Nazism in the United States and South America

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Nazism in the United States and South America arose during the inter-war period, first arising in the United States in 1933 and South America in the mid 1930’s. The members of these parties established in the Americas were a reflection of some German-Americans and German Latin-Americans attitude towards Nazi Germany, embracing the National Socialist spirit in Europe and establishing it within the Americas. Throughout the inter-war period and the outbreak of World War II, American Nazi parties engaged in activities such as sporting Nazi propaganda, storming newspapers, spreading Nazi-sympathetic materials and infiltrating other non-political organizations.

The reaction to these parties was varied, ranging from widespread support to outright resistance, including the formation of the first anti-Nazi Jewish resistance organization in the United States.

Nazism continued after the end of World War II in the Americas, particularly in the United States with the influx of refugees entering the country fleeing the war. Many Nazi-sympathisers entered the United States with the intention of continuing their support of Nazism even with the termination of the war. These attitudes have continued into the 21stcentury, with many supports of Neo-Nazism still existing within the United States and pro-Nazi groups, who have been known to attack and harass minorities.

Nazism in the United States[edit]

Nazism in the inter-war period[edit]

Adolf Hitler rose to power in 1933, becoming Chancellor of Germany on the 30thJanuary.[1] By the Spring of 1933, a new political party emerged in the United States; the Friends of New Germany. Previously German-Americans had attempted to create pro-Nazi movements within the United States, often bearing swastikas and wearing uniforms, however these groups had little to do with Nazi Germany and lacked support from the wider German-American community in the United States.[2] In May 1933, German immigrant and member of the German Nazi Party, Heinz Spanknöbel was given authority by Nazi Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess to form an official American Nazi Party, which would become the “Friends of New Germany” party,[2] called the 'National Socialist German Workers' Party of the U.S.A.' by the NSDAP.[1] The party had a strong presence in Chicago but was based in New York, having received support from the German consul in the city. Spanknöbel’s organization was openly pro-Nazi, with one such engagement focused around storming the U.S. German language newspaper New Yorker Staats-Zeitung, demanding that the paper publish Nazi-sympatheticarticles. Spanknöbel’s leadership was short-lived however when he was deported in October of 1933 after revelations that he had not registered as a foreign agent.[2]

Nazism during World War II[edit]

Kuhn speaking at a Bund rally
Flag of the German American Bund

The Friends of New Germany dissolved in the 1930’s into a new party known as the Amerika-Deutscher Volksbund (German American Bund), led by Fritz Kuhn. The party existed from 1935 until 1941, when America formally entered the Second World War. The Bund existed with the goal of a united National Socialist German America, and was antagonistic towards communists, proclaiming Communism as their main target, and also expressed anti-Semitic attitudes.[2] The Bund were inspired by the Hitler Youth and created their own youth division, where members “took German lessons, received instructions on how to salute the swastika, and learned to sing the “Horst Wessel Lied” and other Nazi songs.”[3] The Bund continued to justify and glorify Hitler and his movements in Europe during the outbreak of World War 2; after Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Bund leaders released a statement demanding that America should stay neutral in the ensuing conflict, as well as expressing sympathy for Germany’s war effort. The Bund reasoned that this support for the German war effort was not disloyal to the United States, as German Americans would “continue to fight for a Gentile America free of all atheistic Jewish Marxist elements.”[3]

After many internal and leadership disputes, the Bund’s executive committee agreed to disband the party, the decision coming the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. On December 11th, 1941, the United States formally declared war on the united Axis powers, and Bund headquarters were subsequently raided by Treasury Department agents. All records were seized and 76 Bund leaders were arrested and taken into custody.[3]

Nazism after World War II[edit]

The OSI (Office of Special Investigations) estimated that around 10,000 Nazi war criminals entered the United States from Eastern Europe after the conclusion of World War II. This number was reached based on the fact that of the 40,000 immigrants who entered the United States, at least 2.5 per cent had been persecuted in the Nazi era.[4] Most Nazi collaborators entered the United States through the 1948 and 1950 DP Acts and the Refugee Relief Act of 1953. Supporters of the DP Acts showed only a slight awareness of the possibility of Nazi war criminals entering the United States through the Acts, with most concern being placed on disallowing known Communists from entering. This shift of focus was likely due to the pressures of the Cold War in the years after World War II, with the United States focusing on countering Soviet Communism more than Nazism.[4]

Eichmann photographed in or around 1942

During the 1950s, several investigations into suspected Nazi war criminals were conducted by the INS, but no official trials came from these investigations. The 1950s did not trigger a widespread discourse on the Holocaust or the possibility of Nazi collaborators living in the country, but this changed in the 1960s with the trial of Adolf Eichmann. In the 1960s, the United States began to focus on discovering Nazi war criminals remaining in the country. This came about due to several factors, including the 1962 trial of Adolf Eichmann, accusations of war criminals during Soviet war crimes trials in 1961-2 and a series of articles published by Charles R. Allen, detailing the presence of Nazi war criminals living in the United States.[4]

The 1970s saw increased public awareness of the Holocaust and Nazi war criminals, with many cases making headline news. The case of Hermine Braunsteiner-Ryan, the first Nazi war criminal to be extradited from the United States, received widespread coverage by the media, and the case triggered a drive by the INS to further locate Nazi collaborators.The New York Times at this period also took an interest in the effort, covering the search for collaborators. By the late 1970s, thousands of cases were addressed by the INS, and the U.S. government formed the OSI, dedicated specifically to locating Nazi war criminals in the United States.[4]


  1. ^ a b Diamond, Sander A. “The Years of Waiting: National Socialism in the United States, 1922–1933.” American Jewish Historical Quarterly, vol. 59, no. 3, 1970, pp. 256–271. JSTOR,
  2. ^ a b c d Jim Bredemus. "American Bund - The Failure of American Nazism: The German-American Bund's Attempt to Create an American "Fifth Column"". TRACES.Retrieved May 2nd 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Bell, Leland V. “The Failure of Nazism in America: The German American Bund, 1936-1941.” Political Science Quarterly, vol. 85, no. 4, 1970, pp. 585–599. JSTOR,
  4. ^ a b c d Schiessl, Christoph. Alleged Nazi Collaborators in the United States after World War II. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2016.