by Dr. Robert G. Waite
Copyright © 2016. All rights reserved by the author.
Copyright © 2016. All rights reserved by the author.
“Hitlerism has invaded America,” warned Samuel Duff McCoy, an investigative journalist, in his 1934 exposé of the mounting tide of support for Nazi Germany throughout the United States. Following months of work on the activities of pro-Nazi individuals and groups that had become especially active following Hitler’s takeover of power in January 1933, McCoy, winner of a Pulitzer Prize, authored a series of articles that revealed the range of activities of those involved, largely recent immigrants from Germany, and their efforts across the nation to bring Nazism to America. “The invasion is upon a systematic and nationwide scale,” he wrote in the first of the articles. “It has been laid out and is being carried out by men professing allegiance to the principles of the Nazi Party in Germany. It has been the approved and, in repeated instances, the active support of official representatives of the Reich.” McCoy described these efforts in depth and provided specific examples. His articles included copies of documents and photographs that substantiated his findings. There could be no doubt about the extent of the pro-Nazi infiltration of America. McCoy named those most heavily involved with the concerted efforts to establish Nazi organizations in at least 20 cities, those eager to promote in this country the ideals of National Socialism. In 19 communities he found that the local Nazi groups had their own storm troopers’ unit, young thugs who wore swastikas, Nazi uniforms, and drilled much like their namesake, Hitler’s SA. Their purpose was much the same, too, to maintain “order” at meetings and to intimidate dissenters and foes. New York City was at the center of these efforts, these activities.
Though not the first to call attention to these activities--other journalists had written articles for local newspapers and The American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune ran a series in October 1933--McCoy provided the most thorough, all-encompassing and widely read coverage. He built upon the wide-spread interest sparked across the nation by the series in The American Hebrew, a New York based weekly. As its editor wrote in the October 20th edition, “The press of the whole country quickly responded to the startling disclosures made by The American Hebrew last week.” For the articles revealed the existence of Nazi “cells” in many cities, the formation of “storm trooper” units, “newspapers fed with material from Berlin,” agents traveling the nation to coordinate pro-Nazi activities, paid radio announcements, and materials brought into the country through diplomatic channels, “a perfect replica of the Hitler tactics and organization imported to America.” These “astonishing facts” generated widespread interest and sparked real concern about these foreign efforts to undermine fundamental American rights and beliefs.
The rallying of some German immigrants around the Nazi Party and their efforts to launch a similar movement here dated back to the mid-1920s. As they became more active and more vocal in the early 1930s the Nazi boosters attracted attention. As Hitler obtained electoral strength in Germany his backers here gained new confidence. Already in 1931, the American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune had “exposed the Nazi cells in this country,” the investigative report the result of months of work. It broke the story and the ensuing attention led to a number of newspapers running articles and editorials “condemning Nazi activity.” Press coverage cooled down until after Hitler took power in Germany in late January 1933. Then, the drive to mobilize his backers in the United States gained new momentum, its leaders and boosters encouraged from Berlin. They were guided by the Nazi Party’s Foreign Organization and funded from the Ministry of Propaganda. Now they believed anything was possible, even spreading Nazism across America. The stirrings of supporters in the United States culminated in a series of well-attended rallies in New York City. Several journalists spent months, even years, investigating the renewed activities of the pro-Hitler forces. The growing strength and the clearly anti-democratic strivings attracted the attention of prosecutors in New York City and members of Congress who viewed them as genuine threats to fundamental American ideals of freedom, democracy, and tolerance. The FBI launched investigations that continued for close to a decade. Indictments followed the initial queries and these culminated in the flight of its leader from America and heated Congressional hearings on “Nazi Propaganda Activities by Aliens in the United States.”
With the ambitions of the New York City based “Friends of the New Germany,” the most active group, fully exposed in 1934, the movement wilted, though only temporarily. During the early 1930s the “invasion of America” by adherents of the “Nazi doctrine” prompted repeated attention and concern from the press, the public, and political leaders. Much of the attention focused on New York City, home to a large concentration of German-Americans and the recent immigrants. The developments in New York City merit close attention, especially for the years surrounding Hitler’s takeover in Germany. For these reveal the ambitions of Nazi backers and their ability to regroup after the initial scrutiny. Beginning in the mid-1930s the movement blossomed under the leadership of Fritz Kuhn. Journalists and political figures, both local and national, responded to the mounting threat from the extreme right-wing threat and to the growing strength of the Hitler regime, exposed the emerging threat, a genuine challenge to the nation. Though pro-Hitler leagues set up throughout the nation it was New York City that remained the center of this activity and the city where they were most vigorously contested. 
