The Ironic Demise of George Lincoln Rockwell – American Nazi/Socialist

Indiana Jones had little use for Nazis.

“Nazis. I hate these guys.”

                             —Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones Jr.

Nazi Party – officially the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP)

George Lincoln Rockwell founded the American Nazi Party. An ardent supporter of General Douglas MacArthur, Rockwell appropriated the General’s characteristic corncob pipe for his own.

The eldest of three children, George Lincoln Rockwell was born six months before the armistice that ended the First World War. Rockwell’s parents, both Vaudeville performers, divorced when he was six. The boy divided his time between New Jersey and Maine.

George Rockwell served throughout World War 2 as a Naval Aviator.

George Rockwell applied to Harvard at age seventeen but failed to gain acceptance. In 1938 he enrolled at Brown University but with war clouds looming, dropped out to join the Navy. Rockwell trained as a pilot and served aboard four different ships but did not see combat.

Trouble in paradise. Rockwell complained that his first wife Judith was unduly opinionated.

Rockwell married his first wife, Judith Aultman, in 1943. George did not care for his in-laws, accusing them of failing to raise his bride up to be sufficiently “docile and compliant.” Not surprisingly, this marriage foundered.

Hitler’s Mein Kampf (literally “My Struggle”) changed Rockwell’s life.

Rockwell left the military at the end of WW2 but was recalled to active duty as a flight instructor during the Korean conflict. In 1951 he read the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as well as Mein Kampf, and his life took a darker turn. He was posted to Iceland as an F8F Bearcat pilot, divorced his first wife, and married Margret Pora Hallgrimsson, the niece of Iceland’s ambassador to the United States. The happy couple honeymooned at Berchtesgaden, the site of Hitler’s mountain retreat in the Bavarian Alps.

George Rockwell claimed Adolf Hitler came to him in a series of dreams and directed him to form the American Nazi Party.

George and Margret divorced, and in 1957 Rockwell met Hitler’s ghost in a series of remarkable dreams. The spectral dictator somehow convinced George Lincoln Rockwell to resurrect an Americanized version of the most reviled political movement the planet has ever seen. Rockwell’s World Union of Free Enterprise Socialists morphed into the American Nazi Party that later became the National Socialist White People’s Party.

John Landis’ The Blues Brothers is a perennial comedy favorite. The two principal Nazi characters were patterned after George Rockwell and John Patler.

The depiction of the American Socialist White People’s Party in the classic comedy The Blues Brothers reliably conjures a chuckle. I always thought Henry Gibson’s hilarious rendition of this poor lost soul was a fictionalized caricature. It turns out that art was simply imitating life.

The “Hate Bus” traveled the country attempting to disrupt civil rights gatherings. The bank eventually foreclosed on the vehicle.

Rockwell ran for President in 1964, receiving a total of 212 votes nationwide. He took the “Hate Bus” from town to town organizing generally poorly attended rallies against Martin Luther King Jr. and similar figures. After a loan default, the bank repossessed his venomously vitriolic Volkswagen.

Holy crap.

In the 1960s Rockwell dabbled in record producing. He titled his label, I’m not making this up, “Hatenanny Records.” Their two bands were Odis Cochran and the Three Bigots and The Coon Hunters. I tried to conjure some witty prose with which to ridicule this pursuit, but, frankly, words failed me.

This looks like the chemical formula for awkward. Three avowed white supremacists amidst a sea of Black Nationalists. Apparently, they got along swimmingly.

Remarkably, Rockwell found kindred spirits in Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X, both leaders in the 1960’s Black Nationalism movement. While Rockwell and his few followers certainly had little use for black people, they were drawn to the Nation of Islam’s anti-Semitic views.

An enemy of my enemy…Elijah Muhammad’s vociferous anti-Semitism made him a friend of the American Nazis despite their disparate racial backgrounds. Muhammad is shown here on the left alongside Malcolm X.

In 1961 Rockwell referred to Elijah Muhammad as “The Black People’s Hitler.” Apparently, he intended this as a compliment. He was once seen making a $20 donation at a Nation of Islam event.

I’ve been through the Holocaust Museum outside Jerusalem. It was quite a moving experience.

