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The German-American Bund

The German American Bund, an organization of ethnic Germans living in the United States, was marked by a pro-Nazi stance.

Bund poster for pro-American rally, credit to United States Holocaust Memorial Archives.

Aside from its admiration for Adolf Hitler and the achievements of Nazi Germany, the German American Bund program included antisemitism, strong anti-Communist sentiments, and the demand that the United States remain neutral in the approaching European conflict.

Public opinion surveys of 1939 show that Fritz Kuhn, the leader of the German American Bund, was seen by the U.S. public as the leading antisemite in the country.

Actual membership figures for the German American Bund are not known with certainty, but reliable estimates place membership at 25,000 dues-paying members, including some 8,000 uniformed Sturmabteilungen (SA), more commonly known as Storm Troopers.

The German American Bund carried out active propaganda for its causes, published magazines and brochures, organized demonstrations, and maintained a number of youth camps run like Hitler Youth camps.

German American Bund activities often led to clashes--even street battles--with other groups, most notably with Jewish veterans of World War I. A February 1939 rally was held on George Washington's birthday to proclaim the rights of white gentiles, the "true patriots." This Madison Square Garden rally drew a crowd of 20,000 who consistently booed President Franklin D. Roosevelt and chanted the Nazi salutation "Heil Hitler."

The German American Bund closely cooperated with the "Christian Front" organized by the antisemitic priest Father Charles Coughlin. The activities of the German American Bund led both Jewish and non-Jewish congressional representatives to demand that it be investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee chaired by Martin Dies. The Committee hearings, held in 1939, showed clear evidence of German American Bund ties to the Nazi government.

Shortly thereafter, Kuhn was convicted of embezzling funds from the organization and was sentenced to prison. In the following years, a number of other German American Bund leaders were interned as dangerous aliens, and others were jailed for various offenses. By 1941 the membership of the organization had waned. After the United States entered World War II in December 1941, the U.S. government outlawed the German American Bund.
source -Holocaust Museum


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The German-American Bund or German American Federation was a fraternal American organization established in the 1930s as a merger of two older organizations, the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) and the Free Society of Teutonia, both of which were small groups with only a few hundred members each. NSDAP member Heinz Sponknobel eventually consolidated the two groups into the Friends of New Germany. source - Rex Curry

A Pro-Nazi rally in Camp Seigfried in Yaphank, Long Island, NY, 1938

American Nazis

Not officially part of the Nazi party, the Bund behaved as if it were. It operated on the Nazi leadership principle, which demanded absolute obedience to superiors. Like Germany’s Nazi party, the American Bund divided its territory—the United States—into regional districts, and created a youth program and a paramilitary Order Division. Members donned uniforms with brown shirts and jack boots eerily like those of Germany’s Nazis. Despite their foreign appearance, members considered themselves to be loyal, patriotic Americans who were strengthening their adopted homeland, protecting it from Jewish-communist plots and black cultural influences such as jazz music. The Midwestern regional leader George Froboese of Milwaukee described the Bund as “the German element which is in touch with its race but owes its first duty to America.” To avoid another clash between Germany and America, it urged US neutrality in European affairs.

(Read As America Has Done To Israel to see how our treatment of Israel is connected to natural and financial disasters that have come upon the United States.)

The Bund made far more enemies than friends in the United States. Socialists and communists immediately opposed it. So did Jewish Americans, who organized a boycott of products from Nazi Germany (the Bund, in turn, organized a boycott of Jewish merchants and harassed Jewish and communist groups). In Washington, Congressman Samuel Dickstein of New York began an investigation of Nazism in America. The Bund also attracted the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

The German-American reaction to Hitler and the Bund was mixed. Most supported American neutrality, and many were glad to see the revival of Germany and were angry about the Jewish boycott of German goods. But they were also uneasy about Hitler. Some tried to be cautiously optimistic. The Milwaukee Sonntags-post argued in 1933, for example, that “the Hitler dictatorship represents for the moment the most efficient and expedient concentration of the united will of the German nation.” Any hopes German Americans may have placed in Hitler would soon be dashed. Nazi behavior overseas and the presence of the Bund in America would soon revive German Americans’ deepest fear: a repeat of World War I’s anti-German hysteria.

The bund operated "Camp Siegfried" in Long Island, New York. A photograph shows a train called the "Camp Siegfried Special" as it pulls into Yaphank station at the German American Bund camp in Long Island, New York. People standing outside of the train greet it with the stiff-arm salute. Rex Curry

The Bund used several methods to try to awaken German Americans to Nazism. One was to infiltrate existing German ethnic clubs. The Bund hoped to Nazify German-American cultural life as Hitler had done under his policy of “political coordination.” The infiltration instead tore German-American communities apart. The Bund then tried to take control through intimidation. When the Wisconsin Federation of German-American Societies voted to ban displays of the swastika at cultural events in 1935, for example, Bund members threatened anti-Nazi delegates. The meeting became so heated that the police were called to restore order. Bund harassment of anti-Nazi Germans continued, and the Wisconsin federation president once received an anonymous letter saying “It is a very poor bird that dirties its own nest.”


1939 rally in Madison Square Garden for the Nazi Party In America


One way the Bund promoted its cause was by sponsoring meetings and rallies, well-publicized events in which leaders outlined Nazi ideology and members distributed propaganda. Uniformed members gave the Nazi salute and shouted “Heil Hitler” as the Order Division kept a stern watch over the proceedings. There was fiery rhetoric aimed at Jews, communists, and certain politicians. Bund leaders lambasted President Franklin Roosevelt, calling him “Franklin Rosenfeld” and criticizing his “Jew Deal” social programs.

The Bund took care to display patriotism for America during its gatherings. George Washington’s birthday was a common occasion for Bund rallies. On stage, the American flag and portraits of Washington appeared side by side with the swastika. Both countries’ national anthems were played.

When Hitler declared war against the United States four days after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Bund members found themselves stranded in enemy territory. Federal agents seized Bund records. Many of its members faced denaturalization proceedings and imprisonment.
source - AmericaInWWII




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