Those supporters of the Hitler and the members of the pro-Nazi organizations who lived in America came from the ranks of the tens of thousands of immigrants from Germany, largely young men, who arrived following the end of World War I. Born too late to have fought in the conflict, their lives had nevertheless been deeply affected by the enthusiasm surrounding the outbreak of fighting, by the mounting deprivations of the war years, particularly the starvation that hit Germany after 1916, by the shock of the surrender, and by the political turmoil that followed. The number of those who left Germany and immigrated to the United States soared during the 1920s, from 6,803 in 1921 to more than 75,000 in 1924. From 1918 to 1933 more than 428,000 individuals arrived from Germany and most entered the country through New York City. By 1930 they formed by far the largest group of foreign born residents, now numbering more than 1.6 million. Many retained ties to Germany, through family, friends, culture and sentiment. Often, they came together in fraternal societies and a number of these were particularly active in New York City. From Germany, several agencies looked to the country’s nationals abroad, especially those in America, for support in the efforts to revise the peace treaty that followed World War I.
Already in the early 1920s a handful of these young, German immigrants found a common interest in a right-wing political organization active on the fringes of Munich’s political life. Led by the former veteran Adolf Hitler and backed by the local military, the National Socialist German Workers Party or Nazi Party for short, began to attract attention already in 1922. The first group in the United States that openly showed its support for the Nazi Party organized in Detroit. There, on October 12, 1924, Hitler enthusiasts founded the Nationalsozialistische Vereinigung Teutonia, the National Socialist Teutonia Association. At the time, these early backers saw little future for Nazism in the United States and they viewed Teutonia as an organization to prepare them for return to a National Socialist Germany, sometime in the future. The zealots included Kurt Lüdecke, a convinced anti-Semite, swindler, and an early member of the Nazi Party in Germany who came to this country in 1921, 1922 and “from January to April , following the collapse in Munich [namely, the aborted Beer Hall putsch of November 9, 1923], on assignment from Hitler,” he maintained, to promote Hitler’s political party. An ardent self-promoter, Lüdecke boasted that he was “the first to speak here in open assemblies in New York, San Francisco, […etc.] on National Socialism.” Presenting himself as a traveling salesman he went to a number of cities giving lectures on the current political situation in Germany, spreading Nazi propaganda and raising funds for the Hitler movement in Germany. After repeated trips, Lüdecke wrote in an October 1931 letter to a ranking Nazi official, “It is high time [that] an all-out effort be made to provide the American organization with a firm structure.”
Lüdecke’s plea followed a late June 1931 general agreement among Nazi officials that all those “Party sympathizers” living abroad were to be organized in a “League of the Friends of National Socialism.” This would, a leader in the Party’s Foreign Section [Auslandsabteilung] explained, “fill a noticeable gap” by organizing those “with the greatest sympathy” who, because of their foreign citizenship, could not become full-fledged members of the Nazi Party. For it had been decided that only those “who hold German citizenship” could be “members of our Party,” the Nazi Foreign Section added. “Many Germans abroad have obtained foreign citizenship and for this reason cannot be members of the Party.” Nazi Party headquarters did note with pleasure that “there are many foreigners…who have a great deal of sympathy with the young National Socialist movement.” Cooperation with these circles would be “very valuable.” The Nazi Party’s Foreign Section followed developments in the United States closely, for here it saw real possibilities. It reported, for example, to the Party headquarters in Munich the July 12, 1931, election of a new slate of leaders for the New York group, with Party member Paul Manger the district leader, as it kept a close watch on growing support for Hitler.
In America, backing for Hitler was strongest among the recent immigrants, mostly young German males who were too young to fight in the Great War or combat veterans. They came to the United States in search of a better future but retained strong ties to their homeland. In a number of cities small, local pro-Hitler groups formed throughout the 1920s. These remained isolated and without influence for a number of years. The onset of the Great Depression changed that and it looked increasingly likely to them that America, or at least the ethnic German community here, might be ripe for their ideals. The ground work had been well prepared. Already since 1926, McCoy reported in his exposé, representatives of the Nazi Party had been coming to America to organize and establish “cells in cities throughout the country.” Organizers split the nation into three main geographic areas, Division of the East, the Division of the West, and the Middle Division. The budding movement had its own newspapers, the Deutsche Zeitung and the Deutsche Rundschau. A decisive boost came in late January 1933 when Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany.
