AUGUST 8, 2020
WHILE SITTING ALONE in a quiet garden in Wiesbaden, Germany, in October 1946 amid the rubble of bombed-out streets, an unknown American named Francis Parker Yockey, who had recently been flown out by the US government to work as a review attorney for the War Crimes tribunals, jotted down in a notebook: “The ambition to rule souls is the strongest of all passions. Self-interest is the key to commonplace transactions. Where is the man who would not gladly be stabbed, if in exchange he could be Caesar?”
A strange sentiment, one would think, especially coming from an American hired to sift through the details of slaughter committed by a far more terrible dictator than Caesar. But Francis Parker Yockey’s mind was already fixed (or perhaps fixated) on certain high-stakes goals, and being hired for this particular job at Wiesbaden was part of the plan. Though he was brought onboard as part of the legal team whose job it was to pass judgment on accused “second-string” Nazi war criminals, Yockey (who was 29 at the time) came to Germany prepared to do something else entirely: to help the very Nazis he was hired to prosecute.
Fourteen years later, in June 1960, he would end up committing suicide in a dank jail cell in San Francisco, his body reportedly dressed only in underwear and SS-style boots: a high-strung American fascist operative unwilling to face a psychiatric examination and a possible trial that would surely have disclosed the names of his contacts and his secretive movements worldwide. This amid screaming newspaper headlines in the San Francisco Chronicle declaring the mystery man with many passports to be “as important a figure in world Fascism as we now know.” Today, Yockey is remembered as the father of Holocaust denial.
A graduate of Notre Dame Law School (’41) who also studied at Georgetown University, Yockey had already devoted years of his youth to some high-risk, conspiratorial involvement with far-right groups in the United States before, during, and after World War II. These activities, according to Yockey biographer Kevin Coogan (see the excellent book Dreamer of the Day: Francis Parker Yockey and the Postwar Fascist International), included secretly helping German Nazi spies who had landed on American and Mexican shores, at the very moment the US was at war with Germany.
Long remembered in his hometown of Ludington, Michigan, as a talented young man from a good Catholic family, Yockey was intellectually gifted, a concert-level pianist as a teenager, a Marxist-turned-Nazi in college, and, according to conservative historian Arthur Herman (in his book The Idea of Decline in Western History), “self-educated and brilliantly mad.” Just how Yockey, a known pro-Nazi activist in the Chicago area during the 1930s, could successfully campaign to get himself attached to the war crimes trials was just one of many odd twists and turns in this strange and intense man’s life, which became even stranger during the deepest frost of the Cold War.
Evidence exists, for example, to show that while in Wiesbaden, Yockey actively tried to help accused Nazi war criminals by sharing top-secret government documents with German defense lawyers; these defendants included German SS General Otto Ohlendorf, responsible for the deaths of 90,000 people in Ukraine and the Caucasus.
But Yockey’s real and lasting claim to fame involves what occurred after his checkered sojourn in Germany ended. In 1947, Yockey began a pattern of restless travel, and he secured a room at a small inn on the Irish coast to write a 600-page book: Imperium, which called for a transnational, neo-Nazi European Empire that, in his imagining, would one day stretch “from the rocky promontories of Galway to the Urals.”
In an uncanny mirror-image moment of opposing prophecies, Yockey wrote Imperium at the very moment George Orwell was busy writing Nineteen Eighty-Four at his own isolated cottage, on a Scottish island just a short distance away from Yockey’s retreat at Brittas Bay.
Since its publication, Imperium has inspired generations of far-right activists, antisemites, and racially motivated theoreticians (and a few politicians) who dream today of a “Eurasian” imperium based on racial-collectivist principles in Europe, Russia, and the United States. Without question the most influential antisemitic book since Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Imperium has remained in print for almost 60 years.
Yockey’s message made its way to America early on. In 1962, a San Francisco–based far-right activist named Willis Carto, who would go on to publish a viciously antisemitic newspaper in Washington, DC, called The Spotlight, was the first to reprint Yockey’s hard-to-find book for a new, American audience. (Imperium was originally published in 1948, in a limited two-volume edition in Great Britain. Only 200 of the original sets were made.)
