National Vanguard's Strom Seeks More Power
Return to West Virginia
During his years away from West Virginia, Strom's only visible connection to the movement came through his personal Web site and his frequent postings on various Usenet groups. Strom used his Web site in this period to promote Oliver's essays by posting them for the masses to read. He also displayed some of his more controversial interests in a section of the site labeled "feminine beauty," where Strom posted pictures of attractive white teenage girls, many in bikinis. Heavily favored were photos of a fresh-faced Brooke Shields astride horses.
"The beauty of the women and girls of our race has inspired our greatest poets, artists, and writers throughout history," Strom wrote. "It should also inspire our senses of chivalry and of honor, for if anything is sacred, our girls and women are, and they must be protected from the degradation and degeneracy that is inherent in multiracialism. Girls and women of all ages will be presented here from time to time." Strom solicited the site's visitors to offer their own soft-core submissions.
Three years after Strom's marriage failed, Pierce welcomed his prodigal lackey back to the West Virginia compound.
Soon enough, Strom remarried, though his taste in women, or at least the women Pierce approved for him, had apparently changed. Where Kirsten Kaiser was meek, docile and obedient, Elisha is outspoken, assertive and combative. She is the closest thing to a feminist that exists within the white power movement. Unlike Kaiser, whose wardrobe was dictated by Strom, she wears whatever she wants, including tight jeans. She long ran her own Web site, "A Woman's Voice." Soon after Strom's remarriage, the pin-up shots of young girls on his Web site were removed and replaced with pictures of ancient sculptures.
With his new wife at his side, Strom pushed the Alliance to delve into new areas. Pierce soon approached Todd Blodgett, a Washington consultant who controlled shares of the white power record label Resistance Records, and offered to buy him out. Blodgett, who agreed to sell and also to broker shares held by others, now says that it was clear from his discussions with Pierce that the idea of getting into the white power music business originated with Strom, who saw a ripe moneymaking opportunity for the Alliance as well as a way to reach out to the next generation of racists.
The Alliance's investment in Resistance Records turned out well, at least initially. Resistance soon became quite profitable and, as a result, the future of America's leading neo-Nazi organization had never seemed brighter. But it quickly darkened with Pierce's unexpected death in July 2002. With their famed founder gone, the Alliance's principals passed the torch to Erich Gliebe, a former boxer who had fought as "The Aryan Barbarian." Kevin Strom, despite his important ideas and his years in the trenches of the neo-Nazi movement, had been bypassed.
The Dalliance Ends
In the initial days after Gliebe took over, Blodgett said Gliebe and Strom seemingly got along. Although they were far from friends, Gliebe was smart enough to know that he needed Strom's help in leading the Alliance.
That's not to say that Strom's initial agreement to help Gliebe with the Alliance was based strictly on loyalty. Blodgett believes that part of Strom's motivation owed to a promise he said Gliebe made to the Alliance's board of directors that if they didn't have confidence in him after his first year, he would step down. That would have opened up the position for Strom to step in.
But despite his alleged promise and the board's rapidly deteriorating faith in his leadership abilities, Gliebe refused to step down. His egotism and financial mismanagement drove away dues-paying Alliance members in legions.
As prominent members such as David Pringle resigned and criticism mounted against Gliebe, Strom remained strangely quiet. The only hint of any disapproval prior to his coup attempt came in the form of a message he posted to Stormfront in 2004. Responding to a series of attacks on Gliebe, Strom replied: "The concerns that prompted this affair are most certainly not 'BS' — and they cannot be refuted. Efforts are being made by responsible parties to set things right."
As time moved on, Gliebe also began demonstrating contempt for Strom. Shaun Walker, the group's chief operating officer and a man deeply loyal to Gliebe, was given the green light to dock Strom $1,000 for being late with getting out the National Vanguard magazine in 2004.
Then came the coup attempt. In April 2005, Strom launched a petition drive among Alliance members demanding that Gliebe step down. Gliebe and Walker immediately cast him out. The Gliebe-Strom era was over.
Ironically, just days after Strom was expelled, Gliebe stepped down from his chairman position and appointed Walker in his place. By that time, Strom was well on his way to launching National Vanguard. In a crafty move, two days before he was fired, Strom had legally transferred ownership of the Alliance's Web site, www.nationalvanguard.org, to Elisha Strom's publishing company. He immediately began luring Alliance defectors.
Strom isn't the only expelled Alliance member to start his own group. Former Alliance official Billy Roper launched White Revolution. But Roper's outfit has nowhere near matched the burgeoning popularity of National Vanguard.
Blodgett gives Strom roughly even odds for long-term success. "I don't know what [Strom's] chances are to succeed," he said. "He's not as personable [as Gliebe]." But still, Blodgett allowed, "I think if there's anybody in the movement who could make a go of it, he could do it."
Strom, the only member of Pierce's inner circle who was considered close to Pierce in intellectual ability, shares Pierce's ability to impress followers with sheer bombastic intellectualism. But unlike Pierce, the author of the highly influential Turner Diaries, Strom may have trouble earning the admiration of the white racialist movement's more hard-core, radical elements. Some have criticized Strom for being too effeminate and yielding to his strong-willed wife. His detractors have nicknamed him "weenie."
In contrast to Pierce, who more or less openly called for the extermination of Jews, Strom seems to be at least superficially taking a less militant approach with National Vanguard. When a church in Virginia was torched in July after it endorsed gay marriage, Strom wrote an E-mail to a newspaper condemning the attack: "The arson ... hurt the cause of those who, like National Vanguard, believe that we should lawfully, intelligently, and responsibly advocate a return to healthy values."
It's not clear whether this approach will prove to be an effective strategy for Strom and National Vanguard in the long run. Strom's emergence as a leader is certainly partly due to the disarray that is afflicting the neo-Nazi movement in general, and the National Alliance in particular. A measure of how tenuous Strom's hold on power may be is clearly visible at the new National Vanguard Web site. At the very top of Strom's site, spotlighted in a way that might befit a Caesar or a Stalin, is a portrait of Alliance founder William Luther Pierce. At least for the moment, Strom's legitimacy still rests on the reputations of other men.