German American Bund

German American Bund

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


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.[1]


In December 1935 Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess ordered all German citizens leave the FOTNG, while also recalling all the group's leaders to Germany.[2] In March 1936, the German American Bund (AV) was established as a follow-up organisation for the FOTNG in Buffalo, New York.[2][3] It elected a German-born American citizen Fritz Julius Kuhn, a veteran of the Bavarian infantry during World War I and an Alter Kämpfer of the NSDAP, as the leader (Bundesführer) of the group.[4] At this time, the Bund established three training camps, Camp Nordland in Sussex County, New Jersey, Camp Siegfried in Yaphank, New York and Camp Hindenburg in Grafton, Wisconsin.[2][5][6] The Bund held rallies with Nazi insignia and procedures such as the Hitler salute, and attacked the Roosevelt administration, Jewish influences, Communism, "Moscow-directed" trade unions and boycotts against German goods.[2][7]

Flag of the German American Bund - AV

Kuhn and a few other Bundmen traveled to Berlin to attend the 1936 Summer Olympics. During the trip Kuhn visited the Reich Chancellery, where he had his picture taken with Hitler.[2] This act did not consitute an official Nazi approval for Kuhn's organization: German Ambassador to the United States Hans Heinrich Dieckhoff expressed his disapproval and concern over the group to Berlin, causing distrust between the Bund and the Nazi regime.[2] The organization received no financial or verbal support from Germany, and on 1 March 1938 the Nazi government declared that no Reichsdeutsche could be a member of the Bund, and that no Nazi emblems were to be used by the organization.[2] This was done both to appease the U.S and to distance Germany from the Bund, which was increasingly a cause of embarrassement with its rhetoric and actions.[2]


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 20, 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 Wilhelm 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.

Administrative division

Mimicking the regional administrative subdivision of the Nazi Party, the Bund divided the United States in the three Gaue: Gau Ost (East), Gau West, and Gau Midwest.[8] Together the three Gaue had 69 Ortsgruppen, with 40 of them being in Gau Ost (17 in New York), 10 in Gau West and 19 in Gau Midwest.[8] Each Gau had its own Gauleiter and staff to direct the Bund operations in the region in accordance with the Führerprinzip.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Shaffer, Ryan (Volume 21, Issue 2, Spring 2010). "Long Island Nazis: A Local Synthesis of Transnational Politics". Journal of Long Island History. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h 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. 
  3. ^ "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." 
  4. ^ Cyprian Blamires; Paul Jackson (2006). World fascism: a historical encyclopedia, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 270. ISBN 0822307723. 
  5. ^ Jackson, Kenneth T. The Encyclopedia of New York City. The New York Historical Society, Yale University Press, 1995. P. 462.
  6. ^ David Mark Chalmers (1987). Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan. ISBN 1576079406. "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 ..." 
  7. ^ Patricia Kollander; John O'Sullivan (2005). "I must be a part of this war": a German American's fight against Hitler and Nazism. Fordham Univ Press. p. 37. ISBN 0823225283. 
  8. ^ a b c Cornelia Wilhelms (1998). Bewegung oder Verein?: nationalsozialistische Volkspolitik in den USA. Franz Steiner Verlag. p. 167. ISBN 3515068058. 

Further reading

  • Leland V. Bell In Hitler's Shadow; The Anatomy of American Nazism, 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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  • German American Bund — Der Amerikadeutsche Bund (DAB), auch Amerikadeutscher Volksbund oder German American Bund, war eine nationalsozialistische Organisation in den USA vor Beginn des Zweiten Weltkrieges. Der German American Bund ist nicht zu verwechseln mit der bis… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • German-American Bund — ▪ American organization also called  (1933–35) Friends Of The New Germany,    American pro Nazi, quasi military organization that was most active in the years immediately preceding the United States entry into World War II. The Bund s members… …   Universalium

  • German American Bund — …   Википедия

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  • Bund — is the German and Yiddish word for Federation or Union , in which context it is pronounced boont .Bund is also an English word deriving from the Urdu word band , which means embankment, levee or dam. In this context it is usually pronounced to… …   Wikipedia

  • bund — bund1 or Bund [boont, boond] n. pl. bunds, BÜNDE [boondz] Bünde [bün′də] [Ger < root of binden,BIND] 1. a league or confederation 2. a political organization; specif., the German American Bund, a former pro Nazi organization in the U.S.… …   English World dictionary

  • bund — league, confederacy, 1850, from Ger. Bund (related to Eng. BAND (Cf. band) (2) and BIND (Cf. bind)). Of various organizations, in U.S. especially the German American Bund, pro Nazi organization founded 1936 …   Etymology dictionary

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