American Nazi sympathists were certainly not unheard of during the Third Reich, but it can be shocking to see how established and organized they could be. Camp Siegfried was a bucolic bit of land in Yaphank, New York, a sleepy Suffolk County hamlet in eastern Long Island. It was established as an actual American Nazi summer camp in 1935 by the “Friends of New Germany”—an organization that became the German American Bund (American Nazis) just a year later in 1936. Many similar camps existed across the U.S. throughout the 1930s—Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New Jersey were all home to large Bund camps. As you’d expect, the “campers” were a reactionary German Americans, vehemently opposed to socialism, unionism and even the reforms of The New Deal.
Publicly, the Bund behaved as if their American citizenship was not in conflict with their Germanophilia and Nazism, even flying the stars and stripes above the Nazi flag at their camps. In a stunning feat of rationalization, they argued that George Washington was actually the “first Fascist.” These gestures did little to assuage the fears of authority; the eerie, militarist images you see here were mostly taken by the NYPD, who was keeping a close eye on all Nazi-affiliated activity, and for good reason. In ‘39 the Bund led a Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden that attracted roughly 20,000 Nazis and about 80,000 others. About 200 socialists attempted to disrupt the rally and the ensuing riots were met with 1,745 policeman—more cops than had ever been utilized for a single event in NYPD history.
Camp Siegfried was (finally) forcibly closed in 1941, when Germany formally declared war on the U.S. and allegiance to Hitler was no longer protected as free speech. Bund leader and naturalized citizen Fritz Julius Kuhn was imprisoned for tax evasion and embezzling from the Bund (they never wanted to prosecute him, the charges were apparently just an excuse to attack the organization). Without their camps or their leader, and facing increasing animosity from Nazi-hating Americans, the Bund withered.
Via Messy Nessy Chic