To observers in America the open support of the Hitler regime here, the growing confidence, the expanded activities, and the aggressiveness of some German immigrants was alarming. Journalist David Brown described their goals: “First: To overcome the negative and hostile attitude of the people in this country toward Germany, brought about by the acts of Hitler which have shocked and outraged every decent minded man and woman in America, as well as of the entire world.” Nazi excesses toward Jews had long been reported and both the attacks and the coverage intensified in 1933. The regime also turned against political opponents, especially labor activists and functionaries of the Communist and Social Democratic political parties. “Second: To convince the people of this country that Nazi acts of injustice and cruelty bordering on barbarism, toward the German Jew, are justified, and to create a wave of anti-Semitism in this country that will result in antagonism to the Jew here along the Hitlerite pattern,” Brown wrote. “Third: To arouse—in the German born and in those born of German parentage in this country—the ‘Fatherland’ spirit by leading them to believe that the Jew has turned the world against Germany and that, unless they destroy the Jew, the Jew will destroy Germany.” And lastly, “Fourth: To defeat the anti-German boycott movement which is gaining strength among all creeds and nations with every passing day, and which Hitler recognizes as his greatest and most fatal foe.” Brown recognized clearly the aims and ambitions of the Nazi Party and its American boosters, and he issued a stern warning. “Should Hitler succeed in this country, through his attacks on the Jew, as he has in Germany, it would be a victory of major proportions and would result in weakening the opposition of those peoples and governments that at the present moment are as incensed at the Hitler regime and what its stands for as are the citizens of the United States.”
Already in the spring of 1932 the New York City organization had stepped up its activities and Party officials in Germany followed these developments closely. After four and a half years, the Nazis league in New York had grown to 200 members out of the estimated one thousand estimated Nazis who had moved to the United States in recent years. They had retained their German citizenship and membership in the Nazi Party. In conjunction with the drive to recruit members, the group moved to larger quarters, from East 81st Street ten blocks north to a store-front on East 92nd, just east of Second Avenue. On the window they painted a sign reading in German “Geschӓftsstelle der N.S.D.A.P.,” headquarters or business office of the National Socialist German Workers Party, the official name of its German patron. Inside, German eagles and swastikas decorated the walls and a portrait of Hitler hung in a prominent location. It was surrounded by red bunting. The organization’s goal, its leader, Paul Manger, a recent German immigrant, announced, was to lend support to “our comrades in Germany, and to circulate correct information in America about what Hitler is trying to do.” That meant making Hitler’s aggressive and racist nationalism palpable through rationalizations, unrelenting attacks on critics, strong doses of anti-Semitism, and outright lies. An additional focus of these efforts was to “promote racial antagonism in the United States,” he openly admitted. Manger led an estimated 200 men in the New York City branch of the Nazi Party. His group restricted membership to “Germans of the Aryan race” who retained their German citizenship; those naturalized in the United States as well as German-Americans, he explained, if they were “Aryan and otherwise acceptable,” could become members of the League of the Friends of the Hitler Movement, an auxiliary group. The goal of both organizations was propaganda, to spread Nazi ideals, particularly a virulent anti-Semitism, its “most important” objective, he openly told the press.
Back in Berlin high ranking Nazis applauded the efforts of Manger in New York City. Hitler’s close aid, Rudolf Hess, termed Manger’s group “the single possibility for every German in North America to work for the National Socialist world view as well as to make them familiar with its ideals.” Hess called the “League of the Friends of New Germany” the “only opportunity for the Germans in North America” to “work with and to experience” the “great achievement” of Nazism. He feared losing their interest and commitment and urged Berlin to offer and provide greater support for them.
The move of the small, pro-Hitler group to new and more spacious headquarters in New York City signaled its growing ambitions and also attracted the attention of the local press. The New York Herald Tribune reported on the group and an April 4th article carried the headline “Hitlerites Here Open Bureau to Promote Cause.” Buoyed by this new attention, Manger went of the offensive. He told reporters that the American press had “misinterpreted” Hitler’s aims and objectives by writing repeatedly that “Hitlerism meant militarism and the persecution of Jews.” That, Manger explained, was “bunk. Hitlerism does not mean that at all.” His group’s actions showed otherwise. Only months after the Hitler takeover in Germany and the regime’s steadily mounting assaults on Jews, the New York branch echoed these attacks in its increasingly vitriolic rhetoric. In early April 1933 more than 250 assembled at Kreuzer Hall on East 86th Street for a meeting organized by the local Nazi organization. Here, speakers assailed “international Jews” and Marxists” who they blamed for the “slavery” of Germany, for the host of political and economic problems that resulted from the burdensome treaty that ended the Great War. They called upon “all Germans to assist Germany in her Hitler-led fight for ‘freedom and bread’,” The New York Times reported. Manger presided over the meeting and urged all present to show their support and to “give what Germany is worth to you.” On the wall hung an American flag of the hall, just above a swastika banner. The organization openly aligned itself with racist groups such as the Silver Shirts and the Ku Klux Klan whose leader addressed several groups in New York City. In his speech the KKK leader “attacked Jews and promised the whole-hearted cooperation of his organization” to the fledgling Nazis.
