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Walking away from the Nazi’s: Potter County man and family talk to the Sun about abandoning Nazism and white supremacy

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Interview with Daniel Burnside, former member of the National Socialist Movement, embarking on mission to ‘right the wrong’

Walking away from the Nazi movement as a family

By Andrew Harris, pictured is the Burnside family

When Daniel Burnside looks back at his life, three defining moments are crystal clear: A drunk driver changed his body forever, and ended ambitions of military service. Industrial pollution caused the loss of a pregnancy and created deep family trauma. A change of heart and mind freed him and his family from the life as a leading neo-Nazi.

Looking back at those cornerstones of his life is the best way to understand how an average American boy found himself immersed in the world of white supremacy as a grown man.

In 2018 Burnside was in the national spotlight with CNN parked in his Ulysses, Pennsylvania driveway. The news crew had arrived in the rural Potter County nieghborhood to do a story headlined: “What do you do when your neighbor is a Neo-Nazi?”

A Washington Post story just a few weeks before CNN showed up had painted an ugly image of Burnside as a racist antagonist who had ties to local neo-Nazi skinheads and Klu Klux Klan groups. Between the swastikas, gunfire, and hate speech the vast majority of the community were insulted and wanted nothing to do with Burnside. It became an international story when ABC News Australia followed up with this indepth piece on Burnside in 2019:

Many locals openly wondered what happened to cause this friendly and patriotic guy to become a monsterous Nazi wanna be. Burnside and his wife now want to shed light on why they chose that life, why they “got out,” and why they plan to spend many years making amends to the community.

Daniel and his wife Sabrina recently appeared on a podcast hosted by another former neo-Nazi, Jeff Schoep. Ironically, Schoep was a driving force in recruiting the Burnsides into “the movement,” as a leader in the American hate group community. Schoep was also instrumental in helping the Burnside family escape the life of a neo-Nazi. In the interview co-hosted by Acacia Ditez, the Burnsides talk about how they came to the Nazi movement and how they realized it was the wrong path and reversed course. You can watch that full interview below:

We asked Burnside some questions about his decision to disavow the lifestyle and begin a mission of reconciliation.

SUN: This doesn’t seem like any easy life to leave. Have you been concerned for you and your families safety?

BURNSIDE: It is not an easy life to leave. I don’t have any concerns for mine or my families safety at this time.  That may change but so far I have received no threats.

SUN: You found comfort in that lifestyle after a family tragedy and personal trauma. Is that a common “point of entry?”

BURNSIDE: I think yes trauma is a common point of entry. There is many reasons people join. Whether it’s because of a bad interaction with a minority or they have been cast out in life and are looking to fit in.

SUN: How do your children, at least the kids who can understand, feel about this sudden change?

BURNSIDE: They are excited for the change. They never truly wanted this hateful lifestyle and you can see the relief on their faces. They are awesome respectful loving kids and this opens the door for them to be free of the stigma we put on them by being Nazis.

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SUN: Have you been approached by another other current members of the Nazi party for direction or help getting out?

BURNSIDE: Yes we have been approached by others for help leaving. We plan to what we can to make amends for all we done. 

SUN: Should those who would like to talk more contact you?

BURNSIDE: They can use or my cell is 814-203-3515 

SUN: Art is clearly a big part of who you are. Can you share some of the carvings you are most proud of?  How do customers contact you?

BURNSIDE: Yes art has always been a big part of my life. I do a carving competition at Cherry Springs State park every August and last year I placed first with this Edward Scissor Hands. I have many photos. I truly enjoy carving patriotic eagle memorials for veterans It’s my way of saying thank you to them. People usually just stop by my home to look at artwork.

The next chapter of the Burnside family is largely still taking shape but Daniel’s skill and accomplishment as a chain saw artist will undoubtably be a big part of the future. Check out this gallery of his award winning work below.

The primary goal of the Daniel and Sabrina is to be an example for others by setting the record straight. They are deeply apologetic for the pain, embarassment, hostility, and general disregard for the community caused by their prior lifestyle. They have a strong desire to reach out to every person that they disrespected or discriminated against to apologize. The Burnside’s also are on a mission to be available as a lifeline to those who are involved with the Nazi/KKK/NSM who want out of that life. They along with people like Jeff Schoep are ready to help anyone who needs an experienced guiding hand in walking away.

Daniel encourages those who would like to discuss his journey or find support with thier journey to contact him directly: or my cell is 814-203-3515 

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