The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

A Response to David Irving

by Annie Alpert
(Part 3 of 3)


Begin article "Little Clubhouse of the Far Right Hall is a Haven for Unpopular Views" By Peggy O'Crowley, staff writer, Bergen Record, Saturday, 09/14/96. Used with her kind permission:

It's a tiny clubhouse, built decades before Route 80 was carved steps from its steps, the relic of a once-thriving fraternal organization that has dwindled to a handful of elderly men. But the Elmwood Park hall has become a regular meeting place for right-wing organizations and their controversial speakers.

The latest organization to sign up to use the hall is the tri-state chapter of the National Alliance, a white separatist organization founded by a former leader of the American Nazi Party. The group has scheduled a meeting for Friday at the hall, which is run by the Junior Order of United American Mechanics. Steven Schlett, an officer of the order, confirmed that the National Alliance has booked the hall.

Among the possible speakers is David Irving, an author who maintains that Hitler was not responsible for the Holocaust.

"They spew viciously anti-Semitic propaganda with a neo-Nazi theme," David Rosenberg, assistant director of the fact-finding Department of the Anti-Defamation League, said of the National-Alliance. Irving is promoting Holocaust denial, trying to make it seem like Hitler is OK," said Kenneth Stern, a specialist on anti-Semitic and extremist groups for the American Jewish committee. Stern said he was not surprised to hear of meetings in North Jersey. "We're seeing an expansion across the country," he said.

The Elmwood Park hall also is a meeting lace for the Constitutionalists, a group that was host to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke during the presidential campaign in 1988.

The clubhouse also was the site of a scheduled meeting in May of the Christian Patriot group. The meeting would have featured E. R. Fields, a longtime leader in the white supremacist movement and head of the America First Party.

But when The Record reported that Fields was to speak, members of the mechanics order protested their ignorance of the America First Party and its agenda and locked Fields out. The group met instead at a nearby diner.

Elmwood Park Mayor Richard A. Mola said town officials did not know about the meetings and that he did not believe members of the mechanics order had any knowledge of the philosophy of the group using the hall.

"The individuals were shocked and canceled the meeting," he said of the Fields visit. "These are good American people and patriotic, and I don't think they would do anything to offend anybody if they know about it."

Mola added that the hall is tiny, with a capacity of about 35 to 40 people and has limited parking, and so it could not be the site of a large meeting. Groups are charged a $45 fee to use the clubhouse.

Asked whether they are familiar with the white separatist views of the National Alliance, mechanics President William Dunkerly said his organization doesn't require other groups to disclose their beliefs.

"If you were renting the hall, we're not going to start asking what you believe in. We're only concerned with, "Are they going to create scenes, are they going to damage the hall?" Dunkerly said. "Our Constitution allows freedom of speech. People aren't supposed to be interrogating people as to their beliefs. I have no knowledge of them doing anything un-American."

Dunkerly said the National Alliance was recommended by Boris Dzula, a Clifton resident who organizes meetings of the Constitutionalists. The reason Fields was locked out of the hall was because Dzula did not tell Dunkerly that the America First Party leader was going to be there, Dunkerly said.

"They rented the hall under fictitious reasons, that it was just going to be a Constitutionalist meeting," he said.

Dzula denied any knowledge of the National Alliance or the America First Party.

Alan Shelton, a self-described Jewish activist from Elizabeth who has been monitoring hate groups in New Jersey for years, including those who meet in Elmwood Park, questioned how the hall had become a "haven for neo-Nazis."

"I find it difficult to believe it is merely a coincidence that neo-Nazi and other antisemitic movements from throughout New Jersey have just all decided to rent space at the Elmwood Park. . . hall." As head of the Zionist Association of Kean College in 1989, Shelton blocked Duke's scheduled appearance in Paramus as a guest of the Constitutionalists. He also blocked the Fields visit to Elmwood Park.

Shelton said he would rally members of the Jewish community to protest at the hall if he can determine that the mechanics knew who was renting it.

He also said the mechanics order itself has roots in the nativist, anti-immigration climate of the mid-18th century. According to "The Grand Encyclopedia of American Institutions, Fraternal Organizations," written in 1980 by Alvin Schmidt, the Junior Order of United American Mechanics of the United States of North America Inc. was founded in 1853, and by 1885 it had become an "independent secret society with its major emphasis directed to protecting the United States from undesirable foreigners such as the Irish, Germans, and Roman Catholics."

The organization changed over the years, becoming open to Catholics, Jews blacks and women. Today it is an organization that supports "the Constitution, public schools, and the betterment of American business," Schlett said. Most of the Elmwood Park members are elderly, including Al Brower, 93, who joined in 1918. "We were a nice group of men," he said.

Schlett said the National Alliance has been meeting at the hall since February. "They told me they were going to have a meeting and pass out books and tapes,," he said.

The National Alliance was founded by William L. Pierce, a former leader of the American Nazi Party and the author of "The Turner Diaries," a fictional account of a right-wing uprising against the government, including the explosion of a federal government building. It was a favorite book of Timothy McVeigh, the man accused of bombing the federal building in Oklahoma City.

Callers to the group's New York City hot line hear a taped message that the alliance is not a white supremacist group, but rather a white separatist group that believes whites, blacks, Jews, and Hispanics should live in separate, segregated societies.

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