Holocaust Museum shooting: global trend

James W. Von Brunn, the elderly man suspected of killing a security guard in Washington DC's Holocaust Museum June 10 is a World War II veteran with links to white supremacist groups who tried nearly 30 years ago to take Federal Reserve board members hostage, according to media reports and Web sites. A Web site maintained by Von Brunn says that in 1981 he tried to carry out a "citizens arrest" on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. (The website, Holy Western Empire, appears to be currently disabled.)

When he was arrested outside the room where the Federal Reserve board was meeting, he was carrying a sawed-off shotgun, a revolver and a knife. He was convicted two years later of attempted kidnapping and second-degree burglary, among other charges, and sentenced to prison, where he served six and a half years years. On his Web site, he says he was "convicted by a Negro jury, Jew/Negro attorneys, and sentenced to prison for eleven years by a Jew judge. A Jew/Negro/White Court of Appeals denied his appeal." (Fox News, June 10)

Von Brunn, 88, is believed to be the gunman who opened fire with a rifle inside the crowded Holocaust Memorial Museum, fatally wounding a security guard before being shot himself by other officers. The assailant was hospitalized in critical condition. (AP, June 10) The Southern Poverty Law Center says Von Brunn was formerly associated with the Holocaust-denial Noontide Press. (NPR News, June 11)

The event was presaged a month ago by a little-noted incident in which survivors of a Nazi death camp in Austria were shot at and harassed as they gathered to remember their 1945 liberation by US troops. Masked neo-Nazis screamed "Heil Hitler!" and "This way for the gas!" at ten elderly Italian men and women, who returned to the site of the Mauthausen concentration camp. The gang also fired air guns at a group of 15 French survivors, many dressed in the striped camp uniforms they wore as inmates. One suffered a head wound while another was injured by a shot in the neck. The assailants escaped. (UK Daily Mail, May 12)

See our last posts on the radical right and the politics of anti-Semitism.

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