Video Resurfaces Featuring Images Of Hitler And Local GOP Party Chair Tony Krvaric
An old animated video has surfaced that shows Nazi salutes and symbols and a bobbing Hitler above the image of a young Tony Krvaric, who is now chairman of the San Diego County Republican Party.
The early 1990s video features an image of Hitler — flexing his right arm brandished with a swastika band — floating up and down between photos of three young men. Among them is an image of a youthful Krvaric sporting dark shades.
“It’s pretty serious,” said local civil rights lawyer Jim McElroy, a former member and chairman of the board of The Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy group specializing in civil rights issues.
“There's a dancing Hitler. There's a swastika on someone's neck. There's a Sieg Heil salute. We're talking about genocide. We're talking about the deaths of millions of people. That's not something to joke about.”
The video was produced by a group called Fairlight that was founded during the late 1980s in Sweden at the dawn of the personal computer age. The group broke into video games, a practice called “cracking,” which at the time was legal in Sweden. The 49-year-old Krvaric has previously acknowledged that he was at one point a leader of the group.
The video runs for two minutes and 32 seconds and includes a difficult-to-read scroll that says in part “now don’t think that we are mega Nazis just because of the Hitlersprite.”
KPBS became aware of the video in recent weeks and has not found other examples of Krvaric using Nazi symbols. Krvaric, who recently announced plans to step down in January, has refused numerous requests to comment on the video. But he did not deny his involvement with it.
UC San Diego political science professor Thad Kousser expressed surprise over Krvaric’s refusal to comment. Kousser argued Krvaric is missing an easy chance to “clarify” why his image is in the video.
“For 75 years, since World War II, there has been a bright line in American politics that anyone associated with Nazi symbolism, with the swastika, with the Heil Hitler imagery, that that's beyond the pale,” Kousser said. “That is fringe politics. And it's not part of what either of the two great parties in American politics stand for. And what I would expect is that anyone associated with this would be lining up to disassociate themselves from this, to condemn it.”
On Friday, hours before this story was published, Krvaric sent out a news release on local GOP letterhead that stated in part: “We ask San Diego Democrats to join us in rejecting extremists like communists, Marxists, anarchists, Antifa, supremacists, and racists who thrive on division to gain attention for their sick ideas and ideologies.”
Swedish Computer 'Crackers'
Previously published articles on Fairlight indicate that Krvaric’s involvement with the group began in the late 1980s. He went by the nickname “Strider,” which appears under a photo of him in the Hitler video.
Members of the group were eventually targeted by federal prosecutors, and in 2004 several members were charged with crimes relating to online piracy. Krvaric was not among those who were charged.
Krvaric was born in Sweden and immigrated to the U.S. the early 1990s. He has said he worked in the computer industry for a few years before becoming a financial advisor. He became a U.S. citizen in 2003 and was elected to his first two-year term as chairman of the local GOP in 2007.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, director of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Global Social Action Agenda, has spent the past three decades tracking extreme online speech. He said the motive for the Hitler video could partly have been “bravado,” but Krvaric should answer for it.
“I believe he owes everyone in San Diego and beyond an explanation,” Cooper said.
The video has surfaced at a time when the United States is in the midst of a racial reckoning brought on by high-profile examples of police violence against Black people and efforts by the Trump administration and other Republicans to bring white nationalism into the party’s mainstream.
Questions Regarding Sons
Both of Krvaric’s sons appear to share their father’s interest in politics and have used rhetoric associated with white nationalism.
Krvaric’s elder son Victor Krvaric has recently associated with a white nationalist group called the “Groyper Army” on his Instagram page. The page’s profile includes the saying, “we’re all going to make it brah groyper,” next to a cartoon frog.
The Groyper Army, which uses a similar cartoon frog as its symbol, is fighting a “war” with mainstream conservatives to move them further to the right.
“They advocate for white America,” said McElroy, the civil rights attorney. “They advocate for the end of all immigration whatsoever. They say, `we’re losing our cultural identity and heritage,’ which for some reason, they don’t believe includes people of color but only white, Aryan, Europe-based people.”
Victor Krvaric did not respond to repeated attempts by KPBS to reach him for comment.
Oliver Krvaric, Tony Krvaric’s younger son, is president of the San Diego State University chapter of the College Republicans.
He recently wrote an opinion piece for the Union-Tribune where he discussed his hope that the Republican Party moves even more toward “national conservatism” that includes values like “reverence for our history, and an effort to uphold our national and cultural identity.”
McElroy said these terms are coded language that appeals to extremists on the right. “When people talk about cultural heritage, especially people on the right, they are talking about white heritage,” he said.
KPBS contacted Oliver Krvaric and he declined to comment.
Longtime Republican Supervisor Dianne Jacob expressed alarm over Tony Krvaric’s Hitler video.
“I’ve certainly had several concerns with Mr. Krvaric’s leadership of the local Republican party and his troubling background has been highlighted in the past, but I wasn’t aware of this disturbing video,” Jacob said in a statement.
Republican Congressional Candidate Darrel Issa also repudiated the video.
“This video was inappropriate, just plain wrong then and now and Mr. Krvaric has to explain why it doesn’t represent who he is today,” said Issa, who is running for the 50th District U.S. House seat.
KPBS reached out to several prominent local Republicans including; San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Republican supervisors Jim Desmond, Kristin Gaspar, Greg Cox, former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio and Ron Nehring, former chairman of the state’s Republican Party, as well as Jessica Millan Patterson, the current head of the state’s party. None agreed to comment for this story.
UC San Diego’s Kousser said he is surprised by the lack of response. He said he would have expected “every Republican in the county to line up” to echo their sentiments.
“Because that is the easiest, clearest thing to do, both from a moral imperative and also a political imperative,” Kousser said.
Update: After this story was published, a member of Faulconer's communications staff sent the following comment from the mayor: "The images and messages displayed in the video were wrong then and are wrong today and should never be tolerated.”
KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman also contributed to this report.