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David Lane

Update: David Lane, white supremacist terrorist and ideologue, dies in prison.

Some of David Lane’s earliest childhood memories are of dressing up as a German soldier and giving straight-arm salutes. Lane later came to believe in government coverups and a Jewish conspiracy to exterminate the white race. These beliefs led him to farright groups like Aryan Nations, White Aryan Resistance and David Duke’s Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. But it was his role as a founding member of the terrorist organization The Order that won him notoriety — as well as prison sentences totaling 190 years on racketeering charges and civil rights violations, the latter stemming from the 1984 murder of Denver talk radio host Alan Berg. Since being convicted and imprisoned, Lane, like other members of The Order, has continued to promote his racist and anti-Semitic views. Along with his wife Katja, he formed 14 Word Press to distribute his writings and related paraphernalia. In October 2001, Katja announced that Steve Weigand, a New Jerseybased distributor of hate music, would take over day-to-day operations of the press. Although Lane recently announced his “retirement,” he remains an influential and respected voice in the far-right movement.

Year of birth: 1938
Died: May 28, 2007
Articles: Among others, "88 Precepts," "The Mystery Religions & The Seven Seals," "Revolution by Number," "White Genocide Manifesto"
Background: Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, White Aryan Resistance, The Order, 14 Word Press
Criminal activity: Convicted of racketeering stemming from his activities as a member of The Order, sentenced to 40 years; convicted of violating civil rights in the murder of Alan Berg, sentenced to 150 years.
Ideology: White supremacy, Wotansvolk
Quote: Lane coined the 14 Words, a far-right motto: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."

The Making of a Neo-Nazi

In an autobiographical essay, David Lane conveys a sense of his Iowa childhood by relating that one of his few early memories “consists of struggle over what appears to have been our only toy.” His father, a drunk and “truly despicable creature,” allegedly prostituted his wife “for booze money” and beat the entire family. Lane says his brother was beaten into permanent deafness. (There were also two sisters.) The father eventually left when Lane was about four; his mother, he says, struggled to support the family as a singer in a bar (“what else she was forced to do, I do not know and do not want to know”). The children were soon placed in an orphanage, and Lane was adopted by a Lutheran couple; the husband was a minister whom “practically no one could bear, so he was unable to ‘serve’ any church for a period of time.”

Consequently, Lane says, the family was forced to “wande[r] the country from church to church,” and the young boy was subjected to “endless hours of services, of devotions, of vespers and matins, of prayers and bible studies, all of which I despised from the first moment. Jesus represented never ending hours of pure boredom.” By contrast, he claims that “from my first memories I was attracted to the names of the old gods such as Wotan and Thor, whose names were spoken of as the vanquished.” He dwells on his first crush (many follow): Mary, a girl in his first grade class, was “a little Catholic angel with blond hair, blue eyes and charms beyond description.” In retrospect, Lane says, his enchantment was an “indication of what would become my life’s purpose,” namely, to ensure that the “beauty of the White Aryan woman must not perish from the earth.”

He recalls that when he and his brother played soldiers during World War II — “the war to destroy the White race” — he would pretend to be the German and chant “Heil Hitler” and “Sieg Heil” while giving the Nazi salute. He also remembers rejecting his mother’s assertion that the Nazis had killed masses of Jews. “Only years later in retrospect did it seem strange to me that this particular political argument was so important to a young child,” he writes.

After graduating from high school in Aurora, Colorado, Lane relates that he worked for a power company and married a woman named Mary Lou, the “head majorette” in his high school marching band. After suggesting that the marriage failed because the couple had “little in common except that hopefully I was a good lover and she had legs that would raise longdead monks from forgotten graves,” he abruptly switches gears. “In the early sixties I first became aware of how corrupt America had become,” he announces. “Cover-ups in the Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam affair made it apparent that powers alien to America’s claimed role were running things.”

Lane apparently became involved with the John Birch Society, which he now calls “the biggest bunch of airheads and reality-deniers in history.” He shared some of the Birchers’ conspiracy notions, however, including the belief that media sources were secretly manipulated by “some cohesive and coordinated group.” He was given a pamphlet describing Jewish control over the media:

I only had to take the time to verify its truth in the library and elsewhere. From there everything fell into place….By 1978 my research was essentially complete and the real problem was sharply delineated in my mind. The Western nations were ruled by a Zionist conspiracy….the Zionist conspiracy above all things wants to exterminate the White Aryan race.

Lane produced a pamphlet called “The Death of the White Race,” which he distributed in the Denver area. After losing his real estate broker’s license because he refused to sell homes to “‘coloreds’ in white areas,” he says, he got a job at an insurance company with access to a photocopier. “Each morning I would run off 500-1000 copies” of the pamphlet; at lunch and on the weekend, he would distribute them. In 1979, he became the organizer of the Denver Unit of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which had been founded by David Duke in 1975.