Carto was a lifelong antisemite, and he fell hard not only for Yockey’s prophecies of an all-white Europe and America, but also took to heart Yockey’s absurd statements in Imperium that the Holocaust was a hoax: “Thousands of the people who had been killed published accounts of their experiences in these camps,” Yockey wrote jeeringly in 1947. “‘Gas-chambers’ that did not exist were photographed, and a ‘gasmobile’ was invented to titillate the mechanically minded.” Yockey finished this snide passage by writing that the “propaganda” relating to gas chambers and concentration camps was “simply disgusting to discriminating Europeans.”
It is absurd to think that Yockey, of all people, really believed this. He already knew far too much about the death camps, as did the rest of the world, thanks to his work at Wiesbaden. But here we can trace Carto’s own later influence, as one of the most effective Holocaust deniers in American history, back to the book he championed and sold by mail order through his newspaper for years: Imperium. Carto even wrote the glowing introductory profile of the book’s mysterious author for the American edition, one which tended to create heroic myths that have until recently gone unchallenged. He claimed, for example, that Yockey, the brilliant young lawyer, had taken a principled stand against the Nazi trials, when in fact he was merely fired for being a malingerer.
As an epidemic of dangerous young white males with manifestos and automatic weapons continues to terrorize weekend shoppers in the United States, one needs to understand the “sacred text” that has inspired so many of these and other agitated white racialists and self-styled “identitarians,” transfixed by dreams of a pure, white American homeland for Caucasians. Indeed, as radicalized “lone wolves” increasingly act out, inspired by online insanity and enraged by the presence of the immigrant next door, the influence of books like Imperium, The Turner Diaries, and Hitler’s Mein Kampf increasingly becomes something more than a fringe phenomenon.
Imperium was originally published in 1948. On its dedication page are the words: To the hero of the Second World War. The book expresses its author’s Prussian-flavored, neo-Nazi worldview in a stern, impersonal tone that reads as harsh and ice cold, not least when one of Yockey’s many hates is under discussion, e.g., “Liberalism”:
A moment’s reflection shows that Liberalism is entirely negative. It is not a formative force, but always and only a disintegrating force. […] Liberalism is, in one word, weakness. […] Liberalism is an escape from hardness into softness, from masculinity into femininity, from History to herd-grazing, from reality into herbivorous dreams.
Sandwiched between its erudite chapters on European history are other chapters, in which Imperium’s message becomes much, much clearer: “Race and Policy”; “Race, People, Nation, State”; “Subjective Meaning of Race”; “Culture Distortion”; “Culture Pathology”; “Culture Parasitism”: “The parasite is spiritually without, but physically within. […] There is not, cannot be, a Culture-bearing stratum in a colony.”
To Yockey, a man who bemoaned the United States’s lack of “Culture-bearing” elites, America-the-mongrelized was just such a colony: “[D]eadly to the healthy realization of the culture is the mingling in the cultural life of parasitic elements, the activity of the Culture-parasite, his participation in creation and formation of Culture-tasks, ideas, and policy.”
Then there is Imperium’s lofty, neo-Spenglerian view from on high of the passing of the generations, written in quasi-mystical and racial terms:
Above the men of race, below — those without race. The first are swept up into action and events by the great cosmic rhythm of motion, the second are passed over by History. The first are the materials of high History, the second have outlasted every Culture, and when the stillness resumes its sway over the landscape after the whirlwind of events, these are the great mass.
Throughout Imperium, the Yockeyan coinage “Culture-distorter” is employed as a coded term for Jew. That anyone could write, or sympathize with, such stuff at a time when the atrocities of Auschwitz were recent news should give one pause. Such incendiary themes assured Imperium a virtual non-reception among American and European anticommunists and conservatives in the 1950s, who found its underlying Nazi message appalling. Even Gerald L. K. Smith, the fire-breathing protégé of the late Huey Long and a crude, Klan-leaning preacher from Arkansas, after a brief meeting with Yockey in 1950 decided the man was a communist. (Smith would have been even more appalled to know that Yockey, the ex-Catholic, considered himself a pagan: “I believe in many gods, more than one.”)
