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"We're an American Bund"
February 21, 2007 12:32 PM   Subscribe

"That is an American salute?" "It will be." n July 1935 Heinz Spanknobel's Friends of New Germany (FONG) established Camp Siegfried in "Yip Yip" Yaphank, Long Island (postcard). The Camp Siegfried Special left Penn Station every Sunday at 8:00; tens of thousands of summer campers enjoyed Nazi salutes, Nazi rallies, and Nazi swimming. [more inside]
posted by kirkaracha (48 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Lots of scans of newspaper articles about Yaphank from the 1930s and 1940s. (U.S. Agents Fund Bund Is Strong For Hitler Ideas, Mid-Island Mail, April 12, 1939.)

FONG later evolved into the German-American Bund, which held a "Pro-American Rally" (replica of program) at Madison Square Garden in February 1939. Decorations included a 60-foot-tall portrait of George Washington, plus lots of Nazi flags. American Bund leader Fritz Kuhn met Hitler at the 1936 Munich Olympics. In 1940 the American Bund held a joint rally with the Ku Klux Klan at the Bund's Camp Nordland, in Andover, New Jersey.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:33 PM on February 21, 2007


Good post. Our history books have very conveniently forgotten how popular Hitler and the Nazis were in the U.S. throughout the 1930s.
posted by briank at 12:38 PM on February 21, 2007


holy crap.

I realize that doesn't add much to the discourse here....but i have to at least register my shock. I mean, I had no idea.

That is all different colors of messed up.
posted by das_2099 at 12:40 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fascinating post... I second das_2099's "holy crap."
posted by amyms at 12:46 PM on February 21, 2007


Don't forget that before '39 he was just a controversial leader.
Not the epitomy of evil he became as a result of causing the holocaust and losing the war.
posted by jouke at 12:57 PM on February 21, 2007


Many of the Young Peoples Club and others from Yaphank were in the military in various war theaters.

Wow, that's a story in itself there. I wonder if they lost a lot of their indoctrination while in the service.
posted by rolypolyman at 1:00 PM on February 21, 2007


I hate Illinois New York Nazis.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:00 PM on February 21, 2007


Regarding the Nazi Swimming link in the FPP: I can't help but picture a bunch of kids swimming across the pool using only one arm -- first in the Nazi salute, then as a swimming stroke -- all in unison.

Heil! (splash) Heil! (splash) Heil! (splash)
posted by davejay at 1:23 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Excellent post, thanks.
posted by jokeefe at 1:24 PM on February 21, 2007


...and I just caught the post title, too. *snicker*
posted by jokeefe at 1:24 PM on February 21, 2007


ACHTUNG!
ALLES SNOOPENMEDDLERS! Das warkannon ist nicht fuer gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schnappen der rollenwheels, lichtenfusen und poppencorken mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das dumpkopfen. Das rubbernecken sichtseeren keepen das cotten-pickenen hans in das pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das boomenkracken.
posted by lostburner at 1:32 PM on February 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


But we locked up the Japanese instead. Go figure.
posted by tkchrist at 1:33 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


My high school, Chaminade (in Mineola), purchased a large home in Muttontown, Long Island to use as a retreat house. The original owner had been a Nazi sympathizer and the house's large steam boiler was proudly stamped with a swastika.

Of course, this was back in the 1970s and I'm sure it's been replaced. Still, it was surprising to see something so obviously Nazi in a house on Long Island, though perhaps it shouldn't have been.
posted by tommasz at 1:35 PM on February 21, 2007


There's a Mel Brooks movie in here, somewhere.

(gutten stuffen, danke)
posted by The Straightener at 1:38 PM on February 21, 2007


there were friends of the Nazis everywhere--it wasn't just Henry Ford, Charles Lindburgh, and the Bush grandfather (and IBM and ...).
posted by amberglow at 1:48 PM on February 21, 2007


Hitler was Time's Man of the Year for 1938. (When Time still had the stones to pick the person who "for better or worse, has most influenced events in the preceding year.")

Some National Vanguard (Wikipedia) links were ranked pretty high in a Google search for Camp Siegfried.

There was also a Camp Hindenburg in Wisconsin, but I couldn't find much information about it.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:52 PM on February 21, 2007


Great post. (Minor quibble: the Irving Berlin "Yip Yip" link is completely irrelevant and smacks of padding.)

Don't forget that before '39 he was just a controversial leader.

