Former boxer Erich "The Aryan Barbarian" Gliebe made a name for himself in the once-powerful neo-Nazi National Alliance (NA) with his innovative moves to recruit young people and others through hate rock music and racist events masquerading as European-American "cultural festivals." But in 2014, he turned the reins of the group over to another well-known white supremacist and appears to have since dropped out of the movement.
About Erich Gliebe
In His Own Words
"Jewish influence — in the media, business, high finance, and government — has also created a domestic policy that has weakened the racial integrity of White Britain and White America through unchecked non-white immigration — not just through Mexico, but also through our airports."
—"American Dissident Voices" Internet radio broadcast, July 7, 2007
"I do, however, have a solution for the nutty multiracial chaos that afflicts our society and that virtually guarantees conflict and hatred between rednecks, n------, Yankees and every other racial group in the country, no matter which name they go by and no matter which name they are called by members of another group. That solution is racial separation, clear and simple."
— "American Dissident Voices," July 26, 2008
Growing up in the Cleveland suburb of Parma, Ohio, Erich Josef Gliebe became disenchanted with his white classmates who, he said, lacked "honor and discipline." He idolized his father, a German citizen who fought for the Wehrmacht in World War II. According to Gliebe, "My father was my hero and I decided that one day I would give my all to fight for my race."
Just out of high school, Erich Gliebe was already boxing under the not-so-subtle moniker of "The Aryan Barbarian." And while boxing provided an occasional chance to pummel one minority or another, Gliebe soon found other ways for furthering his racist ideas. In 1990, he discovered the neo-Nazi National Alliance (NA), which was led by William Pierce, a man revered in white supremacist circles. Joining the NA, it took the erstwhile boxer just a year to rise to the head of the NA's Cleveland unit. Giving up his boxing career, Gliebe took a job as a tool-and-die maker to be able to dedicate himself fully to his growing role in the neo-Nazi group.
Gliebe proved himself an able recruiter and began early on to devise innovative techniques for finding new members. His most notable — and, arguably, deceptive — tactic was creating the European American Cultural Society in Cleveland. Through that organization, Gliebe organized a series of "European American Culture Festivals" in cities around the country that were designed to make white pride a family affair. By cloaking their aims in in the trappings of a benign celebration of European culture, Gliebe's festivals gave his recruiters a chance to bring in more cautious individuals who they probably would have been unable to attract to neo-Nazi events.
At the same time, Gliebe was making a name for himself in the growing world of "hate rock," organizing concerts under the auspices of Life Rune Records (a 1995 event reportedly attracted over 500 people). These concerts furthered Gliebe's aim of expanding membership to a new demographic of teenagers and young adults. Gliebe's efforts were so successful that in 1999, when Pierce bought a floundering record label called Resistance Records, Gliebe was chosen to head it and to edit its Resistance Magazine. Dedicating himself heart and soul to the work, Gliebe managed to turn the label into a relatively profitable endeavor that, as he enthused at one point, could used to “heighten Aryan racial consciousness — both in ourselves and in others."
By the time of Pierce's unexpected death in July 2002, the profitability of Resistance Records had helped to take the National Alliance to an all-time high in terms of funding — between dues and profits from record and book sales, the group was bringing in close to $1 million a year.
Following its founder's demise, however, the NA quickly began to weaken. Gliebe, who was named chairman only six days after Pierce's death, managed to alienate many of his members during a series of internal disputes. One part of his troubles derived the publication by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) of a speech he made a few months prior to Pierce’s death describing members of other hate groups as “morons” and “hobbyists.” The SPLC report caused many customers of Resistance Records to take their business elsewhere, effectively cutting off much of the funding driving the NA. Gliebe’s comments, made privately at an NA gathering that spring, closely mirrored remarks made at the same meeting by Pierce. The resulting internal dispute over the Alliance's relationship to other white nationalists produced a split in the NA, with Gliebe firing deputy membership coordinator Billy Roper, who had advocated reaching out to others in the movement. Roper, and several hundred members who followed him out, had sought to bring the NA closer to other racist groups.
Roper was only the first victim in a series of splits and purges that decimated Gliebe's National Alliance. As membership declined rapidly (from around 1,400 in 2002 to only 800 by the end of 2003) and record sales decreased dramatically (from a high of $50,000 for one month in 2002 to under $7,000 in July of 2003), Gliebe's relationship with the NA's board members rapidly soured, prompting some to resign. Gliebe also persisted in angering other groups within the movement, engaging in a vicious verbal battle with Vanguard News Network's Alex Linder over the lack of NA support for jailed Alliance leader Chester Doles, a former Klan leader. Neo-Nazi and white supremacist forums were filled with criticism of Gliebe, who fought back by asking allies, including Stormfront.org founder Don Black, to delete critical comments from their forums. At the same time, increasing numbers of NA members were criticizing Gliebe’s management style.
A particularly serious blow came in 2005, when longtime Gliebe ally and NA editor Kevin Strom, who had been instrumental in fending off attacks against his boss, circulated a petition widely viewed as a coup attempt against Gliebe. In response, Gliebe promptly fired Strom, who reacted by taking a large group of Alliance members and leaders out of the NA to help him found his own new neo-Nazi group, National Vanguard. (Strom, who edited the NA magazine National Vanguard and ripped off its name for his new group, also took that magazine and its website with him.)
Ironically, Gliebe stepped down just two days after Strom's departure, handing the reins over to his staunchest supporter, Shaun Walker. Gliebe said his reason for departing was that he wanted to spend more time with his then-wife, a former stripper whose birth name was Erika Snyder. In 2006, however, Walker was convicted on federal civil rights charges related to several bar assaults and sent to prison, necessitating the return of Gliebe as national NA leader. He would remain in that post for another eight years.
The Alliance continued to dwindle in membership, income and movement prestige. Simultaneously, a group of former NA leaders — the National Alliance Reform & Restoration Group — were suing Gliebe and the NA in an attempt to wrest away control of the group. In October 2014, at a hearing in that case, Gliebe shocked the racist world by unexpectedly announcing that he had turned over the group to a well-known former NA activist, Will “White Will” Williams, in a secret meeting weeks earlier.
Under Williams, the NA has declined to the point where it has two or three dozen members at most. Williams himself, after getting into a tussle with a female employee at the NA’s West Virginia compound, was ordered to stay away by judicial officials pending a criminal trial. The suit by the Restoration Group dragged on without resolution. Meanwhile, Gliebe, who said he wanted to leave the NA in order to better care for his young son, disappeared from the scene and appears to have been inactive ever since.