A Hitler fan since age 11, Gary "Gerhard" Lauck, an American with a put-on German accent and Hitlerite moustache, is often referred to as the "Farm Belt Fuhrer." From his home in Lincoln, Neb., Lauck, who also founded the NSDAP/AO (the German language acronym for National Socialist German Workers Party/Overseas Organization, the translated name of the original Nazi party's overseas unit), exported or smuggled millions of pieces of neo-Nazi propaganda in 10 languages to at least 30 countries and became a key player in the resurgence of German neo-Nazism in the 1990s as a result. Arrested in 1995 in Denmark, Lauck would wind up spending four years in prison in Germany for his activities. By the time he emerged, the Internet had supplanted him as an easy-to-mine source for neo-Nazi propaganda in countries where it is illegal.
In His Own Words "Our Purpose: The defense of the White race. Survival of our White race — and of the various White nations — is our ‘prime directive'. Our worldview: Called ‘National Socialism,' it is based upon the laws of nature and the lessons of history. Our two highest values: Race and Nation. Our goal: White Power!" — "The Fight Goes On!" NSDAP/AO website
"May some of you become examples for those who will later join our ranks and carry on the holy swastika banner when we, too, are called to that great storm-troop in the sky." — "Genuine Heroism," NSDAP/AO website
"National Socialists form a living community. A community of faith and a community of struggle. This consciousness of community, this sense of purpose and this deeply felt duty to defy all odds and battle every enemy — despite decade after decade of relentless persecution, vilification and sacrifice — is absolutely essential to our long-term survival and final victory. Individuals fall away. Organizations come and go. Neighborhoods and whole cities are destroyed. Perhaps even entire nations will perish during the new millennium. But the Race must survive!" — "The Next Quarter Century and Beyond," NSDAP/AO website
Background Gary "Gerhard" Lauck became a Nazi at age 11, the same year his family moved to Nebraska from Milwaukee. Growing up, he says, he was teased by classmates for speaking with a speech impediment that sounded suspiciously like a German accent. "At that point," he says, "I became a fanatic not only with my heart, but with my mind." At 19, he changed his name to Gerhard, his first step toward assuming a fully Nazified persona.
Lauck spent his early years as a member of the neo-Nazi National Socialist White People's Party (the successor organization to the American Nazi Party founded by George Lincoln Rockwell) and, later, the Chicago-based National Socialist Party of America (NSPA) led by Frank Collin. The NSPA imploded after two stunning events: the revelation that Frank Collin was the son of Max Cohen, a Jewish concentration camp survivor, and the subsequent discovery, made by Lauck and two colleagues, of photographic evidence that Collin also was a child molester.
In 1974, Lauck founded the NSDAP/AO, which is officially dedicated to promoting "a worldwide National Socialist-led White Revolution for the restoration of White Power in all White nations." Nicknamed the "Farm Belt Fuhrer" because of his location in Nebraska, Lauck took to wearing a Hitlerite moustache and speaking with a put-on German accent. He also specialized in making outrageous statements, like the remark that Hitler's only defect was being "too humane." Apart from walking through the streets of Lincoln in Nazi uniforms, Lauck kept a relatively low local profile in his community.
Lauck defied European bans on Nazi paraphernalia and propaganda by flooding the continent with anti-Semitic propaganda at a time when it was nearly impossible to get — certainly, the most important activity he has undertaken in the furtherance of neo-Nazism. During the 1980s and early 1990s, Lauck produced, translated and helped smuggle into Germany huge amounts of German-language propaganda — as many as 8 million pieces a year. Overall, Lauck exported hate materials in 10 languages to 30 countries — including a German-language newspaper, Nazi Battle Cry, and an old Nazi propaganda film depicting Jews as rats. German neo-Nazis revered him for his work.
In fact, Lauck became a key player on the German neo-Nazi scene, helping to tie together a variety of factions through his flagship publications, New Order (in English) and NS Kampfruf (in German). Ingo Hasselbach, an important German neo-Nazi leader who eventually renounced racism, wrote in an autobiographical book that Lauck "was the publisher and distributor of the bulk of neo-Nazi propaganda pasted up on the walls and windows from Berlin to Sao Paulo, and was also the center of a worldwide umbrella organization with which practically every neo-Nazi had contact."
Lauck had several run-ins with German authorities during the 1970s: a 1972 arrest for distributing Nazi literature; a 1974 expulsion after giving a speech in Hamburg on "why Hitler is still so popular in the United States," and a 1976 arrest while carrying 20,000 Nazi posters. After that arrest, Lauck served a four-month term in a German prison. He was then deported and banned from Germany for life.
In 1995, Lauck was arrested in Denmark on international warrants for disseminating illegal propaganda in Germany. He was staying at the time with Jonni Hansen, chairman of the neo-Nazi Danish National Socialist Movement. A few days after his arrest, German police raided the homes of 80 Lauck followers, many of them teenagers, and seized weapons, ammunition and illegal literature. Extradited to Germany from Denmark, Lauck was tried and sentenced to a maximum four years in prison for his activities. By the time he emerged from prison in March 1999, Internet-based propaganda had supplanted him, rendering his propaganda work, particularly in terms of smuggling hate materials into Europe, vastly less important.
Trying to take advantage of technological change, Lauck built his own website, primarily written in German and intended for German readers, containing information on his organization and life. In 2001, Lauck also set up a Web-hosting company — Zensurfrei.com, meaning "censorship-free" — that has actively targeted European clients, particularly Germans. "Political repression is increasing in Europe!" his page warns. "European webmasters can reduce their risk by moving their website to the USA!" Lauck's firm promises secrecy, and its staff tells potential customers that they can converse fluently with clients in German.