Fritz Julius Kuhn
|Fritz Julius Kuhn|
Kuhn in 1938
|Born||Fritz Julius Kuhn
May 15, 1896
|Died||December 14, 1951
|Known for||German American Bund|
Julia Justyna Beuth
Fritz Julius Kuhn (May 15, 1896 – December 14, 1951) was the leader of the German American Bund, prior to World War II. He became a naturalized United States citizen in 1934, but his citizenship was cancelled in 1943 and he was deported in 1945. He was an American supporter of the German Nazi government led by Adolf Hitler.
Kuhn was born in Munich, Germany on May 15, 1896, the son of Georg Kuhn and Julia Justyna Beuth. During World War I, Kuhn earned an Iron Cross as a German infantry lieutenant. After the war, he graduated from the Technical University of Munich with a master's degree in chemical engineering. In the 1920s, Kuhn moved to Mexico. In 1928, he moved to the United States and, in 1934, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
After a Congressional committee headed by Samuel Dickstein (later revealed to be a Soviet spy) concluded that the Friends of New Germany organization supported a branch of German dictator Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party in America, the Friends disbanded. However, in March 1936, the German American Bund was established in Buffalo, New York as a follow-up organization for the Friends. The Bund elected the German-born American citizen Kuhn as its leader (Bundesführer). Kuhn was initially effective as a leader and was able to unite the organization and expand its membership but came to be seen simply as an incompetent swindler and liar.
Kuhn, while describing the Bund as "sympathetic to the Hitler government," denied that the organization received money or took orders from the government of Germany. Kuhn also denied that the Bund had any agenda of introducing fascism to the United States.
Kuhn enlisted thousands of Americans to join using what would be criticized as antisemitic, anticommunist, and pro-German propaganda. One of his first tasks was to plan a trip to Germany with 50 of his American followers. The purpose was to be in the presence of Hitler and to witness personally National-Socialism in practice.
At this time, Germany was preparing to host the 1936 Olympics. Kuhn anticipated a warm welcome from Hitler, but the encounter was a disappointment. This did not stop Kuhn from elaborating more propaganda to his followers once he returned to the United States about how Hitler acknowledged him as the "American Führer".
As his popularity grew, so did the tension against him. Not only Jewish-Americans, but also German-Americans who did not want to be associated with Nazis, protested against the Bund. These protests were occasionally violent, making the Bund front page news in America. In response to the outrage of Jewish war veterans, Congress in 1938 passed the Foreign Agents Registration Act requiring foreign agents to register with the State Department. The negative attention to the American Nazis was not to Hitler's liking, who wanted the Nazi Party in America to be strong, but stealthy. Hitler wanted the U.S. to stay neutral throughout the war. Any American resentment towards the Nazi Party was too dangerous. On the other hand, Kuhn was only looking to stir more attention from the media. On 1 March 1938, the Nazi government decreed that no German national ("Reichsdeutsche") could be a member of the Bund, and that no Nazi emblems were to be used by the organization.
Undaunted, on 20 February 1939, Kuhn held the largest and most publicized rally in the Bund's history 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. Kuhn also stated: "The Bund is fighting shoulder to shoulder with patriotic Americans to protect America from a race that is not the American race, that is not even a white race ...The Jews are enemies of the United States." Most shocking to American sensibilities[weasel words] was the outbreak of violence between protesters and Bund storm troopers.[dubious ] During his speech, a protester rushed the stage and had to be hauled off by security.[dubious ]
In 1939, seeking to cripple the Bund, New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia ordered the city investigate the Bund's taxes. It found that Kuhn had embezzled over $14,000 from the Bund, spending part of that money on a mistress. District Attorney Thomas E. Dewey issued an indictment and won a conviction against Kuhn. On 5 December 1939, Kuhn was sentenced to two and a half to five years in prison for tax evasion and embezzlement. Despite his criminal conviction for embezzlement, followers of the Bund continued to hold Kuhn in high regard, in line with the principle of Führerprinzip common to all Nazis that the leader has absolute power.
While in prison, Kuhn's citizenship was canceled on 1 June 1943. Upon his release after spending 43 months in state prison, Kuhn was re-arrested on 21 June 1943 as an enemy agent and interned by the federal government at a camp in Crystal City, Texas. After the War, Kuhn was sent to Ellis Island and deported to Germany after September 1945. On arriving in West Germany, he was imprisoned but was released shortly before his death. After being deported, Kuhn wanted to return to the United States.
- "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.
- "Fritz Kuhn, Former Bund Chief, Ordered Back to Germany". The Evening Independent. September 7, 1945.
- 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.
- Cyprian Blamires; Paul Jackson (2006). World fascism: a historical encyclopedia, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 270. ISBN 0-8223-0772-3.
- Says Hitler Group is 200,000 strong. Kuhn Denies Trying to Set Up Fascism in U.S. Associated Press in Reading Eagle, March 12, 1937
- Kuhn Bares Bund Record Destruction. "Kuhn steadfastly denied that the German government had any connection with his organization." Associated Press in Reading Eagle, August 16, 1939
- Nazi America: A Secret History (2000), History Channel (92 min)
- Ratzis Fritz Kuhn And The Bund, 1939 by Jay Maeder Sunday, May 31st 1998
- Adams, Thomas (2005). Germany and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History: A MultiDisciplinary Encyclopedia. G - N, volume 2. ABC-CLIO. p. 631. ISBN 1-85109-628-0. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
- IMDb Biography
- Shaffer, Ryan (Spring 2010). "Long Island Nazis: A Local Synthesis of Transnational Politics" 21 (2). Journal of Long Island History. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
- Talking History Archive - Recording of Fritz Kuhn's speech at the German-American Bund Rally, New York City, Feb. 20, 1939
- "American Bund: The Failure of American Nazism; The German-American Bund’s Attempt to Create an American 'Fifth Column'" Article by Jim Bredemus on Traces.org