By 1981, Lane was organizing in Colorado for Aryan Nations, the paramilitary Christian Identity organization founded by Richard Butler. A year later, Lane moved to Butler’s Hayden Lake, Idaho, compound, becoming the group’s “propaganda minister.” Lane remained at Hayden Lake for a year before returning to Denver to take charge of the Colorado headquarters of the White American Political Association, or WAPA, a California-based white supremacist group, founded by Tom Metzger, known today as White Aryan Resistance (or WAR). He maintained an affiliation with Aryan Nations, however, and was listed in the group’s publications as its Colorado state leader.

The Order

In the fall of 1983, Lane remained a hate movement functionary without clear direction; within two years, he would be a far-right hero. At an Aryan Nations conference earlier in the year, Lane became acquainted with Robert Mathews, an intense 30-year-old recruiter for the neo-Nazi National Alliance, who had become frustrated by what he felt to be the inaction of existing white supremacist groups. Mathews began recruiting other like-minded members of the National Alliance, Aryan Nations and Klan groups to take part in a guerrilla war he hoped would spark a racial revolution and result in the creation of a white homeland in the Pacific Northwest. At a September 22 meeting at Mathews’ home in Metaline Falls, Washington, he, Lane and eight other men formed a terrorist group Mathews eventually called the Bruder Schweigen (the Silent Brotherhood), which came to be known nationally as The Order.

The group (which grew larger with time) undertook a six-step plan based on The Turner Diaries, a fictional account of an apocalyptic race war by one of Mathews’ mentors, National Alliance chief William Pierce. Members of The Order embarked on a crime spree that included bank robbery, counterfeiting, assault and murder, most notably the June 18, 1984, assassination of Alan Berg, a Jewish talk radio host who lambasted white supremacists and, in caustic on-air conversations, called Lane “sick” and “pathetic.” In the event, Lane’s confederate Bruce Pierce pulled the trigger while Lane drove the getaway car. A month later, on July 19, 1984, 12 members of the gang robbed a Brink’s armored truck in Ukiah, California, of $3.6 million. While his Order counterparts performed the robbery, Lane facilitated communication between group members and later helped disperse the proceeds. Wanted by the authorities, he was hidden by supporters on a farm near Woolwine, Virginia, near the North Carolina border.

On Trial

The Ukiah robbery, while resulting in a large payoff, marked the beginning of the end for The Order. A gun left at the scene by Mathews was traced back to the group. Tom Martinez, a Philadelphia-based member, was arrested for counterfeiting and became an F.B.I. informant. Moreover, the Justice Department — prompted by the Order’s activities — began a crackdown on extreme-right groups, investigating The Order as well as Christian Identity churches like Aryan Nations and violent anti-government movements like the Posse Comitatus. Dubbed Operation Clean Sweep, the investigation culminated in multiple arrests and three trials that landed Order members in prison for decades.

First Trial

The first trial began in Seattle, Washington, in April 1985. Lane had been captured the previous month in a Winn-Dixie parking lot in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, across the state line from his Virginia hideout. Under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Lane and 22 other Order members were charged with conspiracy and racketeering stemming from the gang’s activities. Eleven of those charged pleaded guilty, while Lane and nine others were eventually convicted. Before receiving a sentence of 40 years, Lane addressed the court for 15 minutes, stating, “I do not recognize a government whose single aim is to exterminate my race…. I have given all that I have and all that I am to awake the people from their sleep of death.” (In a separate trial in 1986, The Order’s David Tate, who had also been a member of Identity leader Dan Gayman’s Church of Israel in Missouri, was convicted of killing a Missouri state trooper and sentenced to life in prison. Richard Scutari, the group’s chief of security, had yet to be apprehended; captured in 1986 in San Antonio, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 60 years in prison.)

Second trial

Two years later, in October 1987, Lane appeared again in court — this time in Denver, with Bruce Pierce, Richard Scutari and Jean Craig (the only woman convicted of Order-related crimes) — charged with violating Alan Berg’s civil rights. Lane and Pierce were both convicted and sentenced to 150 years in prison, while Scutari and Craig were acquitted. After the verdict was read, Lane held up a legal pad on which he had written “Remember Whidbey Island,” a reference to a shootout between Order founder Robert Mathews and federal agents the previous December that ended with Mathews’ death in a fire. Both Lane and Pierce later appealed the verdict, but in August 1989 their arguments were rejected and their convictions were upheld.

Third trial

The last of the three trials that Operation Clean Sweep comprised began in February 1987 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Lane and 13 other white supremacists, including the Aryan Nations’ Butler and former K.K.K. leader Louis Beam, faced various charges of sedition, conspiracy and civil rights violations. Lane initially refused to enter a plea, claiming that the federal court had no jurisdiction; he refused legal counsel and ultimately represented himself. He and 12 other defendants were acquitted. (Charges against one defendant were dismissed.)

Imprisoned Author

Rather than stanch Lane’s activism, prison afforded him endless hours to produce propaganda — hours he used diligently. Moreover, imprisonment itself raised his stature in the movement, as he has noted: “And of course, death or imprisonment is the best way for a revolutionary to gain credibility. In a strange way I must thank the tyrants, liars and devils incarnate who put me here.”

