On November 25, David Duke was arrested in Cologne, Germany as he was preparing to make a speech to a meeting of 60 white nationalists. The event was organized by two groups, Freies Netz Koln and Sturm Rhein Sieg. According to news reports, Duke was arrested because he violated his visa restrictions, which allowed him to travel through Germany, but not establish even a temporary residence there. Notably, Duke was not arrested on charges related to denying the Holocaust, as he was in Prague in April 2009. As SPLC and others have reported, Duke is already using the arrest to try and raise money from his supporters.
Duke is not the first, nor will he be the last, North American white nationalist to work the neo-Nazi precincts in Germany. For almost two decades prior to unification, Gary Lauck from Lincoln, Nebraska smuggled bundles of German-language National Socialist propaganda, swastika armbands, pins and other paraphernalia into Germany. Occasionally Lauck slipped into West Germany. And in 1990, after the wall fell but before formal unification, Lauck slipped into East Berlin for a meeting with his counterparts there. Such activities are illegal in Germany, and Lauck was arrested and deported in 1974 and again in 1975. In 1995 he was arrested in Denmark and then handed over to the German courts, which convicted in in 1996 and sentenced him to four years on charges of smuggling illegal neo-Nazi material. Since that time, Lauck has been relatively quiet, selling Nazi materials from his website in the USA.
Other notables who have similarly traveled to Germany include both the now deceased William Pierce, of Turner Diaries infamy, and attorney Kirk Lyons, an attorney who was married at the Aryan Nations camp in Idaho and now lives in North Carolina.
The frequency of this trans-Atlantic traffic should not obscure its significance. The white nationalist universe is cosmopolitan, as opposed to parochial; and segments of this universe truly believe that “their race is their nation,” and acts as such. For David Duke, however, something else might be afoot.
Ever since he lost his spot in the Louisiana Republican Party in 1992, Duke has increasingly turned to international travel as both a vehicle for making money and as a diversion from his shrinking imprint on the American landscape. Not so long ago he was crooning about the Tea Parties and promising to run for president if the money and support was right. His recent Tennessee mountaintop gathering was for the few and committed, and indicated no new level of support for his particular politics. It is always too soon to count David Duke out, but it appears as if his trip to Germany is just one more indicator that his time might be over in the United States.
is president of IREHR. For almost three decades, he has been a leading authority on white nationalist political and social movements. He is the author of Blood and Politics: The History of White Nationalism from the Margins to the Mainstream, published by Farrar Straus & Giroux in May 2009. more...Website: www.irehr.org