WTF? Dachau? Sachsenhausen? Buchenwald? Czechoslovakia? Kristallnacht? You need to read Victor Klemperer's diaries, stat. From the moment he took power it was clear to anyone with eyes to see that he wasn't just "a controversial leader."
posted by languagehat at 1:54 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, and let me highly recommend Roth's The Plot Against America. It could have happened here.
posted by languagehat at 1:55 PM on February 21, 2007


This sort of thing happened elsewhere as well.

The Christie Pits Riot that took place in 1933 in Toronto was said to have been the result of simmering tensions over attempts by the "Swastika Club" to restrict beaches in the West End.

Popular legend has it that the Jewish gang won. Sort of a mini Battle of Cable Street.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:06 PM on February 21, 2007


But we locked up the Japanese instead. Go figure.

In Canada we rounded up both Japanese and Italian people. And we had our little German-Anglo tif back during the first world war when Berlin, ON got renamed to Kitchener.

But they could hardly round up all the Germans/German-speakers could they? Imagine trying to round up German speakers in 30's Pennsylvania. You'd have to make half the state a prison camp.
posted by GuyZero at 2:08 PM on February 21, 2007


Despite LanguageHat's insistence, there were countless people who had eyes, and did not see. That diary you gush over wasn't published until 1995. Someone's looking with hindsight, and ignoring the limited-availability of this information, to the average person in 1939. American politicians and editors were calling for appeasement well after Kirstallnacht, and the czech invasion.
posted by nomisxid at 2:13 PM on February 21, 2007


What "concentration camp" means now is different than what it meant before World War II. (I wrote two lengthy comments about the difference and about what Americans knew and when they knew it in this current Ask MetaFilter thread.) Time cited "putting political enemies and Jewish, Communist and Socialist jobholders in concentration camps" as one of Hitler's solutions to unemployment.

Minor quibble: the Irving Berlin "Yip Yip" link is completely irrelevant and smacks of padding.
Fair enough; I only added it because I thought it was funny. It's fine with me to delete it.

posted by kirkaracha at 2:25 PM on February 21, 2007


About six million Germans immigrated to the United States between 1848 and World War I; "German Americans are the largest self-reported ethnic group in the United States today."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt however kept his promise to German Americans that they would not be hounded as in 1917-18. Roosevelt made a deliberate effort to name prominent German Americans to top war jobs, including General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Admiral Chester Nimitz, General Carl Spaatz, and even Republican Wendell Willkie...The war evoked strong patriotic sentiments among German Americans, few of whom had any contacts with distant relatives in the old country.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:33 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


to second Languagehat, Victor Klemperers diary is a good read.
posted by kolophon at 2:35 PM on February 21, 2007


MetaFilter: completely irrelevant and smacks of padding
posted by The Tensor at 2:45 PM on February 21, 2007


I had not known about this but had known the German -Am erican area of Manhattan (East side), complete with lederhosen wearing waiters in bars. Recall too that rallies held in NY to support the Nazis and to keep 'America out of the war.

The Japanese internment were racially motivated: they were not white. Recall too that the guy in charge of all American armed forces was German-American--Ike and that the guy in charge of allo Naval things was too: Nimitz
posted by Postroad at 2:46 PM on February 21, 2007


In Sam Fuller's ridiculously entertaining memoir, A Third Face, he describes a Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden, led by Charles Lindbergh. (Fuller was a reporter covering the event.)
posted by brundlefly at 2:48 PM on February 21, 2007


Re the salute thing, wasn't it the same as the Bellamy Salute used at the time?
posted by pantsrobot at 3:03 PM on February 21, 2007


But we locked up the Japanese instead. Go figure.

It was about racism & xenophobia. There was never any talk about locking up Germans since they were the same race and many Americans were of German descent.
posted by mike3k at 3:09 PM on February 21, 2007


and something like 25% of US's population was of German descent back then.
posted by amberglow at 3:18 PM on February 21, 2007


lol yeah german-americans werent harassed at all during wwi
posted by keswick at 3:18 PM on February 21, 2007


Huh. Long Island Nazis. Huh.

I hate Long Island Nazis.
posted by Happy Monkey at 3:20 PM on February 21, 2007


Despite LanguageHat's insistence, there were countless people who had eyes, and did not see.

I never said there weren't.

That diary you gush over wasn't published until 1995.

So? I didn't say it was available at the time, I said jouke needed to read it. You do too, but since you're sneering about it I guess you won't. Your loss.

Someone's looking with hindsight, and ignoring the limited-availability of this information, to the average person in 1939.