As a convict, Lane became a prolific author, writing articles for numerous extremist publications, including White Aryan Resistance, Racial Loyalty, The Klansman and Jew Watch, in addition to producing a variety of booklets. His writings reiterated standard extreme-right anti- Semitic and racist themes, as well as an unusually visceral anti-Americanism. “America is the murderer of the White Race,” he asserts in “Tri-Colored Treason.” “I wouldn’t contaminate my toilet with your red, white and blue rag.” Part of his mission, as he sees it, is to disabuse his listeners of their patriotism, “for you can no more be both White and American than you can stop the motion of the planets. If you are not an implacable enemy of America and all it has been and all it is, you are a traitor to the existence of your race.”

Lane’s overriding concern is what he calls “the single greatest issue of all time, racial survival.” “The preservation of one’s own kind [is] the first and highest law of nature,” he says in the “White Genocide Manifesto.” His most famous statement — the 14 Words, now a ubiquitous far-right slogan — is a distillation of this philosophy: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”1 In “The 88 Precepts,” “Strategy” and other articles, he provides the guidelines for securing that existence and establishing a white society. In “Strategy,” for instance, he suggests that “a positive step would be moving several or several dozen families into a sparsely populated county and taking over the local political systems. Control of the local taxing system, as well as a sheriff tapped into the national crime computer system, would be valuable beyond words.”

Lane also vilifies at length the particular groups he believes to be leading the destruction of whites. The roster is familiar: Jews, who rule Western nations in an attempt to “mix, overrun and exterminate the White race”; Christianity, whose clergy he calls “lying, deceiving, greedy, selfish, treasonous swine”; and, perhaps more personally, law enforcement, because “tyranny cannot exist without police powers…police must be the most brutal and unthinking segment of the population.”

14 Word Press

In 1995, with a nod to the popularity of the 14 Words, Lane and his wife Katja created a small publishing company called 14 Word Press. It has served as the main outlet for Lane’s writings, which were published in Focus Fourteen, the newsletter of the press. It also sells a compendium of his work, Deceived, Damned & Defiant, and other Norse-related works and paraphernalia — T-shirts, video and cassette tapes, jewelry. Katja Lane and former Church of the Creator member Ron McVan managed the press out of St. Maries, Idaho; in October 2001, Katja Lane announced that day-to-day operations had been handed over to Steve Weigand, a Maple Shade, New Jersey-based purveyor of hate music (his company is called Micetrap Distribution).

The press has promoted a racist version of the ancient Norse religion Asatru that Lane refers to as Wotansvolk. Asatru, often referred to as Odinism, incorporates the worship of Odin, Thor and other gods and goddesses and is not innately racist. Lane was initially drawn to Christian Identity but became involved with Asatru because he believed, like other white supremacists, that his ancient Northern European ancestors practiced the pagan religion. He describes Wotansvolk, his racialized and Nazified version, as a faith that incarnates WOTAN, or Will Of The Aryan Nation. As with Asatru, Wotansvolk adherents worship the gods and goddesses of Norse mythology and hold their ancestors in high reverence. Both share the same ritual celebrations and make use of the same texts, such as the Havamal, a summary of the virtues of Asatru. Wotansvolk’s innovation is its adulation of Germanic and Norse culture — which, to Lane, reflects “the greatest civilizations ever to exist.” He believes that the white culture and heritage of the great warrior-heroes is being effaced by racial integration, but that through the spirit of WOTAN, “Aryans” will awaken to “the racial imperative,” i.e., the preservation of the white race.

Through 14 Word Press and Focus Fourteen, Lane and McVan combined their religious and political views to provide supporters with a moral justification for racist beliefs. Lane also feels an elevated sense of mission: “All the ancient teachings have said that the old and natural wisdom would return and there would be a man who could come to do this. It has to be somebody with the intelligence to form a revolution. And I am that man.”


On July 4, 2001, Lane, through a statement released by his wife, announced his retirement. Katja Lane simultaneously announced that “monumental changes” would be made to 14 Word Press, claiming that she could “no longer handle the increasing work load.” The supervision of the press was subsequently handed to Steve Weigand; as of November 2001, Weigand’s plans regarding 14 Word’s out-of-commission Web site and newsletter remained unclear.

Two weeks later, the World Church of the Creator circulated a “declaration” allegedly written by Lane. Under the heading “Moral Authority,” the short document bitterly attacked the United States, calling the country a “Red, White and Blue traveling mass murder machine” intent on exterminating the white race. Without speculating on tactics, the document said that “true moral authority belongs to those who resist genocide.” Readers were urged to share the declaration and to “give it massive exposure on the Internet.”

Whether or not Lane has truly retired remains to be seen. Currently, his earliest possible release date is March 29, 2035. Regardless of when and if Lane is released from prison, he retains significant authority on the far right.

1Right-wing extremists often use "14" as a numerical representation of the expression. 14/88, for example, stands for the 14 Words followed by "Heil Hitler" -- "H" being the eighth letter of the alphabet.

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