National Socialist Movement

National Socialist Movement logo

In the past year, the National Socialist Movement has grown dramatically and has conducted a variety of actions around the country and in Michigan including concerts, leafleting actions, and public protests. The Michigan NSM was instrumental in planning the group’s April 2006 rally at the state capitol building in Lansing and also organized the NSM’s 2006 national conference which was held in Grand Rapids on April 21st.

According to various sources, the contemporary National Socialist Movement has its origins with the American Nazi Party which was founded in 1959 by George Lincoln Rockwell, a man who was known as “America’s Fuheur” and who advocated the extermination of all “treasonous Jews, through methods used by Hitler’s Nazis, banish all American Negroes to Africa and amend the Constitution of the United States to conform to Nazi whims” (source). Like the NSM, Rockwell developed an advanced form of Nazism that broadened the definition of “white” beyond the exclusive Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and traditional Nazi definitions to include everyone who was not born black and was not Jewish. Rockwell also advanced the notion of Holocaust denial and worked to connect Nazism with Christianity, laying the foundation for groups such as World Church of the Creator (WCOTC), a white supremacist group that gained influence among white supremacists during the 1990s and was a consistent target of anti-fascist organizing. Rockwell and his neo-Nazi followers also popularized the wearing of Nazi uniforms or “brown shirts” during their public appearances and frequently referred to themselves as “storm troopers” after the Nazi SS.

While the continuity can be seen in both the NSM (nationally and in Michigan) holding “memorial” events for Rockwell and in the NSM’s frequent public appearances wearing full Nazi uniforms, there is also a strong ideological and organizational link to Rockwell. The NSM was founded in 1974 as the National Socialist American Workers Freedom Movement by Robert Brannen and Cliff Harington, two former “stormtroopers” in the American Nazi Party, which had largely disbanded after the assassination of Rockwell in 1967. Until the mid-1990s, the group operated largely in Minnesota’s Twin Cities with little public attention until it received notoriety when two members showed up in Nazi uniform to a Minnesota legislative committee hearing to protest a proposed gay rights bill. In 1994, Herrington stepped down and leadership was given to Jeff Schoep in 1998, who was hailed as the man that would finally achieve the “white revolution” (Schoep has a criminal past as does Indiana’s NSM head who is a registered sex offender). Schoep, who was only 24 at the time that he took “command” of the NSM, has worked to appeal to younger white supremacists and has continued the group’s open adulation of Adolph Hitler and organized the NSM as a paramilitary group wherein members are given military ranks (hence Schoep’s title of “Commander”) and chapters are referred to as “units.”

The NSM’s core ideology is based around what it calls the “25 points of American National Socialism, racial freedom, and separation.” While the NSM claims that they take into consideration other factors aside from race, even a cursory look at their positions reveals that they are extreme racists in the tradition of Hitler. The NSM advocates “the union of all Whites [sic]” into a “greater America” that is based on self-determination and National Socialism where only those of “pure White blood” will be full citizens, whereas all others would live under the threat of forced deportation and be “subject to laws for aliens.” In staying with traditional Nazism, Jewish people and homosexuals would not be permitted to be a member of the nation. The group also advocates family law that is race specific as a means of ensuring the “race survival” of the white race and makes exceptions to its opposition to abortion and euthanasia in the case of “race-mixing.” The military would be reformed to for “the defense of our race and nation” and would exclude non-Americans, criminals, and “sensitivity training.” Along with the traditional racist views of Nazism, the NSM also has adopted the Nazis anti-gay views. The group views homosexuality as “a chosen lifestyle and a mental sickness,” labeling it a “social degeneracy” that must be “expunged” from society. They go on to argue that homosexuality encourages sexual predators, sexual pedophiles, rape, and murder, of which the NSM believes the majority are committed by “homosexual prone monsters” and would deal with such individuals with “an instant death penalty” according to the NSM Michigan’s “Questions and Answers.”

Activities in West Michigan / Michigan

  • On August 4, 2007, the NSM held its “4th Annual White Unity BBQ” in Cadillac, Michigan at Kenwood Park.
  • On August 4, 2007, members of the Michigan Unit of the NSM attended a “Rally Against Black Gang Terrorism” organized by white supremacist Hal Turner in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
  • Over the summer of 2006, the Michigan NSM held a white unity BBQ in Cadillac, Michigan.
  • On April 22, 2006, the National Socialist Movement held a national rally in Lansing.
  • On April 21, 2006, the National Socialist Movement held its national conference in Grand Rapids.
  • In February of 2006, National Socialist Movement leaflets were posted in Grand Rapids.
  • In July of 2005, the National Socialist Movement attempted to leaflet a Westside neighborhood in Grand Rapids before being chased out of the neighborhood by residents.
  • During the summer of 2004, the NSM held a “unity” event in Cadillac, Michigan that was protested by antiracists.

Leaders, Members, and Others Associated with the Organization

  • Ken Mathews, a resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan, is an organizer for the Southwest Michigan Unit of the National Socialist Movement.