Rockwell was a Holocaust denier, stating in a 1965 interview that he had “incontrovertible documentary proof that that’s not true.” In the same interview, he reluctantly acknowledged the presence of homosexuals within his small group but stated, “I have been able to rescue them.” In a famous 1966 Playboy interview with Alex Haley, the African-American author of Roots, Rockwell said, “I don’t believe for one minute that any 6 million Jews were exterminated by Hitler. It never happened.”

No Tolerance for Hate

John Patsolos was the product of a decidedly unfortunate home life.

John Patsolos was born in 1938 in New York City to Greek parents. When John was five his father shot and killed his mother. After his father was paroled John and his younger brother George moved back in with dad. That sordid family dynamic is enough to make anybody weird.

John Patler is seen here on the right alongside his mentor George Rockwell. I know it’s a cheap shot, but Rockwell looks awfully constipated in this picture.

After a brief stint in the Marines John Patsolos legally changed his name to John Patler because it sounded more like Hitler. Patler joined the American Nazi Party and served as the editorial cartoonist for the party magazine, Stormtrooper. Patler and Rockwell were just as thick as thieves. Patler’s last known missive to Rockwell read, “I don’t think there are two people on earth who think and feel the same as we do…you are a very important part of my life. I need you as much as you need me. Without you, there is no future.”

Patler (right, not wearing a bed sheet) was an up and comer in the American Nazi hierarchy until he fell out hard with its leader George Rockwell.

Alas, when you get up every day hating people it can be tough to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships. In March of 1967 Patler and Rockwell fell out over issues of party policies and the younger man was expelled. The reported infraction was “Bolshevik leanings,” whatever that actually means. Sadly, forgiveness is not a trait the American Nazi Party actively cultivated.

The Ignominious Downfall of an Unrepentant Racist

George Rockwell always got his haircut and washed his clothes in the same little Arlington shopping center. This predictability was ultimately his downfall.

On August 25, 1967, George Rockwell stepped out of his tired blue-and-white 1958 Chevrolet in the parking lot of the Econo-wash, a local coin-operated Laundromat. Realizing he had forgotten his bleach he returned to his vehicle. Meanwhile, John Patler crouched on the roof behind his 7.63x25mm Mauser Broomhandle pistol.

The zippy little bullets fired from John Patler’s Mauser Broomhandle pistol remained quite lethal despite passing through the windshield of Rockwell’s car. Note Rockwell’s signature corncob pipe resting where it fell.

Patler fired two rounds in quick succession through the windshield. The first harmlessly creased Rockwell’s shirt. The second struck him squarely in the heart. The unrepentant Nazi now had less than two minutes to live. In his final moments, the dying man rolled out of the passenger side door and fell face-up on the asphalt, Ivory Snow soap flakes splashing dichotomously across the gory scene.

An Arlington patrolman familiar with the local Nazis spotted Patler at a bus stop 1.5 miles from the site of the shooting and arrested him on the spot.

Patler fled, tossing his German pistol into nearby Four Mile Run creek while discarding his trench coat and cap. Police apprehended him at a nearby bus stop. Patler did not himself drive.

Rockwell bled out and died from a single perfectly placed pistol round.

Upon hearing of his 49-year-old son’s death, his father, George Lovejoy “Doc” Rockwell, said sadly, “I am not surprised at all. I’ve expected it for quite some time.”

The Mauser Broomhandle

This early prototype of the C96 Mauser Broomhandle led to more than a million copies of the gun.

Designed around 1893 at Waffenfabrik Mauser in Oberndorf, Germany, by the three Federle brothers Joseph, Fidel, and Friedrich, the C96 was a First World War icon. Though the gun was never a general issue weapon in the Kaiser’s army, Mauser produced around a million C96 pistols. There were also countless foreign-made copies.

The C96 was one of the first autoloading handguns to enter mass production. It saw active service around the world.

The Germans called the gun the “Kuhfusspistole” or “Cow’s Foot Pistol.” The Chinese called it the “Box Cannon.” Paul Mauser’s term was the “Construktion 96” or C96. The rest of the planet called it the Broomhandle after the pistol grip’s distinctive architecture.

The C96 feeds from a ten-round internal box magazine. This is the 9mm Red 9 variant.

