Koehl’s activism began sometime in the 1950s, when he joined the National Renaissance Party (a neo-fascist group), the United White Party and the National States Rights Party (NSRP), before he eventually joined the American Nazi Party in 1960. It was there, in the NSRP, that Koehl met George Lincoln Rockwell. The pair worked on the campaign of segregationist and anti-Semitic candidate for Alabama governor John Crommelin.
In 1963, Koehl relocated to the national office in Virginia, where he worked as the party’s national secretary.
Rockwell renamed the ANP the National Socialist White People’s Party (NSWPP) prior to his assassination in 1967, at which point Koehl was the ranking officer of the group. He became the commander, a post he retained for over a decade, and he worked at “re-branding” the NSWPP by stopping the group’s negative attacks against racial minorities. Instead, he tried to focus on the “positive” aspects of National Socialism and the glories of an all-white race.
The NSWPP experienced ideological divisions in the 1970s and split, with one faction forming the National Socialist Party of America. Others followed William Pierce to form the National Alliance.
Koehl, meanwhile, continued with the NSWPP and renamed the group “New Order” in 1983, which reflected his beliefs in esoteric Nazism (Nazi mysticism) and an influence by the writings of Savitri Devi Mukherji, the pseudonym for Greek-French writer Maximiani Portas, an advocate for deep ecology, animal rights, and Nazism.
Koehl began to suggest that National Socialism was more a religious movement than a political one, and he espoused the belief that Hitler had been sent by some divine providence to save the white race from decadence and extinction caused by miscegenation.
Koehl dispersed New Order to Wisconsin and Michigan in the mid-1980s because of membership decline, trouble with the IRS and the high cost of living in Washington, D.C. The group still maintains a website and a post office box in Milwaukee.