German American Bund
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The German American Bund or German American Federation (German: Amerikadeutscher Bund, also Amerikadeutscher Volksbund) was an American Nazi organization established in the 1930s. Its main goal was to promote a favorable view of Nazi Germany.
Friends of New Germany
German Nazi Party member Heinz Spanknöbel merged two older organizations in the United States, 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, Congressman Samuel Dickstein's investigation concluded that the Friends represented a branch of German dictator Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party in America.
In December 1935, Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess ordered all German citizens to leave the Friends of New Germany (FOTNG) and called on all its leaders to return to Germany. In March 1936, the German American Bund (AV) was established as a follow-up organization for the FOTNG in Buffalo, New York. It elected a German-born American citizen Fritz Julius Kuhn, a veteran of the Bavarian infantry during World War I and an Alter Kämpfer [ = old fighter] of the Nazi Party, as the leader (Bundesführer) of the group. At this time the Bund established a number of training camps, including Camp Nordland in Sussex County, New Jersey, Camp Siegfried in Yaphank, New York, Camp Hindenburg in Grafton, Wisconsin, Deutschhorst Country Club in Sellersville, PA, Camp Bergwald in Bloomingdale, NJ and Camp Highland in New York state. The Bund held rallies with Nazi insignia and procedures such as the Hitler salute and attacked the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jewish groups, Communism, "Moscow-directed" trade unions and American boycotts of German goods. The organization claimed to show its loyalty to America by displaying the flag of the United States at Bund meetings, and declared that George Washington was "the first Fascist" who did not believe democracy would work.
Kuhn and a few other Bundmen traveled to Berlin to attend the 1936 Summer Olympics. During the trip he visited the Reich Chancellery, where his picture was taken with Hitler. This act did not constitute an official Nazi approval for Kuhn's organization: German Ambassador to the United States Hans Heinrich Dieckhoff expressed his disapproval and concern over the group to Berlin, causing distrust between the Bund and the Nazi regime. The organization received no financial or verbal support from Germany, and on 1 March 1938 the Nazi government declared that no Reichsdeutsche [German nationals] could be a member of the Bund, and that no Nazi emblems were to be used by the organization. This was done both to appease the U.S. and to distance Germany from the Bund, which was increasingly a cause of embarrassment with its rhetoric and actions.
Arguably, the zenith of the Bund's history occurred on February 20, 1939 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Some 20,000 people attended and heard Kuhn criticize President Roosevelt by repeatedly referring to him as “Frank D. Rosenfeld”, calling his New Deal the "Jew Deal" and denouncing what he believed to be 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, but one of only a 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 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. In 1939, a New York tax investigation determined that Kuhn had embezzled money from the Bund. The Bund operated on the theory that the leader's powers were absolute and so didn't seek to have him prosecuted, but New York City's district attorney did prosecute him in an attempt to cripple the Bund. New Bund leaders replaced Kuhn, most notably Gerhard Kunze, but only for brief stints. U.S. Congressman Martin Dies and his House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) were very active in denying any Nazi-sympathetic organization the ability to operate freely during World War II.
Mimicking the regional administrative subdivision of the Nazi Party, the Bund divided the United States in the three Gaue: Gau Ost (East), Gau West and Gau Midwest. Together the three Gaue comprised 69 Ortsgruppen (local groups): 40 in Gau Ost (17 in New York), 10 in Gau West and 19 in Gau Midwest. Each Gau had its own Gauleiter and staff to direct the Bund operations in the region in accordance with the Führerprinzip.
- Erich Traub
- Fascist League of North America
- Florence Mendheim
- Friends of New Germany
- Free Society of Teutonia
- Neo-Nazi groups of the United States
- Silver Legion of America
- Shaffer, Ryan (Volume 21, Issue 2, Spring 2010). "Long Island Nazis: A Local Synthesis of Transnational Politics". Journal of Long Island History. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
- Jim Bredemus. "American Bund - The Failure of American Nazism: The German-American Bund’s Attempt to Create an American "Fifth Column"". TRACES. Retrieved 2 March 2011.
