NEBRASKA AND THE KLAN
The Ku Klux Klan flourished in Nebraska in the 1920s. Originally a vigilante group in the South immediately after the Civil War, the Klan was re-established around 1915 with a different emphasis. This "second generation" Klan was moral, patriotic, and concerned about threats both foreign and domestic. It was also secretive, bigoted, and sometimes dangerous.
Because of the Klan's pro-American, pro-family, pro-public-education, anti-bootlegger philosophy, many towns In Nebraska had active Klaverns. Yet by the 1930s the Klan all but disappeared, gutted by moral scandal and financial fraud.
D. W. Griffith's epic 1915 silent movie, The Birth of a Nation, inspired the birth of a new Ku Klux Klan. This film showed in many Nebraska communities, and many communities were home to new Klaverns. This card advertised the screening in Ainsworth in 1918.
Members of the Klu Klux Klan march down O Street in Lincoln during what is probably the 1924 Fourth of July Parade.
Klan Picnic at Epworth Park advertisement, 1924.
Klansmen in Neligh, Nebraska, ca. 1925. Many communities in Nebraska, both large and small, had a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan
Sandborn map of Lincoln showing the Klavern at 7th and Washington Streets.
The Cantor and the Klansman: A Story of Redemption
Larry Trapp, once the Grand Dragon of the KKK for the Realm of Nebraska, denounced a lifetime of racial hate and violence after experiencing the loving kindness of Cantor (now Rabbi) Michael Weisser and his wife Julie. Trapp joined the Klan in 1988 and became the Grand Dragon of Nebraska shortly after. He organized Neo-Nazi meetings, sent out hate literature and made threatening phone calls to prominent and less prominent African-Americans and Jewish leaders. He was also rumored to have been involved in several arsons and bomb threats. After he made threatening phone calls to the Weissers, they responded with messages of love, once offering to take the almost blind and wheel chair bound Trapp to the grocery store. Soon, Trapp asked the Weissers to meet with him. After speaking with them, he renounced the KKK, moved into the Weisser home, converted to Judaism and died in the care of his adopted family on September 6, 1992. He is buried in the Jewish section of Wyuka Cemetery.