Fringe history has a Frank Joseph problem, and it seems like no one really wants to deal with it. The problem isn’t that Frank Joseph writes—prolifically—about fringe history topics, but rather that individuals, companies, and organizations involved in fringe history are intentionally omitting mention of his background and denying readers of his work the information they need to evaluate Joseph’s claims.
Joseph, formerly known as Frank Collin, became infamous in the 1970s as the leader of an American Nazi Party, in which capacity he was involved in the Supreme Court case National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie 432 U.S. 43 (1977), which established the right of Nazis to march and display swastika emblems. After his Jewish heritage came to light (his father was a Holocaust survivor), Collin at first denied the claims but remained head of the National Socialist Party of America until his arrest on child sex charges. Nevertheless, Joseph continues to promote a view of history that places a white master race in a position of prehistoric global domination and power, albeit now with Jews included among the white peoples who once ruled the Americas. Because this ancient white master race reflects a central tenet of his early Nazi beliefs, it would appear to be extremely relevant to understanding his ideas and point of view, at least as much as David Duke’s former position as a Grand Wizard in the Ku Klux Klan remains forever affixed to any discussion of his views on race and Jews.
Why is it different when Frank Joseph opines on how “white” people from Atlantis bequeathed civilization to the world’s black and brown peoples?
This is doubly strange since other fringe figures, now dead, who had connections to Nazi ideology are routinely described as such even in fringe literature. Otto Rahn went in search of the Holy Grail on the behest of his SS boss, Heinrich Himmler, and his books remain frequent touchstones for fringe Grail researchers; however, they have no trouble in describing Rahn as working for the Nazis. Jacques de Mahieu collaborated with the Nazis during the Second World War and spent the rest of his career attempting to prove that an Aryan master race once ruled over Native Americans. Even Scott F. Wolter felt the need to acknowledge this fact in From Akhenaten to the Founding Fathers (2013) when using Mahieu’s work in support of his own belief about white colonization of the Americas in pre-Columbian times, if only to dismiss it as “irrelevant”:
At this point, it is appropriate to put professor Mahieu, his Nazi past, and his research into proper perspective. A quick Internet search will find a brief synopsis of the man whose research is labeled multiple times as “racist.” Mahieu is an easy target given his Nazi background, but in this discussion his politics are irrelevant and unimportant.
And yet they were important enough to explicitly dismiss. So why is Frank Joseph exempted in fringe history literature from such acknowledgement?
In 2012, Frank Joseph published several articles by Scott Wolter in his anthology Lost Worlds of Ancient America (New Page Books), and in 2013 he published the same book again with a new publisher under the title Unlocking the Prehistory of America. That new publisher was the Rosen Publishing Group, a publisher of library books for children. At this point it becomes relevant, too, that Joseph was convicted of sexual assault on children.
I will pause to note here that since I first raised the issue of Frank Joseph’s work appearing under the Rosen Publishing Group imprint, his books have been removed from their online catalog. I had left messages with the company asking about the issue. These were never answered, but the removal of his books from their website suggests someone looked into the issue. I wish the company had the courage to issue an actual statement about their involvement with Frank Joseph rather than what seems to be an effort to try to erase their involvement by scrubbing it from the internet. A copy of Joseph’s Rosen Publishing volume can be viewed on Google Books.
But Rosen Publishing isn’t the first to have given a forum to Frank Joseph without acknowledging his controversial past. As soon as Frank Collin changed his name after his release from prison (Joseph is his middle name), fringe history—and even some mainstream publishers—embraced him and gave him a platform for his vision of a lost white master race as though his Nazi past were irrelevant to his use of claims from esoteric Nazism to support his racial hierarchy. He has also been published by ABC-CLIO, The Barnes Review, Bear & Company, FATE magazine, Hancock House Publishers, Helion & Company, and New Page Books. So far as I can tell, none has identified him in print as an ex-Neo-Nazi, even Helion & Company, which published his book on fascism, Mussolini’s War (2010)! Surely, if nowhere else, an author’s Nazi affiliation is relevant when writing about fascism. Mussolini’s War is no longer listed on Helion’s website. Did they discover his conflict of interest?
Heck, Joseph actually claims in Opening the Ark of the Covenant that the Nazis controlled the Ark (was there not a movie about that...?), and no one thought to mention that his Nazi affiliation might be relevant to evaluating his efforts to visit the Ark upon Hitler?
