Chilling Photographs Documenting How Nazis Infiltrated America

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The American Nazi Movement started in 1933, Nazi Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess gave Heinz Spanknobel, authority to form an American Nazi organization. That first organization became known as Friends of New Germany (FONG). The FONG strong-armed the Staats-Zeitung, the German language newspaper, to publish pro-Nazi articles. The FONG also created propaganda to undermine the Jewish boycott of German goods which had started in 1933 in protest of Nazi antisemitism.

Samuel Dickstein, Chairman of the Committee of Naturalization and Immigration noted a correlation between the number of foreigners legally and illegally entering the States and the growing antisemitism and began an investigation of Nazi and other fascist groups. Dickstein found that FONG represented a branch of German dictator Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party in the United States. This investigation caused Rudolf Hess, in December of 1935, to ordered FONG to disband.

In March 1936, the German American Bund was established with Fritz Kuhn, German-born American citizen, as its leader. The Bund’s national headquarters was located at 178 East 85th Street in Manhattan.

The Bund established several Nazi summer training camps, held Nazi rallies, attacked the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, Jewish groups, Communism, trade unions, and the boycotts of German goods. The Bund believed that George Washington was “the first Fascist” who did not believe in democracy.

In 1938, Congress passed the Foreign Agents Registration Act which required foreign agents to register with the State Department. On March 1, 1938, to appease the U.S., the Nazi government decreed that no German nationals could be members of the Bund and that no Nazi emblems could be used by the organization.

On February 20, 1939, twenty thousand people attended a Bund rally at Madison Square Garden. At the rally, Kuhn made anti-Semitic allegations about Roosevelt calling him “Frank D. Rosenfeld” and calling his New Deal the “Jew Deal”.

In 1939, a New York Tax investigation found that Kuhn had embezzled $14,000 from the Bund. Kuhn was sentenced to up to five years in prison for tax evasion and embezzlement. While in prison, Kuhn’s citizenship was revoked. When he was released from prison, on Jun 21, 1943, Kuhn was arrested as an enemy alien and interned by the federal government in Crystal City, Texas. When World War II ended, Kuhn was deported.

The American Nazi Party (ANP) is an American political party founded by George Lincoln Rockwell in 1960. In an attempt to legitimize the ANP, he attempted to ‘tone down’ the verbal and written attacks against non-whites and replaced the party rally cry from “Seig Heil” to “White Power,” limited the public display of the swastika and began entering candidates in local elections. On January 1, 1967, Rockwell renamed the ANP the National Socialist White People’s Party. Before he could fully implement the party reforms, Rockwell was assassinated by a former Party member, John Patler.

Seven years after Rockwell’s assassination, the National Socialist American Workers Freedom Movement was founded in 1974. Today the group is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  In May of 2011, the New York Times described the group as being “the largest supremacist group, with about 400 members in 32 states.”

German American Bund leader Fritz Kuhn, (center, front), and members of his staff pay their respects to Germany’s Chancellor Adolf Hitler, during a visit to Berlin. Bettmann Archives
American Nazi Youth display a Nazi flag at a summer camp in Griggstown, New Jersey, in 1934. Bettmann Archives
The entrance to Camp Siegfried, a Nazi summer camp in Yaphank, New York, on June 21, 1937. Bettmann Archives
Hundreds of German-Americans give the Nazi salute at Camp Siegfried in 1937. Bettmann Archives
Hundreds of German-Americans give the Nazi salute to young men marching in Nazi uniforms at Camp Siegfried in 1937. Bettmann Archives
A hedge topiary trimmed in the form of a swastika at Camp Siegfried in 1937. New York Daily News Archives
A sign marking Adolf Hitler St., which ran through Camp Siegfried, in 1937. Bettmann Archive
A swastika is visible on the roof of a cottage at Camp Siegfried in 1937. New York Daily News Archives
The audience gives a Nazi salute as flags are paraded down the center aisle of a Nazi rally in White Plains, New York, on April 24, 1938. Anthony Potter Collection
The leaders of the organization arrive to open the German American Bund rally. Rare Historical Photos
The German American Bund rally in New York City’s Madison Square Garden on Feb. 20, 1939. Getty Images
Fritz Kuhn, the leader of the German American Bund, addresses the Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden. Rare Historical Photos
Stormtroopers subdue a heckler on the platform at New York’s Madison Square Garden, February 20, 1939. Police who rescued and later arrested the man, whose clothing was torn from him in the struggle, identified him as Isadore Greenbaum, 26, a hotel worker. Fritz Kuhn, National Bund leader, stands on the rostrum, his back turned as he regards the struggle which interrupted his Denunciation of Jews during the Bund rally. AP
A Nazi guard stands before a massive portrait of George Washington. Washington as a military leader, patriotic father, and someone whom a legend of heroism and virtue has grown up around was the ideal figure for fascist groups looking to pull a symbol out of American history. Rare Historical Photos
Police officers struggle with crowds gathered to protest against the pro-Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden. Getty Images
In 1939, German-American Bund leader Fritz Kuhn was convicted of embezzlement and sent to prison. While there, his citizenship was revoked, and he was later interned in a federal camp in Texas as an enemy alien. He was later deported to Germany in 1945. Here, handcuffed to two other prisoners, Kuhn (third from left), walks into Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York, on December 6, 1939, to begin serving his sentence. Sheriff Mathew Larkin, right, of New York County, is escorting the prisoners. AP
An FBI agent inspects weapons seized from Nazis in upstate New York on Feb. 23, 1942. Bettmann Archive
Demonstrators stage a sit-in at a drug-store lunch counter in Arlington, Virginia, while being picketed by American Nazi Party members on June 9, 1960. Getty Images
George Lincoln Rockwell, the self-styled head of the American Nazi Party, salutes with a group of his uniformed followers in 1960. Getty Images