Volksfront: The Leadership
Though Volksfront (VF) may have met its end, the leadership of the group, which at one point had a significant presence on at least three continents, will probably live on in some form in the white supremacist world. Many of the group’s most important members come from the hardest-core sectors of the neo-Nazi skinhead world and have extensive criminal histories. Even so, the top personnel in the VF worldwide network, most hand-chosen by now-retired VF President Randal Krager, are not much known by the outside world. Here, presented in alphabetical order according to last name, we profile 12 key members of VF in the United States and abroad.
Paul T. Alfich, 33
National Treasurer (former)
Oak Lawn, Ill.
Paul Alfich was appointed VF’s national treasurer in 2009 and served in that capacity until 2011. According to Chicago-area anti-racist activists, Alfich was the primary contact for the Midwest chapter of Volksfront before that and sold white power music and T-shirts while collecting VF dues. Alfich looks far more clean-cut than most skinheads, as shown in photos with his seemingly prim wife, Caitlin Marie. Information obtained by the activists also show Alfich has dipped his toes in mainstream politics, campaigning for Ron Paul in his run for the presidency and attending several Chicago Tea Party events. He was even invited by these groups to serve as an organizer. Alfich and his wife have traveled more than once to Europe to visit with VF members in England, staying at Simon Curtis’ Smuggled Retreat, and with Spanish members. Alfich also was instrumental in buying and improving a 10-acre Fredericktown, Mo., property, for the VF, using a personal home equity loan of $20,000. In 2011, Alfich got into a dispute over management of the money related to the property and was removed as treasurer. After that, each VF division became responsible for managing its own money, though they were required to send $100 a month to Alfich to pay down the property, for a total of $200 to $400 a month. (In 2012, VF President Randal Krager was looking for another VF member to take on Alfich’s loan.) When Krager left for a job in Afghanistan in 2009, Alfich was one of four men asked to run VF, but he was relieved of that post within months.
Casey Jo Banyas, 32
Member, VF band drummer
Casey Banyas was a key member of what VFers call the “Oregon Boys,” a group that included Justin Martin, Nick Cheshire and other members around Portland, where the group was founded. Banyas formally began as a VF “prospect” in 2010 after his release from prison. Heavily tattooed himself, he has inked prominent VF members with group logos along with other well-known skins like David Lynch, the VF ally and former head of American Front who was murdered in his Sacramento, Calif., home in 2011. According to a 2010 post by Oregon anti-fascists, Banyas then ran an unlicensed tattoo business called Hooligan Ink and was seeking a business license. Banyas has been a highly active VF member, attending major group events like the September 2011 Althing held on VF’s property in Fredericktown, Mo., and playing drums in the VF band, Enforcer, founded by Chad Bostwick. His wife, Alaina Joy Banyas, was heavily involved in the now-defunct VF sister organization, the Folkish Women’s Front, and in organizing VF events like the 2011 Thanksgiving party the couple hosted at their home in the northwest Oregon city of Albany.
Kirk Barker, 45
Head of United Kingdom chapter, main European contact
Basingstoke, Wales, UK
Kirk Barker, a bricklayer by trade but now a stay-at-home father due to a back injury, has been in the racist skinhead scene since his teens. In his early 20s, Barker was involved in a seminal incident in English skinhead lore, the 1992 “Battle of Waterloo,” while serving as security chief for the English branch of Blood & Honour (B&H), a violent skinhead group. That year, militant anti-racists went to London’s Waterloo train station to confront skinheads arriving for a concert by the racist Skrewdriver band. A huge, day-long battle ensued and the hundreds of police officers called in arrested 33 people for public order and weapons violations. Among them was Barker, who was charged with violent disorder and thus elevated to a skinhead hero. Two officers and several dozen others were hospitalized (12 people were stabbed) during the violence. In 1993, after leaving a B&H concert, Barker and four other B&H members attacked the staff of an Indian restaurant in Buntingford, Hertfordshire, with bats and bottles, beating one man unconscious. Barker served three years in prison as a result. In early 2010, Barker resigned from B&H and shuttered the B&H Southlands division in the process. It’s unclear when Barker joined VF, but he rose quickly, eventually running the entire European end of the VF network. A source close to VF said Barker is seen as “very capable,” having quit drinking because, “[b]y his own account, he gets too violent.” Barker was central in the 2008-2009 battle between Hammerskin Nation, another violent skin group, and VF members in Portugal and Spain, making key decisions to go on the offensive. In the last couple of years, Barker, who once revered VF President Randal Krager but was angered by Krager’s failure to inform him of his 2012 decision to close down VF in the United States, stopped answering to his former leader. At least until this October, Barker worked closely with Simon Curtis to build up the VF UK chapter and also helped grow a VF presence in places like Poland and Slovakia.
