Gerhard Lauck was Germany’s biggest supplier of neo-Nazi materials. His trajectory is a valuable case study in recognizing the signs of a budding hatemonger.
By Carson Vaughan | The Guardian|Alternet
They’re easy to spot, the neo-Nazi and his driver, strolling side by side up Main Street beneath a noonday sun, flanked by the two-story brick and limestone buildings of Beatrice, Nebraska. But it’s not the way they’re dressed.
Gerhard Lauck, the man they call the “Farm Belt führer” doesn’t draw attention to himself heedlessly, doesn’t swaddle himself in swastikas – not any more, anyway, and not out here in south-east Nebraska, where he finally retreated after serving a four-year stint in a German prison for distributing neo-Nazi propaganda. He doesn’t bark “Heil Hitler!” He doesn’t shoot his right arm into the air.
No, it’s not the way they’re dressed, though Lauck is wearing a military brown shirt, and his driver, who won’t identify himself, is over-buttoned for a warm spring day. It’s something about their posture, a self-seriousness reflected in their stride, as if they’re not conducting business so much as playing at it.
At 6ft 4in and roughly 240lb, Lauck towers above his driver. Were it not for his illicit activity abroad, his tireless promotion of “racial purity”, his worship of Adolf Hitler (whom he likes to call “too humane” just to revel in the outrage), the pair would seem almost comical, a Laurel and Hardy, or closer still, a Pinky and the Brain.
“A joke? He was never a joke,” said Bob Wolfson, former director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Plains States Region, when I questioned Lauck’s significance. “If you’re talking about American Nazis that have had an impact internationally in the last 50 years, Gerhard is probably number one.”
For Wolfson, Lauck’s trajectory is a valuable case study, a narrative worth repeating to recognize the signs of a budding hatemonger.