Manger aimed his efforts at Germans living in the New York City area, those residing there who were not American citizens. The organization’s purpose was, he insisted, “limited to the education of Germans here.” The group’s members handed out flyers, also in English translation and aimed at the general public, that described its political program, a spurious mix of the Nazi Party program of 1919 and American concerns, with the emphasis on the former. His ambitions clearly went beyond the recent immigrants. “We demand the drawing together of all Germans for a great Germany,” one began. The party platform then continued, after renouncing the Versailles settlement that ended World War I, to stridently nationalistic and racist slogans. “We demand…colonies for the maintenance of our surplus population.” Much of the program dealt with the obligations of citizens of the new Reich, who it stated, “shall only be Germans of true German blood.” That meant “No Jew, however, can be a citizen of the state.” In this new state “the right of controlling and governing…shall be given only to citizens,” further excluding Jews from all aspects of political life. In addition, all citizens were expected to work tirelessly for the state. They, in turn, expected that the state would provide and ensure economic opportunities for all, that trusts and monopolies would be nationalized. “We demand a share in the surpluses of all large business organizations,” it stated. Next, the program called for “the support of aged people” and the “support of a healthy middle class.” Throughout, the state was to take the lead in excluding opponents and nourishing its citizens, the New York Nazis’ program asserted. The American Guard, a news sheet published by Nazi activist Kurt Ludecke which had as its declared aim “To maintain, defend, and advance American Ideals, Aryan concepts and culture, to further the cause of National Unity and Social Justice,” ran on the front page of its premier issue “An Appeal to the Common Sense of the American People,” an open rejection of democracy and a call for “a state of truly sovereign authority,” much as Hitler in store for Germany as he attempted to broaden its appeal.
Manger strived to give the Nazi Party and its sympathizers a solid base in New York City. The weekly meetings and gatherings of members and supporters enhanced and strengthened their ties to Nazi Germany. Their influence on other ethnic German social groups, many long established in New York City, also grew. In January 1934, the League’s newspaper proudly announced that the Brooklyn Berderkesa’er Klub had posted the Swastika at a recent meeting and those in attendance joined in singing the Horst Wessel song, the anthem of the Nazi Party, with their right arm extended in the “Hitler greeting.” The newspaper was clearly pleased to announce that this was one of the first organizations to seemingly fall in line and openly embrace the changes taking place in Germany. Manger had other means to show his strength. He used the Order Service, the group’s paramilitary branch, to intimidate and bully opponents, much as Hitler used the SA, his feared storm troopers. The “Service Regulations for the Order Service” of the Friends of the New Germany termed its members “the bearers of the movement” who would “shed blood in order to aid in the rebirth of the German peoples in America;” in other words, they would not shy from violence. While asserting that the “Order Service is not a military organization,” the regulations stated that they were to ensure a “unified and disciplined” presence at the group’s meetings and its marches. They formed the strong-arm of the movement, the American version of the SA, the local Nazi Party thugs. They too wore simple uniforms, a white shirt, black tie, black pants and boots as well as an armband that identified their unit. The order service was active in New York City and other urban centers with a sizable ethnic German population. In each, their presence at meetings where a number of young, athletic men in uniform stood around ominously, clearly ready to employ violence to ensure their message, spread concern. Their activities led George Durno, a syndicated journalist, to write that the German Foreign Office had “established five branches of the new secret state police in the United States,” in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago and New Orleans. Their reach was spreading
By early 1934 “propaganda activities of the Nazis throughout the United States are going on at maximum intensity right now,” observed Samuel McCoy. Here, the Nazi movement had soared in the year following Hitler’s takeover in January 1933. “With Hitler in power and plenty of funds at their command, Nazi organizations have sprung up in every large center in the United States,” observed David Brown in the American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune. “That these organizations are sponsored, controlled, and financed from Germany, is evident to everyone who has been in touch with their activities,” he wrote. Their strength and influence was growing. The New York local took in some “400 new members a week,” and its leader now claimed a total of 3,000 members. His group held weekly meetings. During the first two months of 1934 “three halls in Manhattan have grown too small to hold the crowds.” The group went from Kreutzer Hall on East 86th Street which held 1,000 to Turn Hall on 85th Street which could hold 1,800 to the Yorkville Casino, with a capacity of 2,500 and lastly to the Central Opera House where 3,000 could assemble. The crowds of Nazi enthusiasts continued to grow and at the first meetings in March “hundreds of people were turned away by the uniformed Nazi guards, because not even standing room was left,” it was reported.
