Return of the (Nebraska) Führer

Neo-Nazis

The "Farm Belt Führer" is back. Gary "Gerhard" Lauck, who for decades was one of the world's largest distributors of neo-Nazi propaganda, has returned to the United States with reported plans to move to Chicago after four years in German prisons.

Beginning in 1974, Lauck was the driving force of the National Socialist German Workers Party/Overseas Organization (known by its German-language acronym, NSDAP/AO). From his home in Lincoln, Neb., he exported neo-Nazi propaganda in 10 languages to 30 countries — including a German-language newspaper, Nazi Battle Cry, and an old Nazi propaganda film depicting Jews as rats.

Apart from walking through the streets of Lincoln in Nazi uniforms, Lauck, 46, kept a relatively low local profile. But he defied European bans on Nazi paraphernalia and literature by flooding the continent with millions of pieces of anti-Semitic propaganda.

In March 1995, he was arrested under a law banning racist statements as he arrived in Denmark to attend a neo-Nazi convention.

A few months later, Lauck was extradited to Germany and sentenced to five years there for his propagandizing. Had Lauck stayed in the United States, the First Amendment would have prohibited his extradition.

At age 11, Lauck had moved to Nebraska from Milwaukee. Growing up, he says he was teased by classmates for speaking with a speech impediment that sounded suspiciously like a German accent. "At that point," he says, "I became a fanatic not only with my heart, but with my mind."

At 19, he changed his name to Gerhard and started the NSDAP/AO in honor of Hitler — a man whose only defect, Lauck said, was being "too humane."

As Lauck was being taken away after his sentencing in Germany, he shouted to spectators, "The fight will go on!" Now, perhaps, it will.

Lauck finally left Germany on March 23. His hair is shorter and whiter, but his Hitleresque mustache remains.

"If anything," he told the Lincoln Journal Star after the paper discovered he had reappeared in his home town, "I'm even more convinced, determined and fanatical than before."