Top 10 Historical Facts About The Nazi Movement In America

Top 10 Historical Facts About The Nazi Movement In America
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It’s easy to forget that during the 1930s, Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist Party—though seen as radical by many—were not necessarily considered a risk to world peace. It’s even easier to forget that Hitler had more than a few sympathizers, even outright supporters, in the United States. Here are some Part of history that are seldom discussed, but should serve as a reminder as to how extremist ideals can take hold anyplace, anytime.So, here is a list of Top 10 Historical Facts About The Nazi Movement In America

10. The Bund

The Bund

A great portion of Nazi ideology revolved around the purity of the German “race,” and Hitler shrewdly realized early on that this could be exploited in the German migrant populations of his potential enemies. A mere four months after his rise to power in 1933, an American organization known as “Friends of the New Germany” was gathered from several smaller organizations around the US. Initially made up of both German nationals and US citizens of German descent, it was restructured in 1936 into the German American Bund (“Bund” meaning “Alliance”), which admitted only German-Americans.

Since a quarter of the US population at the time had some German family, membership was higher than one might imagine. The Bund’s leader, Fritz Kuhn, was even dubbed the American Fuhrer. While taking care to ensure its perception as an American organization remained solid (expressions of American patriotism were plentiful in Bund social events, which often took place on American holidays or on presidents’ birthdays) the reality remains that American citizens gave the Nazi salute, shouted “Heil Hitler,” and otherwise behaved much as an attendee at any German Nazi Party get-together would have. Fritz Kuhn was exposed by undercover journalists in 1937 and jailed for theft two years later.

9. Nazi Summer Camps

Nazi Summer Camps After its 1936 rebuilding, the Bund began making a concerted effort to advance Nazi philosophy in the hopes that the US could be made sympathetic to, or even a stronghold for, Hitler and his armies. Among its most alarming projects: summer camps for American adolescents. While not supported by or directly related to the notorious Hitler Youth program, the similarities were nevertheless glaring. Parents and children alike saluted the Fuhrer and wore the similar armbands their German counterparts did. By the time they were shut down shortly after the beginning of the war, 16 of these camps existed all across the country, from New York to Los Angeles.

Anti-Semitic assessment was at an all-time high in the US at this time, and programs like these were proposed to indoctrinate America to racist, fascistic ideologies. Children from eight to 18 were taught to communicate in German and participated in military-style drills. Nazi philosophy and German heritage were essentially presented as part of the same package, and many German-Americans were receptive to the message.

U.S. Congressman Martin Dies (D-Texas) and his House Committee on Un-American Activities were active in denying any Nazi-sympathetic organization the ability to operate freely during World War II. In the last week of December 1942, led by journalist Dorothy Thompson, fifty leading German-Americans (including baseball icon Babe Ruth) signed a “Christmas Declaration by men and women of German ancestry” condemning Nazism, which appeared in ten major American daily newspapers.

While Kuhn was in prison, his citizenship was canceled on June 1, 1943. Upon his release after 43 months in state prison, Kuhn was re-arrested on June 21, 1943, as an enemy alien and interned by the federal government at a camp in Crystal City, Texas. After the war, Kuhn was interned at Ellis Island and deported to Germany on September 15, 1945. He died on December 14, 1951, in Munich, Germany.

8. The New York Nazi Community

The New York Nazi Community

The most noticeable of these camps was Camp Siegfried in upstate New York, outside the small town of Yaphank. The town’s little houses were originally built as bungalows for the summer campers. Anyone seeking to purchase land in the town had to be essentially of “German extraction.” Many of its main streets were named after Hitler, Goebbels, and other noticeable Nazi Party leaders.

Even after the start of the war, pro-Nazi sentiment would, shall we say, not get one kicked out of the town of Yaphank. Nazi-themed marches were held on its streets, Nazi and SS flags were flown side by side with American flags, and residents carved a giant support into the shape of a swastika.

Though the land was eventually seized by the FBI after the war, the town still stands, retaining the original tract homes built for pro-Nazi summer campers. Unfortunately, though many of its residents are unaware, its racist bylaws are still in effect. Indeed Even today, virtually all of its inhabitant are white and of German ancestry.

7. The Madison Square Garden Rallies

The Madison Square Garden Rallies

Companions of the New Germany, and later the Bund, were headquartered in New York, making the state a primary hub of American pro-Nazi activity. As early as 1934, the predecessor organization was holding rallies at Madison Square Garden. Participants gave the Nazi salute, and made slogans, and bore banners with sentiments such as “Stop Jewish Domination of Christian Americans.”

The most infamous of these gatherings occurred on February 20, 1939, when the Bund was at the height of its power. A Bund gathering enclosed in the title of a “Pro-America” rally at the Garden was attended by over 20,000 people that day. Four times that number protested outside the scene, attempting to storm it and shut it down. They were unsuccessful, yet this was among the last such events. The Bund was dissolved after the US proclaimed war on Germany in late 1941.

6. The Bush Connection

The Bush Connection

Conspiracy theories have long examined a possible collusion between the US government and the Nazi administration. Circumstantial evidence abounds, from the similarities between the CIA’s reviled MKUltra program and similar programs created by the Nazis, to the role of some of Hitler’s top rocket scientists in the advancement of NASA.

Among the many outlandish claims, a truth was revealed near the turn of this century that is somehow even more shocking: Prescott Bush—a US senator and father of future president George H.W. Bush—had commonly beneficial business relationships with German companies that were directly involved with Hitler’s rise to power.

While the secretive nature of these dealings helped them stay away from scrutiny for decades, the eventual reveal prompted speculation as to whether Bush should have been tried for war crimes. The assets of his organization were seized in 1942 under the Trading With The Enemy Act. Not only may this relationship have played a substantial role in helping fund the Nazi war exertion, it may have also laid the framework for the Bush family fortune.

