National Renaissance Party (United States)

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The National Renaissance Party (NRP) was an American neo-fascist group founded in 1949 by James Hartung Madole. It was frequently in the headlines during the 1960s and 1970s for its involvement in violent protests and riots in New York City. After Madole's death in 1979 the party faded and had completely disappeared by 1980.

Background and party doctrine[edit]

The NRP was founded in January 1949 by James Madole[1] through the merger of several earlier American fascist organizations.[2] Its headquarters were in the Yorkville area of New York City.[3] The NRP was named for a phrase from the Last will and testament of Adolf Hitler, which stated that "I die with a happy heart aware [that there] will spring up...the seed of a radiant renaissance of the National Socialist movement."[4]:89 By 1954, government investigators, although unable to determine the exact size of the party, estimated its membership to be between 200 and 700,[3] although historian John George thought that NRP membership never exceeded 50 at any given time.[5] The group also had an "elite Security Echelon," headed in the 1960s by covertly Jewish United Klans of America leader[6] and Odinist Dan Burros, who killed himself on the same day in 1965 that that his ethnicity was revealed by the New York Times.[4]:163 By 1963 Madole was running the party out of his apartment at 10 West 90th Street.[7]

1967 NRP flyer asking "Has your mother been raped yet?"

The NRP used a black lightning bolt within a white circle[7] on a field of red[8] as its symbol. The "Elite Guard" (stormtroopers) wore gray and black uniforms[9] with armbands featuring a lightning bolt within a circle.[10]:80

The NRP's doctrines included standard elements of fascism, including white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and opposition to democracy.[3] The Party also endorsed standard racist ideas such as "the voluntary repatriation of the black man back to Africa" and the sterilization of black welfare recipients.[9] It maintained ties with other neo-Nazi organizations, such as George Lincoln Rockwell's American Nazi Party, which occasionally supplied the NRP with fascist literature for distribution.[11] Madole was also influenced by the theosophical ideas of Helena Blavatsky, which he used as a theoretical underpinning for his opposition to racial mixing.[10]:79-80 The NRP also maintained good relations with a number of far-out mystical groups, such as the Church of Satan, whose founder, Anton LaVey, was a personal friend of Madole's.[10]:83

The National Renaissance[edit]

The NRP published a journal, The National Renaissance, which, unlike its political activities in New York City, was widely influential in far-right circles.[2] In the early 1950s, H. Keith Thompson and Frederick Weiss subsidized a larger-than-usual print run of an issue of the magazine containing an essay by Francis Parker Yockey entitled What is Behind the Hanging of the Eleven Jews in Prague? on the Prague show trials of Rudolf Slánský and ten other Jewish members of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, which Yockey had attended.[4]:106-7 Eustace Mullins, who Martin A. Lee called "the NRP's self-proclaimed expert on the U.S. Federal Reserve," published his notorious article Adolf Hitler: An Appreciation in the journal as well.[4]:91

HUAC investigation[edit]

The NRP was investigated by the House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC) for possible prosecution under the Smith Act, although no action was ever taken in this regard.[4]:89 The investigation began in 1954, when HUAC commissioned a staff report on the group.[3]

According to the New York Times, the report found "that the National Renaissance Party appeared to have controvened the Smith Act (against advocacy of overthrow of the Government by force or violence) as much as had the Communist party itself" and that the NRP "had 'virtually borrowed wholesale' from Facist and Nazi dictators material for its program," which included the abolition of American democracy, a "fascist" economy controlled by corporations, deportation of "unassimilable" people, and oppression of Jews.[3]

Demonstrations and plots[edit]

NRP flyer advertising "America First" rally on January 11, 1963 in Yorkville, Manhattan (courtesy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation)

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the NRP held public demonstrations in New York, which often ended in violence.[citation needed]

May 25, 1963[edit]

On May 25, 1963, an NRP rally on First Avenue between 85th Street and 86th Street was attended by approximately 2500 hecklers who threw "eggs and oranges" at the participants while Jack Weiser, commander of the Jewish War Veterans of New York State, attempted to arrest James Madole for "inciting to riot against the Jewish people."[7] At least one member, Louis Mostaccio, was arrested for assault on an NYPD detective as a result of this incident.[12] Mostaccio, who attacked the detective with a flagpole, was convicted in June 1963 of assault but acquitted of the additional charge of "violating the weapons law by being in possession of the flagpole."[12] Mostaccio ended up serving five days for his crime.[13]

The White Castle plot[edit]

Later that year, 8 members of the NRP were arrested in New York and charged with "planning to incite rioting" at two White Castle restaurants in The Bronx.[14] According to the charges, the NRP plotted riots in response to demonstrations sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality demanding an end to racially discriminatory hiring practices at the White Castles.[14] Madole and Dan Burros were among those arrested, and searches of the members' homes and vehicles turned up, in addition to the usual anti-Semitic literature, a "crossbow, steel-tipped arrows, a revolver, a flare gun, a derringer, and a tear-gas pen and pencil set."[14] In addition the weapons cache included "bottles of nitric acid, machetes, and bayonets."[15]

The 8 NRP members were indicted in August 1963. District Attorney Isidore Dollinger was quoted in the New York Times as saying that he considered "the prosecution of these individuals, who are closely connected with the American Renaissance Party [sic] — a Nazi movement — to be of the utmost importance."[15] Six of the 8 were sentenced in July 1964, with Madole and Burros, called "hate mongers" by the presiding judge, getting two years each.[16] Soon thereafter both Burros[17] and Madole were released pending appeal.[18]

