Three Years Later: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Shooting

Holocaust Memorial Museum

On June 10, 2009, an 88-year-old white supremacist by the name of James von Brunn walked into the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and opened fire. He fatally wounded a security guard, Stephen T. Johns, and sent tourists fleeing before he was shot by other guards. Von Brunn was a known Holocaust denier and conveyed his beliefs on race and religion on various websites. A man consumed with hate, he had been tracked since the 1980s by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization which fights against intolerance. He had also created a website called “The Holy Western Empire” and published a book expressing his prejudiced views.

Less than a year later, in January 2010, von Brunn died of natural causes while in custody. He faced several charges, including first degree murder, gun violations, and hate crimes, and four of the charges made him eligible for the death penalty. However, the trial had been delayed due to his poor health.

Days before the shooting took place, President Obama had visited the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. While there, he remarked: “To this day, there are those who insist that the Holocaust never happened — a denial of fact and truth that is baseless and ignorant and hateful. This place is the ultimate rebuke to such thoughts; a reminder of our duty to confront those who would tell lies about our history.”

On the three-year anniversary of this tragic shooting, the HSDL has several documents regarding this incident as well as other acts of domestic terrorism, anti-Semitism, and extremism for you to read and reflect on. Below are a couple of articles in the HSDL database highlighting these issues.

Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism: A Report Provided to the United States Congress

Domestic Terrorist Threat: Background and Issues for Congress [May 15, 2012]

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