The C96 was recoil-operated with a tilting-lock breech. Most of the originals carried ten rounds internally loaded from the top via strippers. Some variants incorporated removable box magazines of 10 and 20-round capacities.

The full-auto Mauser 712 Schnellfeuer sports a detachable box magazine and a selector switch on the left aspect of the frame.

The Model 712 Schnellfeuer version was selective fire. The rear sight was optimistically adjustable out to 1000 meters. Care must be exercised when running the gun on its shoulder stock lest the hammer gives your thumb a nasty bite.

Broom handles chambered for 9mm Parabellum have a red “9” prominently displayed in the grips.

The bottlenecked 7.63×25 mm cartridge takes up about the same space as a standard 9mm Parabellum round while launching an 86-grain bullet at 1,400 feet per second. This was the world’s fastest commercial handgun cartridge until the 1934 advent of the .357 Magnum. The case dimensions were nearly identical to those of the Combloc 7.62x25mm cartridges used in TT-33 handguns and PPSh submachine guns. German 7.63x25mm rounds could be safely used in the Russian weapons, but Russian 7.62x25mm ammunition was loaded too hot for the C96. The Broomhandle was also chambered for 9mm Parabellum and even .45 ACP.

The Rest of the Story

An indecorous six-hour standoff at a national military cemetery over the trappings of George Rockwell’s burial nearly precipitated a riot.

George Rockwell was a military veteran and had earned the right to burial in a national cemetery. Government officials stipulated that there be no Nazi memorabilia, flags, uniforms, or similar stuff present. Rockwell’s followers naturally ignored the edict so there resulted in a most undignified six-hour standoff between the bereaved Nazis and military police. During this time Rockwell’s waiting hearse was very nearly struck by a passing train.

It seems somehow poetic that the Holocaust denier, George Rockwell, eventually left this mortal toil via a crematorium.

Frustrated followers eventually had his body cremated. His ashes are now purportedly a modern Nazi shrine. Incineration in a gas-fired oven seems an ironic end considering.

John Patler served a fraction of his original sentence and lives free and peacefully today in New York.

John Patler served about four years of his twenty-year sentence for first-degree murder but was later re-incarcerated for parole violations. Patler is currently 81 years old and still draws the occasional political cartoon.

The racial divide in America, to hear the media describe it, is deeper today than at any point since Reconstruction. In actuality, there was seldom more than a handful of folks genuinely interested in such stuff.

Researching this project was simply fascinating. Perusing sites like likely put me on some kind of watch list but was nonetheless an eye-opening exercise. One would think that the entire planet might be unified in its condemnation of Adolf Hitler and his mass-murdering Nazi mignons, but, sadly, this is not the case.

George Rockwell had an undeniable spark that drew like-minded souls to his dark cause like moths to a flame.

In Rockwell’s day, the American Nazi Party never had more than 100 active members. When he died his estate was worth $257. In the person of George Lincoln Rockwell, we find the sad tale of a man whose undeniable charisma and dark drive inspired true passion in a small handful of zealous followers. His twisted influence persists to this day.

The Mauser Broomhandle is one of the world’s most recognizable firearms. It served as the foundation for the DL-44 Blaster in the classic space opera Star Wars. Apparently, they didn’t teach proper gun handling a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Mind that trigger, Han.
George Lincoln Rockwell’s legacy found its way into the popular Philip K. Dick alternative history series The Man in the High Castle.

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About the author: Will Dabbs A native of the Mississippi Delta, Will is a mechanical engineer who flew UH1H, OH58A/C, CH47D, and AH1S aircraft as an Army Aviator. He has parachuted out of perfectly good airplanes at 3 o’clock in the morning and summited Mount McKinley, Alaska, six times…always at the controls of an Army helicopter, which is the only way sensible folk climb mountains. Major Dabbs eventually resigned his commission in favor of medical school where he delivered 60 babies and occasionally wrung human blood out of his socks. Will works in his own urgent care clinic, shares a business build-ing precision rifles and sound suppressors, and has written for the gun press since 1989. He is married to his high school sweetheart, has three awesome adult children, and teaches Sunday School. Turn-ons include vintage German machineguns, flying his sexy-cool RV6A airplane, Count Chocula cereal, and the movie “Aliens.”

{ 31 comments… add one }
  • Jonathon Greenblatt November 19, 2021, 11:22 am

    You deserve a gold star for this one.

