After the investigation, Hitler advised all German nationals to withdraw from the Friends of New Germany. On March 19, 1936, Hitler placed an American citizen, Fritz Julius Kuhn, as the head of the party. The group's name was then changed to the German American Bund. At this time, the Bund established two training camps, Camp Nordlund in Sussex County, New Jersey and Camp Siegfried in Yaphank, New York
After taking over in 1936, Kuhn started to attract attention to the Bund through short propaganda films that outlined the Bund's views. Later that year, Fritz Kuhn and some fifty Bund members boarded a boat to Germany, hoping to receive personal and official recognition from German Chancellor (Reichskanzler) Adolf Hitler during the Berlin Olympics. However, according to historian Charles Higham, Kuhn was one of the last people Hitler wanted to meet. Hitler wanted the American Bund to remain non-aggressive and relatively obscure. However, Kuhn did briefly meet with Hitler during a reception before the opening ceremonies. Kuhn later falsely reported to other Bund members that he met with Adolf Hitler and that Hitler had recognized him as the "American Führer."
Bund parade in New York in 1937 was held under police guard. However, except for American Jews, no one protested against the march of the Nazis in the main U.S. city.
Arguably, the zenith of the Bund's history occurred on President's Day, February 20, 1939 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Some 20,000 people attended and heard Kuhn criticize President Franklin D. Roosevelt by repeatedly referring to him as “Frank D. Rosenfeld”, calling his New Deal the "Jew Deal", and stating his belief of Bolshevik-Jewish American leadership. Most shocking to American sensibilities was the outbreak of violence between protesters and Bund storm troopers.
The Bund was one of several German-American heritage groups; however, it was one of the few to express National Socialist ideals. As a result, many considered the group anti-American. In the last week of December 1942, led by journalist Dorothy Thompson, fifty leading German-Americans including Babe Ruth signed a "Christmas Declaration by men and women of German ancestry" condemning Nazism, which appeared in ten major American daily newspapers.
In 1939, a New York tax investigation determined Kuhn had embezzled money from the Bund. The Bund operated on the theory that the leader's powers were absolute, and therefore did not seek prosecution. However, in an attempt to cripple the Bund, the New York district attorney prosecuted Kuhn. New Bund leaders would replace Kuhn, most notably with Gerhard Kunze, but these were only brief stints. Martin Dies and the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) were very active in denying any Nazi-sympathetic organization the ability to freely operate during World War II.