theme repeated at North Western University. (100) In other words, Rockwell’s party was acknowledging a certain ideological heritage without accepting Hitler’s heritage - as gospel.
99. On Nazi Rockwell, jokes were made of the "homosexual" Ernst Rohm. In This
Time, Rockwell accused Hitler of being an "incurable chauvinist"
100. G.L. Rockwell, North Western University Speech, National Socialist Party of America recording, 1974. Also: Rockwell, White Power, p. 386.
The programme of the ANP, drawn up in 1960, was Rockwell’s first real effort at constructing an ideology for his movement, predating, as it did, both In Hoc and This Time The World. The programme was not unlike other U.S. neo-fascist manifestoes, and would not have been unpalatable even to the conservative Right. (101) Homage to the "American Constitutional Republic" and attacks on the "Federal Reserve System" were among the common right-wing ideas espoused in Rockwell’s programme. In other literature, Rockwell’s comments on Jews and Negroes were not always unlike those of the Klan or of Gerald L. K. Smith. The ANP’s continued attack on "the communist conspiracy" may not, as such, have alienated even the John Birch Society. It was Rockwell’s professed National Socialism which attracted the Right’s fire, as well as marking him off as a rather unusual variety of political extremist.
The appearance of the National Socialism in Rockwell’s ideology could possibly have been an attempt to give a philosophical - historical dimension to traditional rightist demands, or it may have been part of a plan to modernise the right. Certainly, the major reason for the appearance of a Nazi Party had to do with Rockwell’s frustration with the ineffectiveness - as he saw it - of the Right. In constructing his ideology, Rockwell did not consciously draw upon the traditions of the U.S. Extreme Right.
101. ANP Programme, 1960. The themes of Reserve Bank control and conspiracy, along with banking reform, were major themes of the Right.
Such a situation is explicable. Firstly, Rockwell could not draw upon much theory of a U.S. fascist nature, because as I explained in chapter one, the lines of development of an American fascism were disjoined by the Second World War and the Cold War. (102) Secondly, Rockwell, like some other fascist leaders, was predisposed to write his own ideology, echoing traditional rightist sentiments and, in practice consummating certain historico-political trends on the right. Hitler, for example, drew on the traditions of the German Volkish movement without participating in it, learning its root-ideas through garbled sources. Rockwell drew on varied rightist traditions more by osmosis. In his writings, he quotes few sources (G. L. K. Smith, Joe McCarthy and a few rightist leaders constitute his acknowledged sources). Even Hitler was more open in this regard.
When Rockwell raised "the banner of National Socialism" he may not have realised that some of his followers would take the Nazism as good coin and treat the Hitlerphilia as a matter of substance and not a calculated tactical move. In fact Rockwell was more pragmatic. For example, two leaders of the Australian Nazi Party, Arthur Smith and Edward Cawthron, have both claimed to have received communications from Rockwell and other far-right personalities, which indicated that moves were being made for an amalgamation of various Extreme-Right groups into a single formation. (103) An assortment of obstacles would have
102. Chapter one, section c.
103. Smith and Cawthron. Both expressed this view independently and claimed it was based on U.S. Nazi correspondence of the time. Simonelli intimates at this too.
stood in the way of such a move. Rockwell needed to affect several compromises, but such bargaining was possible. Rockwell had begun to work out an American ideology with tactical forms more in line with other Extreme-Right groups. His authority over his party was great and dissent could have been overcome - as it had been in the past. In other words the potential for a "National Front" of Extreme-Right organisations was present in 1966-7. Perhaps to prove good faith Rockwell had already initiated close contacts with several small Klans. The F.B.I. took these arrangements seriously enough to initiate some Cointelpro operations to sour the growing relationship between Nazis and Klansmen. (104)
The history of the ANP’s relations with the Extreme-Right assists in placing the Rockwell movement in a political context. It shows that, before any union of the Extreme-Right could be achieved, Rockwell would demand modernisation and radicalism.
The appearance of the U.S. Nazi movement coincided not only with a resurgence of the extreme-right in Europe, but with a period of redefinition for the Right in the United States. The late 1950’s saw the decline in the Citizens’ Councils Movement in the South, but several militant groups emerged from its wreckage. (105) Robert Shelton’s United Klans of America and the National States’ Rights Party.
