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Volksfront

Volksfront

LEADER: Randall Lee Krager

USUAL AREA OF OPERATION: Arizona; California; Pennsylvania

OVERVIEW

Volksfront is a neo-Nazi extremist group based in the northwestern part of the United States. Many Volksfront members are skinheads with racist tendencies.

HISTORY

Volksfront is a radical neo-Nazi group with a history of race-driven assaults and murders. The group is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. It was founded in 1994 by Randall Lee Krager, an Oregon skinhead. Krager recruited members of violent skinhead groups in the Northwest, such as "Youth of Hitler" and "East Side White Pride." Many of the recruits had been involved in a White Aryan Resistance movement.

At the end of its first year in existence, Volksfront had started a white power rock group called Intimidation One. It was named after the hate crime law in Oregon and used extremely violent lyrics.

In 1996, a founding member of Volksfront, Troy Harlow, was jailed for a year after burning a cross in the yard of a black man. Harlow pleaded guilty to the charges of conspiring to deprive an African-American man of his constitutional rights.

The police began to put pressure on Volksfront in 1998 for participating in and advocating the use of violence. At that point, the group seemed to disappear. They later said that the pressure from the police and government forced them to go underground.

For three years, the group was very quiet. But, it reemerged in 2001. The group claimed then that it had changed its stance on violence and was completely against it. Krager claimed that he came to this decision after spending a lot of time thinking while in prison.

In 2004, the group claimed on its web page that violence is discouraged in Volksfront. However, Volksfront says it recognizes that force must sometimes be used in order for the group to remain a free people.

The group grew in size between 2001 and 2003, increasing from fifty up to 100 serious members. It also added three new chapters, bringing the total number of chapters to eight. There are active units in Phoenix, Arizona, throughout California, and even east in Pennsylvania.

On June 1, 2003, Kurtis William Monschke, purportedly the group's leader for a Washington State chapter, was given a life sentence for his involvement in the beating death of a forty-two-year-old African-American man. During the trial, Volksfront spoke out against Monschke, saying he deserved the death penalty. This was accompanied by a reiteration that Volksfront was not in support of acts of violence.

PHILOSOPHY AND TACTICS

Volksfront has embraced different philosophies and used different tactics over the years. In its early beginnings in 1994, the group was a strong advocate for violence and intimidation against minorities, and those who sympathized with minorities. The group has always blamed racial and ethnic minorities, particularly blacks and Jews, for society's ills.

When it first formed, Volksfront produced a poster that illustrated the organization's agenda of using violence in the attack of minorities that the group believed to be the cause of crime and social disorder. The poster had the words "Take Back Your Streets," and showed a white skin-head beating three black men with a bat and boots. The black men were labeled "rapists," "muggers," and "drug dealers."

In more recent times, the group has followed a political ideology called the "Third Position" or "Third Way." By following this mindset, the group claims to put its support behind working-class whites, rejecting communism and capitalism, and strongly opposing non-white immigration. The group backs unions, particularly with activism in local construction unions.

The group also follows a racist version of Asatrú, a pagan religion in Scandinavia, that dates back to the Middle Ages.

Volksfront has created a number of alliances with different radical right groups. In 2004, it hosted Aryan Fest, a music event that featured white power rock bands. The event was attended by many people, and has helped Volksfront gain support throughout the far-right community.

LEADERSHIP

RANDALL LEE KRAGER

Randall Lee Krager, a skinhead from Oregon with a swastika tattooed on his neck, has a long history of involvement and interest in racially motivated violence. Authorities claim to have had 28 encounters with Krager in his late teen years. In 1989, at age fifteen, Krager got into trouble for a racially motivated attack on other teenagers in a park. At the age of sixteen, Krager attended the trial of a Southern California neo-Nazi, Tom Metzger, who Krager called a "cool guy."

Krager was put in jail in 1992 for violently attacking an African-American man. Upon his release in 1994, he established Volksfront. He was put in jail again in 1995 for 14 months, pleading guilty to first-degree intimidation of an anti-racist skinhead.

Volksfront also sponsors a publication called The Folk Tribune: The Independent Voice of the White Working Class. The publication is used to promote its ideas, and also to show support for the violent acts carried out by Volksfront members, and members of other organizations. The publication includes a "POW list," which features those members who have been put in prison. Authors of the POW list say even though Volksfront rejects violence, the group supports the POWs who committed violence in order to defend their people.

OTHER PERSPECTIVES

Analysts pose the question of whether or not the modern Volksfront is really a nonviolent movement, as the group claims to be. Volksfront has said violent acts are looked down upon by Volksfront, but they also created a database to track anti-racists, whom they call enemies. Security officials see this as a violent threat against anti-racists, which goes back to the early 1990s, when there was ongoing fighting between racist and non-racist skinheads.

The Southern Policy Law Center (SPLC) points out that Volksfront's publication continually promotes violence, and shows its support for people who have carried out violent attacks. Also, Volksfront promotes the rock band it created, Intimidation One, which advocates violence against anti-racists. Krager says Volksfront is disassociated with the band. However, Volksfront distributes the band's CDs and has them perform at Volksfront events.

In 2004, Volksfront requested to join Oregon's Coalition Against Hate Crimes (CAHC), an organization that includes representatives from government, law enforcement, and civil rights. Volksfront claimed they had contributions to make to CAHC. Their request was denied.

SUMMARY

Volksfront has been known for its violent attacks against racial and ethnic minorities, and their sympathizers. In more recent times, it is the group's rhetoric, intimidation, and support of the violent acts of others that have given the group attention.

Among the right-wing extremist groups in the United States, Volksfront is gaining a reputation as a leader. There have been some declines in other strong neo-Nazi groups, including Aryan Nations and National Alliance. These declines might explain the recent growth in Volksfront's membership and spread of activity. They have a very strong network in California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona, with chapters as far east as Pennsylvania.

KEY EVENTS

1994:
Volksfront was founded by nineteen-year-old Randall Krager, who recruits members from violent skinhead groups.
1998:
Pressure by police caused Volksfront to cease its activities publicly.
2001:
Volksfront remerged, claiming to be less supportive of violent attacks.

SOURCES

Periodicals

Feinstein, Adam. "People Will Not Take This Lying Down." IPI Report. February-March 1994: vol. 43

Web sites

Law Enforcement Agency Resource Network. "Volksfront." 〈http://www.adl.org/hate_symbols/groups_volksfront.asp〉 (accessed October 3, 2005).

Southern Poverty Law Center. "Two Faces of Volksfront: A Growing and Increasingly Important Neo-Nazi Group Claims It Opposes Any Kind of Political Violence. Could It Be True?" 〈http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=475〉 (accessed October 3, 2005).

Southern Poverty Law Center. "Street Fighter: An Antiracist Organizer's View of Skinheads." 〈http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=397〉 (accessed October 3, 2005).

SEE ALSO

White Aryan Resistance

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