As the Nazi groups in New York City and other cities grew and became more emboldened following Hitler’s assumption of power in January 1933, they made a concerted effort to take over all of the German-American organizations and their press that had long been active there. The members of these older, well established groups had little, if any, ties to the Nazi state, for most had long been residents and citizens of the United States. There was a large number of them, and that, plus the Nazi belief that all Germans, everywhere were bound and united by blood, made the ethnic Germans particularly appealing to Hitler’s ardent backers. In New York City the German American Conference encompassed 21 associations with some 380 subsidiaries. Across the nation the Steuben Society, founded in 1919, had a membership of 3.5 million. This represented more than half of the 6.8 million persons of German descent identified in the 1930 census. As Samuel McCoy wrote in the second part of his 1934 exposé, “It was inevitable that the work would be started among the organizations already existing,” that the United States would be an initial goal for the Nazi Foreign Organization.
The first gains came in Chicago with its Teutonia Club. Of greater importance was New York City where the United German Societies of New York and an additional 32 social, professional and sports clubs were active. These proved more difficult for the sympathizers of the new Germany, for the Nazi enthusiasts, to penetrate. In some instances they tried intimidation and employed the violence of their storm trooper units. Heinz Spanknoebel, newly appointed head of the Nazi Party in America, led the campaign. Spanknoebel’s appointment on September 30, 1932, came directly from H. Nieland, chief of the Foreign Division of the Department of Foreign Propaganda of the Nazi Party who gave him full authority over the emerging national organization. A first step for Spanknoebel was to divide the nation into three zones, East, West and Central. The goal was, McCoy wrote, “To gain control of all German-American societies in order to utilize their strength for Nazi activities in America.”
Developments in the United States, the mood of the ethnic German community here, were followed closely by Nazi leaders back in Germany. Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, described the obstacles and voiced hopes. “When Adolf Hitler in the final hours took over the German government, an incredible hatred against everything German arose in North America. The entire Germandom and its leaders in this country responded to the hatred and the boycott with unbelievable and extraordinary passivity,” he wrote in a bid to rally support for these groups within the Nazi hierarchy. “The German press there was not only passive, but on the contrary so obligated to Jews that it in no way, even when it understood National Socialism, it was able to present a good word for Adolf Hitler and those fighting for a new Germany.” Hess looked to the “Friends of the New Germany” as the group to rally the “20 million persons of German blood” in America. Writing in November 1935, Hess concluded that this organization had made “very good progress” in leading the ethnic German community “in the battle against all enemies of Germany.” Furthermore, he insisted, it led the “ethnic German community in North America…to a new rebirth.”
The Nazi Party Foreign Office in Hamburg also followed closely the developments in the United States and it recognized the growing hurdles faced by its auxiliaries. The Foreign Office had a clearer view than Nazi ideologues of developments there. “In regard to the situation in the United States,” the Foreign Office advised an agent in early April 1933 on his way to New York to meet with the national leader Heinz Spanknoebel, “it has become necessary to replace the existing local groups with something new,” an organization named “’League of the Friends of New Germany’, or something similar” in which “neither the word ‘Hitler’ nor the word ‘National Socialism’” appeared. Spanknoebel was to be cautioned once more that in accordance with American law the organization “best remain a purely American institution.” Nazi officials back in Germany recognized that mobilizing the ethnic German community in New York and other major cities behind the Nazi banner would not be easy, that these efforts would also face intense scrutiny from the media and the U.S. government.
Strong opposition to the methods of the Friends of the New Germany emerged quickly as Spanknoebel and his associates tried to assert their leadership over the diverse and widely scattered ethnic German associations. They used the blustering and strong arm techniques that the Nazi Party in Germany had employed so effectively. Following success in Chicago, Spanknoebel returned in May to Germany and while gone two of his associates strived to bring New York into its “field of activity,” to consolidate the hold on the largest concentration of ethnic Germans. Along with the large number there was a wide variety of interests and commitment. Many remained decidedly unsympathetic to the Nazi calls. Tensions mounted quickly and within a month a deputy pleaded with the Local Group for New York: “I beg you, in for the interest of the National Socialist idea, to do everything in your power to end the ugly fight for the key positions in New York.” In an effort to assert his control he directed that “from now on, discharge every doubtful person. Anyone who will not subordinate himself to the leader is not a Nazi, and never has been one.” The mounting dissent and outright opposition to these efforts did not go unnoticed by officials in Germany who monitored the situation. Already in early April the Main Office of the Nazi Party cautioned that “groups of our Party followers must do everything there [in the United States and especially New York City] to prevent whatever might lead to conflict with our opponents within the American and German-American public.”
