| 01 February 1997
Faction Fight at the Institute for Historical Review, Round One.
By Leonard Zeskind
Searchlight February 1997
Originally entitled “Hucksters and Charlatans,” Searchlight magazine published this article unsigned.
The international shell game might not be over, but a California judge has knocked over Willis Carto's street corner soapbox and sent him scrambling to pick up the pieces. Carto is the 70 year-old mogul who has spent the past 40 years building the largest racist and anti-Semitic enterprise in the USA. At its center squats Liberty Lobby, a Washington D.C.-based organization which publishes a weekly tabloid, The Spotlight, with approximately 100,000 subscribers. Perched on the edge of the California earthquake zone across the continent is the Institute for Historical Review (IHR). Carto founded the IHR in 1979 to set the record straight on World War II. In short, the Nazis didn't do it. Now a three year old rebellion in the ranks has snatched IHR out from under Carto's grip, putting it in the hands of Mark Weber and his comrades on the staff. To make matters worse, last November, a San Diego judge ordered Carto and Liberty Lobby to turn over $6.43 million to Weber and IHR.
Carto is, of course, appealing the judge's decision as well as filing suit in Texas to turn control of IHR back to him. The cases could drag through the courts for several more years. Even then it’s not certain IHR will get the money. To hear Liberty Lobby attorney Mark Lane tell it: "Willis Carto is not just anyone. He has great determination and courage and he's a fighter, too. And he was right morally." Quite a recommendation for the infamous anti-Semite from Lane, who is a former left-winger and New York state legislator: Fight on, Willis! Fight on!
The money at the center of dispute is from the estate of Jean Farrel, an American-born right-wing millionaire who lived in Switzerland. Before her death in 1985, Farrel created a dummy corporation to hide millions of dollars worth of her assets and scattered the stock certificates in bank vaults in North Carolina, Singapore, Germany and the UK. After her death, Farrel's estate was contested by her nurse, Joan Althaus, and Willis Carto. A mad scramble ensured for control of the certificates. Carto, acting on behalf of the IHR's parent corporation, Legion for the Survival of Freedom, managed to secure approximately $7.5 million of the funds.
Carto now claims that Farrel intended to leave millions of dollars worth of stock certificates to him personally, because she trusted he would do good things for the movement. Weber and the current IHR leadership contend the funds were left to the Legion, not Carto personally.
Four years ago it would not have made any difference. At that time, Carto completely controlled IHR--although he had no formal position on the staff and was not a member of the board of directors. Instead, he controlled the IHR ostensibly as an "agent" appointed by the directors to run the corporation. In fact, the directors were just puppets for Carto. According to the judge, at least one of the directors "completely abandoned her obligations...(and)...allowed herself to become the pawn of Mr. Carto." Thus, sly old Willis got to control everything, without having to put his fingerprints anyplace they could be found.
One of the things Carto tried to do in 1993 was change the editorial direction of the IHR's journal away from its single focus of Holocaust denial and towards broader themes, including race. This didn't sit well with Weber, Ted O'Keefe or Tom Marcellus, the principal IHR staff. Marcellus, who was then managing the shop on a day-to-day basis, is just a Scientology buff and has since dropped out of the picture. But both Weber and O'Keefe have been around since they worked for William Pierce at the National Alliance in 1978. Along with a couple of lawyers, the three plotted a coup d'etat.
First they scared a couple of elderly board members into resigning and then had themselves appointed to the board. Then in September 1993 the hammer dropped. The new board took control of the corporation, fired Carto and seized the IHR offices in Costa Mesa. They've all been in and out of court since. As a result, the thin veil Carto weaved to hide his control over both Liberty Lobby and the IHR has been lifted. Now we see they were all eating out of the same financial pot. The most recent decision places Carto at a severe disadvantage. He won't be able to funnel any of the Farrel funds into pet projects such as Liberty Lobby's radio network or $100,000 chunks of change to the now-deceased Leon Degrelle. But he is not likely to turn the money over to Weber anytime soon, regardless of what the California judge ordered. Carto will probably continue publishing his own "revisionist" monthly journal, The Barnes Review.
For his part, Weber may have won this battle, but the IHR has been consumed by the court fight. His once formidable journal is now published months behind schedule, circulation is dropping, the staff has shrunk to less than a handful and book production is at a standstill. Weber and Carto may have stepped out into the dusty street for a shoot-out at high noon, but after hundreds of bullets were fired they are both still standing. Every white supremacist shop window and streetlight, however, may get shattered in the gunfight.