George Lincoln Rockwell
George Lincoln Rockwell (March 9, 1918 – August 25, 1967) was the founder of the American Nazi Party. He was a major figure in the neo-Nazi movement in the United States, and his beliefs and writings have continued to be influential among white nationalists and neo-Nazis.
On August 25, 1967, Rockwell was killed by gunshots while leaving a shopping center in Arlington, Virginia.John Patler, a former member of Rockwell's group, was arrested, convicted of the murder, and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Patler was paroled in 1975, after serving eight years.
Rockwell was born in Bloomington, Illinois, the first of three children of George Lovejoy "Doc" Rockwell and Claire (Schade) Rockwell. His father was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and was of English and Scottish ancestry. His mother was the daughter of Augustus Schade, a German immigrant, and Corrine Boudreau, who was of Acadian French ancestry. Both parents were vaudeville comedians and actors; and his father's acquaintances included Fred Allen, Benny Goodman, Walter Winchell, Jack Benny, and Groucho Marx. His parents divorced when Rockwell was six years old, and he divided his youth between his mother in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and his father in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
Rockwell attended Atlantic City High School in Atlantic City, and applied to Harvard University when he was 17 years old. However, he was denied admission. One year later, his father enrolled him at Hebron Academy in Hebron, Maine. He became an avid reader of Western philosophy and socially significant novels, leading him to re-examine the topic of religion. He had initially perceived himself as a devout Protestant; but, after reading the Bible numerous times, he perceived religion as a necessary pillar to civilization rather than literally true. He promoted the Christian Identity sect in the 1960s.
In August 1938, Rockwell enrolled at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island as a philosophy major. In his sociology courses, he rejected equality and the idea that man was made by his environment and all human beings had the same potential in life. He debated with fellow students over topics such as social themes in popular novels.
Military service and marriages
Rockwell had a successful naval career, both on active duty and in the Naval Reserve. A veteran of World War II, he was a naval aviator and served a follow-on tour during the Korean War. He transferred to the naval reserve.
In his sophomore year, Rockwell dropped out of Brown University and accepted a commission in the United States Navy. He appreciated the order and discipline of the Navy, and attended flight schools in Massachusetts and Florida in 1940.
On April 24, 1943, Rockwell married Judy Aultman, whom he had met while attending Brown University. Aultman was a student at Pembroke College, which was the female section of the university. The couple had three daughters: Bonnie, Nancy, and Phoebe Jean. At the time, Rockwell was studying at the Navy's aerial photography school in South Florida. When he completed his training, he served in the Atlantic and Pacific theatres of World War II. He served aboard the USS Omaha, USS Pastores, USS Wasp and USS Mobile, primarily in support, photo reconnaissance, transport and training functions. Though he never actually flew in combat, he was considered a good pilot and an efficient officer.
Rockwell was recalled to duty as a lieutenant commander at the beginning of the Korean War. He moved to San Diego, California, with his wife and two children, where he trained Navy and United States Marine Corps pilots.
In 1952, Rockwell was ordered to report to Norfolk, Virginia, where he was notified by a superior officer that he would be transferred to Iceland. Since families were not permitted to be with American service personnel stationed there, his wife and children stayed with her mother in Barrington, Rhode Island. Due to the separation, his wife filed for divorce the following year. Several months after his return to Iceland, Rockwell attended a diplomatic party in the capital city of Reykjavík. He met Þóra Hallgrímsdóttir there, and they were married on October 3, 1953 in the Icelandic National Cathedral by Þóra's uncle, the Bishop of Iceland. They spent their honeymoon in Berchtesgaden, Germany, where Hitler once owned the Berghof mountain retreat in the Bavarian Alps. Together they had three children: Hallgrímur, Margrét, and Bentína.
Rockwell told Þóra about his political beliefs, and she replied that he would either be a "bum or a great man". She divorced him on October 15, 1961.