  • An Incurable Drapetomaniac November 9, 2021, 2:46 pm

    Rockwell´s collaboration with the Nation of Islam was not about a common hate for the Jews. It was out of a mutual hat for integration with each other. Both groups believed in living separately form each other and groups like the KKK preferred to support the NOI than integrationists like MLK.

    Here is an article from National Post.

  • J.D. Smith February 15, 2020, 1:58 pm

    The Twilight Zone episode you mentioned – the one where the guy was responding to Hitler’s spirit – the guy was actor Dennis Hopper.

  • alex February 12, 2020, 1:18 am

    he looked like a young dan aykroyd! he looks like a total jerkoff with the stupid pipe in his mouth!

  • Patrick McWilliams February 11, 2020, 3:57 pm

    I can imagine the poor finance company repossessing the VW van and having to repaint it. Today, I could picture it in the National Museum of African American History or the Holocaust Museum.

    Leftists are always given to infighting over trivial matters of ideology. Fitting conclusion for Rockwell.

    Punishments for criminals often reflect the value society places on the victim. Twenty years for first degree murder shows that society did not place much value on Rockwell. Especially when the killer was released in just a couple years. Ironic that Patler is still alive.

    Rockwell’s 1958 Chevy would be worth a good price today. Unless he was just one step away from the repo man on that one, too.

  • Andrew N. February 11, 2020, 12:11 am

    I LOVE the White Supremacist / Nazi Party groups. They give EVERY OTHER “GROUP” in America someone to look down upon, and with good reason. Any idiots who join “supremacist” groups automatically disprove the “supreme” label. You have to be incredibly stupid to believe in something based on race. Although I would like to point out to the “Woke crowd” that hating someone for being White is still racism. My “White Privilege” began at age 8 with a paper route, followed by various landscaping jobs at age 11. That lasted until 15 1/2 when I was lucky enough to start paying taxes from my job running a printing press. At 19, I joined the Navy and still got to pay taxes to support those not working. After destroying my body for “God and Country” I now am a 100% Disabled Vet. At least I don’t get taxed on my disability! I love my privilege!

  • Mikial February 10, 2020, 9:10 pm

    Fascinating article and very informative. I’d never even heard of this guy before. Oddly enough, I proposed to my Austrian wife while in a hotel in the Berchtesgaden region of Germany, although given that her grandmother still carries the tattoo given her in a concentration camp as a teenage girl we have no interest in anything Nazi. My wife is not Jewish, but Großmutter and her family were turned in by their neighbors for not showing the proper reverence for Hitler.

  • Arch February 10, 2020, 6:29 pm

    If you’re going to paraphrase Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, get it right. Hamlet referred to “…this mortal coil”, not mortal toil.

    Other than that nitpick, interesting article.

  • Larry Viles February 10, 2020, 4:25 pm

    I must stridently disagree about Rockwell looking constipated in the picture. He looks more like he’s trying to clinch his butt cheeks tight enough to hold in a nuclear fart. While I’m here, I believe Patler deserved being shot for throwing a broom handled mauser in a creek!

  • Will Drider February 10, 2020, 2:31 pm

    An interesting story. Many self important men barely ruffle their own feathers and their passing is always more noteworthy than their lives.

  • A Boss February 10, 2020, 11:55 am

    The author is correct about using Russian 7.62x25mm ammo in the Mauser C96. When I was young I purchased a Mauser “Bolo” C96 from a pawnshop and the only ammo I could find in town was a green plastic box of Interarms “Mauser” ammo. I only shot two rounds to come to the conclusion that this ammo was too hot. Later I discovered, by reading the case headstamp, that this ammo was not German but Russian machine pistol stuff loaded HOT. I learned a lesson, my Bolo was unharmed, and I have kept both as a reminder to pay attention to the small details.

  • tyler kent February 10, 2020, 11:53 am

    Why the hell is an article about this guy appearing in a newsletter about the gun industry?????

    • AK February 10, 2020, 4:11 pm

      You must not be familiar with the author and his very well-researched and presented series about interesting historical figures, almost always related back to a firearm or firearms associated with them.

  • Pat Bryan February 10, 2020, 11:48 am

    Thank you for a well-written article.

