The Order

A radical white supremacist group, marked by violent crimes and a notable assassination in the mid-1980s.

The Order, also known as Brüder Schweigen or the Silent Brotherhood, emerged as a notorious American white supremacist group in the early 1980s, founded by Robert Jay Mathews. The group gained infamy for its extremist ideologies, criminal activities, and particularly for the assassination of Jewish radio talk show host Alan Berg in 1984. Rooted in Mathews’ radical opposition to the federal government and his belief in a Jewish conspiracy controlling America, The Order sought to establish a white supremacist society through violent means.

Mathews, disillusioned by the lack of support after his arrest for tax fraud in the 1970s, began to form connections within the white supremacist community, including groups like the Aryan Nations and the National Alliance. By October 1983, at his family compound in Metaline Falls, Washington, Mathews and eight others, including neo-Nazi militants and adherents of the racist Christian Identity movement, swore an oath to work towards their vision of a white supremacist society. Despite Mathews’ preference for the name Brüder Schweigen, the group became widely known as The Order, inspired by a fictional organization in William Pierce’s novel “The Turner Diaries”.

The Order financed its operations through criminal activities, initially targeting individuals they deemed immoral, such as pimps and drug dealers, and later escalating to counterfeiting and bank robberies. Over a span of five months in 1984, they stole more than $4 million, but their criminal spree ultimately led to their downfall. The assassination of Alan Berg in June 1984 was a key event in The Order’s campaign of violence, carried out because Berg was a vocal critic of right-wing extremism and due to his Jewish heritage.

The unraveling of The Order began with the arrest of member Thomas Martinez in Philadelphia for passing counterfeit money, shortly after the Berg assassination. Martinez’s cooperation with authorities led to the exposure of the group’s activities and the eventual siege on Whidbey Island, Washington, in December 1984, where Mathews died in a shootout with the FBI.

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