This stinks: Intolerance & Hatred
BY Rich Schapiro In New York and James Gordon Meek In Annapolis, Md.
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Updated Thursday, June 11th 2009, 3:18 AM
James von Brunn's ex-wife says she divorced him over his racist anger.
2 shot at Holocaust Museum in D.C.
He's a twisted kook with a toxic hatred for Jews and blacks who vowed to go out "with his boots on."
White supremacist James von Brunn, 88, apparently tried to make good on his promise Wednesday - storming the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and murdering a security guard.
The firefight, which left von Brunn in critical condition, capped a life spent spewing hatred.
"I'm in a state of shock, but I'mnot surprised he did it," von Brunn's ex-wife told the Daily News. "He used to make the statement that he was going out with his boots on. I took it to mean that he was going to go out and try to take some people with him."
A Holocaust denier with ties to extremists, von Brunn caught the attention of anti-racism groups and spent six years behind bars for a harebrained scheme to kidnap federal officials.
He filled his Web site with vile tirades and self-published a book - "Kill the Best Gentiles!" - which he said "exposes the Jews and explains what you must do to protect your White family."
More recently, the former New Yorker questioned the legitimacy of President Obama's birth certificate in online screeds.
It was unclear if something specific triggered his museum rampage - but the attack followed Obama's denunciation of Holocaust deniers.
Two months ago, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned of an expected upsurge in extremist violence in the wake of Obama's election.
Von Brunn's rage had festered for decades, though.
When his ex-wife met him in the mid-1960s, he was a wine swiller consumed by hatred.
"[It] ate him alive like a cancer," said the 69-year-old woman, who did not want her name used. "It's all he would talk about. When I questioned him, he would get angry and abusive.
"He would talk about what the world would become in 20 or 30 years, that most of the country would be governed by black governors and that the Jewish people owned the media."
Born in St. Louis, von Brunn graduated from Washington University in 1943 with a degree in journalism.
That same year, he became a midshipman with the Navy Reserves after enlisting for "patriotic reasons," documents show.
Von Brunn claims to have been a decorated PT boat captain during World War II.
After moving to New York City in 1947, von Brunn found a job at a "big-league advertising [firm] on Madison Avenue" and attended evening art classes, he wrote in an online biography.
By the time he met his ex-wife in the mid 1960s, he was a talented artist who spent hours drawing portraits and landscapes.
The ex-wife said the hulking von Brunn - he is 6-feet-5 - had the aura of John Wayne.
"He looked like him, talked like him, acted like him," she said.
The couple had a son named Erik, who is 32 and a student at the University of Maryland. Von Brunn's child from an earlier marriage committed suicide.
"I love my father. Everything you need to know about him is on his Web site," Erik von Brunn told The News Wednesday night.
Fed up with his tirades, the second wife divorced him in 1980.
On Dec. 7, 1981, von Brunn barged into the Federal Reserve in Washington with a revolver, a sawed-off shotgun and a knife.
He wanted to take hostage Carter administration adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and Paul Volcker, chairman of the Fed's board of governors, "to focus attention on high interest rates."
He was captured by a guard and sentenced to 11 years in prison in 1983. "[I was] convicted by a Negro jury, Jew/Negro attorneys, and sentenced to prison for 11 years by a Jew judge," he wrote.
Von Brunn was released in 1989, but "the subject resides in my memory like old road kill," he wrote on his Web site, holywesternempire.org. "What could have been a slam-bang victory turned into ignoble failure. Recalling all of this presents an onerous task. I am getting near the end of the diving board."
After leaving prison, von Brunn became a prolific writer in the white supremacist fringe and a member of the Mensa, a group for people with high IQs. He worked at a bookstore run by a Holocaust-denying group called the Institute of Historical Review and established ties with several prominent neo-Nazis.
Von Brunn painted a portrait of the late John Crommelin, a close associate of neo-Nazi William Pierce, whose book "The Turner Diaries" inspired the Oklahoma City bombing.
Public records briefly listed von Brunn at an address in Hayden, Idaho, where the Aryan Nations once had a compound.
The Southern Poverty Law Center said it monitored him closely but that in the twilight of his life, von Brunn appeared to be more talk than action.
With Helen Kennedy and Joe Kemp