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Poisoning the Web: Hatred Online
Internet Bigotry, Extremism and Violence
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Longtime Hitlerian Activists

While Tom Smith and Ryan Wilson are both less than 40 years old and relatively new to neo-Nazi activism, other neo-Nazis on the Web represent more established organizations and have been active in the white supremacist movement much longer, since the days of American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell.

Following Rockwell's assassination by a disgruntled party member in 1967, Matthias (Matt) Koehl took over his American Nazi Party, renaming it the National Socialist White People's Party. In 1970, NSWPP member Frank Collin started his own group, the National Socialist Party of America (NSPA), made famous by its attempts to march through the predominantly Jewish town of Skokie, Illinois in 1977. Another former NSWPP member, Harold Covington joined the NSPA in the mid-1970s. At that time, Gary "Gerhard" Lauck, who went on to found the NSDAP-AO (a German acronym meaning National Socialist German Workers Party - Overseas Organization), was also a member of Collin's group. Covington took over the NSPA in 1980, after Collin was sentenced to seven years in prison for sexually abusing children. In 1982, Koehl dropped the name NSWPP in favor of the name "The New Order," and Covington's NSPA disbanded. In 1994, Covington founded a new group using the old name once used by Koehl: NSWPP. Today, Covington and Lauck both have a presence on the World Wide Web.

Harold Covington was one of the first neo-Nazis on the Web, establishing a site as early as 1996. Covington's original site defined National Socialism as "a world view for White People" and listed guiding principles such as "Racial Idealism" and "The Upward Development of the White Race." The site listed "Ten Basic Principles of National Socialism," which urged "Aryan" racial purity and conquest of the world. Covington lauded Rockwell at length and provided links to other white supremacist sites.

Covington has repeatedly been denounced by fellow white supremacists as a Jew and an informant for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF). In particular, Will Williams, onetime national membership coordinator for the National Alliance, has criticized Covington ruthlessly on the Internet. In turn, Covington has lashed back at Williams and NA leader William Pierce.

Williams and Covington have traded thousands of insults on white supremacist USENET newsgroups, accusing each other of being traitors to the white supremacist movement. Each man has also established a Web site critical of the other. Williams registered his anti-Covington page at an address very similar to that of Covington's own Web site, and Covington's page attacking the National Alliance appeared at an address nearly identical to that of Pierce's group. In 1997, Williams successfully sued Covington in a North Carolina court for making defamatory statements about him and was awarded a judgment of over $110,000. Covington failed to pay Williams and fled the state.

Covington faced further trouble when Matt Koehl, who formerly used the name NSWPP for his group, instructed an entity called the G.L. Rockwell Foundation, Inc. to "copyright" that name. Subsequently, a notice appeared in place of Covington's primary Web site barring him from using the term NSWPP in "printed material, electronic messaging and Internet Domain Names."

Despite these legal roadblocks, a few sites affiliated with Covington's NSWPP remain on the Web. For Folk and Fatherland reprints Hitler's Mein Kampf in its entirety and more than two dozen of Hitler's speeches as well as Covington's NSWPP literature, George Lincoln Rockwell's writings, and various other anti-Semitic documents. The National Socialists of Utah Web site lists Covington's San Antonio address for the NSWPP and links to For Folk and Fatherland.

Web pages for Gerhard Lauck's NSDAP-AO could be found at Ryan Wilson's ALPHA site. Born in Milwaukee and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, Lauck affected a German accent and named his organization, founded in the early 1980s, after the German name for Hitler's Nazi party. From the 1970s through the mid-1990s, he ran the world's most productive and extensive distribution center for neo-Nazi publications and paraphernalia. According to reformed neo-Nazi Ingo Hasselbach, Lauck was the source of "the bulk of...neo-Nazi propaganda pasted up on the walls and windows from Berlin to Sao Paulo."

In the early days of cyberspace, Lauck's materials were circulated on a closely guarded computer network named the "Thule Network," a bulletin board system similar to the "Aryan Nation Liberty Net." In order to gain access to the network, prospective users had to pass a loyalty test and a background check. According to some estimates, over 1,500 neo-Nazis in Germany had access to Lauck's propaganda via the "Thule Network," which remains active today.

In 1995, Danish authorities, acting on international warrants, arrested Lauck and agreed to extradite him to Germany, where he was sentenced in 1996 to four years in prison for inciting racial hatred by disseminating anti-Semitic and racist material. Lauck was released in March 1999 and deported to the United States.

While he was in jail, Lauck's Web site featured the headline, "Free Gerhard Lauck!" The site said about Lauck's arrest and imprisonment: "these illegal and reprehensible acts by the anti-White authorities are a direct assault upon ALL pro-White organizations. YOU are under attack now! If International Jewry is allowed to kidnap Gerhard Lauck their next step will be to systematically silence all pro-White leaders, organizations, and members worldwide one by one."

Like other neo-Nazis, Lauck has expressed intense approval for Hitler and hatred for Jews. He has stated that "anything that is bad for the Jews is good for us" and told a Danish audience that "the Jews were treated too nicely in the concentration camps." Yet buried among the Nazi-themed books sold at his Web site were a group of texts that question whether the Holocaust took place, bearing titles like "Auschwitz: Truth or Lie?" and "Did Six Million Really Die?"

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2001 Anti-Defamation League