    • Larry Viles February 10, 2020, 4:22 pm

      Because of the iconic gun used to kill him. It’s like having an article about John Dillinger and the guns he used.

      • Mike V February 11, 2020, 7:53 am

        Indeed. Pull up a chair and enjoy.

  • zack February 10, 2020, 11:35 am

    i cant think of a better way to start my morning than opening my email and being greeted articles about dead Nazis

    • Ej harbet February 10, 2020, 6:17 pm

      But dead nazis are good nazis.actually anyone who advocates totalitarian oppression is better when not sharing our air

  • Rick February 10, 2020, 11:10 am

    The Twilight Zone did a episode of a man who responded to Hitler’s spirit. It also ended badly for that charter.

  • Michael Keim February 10, 2020, 11:04 am

    Hateful assholes

  • Kane February 10, 2020, 10:57 am

    Hate takes many forms and the world is inundated with hate. The most dangerous type of hate is the covert and clever form that disguises itself as something other than what it truly is.

  • Nate February 10, 2020, 9:32 am

    “Rockwell’s World Union of Free Enterprise Socialists…”
    That has to be the most glaring oxymoron I have ever seen!

  • Lou Kapp February 10, 2020, 8:55 am

    Always look forward to these articles. Very entertaining and informative.

  • Mike Faucey February 10, 2020, 8:47 am

    This is a tribute of a failed radical left wing group in the USA as similar to the ANTIFA approach to Government. But the center of point is the Broom handle Mauser as it was a great advanced design for its day. Interesting piece with many rolls in history.

    • Mike V February 11, 2020, 7:55 am

      Tribute? The guy and his movement are torched throughout.

  • triggerpull February 10, 2020, 7:46 am

    Interesting you release this just now–one of my best friends just published a book about his father William Pierce who among other things wrote the infamous Turner Diaries. Compared to him, Rockwell and Patler are just quirky footnotes in the history of organized hate in this country. You should pick it up if you want to fill out your history, it’s called “Sins of My Father: Growing Up with America’s Most Dangerous White Supremacist.”

  • Benjamin Port February 10, 2020, 7:08 am

    radical right wing fascist groups like nazis have no business in America

    • Big Al 45 February 10, 2020, 9:26 am

      While I see your point, the very same Constitution protects both you and them.
      How’s that for irony?

    • Jim February 10, 2020, 10:41 am

      FYI, Nazis weren’t “right wing”. They were national socialists…..left wing. Even Mussolini’s Fascist party was rooted in Leftist ideology. I hear in Canada there are a large number of Leftists that mirror our Leftists in USA, but they are also quite nationalist…..something our brand of Leftist typically is not.

      Off the top of my head I can’t think of a radical right wing example in modern history. The right wants smaller government, less government power and more freedom/rights for citizens of all religions, races and creeds……kinda flies in the face of what the Nazis (and any other left wing political party) pushed on folks. The left ALWAYS pushes for increased government control and power and they want it intertwined further into the citizenry’s daily lives. They preach inclusion while their actions show they demand obedience or else you’ll suffer their consequences (such as being doxxed or “canceled” among other things). If you just look at the left today you’ll see what I mean…..especially if you compare them to past failed attempts at total leftist control. Heck, Bernies boys are talking about putting us all in gulags, seizing our property and killing us. That’s so “right wing”.

      • Jim Bragg February 10, 2020, 12:41 pm

        Jim, (great name BTW), is totally correct. Germany’s Nazi Party or the NSDP (National Socialist Democratic Party) is very much left wing and has nothing to do with Conservatives. Even Hillary Clinton slipped up and made the comment that she was a basically a National Socialist Democrat! Seems that the media didn’t really notice or choose not to notice her remarks that day. Remember that when you go to vote in 2020, you vote for someone from the Democratic Party you are either voting for a Nazi or a Communist like Bernie Sanders. Sanders once ran under the Communist party banner but understandably received very few vote so he changed to the Democratic Party.

    • Ej harbet February 10, 2020, 6:23 pm

      Only supporters of liberty as set forth by the founders under the constitution should be here. Nazis and communists/socialists are scum that seek to put us in chains or lime sprinkled trenches need to go away. Or pick up their weapons and start the process that nourishes libertys tree

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