104. N.S. Bulletin, No. 265, p. 3.
105. "Klans and Councils", The New Republic, 137, Sept. 23 1957, passim.
were the major forces issuing from the Councils’ failure to halt desegregation. As the desegregation process strengthened, the conservatives’ hopes of halting it were revealed as shallow musings. (106) Some groups came to change their emphasis from a defence of Jim Crowism to militant anti-Negro, white-racist action. They withdrew their active support from Dixiecrat politicians and opted for organisational independence. The issue for the Southerners was clearly race, over and above even opposition to communism; and race meant Negroes rather than Jews. In the North, the situation was, in some respects, rather different.
Most Extreme Right groups in the North were anti-semitic and anti-communist. Their racism was mainly directed against the visible Jewish communities. A group such as the American Nationalist Party can be mentioned here as an anti-semitic rather than anti-Negro organisation. Negroes were seldom mentioned in its propaganda. (107) However, the emerging activism of Negro organizations forced changes by the late 1950’s. (108)
Other groups, operating primarily as anti-communist organizations, suffered massive losses once the purely anti-communist John Birch Society emerged; their conceded anti-
106. Neil R. McMillen, The Citizen’s Council: Organised Resistance to the Second Reconstruction 1965-65, Chicago, 1971, pp. 55-58.
107. American Nationalist, bulletin of the American Nationalist Party. Several numbers from 1957 and 1958 were read and this view was conveyed. Also: Common Sense (50 numbers examined) showed this tendency.
108. National Renaissance Bulletin took up "desegregation" from the late 1950’s (10 numbers examined).
semitism was under attack by the new conservative forces. (109) The Cold War freeze had united disparate trends; the thaw released all tendencies back into the Right milieu. The anti-semites had to find new structures and one was Rockwell’s Nazi Party.
In the North, anti-communism had been the major issue in the 1950’s. It spawned McCarthyism and other movements as well. However, as peaceful co-existence took the place of the Cold War, traditional anti-communism came under the auspices of Robert Welch, president of the John Birch Society, while Rockwell merged the issue of communism with civil rights, student protest and race. Communism was of secondary importance for Rockwell and for groups like the NSRP. Rockwell, for one, was trying to move with the times. While the Birchers maintained that the Sino-Soviet schism was a "fraud," (110) Rockwell saw emerging racial troubles between the two communist superpowers. The new Third World communism, Rockwell held, was, in fact, antithetical to "the Jewish conspiracy." (111) Modernisation and mobilisation were the major modifying elements for the Extreme Right around 1960, contributing with a sudden upsurge of action both in the North and the South.
Rockwell’s Nazi Party operated mainly in Northern cities (except New York), on the West Coast and in the
109. J. Allen Broyles, The John Birch Society: Anatomy of a Protest Movement, Boston, 1964, carries several examples of Welch condemning anti-semitism.
110. Deception in the Division, Boston, John Birch Society, 1964.
111. George Lincoln Rockwell, Brown University Speech, 1966.
Lakes Area though an active pocket existed also in Dallas. In many areas, especially in the South, the leadership of the white-racist anti-semitic movement was out of his hands. (112) Though geographical distance often kept racist groups from feuding, Rockwell’s relationship with all factions of the Right was stormy. The issues campaigned upon were frequently the same, but underlying ideology and tactics varied considerably and rancour was the result.
The Nazi Party’s relations with the NSRP were strained. The ANP’s first national secretary, James Warner, defected to the NSRP in early 1961, taking the Nazis’ mailing lists with him. Only the personal intervention of Ned Dupes, NSRP Chairman, restored détente between the parties. Warner’s defection was a sort of "revenge" for the earlier desertion of NSRP "Security Officer;’ Matt Koehl, to Rockwell, in 1960. In an article entitled "Sneaking Made Me Sick", Koehl claimed that it was "simply impossible to recruit young whites into the NSRP". He contended that the NSRP did not reach the masses, something which was demonstrably untrue. (113) The reality was that, while the NSRP may not have attracted national headlines (the very definition of success for the early ANP), it had developed the capacity to mobilise masses long before Rockwell’s Chicago successes. Rockwell Report dismissed the NSRP as "a sneaky Nazi party,"
112. This implied that Rockwell was forced to struggle for pre-eminence. It may also indicate that the party was more suited to the North than the South.
