Kurtis Monschke and Other Racists Commit Violent Killing
A growing and increasingly important neo-Nazi group claims it opposes any kind of political violence. Could it be true?
By Heidi Beirich and Mark Potok
From an estimated 50 members in 2001, when it first reemerged, it has grown to approximately 100 serious members, many of them in a highly active Phoenix unit.Volksfront Rising
Randy Krager, now 30, is leading a resurgent Volksfront. The group that had virtually disappeared as the 1990s came to an end grew from five to eight chapters in 2003, spreading east to Pennsylvania and strengthening its presence in California.
"We've had a fairly constant flow of individuals with ties to Volksfront coming to Phoenix," said Michelle Lefkowith, a hate group researcher who works for the ADL. "There's quite a network developing between Oregon, Washington, California and Arizona. They seem to be a real up-and-coming neo-Nazi organization."
They are also an unusual one, in that they follow a political line very similar to that of Tom Metzger, the so-called "Third Position" or "Third Way."
In practice, that means the group claims to stand for working-class whites, rejecting capitalism as well as communism (though Metzger often lauded the former Soviet Union as a white workers' state), and angrily opposing non-white immigration. It backs unions, a fact underlined by Krager's activism in local construction unions.
And it embraces a racist version of Asatrú, a form of Scandinavian paganism dating to the Middle Ages.
This ideology has not stopped Krager, a scary-looking man of some 240 pounds, from maintaining a relatively nonsectarian stance and making alliances with many sectors of the radical right.
This January, in a park outside Phoenix, Volksfront hosted Aryan Fest, a major white power music event, and managed to win plaudits from most of those who attended. Among the racist stars who came were Richard Butler, the leader of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations; Metzger, who also spoke at a 2001 event hosted by Volksfront; Billy Roper, the head of a hot new group, White Revolution; and a large number of racist bands.
After the event, which featured heavy security provided by Volksfront, racists sung the praises of the group far and wide.
Krager's group also claims to have recently purchased a five-acre plot of land, apparently located outside Medford, Ore., from members of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations. Volksfront has said on its Web site that it intends to build a "folk homeland" on its acreage.
Volksfront seems to have profited from the troubles of other groups, among them the World Church of the Creator, which collapsed after its leader Matt Hale was convicted this spring of soliciting the murder of a federal judge (see Pontifex Ex).
Hard times in the Aryan Nations and the National Alliance, two historically large neo-Nazi groups, also may be driving new members into Volksfront.
"They are definitely a more significant player on the white supremacist scene with the decline of the National Alliance and the Aryan Nations," said Randy Blazak, a Portland State University sociology professor who has studied Volksfront and knows Krager personally. "They are trying to fill that vacuum."
Is Volksfront really nonviolent? As its posted remarks on violence suggest, the group manages to maintain a useful ambiguity on this critical question.
In 2001, the same year that it adopted its nonviolence language, Volksfront also announced to its members that it had created a special security database meant to track "enemy individuals and organizations." Photos and other personal data on antiracists were solicited for the database.
Given the history of Skinhead violence in Portland — one racist Skinhead was killed by an antiracist in the wars that convulsed the city in the early 1990s — this was widely seen as a serious threat by antiracists.
Intimidation One, the band that has been associated with Volksfront since its early days, issued a threat to antiracists the same year, suggesting that they click on a certain computer link to learn their eventual fate. The link brought viewers to a film that showed apparent World War II fascists sawing a man's head off with a knife — a film that is incredibly grotesque and frightening, even by neo-Nazi standards.
Krager claims great distance from Intimidation One, even though the band still plays regularly at Volksfront events and also distributes the group's literature. In addition, Intimidation One albums are distributed by Imperium Records — a white power music label whose Web site is registered to the same address as Volksfront's main page (along with Volksfront's publishing arm, Thule Publications).
According to Scott Britt, a former racist Portland Skinhead, Thule Publications at some point endorsed the 1984 "Declaration of War" penned by Bob Mathews, leader of the terrorist Order group that gunned down a Denver talk show host and robbed some $4.1 million in armored car heists. (Mathews was killed later that year in a Washington state shootout with the FBI.)
The declaration committed its backers to a "full and unrelenting state of war" against the government.
Volksfront also sells on its own Web site a compilation CD — featuring both Intimidation One and a band called Jew Slaughter — entitled "Martyrdom Volume One: Free Ken Mieske."
Mieske, whose street name is Ken Death, is in prison for carrying out the Seraw murder. Lauded by Volksfront as a prisoner of war, Meiske once wrote a poem called "Senseless Violence." Its words are to the point:
Line them up against a wall,
Shoot them, watch them die.
I love to hear the agony,
They vomit, scream and cry.
Volksfront, along with racist outfits known as Upfront Records and the Northwest Folk Alliance, sponsors a publication called The Folk Tribune: The Independent Voice of the White Working Class.
In a 2002 issue, Volksfront pays tribute to Hendrik Möbus, a German neo-Nazi convicted of the murder of a teenager. It angrily complains about the conviction of members of a local neo-Nazi band for assault and witness tampering. ("BEATING A PEDOPHILE IS NO CRIME," it says. "IT IS A PUBLIC SERVICE!")
It carries "Scum Watch," a feature with photos of anti-racist activists topped by headlines like "Criminal Jew" and "Traitor."
Volksfront's POW list also is instructive. Although it apparently won't be featuring Kurtis Monschke any time soon, its authors do not shrink from lauding others who committed similar crimes, saying that while they reject violence they understand that those in prison were motivated by "defense of our people."
Who are these Aryan heroes? David Tate, who murdered a Missouri state trooper and was a member of Mathews' terror gang; George Loeb, killer of a black Gulf War veteran; James Burmeister, an Army paratrooper who shot to death a black couple outside Ft. Bragg, N.C.; Wallace Weicherding, imprisoned for his role in a plot to blow up the Southern Poverty Law Center and every state capitol in America; Yori Kahl, who helped his father murder two U.S. marshals; and Nathan Thill, who shot a black man to death in Denver because he was "wearing the enemy's uniform" — his black skin.
The list goes on, including a whole roster of racist killers.
"Krager was in the [prison] system a long time and he came out a lot more sophisticated than he went in," said Lefkowith, who knew Volksfront well when she was an activist with an Oregon anti-hate group.
"But it's all smoke and mirrors. It's a way to put a kinder, gentler face on an extremely radical and violent organization. Numerous individuals associated with Volksfront have long criminal histories."