Members of Sharkhunters International prepare the Sharkhunters private U-boat for their annual cruise back to simpler times in the North Atlantic
[Image: Public Domain via thePipeLine]
‘I offend as many people as I can. I can be as obnoxious as I want to be.
It just comes naturally to me. I’m a natural…’
Harry Cooper speaking on the Rense Radio Network
By Roger Clark
There are Shark Hunters abroad in Europe, but these are no big game fisherman. They are led by former stock car driver Harry Cooper who writes what he claims are ‘history smashing’ books about Adolf Hitler. He also claims to be a historian and operates a group – Sharkhunters International – researching what he asserts is ‘…honest submarine history with an emphasis on German U-boats’. But critics argue much of Mr Cooper’s published work betrays a bizarre disregard for accuracy and bears little resemblance to genuine scholarship. They also claim he’s a conspiracy theorist.
More seriously his critics allege Cooper associates with neo-Nazis, racists, antisemites, and political extremists in the United States, and elsewhere. They also claim he uses Internet radio and market sites such as Amazon, to spread fraudulent history across the globe. And this, they allege, is often associated with a message of racial hate.
With the rise of the Alt Right [aka Racists, White Supremacists and Neo Fascists] dominating the news after the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States – and with accusations that, thanks to some of POTUS Trump’s staff and Cabinet appointments, paranoid conspiracy theories and white supremacists opinions are now being voiced close to the holder of the most powerful office on the planet – broadcaster and former BBC documentary maker Roger Clark investigates Harry Cooper’s activities in this special three-part series.
As the investigation unfolds Clark discovers disturbing links between the pseudohistory industry, which gives rise to programmes such as the History channel’s infotainment “Hunting Hitler”, and neo-Nazis who are operating openly on the U.S. mainland. Neo-Nazi’s who are also, Clark says, taking advantage of the First Amendment of the US Constitution to broadcast unmoderated conspiracy theories and even hardcore pro-Nazi propaganda worldwide.
[NOTE: thePipeLine actively opposes all forms of racism and intolerance. Some of the images and links in this series of article carry racist, offensive and anti-Semitic content. They are included purely to provide evidence of the abhorrent views of Harry Cooper’s associates, and the pseudohistory and conspiracy theories of the Far Right.]
An American conspiracy theorist, fake professor, phoney ‘Man of the Year 2011’ – and Donald Trump enthusiast – received a nasty shock towards the end of 2015.
A talk Harry Cooper was planning to give at the International Press Club of Chicago on 19 November was suddenly cancelled. Cooper – a man who critics claim is a Walter Mitty character with a vaulting ambition to rewrite history – was hoping to enthrall his audience with the bogus claims he makes in his book Hitler in Argentina. Harry Cooper believes he has ‘absolute proof’ that Hitler never committed suicide in Berlin in 1945 at the end of World War II. Instead, he argues the allies helped the Nazi leader escape to South America with the newly-married Eva Braun and henchman Martin Bormann. In the run-up to his Chicago talk Cooper was on first name terms with the press club’s president, Wayne Toberman. Then out of the blue Cooper received a terse email from Mr Toberman cancelling the event. And Mr Toberman no longer addressed him by his first name.
Cooper made repeated attempts to contact the president by phone and email. But Mr Toberman never answered. When Cooper eventually got through he was told the talk was cancelled because few people had bought tickets.
Cooper was suspicious. He suspected there was another reason. He was right. The club had received complaints about him, his talk and the organisation he runs. One of those who protested told me:- ‘I probably stopped the event. I called the head of the group and explained who and what Cooper is. He was horrified and cancelled—cost them $1,000 to kill the event.’
So what was it that so ‘horrified’ the International Press Club of Chicago?
Harry Cooper was banned because of his alleged neo-Nazi activities. After receiving damning evidence the club acted swiftly. Cooper was out.
In 1983 Harry Cooper founded Sharkhunters International organisation in Florida, USA, and has run it ever since. This followed a varied career which Cooper described on the Proviso Township High School ‘Class of 57’ website – four years in the US Air Force loading nuclear weapons, business experience and racing stock cars. Cooper also says he ‘worked about six months with four really big guys collecting hard to collect debts for the Mafia.’
Sharkhunters, which states on its website that it ‘…is honest submarine history with major emphasis on German U-Boats and no propaganda’, now claims it has around 8,000 members in 77 countries around the globe. Cooper also organizes tours to hallowed Third Reich sites in Germany and Austria such as Nuremberg, Munich, Berlin and Berchtesgaden. These tours, or ‘patrols’ as he prefers to call them using the jargon of submariners, are presented as opportunities to ‘relive history’ – but that history is virtually always Nazi history.
Cooper also claims Sharkhunters is ‘non-political’, but critics claim members include SS veterans, neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers, and that Cooper advertises for new members in neo-Nazi publications.