Controversies over NRP use of public facilities[edit]

NRP "White Power" flyer handed out in Queens, New York in early 1976

Yorkville, Manhattan[edit]

In the summer of 1965, the NRP applied to the New York City Board of Education for permission to hold party meetings at the Robert Wagner Junior High School at 220 E. 76th Street[19] in Yorkville.[9] The Board initially refused, citing concerns that "the proposed meeting might tend to cause dissension or provoke disorder."[19] Future United States Solicitor General and then New York City Corporation Counsel J. Lee Rankin informed Board president Lloyd K. Garrison in February 1966 that the NRP had a legal right to use the facility.[19] One week after receiving Rankin's opinion, the Board voted to allow the NRP to meet at the school, a decision which was protested by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.[20]

The NRP held its first meeting at the school on March 18, 1966. James Madole and others spoke to an audience of about 200 people, who greeted the NRP leadership with general derision.[9] Major John Ryan, commander of the NRP security echelon, moved the audience to laughter with his claim that the NRP intended to "recruit and train 'clean-cut young men and women for the party."[9] Ryan ended his speech by pronouncing the slogan "white man unite, white man fight."[9]

Orange County, New York[edit]

In 1965 the Orange County, New York Board of Supervisors decided to allow political parties to hold meetings in court houses in Goshen and Newburgh and the NRP applied to use them.[21] The Board refused, insisting that the NRP, rather than being a political party, was a "fascist" and "subversive" organization.[21] The NRP sued, and, in June 1967, the New York Court of Appeals overruled the County's decision and a lower court, which had upheld it.[21]

The NRP finally managed to arrange a meeting at the Orange County Courthouse in Newburgh on July 29, 1967.[22] Protests against the meeting turned into riots in black sections of the small city and over 30 protestors were arrested for vandalism and throwing rocks at police officers.[22]

The end of the NRP[edit]

Madole died of cancer in 1979. His mother Grace recruited Andrej Lisanik, a former Czech military officer in the World War II Czech army, to lead the party. Lisanik was killed by a mugger in 1980 and, as the bulk of the NRP membership details and party records were in his car when he was attacked, they were lost. Within a year the party was defunct.[10]:85

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "'Hate' Groups Here Condemned". New York Times. December 18, 1954. p. 7. 
  2. ^ a b Steven E Atkins (13 September 2011). Encyclopedia of Right-Wing Extremism In Modern American History. ABC-CLIO. pp. 89–90. ISBN 978-1-59884-350-7. 
  3. ^ a b c d e C. P. Trussell (December 15, 1954). "House Panel Aims at 'Hate' Groups". New York Times. p. 16. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Martin A. Lee (23 October 2013). The Beast Reawakens: Fascism's Resurgence from Hitler's Spymasters to Today's Neo-Nazi Groups and Right-Wing Extremists. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-28124-3. 
  5. ^ John George (September 1999). "Emergence of a Euro-American Radical Right by Jeffrey Kaplan; Leonard Weinberg (Review)". The American Political Science Review 93 (3): 714–5. doi:10.2307/2585605. (subscription required)
  6. ^ "New York Leader Identified". New York Times. October 20, 1965. p. 28. 
  7. ^ a b c Christian Brown (May 26, 1963). "Neo-Nazis in Yorkville Pelted With Eggs and Jeers at Rally". New York Times. p. 1. 
  8. ^ "Speech by Neo-Nazi Increases His Bail". New York Times. May 27, 1963. p. 16. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Leonard Buder (March 19, 1966). "Neo-Nazi Group Meets in School". New York Times. p. 60. 
  10. ^ a b c d Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (2003). Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity. NYU Press. ISBN 978-0-8147-3155-0. 
  11. ^ Drew Pearson (February 17, 1959). "Washington Merry-Go-Round: Hate-Mongers Send Mail Literature to Nasser". The Bulletin. 
  12. ^ a b "Man is Convicted in Rally Assault". New York Times. June 7, 1963. p. 17. 
  13. ^ "Neo-Nazi Jailed in Assault". New York Times. July 20, 1963. p. 8. 
  14. ^ a b c "Neo-Nazis Siezed with Arms Cache in Bronx Dispute". New York Times. July 15, 1963. p. 1. 
  15. ^ a b "8 in Facist Group Indicted in Bronx". New York Times. August 16, 1963. p. 8. 
  16. ^ "Six Get Jail Terms in Bronx Diner Case". New York Times. July 17, 1964. p. 56. 
  17. ^ Homer Bigart (November 1, 1965). "Jewish-Born Klansman Apparent Suicide". New York Times. p. 1. 
  18. ^ "Neo-Nazi Party Demotes Aide Who Hid Jewish Background". New York Times. November 5, 1965. p. 26. 
  19. ^ a b c Leonard Buder (February 16, 1966). "City to Let Neo-Nazi Party Use Public Schools for Its Meetings". New York Times. p. L87. 
  20. ^ "City School Opened to Neo-Nazi Party". New York Times. February 25, 1966. p. 27. 
  21. ^ a b c "Renaissance Party Wins on Meetings". New York Times. June 16, 1967. p. 16. 
  22. ^ a b "Newburgh Rally Ends in Violence". New York Times. July 30, 1967. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

NRP FBI files obtained through the FOIA and hosted at the Internet Archive