In his nineteen years of service, Rockwell had obtained the rank of Commander and was commanding officer of several aviation reserve units. In 1960, as a result of his political and racist activities, the United States Navy discharged Rockwell one year short of retirement, since he was regarded as "not deployable" due to his political views. The proceedings to dismiss him were an extremely public affair, and Rockwell widely advertised the results, saying he "had basically been thrown out of the Navy", though he was still given an honorable discharge.
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Nazism outside of Germany
When the Korean War ended, Rockwell decided to become a graphic designer. He was accepted into the art program at the prestigious Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. He and his wife Þóra moved to New York City so he could study at Pratt. Rockwell was introduced to the post modern art concept, something he considered to be a corporate form of trendy Communist chic mixed with Madison Avenue marketing. He viewed Jewish New Yorkers as the main promoters of this simplified yet marketable movement, and felt even more contempt towards Jews.
In 1948, Rockwell won the $1,000 first prize for an advertisement he did for the American Cancer Society. The contest was sponsored by the National Society of Illustrators in New York. He left Pratt before finishing his final year, and founded his own advertising agency in Maine.
Rockwell saw a business opportunity in publishing a magazine for United States servicemen's wives. In September 1955, he launched the U.S. Lady. After presenting the idea to the generals and admirals who headed public relations departments of the military services, Rockwell began publishing in Washington, D.C. The new enterprise also incorporated Rockwell's political causes: his opposition to both racial integration and communism. He financed the operation through stock sales and subscriptions. With a staff of thirty workers, Rockwell could only promise to pay his employees before the launch of the first issue. The publication continued to have financial problems, and he sold the magazine. However, he still aspired to pursue a career in publishing.
It was during his time in San Diego that Rockwell became a supporter of Adolf Hitler and Nazism.:10 He was influenced by Senator Joseph McCarthy's stance against communism. Rockwell supported General Douglas MacArthur's candidacy for President of the United States. He adopted the corncob pipe, following MacArthur's example. Rockwell attended a Gerald L. K. Smith rally in Los Angeles, and read Conde McGinley's Common Sense, a political newspaper that introduced him to anti-semitism and Holocaust Denial. He then read Hitler's National Socialist manifesto Mein Kampf and the Russian propaganda pamphlet Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Privately, he adopted their beliefs. He published an Animal Farm-type parody, The Fable of the Ducks and the Hens. This was Rockwell's interpretation of Jewish power in the United States in the 20th century. In 1952, Rockwell began working with anti-Semitic and anti-Communist groups.
That year, he attended the American Nationalist Conference, which was organized by Conde McGinley’s Christian Educational Association.
After his move to Washington DC in 1955 he became more and more conservative until, in the words of his biographer, he was "on the farthest fringe of the right wing.":24–25 In July 1958, Rockwell demonstrated in front of the White House in an anti-war protest against President Dwight D. Eisenhower's decision to send peace-keeping troops to the Middle East. One day he received a large package from a supporter; it contained an 18-foot-long Swastika flag. He placed the flag on the wall of his home and made a shrine with Hitler's photo in the center, three lighted candles in front. In his autobiography, Rockwell claimed to have had a religious experience and swore allegiance to his leader, saluting "Heil Hitler!" Rockwell and a few supporters had uniforms. They armed themselves with rifles and revolvers, and paraded about his home in Arlington, Virginia. The window to his home was left open, so that others could see the huge Swastika flag. Drew Pearson wrote a news column about Rockwell, giving him his first publicity. In the presidential election of 1964, Rockwell ran as a write-in candidate, receiving 212 votes. He ran unsuccessfully for governor of Virginia in 1965 as an independent, this time polling 5,730 votes, or 1.02 percent of the total, finishing last among the four candidates.
American Nazi Party
In March 1959, Rockwell founded the World Union of Free Enterprise National Socialists (WUFENS), a name selected to denote opposition to state ownership of property. In December, the name was changed to the American Nazi Party, and the headquarters relocated to 928 North Randolph Street in Arlington, Virginia.