The attempt to find a “leader” who could unify New York proved futile; the diverse groups, many representing those of German descent who had been in this country for generations, were simply unwilling to concede or to fall in line with the wishes of the agents of the Nazi regime. The situation remained as it had been--most of the groups retained their autonomy. In July Spanknoebel returned from Germany, went to Chicago and changed his group’s name from Deutscher Volksbund [German People’s League] to League of the Friends of the New Germany. Nazi Party officials in Berlin identified his group as “the sole recognized organization for the USA.” He then traveled to New York City. Spanknoebel and his followers, largely those young German nationals who had in recent years arrived in America, continued their efforts to consolidate the hold over the ethnic German community in New York City. Following his return from Germany, Spanknoebel moved steadily to consolidate his hold over the German organizations and to bring them fully in-line with Nazi ideals. Spanknoebel first goal had been to bring the New York City groups to submission. There, he set himself up at the Hotel George Washington and here “the ‘brains’ of the Nazi propaganda organization have been coming and going, holding meetings, and discussing what next to do,” an investigative reporter wrote in the American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune in the first article of a series on Nazi activities in America. Once in New York City he moved purposefully among the diverse groups there to assert his leadership and to consolidate his hold.
From his headquarters at the Hotel George Washington Spanknoebel went to meet with the Ridder brothers, influential members of the ethnic German community through their newspaper the Staats-Zeitung. Spanknoebel made the visit to Victor Ridder and Bernard Ridder his first stop in an effort to gain their support and that of their widely read weekly which in 1931 had a circulation of more than one-hundred thousand. The Staats-Zeitung had long been the target of attacks from the supporters of Hitler and the Nazi Party, however. Already the October 1, 1931, edition of Vorposten, the leading voice of the pro-Nazi movement in America, launched an attack on the Staatszeitung. This influential newspaper, it asserted, “deceives its readers.” The editor also unleashed a vicious attack on the new head of the moderate Steuben Society whom he called “a Jewish trafficker of girls,” an “ex-convict and bordello owner.” Attacks on the Staatszeitung mounted. The Ridders had criticized Spanknoebel’s activities in the pages of their influential newspaper and Spanknoebel struck back. On July 6, 1933, Spanknoebel went to their office and showed credentials that he represented the Press Section of the new regime. Spanknoebel told the publishers that he was “authorized by the German government to act as leader of the Germans in this country and to take charge of German affairs.” He demanded that the Ridders “submit to his censorship.” A newspaper account of the meeting described how that Spanknoebel laid out on their desk a handful of clippings from their newspaper and told them they “must stop publishing such Jewish propaganda against the Nazi cause.” The Ridders told him to leave. Meanwhile, the League’s newspaper, the Deutsche Zeitung, stepped up its attacks the Ridders and their newspaper.
At the July meeting Spanknoebel called upon the Ridders to bring their newspaper in line with the Nazi regime, to “print fewer pro-Jewish articles if he expected to be well treated when next he visited Germany,” a newspaper reported. He had attempted to pressure them by asserting he was a representative of the German government. “Spanknoebel stated to me at the office…that he had been selected in Berlin to be the leader of the Germans in this country and to take charge of German affairs in this country,” Bernard Ridder stated in a sworn affidavit. “He exhibited paper writings examined by me being apparently an official form to the effect that he was authorized by the German Government in behalf of the Press Section so to act, and thereupon attempted to give directions to me as to what was to be excluded from the said publications (the Staats Zeitung and the New Yorker Herold).” Spanknoebel tried to bully them into following the Nazi Party line. He even accused them of “practical treason to their German blood” because of their moderate stand. The Ridders refused to be intimidated or become agents of Nazi propaganda. They even published an account of the encounter in their newspaper which described Spanknoebel’s claims to be an agent for the German government, as well as his heavy-handed and threatening tactics.
Having had no success with the publishers of the Staats-Zeitung, Spanknoebel, “the American Fuehrer,” as investigative reporter Samuel McCoy called him, went next to the leaders of the associations that comprised the United German Societies of the New York area, an influential, broad-based, and diverse organization that sponsored the annual German Party celebration, a major event for the German-American community. During August and September he stepped up his activities and seemingly had some successes gaining support for his positions. At the session with the various organizations Spanknoebel combined blustery rhetoric, threats, and even a show of force to gain control. “Storm Troopers in uniform…accompanied him on his rounds,” McCoy wrote. Members of this unit first donned the Nazi-like uniform January 31st, the day following Hitler’s appointment as German chancellor. “There was meeting after meeting in which the Troopers took more than a merely passive part,” McCoy observed. “More than one vote was changed by their presence—and their arguments.” Their physical presence was intimidating and deliberately so. What McCoy called “Storm Troopers”— America’s version of Hitler’s SA foot soldiers and thugs--were termed by the League of the Friends of the New Germany, the Order Service [Ordnungs-Dienst]. These young toughs were, its regulations announced, “the bearers of the movement and they had certain tasks,” namely to intimidate others and to ensure control over the League’s sessions. They were to maintain a “unified and disciplined presence” at meetings and when they marched, much as the SA did in Germany, and neither shied from violence. Their outfit mimicked that of the SA – a white shirt, black tie, black pants, black boots, shoulder epaulets and the regulation armband. The uniform, the regulations stated proudly, “made them immediately recognizable, everywhere.” Their ability to intimidate by simply being present aided Spanknoebel in his meetings with the representatives of the German societies. The bullying and blustering of Spanknoebel sparked a backlash. Even prominent Nazi supporters in New York called Spanknoebel and those in his organization a bunch of “hotheads who hurt our work more than they help it.” His mounting aggressiveness alienated many in the ethnic German community.