Cooper’s critics also claim Sharkhunters is an anti-Semitic Holocaust denying hate organisation that pumps out hardcore Nazi propaganda, while members write favourable reviews about Cooper’s books on Amazon and one urged customers to join Sharkhunters.
The Southern Poverty Law Center – which monitors extremists and domestic hate groups in the U.S. – has voiced concerns about Harry Cooper’s activities. In 2013 they published a disturbing report about Cooper called ‘Touring the Third Reich’ by Heidi Beirich. The same organisation has also published a profile of Cooper highlighting his associates on the Far Right, including the late Jorg Haider, leader of the Austrian Freedom Party, before his death in 2008.
On patrol with the Nazi fan club
A few weeks before he tried to give his Chicago talk in 2015 – at a time of rising anti-Semitism across the western hemisphere – Cooper went on his annual pilgrimage to Germany and Austria leading a group of Nazi era groupies. They spent 15 days in September and October touring Hitler shrines and meeting former members of Hitler’s notorious Waffen SS who treated them as ‘guests of honour’. Cooper stressed the point in his itinerary calling these SS men, ‘wonderful veterans … Not one but TWO evenings we are guests of honour with hundreds of veterans from the Gebirgsjäger; the Falschirmjäger, the Waffen SS and other divisions. You will meet them!’
Built upon Nazi ideology the Schutzstaffel [SS], under Heinrich Himmler’s command, was effectively a State within the State. It was directly responsible for an unprecedented catalogue of crimes against humanity before and during World War II (1939–45) in which millions of men, women and children perished, most in Eastern Europe, the Baltic States and the Soviet Union. Crimes included large-scale massacres, smaller-scale killings, and running the extermination camps which facilitated the worst of the Holocaust. Such was their record that the SS, along with the Nazi Party, was declared a criminal organization by the International Military Tribunal, and banned in Germany after 1945.
Harry Cooper regularly mixes with neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers and takes part in many broadcasts publicising their views. During a program on 22 October 2015 Cooper spoke about his trip to Germany and Austria and described his encounters with former members of Hitler’s SS in conversation with white supremacist radio host Jeff Rense:-
COOPER [… 3 mins into Part 2 of the program. He and Jeff Rense are looking at photos…] ‘This is a fellowship evening … these are older guys. They are all veterans. Almost all of them are from the 5th SS – but there are veterans from other groups too. We are welcome like family there and you will notice all the glasses with beer…There’s a lot of white hair, a lot of white hair. Sadly every year there’s less and less. So if anyone wants to travel with us and meet these great veterans time is not your friend’.
COOPER [looking at another photo] … ‘That is a good friend of mine – Paul Roche(?) – 97 years old. He was a tank commander for the 5th SS … Used to be they could wear their Knight’s Cross in Austria, but once the European Union came in all that stuff was forbidden … Oh god, if you look at a swastika your brain might melt.’
COOPER [… 11.12″ in …] ‘These old guys – I met one guy … He spoke a little English, but his daughter could speak good English and he wants to tell me his history. He was 5th SS. The man’s 93 years old. He’s in very good shape. God bless him…’
Cooper’s tour was one of many he has made to Germany with Nazi enthusiasts. ‘I go to Germany at least twice a year since 1988’, he told the Forum Borealis radio
program – published on YouTube on 2 July 2016. However, in recent years Cooper’s activities have become increasingly brazen. Some critics claim they are now a public scandal.
Heil Hitler! – Heil, mein Führer!
Harry Cooper makes no attempt to hide his passion for all things Nazi. For example, he claims Hitler was right to invade Poland in 1939, the event which started World War II and led to the death of 50 million people. At a personal level, in his newsletter dated 7 July 2015, Cooper expressed sympathy for a SS man who was a paid-up member of his Sharkhunters organisation:-
‘Our good friend MANFRED THORN, Member #7588 and veteran of the 1st SS (LAH) Division is fighting failing health. He and his wife Hazel are trying to move to the far western part of Germany where he can get the proper treatment for his health … The quicker they get there, the quicker his treatment will begin so we all hope that things open up for them. They are good people.’
A quick check reveals ‘Our good friend MANFRED THORN’ was in fact a member of the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (SS-LAH). Founded September 1933 this Regiment was Adolf Hitler’s personal Bodyguard – the elite of the Nazi elite. Not only that, the units 2nd Battalion was responsible for the Wormhoudt massacre, where 80 British and French prisoners of war were murdered during the retreat to Dunkirk in 1940 and the SS-LSAH was responsible for a series of further war crimes throughout the remainder of World War Two, including the Malmedy massacre during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 and numerous atrocities and massacres of Jews and other civilians on the Eastern Front.
