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For sale with Aryan Nations compound: Nazi souvenirs

Friday, January 19, 2001

By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- The successful bidder for the Aryan Nations 
property next month will get more than the 20-acre neo-Nazi compound.
Also in the deal will be portraits of Adolf Hitler and other key Nazis, 
posters glorifying the Ku Klux Klan and others excoriating marriage between 
blacks and whites.
There are swastikas of various colors and materials, books on many aspects 
of white supremacy and anti-Semitism and framed posters glorifying the 
Waffen SS.
There is a "whites only" sign and a bumper sticker reading, "I'd rather be 
killing Communists."
"The level of propaganda they pushed on themselves was enormous," said Norm 
Gissel, one of the lawyers who bankrupted the Aryan Nations in a negligence 
trial last year. "They were up there to start a revolution."
A Coeur d'Alene jury in September ordered Aryan Nations founder Richard 
Butler and some of his followers to pay $6.3 million to a mother and son 
who were chased and shot at by Aryan Nations security guards in 1998.
Butler filed for bankruptcy protection, and the compound and its contents 
will be auctioned on Feb. 13 in Coeur d'Alene to pay part of the judgment.
The compound since the 1970s has been a national gathering place for people 
who support Butler's beliefs.
The individual items will not be auctioned. Instead, the compound and all 
its contents will be sold to one bidder. Prospective buyers must put down a 
$15,000 cash deposit with the bankruptcy court and have a $300,000 line of 
credit the day of the auction, Gissel said.
So far, the only people to do that are Victoria and Jason Keenan, who won 
the lawsuit. Gissel said the Keenans do not want the property, appraised at 
about $240,000, and will immediately try to sell it.
Gissel went to the compound, located near Hayden Lake, in September to take 
pictures of the contents so he could create an inventory for his clients. 
He showed those pictures to The Associated Press yesterday.
They show that the life of a neo-Nazi was not very glamorous.
Much of the furniture in the compound's buildings is dingy and battered. 
The mattresses in the 13-bed bunkhouse are stained and sag in the middle.
There are banged-up old school desks, ancient kitchen appliances and a 
handful of battered vehicles. Sinks contain dirty dishes. Floors are bare.
Even though Butler called his group the Church of Jesus Christ 
Christian/Aryan Nations, the only religious artifacts in the small chapel 
were a couple of wooden crosses and a wire crown of thorns.
But Nazi paraphernalia was everywhere, including stained glass windows 
depicting swastikas, flags with symbols of the Third Reich, and all manner 
of pamphlets, many produced on the Aryan Nations' ancient printing equipment.
There are numerous bizarre paintings showing heroic Aryans plunging swords 
into dragons with Star of David-shaped eyes.
Butler's office featured a large color picture of fallen television 
evangelist Jim Bakker and his former wife, Tammy Faye.
The buyer will also get the rights to the names "Aryan Nations" and "Church 
of Jesus Christ Christian."
Two well-known Aryan Nations artifacts have disappeared from the compound, 
likely taken by thieves. They are a ceremonial sword that Butler used to 
knight his followers, and a silver-painted bust of Hitler's head.
The other contents have been removed from the compound and are in storage.
The Keenans contended in their lawsuit that Butler and the Aryan Nations 
were negligent in hiring and training the guards. The case was pressed by 
Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which specializes in 
lawsuits that put hate groups out of business.
Butler, 82, filed for bankruptcy protection Oct. 30. He has vowed to keep 
preaching his philosophy, and is living in a house in nearby Hayden bought 
by a wealthy supporter. 


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