Chad Donald Bostwick, 40
Member, VF band lead singer
Omaha, Neb. (last known location)
Chad Bostwick is a longtime member who one source close to the group describes as one of the two most violent and dangerous men in VF. In 1992, he was sentenced to 60 days in jail and three years of probation after assaulting a black man. In the years since, he has been charged with burglary, theft, illegal weapons possession, domestic abuse and assault. Bostwick is best known in VF for his role as the lead singer for the group’s band Enforcer, and with other band members recently signed a recording deal with Get Some 88, an online racist music business. That neo-Nazi label is run by the Golden State Skins, a California group that has been closely allied with VF. Bostwick travels frequently, often staying at the home of Justin Martin in Portland, Ore. Unlike most VF members, he is friendly with motorcycle clubs, including the Nebraska-area Hells Angels, the Sons of Silence (one of whose members he signed up as a VF “prospect”) and other outlaw motorcycle gangs. Although Bostwick’s last known address was in Omaha, Neb., his present whereabouts are unknown.
Simon Curtis, 43
Captain at Arms, UK chapter
Blue Anchor, Somerset, England
Simon Curtis is the second-in-command of the VF UK chapter. In his youth, Curtis was a key part of the security team for racist skinhead singer Ian Stuart Donaldson and his band Skrewdriver. In the years since, he has been working in the upscale English restaurant and hospitality industry, and now owns an inn and pub in Blue Anchor, in southwestern England, recently renamed the Smuggled Retreat. But he has remained active in the racist skinhead world. A large hall at the inn has been the site of several VF meetings called Althings over the years, including the three-day 2012 gathering that featured bands and other festivities, all paid in advance by the VF UK chapter. Over the years, the inn has lodged an array of key VFers, including VF National Treasurer Paul Alfich and his wife Caitlin Marie, VF Netherlands’ Kim Bertrand, VF Ambassador Corey Miller, and Australian members Brad and Tara Trappitt. In June 2013, shortly after signing a lease with the Afghan Heroes foundation to create a residential facility for troubled vets, Curtis ran into trouble when customers asked him if his pub was a skinhead hangout — they had noticed VFers arriving for this year’s Althing. Spooked, Curtis began personally calling dozens of people and bands he had hired, asking everyone not already there not to come. Things got worse this October, when the Intelligence Report contacted Curtis and principals of the Afghan Heroes with questions. Curtis responded by deleting all online references to his racist activities, but the foundation is still trying to break its lease with him.
Richard “Richie” Lawrence Graves, 44
Head of Movement Relations (former)
Laurel, Mo. (currently in prison)
Richie Graves, who one source close to VF describes as one of the group’s two most violent members, has been in the hate movement for decades. A key member of the VF Missouri chapter, Graves has attended many high-profile VF events, including the March 2012 wedding of Derek “Del” O’Connor, a British citizen who was once iconic skinhead leader Ian Stuart Donaldson’s roommate. VF gave Graves, who also owned a drywall business, funds to buy a gym, Body Shop Fitness Center in Sunrise Beach, Mo., along with a next-door space for a future mixed martial arts studio. The final American Althing, held in September 2012, took place at Graves’ home even though VF President Randal Krager had announced the dissolution of VF’s 17 U.S. chapters a month before. The gathering went badly, with a fight breaking out, a visit from police, and, ultimately, Krager’s order that members hide VF materials and return home. That so enraged Graves that he cut off his VF patch. His estranged wife, Darralyn Lasater, told the Report that she and Graves agreed that they had wasted their money on VF and its endeavors. Lasater has her own history in the movement as a 1990s member of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations who was featured in a 2008 History Channel documentary entitled “Nazi America: A Secret History.”
