Jeff Schoep

Date of Birth: 
1973
Location: 
Litchfield, MN

Jeff Schoep has been a neo-Nazi true believer since age 10 who has managed, largely by luck, to end up heading one of the largest explicitly Hitlerite groups in America. Schoep's group is known for the crudeness of its propaganda, the violence it works hard to provoke, and the faux SS outfits that have caused many other neo-Nazis to deride NSM members as "Hollywood Nazis."

In His Own Words
"The Constitution was written by white men alone. Therefore, it was intended for whites alone."
— National Socialist Movement website, undated

"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."
— National Socialist Movement website, undated

"When you put on your NSM uniform, you are not just representing the NSM but all National Socialists that fought and died for our Race and our Cause! You are showing the Jews and the rest of the world that our Führer is not forgotten and that his life's struggle was not in vain!"
— National Socialist Movement website, undated

Criminal History 
In 1998, Schoep pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting a burglary while his girlfriend's children waited in a getaway car. He was sentenced to probation.

Background
Jeff Schoep claims he realized he was a Nazi in the fourth grade, when he read Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. At 19, he went public, joining the National Socialist American Workers Freedom Movement, a minor neo-Nazi group founded in 1974 in South St. Paul, Minn., by Robert Brannen and Cliff Herrington, both former officials of the American Nazi Party of the 1960s.

Schoep tried to invigorate the aging hate group by distributing literature, organizing rallies and recruiting younger members including unaffiliated racist skinheads in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. As a result, he was soon a rising star on the neo-Nazi scene. In 1994, Schoep was invited to speak at the Aryan Nations World Congress in Idaho, a key neo-Nazi venue where he shared the podium with white supremacist heavyweights like Louis Beam, J.B. Stoner, and Neuman Britton.

In 1994, Schoep took over the National Socialist American Workers Freedom Movement, renaming it the National Socialist Movement, after the group's leader, Cliff Herrington, stepped down. Schoep, then only 21, had been a member since at least his later teens. Herrington hoped Schoep would be able to revitalize the group and attract younger members. Schoep did reach out to other groups, including the Klan, and created a special NSM Skinhead Division that offered discounted memberships to Skinheads for just $35.

In 1998, Schoep was arrested on a felony burglary charge. According to court records, Schoep — unemployed at the time — helped the mother of his daughter steal $4,000 worth of computer equipment. Four children were in the back seat of the getaway car during the burglary. Schoep pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation. The judge lambasted him for his blatant hypocrisy in fathering a child out of wedlock and stealing — behaviors that neo-Nazis routinely ascribe to non-whites.

Under Schoep's leadership, the NSM grew rapidly and became one of the most active neo-Nazi organizations in the country, though it is frequently ridiculed by more elitist white supremacists for the crudeness of its propaganda and its members' fetishistic predilection for brown shirts, swastika armbands and shiny boots. Its growth, however, was not so much due to Schoep's organizing abilities as it was the near-collapse of two larger neo-Nazi groups, the National Alliance and the Aryan Nations, both of whose leaders died in the early 2000s, and the upset of a third, the World Church of the Creator (later renamed the Creativity Movement), whose leader was sentenced in 2003  to 40 years in prison for soliciting the murder of a federal judge. But the NSM has managed to stay quite large even as other start-up neo-Nazi groups started out strong but failed to remain so.

Schoep is also known for focusing on recruiting children — specifically, 14- to 17-year-olds who Schoep says are taught military skills and how to become a "more effective warrior" in NSM's Viking Youth Corps. Parents might want to proceed cautiously, however. In 2004, Indiana authorities posted a photograph of that state's NSM leader, John Edward Snyder. Snyder had been recently released from prison for rape and other sex charges and banned from having any contact with children.

Part of the reason for the NSM's prominence is related to its aggressive public stance in recent years, much of it sparked by its then-spokesman, Bill White. (White departed the NSM in 2006 to form another group, the American National Socialist Workers Party, but was arrested for making Internet threats in 2008.) Most famously, the NSM staged an Oct. 15, 2005, rally against "black crime" in Toledo, Ohio. Police, facing an enraged crowd in an inner-city neighborhood, ordered the NSM marchers to leave before their march began, but they had already infuriated local residents and anti-racist activists with shouted slurs and insults. Soon, after the uniformed NSM members had been transported by police bus out of the area, some members of the anti-NSM crowd attacked police officers and, before the day was out, more than 100 people had been arrested. From the point of view of NSM, whose event made major national news because of the violence, things could hardly have gone better. The group made a less dramatic return to Toledo later that year, and it also used similar tactics in later anti-black rallies it held in Orlando, Fla.

In addition to leading NSM rallies across the country, where anti-racist protesters typically outnumber Schoep's uniformed followers by at least two-to-one, Schoep frequently appears at Ku Klux Klan gatherings and racist skinhead music festivals. Schoep also has sought to capitalize on rising anti-immigrant sentiment in America by focusing his speeches on Latinos "breeding us out of existence," though for him, naturally, it all comes back to the Jews. According to Schoep, illegal immigration from Latin America is driven by an international Jewish conspiracy whose leaders are plotting "the destruction of all races through the evils of race mixing."

In 2009, the NSM gave up its brown shirts for a new look, black BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) duds. The change may have been helpful as they attracted 100 members to participate in a march in St. Louis before holding a rally beneath the city's landmark Gateway Arch in April. It was their largest protest in some time.

In 2009, hundreds of private NSM emails appeared online, courtesy of wikileaks.org, which publishes leaked documents. The messages revealed an organization rife with infighting. Among the highlights was a major dust-up in fall 2007 that featured claims that an NSM official was collaborating with the Anti-Defamation League and led to the ouster or resignation of several key members, including the group’s 2008 presidential candidate.

Schoep complained about having to “play babysitter” for a squabbling membership that would be “better served if the drama is saved for the playground.” Some members alleged that Schoep was cynically exploiting his followers for his own financial gain. “NSM members make no mistake,” one warned. “Jeff Schoep is in this just for the money and he really doesn’t give a damn about the White Race.”

Schoep’s ex-wife painted a similar picture of the ostensible ideologue in a 2012 interview with the Intelligence Report. Joanna Schoep married the NSM “commander” in 2008 after meeting him on a conservative online forum. She lived with him in Detroit until December 2011, when they split acrimoniously; she had recently been through breast cancer treatments and discovered he was having a relationship with another woman.

Joanna Schoep said her former husband had privately accepted her nonwhite ancestry and that of her 17-year-old daughter, who is part African-American, but kept his new family’s racial background — anathema to neo-Nazis — secret from his followers in the NSM. Though publicly a believer in the NSM’s racist ideology, Schoep was not overtly racist to their minority neighbors or Joanna’s nonwhite friends, she said. He was instead mostly a raging anti-Semite, who “blames the Jews for everything.” But the true purpose of Schoep’s involvement in neo-Nazism, she said, is “to boost his ego, gain a Jim Jones type of following and make some money.”

In April 2012, two months after Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American teenager, was shot and killed by a neighborhood watchman in Sanford, Fla., the black separatist New Black Panther Party offered a $10,000 reward for the killer’s capture. In response, Schoep announced that the NSM was prepared for “racial violence” in the Sanford area, and that it had been “contacted” by dozens of local citizens” supposedly “concerned for the safety of their families.”

But there’s no evidence that Schoep actually delivered the 20 NSM members he promised would patrol the streets of Sanford. Instead, it seems that only three showed up. They delivered some leaflets and posed for a photo-op with an NSM banner before leaving.