Before the group imploded amid a domestic violence case last month, the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker Party was bickering with former allies, and besieged by anti-fascist protesters, leaked chat logs reveal.
The logs, obtained by the nonprofit media collective Unicorn Riot and published in full online, reveal more than a year of the hate group’s communications on the chat platform Discord. Despite rising to prominence during Donald Trump’s campaign, the Traditionalist Worker Party appeared to grow increasingly paranoid of protesters and fellow white supremacists alike. By March, days before the group’s highly public downfall, its adherents were boasting of building bombs, ostensibly to protect themselves from anti-fascists.
The TWP dissolved dramatically in March when its leader Matthew Heimbach was arrested for allegedly assaulted his wife and TWP spokesperson Matthew Parrott after they caught Heimbach sleeping with Parrott’s wife. Heimbach’s wife is also Parrott’s stepdaughter.
In the days before the Heimbach’s arrest, a group of TWP members was in Michigan, acting as a security force for white nationalist Richard Spencer, who was scheduled to give a series of talks there. Paranoid of the protesters who met Spencer at every event, the TWP members wrote on Discord that they were hiding in a backwoods property Spencer had rented, and that they’d built explosives for him.
“I fucking love having you at events with your molotovs and smoke bombs from home,” one TWP member—apparently Parrott’s wife—told another. She implied that they had left explosives for Spencer as a gift. “I wonder what Spencer thought of the molotovs on his back porch in the morning,” she wrote.
The TWP members said they’d built the explosives with tiki torch fuel because “antifa [the anti-fascist group] had our address.” They joked about throwing the explosives at anti-fascists at Spencer’s upcoming event.
Their grievances weren’t just with anti-fascists, however. The leaked chats reveal a fragile relationship with Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group implicated in four recent murders.
As recently as December, TWP members were expressing their private support for Atomwaffen.
“I like what Atomwaffen stands for and they have great optics, I'm just concerned that they're probably crawling with feds after that radioactive material thing,” one TWP member wrote, in reference to former Atomwaffen leader Brandon Russell who pleaded guilty in September to keeping lethal bomb-making materials in his apartment. Previously, another Atomwaffen member had killed Russell’s roommate and another man.
“AWD are good friends of ours,” Heimbach wrote during that December conversation. Unicorn Riot noted at least six current or former Atomwaffen members with profiles on the TWD’s Discord server.
But by February, the TWP had largely split with Atomwaffen, due to the brand of obscure Satanism a growing number of its participants appear to practice. Atomwaffen’s leader “decided to worship Satan and Charles Manson so we are no longer friends,” a prominent TWP member wrote that month.
The rift appears to have grown since. A TWP member later shared a screenshot of a piece of fanfiction an Atomwaffen member allegedly wrote about him, which described him having sex with Heimbach and a chicken leg.
Fights between neo-Nazi groups have been on the rise since Unite the Right, a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last August. The supposedly unifying rally ended in disarray after a man who marched with the white nationalist group Vanguard America drove a car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing one and injuring more.
After Charlottesville, TWP members took some solace in a wave of humanizing media attention for neo-Nazis. “They always expect us to go around literally gassing people,” one TWP member said of a report that noted how “friendly” Heimbach seemed in public.
At the same time, the group tried push blame for the Charlottesville violence onto anti-fascist protesters. “You want people hating antifa as much as possible lol,” one wrote. Aiding that effort was President Donald Trump, who accused anti-racist protesters of violence with his claims that there were “very bad people” and “blame on both sides.”
“muh horseshoe theory,” one TWP member mocked, in reference to a centrist theory that claims the far right and far left are more similar than the far right and centrists. “fascists and antifascists are exactly the same.”The TWP made repeated attempts to seed media coverage with depictions of violent anti-fascist protesters.
One such incident began on April 20, 2017, when neo-Nazis gathered at a Louisville, Kentucky restaurant to celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday. Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer advertised the event in advance, tipping off local anti-fascists. A group of anti-fascists met the neo-Nazis at the restaurant and chanted “Nazis out,” until the restaurant’s owners became aware of the situation and booted the neo-Nazis from the premises.
"We understand and we asked the white supremacists to leave," the owner told, Louisville’s WAVE3 News. "It was the right thing to do. And we feel good about it. We feel it was handled appropriately."
On Discord the following night, a TWP member complained that antifa had harassed him, and asked the group’s spokesperson to help him craft a statement to the media.
“WAVE3 is asking me about the event last night where antifa harassed us,” the TWP member asked Matthew Parrott.
“The antifa attacked the entire restaurant,” Parrott told him to say. “They attack Trump supporters. They attack reporters, too. They attack anyone who's not a radical anarchist. We will not be intimidated. We will defend our people. We will prevail."The TWP member repeated the statement verbatim to WAVE3, which ran it in full.
But the TWP logs reveal a group increasingly worried about attacks from protesters, either real or imagined.
“We really just don't know how well-organized the antifa will be, what numbers we'll be talking, or what,” Parrott wrote after TWP members were booted from the Hitler birthday party. “I'm most anxious about ambush-style bullshit, like one of our members going to McDonald's and getting sucker punched in the parking lot.”
“so fucking antifa I'm pretty sure threw bricks through my window,” a Kentucky-based TWP member groused in June.
The neo-Nazis also feared an anti-fascist campaign to publicly name members of hate groups. One TWP member, who went by “Illegal Aryan” in the chat, was exposed as a neo-Nazi in May.
“There was just a sign on my door that read, hey Mark, we should talk - your neighbors,” he wrote, telling his fellow TWP members that he felt “shaken” and that “antifa want to terrorize and beat me up.”
Other TWP members responded that he should “shoot them [anti-fascists],” or publish their personal information in retaliation.
But anti-fascists’ confrontational tactics appear to have made some TWP members afraid of demonstrating.
“I like rallies, but we make the mistake of letting antifa choose the battleground,” one person wrote in the days after the TWP’s downfall.
“Its like hey Antifa, here's the time and place we will be at,” another person wrote in agreement. “Be sure to show up there way early and cause havoc so our event gets shitcanned.” He suggested neo-Nazis do flash mob-style events, so protesters couldn’t oppose them.
But by the time of that discussion, the TWP had gone down in flames. Some former members had disavowed it, others had disappeared, and another sect was attempting to rebrand the remaining followers as a new group, tentatively titled the Nationalist Initiative. The new group was off to a slow start as its members argued over its logo.
“A Phoenix is hard to draw,” one complained.
“I'm drawing with MS paint on a trackpad,” another said of a lopsided design.
A third person suggested a circle with an arrow bursting out horizontally from the top. “Isnt that like a gender identifier?” someone objected.
How many neo-Nazis will march under the new logo remains unclear.
“A couple i know have given up [white nationalist] activism all together,” one person lamented two weeks ago. “They see this as the last year of the ‘Alt-Right.’”