Imperium is obsessed with, baffled by, Russia: “The true Russia is the one which Petrinism tried to coerce. […] Russia, the true, spiritual Russia, is primitive and religious. […] Everything Western is therefore hostile and deadly to the Russian soul.”
But it was Yockey’s later thinking about Russia that proved to be highly controversial among his fellow travelers, when Stalin’s paranoid and brutal campaign against “cosmopolitan,” i.e., Jewish apparatchiks, turned Yockey’s head in favor of the Soviet Union. This radical turn in Yockey’s thinking during the most fraught years of the Cold War resulted in defections among his supporters, who decided he was now so far right he had gone too far left. Yockey was unfazed, and continued to stress in the pages of Frontfighter, a mimeographed hate-newsletter he mailed out to post office boxes worldwide, that an American soft-sell domination of Europe was the greater danger to the European “soul” than any Russian domination-by-force. He was inching toward an older ideology: an Eastern-oriented, pro-Russian German ideology from the 1920s known as National Bolshevism, one which advocated an alliance between the “young peoples” of Russia and Germany as a “blonde bulwark” against the decadent West: England, France, and the United States.
Yockey wrote Imperium under the pseudonym Ulick Varange, which to him symbolized the meeting of Ireland-with-Russia. The writer was savvy enough not to mention the names Hitler or National Socialism in the book at all, instead relying on code terms like “Prussian Socialism” and “the European Revolution of 1933” to get his neofascist message across. Imperium’s basic message at the time was to assure hardcore fascists across the globe that their Nazi dreams were not in vain, that fascism truly did represent the realization of the Spirit of the Age, and that “the day” would come again, if fascists would avoid petty-statism in pursuit of the Imperium.
Imperium’s reputation and its impact have, over the last 70 years, arguably undergone four distinct phases, all of them restricted to the far off-the-radar fringe of politics, but in the online world we inhabit now, much less so. The first phase was the most hidden and “underground,” when the book upon its original publication made waves inside the postwar, neo-Nazi diaspora, principally in Europe and South America. Imperium served as a rallying cry and pep talk for former Nazis to raise the “Western banner” but this time as a pan-European banner, an idea advocated later by Sir Oswald Mosley in England (in books such as The Alternative and Europe: A Nation). The second wave of what some now call “Yockeyism” occurred posthumously, following Yockey’s suicide in a San Francisco jail cell after his arrest by FBI agents in 1960; according to the San Francisco Chronicle a trio of agents had arrested him for passport fraud, and Yockey swallowed cyanide in his cell, like Hermann Göring. The early ’60s saw not a fascist risorgimento, of course, but a global upsurge in antisemitism, particularly in Germany and possibly stirred up there by the arrest of Eichmann.
This was the era when George Lincoln Rockwell, the volatile head of the American Nazi Party, suddenly became a certified media celebrity, appearing regularly on national TV. Copies of Imperium began to circulate in certain dark corners of both the John Birch Society and the Republican Party, at a time when figures like Rockwell could unabashedly “warn” Republicans that Barry Goldwater was “too Jewish” to run for president. Later, in the left-dominated late ’60s, Willis Carto attempted to start a so-called National Youth Alliance, a movement that offered Imperium as its guiding text. The movement fizzled: so much for the improbable dream of starting a far-right, Yockeyite movement during the anti–Vietnam War era. Possibly, Carto was 15 years too late.
The third Yockey-Imperium wave was arguably the most consequential: this was during the 1970s and ’80s, which saw the lamentable growth of that logical absurdity known as Holocaust denial. Few realize now (or realized then) that this “movement” was largely engineered by (once again) the anti-Jewish propagandist Carto and his newspaper The Spotlight, which for decades delighted in shading real news stories with racial slurs, referring to Nixon’s Secretary of State, for example, as “Jew Kissinger.”
