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Justice Dept. Investigates Activities of the American Nazi Party

The Justice Department is investigating George Rockwell and his American Nazi Party with a view to possible criminal prosecution, the Justice Department has informed Rep. Seymour Halpern, New York Republican.

Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, in response to a request by Rep. Halpern, referred the matter to the Justice Department’s Internal Security Division.

J. Walter Yeagley, Assistant Attorney General, revealed that despite continued doubt about the wisdom of listing the Nazis as subversive under Executive Order 10450, “the activities of Rockwell regarding possible criminal prosecution have been and are the subject of continuing inquiry by this Department.” Mr. Yeagley said:

“While the information currently available is insufficient to warrant criminal prosecution of Rockwell under Federal criminal statutes within the jurisdiction of this Department, you may be assured that should our inquiry develop evidence legally sufficient to establish such a violation it will be acted upon with diligence and vigor. Meanwhile I assume that local authorities will take prosecutive action against the members of the organization as has been done in the past when their activities involve violations of local law such as disorderly conduct or breach of the peace.”

Rep. Halpern had raised a question of placing the Nazis on the Attorney General’s list of subversive groups. Rep. Halpern viewed the Nazi agitation as clearly subversive and un-American. Mr. Yeagley said the matter of designating the Nazis as subversive had been studied but “no proceedings looking toward such a designation have been initiated since, apart from the legal problems involved, serious questions have arisen both as to the wisdom and the effectiveness of such a course of action.”

The Assistant Attorney General pointed out that “the” purpose of designation is to alert Government hiring officials to the fact that stated groups have a subversive character. The designation of the American Nazi party under this program would not bar the continuation of its activities and those of its leader, George Lincoln Rockwell, nor would such a designation involve the imposition of any sanctions. In addition, some doubt has been expressed as to the advisability of giving such an organization the extensive publicity likely to flow from the prolonged hearing that would necessarily result from invoking the designation procedures.”

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