The average person didn't know about the invasion of Czechoslovakia?

American politicians and editors were calling for appeasement well after Kirstallnacht, and the czech invasion.

Sure. Your point being?
posted by languagehat at 3:40 PM on February 21, 2007


(sorry Faint of Butt)
posted by Happy Monkey at 3:59 PM on February 21, 2007


Fascinating post - I grew up just down the street from Yaphank and this is the first I'd heard of there being a Nazi-sympathizer camp there.
posted by pombe at 4:13 PM on February 21, 2007


The funny thing about bundists is, they're still around. Somebody a few blocks over from me has an Ich Kampfe bumper sticker on his, you guessed it, Volkswagen.
posted by kimota at 4:26 PM on February 21, 2007


For more chilling links between the American "establishment" and Nazi Germany, check out The Horrifying American Roots Of Nazi Eugenics
posted by jodrell banksmeadow at 4:28 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


There was never any talk about locking up Germans since they were the same race and many Americans were of German descent.

Uh, nooooo, many German nationals who had not yet become American citizens and American-born people of German descent were "locked up" during both WWII and WWI, particularly in the Midwest. One of the biggest camps was in Gloucester City, New Jersey. See this story:
Exhibit Exploring German-American Civilian Internment During World War II to Visit Kansas
Date: October 4, 2006

TOPEKA – During World War II, the United States government registered some 300,000 Germans in America as “enemy aliens” and interned approximately 15,000 German-Americans.

Beginning October 16, an exhibit examining this period in American history will tour 11 Kansas communities. The statewide tour is sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit organization that conducts and supports community-based cultural programs. The free traveling exhibit explores the stories of German-Americans living in the Midwest prior to America’s entry into WWII.

Even though they were American citizens, those German-Americans targeted by the federal government lost their homes and livelihoods to war hysteria. Families were arrested by authorities on the basis of tips that spurred phone taps, intercepted mail and illegal searches. Family members were sometimes separated. Some were deported back to wartime Germany. Others were sent to more than 60 detention centers around the country. Of those imprisoned, not one was permitted legal representation, was charged with, tried for or convicted of a war-related crime, according to project director Michael Luick-Thrams.
Sound familiar?

See also the photos on this page, about halfway down, and this page. Also, check out the German American Internment Coalition.

And lest anyone point fingers at the US alone, the Brits, Australians, and Canadians interned a crapload of Germans during WWI and WWII too. Canada also interned Ukrainians for about 4 years in WWI.
posted by Asparagirl at 4:39 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


As an Irving Berlin fan, I immediately think of his revue whenever I see the name Yaphank. I was amazed that such a quintessentially American place could have been a Nazi hotbed.
posted by QuietDesperation at 4:57 PM on February 21, 2007


Sidebar: Several of the Nazi saboteur team that landed in the US in 1942, but never accomplished anything, were members of the Bund. (They were all Germans who had previously lived in America.)

There was also a Camp Hindenburg in Wisconsin, but I couldn't find much information about it.

It was in Grafton; here's an account of the Milwaukee Bund. Its leader committed suicide by lying in front of a train when called to testify to a federal grand jury about Bund activities.
posted by dhartung at 5:10 PM on February 21, 2007


Great post! And thanks also to Asparagirl for the additional links concerning German internment, a neglected occurrence.
posted by LarryC at 6:56 PM on February 21, 2007


I wonder why German internment has never gotten the attention Japanese got? Is it guilt over the enormity of what the Germans did? Did we pay reparations like with the Japanese?
posted by amberglow at 8:00 PM on February 21, 2007


... An independent review of the treatment of German Americans and Italian Americans and of Jewish refugees fleeing persecution and genocide has not yet been undertaken. ...
posted by amberglow at 8:02 PM on February 21, 2007


Of course the real problem was never that a small bunch of German-speaking thugs would reduce America to a dictatorship closely following a foreign model, but that we'd see a home-grown All-American dictatorship. Such as, oh, the one that's evolving now.
posted by davy at 10:15 PM on February 21, 2007


On a semi-related note - I'm not sure if it's common knowledge that census data was used to track down Japanese Americans for internment.
posted by serazin at 10:21 PM on February 21, 2007


Mein Kampfsite.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:19 AM on February 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Kampf-ire Girls.
posted by pracowity at 2:00 AM on February 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Mein Kampfsite.
Metafilter: Kampf-ire Girls.

: >
posted by amberglow at 4:20 PM on February 22, 2007


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