According to author Deborah Lipstadt in her book Denying the Holocaust: “Yockey laid out the essential elements of Holocaust Denial.” Carto, the acolyte, then carried the ball much further. While Imperium’s pseudo-debunking of one of the most exhaustively documented crimes in history amounted to cruel sarcasm, other, later writers were only too happy to lay out deeply detailed-but-absurd claims that, for example: Auschwitz was nothing more than a rubber-tree farm (Thies Christophersen); Hitler never ordered the killing of Jews because no written order exists (David Irving); there were no gas chambers because the author wasn’t aware of them at the time (Robert Faurisson). These too represent some of the rickety foundations of denying the Holocaust, about as tenuous as denying that Oswald shot Kennedy.
And why does anyone try to “deny” the Holocaust? Lipstadt makes the sharp observation that “there were those who were not willing to abandon [fascism and Nazism]. They knew that the only means of trying to revive them would be to separate them from the horrors of the Holocaust and the […] atrocities that accompanied it.”
The fourth and current phase of Yockey’s legacy has been hydra-headed and complex. The online era has seen a groundswell of interest, worldwide, in the major 20th-century racist books, the list of which is very long; this of course includes Yockey’s magnum opus. Extremist reappraisals of these books hide in plain sight on the internet, while at any given moment young seekers and outcasts sift through the writings of Hitler, Yockey, William L. Pierce, George Lincoln Rockwell, David Duke, and others for a racial rallying cry that somehow always involves Jew-hatred. And inevitably, we have seen real-life unhinged persons taking their angry message to the streets: in 1998 in Jasper, Texas, a murderer named John William King pompously quoted Francis Parker Yockey in court after being convicted of murdering a black man by dragging him down a road behind a pickup truck. “The promise of success,” this cold-blooded murderer intoned to the court, “is with the man who is determined to die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly.” (The Yockey quotation was in fact a near-identical rephrasing of Nietzsche.) Even a few brainier members of the ultraviolent prison gang the Aryan Brotherhood, long rampant in California’s prisons, have gone on record as praising Imperium.
But Yockey’s writings have had an equally significant effect on today’s European and Russian far-right activists and politicians, some of whom are quick to point out that Yockey himself, by the mid-1950s, had become pro-Russian once he realized Stalin had turned toward his own, lethal antisemitic policy. Thus, present-day Russian neofascist politicians like Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Aleksandr Dugin can, with more or less straight faces, advocate in favor of variations on an old ideology that once tried to wipe out their country. And many of these right-wing Russians now embrace Yockey’s dream of pan-Europa, but under a more recent catch-word: Eurasianism.
A Ukrainian scholar named Anton Shekhovtsov, the author of a book called Russia and the Western Far Right, noted at a lecture given in Vienna in 2017 that Francis Yockey “believed in the ideal of so-called pan-European Fascism,” and “imagined a really united Europe, that would not be divided by the capitalist West and the socialist East.” Yockey, he said, “did not believe in the nation-state,” and “thought that, geopolitically, Europe would only survive between the two ‘evils,’ the US and the Soviet Union, as a united force. [Yockey] imagined this Europe as being deeply illiberal and Fascist.”
Speaking of Yockey’s comrades within the postwar, West German right, which included such “illiberal” political parties as the neo-Nazi SRP (Sozialistische Reichspartei Deutschlands, banned by the Adenauer government as essentially Nazi), Shekhovtsov said:
They were neutralists. They were ideologically influenced by the neutralist movements in West Germany, some of them. They were also influenced by classical geopolitics. And they did consider the US and the Soviet Union to be evils, equally. But with time, they increasingly started to think that it would be better to align with the Soviet Union, in order to resist the US.
Francis Yockey imagined the European Imperium that would include Russia: Soviet Russia.
