George Lincoln Rockwell’s Ducks and Hens
How the leader of the American Nazi Party published a children’s book
Even aside from its racist and openly Fascist central message, The Fable of the Ducks and the Hens: A Dramatic Saga of Intrigue, Propaganda and Subversion was never going to make George Lincoln Rockwell an icon of children’s literature. For a start, pre-schoolers were unlikely to find the title particularly meaningful or quotable. Illustrator Robert Edwards’ art style is distinctive, but the book is too long and has too many similar pictures to hold the interest of a young child. It lacks identifiable characters.
It is filled with polysyllabic political terms — reactionary, discrimination, atrocities — and finishes with the Latin phrase ad infinitum. It covers some pretty dark subject matter, including the use of hard drugs and the execution of a goose for war crimes. It is clearly no Green Eggs and Ham. Nonetheless, the blurb promises that “children and adults alike will be delighted” by the story. When it came to political propaganda, Rockwell was a shameless optimist.
Rockwell was born in Illinois in 1918. He studied philosophy at Brown University and served in the U.S. Navy in the Second World War. He spent several years in civilian life, painting signs, studying art, and working in advertising before returning to active service on the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950.
Over the next decade, his politics became more and more extreme and his personality less and less stable. In 1958, he founded the National Committee to Free America from Jewish Domination with anti-Semitic millionaire Harold Noel Arrowsmith, Jr. Then, in 1959, he created the World Union of Free Enterprise National Socialists (WUFENS) which would evolve under his leadership into the American Nazi Party (ANP).
Leaders of white supremacist and far-right movements generally make the effort to moderate their rhetoric and appear reasonable in an effort to attract followers. Rockwell did not. He openly wore a swastika, hung the flag of the Third Reich from his home…