George Lincoln Rockwell was an American naval pilot, neo-Nazi politician, and the founder of the American Nazi Party. While serving in the United States Navy, he developed a keen interest in Adolf Hitler and Nazism and eventually became an apologist for both the political belief and the German leader. A native of Illinois, he attended Brown University where he became an ardent critic of equality. Rockwell later dropped out of college and enlisted in the US Navy. Despite a highly prolific military career, he was discharged because of his political views. In 1959, he set up the American Nazi Party and served as its first commander. Three years later, he established the World Union of National Socialists and became its inaugural leader as well. Rockwell held the view that Martin Luther King Jr. was being used by the Jewish communists against the white community. He was an advocate for racial segregation and a holocaust denier. In August 1967, Rockwell was murdered by a recently expelled member of his party. Following his death, he became the object of fascination for many white nationalists, including David Duke.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on March 9, 1918, in Bloomington, Illinois, George Rockwell was the oldest of the three children of vaudeville comedians and actors George Lovejoy "Doc" Rockwell and Claire (Schade) Rockwell.
He had a sister named Priscilla and a brother named Robert. From his father’s side, Rockwell was of English and Scottish descent, while he was of German and Acadian French ancestry from his mother’s side.
After graduating from Atlantic City High School in Atlantic City, Rockwell attended Hebron Academy in Hebron, Maine, where he voraciously read Western philosophy and socially significant novels.
During this period, his views on religion changed as well. He was previously a devout Protestant but now he came to believe that while religion was a necessary pillar to civilization, it was not literarily true.
In August 1938, he started attending Brown University, pursuing a degree in philosophy. In his sociology study, he disavowed equality and argued against the notions that people were made by their environment and that all human beings had the same potential in life. He left college during his sophomore year to join the US Navy at the advent of World War II.
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George Lincoln Rockwell had a highly successful military career, serving in the World War II and the Korean War. He was decorated several times, and while he never participated in actual combat, he was generally regarded as a good pilot and an efficient officer.
In 1960, after 19 years of service and one year prior to his retirement, Commander Rockwell was discharged from the Navy because of his racist political views in very public proceedings.
Affiliation to Neo-Nazism & Later Life
While he was still enlisted in the US Navy and living in San Diego, California, Rockwell became a follower of Hitler and Nazi beliefs. In the early 1950s, he began collaborating with anti-Jewish and anti-Communist groups, and by the time he relocated to Washington, D.C., he was completely radicalised.
Rockwell formed the American Nazi Party in March 1959. In the ensuing few years, he developed a close relationship with other American as well as foreign neo-Nazi groups. This eventually led to the establishment of the World Union of National Socialists in 1962.
At the height of the civil rights movement, Rockwell organised a counter-demonstration against King Jr.’s efforts to end the racial segregation in white Chicago suburb of Cicero, Illinois. Believing integration to be a Jewish plan to weaken and rule over the white community, he viewed King Jr. as a tool for Jewish communists.
Rockwell was on good terms with many black nationalist groups and their leaders, such as Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X, as their views on racial segregation aligned. Noting the success of the black Muslims in organising people through religion, Rockwell reached out to several Christian identity groups.
Rockwell claimed that the Holocaust did not take place. He also stated that he had “rescued” many of his followers from homosexuality. In March 1961, he published his autobiography, ‘This Time The World’.
Family & Personal Life
George Lincoln Rockwell was married twice. His first wife was American Judy Aultman, to whom he was married from 1943 to 1953. She gave birth to his three daughters, Bonnie, Nancy, and Phoebe Jean.
In 1953, he married Icelandic Thóra Hallgrímsdóttir. They had three children together, son Lincoln Hallgrímur "Halli" "Grampaw" Rockwell Björgólfsson (1954) and daughters Jeannie Margrét Rockwell Björgólfsdóttir (1955-1989) and Evelyn Bentína Rockwell Björgólfsdóttir (1957).
Rockwell and Hallgrímsdóttir divorced in 1961 after her father found out that Rockwell was "one of the most active racists in the United States” and went to America to retrieve her.
Rockwell was killed on August 25, 1967, when a newly banned member of the American Nazi party, John Patler, shot him while he was getting out of a laundromat in Arlington, Virginia. He was 49 years old at the time. He was cremated on 28 August.
BBC dubbed Rockwell as the “American Hitler”. Matt Koehl succeeded him both as the commander of the American Nazi Party and Leader of the World Union of National Socialists. David Duke, who was a high school student at the time of Rockwell’s death, was inspired by his life.