Shekhovtsov characterized the maverick American’s influence on the global far right, from the early 1960s onward, as “a very important development that influenced, I would argue, what we see now.” Indeed, what we see now are anti-democratic currents gaining ground in Hungary, Poland, and Russia, and a seemingly new day, in which a book by David Duke (Jewish Supremacism) can be sold openly in the bookstore of the State Duma in Moscow and travelers in Amman, Jordan, can easily purchase a copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion at the airport. A time when Jews are leaving Paris by the thousands, and Jewish centers are shot up by unstable hotheads in the United States, something unheard of until the turn of the new century. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin’s own fascination with an early 20th-century Russian fascist philosopher, Ivan Ilyin, has been noted by the Western press.
It’s not too much to recognize that Yockey, the onetime student of geopolitics at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, was utilizing a certain odd strain of strategic thinking of his own when, during the Cold War–saturated 1950s, he urged his fellow neo-Nazis around the world to “play the Russian card”: “By thus playing off Russia against the leadership of American Jewry,” Yockey announced to his comrade-subscribers, “Europe can bring about its own liberation from the perils of Jewish Democracy imposed by American bayonets.”
In this one sentence, a few of the bizarre categories jostling inside Yockey’s head are seen in stark relief. But beyond the jarring note, this declaration seems to hint that Yockey, the shadowy fascist man with many aliases (these included Richard Hatch, Franz Ludwig Yorck, and Ulick Varange) was deeply involved in the clandestine, cloak-and-dagger political intrigue going on in West Germany, where he was well connected with German ex-generals and neo-Nazis for the rest of his life: a fugitive life molded by the pressures of the Cold War and an overheated mind. It is no exaggeration to say that Yockey, who never stayed in one place too long throughout the 1950s, was in contact with almost every important Nazi and neofascist activist in Western Europe and Britain at that time. (British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley met him in 1948 and thought Yockey “a man of some ability,” but also considered him to be “one of the people who believe in a world conspiracy run by the Jews, which always seems to me the most complete nonsense.”) “The nagging suspicion that Yockey was working with both the Nazis and the Communists to encourage the spread of anti-American sentiment in Europe and the Third World is what led Washington to become so concerned with him,” according to his biographer Kevin Coogan.
Washington’s fears were not unfounded. In 1953, Yockey traveled to Egypt, where he met and interviewed President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Why? A shared hatred of Israel, of course. Egypt was experiencing an influx of former Nazis at the time, becoming a veritable “second Argentina,” and it was Yockey’s connections inside the worldwide network of Nazi-SS fugitives that made the interview possible (along with some added help from a Dr. Mahoud Saleh, the head of Egypt’s “Anti-Zionist Society”). Yockey, the slim and dapper American personally handed over to Nasser the plans for a newly developed “cobalt bomb,” which, in his heart of hearts, he hoped would eventually be used against the Jewish state. To Yockey’s great disappointment, the cobalt bomb later turned out to be a dud when it was declared a “scientific fraud” by the Austrian government. Despite this, Yockey would remember Nasser himself as “a great and vigorous man.”
Though he never spoke a word for or against Islam, Yockey knew quite a few Nazis who had actually converted. These included a former high-level Nazi official named Johann von Leers, who once worked for Josef Goebbels’s Propaganda Ministry and gained a reputation there as “Hitler’s number one antisemite.” After moving to Nazi-friendly Egypt in the early 1950s, von Leers changed both his religion and his name to Omar Amin von Leers, and worked for the Egyptian Ministry of Information, spreading Jew-hatred in a new land.
Buried in the files of the FBI are a series of letters that demonstrate the extent to which the American neofascist was willing to go in his quest to save Nazi lives. Early in 1952, after slipping back into the United States under the radar, Yockey briefly resided in Washington, just a block away from what he liked to call “the infamous State Department.” Soon thereafter he was working on a new project with one of his closest friends and financial backers in New York, a self-described “American Fascist” named Harold Keith Thompson, Yale ’46, a former member of the German American Bund and onetime pen pal of the deposed Kaiser.
