George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party and one of the country’s best-known anti-Semites, was assassinated at age 50 by one of his former followers on this date in 1968. Rockwell was the son of vaudeville performers who actually knew quite a few Jews, including Groucho Marx, Jack Benny, Walter Winchell, Benny Goodman, and other show biz people. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and the Korean War, but he was discharged in 1960, one year short of his retirement, because of his racist and pro-Nazi views. Like Germany’s fuehrer, Rockwell became an artist, attending Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in the 1950s, where he was introduced to post-modern art — which he despised and blamed on New York’s Jews. In 1959, in Arlington, Virginia, where he would eventually be gunned down, Rockwell founded the World Union of Free Enterprise National Socialists, which later became the American Nazi Party. He caught media attention with a series of Nazi demonstrations, including one in Union Square in which he was driven from the park by members of the Jewish War Veterans and Holocaust survivors. Rockwell coined the phrase “White Power,” helped to Nazify the Christian Identity movement, helped lead riots against Martin Luther King, Jr.’s integration efforts in Chicago, launched the National Socialist White People’s Party, with wings in Great Britain and elsewhere, and was described by KKK activist and racist politician David Duke as “the greatest American who ever lived.” His 1961 autobiography was titled, This Time the World.
“Hitler produced a local ‘lab experiment’; he provided me with an ideology in the same way that Marx provided one for Lenin. My task is to turn this ideology into a world movement.” —George Lincoln Rockwell