Russ BellantOld Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party

Bellant in the Press

Before examining others of Bellant's contentions, it is worth reviewing how his report was portrayed in the press among those who cared the most: Holocaust survivors and the wider Jewish community. Following is a report as disseminated by the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA).

Ex-nazis Among Leadership Ranks of Republican Outreach GroupsWASHINGTON, September 25 (JTA)

A new study charges that accused Nazis, fascists and anti-Semites hold or have held leadership positions in some of the Republican National Committee’s ethnic outreach groups.

The report, “Old Nazis, the New Right and the Reagan Administration: The Role of Domestic Fascists Networks in the Republican Party and their Effect on U.S. Cold War Politics,” by Detroit free-lance writer and researcher Russell Bellant, was released Sept. 15 and reported Friday in the Washington Jewish Week.

Bellant, 40, uncovered accused Nazis in the outreach groups formed under the umbrella of the RNC’s Heritage Groups Council.

He also found that four of the seven members of Vice President George Bush’s Coalition of American Nationalities who resigned in the past two weeks are still active in the Heritage Groups Council and its constituent groups.

In an interview, Bellant said that he could not uncover any remaining RNC link to Jerome Brentar, Bohdan Fedorak and Ignatius Bilinsky, the other three who resigned, but he said they might be involved in the RNC on the state level.

He said he was not calling for the resignations of the individuals in question, but, added that “it would be nice if some Republicans would call for the resignations instead of the Democrats.”

RNC WON’T INVESTIGATE

Responding to Bellant’s accusations, Albert Maruggi, the RNC’s press secretary, said there are no plans to investigate the backgrounds of any of the ethnic group members cited in the report.

He repeated a comment made by Kathryn Murray, RNC director of communications, in the Washington Jewish Week story that the study’s conclusions were “patently ridiculous and absurd.”

Marshall Breger, President Reagan’s former liaison to the Jewish community and now chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States, said some of the charges in the report may be true, but said its suggestions that the involvement of the ethnic individuals represents “a Republican conspiracy is ridiculous.”

The study concluded that “a combination of ignorance, amnesia and in some cases political sympathy, have allowed both American and European abetters of the Third Reich to play a prominent and respectable role inside the Republican Party.”

Breger said those in question are part of a larger “problem of American history,” that after World War II, “the U.S. government assisted persons with anti-communism backgrounds who had neo-Nazi backgrounds to enter this country.” He added that both political parties have received support from such individuals.

The 87-page report was published by Political Research Associates of Cambridge, Mass. The research organization was founded in 1981 to investigate the extreme right in the Chicago area following Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi rallies in Skokie and Marquette Park, III.

1While Murray of the RNC told the Jewish Week that the research firm “makes its money from trashing right-wing groups,” Bellant simply characterized the firm as “politically progressive.”

FOUR STILL TIED TO BUSH

The four Bush ethnic coalition members who recently resigned but are still active in the constituency groups of the Heritage Groups Council, or the council itself, are:

Philip Guarino, former vice chairman of Bush’s Coalition of American Nationalities. He once chaired the Italian-American Republican Club and, from 1971 to 1975, was vice chairman of the Heritage Groups Council. Guarino has been listed as a member of P-2, a fascist group.

Radi Slavoff, who was national co-chairman of Bulgarians for Bush, chaired the Heritage Groups Council from 1985 to 1987. Slavoff reportedly served in a national front aligned with the Nazis.

Florian Galdau, honorary chairman of the ethnic coalition, who heads the Romanian-American group and allegedly was a member of the Iron Guard, an anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi movement.

Laszlo Pasztor, a former coalition member who set up the Heritage Groups Council in 1969 and has served as head of the Hungarian-American group. Pasztor served in Hungary’s pro-Nazi Arrow Cross regime.

Before 1969, the Heritage Groups Council “was not an ongoing thing,” Bellant said. But since 1969, Republican presidential nominees have “utilized the Heritage Groups Council as the shell for setting up their own ethnic campaigns,” he added.

He said he studied the council’s precursor, the so-called Ethnic Division, in existence from 1952 to 1969, only superficially.

Bellant said Republicans who helped the RNC organize the Ethnic Division also had set up programs to recruit former Nazis to serve in U.S. paramilitary operations in Europe in 1952.

NAZIS IN LEADERSHIP POSTS

Bellant said that since 1969, several dozen alleged Nazis, fascists and anti-Semites have held leadership posts in the Heritage Groups Council.

The alleged Nazis include:

Nicholas Nazerenko, accused of having been a former World War II officer in the German SS Cossack Division. He heads one of the two Cossack-American units in the RNC.

Ivan Docheff, the mayor of a German city during World War II and founder of a pro-Hitler youth group.

Joseph Mikus, a former diplomat to Rome for the Nazi puppet state of Slovakia.

Stanislav Stankevich, mayor of a Russian city in 1941 when police massacred 6,500 to 7,000 Jews in one night, Bellant said.

2The late Alfreds Berzins, charged with committing war crimes in Latvia.

In a related development, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sept. 18 that in 1972, 3convicted Nazi war criminal Boleslavs Maikovskis of Mineola, N.Y., served on the advisory board of the Latvian-American Section of the Heritage Council for the Re-Election of the President.

Analysis

Contention versus Fact

We have to commend the JTA for reporting on Bellant's indictment of the Republican establishment rather than simply picking up the proverbial ball and running with his allegations. Bellant's defense of Political Research Associates is specious at best. Bellant's 1988 release of his draft three years before final publication was timed to take down the entire RNC and Bush's presidential campaign. Bellant hides his partisanship behind nondescript labels while shouting "Nazi" at others.

The Alfreds Berzins mentioned here, who founded the American Latvian Association (ALA) and had passed away in 1977[1], could not have possibly committed war crimes as he spent most of the war in a Nazi concentration camp in Sachsenhausen, Germany.

Maikovskis' "conviction" in INS deportation proceedings—administrative, not legal, as individuals are not entitled to representation and hearsay is admissible as evidence—was in absentia, based primarily on Soviet evidence. Maikovskis chose to flee the United States rather than to be deported to the USSR (an occupying power), having been convicted in a Soviet show trial and sentenced to death in absentia in 1965.

There were, in total, three major Soviet show trials of Latvians, all based on largely fabricated evidence:

  1. 18th Police Battalion trial (1961);
  2. Rēzekne trial of Eichelis, Puntulis, Maikovskis and others (1965);
  3. and the 21st Battalion trials (1972-1974).

For further discussion see Ezergailis, “Holocaust’s Soviet Legacies in Latvia”.

Regarding the charges against him, Maikovskis asserted that to not follow Nazi orders was to risk death. As police chief in Rēzekne, he admitted he signed the paperwork turning over hundreds of Jews to the Germans and reported after the fact their burning down of the town.[2]


[1]A different Alfreds Berzins, member of the Daugavas Vanagi, passed away in Latvia in 2011.
[2]We plan to further research his case in the future.

Updated: May, 2017

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