Together, they typed up an absurdly bombastic (and aggressively anti-American) appeal to President Truman’s Secretary of State Dean Acheson, arguing for the release of convicted German war criminals then languishing in Spandau Prison: “When men act as agents of a Government representing the collective will of a nation,” the pair insisted, “there is a definite incongruity involved in later convicting such men as individual ‘war criminals.’”
The two went on, in a passage clearly written by Yockey: “The German National Socialist Movement was only one form, and a provisional form at that, of the great irresistible movement which expresses the Spirit of the Age, the Resurgence of Authority…”
Thompson and Yockey then made a special appeal on behalf of Major General Otto Ernst Remer, Hitler’s personal bodyguard, who was in jail for his activities as a member of the neo-Nazi SRP. To this, the State Department responded: “You apparently feel that Herr Remer leads a worthy cause and is being persecuted for it. You are well aware, however, that the State Department holds entirely different views.”
At which point Thompson and Yockey unloaded Imperium-like terminology on the American Secretary of State as if orating before a crowd of Nazis in Berlin in 1939: “The Resurgence of Authority has both its inner and outer aspect. […] Its outer aspect is the creation of the European-Imperium-State-Nation, and therewith the reassertion of Europe’s historically ordained role, that of the colonizing and organizing force in the entire world.”
As if trying to reason calmly with a crazy person, Acheson’s office soberly replied that
there seems to be every indication that [Remer] and his movement are neo-Nazi in character. You make the common mistake of considering that because a man is not a communist he is a good democrat. […] It is no part of American policy to assist Nazism to arise once more in Germany.
After Thompson and Yockey insisted that the jailed Nazi leadership had been the bearers of a great “national effort,” Acheson’s office concluded: “Here again it is obvious that there is little or no common ground for a discussion of the issue.”
Like all postwar Nazis of a literary bent, Thompson took great care to always write the phrase “war criminals” in quotation marks, no doubt adding to the peculiar and annoying character of his letters. In a fit of pique on the subject that angered him most, the Nuremberg trials, Thompson almost “out-Yockeyed” Yockey in a later exchange of letters with Acheson: “The name of Hermann Goering will loom larger before the eyes of posterity than the name of Dean Acheson, and monuments will be raised to him, but not to his persecutors.”
Yockey did not affix his name to these letters, as he was wanted for questioning by the FBI, which would have been astounded to know that he was back in the country. Thompson, on the other hand, was already known publicly as an avowed Hitlerite, having written a series of articles titled “I Am an American Fascist” for Coronet magazine, and so had nothing to lose.
They must have made an odd pair: Thompson was as jovial a personality as Yockey was stern and high-strung, a man with a reportedly intense stare and an “imperious” manner, at least toward other men. Nevertheless, to read the Thompson-Yockey letters alongside Acheson’s calm, measured response is to be reminded which side of humanity had won the war.
Armed with his false passports, Yockey apparently enjoyed a number of cooling off periods on the West Coast (mainly in Los Angeles) at least four times during the 1950s, according to his FBI, CIA, and Army files. In 1957, FBI agents believed Yockey to be “living in Los Angeles as a pimp or a gigolo.” At this time, too, he was making money writing porn, including hardcore S&M, with titles like Arduous Figure Training at Bondhaven. The FBI later discovered some of these booklets in his suitcase. (“Remember me,” the book began. “I’m Alice, secretary of Bondhaven, one of the foremost and strictest bondage societies in the world.”)
As for political writings, his last published essay was issued as a pamphlet called “The World in Flames: An Estimate of the World Situation,” a more or less dry, statistical account of the US-USSR standoff in the year of 1960, rendered odd by such statements as: “the regimes of Washington and Moscow together make up a Concert of Bolshevism.” Printed up by two of Yockey’s anonymous backers in New York, the pamphlet was mailed off to post-office boxes from Buenos Aires to Berlin … but could an “analysis” of a Cold War between “Russian barbarians” and “America-Jewry” influence anyone of record? Considering the times, it’s quite possible.
