The National Alliance (NA) was for decades the most dangerous and best organized neo-Nazi formation in America. Explicitly genocidal in its ideology, NA materials call for the eradication of the Jews and other races — what a principal foundational document describes as "a temporary unpleasantness" — and the creation of an all-white homeland. Founded by William Pierce in 1970, the group produced assassins, bombers and bank robbers, among other things. Pierce's novel, The Turner Diaries, was the inspiration for Timothy McVeigh's 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City and many other acts of terror. After Pierce died unexpectedly in 2002, the group suffered several splits and ultimately lost most of its members.
In Its Own Words
"Our world is hierarchical. Each of us is a member of the Aryan (or ‘European') race, which, like the other races, developed its special characteristics over many thousands of years. … Those races which evolved in the more demanding environment of the North, where surviving a winter required planning and self-discipline, advance more rapidly in the development of the higher mental faculties than those which remained in the unvarying climate of the tropics."
— National Alliance website
"The situation in America is no longer quasi-static, as it was during most of the l970's and l980's. During that earlier period the Jewish media were able to keep nearly all of the public hypnotized, to provide a false reality for them in the place of the real world around them. Someone would complain that America was becoming darker, poorer, and dirtier. The media would drown him out with a chorus about the value of "diversity," about the evils of "racism," about the wonders of the coming New World Order, and the complaint would be ignored and forgotten by nearly everyone. … [O]ur responsibility now is to continue building a revolutionary infrastructure able to support an opposing power structure which can respond advantageously to all developments."
— National Alliance website
"We must have new societies throughout the White world which are based on Aryan values and are compatible with the Aryan nature. We do not need to homogenize the White world: there will be room for Germanic societies, Celtic societies, Slavic societies, Baltic societies, and so on, each with its own roots, traditions, and language. What we must have, however, is a thorough rooting out of Semitic and other non-Aryan values and customs everywhere. … In specific terms, this means a society in which young men and women gather to revel with polkas or waltzes, reels or jigs, or any other White dances, but never to undulate or jerk to negroid jazz or rock rhythms. It means pop music without Barry Manilow and art galleries without Marc Chagall. It means films in which the appearance of any non-White face on the screen is a sure sign that what's being shown is either archival newsreel footage or a historical drama about the bad, old days."
— National Alliance website
For nearly thirty years, the National Alliance, headquartered at a rural hilltop compound outside the village of Mill Point, W. Va., was the most dominant and dangerous hate group in America. Founded and long led by William Pierce, a one-time university physics professor, the neo-Nazi group peaked in the late 1990s, when it developed a remarkably successful business model and Pierce's ideological influence stretched across much of the Western hemisphere. Pierce had a long history of racial activism, having served as an associate of the assassinated leader of the American Nazi Party (ANP), George Lincoln Rockwell, and been editor of the ANP's magazine, National Socialist World.
The National Alliance developed out of the National Youth Alliance (NYA), which had formed out of the remains of an organization called Youth for Wallace that backed Governor George Wallace's 1968 presidential campaign (Wallace ran on a pro-segregationist platform). The NYA broke into factions as a result of infighting, and Pierce gained control of the largest faction in 1970 and continued the organization under that name until its reorganization in 1974 as the National Alliance.
The group, which mentions in its platform statement the "temporary unpleasantness" that will follow its accession to power, is explicitly genocidal in intent; Pierce once described how he hoped to lock Jews, "race traitors" and other enemies of the "Aryan" race into cattle cars and send them to the bottom of abandoned coal mines.
Over the years, the NA produced huge amounts of effective propaganda, most famously Pierce's novel The Turner Diaries, which inspired numerous acts of terror including the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building that left 168 people, including 19 children, dead. The manuscript, which was first published in 1978 under the pseudonym of Andrew Macdonald, described a future race war in which Jews and others are slaughtered by the thousands, with its hero at one point promising to go "to the uttermost ends of the earth to hunt down the last of Satan's spawn" — Jews, that is. Over the years, The Turner Diaries has become one of the most important pieces of extremist literature ever written in America. In 1983, for instance, Bob Mathews, the Alliance's Pacific Northwest coordinator, broke away to form a major terrorist group called The Order (aka Silent Brotherhood, or Bruders Schweigen) — that was clearly patterned on The Organization described in The Turner Diaries. (The Order carried out several murders and a series of armored car heists before Mathews was killed in a 1984 shootout with the FBI.) Eleven years later, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh had photocopies of pages of The Turner Diaries sealed in a plastic bag in his car when he was arrested, apparently to explain his motivation in the deadly attack in case he was killed. (McVeigh called an NA phone line seven times the day before the bombing.)
In all, NA members were connected to at least 14 violent crimes between 1984 and 2005, including bank robberies, shootouts with police and, in Florida, a plan to bomb the main approach to Disney World.