In order to attract media attention, Rockwell held a rally April 3, 1960, on the National Mall of Washington, D.C., where Rockwell addressed the crowd with a two-hour long speech. The second rally was to be held at Union Square in New York City. Mayor Robert Wagner refused to grant him a permit to speak, and he appealed that decision to the New York Supreme Court. Jewish war veterans and Holocaust survivors gathered to oppose his appeal and, during a court recess, when Rockwell emerged into the court Rotunda he was surrounded by a crowd of television reporters. One of the reporters, Reese Schonfeld, asked Rockwell how he would treat Jews if he came to power in the United States. Rockwell replied he would treat Jews just as he treated any other American citizens. If they were loyal Americans, everything would be fine; if they were traitors, they would be executed. When Schonfeld asked what percentage of Jews Rockwell perceived as traitors, Rockwell replied, "Ninety percent." The Jewish war veterans and Holocaust survivors rioted and began beating Rockwell and the reporter with their umbrellas, and Rockwell was escorted out of the Courthouse Rotunda in the midst of a police convoy. Rockwell, with the aid of the ACLU, eventually won his permit, but it was long after the date of the planned event.
The third rally was set for July 4, 1960, again held on the Mall. Rockwell and his men were confronted by a mob and a riot ensued. The police arrested Rockwell and eight party members. Rockwell demanded a trial, however was instead committed to a psychiatric hospital for thirty days. In less than two weeks, he was released and found capable of standing trial. He published a pamphlet on this experience titled How to Get Out or Stay Out of the Insane Asylum.
In summer 1966, Rockwell led a counter-demonstration to Martin Luther King's attempt to bring an end to de facto segregation in the white Chicago suburb of Cicero, Illinois. He believed King was a tool for Jewish Communists to integrate America. Rockwell believed integration to be a Jewish plot to rule the white community.
Rockwell led the American Nazi Party in assisting the Ku Klux Klan and similar groups during the Civil Rights Movement, in attempts to counter the Freedom Riders and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. But he soon came to believe that the Klan was stuck in the past and ineffective in helping him wage a modern race struggle. After hearing the slogan "Black Power" during a debate in 1966 with Black Panther Stokely Carmichael, Rockwell altered the phrase and started a call for "White Power".White Power later became the name of the party's newspaper and the title of a book authored by Rockwell.
Rockwell's principal message was racial separation. He attempted to form friendly associations with the Nation of Islam. He praised Elijah Muhammad as the "Black people's Hitler," and admired him for doing the best job in promoting integrity and pride among his people. There were even reports that he and Muhammad had met privately. In 1961, Rockwell and ten of his followers showed up at a major Nation of Islam rally in Washington D.C. wearing their Nazi uniforms, and were given seats near the center stage. When the audience was asked for donations, Rockwell contributed $20. Rockwell also admired Malcolm X, seeing him as the next true leader for Black America. Despite this, in 1965 Malcolm X sent Rockwell a telegram while Rockwell was on his "Hate Bus" tour of the South, threatening Rockwell with "maximum physical retaliation from those of us who are not hand-cuffed by the disarming philosophy of nonviolence" should Martin Luther King, Jr. or "any other black Americans who are only attempting to enjoy their rights as free human beings" be harmed.
Rockwell was a Holocaust denier. In an April 1966 interview with Playboy journalist Alex Haley, Rockwell stated, "I don't believe for one minute that any 6,000,000 Jews were exterminated by Hitler. It never happened." When asked in a 1965 interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation if the Holocaust were true, Rockwell replied by claiming he had "incontrovertible documentary proof that that's not true."
The two-story farm house Rockwell established as his "Stormtrooper Barracks" was located at 6150 Wilson Boulevard, in the Dominion Hills district of Arlington. It was there that the interview with Alex Haley occurred. Situated on the tallest hill in Arlington County, the house has long since been razed and the property incorporated into the Upton Hill Regional Park. A small picnic table pavilion marks the house's former location. The site of the party headquarters, 928 North Randolph Street in the Ballston area of Arlington, is now a massive hotel and office building complex. Rockwell's successor, Matt Koehl, relocated the headquarters after Rockwell's death to 2507 North Franklin Road in the Clarendon area. It became the last physical address of the party before Koehl moved it to New Berlin, Wisconsin in the mid-1980s. The small red brick building, often misidentified today as Rockwell's former headquarters, is now a coffee shop called The Java Shack.
World Union of National Socialists
In August 1962 Rockwell travelled secretly to Britain through Ireland. In the Cotswolds, he co-founded the World Union of National Socialists with Colin Jordan's British organization the National Socialist Movement, before being deported back to the States. In 1966, the international group published National Socialist World, edited by former physics professor William Luther Pierce.
National Socialist White People's Party
From June 9 to 11, 1963, the party held its national conference in Arlington, aimed at reorganizing its leadership and "charting a new course of professionalism". In July 1963, the party's publication The Stormtrooper magazine was replaced with the newspaper White Power bearing the swastika in the center of the paper. Some within the NSWPP opposed this new ideological direction.
On January 1, 1967, Rockwell announced the party's next stage of development. He officially changed the name of the American Nazi Party to the National Socialist White People's Party (NSWPP). Its new slogan would be "White Power", replacing the inflammatory "Sieg Heil". The new strategy would be to capitalize on growing support in the wake of the Chicago rallies and to focus the organization's commitment to a universal white nationalism. An internal party newsletter, the "National Socialist Bulletin", was started to help direct these new efforts.
Hatenanny Records and the Hate Bus
In the 1960s, Rockwell attempted to draw attention to his cause by starting a small record label, named Hatenanny Records. The name was based on the word "hootenanny", a term given to folk music performances. The label released several 45 RPM singles of music with openly racist lyrics, and were sold mostly through mail order and at party rallies. When the Freedom Riders drove their campaign to desegregate bus stations in the Deep South, Rockwell secured a Volkswagen van and decorated it with white supremacist slogans, dubbing it the "Hate Bus" and personally driving it to speaking engagements and party rallies. According to an FBI report on the American Nazi Party, the van was repossessed after a loan default.
On August 25, 1967, Rockwell was killed by gunshots while leaving the Econowash laundromat at the Dominion Hills Shopping Center in the 6000 block of Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia. Two bullets from a model 1896 "Broomhandle" Mauser pistol passed through his 1958 Chevrolet's windshield, and it slowly rolled backwards to a stop. Rockwell staggered out of the front passenger side door of the car, pointed towards the shopping center roof, and then collapsed face up on the pavement.
The gunman ran along the shopping center roof and jumped to the ground in the rear. A shop owner and a customer briefly gave chase, but were unable to get a clear look at the fleeing figure. Other customers called the Arlington County police and checked Rockwell for a pulse. He had none; the one bullet that struck him had ripped through several major arteries just above his heart. The internal bleeding was so heavy that Rockwell died in two minutes.
A half hour later, at a bus stop about a half-mile (800 m) away,John Patler, a former member of Rockwell's group, was arrested as the suspected murderer by a passing patrolman familiar with the Arlington Nazis. Later that day, after hearing of his son’s death, Rockwell's 78-year-old father was curt: "I am not surprised at all. I've expected it for quite some time." Patler was later convicted of the murder, and served eight years in prison.
Matt Koehl, the number two man in the NSWPP, moved to establish legal control over Rockwell’s body and all NSWPP assets. At the time of his death, the NSWPP had approximately 300 active members nationwide, and perhaps 3,000 financial supporters. Although Rockwell’s parents wanted a private burial in Maine, they did not feel up to a public fight with the Nazis for his body. On August 27, an NSWPP spokesman reported that Federal officials had given verbal approval to a planned military burial of Rockwell at Culpeper National Cemetery, as an honorably discharged veteran of the US Armed Forces. The Cemetery and local law enforcement said they would allow the funeral as long as no Nazi insignias or uniforms were present. When the 50 mourners disobeyed these conditions, their entrance to the cemetery was blocked by local law enforcement and Virginia State Police in a standoff which lasted about five hours. During the standoff, the hearse had been stopped on railroad tracks near the cemetery entrance and was nearly struck by an approaching train after a hurried move of several vehicles in the procession. The day after the aborted funeral service (August 30, 1967), his body was cremated.
