At 1900 Princess Anne St, there’s a unique-looking, Mansard-roofed shop that has changed hands a few times. For years, it was called Big Daddy Leather and sold motorcycle accessories and leather goods. The owners held charity events and bike shows and while the weekends could get loud, they were good neighbors.
Soon after that, a tattoo shop called Star Ink moved in. They were well reviewed but moving in right across from the more well established Jack Brown’s Tattoo Revival might have set them off on the wrong foot and they closed after a few years.
In 2017, another leather shop, McLeather LLC (also known as Odin’s Chosen or the Himminbjorg HOF), moved in. No one thought much of it and most people figured someone from the old leather shop wanted to start the business up again.
Then in August, five days after a right-wing extremist killed a woman in Charlottesville, they put up a new flag:
Now, obviously, we’re not saying anyone who flies the stars and bars is a Nazi, but the timing of this display was troubling and caused some in the community to look further into their choice of decor.
I know what you’re thinking: “Everyone calls people Nazis nowadays just because they disagree about politics”.
It’s true that the internet has desensitized us to these accusations, but there are times when it’s not hyperbole to call things what they plainly are.
Odin’s Chosen uses Odin’s Raven flags in their storefront window, as well as the Black Sun symbol, Valknut (three interlocking triangles) and gas masks.
The gas masks they display in their windows are styled after German WWII gas masks. Germans were the first to use poison gas on the battlefield, and infamously, gas was designated the best proponent to reach their “Final Solution”. During the height of the Nazi regime capturing and deporting Jews and others to concentration camps up to 6,000 Jews were gassed every day at Auschwitz alone.
Odin’s Raven is a dog whistle for white supremacists. Some neo-Nazi groups claim the Raven flag was flown when Leif Erikson landed in North America in the year 1000 and thus is the “Pure European: Flag of the Nation.” And for some white supremacists, according to Dave Perry of the University of Minnesota, “the concept of Vinland asserts a historical claim over North America, stretching from the northeast coast to the Pacific Northwest. They use the myth of Vinland to position themselves as righteous defenders in the wars of race and religion they believe are coming,”.
The Black Sun symbol is hardly a dog whistle, as it was one of the primary symbols of Heinrich Himmler’s S.S. During the Third Reich the Wewelsburg Castle, where a Black Sun mosaic originating in ancient Germanic mythology is featured in the floors, became the representative and ideological center of the order of the S.S. Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the S.S., wanted to establish the “Center of the New World,”. The Black Sun is listed by the Anti-Defamation League as a hate symbol.
The Valknut or Three Interlocking Triangles symbol is also featured on their store window, as well as on their products. This is also listed on the Anti-Defamation League’s website as a hate symbol associated with neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Nazi Germany glorified an idealized “Aryan/Norse” heritage, consequently extremists have appropriated many symbols from pre-Christian Europe for their own uses. They give such symbols a racist significance, even though the symbols did not originally have such meaning and are often used by nonracists today, especially practitioners of modern pagan religions. Some white supremacists, generally racist Odinists, have appropriated the Valknot to use as a racist symbol. Typically they use it as a sign to indicate a willingness to give their life to Odin, generally in battle.
And it’s not just how they decorate, but how they communicate:
On many of their facebook posts you can read “14/88”. Fourteen Words, or simply 14, is a reference to the first and eighth letters “AH” (Adolf Hitler) and a slogan used by white nationalists and white supremacists: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” Neo-Nazis often reference the number 14 in combination with 88, as in “14/88” or “1488” with the 8s representing the eighth letter of the alphabet (H), with “HH” standing for “Heil Hitler”. The pairing of “14” and “88” has been used by white supremacists, including murderers Dylann Roof and Curtis Allgier.
Every day their various facebook pages upload and spread pro-eugenics, anti-race-mixing, white supremacist, white nationalist, neo-Nazi, misogynistic and homophobic images an ideas. Their content can be hard to find. It moves around and gets taken down a lot, but we’ve gathered a sample below:
Maybe they’re far-right, but they’re not Nazis, right? Some people may have distasteful views, but that doesn’t make them a Nazi by default. Let’s hear out the leader of Odin’s Chosen:
So he’s saying that the things they post are simply pride in their heritage and not hate toward other groups and just because you see symbols that are used by hate groups, they don’t share that ideology.
He says “most people don’t do the damn research” and jump to conclusions about what they are. We did the damn research.
Volbrecht Ortrun Solvein
The leader (they call him their Siedr/Gothi or Priest) of this group calls himself Volbrecht Ortrun Solvein. He is the main poster on these pages, has a series of videos on Facebook, and works at McLeather LLC.
He is the admin of their private group as well:
The more offensive posts in this article are posted in this private group.
While looking into this, I came across a post on the Odin’s Chosen page:
For those who don’t know, Gab is a site set up by Alt-Right extremists who have been kicked off Twitter for inciting racial violence. The idea is that right-wing radicals can speak their minds freely without fear of censorship.
And he is speaking his mind:
Notice the Himminbjorg image is the exact same one used in the Odin’s Chosen FB group, the screen name is Volbriecht (though he spiced it up by calling himself führer), and they have this other image gallery in common:
I’m laying this all out to prove this is the same guy before I show you his posts. Remember, this guy is your neighbor:
So, the idea that he and his group are separatists who just want to celebrate their heritage and be left alone is complete nonsense. No matter how much he tries to deflect on Facebook, he is a Nazi. He believes in and celebrates an ideology that lead to the genocide of millions.
This is why this goes beyond free speech. It’s fine to be proud of your heritage and no one cares if you are uncomfortable around people you are personally prejudiced against, but this is something else entirely. Free speech does not extend to people who want to advance ideas that lead to genocide. Period. These ideas are leading to an uptick in right-wing violence:
Dylann Roof, Curtis Allgier, Alexandre Bissonnette, Jeremy Christian, Christopher Harper-Mercer, Elliot Rodger, and many others are being radicalized online and people like Solvein are responsible. This ideology has been proven time and time again to be deadly. It has no place in America and no place in Fredericksburg.
What can we do?
That’s the good news. There are LOTS of things you can do.
If this bothers you, you can sign THIS Change.org petition, write to Mayor Greenlaw, write a letter to the Free Lance Star editor, join the protest on May 16, follow Solidarity Formation FXBG on Facebook, or you could take personal action by going to McLeather LLC/Odin’s Chosen/Himminsbjorg HOF either on Facebook or at their store and telling them how you feel (keep it civil, please).
This is a big problem but if we gather together as a community, we can drive this hate out of our town and make sure the next violent extremist isn’t a neighbor.