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There Were Nazis in America in the 1930s!

The German American Bund or German American Federation was an American Nazi organization established in the 1930s. Its main goal was to promote a favorable view of Nazi Germany.

NSDAP member Heinz Spanknöbel merged two older organizations, Gau-USA, and the Free Society of Teutonia, which were both small groups with only a few hundred members each, into Friends of New Germany. One of its early initiatives was to counter, with propaganda, a Jewish boycott of businesses in the heavily German neighborhood of Yorkville, Manhattan. Simultaneously, an internal battle was fought for control of the Friends in 1934; Spanknöbel was ultimately ousted from leadership. At the same time, the Dickstein investigation concluded that the Friends supported a branch of German dictator Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party in America.

The Bund reached its peak in 1939, when its members gathered at Madison Square Garden ostensibly to celebrate George Washington’s birthday, an event attended by 20,000. Despite the turnout, the group’s membership never exceeded 25,000. At the start of World War II, most Bund members were placed in internment camps, and some were deported at the end of the war.


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.

 Summer Camp Bund near New York

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.

 Fritz Julius Kuhn (right) was selected by Hitler to lead the movement in America

 Meeting of Bund and KKK


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