Welf Herfurth, 51
Funder and member
Welf Herfurth was born in Goslar, Germany, but in his teens lived in Iran at the time of the 1979 Islamic Revolution — an event that he says taught him how easy it is to overthrow a government. Returning to Germany, Herfurth joined the youth wing, and eventually the national executive body, of the National Democratic Party, an extremist nationalist party. In 1987, he moved to Australia and took up with the Australian Democrats, a centrist party he describes as “libertarian,” but soon moved on to One Nation, a racist anti-immigrant group. Later, he both ran and was a board member of Blood & Honour Europe, a racist skinhead group, and, most recently, became a popular VF member with close contacts among Holocaust deniers and other white nationalists. Herfurth, who was attacked at a Blood & Honour concert a few years ago by rival Hammerskins, has a high-paying job with a shipping firm and is known for funding VF projects and loaning individual members money. The author of a 2011 book titled A Life in the Political Wilderness (published by the Portuguese Finis Mundi press, which also produces other racist material), Herfurth is a “national anarchist,” meaning he opposes capitalism but seeks to create racially pure states and defend the “right of people to self-determination and preserving their culture.” The book has been well received in relatively highbrow racist circles like American Renaissance magazine. Its introduction is by Troy Southgate, a key UK national anarchist, and was endorsed by Tomislav Sunic, a Croatian who is a leader of the racist American Freedom Party, formerly the American Third Position.
Michael Lewis Lawrence, 45
Head of East Coast Region (former)
As one of the original founders of the violent racist group Confederate Hammerskins (CHS) in the 1980s, Mike Lawrence has been a skinhead for decades. Along with CHS co-founder Scott Lessig, Lawrence was one of five group members convicted in 1990 of defacing a synagogue, brutalizing blacks and Latinos in a Dallas park, and other racist acts that brought him a prison sentence of almost five years. He left the group in good standing and later served as treasurer of the Blood & Honour America Council. He founded Christian Guard, which espoused the racist and anti-Semitic theology of Christian Identity, and ran it from his then-home in Lakeland, Fla. In 2007, Lawrence joined VF and rose to become one of its top four officers. Over the years, he has attended numerous group events, from a 2007 campout in Virginia to British member Del O’Connor’s wedding to an American in 2012. In 2009, he was caught up in the group’s rivalry with his old comrades in the Hammerskins when several Hammers came to his Florida home and one assaulted him. Lawrence’s longtime girlfriend, Heidi Cervi (AKA Heidi Cern), was a member of VF’s sister organization, the Folkish Women’s Front, which included many other wives and girlfriends of VF men. Lawrence was long a close friend of VF President Randal Krager, who in 2009 moved with his wife and son from Portland, Ore., to a trailer next to Lawrence’s home in Florida. But after Krager dissolved VF’s U.S. chapters in 2012, Lawrence wrote on a racist forum that most such groups are comprised of “pedophiles, sociopaths, misfits and retards.”
Scott A. Marquart, 42
Marketing Head (former)
Los Angeles, Calif.
One-time machinist Scott Marquart has been involved in racist groups for a quarter of a century, including, while he lived in Arkansas, the neo-Nazi groups White Revolution and Aryan Nations, which he served as state leader. He was also a member of the Northern Hammerskins for a time. In 1989, he became the first person convicted under Michigan’s Ethnic Intimidation Law after he and four other skins attacked an interracial group outside a convenience store in Auburn Hills. While in prison for another spell because of a 1995 home invasion, Marquart sued, along with nine others, to practice the racist religion of Christian Identity with weekly services, Bible study meetings and the right to be housed apart from other races. Ultimately, in 2000, he was denied, with a judge ruling that that would pose a security threat. About five years later, Marquart moved to California with his wife, computer specialist Danielle Nicole Bartels, and their young daughter. In recent years, he has handled all international merchandising for VF, mainly through Antelope, Calif.-based Liferune Industries (formerly Free Your Mind Productions), which officially employed him. The business sold T-shirts, CDs and other support merchandise for VF and Blood & Honour. According to a well-placed source close to VF, however, Marquart was ejected from the group in 2012 for drunkenness.