But even someone as obtuse as Yockey (who one acquaintance described to the FBI as “the most brilliant screwball” he ever met) could be cautious enough to keep his most vicious thoughts private. In an unpublished manuscript titled Thoughts: Personal and Superpersonal, the anti-American Nazi theorist made clear what he felt, in his heart of hearts, about what he called “the American monster”:
The element […] which tortures the soul is the fact that this […] thing cannot be tracked down to its lair and destroyed. We cannot have the satisfaction of standing over this misbegotten product of blind forces, sword in hand, watching its final convulsions, watching its heteroclite human material scatter like nomads over the empty landscape.
Francis Parker Yockey, the onetime piano prodigy from Ludington, Michigan, and a once-promising young lawyer, was describing the land of his birth during the Kennedy administration.
The now famous AP/Wide World photo taken of Yockey in handcuffs, on June 13, 1960, in a San Francisco courthouse, was virtually unknown before the age of the internet. That has all changed, and we know that there is a power in iconography, a power that excites the young and the impressionable and those who search for heroes in a non-heroic age. It’s more than obvious that Yockey’s present-day acolytes believe him to have been a “martyr” to Western civilization, and in fact, he too believed it: “I will be a martyr […] I’m not afraid to die for my beliefs,” he purportedly told Willis Carto through a wire-mesh screen, on the afternoon of June 10th, 1960 in the San Francisco city jail.
“This is not a small fish,” one unnamed FBI agent told the San Francisco Examiner. “This is a man we are very, very interested in.” Though Yockey had been arrested by Bureau agents ostensibly for passport fraud, the FBI did reveal to reporters that the mysterious case was “definitely a security matter.” Yockey’s suicide by potassium cyanide capsule days later enraged both the State Department and the FBI, who had been tracking his movements for years and were eager to finally talk to the man the San Francisco Chronicle described as a “significant Fascist with international connections […] as important a figure in world Fascism as we now know.”
In his melodramatic introduction to the 1962 reprint of Imperium, Willis Carto claimed that Yockey announced in his cell the night before he died: “I’ll sleep through ’til morning,” as if his hero were some mythical and modern-day Barbarossa. According to local papers, Yockey’s actual words to a cellmate were: “You’ll sleep all night, of course.” The cellmate, a burglar named Adam Nieman, told the press he felt Yockey “had knowledge of people he loved, and thought he’d be forced to reveal it.”
“The bitterest of all things,” Yockey wrote in the midst of his Cold War wanderings,
is frustration. It is a victory of the outside over the inside, the victory of Accident over Destiny. There are degrees of frustration. Defeat is no frustration, provided one has been able to exert his powers to the utmost, to use himself up. Who can say Napoleon or Hitler were frustrated? The worst frustration (ask me, I know it) is LACK OF OPPORTUNITY.
Yockey’s present-day adherents, meanwhile, seem to consist largely of young, computer-bound “champions of the West” who sit in their soft easy chairs and indulge in fantasies of racial civil war and mindless Jew-hatred (itself a kind of cultural patricide), while cultivating a distorted and falsified view of history that attempts to deny the existence of the Jewish genocide, an exercise in bad faith that fools no one. Cui bono?
But what was once settled has become unsettled. As the late essayist John J. Reilly wrote back in 2002: “Yockey’s life intersected with 20th century forces and ideas that were often obscure. That is not to say they were not also powerful, and may be more so in the 21st century.” Time will tell whether Yockey, the would-be martyr and prophet of the Imperium was right when he wrote, in 1947, as the fires of German cities were dying and smoldering and slowly turning to ash: “Good or bad, the monarchs are coming.”
Anthony Mostrom is a journalist living in Los Angeles. He was formerly a Los Angeles Times columnist and a book reviewer and travel writer for the L.A. Weekly. Currently he writes about music and culture for Pleasekillme.com.