An organization that specializes in theatrical and provocative protests, the National Socialist Movement (NSM) is the largest and most prominent neo-Nazi group in the United States. The group is notable for its violent anti-Jewish rhetoric, its racist views and its policy allowing members of other racist groups to join NSM while remaining members of other groups. Until 2007, NSM members protested in full Nazi uniforms, now traded in for black “Battle Dress Uniforms.”
In Their Own Words
“All non-White immigration must be prevented. We demand that all non-Whites currently residing in America be required to leave the nation forthwith and return to their land of origin: peacefully or by force.”
— “25 Points of American National Socialism,” NSM website
“When … you take a German Shepherd and mix him with a Golden Retriever you have a worthless animal that nobody wants and that isn’t worth anything if you’re trying to breed him or sell him. … [T]hese degenerates that allow their children to race mix and this sort of thing, they’re destroying the bloodlines of both races.”
— NSM leader Jeff Schoep, July 25, 2007, interview
“I do not see the niggers, homosexuals, mexicans, jews, or even child molesters ashamed or afraid to speak their minds and rally, march, post, and be activists for their sick cause. And too many brave men and women died to give me the chance to fight now. I will honor their blood and fight for soil.”
— Prominent NSM member J.T. Ready, in a June 15, 2008, blog post
The National Socialist Movement has its roots in the original American Nazi Party, which was founded in 1959 by former Navy Cmdr. George Lincoln Rockwell. Seven years after Rockwell was murdered by one of his followers in 1967, two of his chief lieutenants, Robert Brannen and Cliff Herrington, formed the National Socialist American Workers Freedom Movement in St. Paul, Minn. Leadership passed to Jeff Schoep in 1994, who renamed the group the National Socialist Movement.
The NSM is now the largest neo-Nazi organization in the country. The resurgence of the NSM began in 2004, in the wake of the deaths of the country’s two major neo-Nazi leaders, the National Alliance’s William Pierce (d. 2002) and the Aryan Nations’ Richard Butler (d. 2004). Also contributing to the vacuum in neo-Nazi leadership of the nation was the 2004 imprisonment of Matt Hale, the leader of the World Church of the Creator. Hale was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison for soliciting the murder of a federal judge.
Starting in 2004, the NSM began to overshadow all other American neo-Nazi groups, including two, White Revolution and National Vanguard, that emerged from the ashes of the National Alliance. The NSM made its presence felt through frequent theatrical street actions undertaken in Nazi garb. Unlike other neo-Nazi outfits, the NSM adopted an open-arms recruiting policy that allowed members of other white supremacist groups to participate in NSM actions and join the NSM.
Schoep was only 21 years old when he took control of the group in 1994, and his relatively young age has helped him attract a younger generation of neo-Nazis. In fact, under Schoep’s leadership, the NSM set up a unit specifically focused on recruiting teens that it called its Viking Youth Corps. It also launched a Women’s Division and a Skinhead Division. It bolstered its online presence with a revamped website featuring the group’s newsletter, downloadable leaflets for printing and distribution, and field reports from NSM chapters around the country. The group created its own hate rock music label, NSM88 Records, and in April 2007 purchased the now-popular white supremacist social networking site New Saxon.
NSM ideology mirrors that of the original American Nazi Party. The group openly idolizes Adolf Hitler, described in NSM propaganda as, “Our Fuhrer, the beloved Holy Father of our age … a visionary in every respect.” NSM says only heterosexual “pure-blood whites” should be allowed U.S. citizenship and that all nonwhites should be deported, regardless of legal status. As Schoep put it: “The Constitution was written by white men alone. Therefore, it was intended for whites alone.”
The NSM is probably best known for carefully staged protests, carried out in full-blown Nazi uniforms and swastika armbands, that have managed to win substantial news coverage for the group. The best example of the NSM’s provocative rallies came on Dec. 10, 2005, when the group made international news after a planned march through a black neighborhood in Toledo, Ohio, sparked rioting by residents and counter-protesters. The riots cost the city more than $336,000, though the NSM members escaped the violence and were not liable for any of the destruction. “The Negro beasts proved our point for us,” Schoep crowed after the rally.
Subjected for years to movement ridicule for their brown-shirt outfits — the late National Alliance leader William Pierce called them “Hollywood Nazis” — NSM national and state chapter leaders voted at the group’s national congress in April 2007 to switch to “more militant looking” black battle dress uniforms (BDUs).
The NSM has had its share of movement scandal. In July 2006, it was rocked by revelations that co-founder and chairman emeritus Cliff Herrington’s wife was the “High Priestess” of the Joy of Satan Ministry, and that her satanic church shared an address with the Tulsa, Okla., NSM chapter. The exposure of Herrington’s wife’s Satanist connections caused quite a stir, particularly among those NSM members who adhered to a racist (and heretical) variant of Christianity, Christian Identity. Before the dust settled, both Herringtons were forced out of NSM. Bill White, the neo-Nazi group’s energetic spokesman, also quit, taking several NSM officials with him to create a new group, the American National Socialist Workers Party.
In December 2006, “Wild” Bill Hoff, one of the NSM’s oldest and best-known members and a “colonel” in the group, died in a car accident at the age of 71. This was particularly notable because Hoff’s anti-racist brother decided four months after the death to reveal a remarkable fact — Hoff, along with other members of his family, had black ancestors, a dreadful secret in the world of neo-Nazism.
Another embarrassment was in store for the NSM. In late 2006, Schoep and World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan leader Gordon Young announced with great fanfare that Young was quitting the Klan to become the NSM’s Maryland leader. But that went south in January 2007, when Young was charged with sexually assaulting a young girl. He was acquitted, but not before embarrassing Schoep. In late 2010, Young left the NSM with half a dozen other members.
Jeff Schoep’s personal life has been the source of other movement criticism as well. In April 2010, John Taylor Bowles, who was the NSM’s 2008 presidential candidate, alleged on his blog that Schoep was a race traitor because he had married a woman with a mixed-race child from a previous marriage. (Schoep had left his previous girlfriend in Minnesota and moved to Detroit to be with his new lover. In 1998, he was arrested with the previous girlfriend while aiding a burglary; at the time, the couple’s children were left waiting in a getaway car.)
Despite these embarrassments, the NSM remained the largest neo-Nazi group in the United States. By 2009, the NSM had 61 chapters in 35 states, making it the largest neo-Nazi group in the country.
A growing number of the NSM’s protests have targeted immigrants recently. On June 19, 2010, NSM members J.T. Ready, Jeff Hall and about eight other individuals (some of whom were not NSM members) congregated in Arizona’s Vekol Valley. Hall described the goal of their operation as to “fight the [Mexican drug] cartels and reclaim the land.” Armed with pistols and high-powered rifles, the group led patrols through the desert and “secured” an abandoned building. They claimed to have apprehended three illegal immigrants attempting a border crossing, although this has not been independently confirmed.
On May 1, 2011, the 10-year-old son of Hall, who was serving as the NSM's southwest regional leader, was arrested for allegedly shooting his neo-Nazi father to death. According to The Associated Press and an L.A. Times story that cited court documents and police reports, the boy apparently had been pushed to the breaking point by his father's abuse of him and his stepmother and was also frightened that he'd have to choose between them if his father's behavior led to a divorce.