Other fringe figures who have published with or written for Frank Joseph include: Brad Steiger, Zecharia Sitchin, Laura Lee, Andrew Collins, Gunnar Thompson, David Childress, Cyclone Covey, and of course Joseph’s longtime colleague, the Mormon hyper-diffusionist Wayne May, who gave Joseph his influential perch as the editor of May’s Ancient American magazine, which still employs him as a staff correspondent.
Fringe figures returned the favor. Most famously, May has financed Joseph through Ancient American for decades. Brian Haughton invited Frank Joseph to write the forward for his Hidden History (2007). David Childress published some of Frank Joseph’s work in World Explorer magazine in the early 1990s, and he went on an “investigation” with Joseph, which he reported in Lost Cities of North and Central America (1993), all without mentioning his Nazi past, perhaps because he wasn’t aware of it at the time. Is it just a coincidence that right after this, when Childress started to get gigs on cable TV documentaries, suddenly Frank Joseph disappears from his work? He is entirely absent from Childress’s Lost Cities of Atlantis (1996), for example, a strange omission since Joseph, of course, was already then famous as an investigator of Atlantis. (His first book was Destruction of Atlantis in 1987.) In 1993 they were on a first-name basis and Childress was proud to have published his work on Phoenicians in Chicago. What changed?
Now let me make clear: Those who work with Frank Joseph have been very careful to let him promote his ideas without reference to his past. Here is how New Page Books gives his biography on the back cover of his anthology Lost Worlds of Ancient America, a book that posits repeated colonization of America by the superior forces of white Europeans:
Frank Joseph became the editor in chief (sic) of Ancient American magazine when it was founded in 1993. His 20 books, which have been published in various languages around the world, include… A frequent radio talk show guest, he has been interviewed by Shirley MacLaine, Art Bell, Jeff Rense, Rob McConnell, and numerous other broadcast hosts.
I guess we can add that list to the people who have given support to Joseph. But this is positively responsible compared to the way that the Barnes Review described him in his 2010 review of Scott Wolter’s collected works:
FRANK JOSEPH is a supporter of what has been called the hyper-diffusionist approach to prehistory. He was born in Chicago in 1944. His father, a Jew, spent time in the Dachau concentration camp. Joseph is the author of the books Atlantis and Other Lost Worlds and The Lost Civilization of Lemuria. He is also staff correspondent at Ancient American, a quarterly magazine investigating possible visits to our continent from the Old World before Columbus.
The Barnes Review is a publication of historical revisionism, including Holocaust denial (hence the wording in Joseph’s biography), founded and run by the Liberty Lobby, a group the Anti-Defamation League said was associated with organized anti-Semitism, until 2001, when Liberty Lobby went bankrupt. The Barnes Review continues on under the leadership of far-right race-theorist Willis Carto, a man who wrote that “It was the Jews and their lies that blinded the West as to what Germany was doing. Hitler’s defeat was the defeat of Europe and America.” He also wanted to send the Blacks back to Africa, according to news accounts, and he founded the far-right Populist Party—yes, the one that served as David Duke’s platform.
Carto’s greatest legacy is probably the Supreme Court’s decision in Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986), which established guidelines for summary judgment to end frivolous lawsuits. The courts got sick of him trying to sue anyone who described the racial and anti-Semitic impact of his work in plain language.
Let’s make this clear: Involvement with the Barnes Review shows that Frank Joseph did not simply give up his old ideas. He continues to write for publications involved in what watch groups describe as anti-Semitism, scientific racism, and Holocaust denial, and he believes that those who support such beliefs are interested in lost white colonizers of ancient America like Scott Wolter’s Knights Templar. Joseph wrote his review of Wolter’s work in 2010, and Joseph reported that in 2011 he and Scott Wolter shared a pleasant car ride from Michigan to Wisconsin where they discussed fringe history. It’s perfectly possible that Wolter had no idea who Joseph was or what he had done, but he then let Joseph publish his work under Joseph’s imprimatur in 2012 and again in 2013 and has never spoken out against Joseph’s apparently still-current views. Neither has any other major fringe history figure, so far as I can tell. Why? What makes him so special?
Fringe history has a Frank Joseph problem, and the shocking list of fringe figures and “alternative” publishers who work with, support, employ, and finance Joseph need to account for this, especially since nearly every fringe figure postulates that it is mainstream scholars who have hidden motivations and occult connections to nefarious secret groups.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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