A hot-tempered, longtime white supremacist and Christian Identity minister, August Kreis III heads one of a handful of competing splinter factions of the once-mighty Aryan Nations. Kreis fervently advocates the mass murder of Jews, non-whites and "race traitors." He also promotes "lone wolf" domestic terrorism, which he calls "leaderless resistance under the radical banner of pan-Aryanism." Although Kreis frequently rants against the Jewish-controlled mainstream media, he has often courted publicity. In the mid-2000s, he did so by claiming to be forging an alliance between neo-Nazis and Muslim jihadists. In January 2012, Kreis decided to quit Aryan Nations just weeks after being convicted of federal fraud-related charges.
In 1991, Kreis was arrested for disorderly conduct at an Invisible Empire of the Ku Klux Klan march in Lancaster, Penn. In 1997, a judge in Potter County, Penn., issued a protective order prohibiting Kreis from any contact with his ex-wife or his oldest daughter after they alleged that Kreis physically and sexually abused their children for the past several years. In 1998, Kreis was charged with harassment and disorderly conduct after he allegedly threatened two elderly neighbors Kreis suspected of supporting Potter County United, an anti-racist group of ministers in Potter County, Penn., where he lived at the time. Kreis allegedly pointed a gun at his neighbors and threatened to burn their house down. The charges were later dropped.
In May 2011, Kreis was ordered to appear in court in Columbia, S.C., on charges that he defrauded the federal government. Kreis was charged with two counts of filing fraudulent statements to obtain veterans benefits, once in August 2006 and again in February 2008, and another count of embezzling, stealing and converting to his own use more than $1,000 belonging to the United States. He was ordered to appear in court on June 1, 2011, but told the Southern Poverty Law Center that he could not travel to South Carolina due to health issues.
In December 2011, Kreis was sentenced to six months in prison, six months house arrest and two years of probation on the fraud charges.
In His Own Words
"Now is the time for all who seek to wage war under the banner of Aryan Nations to raise high the flag of violent, pan-Aryan revolution against the jew [sic], absolute hostility to all enemies, total secrecy in relation to all operational needs, policies and action and adherence to decentralization and leaderless resistance."
— Undated post to the Aryan Nations website
"Fanaticism, ruthlessness and consistency must be the character traits of those who wish to join with us in the Aryan Nations."
— Undated post to Aryan Nations website
"Jew praising Judeo-Christian freaks should be treated no differently than the jewish [sic] scum they support and admire! Even though many are of our race they are nothing less than traitors. Fact is ALL that dance to the tune of the jew should and will be exterminated with the jew!"
— Undated post to Aryan Nations website
A high-school dropout who served on a Navy vessel during the Vietnam War, August Kreis III first took up with the white supremacist movement as a member of a Ku Klux Klan group in New Jersey in the late 1970s. In 1981, he was fired from his job working for a Jewish real estate developer in Newark after he was caught holding Klan meetings in an apartment complex that was occupied primarily by Jewish tenants. For the next decade, he stayed on the move with his first wife and three children before finally settling in a rural area outside Ulysses, Pa. During his wanderings, Kreis experienced an ideological shift. As he later told the Buffalo News, "In the beginning, I thought the blacks were the problem. I didn't understand there was an underlying cause. ... The Jew is the enemy of all races on the planet."
Sometime in the late 1980s, Kreis became heavily involved in Christian Identity, a violently racist and anti-Semitic theology. He studied the religion, which describes Jews as biologically Satanic and people of color as soulless "muds," under prominent Christian Identity pastor James Wickstrom, who had organized paramilitary training for the Posse Comitatus, a loosely organized band of anti-Semitic survivalists dedicated to vigilantism and antigovernment radicalism.
By the time Kreis became Wickstrom's second-in-command in the early 1990s, the Posse had essentially disappeared as an organization, but much of its ideology survived in sectors of the radical right. Kreis gradually assumed stewardship of the Posse's online presence in the movement's waning years, running the "Sheriff's Posse Comitatus" website, which offered virulently anti-Semitic commentary on a wide range of political issues — much as Kreis' Aryan Nations website does today.