Given the epithet of the "American Hitler" by the BBC, Rockwell was a source of inspiration for White Nationalist politician David Duke. As a student in high school, when Duke learned of Rockwell's assassination, he reportedly said "The greatest American who ever lived has been shot down and killed". In the mid-1960s, Rockwell had a strategy to develop his Nazi political philosophy within the Christian Identity religious movement. The Christian Identity group Aryan Nations started to use various Nazi flags in its services, and its security personnel started wearing uniforms similar to those worn by Rockwell's stormtroopers. Two of Rockwell's associates, Matt Koehl and William Luther Pierce, formed their own organizations. Koehl, who was Rockwell's successor, renamed the NSWPP to New Order in 1983 and relocated it to Wisconsin shortly thereafter. Pierce founded the National Alliance.
George Lincoln Rockwell is mentioned in the lyrics to the Bob Dylan song "Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues". In the lyrics to the song, the narrator parodies Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson as being Communists, and claims that the only "true American" is George Lincoln Rockwell. Quoting the lyrics, "I know for a fact that he hates Commies, 'cause he picketed the movie Exodus."
In the television miniseries Roots: The Next Generations, Marlon Brando portrayed Rockwell and won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his performance. On the post-World War II alternative reality show The Man in the High Castle, Nazi-occupied New York City's main airport has been renamed Lincoln Rockwell Airport.
Summary of military career
- 15 March 1941: Enlisted U.S. Naval Reserve
- 17 March 1941: Called to Active Duty
- 12 June 1941: Appointed Aviation Cadet, U.S. Naval Reserve
- 16 October 1941: Commissioned Ensign
- 22 November 1945: Released from Active Duty as a Lieutenant
- 21 September 1950: Recalled to Active Duty
- 20 October 1954: Released from Active Duty as a Commander
- 5 February 1960: Discharged from the Naval Reserve
Dates of rank
- Seaman Recruit: 15 March 41
- Aviation Cadet: 2 June 41
- Ensign: 16 October 41
- Lieutenant Junior Grade: 1 October 42
- Lieutenant: 1 October 43
- Lieutenant Commander: 3 October 45
- Commander: 1 February 54
- American Defense Service Medal
- American Campaign Medal (w/1 service star)
- Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (w/3 service stars)
- European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (w/1 service star)
- World War II Victory Medal
- National Defense Service Medal
- Naval Reserve Medal
- Philippine Liberation Medal (w/2 service stars)
- In Hoc Signo Vinces, a political manifesto (World Union of Free Enterprise National Socialists, 1960)
- How to Get Out or Stay Out of the Insane Asylum, recounts his experience of being sentenced to thirty days observation (American Nazi Party, 1960)
- The Fable of the Ducks and the Hens, a long-form poem that uses various sub-species of birds to illustrate Rockwell's own views of the racial problems in America and the world.
- This Time the World, his autobiography (written 1960; First Published by Parliament House 1961; Reprinted by White Power Publications, 1979; and later Liberty Bell Publications, 2004, ISBN 1-59364-014-5).
- White Power (written 1967; John McLaughlin, 1996, ISBN 0-9656492-8-8)
- From Ivory Tower To Privy Wall: On The Art Of Propaganda (1960)
- How Can the Liberals Be So Stupid?
- How To Get Out or Stay Out of the Insane Asylum (1960)
- In Hoc Signo Vinces (1960)
- Legal, Political and Psychological Warfare
- The Terrible Power of Money
- What We Stand For: Goals and Objectives of the NSWPP
- White Self-Hate: Master-Stroke Of The Enemy
- Who's a Hate-Monger? (1958)