Tag Archives: Bund

The Bund back on page 1 of the Times this morning (and may have never left Suffolk County)

When I was researching Fritz Kuhn and the German-American Bund for Fire Answers Fire, I spent a lot of time getting lost in back issues of The New York Times from the 1930s, where the Bund and its camps and marchs and meetings would often be mentioned on the front page, but I  did not expect to see them making a reappearance on page A1 in late 2015.

The article this morning entitled “In Long Island Hamlet, Home Buyers’ Rule Is a Relic of Its Nazi Past” is about a community in Yaphank on eastern Long Island — on the grounds of the old Camp Siegfried — where owners of homes do not own their lots and “The original owners of this tract of land kept a clause in its bylaws requiring the homeowners to be primarily ‘of German extraction.’ That has kept this community of 45 families almost entirely white.” In October of 2015.

While it does not appear that there are parades with brownshirts and swastikas or street signs with “Adolf Hitler Straße” in the current Yaphank settlement, it’s amazing that the Times piece does include a photo of a large current sign at the entrance to the neighborhood that reads “German American Settlement League – Private Community – Members & Guests Only.” That is the exact same organization name that was being used in 1938 when the following film about Camp Siegfried was made by British Pathé:

Here’s an article from Untapped Cities published earlier this year, “This Former Nazi Neighborhood on Long Island with Adolf Hitler Street Still Exists,” with even more information and photos illustrating this strange neighborhood’s past and present states.

And here’s a collection of NYPD Alien Squad photographs of Camp Siegfried in its heyday.

When the Bund marched in Manhattan

Here’s a photograph that’s mentioned in Chapter 6 of Fire Answers Fire, a novel which will be available at all major ebook outlets on May 1 (but can currently be pre-ordered at Barnes & NobleSmashwords, and at the iTunes store.).
According to the Library of Congress record, this photo was taken on October 30, 1939 (not ’38) and originally appeared in the New York World-Telegram.

Ephemeral New York

In October 1938, the Nazis came to the U.S. in the form of a parade on 86th Street, held by an organization called the German American Bund. Headquartered in the then–heavily German neighborhood of Yorkville, the Bund was run by Americans of German descent who thought that Hitler was onto something as he ravaged Europe and planned to take over the world.

About 800 marchers carrying American and Nazi flags got started on East End Avenue, heading toward Lexington. Watching them were 1,300 policemen, there to keep order in case fights broke out. Only a few scuffles did.

bundmarchon86thstreet

The marchers weren’t totally welcome; they were greeted with a mix of heils and boos. Mayor La Guardia condemned the parade and accused organizers of inciting racial hatred. 

The Bund continued to gather steam, organizing an anti-American rally in Madison Square Garden in 1939 that attracted 20,000 people. But when Pearl Harbor was…

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Nazis in the Garden in 1939

Here’s video of another key event in Fire Answers Fire, the “Free America” German-American Bund rally attended by over 20,000 in Madison Square Garden on Washington’s Birthday in 1939. The rally plays a key role in Chapter 3, “Your True Motives.” This one-minute video also gives you a clear glimpse of Fritz Kuhn, who exists as a key fictional character in later chapters. The man who approaches Kuhn on the stage before being tackled and beaten by both the Nazi brownshirts and NYPD officers was Isidore Greenbaum, a 26-year-old hotel worker. The main organized group protesting outside Madison Square Garden was the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party, but it’s only coincidental that chapter 3 begins with a quote from Trotsky himself.

“A means can be justified only by its end. But the end in its turn needs to be justified.”             –Leon Trotsky, “Their Morals and Ours” (1938)

If you can stand reading any of the speeches delivered by Fritz Kuhn and his fellow Nazis from the stage at Madison Square Garden on February 20, 1939, they’re all available here in this pdf file. Fire Answers Fire will be available everywhere on May 1 and can currently be pre-ordered at Barnes & NobleSmashwords, and at the iTunes store.