In January 1993, Kreis and two of his daughters appeared on "The Jerry Springer Show." Kreis, wearing a priest's collar, repeatedly called the Holocaust a "myth" and provoked Springer by telling the Jewish talk show host: "I've got your grandmother in the trunk of my car. … She's a lampshade. She's soap." Springer threw Kreis off the set after the two men nearly came to blows.
Later in 1993, about 350 neo-Nazi skinheads attended Aryan Summerfest, a hard-core white supremacist "hate rock" festival that Kreis hosted at his semi-rural "Last Outpost," consisting of three trailers, a woodshop and a shooting range in rural Pennsylvania.
In 1994, Kreis began what would become a six-year campaign of threats and harassment targeting an interdenominational coalition of preachers in Potter County, Pa., that had formed to publicly oppose his views and activism. Kreis on several occasions showed up at meetings of Potter County United, videotaping the proceedings and threatening to "bring in KKK, neo-Nazis, and skinheads." He boasted of secret cross burnings and proclaimed, "I'm recruiting your kids." Kreis repeatedly left ominous answering machine messages, and once E-mailed anti-racist ministers a photo of himself posing with a firearm, along with a warning: "We will be watching you… . You will pay the ultimate price." In another threatening E-mail, he said, "You're doing Lucifer's work, and you will pay."
Kreis joined the Aryan Nations in mid-1999 and rapidly began working his way into the good graces of the neo-Nazi group's aged leader, Richard Butler, who invited Kreis to deliver a keynote address at a three-day Aryan World Congress held that summer at the Aryan Nations compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho. Soon thereafter, Butler installed Kreis in the position of Aryan Nations webmaster, and then "Regional Ambassador for the Northeast," meaning Kreis nominally coordinated Aryan Nations activities in seven states.
The following summer, Butler, then 83, was ordered to pay a $6.3 million court judgment as the result of a civil suit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Butler ultimately forfeited his compound in a bankruptcy auction, and the Aryan Nations began to hemorrhage members and money, even as Kreis was promoted again, this time to "Minister of Information & Propaganda."
Following Butler's death in 2004, the Aryan Nations split into two factions — an Alabama- and Georgia-based faction led by Jonathan Williams, and one based in Pennsylvania, led by Kreis. Both claimed to have inherited Butler's legacy, but neither has proved capable of bringing Aryan Nations back to anything approaching prominence. Although ideologically similar for the most part, the competing factions have differed sharply on the issue of whether neo-Nazis should find common cause with Muslim terrorists, since they both hate Jews. Williams has blasted the idea as heresy: "The simple fact is that they [Middle Eastern jihadists] aren't white." But Kreis is all for it, telling CNN in 2005: "You say they're terrorists, I say they're freedom fighters. And I want to instill the same jihadic feeling in our peoples' heart, in the Aryan race, that they [jihadists] have for their father, who they call Allah."
Kreis later moved to South Carolina and in 2009 to near Union City, Tenn. While still nominally in charge of his offshoot Aryan Nations faction, Kreis has engaged in little activism in recent years. This is partly due to the fact that his health has greatly deteriorated because of severe diabetes.
In May 2011, Kreis was facing three felony counts for allegedly cheating the U.S. government. Kreis was charged with two counts of filing fraudulent statements to obtain veterans benefits, once in August 2006 and again in February 2008, federal court documents show. The third count accused him of embezzling, stealing and converting to his own use more than $1,000 belonging to the United States.
Kreis was ordered to appear in court in Columbia, S.C., a considerable distance from his home in South Fulton, Tenn. Kreis told the Southern Poverty Law Center that he would unable to travel to Columbia because of health issues. On his website, Kreis wrote that a U.S. probation officer told him that if he didn't appear, a warrant would be issued for his arrest.
In December 2011, Kreis was sentenced to six months in prison, six months house arrest and two years of probation on federal fraud charges. The following month, Kreis said he was stepping down as leader of his Aryan Nations faction. Kreis did not give a reason for his decision, but he said his successor would be Pastor Drew Bostwick, who has lived in Iowa and been active in the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement.