Visit to Nazi memorial prompts lawsuit

By Mike Heine/The Week

(Published September 5, 2006, 10:08 a.m.)

Walworth County officials say Theodor Junker, a former Nazi Waffen SS soldier, had 20 to 25 people at his memorial to Adolf Hitler located in Millard on Aug. 25.

That many people created a public gathering on land not zoned for such an event, prompting the county to file a $2,000 civil suit against Junker, 87.

"They were there for over an hour," Assistant Corporation Counsel Michael Cotter said, referring to the members of the National Socialist Movement who Junker acknowledged were on his property. "They were doing something rather than just viewing (the memorial). There was a meeting of some sort or assembly."

Had Junker invited each person who attended, there would have been little the county could do.

But Junker signed a restraining order that closed the memorial to masses of people whom he didn't invite personally.

The National Socialist Movement, which had a rally in Madison on Aug. 26, publicized on online message boards it wanted to have a meeting at Junker's memorial.

NSM agreed to cancel the meeting if the county agreed to cancel an injunction against Junker for planning to allow such an event.

"I held up my end. They did not hold up theirs," Cotter said.

"Our beliefs were verified," Sheriff David Graves said. "We tried to believe they would stick to their word, but we verified the fact that we can't trust them. Therefore we have to go ahead with this contempt charge."

Representatives from the Wisconsin division of the National Socialist Movement did not return a phone call seeking comment. And Junker did not answer his phone when called Friday.

Junker will be served with the suit later this weekend or early next week, Cotter said. The court documents, obtained from the corporation counsel office, will be filed Tuesday when court is back in session.

An affidavit from sheriff's Capt. Tim Schiefelbein said he saw five vehicles approach Junker's property, W6330 County A, about 9:21 p.m. Aug. 25.

One of the vehicles had a license plate registered to Kris Johnson, the NSM Wisconsin leader, according to the affidavit.

Plates on the vehicles were from Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Kansas.

Sheriff's deputies were preparing to go onto the property, but the caravan left at 10:29 p.m. before enough police could arrive, Cotter said.

Junker told police that Johnson and other NSM members were on his property that night.

In earlier interviews, Johnson said the NSM would assist Junker in obtaining proper zoning permits that allow large gatherings.

Cotter said the suit doesn't arise from the messages NSM brings. It is only a zoning issue, he said.

Junker's land is zoned C-2, an upland conservation district. He needs to change that zoning to one that would allow for public gatherings at a museum or assembly hall. He also needs a conditional use permit, Cotter said.

Neither the town of Sugar Creek nor the county could deny a zoning request based on the subject of Junker's memorial or the meetings or gatherings that could be held there.

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