“He was coolly received at most of them – in some because they looked with disfavor on both Hitler and the Nazi Party for reasons of tradition; in others because of strong Jewish elements in their membership,” wrote McCoy in his investigative articles on the Nazi movement in America. Spanknoebel’s recruitment activities were followed closely in Berlin by Ernst Bohle, head of the Nazi Party’s Foreign Organization. At a meeting of the United German Societies of New York, a session called to plan the annual German Day, Spanknoebel continued his efforts and openly attacked the Ridders. He acknowledged that he had called upon them and that he claimed to have authority from Berlin. As the press recounted, Spanknoebel “defended it on the ground that it was the duty of all loyal Germans to get behind the new Germany of Hitler,” and he added, “Jews do not belong in a unified group of German people.”
Local Nazi sympathizers continued their loud attacks on Jews. At the Kreuzer Hall meeting a swastika banner hung on the wall just below an American flag, more than 250 gathered to listen to speakers blast “international Jews” and “Marxists” as responsible for the post-war “slavery” of Germany. Verbal attacks on Jews from Spanknoebel and his backers continued and became more vociferous. The language and actions of the pro-Nazi group simply did not sit well with many of the well-established ethnic organizations in New York City. Despite some deeply held opposition, Spanknoebel had by October come close to his goal, namely control over New York’s United German Societies, and he saw the planning for the annual German Day celebrations as a vehicle to solidify his hold. His backers, called in the press “Nazi adherents” packed a mid-September planning session and pushed through a resolution to post the Nazi swastika at the celebrations and to invite the German ambassador to speak. Representatives of German-Jewish Societies and a seven other groups pulled out of the proposed celebration. Attempts to reconcile the growing differences failed.
Press coverage of the activities of Nazi organizations in New York City mounted in the fall of 1933 as the pro-Hitler supporters stepped up their activities throughout the area. In nearby Newark, protesters disrupted a meeting of the Friends of the New Germany where Spanknoebel spoke to an estimated 300 followers. As he was leaving the hall, protected by a small security detachment, opponents threw rocks and hurled smoke bombs through the window. Outside, an estimated 2,000 had massed and they attacked the “Hitlerites” who attempted to flee. The fighting spread to the adjoining streets as “little groups of the beleaguered Germans” would be “pursued, overtaken and beaten,” the press reported. The police intervened, but the fighting on the streets outside the hall continued for more than an hour and a half.
Amid this mounting tension and violence on the streets the splits within the German community in New York City grew wider as the older, more established elements vehemently opposed the efforts of the pro-Hitler faction to politicize their activities and to seize control of their organizations. The preparations for the annual celebration of “German Day” brought this conflict out into the open. At a September 22nd meeting of delegates representing 10,000 members of various ethnic groups the directorate voted to invite the German Ambassador to the annual celebration and to hoist the Nazi flag, measures pushed through by allies of Spanknoebel who dominated the session. These gestures would be, his backers insisted, “without political significance,” an empty assurance and outright falsehood. The discussion became heated when the directorate refused to adopt a statement that Nazi politics and anti-Semitism would have no part in the German Day festivities, which showed the direction they were heading. Victor Ridder, publisher of the Staats-Zeitung and an advocate for the place of “liberalism and American principles” in the United German Societies, also refused to serve on the planning committee for the German Day celebration. In particular, Ridder questioned Spanknoebel’s call for a guard detachment of some 400 men to protect the German Day observance “from any interference by undesirables,” something never needed before and which looked like a thinly veiled attempt to use the Order Service to intimidate those in attendance, much as the Nazi Party in Germany had used the SA.