113. Matt Koehl, "Sneaking Made Me Sick", Stormtrooper, November 1962, pp. 15-16.
something it was not. (114) The NSRP was a very Southern, profoundly Christian states’ rights organisation. While the NSRP leadership may well have thought better of Hitler than the average American, this did not imply that it held neo-nazi ideas. (115). In the early Rockwell period, 1959-63, such errors were common, since by Nazi reasoning the Right was Nazi but would not admit it.
There was a certain degree of interchange of membership between the NSRP and the ANP, usually from the former to the latter, though the numbers involved in the transaction were small. This did not please the NSRP leadership, which criticized the Nazis continually, and at one stage dubbed Rockwell an "F.B.I. pimp". (116) The Southerners were convinced that the FBI was the sworn enemy of racial integrity and Rockwell’s attitude towards this agency was seen as some sort of treason to the racist cause. It was Rockwell’s belief that anyone who suggested violence could be a provocateur (and should be turned in to the FBI); the NSRP replied that the F.B.I. should not be dealt with in any way. (117) The NSRP also denounced the
114. Rockwell was possibly chiding the NSRP leaders with whom he had worked politically in the 1950’s.
115. The NSRP occasionally praises the German Nazi stand against communism in The Thunderbolt without referring to Hitler by name. Nazi Germany is often called a "Christian Nation." The perception of German Nazi policy as "Christian" placed the NSRP within a longstanding tradition from the 1930’s.
116. Rockwell Report, October-November, 1965, covered these allegations. Fields later apologised.
117. Thunderbolt in1962 carried a number of articles against the F.B.I.
Nazis as un-American, while Rockwell saw the Confederate image as not applicable outside of the South. In this matter Rockwell was correct; with his successes in Chicago he argued that the masses "chose the product" which they wanted - and it was not the NSRP.
Rockwell also alienated the National Renaissance Party, which was responsible for a considerable amount of New York’s radical Right activism. Rockwell avoided any connection with the NRP or its leader, James Madole, since that organization had been investigated by Congress thereby tainting it with a certain air of "illegality. (118) The ANP, by its very nature, had to fight to maintain both the image and the reality of its legal status. In the early days, this was an uphill fight. Milton Freidman, speaking for a segment of Jewish opinion, wrote: "it’s time to put the Rockwell lunacy on the subversive list." (119) Rockwell avoided this.
There was also a clash between Rockwell and Madole for the leadership of the fascist Right. At one stage in 1963, Madole copied the Nazis’ provocative techniques and staged a violent open-air rally in Yorkville, but this did not arrest the party’s decline. Rockwell was assisted in winning over NRP members by Dan Burros and his paper The Free American. (120) As in the case of the NSRP, Rockwell’s
118. Arthur Smith, conversation with author, 1979. Smith had also corresponded with Madole.
119. American Nazi Party members’ leaflet, 1962. Freidman’s article was reproduced from Jewish Press. Date uncertain.
120. The Free American, ran a few issues in 1965 in New York. Two numbers have been examined.
party was a pole of attraction for NRP supporters, and this was Rockwell’s intention - to regroup the Right under the direction of a radical party with revolutionary tactics. With such a perspective Rockwell was forced also to criticise the Ku Klux Klan.
The Nazis’ attitude to the Klan and the Klan’s understanding of the new National Socialism generally precluded good relations. While the Nazis never questioned the KKK’s commitment to white supremacy, they criticised its tactics and externalia (hoods, cowpasture meetings, cross-burnings) in a number of satirical cartoons in Stormtrooper.(121) The United Klans of America’s rejoinder was to denounce the ANP as a subversive organization. (122)
Rockwell was convinced that the racist movement needed a new method of approach. He wrote in 1965:
... the basic attitude of the Klan today is wrong. First it is wrong because it won’t work; terrorism on a small scale by a few brave men only provides martyrs for the niggers, communists and Jews and inflames the passions of the mobs who are not terrorised enough; and secondly the Klan thinks in terms of defence and delayed retreat - instead of in terms of attack, which is always and everywhere, the only way to win a war. (123)
121. Stormtrooper and Rockwell Report ran a John Patler cartoon featuring different "solutions" to the race problem: Billy James Hargis: "pray to God"; the Birchers: "write your congressman"; the KKK: "burn a cross" and the Nazi trooper:"white man, fight!".
122. United Klans of America appeal for funds, Summer 1964.
123. "The Ku Klux Klan" in Rockwell Report, Nov., 1965, p. 9.
