Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

City a Leader in White Nationalism

New Berlin is headquarters for neo-Nazi party founded by George Lincoln Rockwell.

By - Nov 1st, 2018 11:17 am
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City of New Berlin

City of New Berlin

President Donald Trump’s recent pronouncement that he is “a nationalist” triggered much media speculation about its meaning, with historian Michael Beschloss tracing it to the views of George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party, who wrote a book called “The Nationalist Perspective.”

It was not the first time such a connection has been made. In January 2016 Trump retweeted a tweet that included white nationalist sentiments along with a photo of Rockwell.

George Lincoln Rockwell. Photo is in the Public Domain.

George Lincoln Rockwell. Photo is in the Public Domain.

And the anti-semitic views that apparently drove Robert Bowers to kill Jewish people at the Pittsburgh synagogue have also been traced to Rockwell and his continuing influence. 

Before he died in 1967, Rockwell changed the name of his Nazi group to the National Socialist White People’s Party (NSWPP), and his confederate and eventual successor, Matthias “Matt” Koehl changed the group’s name to the New Order. 

And the New Order has been headquartered in New Berlin, WI, since the 1980s. That’s right, what is perhaps the key center of white nationalism in America was established in a quiet suburb of Milwaukee on a secluded, 88-acre rural property that Koehl dubbed “Nordland.” The 88 acres was also symbolic: H is the eighth letter in the German language and HH is a shorthand for “Heil Hitler.” Adding to the creepy atmosphere, Rockwell’s remains (the ashes from his cremation) were actually interred in the Memorial room at the headquarters.

Koehl, you see, was a native of Milwaukee who actually studied journalism at UW-Milwaukee, long before the term “fake news” was coined, and some years before joining up with Rockwell. Koehl moved New Order here in the mid-1980s “because of membership decline, trouble with the IRS and the high cost of living in Washington, D.C.,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Any of the most heavily white suburbs of Koehl’s home town area might have been picked, but why not one whose name echoes the old Berlin of the Fuhrer? 

Koehl reportedly shifted the emphasis of the party, adding a spiritual component, but there was still plenty of that old-time Nazi spirit. Those wishing “to become a Registered Supporter… must send money and pledge in writing to be non-Jewish, white, and not a fugitive, drug addict or homosexual,” the group’s website declared back in 2007, as a Milwaukee Magazine story reported. Koehl was fluent in German and wrote numerous neo-Nazi publications, including “The Good Society,” a pro-Hitler assessment of the Third Reich.

Koehl began publishing the The NS BULLETIN in January, 1967, “as the internal organ of the National Socialist White Peoples Party and the National Socialist Youth Movement,” the group’s website notes. “It is the longest continuously published National Socialist periodical of the modern era.”

Koehl remained based in New Berlin until he died in 2014 and as an obituary published by the New Order noted: “Under his tenure, the NSWPP flourished into a national organization, with headquarters in many US cities. In the mid-1970s, it ran candidates for local office in Milwaukee and elsewhere.”  

“Upon the Commander’s death,” the group notes, “a new leadership team took the helm and immediately began rebuilding the Movement of Adolf Hitler and Lincoln Rockwell.”

The group’s new leader is Martin Kerr, its still based in New Berlin, and its current website hammers home a familiar philosophy: “American Whites are falling to minority status in their own country. They have allowed themselves to be ruled by a Negro president. Traditional Aryan society has been eroded, with the family unit especially having come under sustained attack. Bizarre sexual perversions are now extolled as the new norm. Our very history is being erased by howling mobs of self-styled ‘anti-fascists.’ And looming over it all is the leering face of the Jew, who senses that his age-old goal of world mastery will soon to be within his grasp.”

Oh, they are also launching a fund drive, “to establish a substantial emergency financial reserve to provide for urgent legal or medical assistance when the need arises — as it certainly will.” Medical assistance? That has an ominous sound. 

The group claims that “countless thousands of pieces of NEW ORDER printed literature have been distributed in at least 15 states and the District of Columbia, including: Alabama, California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.”

“Today the New Order operates quietly far from the public spotlight, eschewing the confrontational public rallies that were once a hallmark of its previous incarnations,” notes a Wikipedia entry. It maintains a Milwaukee post office box “providing information and template material promoting National Socialism. It has no members but rather ‘registered supporters’ who pledge to mail in donations on a monthly basis. Financing is also obtained through sales of books and other merchandise under an affiliate business, NS Publications of Wyandotte, Michigan. The NS Bulletin, a newsletter, is sent to supporters on a quarterly basis. The group holds occasional ceremonial gatherings at undisclosed private locations such as an annual observance of Hitler’s birthday each April 20.”

But every once in a while, signs of the party’s presence pop up. In 2011, the Shepherd Express did a story about a Harriet Paletti, a “sergeant” in the National Socialist movement. “Anyone who’s familiar with New Berlin will know what the demographics are,” Paletti said. “Our demographics are majority white, about 95%-96% white. We just fit in better with our own type of people… People have seen me wearing a swastika around town now and again and I’ve never had any kind of altercations. People are always very nice and ask about my kids and are sociable.”

And in June, New Berlin West High School faced a controversy and had to stop distributing yearbooks after one of its seniors wrote an ominous quote targeting the Jewish community. It said: “There will always be one true Final Solution.”

Today, the two parcels of property where Kuehl founded his national headquarters list the owner as Asgard Press, which publishes white nationalist literature and Nazi posters. 

In August 2017, after the controversy arose over violence by a white nationalist in Charlottesvile, Kerr was interviewed by the Washington Post. 

“He is the grandfather of the white racialist movement as it exists today,” Kerr said of George Lincoln Rockwell. “To see these many hundreds of racially conscious white men on the streets of Charlottesville, I’m sure he would have been very pleased.”

The New Order’s current leader told the Post his group still has the remains of Rockwell kept in an ivory urn with a photo of Rockwell on one side and a swastika on the other. “We want to keep them in a secure location until a time when we can inter them properly,” he said.

“We’re not at the end of the Rockwell wave,” Kerr added. “We’re at the beginning.” 

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Categories: Murphy's Law, Politics

One thought on “Murphy’s Law: City a Leader in White Nationalism”

  1. Thomas Martinsen says:

    Bruce,

    This reporting is alarming, but it is not surprising. The murder of eleven Jewish people in Pittsburgh recently did not come out of nowhere: it came from somewhere.

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