Roanoke Times & World News, Nov. 10, 2002
Growing up in a Cleveland suburb, Erich Gliebe learned about the Holocaust at school.
When he went home, he got a different lesson.
“That’s not the way it was,” Gliebe said he was told by his father, an immigrant who fought for Germany in World War II. Stories of concentration camps and other Nazi atrocities were not true, the elder Gliebe explained.
Intensely proud of his ancestry, Gliebe was troubled by the “German bashing” he saw all around him: in the news media, in history books, even in the portrayal of bumbling Nazis on the TV show “Hogan’s Heroes.”
As a result, he said, he became more “racially conscious.”
Yet he had little exposure to minorities in his nearly all-white hometown of Parma, Ohio. That changed after high school, when he became an amateur boxer and began to travel and live around the people he calls “nonwhites.”
Gliebe said he was troubled by black boxers who had numerous children by different mothers. “I knew they were different in their character and their behavior and everything else,” he said. “I never hated blacks or any other racial groups. I just saw them as different and preferred to be among my own kind.”
By the time Gliebe turned professional, his thinking and fighting had become one.
Calling himself the “Aryan Barbarian,” he got especially pumped up when his opponent was black or Hispanic. “Boxing is a sport that all young men, especially skinheads, should try,” he once wrote.
“In what other occupation can a man beat someone up [especially a nonhwhite] get paid for it and not worry about going to jail?”
After compiling a 26-2 record, with seven knockout victories, Gliebe saw his career ended by a broken elbow. It was 1989, the same year that an elderly man handed him a National Alliance magazine at polka dance in Cleveland.
As Gliebe read about the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi white supremacy group based in West Virginia, “it more or less blew my mind that there was something out there so professionally written that spoke the same way I felt.”
Gliebe joined the Alliance and went on to become one of its most active recruiters. As head of the Cleveland chapter, he often organized concerts for white power groups that drew young skinheads. When National Alliance founder William Pierce purchased Resistance Records in 1999, he put Gliebe in charge of the label, which has become the group’s biggest moneymaker.
A devoted follower of Pierce, Gliebe was at his side when the 68- year-old died of cancer at his Hillsboro, W.Va., compound in July. The following month, Gliebe was named to replace Pierce.
Gliebe plans to move from Cleveland to the National Alliance compound, where he will live in a renovated farmhouse while working full time as chairman.
Civil rights organizations that monitor hate groups have been watching closely to see how the National Alliance fares under the watch of Gliebe, described as “humorless, cold and very hard- edged,” by Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“As reprehensible as Pierce was philosophically, he had a certain type of media savvy and organizational skills that most hate- mongers do not possess,” said Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. “I think its going to be a challenge for someone like Gliebe to match that.”