Justin Ryan Martin, 37
Vice President; Captain at Arms, West Coast Region (former)
Justin Martin is a longtime close associate of VF President Randal Krager, who like Martin is from the Portland area. The men also share a propensity for criminal violence, with Martin getting an almost six-year sentence for kidnapping in a 1996 plea deal that saw robbery charges against him dropped. For years, Martin, whose home often functioned as a base for visiting VF members from elsewhere, served on a four-man national VF council that advised Krager. He told the Report that VF was shut down because it “just wasn’t getting anywhere.” A flier from the Portland chapter of the militant Anti-Racist Action group has described Martin as a man with a reputation for violence who boasted of being a “hardass” and functioned as local muscle for the group. In 2008, during a two-year conflict between VF and another racist group, Hammerskin Nation, Hammerskin members invaded Martin’s home.
Jens Marz, early 30s
National Representative, Germany
Jens Marz is the best-known of German VF members and serves as his country’s “national representative,” or national leader. Marz is also the lead singer for Valhallas Patriots, a neo-Nazi skinhead band that has performed in the U.S. and that Marz has called “proud members of the Volksfront Brotherhood.” In an undated interview in Blood & Honour Magazine, published by a skinhead group of that name that has frequently been allied with VF, Marz described band members as adherents of Asatru, a religion based on Nordic pagan beliefs with a racist variant popular among white supremacists. “Valhalla is place of Honour for every Warrior, we are all Racial Patriots and National Socialists, we are all fighting for the Future of our Children and we are the true Racial Warriors!” he said in the interview. He went on to talk about playing American venues including VF’s 2004 Aryanfest concert. Sounding a modest note, Marz told the magazine, “Music is just a Propaganda Weapon in our Freedom Fight! We aren’t better than anybody else only because we play music. We hate that fucking Rockstar Image shit around our Movement.” In Germany, where all VF members live within 30 miles of Marz, VF has had to be especially careful about its activities because of strict laws relating to hate speech and the glorification of Nazism. One result may have been the fact that no German members traveled to England for the 2012 or 2013 Althings held at Simon Curtis’ inn in Blue Anchor. According to a source close to VF, Marz has said that due to an assault by a VFer on a member of the extremist National Democratic Party last year, police were watching the group carefully and members were trying to “lay low.”
Corey “Spider” J. Miller, 33
Captain at Arms; Head, Security and Intergroup Relations; Ambassador (former)
Norfolk, Va. (last known location)
Corey Miller was for years an exceptionally close partner to VF President Randal Krager, serving as VF’s main muscle and, until his departure from the group in August 2012, as the presumed heir to Krager’s throne. As VF’s official ambassador, Miller traveled abroad frequently, building friendships with overseas VF members and staying more than once at Simon Curtis’ inn in Blue Anchor, England. A large part of his job as ambassador was easing the process of “patching over,” or joining VF from other groups, and Miller did successfully bring in several Europeans. Miller also served on the four-man VF council that advised Krager, and also helped run VF while Krager was working in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2011. He has attended a number of important VF events over the years, including its 2007 Virginia campout and Del O’Connor’s 2012 wedding. At the same time, Miller was national representative for Blood & Honour America, an allied racist group. Like other VF leaders, Miller has a record of violence, having been sentenced to 15 years in a Colorado prison for aggravated robbery and a count of violent crime. After serving that sentence, he moved to Virginia while still on parole (at one point, authorities were interested in him in connection with the 2010 vandalism of two Norfolk area synagogues, but nothing came of that). In June 2010, he was arrested for violating his parole by traveling to white power events around the country and sent back to prison for a year, finally emerging in September 2011. Miller was so highly regarded by Krager that he was sent to Florida in 2009 to deal with the “issue” of VF’s war with the rival Hammerskin group. Known as a VF heavy, Miller offered to fight a Hammerskin who came to disrupt a racist 2009 event in Pensacola, Fla.