Free Society of Teutonia

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Free Society of Teutonia
Nationalistic Society of Teutonia
Friends of the Hitler Movement
Merged into Friends of New Germany
Formation October 1924
Extinction October 1932
Headquarters Chicago, United States
500 (1932)
Leader Fritz Gissibl

The Free Society of Teutonia was one of the earliest National Socialist organizations to appear in America. It was a German American organization that was associated with a strong support for Nazism.

The Society was formed in 1924 by four German immigrants, including Nazi Party members Fritz and Peter Gissibl and their brother Andrew.[1] The organization was originally led by German immigrant and non-citizen Fritz Gissibl,[2] who made his headquarters in Chicago and from there it set about recruiting ethnic Germans who supported German nationalist aims.[3] The Teutonia Society initially functioned as a club, but soon raised a group of militants based on the SA and, with membership increasing, became vocal critics of Jews, communism and the Treaty of Versailles.[4] Alongside this however it retained a social function, with Teutonia Society meetings frequently ending up in heavy beer drinking sessions.[5]

The group changed its name to the Nationalistic Society of Teutonia in 1926, at which point Peter Gissibil was advising members to also seek Nazi Party membership.[1] The group gained a strong, if fairly small following, and was able to establish units in Milwaukee, St. Louis, Missouri, Detroit, New York City, Cincinnati and Newark, New Jersey[6] The group's treasurer was Fritz Gissibil, who was also the main Nazi Party representative in the United States and who regularly collected money for the Nazis through the Society.[7] A "thank you" letter from Adolf Hitler to the Society would cause a stir during the Second World War when the Gissibil brothers were brought to trial following an FBI investigation.[8]

The group accepted Hitler as its titular leader and members adopted the Nazi salute, the Society changed its name again in October 1932 to become the Friends of the Hitler Movement.[9]

Under orders of German immigrant and German Nazi Party member Heinz Spanknöbel, the Society was dissolved in March 1933.[10] In May 1933, Nazi Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess gave Heinz Spanknöbel authority to form an American Nazi organization.[11] Shortly thereafter, with help from the German consul in New York City, Spanknöbel created the Friends of New Germany[11] by merging 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. The Friends of New Germany in turn formed the basis of the German American Bund in 1936, the latter name being chosen to emphasise the group's American credentials after press criticism that the Society was unpatriotic.[12]

One of the leaders of the Teutonia Society was Walter Kappe.[2] Kappe (b. 1904) arrived in the United States in 1925 and worked in a farm implement factory in Kankakee, Illinois. Later he moved to Chicago and began to write for German language newspapers. Kappe was fluent in English and later became the press secretary for the German American Bund. He founded their paper Deutscher Weckruf und Beobachter and its predecessor Deutsche Zeitung. In 1936, when the German American Bund was established, Kappe organized the AV Publishing Company and five other Bund corporations. Fritz Kuhn ousted Kappe from his position in the Bund seeing him as a dangerous rival. In 1937, Kappe returned to Germany, where he was attached to Abwehr II (the sabotage branch of German intelligence) where he obtained a Naval commission with the rank of lieutenant. He was designated by Adolf Hitler to launch a sabotage operation against America shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Known as Operation Pastorius, Kappe recruited men for the mission by reviewing records from the Ausland Institute (German Foreign Institute) of those who were paid to return to Germany from America. He established a sabotage school on the outskirts of Berlin to train the new recruits. Once the sabotage network was established and transferred to America, Kappe planned to slip into the US with a new identity and direct operations. On June 13, 1942, Richard Quirin, George John Dasch, Heinrich Harm Heinck and Ernst Peter Burger landed on a beach near Amagansett, Long Island, New York on a U-boat. A similar group landed on Ponte Vedra Beach, near Jacksonville, Florida on June 17, 1942.[13][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Erik V. Wolter, Loyalty On Trial: One American's Battle With The FBI. (iUniverse, 2004) ISBN 9780595327034. p. 62
  2. ^ a b IMDb Biography
  3. ^ Wisconsin Cartographers' Guild, Wisconsin's Past and Present: A Historical Atlas, Univ of Wisconsin Press, 1998, p. 19
  4. ^ Max Wallace, The American Axis - Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and the Rise of the Third Reich. (St. Martin's Griffin, 2003) ISBN 978-0312290221. p. 132
  5. ^ Wolter, Loyalty On Trial, p. 74
  6. ^ Wolter, Loyalty On Trial, pp. 62-63
  7. ^ Wolter, Loyalty On Trial, p. 63
  8. ^ Wolter, Loyalty On Trial, p. 78
  9. ^ Wolter, Loyalty On Trial, p. 64
  10. ^ Wolter, Loyalty On Trial, pp. 64-65
  11. ^ a b 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. 
  12. ^ Wolter, Loyalty On Trial, p. 65
  13. ^ Johnson, David Alan (2008). Betrayal: The True Story of J. Edgar Hoover and the Nazi Saboteurs Captured During WWII. Hippocrene Books. p. 288. ISBN 978-0-7818-1173-6. P. 101
  14. ^ FBI - George John Dasch and the Nazi Saboteurs Archived May 16, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.