Neo-Nazi leader comes out of two closets at once

'I was young and lonely and looking for a group to belong to; everything I did was wrong.'

Mordechai Sones ,

Nazi boots
Nazi boots

Kevin Wilshaw (59) was for decades a leading leader of a neo-Nazi movement in Britain who recently decided to change direction. Drastically.

For many years, he was considered the face of the National Front, a neo-Nazi movement whose goal was immigrants and Jews and whose members believed in white supremacy. Since the 1980's he has organized hundreds of demonstrations and activities. But recently he suddenly left the movement and yesterday, in an interview with British Channel 4, dropped a bomb.

Wilshaw said his mother was half-Jewish and that her maiden name was Benjamin. But his Jewish background did not prevent Wilshaw from becoming a Nazi Jew-hater, as in his youth he was a lonely boy and wanted to belong to a meaningful group. "I didn't have many friends at school, and I thought that getting involved in that sort of thing would be like comradeship, that sort of thing, you know?" The interviewer asked Wilshaw, "Did it give you that in the end?", to which Wilshaw answered, "Yes, it did, unfortunately. You do have a sense of comradeship in that you're a member of a group that's been attacked by all the people," he explained.

Being a member of the movement did not spare him trouble. When his friends suspected him of having same-sex attraction, he himself fell victim to attacks. "It's a terribly selfish thing to say but it's true; I saw people being abused, shouted at, spat at in the street - It's not until it's directed at you that you suddenly realize that what you're doing is wrong," he admitted.

Wilshaw himself was arrested twice in the past - in the 1990s he was arrested when he vandalized a mosque and in March he was arrested on suspicion of hate crimes on Internet sites. He admits that he often felt that "it turned my stomach" when he saw his friends attacking blacks or minorities, but only recently decided to retire with the help of a movement that extricates people from hate organizations.

"I feel appallingly guilty as well, I really do feel guilty" he said. "Not only that, I think that this is a barrier between me and having a relationship with my own family, and I just want to jettison and get rid of it; it's too much of a weight." About Judaism he says: "The term 'Jews' is a faceless, impersonal, global expression, precisely the generalization that led to the deliberate murder of six million people."