5. Nazi Radio

Nazi Radio

As previously suggested, fascism was not as dirty of a word in the 1930s as it is today. Still, the most of Americans were wary of fascist regimes and their tactics; after German paramilitary forces and citizens took to the streets on November 9, 1938—the infamous Kristallnacht—an American poll revealed that 94 percent of Americans opposed, despite the pervading anti-Semitic sentiment of the time.

Yet throughout it all, one loud voice could be relied upon to defend and clarify Hitler’s actions: Father Charles Coughlin, a Catholic priest and radio personality with an audience of millions. Coughlin had built his audience attacking “bankers” amid the Great Depression, and he extended this criticism specifically to Jews in a broadcast that took place a mere 11 days after Kristallnacht. He railed against German Jews for appropriating Christian property and endeavoring to spread Communism.

Although his show was canceled shortly thereafter, the damage was done. Coughlin became the legend of Berlin . . . and America. The station owner revealed that that, in response to the cancellation, “several thousand people encircled the block where our studios are found, denounced . . . WMCA as un-American, and shouted its slogan of ‘Don’t buy from Jews,’ ‘Down with Jews,’ etc.”

Between 1944 and 1945, Britain produced the Utility Radio or “Civilian Receiver”. Unlike the Volksempfänger, the Utility Radio was produced primarily to remedy a shortage of consumer radio sets caused by the British radio industry’s switch from civilian to military radio production. These Utility Radios followed a standardized and government approved design, and were built by a consortium of manufacturers using standard components

4. American Roots Of Eugenics

American Roots Of Eugenics

Eugenics was a crucial component in Nazi philosophy. The concept is largely thought to have originated with the Nazis or at least in Europe, but in reality, eugenics originated in America probably with some of the most prominent scientific and business leaders of the era.

Financed by such admired entities as the Carnegie Institute and Rockefeller Foundation, a considerable lot of America’s most respected scientists were busy working up theories of “race science” at the behest of their corporate financiers. Data was tweaked and faked to serve the premise that non-white races are genetically inferior and must be reared out of existence.

This “science” became prominent in the early part of the 1900s and became a vital part of Hitler’s Philosophy. The United States at this time actually had laws relating to eugenics on the books. Hitler was familiar with these, enabling him to frame his anti-Semitism in (completely invalid) medical and scientific terms. He once confided to a subordinate, “I have examined with great interest the laws of several American states concerning prevention of reproduction by people whose progeny would, in all probability, be of no value or be damaging to the racial stock.”

3. Failure Of The American Press

Failure Of The American Press

After Hitler’s initial rise to power in 1933, much of the American press seemed to be confused—and even at odds with each other—over what the ramifications were and how it ought be reported. The Nazis had risen from small fringe party to majority political party in just a few years. Many newspapers assumed that he would calm down with his expansionist rhetoric once in office. Some reporters even thought he’d bring peace and prosperity to Germany after all.

The Christian Science Monitor, in a 1933 piece, adulated the “quietness, order, and civility” observed by a visiting reporter; there seemed to be “not the slightest sign of anything unusual afoot.” Later in the decade, the New York Times announced “a new moderation” in the German political atmosphere since Hitler’s rise, with the New York Herald declaring stories of atrocities against Jews to be “overstated and often unfounded.”

While much of this can be explained by the Nazi administration’s deft handling of foreign press, much of it can also be explained by a deep misunderstanding on the part of Americans as to the nature of Hitler’s concern with Jews. Many US newspaper editors framed the conflict as one between ideologies of differing political perspectives, rather than one between a race of people and those who wished them exterminated.

2. Celebrity Supporters

Celebrity Supporters

Aviator Charles Lindbergh was an American hero of the 1930s. He performed the first solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927 and had endured the very public ordeal of the kidnapping and murder of his newborn son in 1935. He was unfortunately also a proponent of eugenics, having become close with French researcher Alexis Carrel, who was a firm believer. In a 1935 interview, Lindbergh asserted, “There is no escaping the fact that men were definitely not created equal,” and examined Dr. Carrel’s eugenics-based ideas on race. A 1939 radio address was the final blow to his weakened public image. In it, he opined that “our civilization depends on a Western wall of race and arms which can hold back . . . the infiltration of inferior blood.”

Auto manufacturer Henry Ford was additionally an unrepentant anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer, allowing recruiters for the Bund to work in his industrial and employing Gestapo-like thugs to crack down on those employees who might have tried to unionize. Konrad Heiden, a biographer for Hitler, stated that Ford supplied Hitler with direct financial support totaling at least of $340,000. Ford even paid for the reprinting and distribution of the racist hoax pamphlet “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” to libraries in the United States.

1. Continued Influence

Continued Influence

In politics and culture, “Nazis” and “Hitler” have become catch-all comparisons for those who would brutalize or oppress others. Nevertheless, the legacy of America’s brief flirtation with this poisonous ideology is all surrounding us.

White supremacist movements and neo-Nazi gatherings have long flourished in the US, but Hitler’s failed attempt at world domination gave many of them a new focus and a defined philosophy. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, neo-Nazi organizations still exist in every single state as of 2016.

The CIA isn’t spotless, either. Documents uncovered in 2014 indicated that as many as 1,000 former Nazis were employed by the agency as spies amid the Cold War, with some still living in the United States under government protection as late as the 1990s.


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P. Natasha Covers Classical Archaeology news and has been with Histecho since 2017. She has a Master's degree in MA Archaeology from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program. A California native, she also holds a Bachelor of science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.