- "Fritz Kuhn Death in 1951 Revealed. Lawyer Says Former Leader of German-American Bund Succumbed in [[Munich]].". Associated Press in New York Times. February 2, 1953. Retrieved 2008-07-20. "Fritz Kuhn, once the arrogant, noisy leader of the pro-Hitler German-American Bund, died here more than a year ago -- a poor and obscure chemist, unheralded and unsung." Wikilink embedded in URL title (help)
- Cyprian Blamires; Paul Jackson (2006). World fascism: a historical encyclopedia, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 270. ISBN 0-8223-0772-3.
- "German-American Bund". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
- "German films about Camp Bergwald, the Bund Camp on Federal Hill, Riverdale, NJ". Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Branch (NWDNM), National Archives. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
- Jackson, Kenneth T. The Encyclopedia of New York City. The New York Historical Society, Yale University Press, 1995, 462.
- David Mark Chalmers (1987). Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan. ISBN 1-57607-940-6. "When Arthur Bell, your Grand Giant, and Mr. Smythe asked us about using Camp Nordlund for this patriotic meeting, we decided to let them have it because of"
- Patricia Kollander; John O'Sullivan (2005). "I must be a part of this war": a German American's fight against Hitler and Nazism. Fordham Univ Press. p. 37. ISBN 0-8232-2528-3.
- "Nazis Hail George Washington as First Fascist". Life. 1938-03-07. p. 17. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
- Cornelia Wilhelms (1998). Bewegung oder Verein?: nationalsozialistische Volkspolitik in dem USA. Franz Steiner Verlag. p. 167. ISBN 3-515-06805-8.
- Allen, Joe, "'It Can't Happen Here?': Confronting the Fascist Threat in the US in the Late 1930s," International Socialist Review, Part One: whole no. 85 (Sept.-Oct. 2012), pp. 26-35; Part Two: whole no. 87 (Jan.-Feb. 2013), pp. 19-28.
- Bell, Leland V. In Hitler's Shadow; The Anatomy of American Nazism, 1973
- Canedy, Susan. Americas Nazis: A Democratic Dilemma a History of the German American Bund Markgraf Pubns Group, 1990
- Diamond, Sander. The Nazi Movement in the United States: 1924-1941. Ithaca: Cornell University, 1974.
- Jenkins, Philip. Hoods and Shirts: The Extreme Right in Pennsylvania, 1925-1950 University of North Carolina Press, 1997
- MacDonnell, Francis. Insidious Foes: The Axis Fifth Column and the American Home Front Oxford University Press, 1995
- Miller, Marvin D. Wunderlich's Salute: The Interrelationship of the German-American Bund, Camp Siegfried, Yaphank, Long Island, and the Young Siegfrieds and Their Relationship with American and Nazi Institutions Malamud-Rose Publishers, November 1983(1st Edition)
- Norwood, Stephen H. "Marauding Youth and the Christian Front: Antisemitic Violence in Boston and New York during World War II" American Jewish History, Vol. 91, 2003
- Schneider, James C. Should America Go to War? The Debate over Foreign Policy in Chicago, 1939-1941 University of North Carolina Press, 1989
- St. George, Maximiliam and Dennis, Lawrence. A Trial on Trial: The Great Sedition Trial of 1944 National Civil Rights Committee, 1946
- Strong, Donald S. Organized Anti-Semitism in America: The Rise of Group Prejudice during the Decade 1930-40 1941
- Van Ells, Mark D. "Americans for Hitler", America in WWII 3:2 (August 2007), pp. 44–49.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: German American Bund|
- Collection of articles in the Mid-Island Mail related to Bund activity in Yaphank, New York (1935-1941) (Longwood Public Library)
- Mp3 of National Leader Fritz Julius Kuhn address at the 1939 Madison Square Garden rally (from Talking History: The Radio Archives)
- What Price the Federal Reserve? - Illustrated anti-Semitic pamphlet issued by the Bund
- Free America - A collection of the speeches from the infamous Madison Square Garden rally in February 1939
- Awake and Act - Pamphlet listing the purposes and aims of the German American Bund
- German-American Bund.org
- U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum article on German-American Bund
- American Bund, The Failure of American Nazism - Article by Jim Bredemus
- FBI Records: German American Federation/Bund
- Materials produced by the Bund are found in the Florence Mendheim Collection of Anti-Semitic Propaganda(#AR 25441); Leo Baeck Institute, New York.