While the Klan "terrorised" in the shadows, it did not reach the masses with a new faith. It did not understand how to fight politically. Rockwell wrote:
The American People do not want any more empty talk, petitions, cross burnings bed-sheeted collection-gatherers or anything else except a good old-fashioned American fight! Klan groups with whom I have met all over the country have complained to me that Shelton won’t fight and won’t let anyone else fight. (124)
Initially Rockwell’s Nazi ideology had led him to attack the Klan for not understanding Hitler:
And the horrible nightmarish aspect of all this is that millions of white Christian Racist Southern Patriots still believe the lies and smears of the Jew-communist race mixers that our German White Christian Racist Patriotic brothers who called themselves ‘Nazis’ were some sort of villains. (125)
Even when his movement achieved some popular vogue Rockwell’s criticisms of the Klan remained. Though prepared for organisational compromise he retained his basic logic. "Robed men;’ he observed, "don’t scare niggers." (126)
Rockwell’s struggle with the Extreme Right revolved around his desire that it should become political and not remain as simply a movement of social protest or anachronistically parochial. All thoughts of violence and secrecy had to be abandoned and the movement had to be openly presented to Americans. Rockwell’s controversy with the Minutemen
124. G. L. Rockwell, "The Battle of Chicago," Rockwell Report, Sept-Oct., 1966, p. 10.
125. Stormtrooper, No. 4, p. 25.
126. George Lincoln Rockwell, unspecified radio interview, Nazi Rockwell establishes this point.
In 1965, Rockwell wrote of De Pugh, the Minutemen’s leader:
I cannot emphasise this point too clearly. It is perhaps possible to lead the boyscouts, the Birch Society, the Christian Crusade and even the Minutemen from a desk or a "hideout." It is impossible to lead a counter-revolution against the Communist-Jew-nigger revolution from either a desk or a hideout.(127)
The Minutemen had achieved little. Rockwell’s criticisms derived partly from his understanding of the tactics of Hitler, who, having failed in his 1923 Putsch, opted for the path of legality. Rockwell concluded: "the constant beating down of the Ku Klux Klan has convinced me that we can be successful only by legal and elective methods. (128)
Rockwell’s desire for legality did not rule out radicalism. While he made a sales-pitch on that score to the extreme-right he nonetheless also attempted to explain his ideas and tactics to the conservative right. While the social - political nature of Rockwell’s relationship with conservative rightists will be examined in chapter five (that is, the socialist aspect of his platform and his revolutionary strategy), some aspects which differentiate Rockwell from the Superpatriotic and John Birch Right can be dealt with here.
As a Nazi and therefore a militant, Rockwell could not be expected to possess much appeal to organisations of a bourgeois hue. Throughout the 1960’s, for example, only
127. George Lincoln Rockwell, Legal Psychological and Political Warfare, p. 52.
128. ibid., p. 17.
one John Birch Society official ever had a kind word for Rockwell. (129) The.Birchers believed that the Nazis were set up by communist forces to discredit the Right. The Nazis saw the JBS as a "panty-waist" alternative to themselves. The Nazi Commander believed that had it not been for the rightward political drift engendered by his actions, (!) the JBS could not have grown as it did. (130) The JBS was the last gasp of "respectable anti-communism"
On that basis Rockwell distanced himself from the great hope of the Conservative Right, Barry Goldwater. In a revealing address to a group of Texas Birchers, Rockwell claimed that Goldwater’s programme was middleclass, that it was not a people’s platform like his own. He even suggested that Goldwater ("Goldfink" said the Rockwell Report in 1964 commenting on Senator Goldwater’s Jewish ancestory), deliberately misled the Right.. (131) Certainly the JBS had misled the Right. The JBS was just a step along the correct path. At a wild rally in 1964 Rockwell exclaimed:
When Goldfink fails, and he will fail, patriotic Americans will realise that there is no easy way to victory over communism. The masses of patriotic Americans have no other option - but to fight... and the American Nazi Party will be there when they wake up. (132)
129. This was Westbrook Pegler. He maintained wide extremist connections. He defected in 1968 during a major JBS rift.
130. George Lincoln Rockwell, This Time, p. 245
131. Rockwell was the only rightist leader to oppose Goldwater consistently and continuously. Within his terms of reference, Rockwell was vindicated.
