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The German American Bund or German American Federation (German: Amerikadeutscher Bund) was an American Nazi organization established in the 1930s. Its main goal was to promote a favorable view of Nazi Germany.

Contents

Friends of New Germany

NSDAP member Heinz Spanknöbel merged two older organizations, 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, the Dickstein investigation concluded that the Friends supported a branch of German dictator Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party in America.

American Führer

After the investigation, Hitler advised all German nationals to withdraw from the Friends of New Germany. On March 19, 1936, Hitler placed an American citizen, Fritz Julius Kuhn, as the head of the party.[1] The group's name was then changed to the German American Bund. At this time, the Bund established two training camps, Camp Nordlund in Sussex County, New Jersey and Camp Siegfried in Yaphank, New York.[2][3]

After taking over in 1936, Kuhn started to attract attention to the Bund through short propaganda films that outlined the Bund's views. Later that year, Fritz Kuhn and some fifty Bund members boarded a boat to Germany, hoping to receive personal and official recognition from German Chancellor (Reichskanzler) Adolf Hitler during the Berlin Olympics. However, according to historian Charles Higham, Kuhn was one of the last people Hitler wanted to meet. Hitler wanted the American Bund to remain non-aggressive and relatively obscure. However, Kuhn did briefly meet with Hitler during a reception before the opening ceremonies. Kuhn later falsely reported to other Bund members that he met with Adolf Hitler and that Hitler had recognized him as the "American Führer."

Zenith

German American Bund parade on East 86th St., New York City, October 30, 1939
German American Bund Rally Poster at Madison Square Garden, February 20, 1939

Arguably, the zenith of the Bund's history occurred on President's Day, February 19, 1939 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Some 20,000 people attended and heard Kuhn criticize President Franklin D. Roosevelt by repeatedly referring to him as “Frank D. Rosenfeld”, calling his New Deal the "Jew Deal", and stating his belief of 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; however, it was one of the 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 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 Kuhn had embezzled money from the Bund. The Bund operated on the theory that the leader's powers were absolute, and therefore did not seek prosecution. However, in an attempt to cripple the Bund, the New York district attorney prosecuted Kuhn. New Bund leaders would replace Kuhn, most notably with Gerhard Kunze, but these were only brief stints. Martin Dies and the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) were very active in denying any Nazi-sympathetic organization the ability to freely operate during World War II.

History

In 1998, The New York Daily News wrote critically of Kuhn's Bund, quoting "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"[4] On March 11, 2010, the Glenn Beck television program examined the use of the term "social justice by both Father Charles Coughlin and Kuhn. Kuhn was quoted from the 1939 rally calling for a " socially just white gentile ruled United States" and "gentiles in all position of importance in government, national defence and education institutions" [5] The New York Times wrote that Beck had called on Christians to leave their churches if they heard preaching about social or economic justice, saying they were code words for Communism and Nazism. This prompted outrage from Christian bloggers such as the Rev. Jim Wallis, and new controversy over the legacy of Kuhn and his largely forgotten organization. [6]

See also

References

  1. ^ "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. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F50D14FF3D5B107A93C0A91789D85F478585F9. 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." 
  2. ^ Jackson, Kenneth T. The Encyclopedia of New York City. The New York Historical Society, Yale University Press, 1995. P. 462.
  3. ^ David Mark Chalmers (1987). Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan. ISBN 0822307723. http://books.google.com/books?id=CT9HAAAAMAAJ&q. "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 ..." 
  4. ^ [RATZIS FRITZ KUHN AND THE BUND, 1939 BY JAY MAEDER Sunday, May 31th 1998, 2:04AM]
  5. ^ Glenn Beck television show March 11, 2010
  6. ^ [1]

Further reading

  • In Hitler's Shadow; The Anatomy of American Nazism by Leland V. Bell, 1973
  • Susan Canedy; Americas Nazis: A Democratic Dilemma a History of the German American Bund Markgraf Pubns Group, 1990
  • Philip Jenkins; Hoods and Shirts: The Extreme Right in Pennsylvania, 1925-1950 University of North Carolina Press, 1997
  • Francis MacDonnell; Insidious Foes: The Axis Fifth Column and the American Home Front Oxford University Press, 1995
  • Marvin D. Miller; 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)
  • Stephen H. Norwood; "Marauding Youth and the Christian Front: Antisemitic Violence in Boston and New York during World War II" American Jewish History, Vol. 91, 2003
  • James C. Schneider; Should America Go to War? The Debate over Foreign Policy in Chicago, 1939-1941 University of North Carolina Press, 1989
  • Maximilian St.-George and Lawrence Dennis; A Trial on Trial: The Great Sedition Trial of 1944 National Civil Rights Committee, 1946, defendants' point of view
  • Donald S. Strong; Organized Anti-Semitism in America: The Rise of Group Prejudice during the Decade 1930-40 1941
  • Mark D. Van Ells, "Americans for Hitler," America in WW2 3:2 (August 2007), pp. 44-49.
  • Diamond, Sander. The Nazi Movement in the United States: 1924-1941. Ithaca: Cornell University, 1974.

External links








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