Thursday, May 10, 2012

The German-American Bund - A Very Weird Page of US History

This image is neither a joke, nor a 'shop. It's taken from the March 7, 1938 issue of Life Magazine, viewable courtesy of Google Books here. What you're looking at is a meeting of the German-American Bund, an unsuccessful grassroots attempt to promote a favorable view of Nazi Germany within the United States in the 1930s. This particular meeting happened in Hackensack, New Jersey, with Reverend John C. Fitting "honoring" George Washington as "the first Fascist" who "knew democracy could not work".

I hope that was as jaw-dropping for you to read as it was for me to type.

The German-American Bund was formed from the remnant of a previous pro-Nazi American group, the Free Society of Teutonia. The Long Island History Journal has an extensive article about them here. But briefly, the group only lasted a few years, predictably drawing criticism both in the United States for radical demonstrations such as this one, and from Nazi Germany as well, who were concerned with the supposed Socialist influence of the group. They did thrive well into 1939, when a massive demonstration at Madison Square Gardens with its elected leader, Fritz Julius Kuhn, marking a derogatory speech about President Roosevelt and his New Deal. Details on all of this and more are also at

Since American and German ideals in the early 1940s mixed like oil and water, it should come as no surprise that the effort broke off. After much backlash on the part of both countries, the group broke up, and Kuhn was later convicted of embezzling funds from the Bund.

Just worth mentioning yet again, there's a lot more Nazism in recent United States history than most people think there is.