In a radio broadcast of 2014 on the far right Rense Radio Cooper provided details about earlier encounters with former members of the Waffen SS in modern Germany:
‘The Waffen SS was the Green Berets of the German military,’ he said. ‘And when I’m in Germany in a few weeks I’ll be meeting with a whole bunch of them … But I go every September because in southern Austria they have a memorial service where they remember everyone who fell in battle no matter what uniform. If any of your listeners would like information on that for 2015 – we’re putting together another small group over there. We are treated as royalty by these people over there. We get the invitation first before anyone else does. We sit in the honour section. There are evenings we get together for fellowship, talking, singing and, of course, drinking beer. They do a lot of that in Germany!’
However, in spite of such comments , when challenged Cooper denies Sharkhunters glorifies the Nazis, or is driven by antisemitism. ‘We’re non-political,’ he insists. Indeed, such is his confidence in this belief that in May 2015 Cooper told Rense radio: ‘I’m no neo-Nazi. I don’t know what a neo-Nazi is.’
He repeats this mantra in program after program. Not everyone is convinced. Back in September 2008 the Chief Feature Writer of the London Sun newspaper, Oliver Harvey, met Harry Cooper during one of his tours and he took a more jaundiced view of Cooper’s activities. Harvey went undercover in southern Austria at the gathering to honour soldiers who died fighting for the Third Reich. ‘Frail war vets … or something more SSinister?’ ran the headline.
‘The ceremony,’ reported Harvey, ‘attracted dozens of neo-Nazis keen to keep Hitler’s warped world view alive. Khaki-clad armed soldiers from the modern Austrian army laid wreaths at a huge white iron and concrete cross. Halfway through the ceremony a menacing group of youths all dressed in black shirts stood in formation beside the church. Jews and other victims of the Nazis were not mentioned at the ceremony…’
Harvey was introduced to Harry Cooper at a hotel used by those attending the rally and wrote: ‘That evening we met Cooper again in a restaurant. In a taped conversation he admitted his wife believes that Nazi Reinhard Heydrich – who chaired the 1942 Wannsee Conference which finalised plans for the extermination of Europe’s Jews – was “the greatest guy”.’
To most objective historians, Heydrich was one of the most dangerous men in the Third Reich – notorious for his brutality and ruthlessness. Second in importance only to Himmler in the SS, he was one of the main architects of the Final Solution. In his biography of this mass murderer the historian Robert Gerwarth reminds us that from late 1936 Heydrich had ‘control over the two agencies responsible for most of the atrocities committed in Germany and occupied Europe over the following years.’ To the Czechs, over whom he ruled, he was known as the Blond Beast, Hangman Heydrich and the Butcher of Prague. He was so hated that the Czech Government in Exile in London agreed to his assassination by Czech agents of the British Special Operations Executive in 1942.
Coopers rose-tinted views as regards Heydrich and the SS, however, are nothing compared to his various takes on the Führer himself.
In his book Kassel 1939, Cooper looks at the First Greater German Reich Warrior Meeting that took place on the weekend of 2-4 June 1939, shortly before the various warriors concerned became involved in the unprovoked invasion of Poland. After describing the preparations for the meeting, which the Nazi Propaganda Ministry claimed involved 30,000 German soldiers, and Hitler’s ‘roaring speech’ at the event, the advertising copy for the book on the Sharkhunters website eulogises: ‘This was a time when Germany and Germans came together in a common direction. The nation was everything; patriotism was foremost. It was a simpler time.’
That is a simpler time eight months after Kristallnacht which saw organised gangs of Nazi thugs destroying jewish property and attacking and murdering Jewish people across Germany and Austria, and three months after the illegal annexation of Czechoslovakia.
Cooper continues in stirring terms: ‘… by 1939, the time of this gathering, Germany had once again been able to hold up their (sic) collective heads in pride. They had a leader, they had a military and above all else, they had their dignity back. Gatherings like the Nürnberg Party Rallies for several years; the 1936 Olympics hosted in Berlin where incidentally, Germany brought the games to the heights of pomp and ceremony that we see in the Olympic Games now. Prior to the 1936 Berlin games, there was not much flair.
The German people, including Austria, now had a focus, a direction and they had their pride. They could hold their heads up and point with pride at the fantastic agriculture and manufacturing that had sprung up once the Versailles Treaty was abrogated and the military sprung to prominence. Return with us now to a time when national pride and patriotism was at its zenith in Germany as well as many other nations.’
However, this glowing tribute to Nazi pageantry, [and incidentally to the Nazi world view], where the Führer merely gets a walk on part, is as nothing compared to Harry Cooper’s principle contribution to the international scholarship of World War Two, where the late Führer at last takes centre stage.
Part Two of Roger Clark’s special investigation explores Harry Cooper’s theory that, contrary to seventy years of historical orthodoxy, Adolf Hitler and new wife Eva Braun, were forcibly removed from the Führer Bunker in Berlin in April 1945 and taken to Argentina where they lived quietly and died of old age: Sponsoring a bit of nuclear weapons research on the side.