Despite its organizing successes, the NA was for most of its life a kind of cult of personality. Pierce was the group's chief asset, editing the group's magazine, National Vanguard and the members-only National Alliance Bulletin. He also wrote another race-war novel, Hunter. In addition to his writings, Pierce appeared regularly on "American Dissident Voices," a shortwave radio show broadcast (and later simulcast on the Internet) by the group. Pierce was explicitly Hitlerian in ideology, seeking to create a Nazi-like state in which the NA would rule the nation. He was also, in effect, a Leninist, in the sense that he never believed that the white masses — people whom he regularly referred to as "lemmings" — could lead themselves. Instead, the NA would be the "vanguard party," much like the Bolsheviks in Russia, that would lead them in a racially based, authoritarian society that would be marked by Germanic music and "healthy" racial values. That ideology and Pierce's embrace of Hitler's "leadership principle" kept members of the group dependent on Pierce personally, a situation that would damage the Alliance later.
In the 1990s, Pierce networked energetically with major hate group leaders in Europe, becoming an increasingly important figure there as well as in the United States. It was during that decade that the NA became the most important hate group in America. At its height, it had chapters in several European countries, and The Turner Diaries was translated and made available free in half a dozen languages. By 2002, the Alliance had 1,400 carefully vetted, dues-paying members.
It was also profitable, thanks to the business model Pierce devised. Basically, the NA for years had derived its income from members, who paid at least $10 a month in dues, and sales from its National Vanguard Books division. But in 1999, Pierce added a key component — Resistance Records, a racist "white power" music label started years earlier by skinheads associated with another neo-Nazi group that had become moribund. Pierce paid some $250,000 for the company, which he quickly built up with the addition of a warehouse on the Alliance's West Virginia compound and a slick advertising campaign, fronted by the magazine Resistance. By 2002, the NA was grossing about $1 million from all these sources (the biggest chunk from Resistance Records), allowing Pierce to pay salaries to 17 national staff members — an accomplishment unmatched by any other contemporary hate group.
On July 23, 2002, Pierce, then 68 and thought until just weeks before to be in good health, died unexpectedly of kidney failure and cancer, leaving control of the group in the hands of Cleveland unit leader Erich Gliebe, a man who used to box professionally as the "Aryan Barbarian." A hard-edged and humorless leader, Gliebe faced an uphill battle in holding the group together.
A little over a month after Pierce's death, the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report undermined Gliebe's new authority by publicizing a videotape of Pierce's last speech, given in April of that year at one of the group's semi-annual secret "leadership conferences" that were held at the compound. The Report published excerpts of the speech, in which Pierce pilloried members of other hate groups as "freaks and weaklings" and "human defectives." In his own speech, Gliebe reiterated Pierce's points. That story had the effect of setting off a firestorm among non-Alliance racist extremists — in particular, the very skinheads and others who'd formed the customer base for Resistance Records. A boycott of Resistance quickly developed, as those who were ridiculed attacked the group. In the end, the Report's revelations had the effect of squeezing off much of the NA's income.
Gliebe's command of the organization weakened further when an NA regional coordinator based in Georgia, Chester Doles, was arrested for being a felon in possession of firearms. In 2004, Doles was sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in federal prison. Doles was released in 2008. Gliebe, who'd doubted Doles' loyalty, refused to lift a finger in Doles' defense. This angered many Alliance members sympathetic to Doles, and hundreds flocked around the independent fundraising efforts of maverick NA member Alex Linder, who managed to raise almost $75,000 for Doles' high-powered defense team, led by former Republican congressman Bob Barr. This success further undermined Gliebe's leadership and the faltering NA, which by fall of 2003 had slipped to an estimated 800 dues-paying members.
From there, it only got worse. The Intelligence Report also published a series of other embarrassing facts in coming months, including the revelation that a Resistance calendar meant to highlight Aryan female beauty in fact featured a bevy of strippers from an all-nude men's club regularly patronized by Gliebe. The magazine also reported details of wasted money and political infighting within the group. Gliebe's 2005 marriage to a former stripper and Playboy model hurt his prestige further.
Between these kinds of revelations and massive resentment against Gliebe and his second-in-command, Shaun Walker, for their dictatorial management style, the National Alliance lost most of its key activists and unit leaders. Resistance Records and National Vanguard Books became unprofitable. In a desperate bid to keep the group alive, Walker replaced Gliebe as chairman in early 2005, while Gliebe was relegated to running Resistance. But by 2006, Gliebe was back in as chairman after Walker was arrested and denied bail for badly beating up two men in separate incidents in Salt Lake City, Utah, bars. Walker was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to 87 months. Walker was resentenced in 2009 to 37 months. By 2007, the NA was down to some 100 members and had lost much prestige. By 2009, Gliebe's wife was seeking a divorce and the Alliance, once the ideological and criminal powerhouse of the American radical right, had become almost irrelevant.