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John Patler

John Patler
George Lincoln Rockwell (far right) with American Nazi party members, including assassin-to-be John Patler (kneeling, left) in 1961.
John C. Patsalos

(1938-01-06) January 6, 1938 (age 81)

John Patler (born January 6, 1938) is an American former neo-Nazi who was convicted of killing American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell on August 25, 1967.


Patler was born John C. Patsalos in New York City to Greek parents.[1] When Patler was five, his mother took him and his younger brother, George (born 1939), and moved to Patler's grandmother's house. Shortly after, his mother was shot and killed by his father. Patler's father was sent to Sing Sing Prison, then released on parole in 1953. After Patler's grandmother died, he and his brother were sent to the Bronx to live with their father. Both brothers spent two weeks at the Youth House while their father was facing child abuse charges, but were subsequently released back into his custody.

Patler served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1958 to 1960, when he was honorably discharged on grounds of "unsuitability"[2] after being arrested at an American Nazi Party rally.[3] He joined the party in 1960 and soon changed his name to Patler to make it sound more like "Hitler".[3] Patler later became a captain in the American Nazi Party and the editor and cartoonist for the party's magazine, Stormtrooper. However, he was expelled from the Party in March 1967 for alleged "Bolshevik leanings" after disagreeing with party leader George Lincoln Rockwell about some of the party's policies.[4] Patler later described his relationship with Rockwell in very endearing terms, stating "I loved him like a father and he loved me like a son".[5] In his last known letter to Rockwell, Patler wrote "I don't think there are two people on earth who think and feel the same as we do. ... You are a very important part of my life. I need you as much as you need me. Without you there is no future".[5]

On August 25, 1967, Patler shot and killed Rockwell while Rockwell was getting into his car, which was parked in front of a self-service laundry at an Arlington, Virginia, shopping center.[6] Rockwell was shot with a 7.63mm Broomhandle Mauser pistol. Patler was arrested half an hour later, about a mile from the scene of the shooting.[7] Patler was convicted of first-degree murder on December 16, 1967 by an Arlington jury and subsequently sentenced to 20 years in prison by Arlington Circuit Court Judge Charles Russell.[7] Patler was paroled from prison in 1975, after having served less than eight years of his sentence. After later violating his parole, he received an additional six-year sentence.[8]

Many years later, Patler was with his son, Nicholas, when he expressed regret for his time in the ANP[9]. According to Nicholas, Patler said "I should have been with Dr. King and the Civil Rights people back then. They were truly my people, not those Nazis."


  1. ^ "Oct 1967 - American Nazi Party. Murder of Mr. Rockwell". Retrieved August 12, 2011.
  2. ^ "Nazi head slain". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. August 26, 1967. Retrieved August 12, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Ex-aide is held for slaying of US Nazi Chief". Lawrence Journal-World. August 26, 1967. Retrieved August 12, 2011.
  4. ^ "Killer of American Nazi Chief Paroled". St Joseph News-Press. August 23, 1975. Retrieved August 12, 2011.
  5. ^ a b Simonelli, Frederick James (1999). American Fuehrer: George Lincoln Rockwell and the American Nazi Party. University of Illinois Press. pp. 131–135. ISBN 0-252-02285-8.
  6. ^ "1967: 'American Hitler' shot dead". BBC News. August 25, 1967. Retrieved August 12, 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Patler convicted, faces 20 years". Free Lance-Star. December 16, 1967. Retrieved August 12, 2011.
  8. ^ Chris Teale (August 25, 2017). "American Nazi Party's George Rockwell Assassinated 50 Years Ago Today in Arlington". Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  9. ^ Schmaltz, William H. (May 2012). For Race and Nation: George Lincoln Rockwell and the American Nazi Party. River's Bend Press. p. Afterwords. ISBN 1935607146.