132. Goldfink not Goldwater, ANP leaflet, 1964.
However, the Right did not turn to Rockwell after Goldwater’s debacle. Rockwell’s earlier approach may have alienated them permanently. During his gubernatorial campaign in Virginia, the John Birch Society endorsed another candidate allegedly to split Rockwell’s vote. (133) Frustrated by the JBS, Rockwell blasted the JBS leaders. He wrote:
I have asked one of the ex Birchers, formerly of Welch’s inner circle to research and produce the true story of the Birch Society with the startling facts of the Jews who promoted it... as I have long suspected but could not prove. (134)
Whatever his charges and admonitions, Rockwell made little headway with the conservatives. Too many distrusted his motives and ideas. None of this discouraged Rockwell, however. The masses need a "father image;’ he wrote in White Power in 1966, and in Rockwell Report, he declared:
We have given the people another prime requisite for success in such revolutionary times as ours, the image of a fearless implacable leader with the power to survive everything the enemy can throw at us. It matters not that those of you who know me personally know that I am human like anybody else. The masses need the image of a fighting inspired leader and that we have given them. (135)
Rockwell often quoted a saying of Field Marshal Rommel: "Stand next to me, I’m bullet proof." Rockwell believed himself to be a man of destiny and "President in 1972:’
133. G. L. Rockwell, "Election Analysis," Rockwell Report, Nov., 1965, p. 7.
134. ibid., pp. 7-8.
135. G. L. Rockwell, "The Battle of Chicago," op. cit., p. 8.
Such a personality made varied enemies and Rockwell expected assassination attempts.In 1967, he fell out with John Patler. The dispute was obscure and allegedly Patler sought revenge. For some weeks in July-August 1967, and after another unsuccessful assassination attempt by unknown persons, Patler supposedly stalked the Nazi leader and finally shot him in Arlington. It was, as Sydney’s Daily Mirror proclaimed: "Death In The Gutter For The Man Who Would Rule America". (136)
Rockwell had originally directed himself to finding a solution to a perceived crisis on the American Right. He agreed with its funadamental ‘racist’, anti-Jewish, anti-communist and nationalist message. He disagreed with its conservative tactics and its aversion to an appeal to the common man. He was also repelled by its narrow Protestantism and inability to adapt to changing social circumstances. His solution was a radical experiment which could earn the Right a mass following. Rockwell chose ‘race’ as his central issue in lieu of anti-communism. He opted also to adopt fascist, as distinct from conservative, tactics. From the evidence, Rockwell succeeded in bringing rightist messages to people by clever manipulation of the racial tension of the 1960’s – and through dramatic tactics.
Rockwell created in the process of political mobilisation an American fascism. This fascism grew out of this development of the Nazi movement from 1959 to 1966. Initially, Rockwell’s party was both a symptom of, and a catalyst for, an international neo-nazi upsurge in the early 1960’s.
136. Sydney Daily Mirror, August 26 1967, p.1
Unlike European neo-nazis however, Rockwell had ideas which placed him in a specific national frame of reference and he was able to build on this to develop a new movement. He enunciated ‘answers’ to long-standing contentious issues (the Negro question, internationalism verses isolation, money issues) which would gain him a following in 1960’s America and through his ‘Nazi’ veneer he had a means to gain attention.
Throughout his career Rockwell remained a radical. When confronted for example, with the Conservative Right crusade which centred on Barry Goldwater’s bid for the presidency, Rockwell rejected the essential premises of conservatism. On other occasions Rockwell exposed the political bankruptcy of John Birch-ism and its anti-collectivist ideology.
Rockwell’s radicalism was fascist. It was in the tradition of the American fascists of the 1930’s – Dennis, Coughlin, Anne Morrow Lindbergh – who eschewed the conservative demand for domestic conformity in favour of change, change in the name of traditional America, but change nonetheless. Rockwell thence spoke of revolution.
Whether Rockwell had political potential in 1967 could be debated – if one meant the potential for a mass movement of the hundreds of thousands. Despite the ‘damage’ done to his core message by the very ‘Nazi’ tactics he had employed, Rockwell had begun to play a role like a white man’s Stokeley Carmichael. Like the black-power leader, he possessed a real potential for mass troublemaking and violent action. With such activity defined by a native fascist ideology, there is a case to argue that the Rockwell movement had a least some political potential.