What Is the National Socialist Movement? Neo-Nazis Plan 'Day of Hate'

Amid a rise in antisemitism sweeping across the United States in recent years, a group is planning an anti-Jewish "National Day of Hate" on Saturday.

A leaked memo from the New York City Police Department's Intelligence and Counterterrorism Bureau warns that online organizers of the "overtly racist, anti-Semitic event" are "instructing likeminded individuals to drop banners, place stickers and flyers, or scrawl graffiti as a form of biased so-called action."

The group behind this event is the National Socialist Movement (NSM), a neo-Nazi organization founded in 1994 in Detroit. It has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

According to the SPLC, the NSM was the largest membership-based neo-Nazi group throughout the 2000s and 2010s. After a drop in membership and demonstrations, the group sought a resurgence in 2015 by joining forces with other white power groups.

While the current group started in the 1990s, the NSM has origins dating back to the 1960s and is rooted in the original American Nazi Party.

On its website, NWS describes itself as "the political party for every patriotic White American of moral strength and good character," which is open to members of "non-Semitic heterosexuals of genetic European descent."

"We cooperate and work with many like-minded white nationalist groups and others that are either National Socialist or at least racially aware of our shared European heritage," NSM writes.

Its core beliefs include "defending the rights of White European people," the "preservation of our European culture and heritage," strengthening family values and the "promotion of White racial separation."

National Socialism Movement
A member of the National Socialist Movement and other white nationalists rally in Newnan, Georgia, on April 21, 2018. The NSM is planning a "National Day of Hate" against the Jewish community on Saturday. BITA HONARVAR/AFP via Getty Images

Many of the group's beliefs are deeply rooted in antisemitism.

According to its website, the group believes that "pretty much all the social, economic, and psychological problems that we consider endemic [in] the modern world are rooted in Jewish thought or practice."

Jewish people "infiltrate institutions, control the narratives generating anti western agenda for decades, controlling media to divide classes and races and bring mass immigration into America," the site says.

The NSM idolizes Adolf Hitler, describing him as "the beloved Holy Father of our age" and "a visionary in every respect." The group also focuses on the African-American community as well as immigration on the southern U.S. border.

The NSM has held many rallies in the past few decades, bringing together other white power groups, including the Ku Klux Klan.

In 2016, it formed a coalition of white nationalists known as the Aryan Nationalist Alliance, with the goal of creating an "ethnostate." The coalition later changed its name to the Nationalist Front. The NSM also got rid of its swastika logo and replaced it with an othala rune in "an attempt to become more integrated and more mainstream," former leader Jeff Schoep told The New York Times.

This all led to the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, in which one person died and a dozen were injured after a vehicle drove into a crowd of counterprotesters.

According to court documents, NSM members moved through the city shouting racist slurs and charged through the counterprotesters. Former President Donald Trump infamously said that there were "very fine people on both sides" of the demonstration.

After this rally and a "white lives matter" rally in Tennessee in October 2017, the NSM and the National Front fell off the radar.

There were ongoing legal complications and dissolution from member organizations, the SPLC said.

In November 2021, a federal court in Virginia found both Schoep and the NSM, along with other defendants, guilty of civil conspiracy charges in the Sines v. Kessler case against the organizers of the "Unite the Right" rally.

After leaving the group, Schoep renounced his neo-Nazi views in 2019.

In a statement published on his new personal website, he said: "I realized many of the principles I had once held so dearly and sacrificed so much for were wrong.... It is now my mission to be a positive, peaceful influence of change and understanding for all humanity in these uncertain times."

The group has been on the rise in recent years. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the NSM is the largest neo-Nazi group in the U.S., despite a decline in membership. It is currently led by Burt Colucci.

The group was linked to the recent neo-Nazi demonstration at the opening of Parade, a Broadway show about a Jewish man who was lynched in 1915.

"The vile antisemitism on full display outside the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre last night during a premiere performance of Parade underscores the importance of telling Leo Frank's story," the ADL said in a statement. "Despite the presence of a half-dozen neo-Nazis, New York City will continue to remain no place for hate."

Ahead of the possible hate rally this weekend, the New York Police Department told Newsweek that no threats have been identified, but "out of an abundance of caution," the Department will deploy additional resources to sensitive locations, including houses of worship, throughout the weekend."

An NSM spokesperson told Newsweek he was unaware of how the news of the "Day of Hate" event got publicized, saying he had no part in getting it trending on Telegram.

"But since the 'National Day of Hate' is trending, I'm suggesting our members and supporters just run with it," spokesman Harry Hughes said in an email. "For the most part, we engage in LAWFUL pickets and literature distribution and advise everyone to keep it legal."

When neo-Nazi activists use performative and coordinated spectacles to target Jewish people or any other group, Rachel Carroll Rivas, the Deputy Director of Research, Reporting and Analysis for SPLC's Intelligence Project, told Newsweek we all have a duty to "speak out against bigotry and surround each other with love and respect."

She said the "Day of Hate" event is planned annually by documented hate groups and includes "awful racist, bigoted messages."

"We won't do the Nazi's work for them by broadcasting their events, but we should call out their intimidation tactics," Rivas told Newsweek in a statement. "The truth is that these groups seek to portray themselves as more popular than they are and we should not let them yield outsized power over our communities."

An April 2022 report from the ADL found that "antisemitic incidents reached an all-time high in the United States in 2021, with a total of 2,717 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism reported to ADL," the ADL said at the time. "This represents the highest number of incidents on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979, an average of more than seven incidents per day and a 34 percent increase year over year."

ADL's CEO and national director, Jonathan Greenblatt, called these findings "shocking."

"Jews were being attacked in the streets for no other reason than the fact that they were Jewish, and it seemed as if the working assumption was that if you were Jewish, you were blameworthy for what was happening half a world away," he said in a statement at the time.

Update 2/24/23, 5:18 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with comment from the Southern Poverty Law Center.