What would you do if you found out that a highly controversial organization was coming to where you live for speeches, marches, and rallies? As one of the largest neo-Nazi organizations in the United States, the National Socialist Movement is coming to Chattanooga, Tennessee for a rally this month, it is important to understand the power and the background of neo-Nazis. While descriptions of Hitler, swastikas, or rows of uniformed men marching in unison on a German street are common when people are asked about the Nazis, they are a popularly known, but only one, aspect of Nazism.
While the Nazis’ control of vast swathes of Europe ended with its capitulation at the end of World War II in 1945 to the Allies, the Nazis’ influence has never truly gone away since the mid 1940s. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, many Nazis, such as the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele and Klaus Barbie, fled from war-torn Europe and established themselves in German-speaking areas of South America, essentially portraying themselves falsely as war victims. Most of these Nazis were eventually discovered and extradited to face trials on war crimes in various countries, including France, Israel, the Soviet Union, West Germany, and the United States; the remainder either died or simply disappeared in the chaos of a post-war world, not to be found out until their deaths.
Despite the internationally known broadcasts of infamous ex-Nazis, such as the Nuremberg Trials of 1945-46 and John Demjanjuk’s trials in the 1980s and 2000s, the horrific ideologies of the Nazis, which included anti-Semitism, racism, extreme nationalism, and exterminating mentally and physically disabled people, have continued to have a powerful impact on people around the world. In other words, the Nazis’ demise in World War II brought to life another source of concern for the world: neo-Nazis. Neo-Nazis, who ardently believe in the Nazis’ ideologies and some of whom are prominent Holocaust deniers, have continued to remind the world that while the Nazis’ political control of various nations ended in 1945, the Nazis’ abhorrent beliefs and thoughts still remain powerfully attractive today. In summation, as people in the United States and other countries learn about and understand the impact of different neo-Nazis and their actions, such as George Lincoln Rockwell; the vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, businesses, synagogues, and homes; and the infamous proposed march of the National Socialist Party of America in Skokie, Illinois in 1977, it is to be remembered that while much lauded and hated politicians and political parties come and go, their ideologies can linger much longer.