Less than two weeks later at another general meeting on the agenda for the annual German Day celebration the board refused once more to compromise. Dissention mounted. Alarmed by the “rising influence of pro-Nazi representatives and the anti-Semitic sentiment” the leaders of the Jewish organizations walked out. As a result, all of the officers and directors of the United German Societies resigned as did the representatives of the German-Jewish societies. That meant that Spanknoebel and his allies, such as the delegates from the Stahlhelm, a veterans’ organization, and the League of the Friends of the New Germany, would dominate the board, by default. The president of the Federation of German-Jewish Societies, a union of four organizations with a combined membership of 2,000, stated: “This time is final.” And as the press reported, “It definitely establishes the split between Germans with Nazi leanings and the liberal-minded Germans among whom the German-Jewish societies are included.” The United German Societies were, the president added, “completely under the ruthless, ruinous and destructive control of the Nazis.” A short time later the Jewish War Veterans attempted to block a massive meeting of the United German Societies, calling it “a Nazi festival.”
Having gained control of the United German Societies, Spanknoebel went with other representatives to New York City mayor John O’Brien to gain his permission to use, once again, a city armory for the annual celebrations of German Day. Mayor John O’Brien had watched the developments in the German community with rising misgivings. On October 22 he made his decision public – he barred use of an armory to by German societies to celebrate the 250th anniversary of German immigration. In a letter to the chairman of the organization committee O’Brien made the reasons for his decision clear. “Since receiving the invitation [to be a featured speaker] I have been advised by numerous citizens of German blood that the occasion will be seized by certain alien agitators, recently arrived from Germany, who in no way represent the sentiment of the great masses of citizens of German origin, to expound and proclaim the doctrines now being preached by Herr Hitler in Germany, including his intolerable and intolerant attitude toward Germans of the Jewish religion.” He feared “disorder” and noted that the plans called for some “four hundred men,” all members of the Order Service, to ensure order, an unprecedented act. O’Brien concluded: “In this land of liberty we have given to all who have fled from tyranny a refuge and an asylum, but do not want and I shall not be a party to, the importation of the prejudices and intolerances of the older world. We have no room here for any indictments of men and women because of their religion or their strain of blood. New York is not the soil in which the Nazi weeds of intolerance and religious hatred can flourish.”
At an October 23, 1933, public hearing called by the city’s mayor to discuss his decision to bar the use of the city run armory for the German Day celebration, Ridder called Spanknoebel “not a propagandist sent over here to carry on peaceful activities in favor of the new German Government. He came over here as a representative of a foreign government for a purpose of censoring and controlling the press of the nation that are published in the German language.” Ridder spoke openly and he blasted the strong-armed methods employed by Spanknobel and his followers. The Ridder brothers, the press stated, issued a joint statement “that the supposed Nazi agent [Spanknoebel] attempted to censor their newspaper and has instituted a campaign of terrorism among German-Americans here.” The New York press continued to report on Spanknoebel’s bullying tactics. “When Mr. Spanknoebel led his Storm Troops into the peaceful meetings of the organizations of which they were no part, and in which they had no rights, then he became not a propagandist but a gangster,” a critic charged. “When he sends instructions to veterans’ organizations that the Jewish members are to be dropped, when he calls himself a member of the Stahlhelm [an organization of German war veterans], then he is hiding his disgraceful acts under the cover of the cheapest kind of know terrorist, which we in this country call gangsterism.” The New York press termed it “a campaign of terrorism.”
Others complained too. Already in late September, an official of the Friends of Germany, an organization comprised of a large number of ethnic Germans and other Americans whose goal was “to facilitate the circulation of enlightening information among the American masses,” wrote to the director of the Amerika Institut in Berlin to voice his strong displeasure. This organization strived to offer its members and the public “regular information bulletins about happenings in Germany,” he wrote. Many of its publications were funded by the German Consulate in New York City. Funding for the group’s newspaper came in part from the Nazi propaganda ministry and a German steamship line, a former leader told Congressional investigators, and he even gave dollar amounts. “Recently there has turned up a faction composed chiefly of young Germans, still unnaturalized, which seems to visualize the American field as a German political battleground. Instead of cooperation with the Friends of Germany, they formed a rival organization which they call the Friends of the New Germany…started a new publication…the American Outlook,” an official in the Friends of Germany commented. “ If these young hotheads, who can barely speak English, are able to carry on the fight better than we can who have had long and bitter experience and fought for Germany throughout the heat and terror of the war period, they are welcome, …. I doubt if they are more sincere or ardent than we have. Their work may be effective among the German-speaking element, but they have little if any standing or influence with non-Germans.” He went on to call their tactics the “unethical methods of gangsters.” Particularly disturbing was that violence was sometimes part of the meetings of the rival organization. In mid-October, for example, a meeting of the Friends of the New Germany ended in what a reporter called “a near-riot.” More than 50 policemen were on hand and quickly brought it under control.
The mayor, under pressure, granted Spanknoebel a meeting to discuss the annual German Day celebrations, now largely in the grip of Spanknoebel. For him, getting the mayor’s to change his mind about the venue for the planned celebrations would demonstrate his growing authority. Opposition from a number of organizations, including veterans and Jewish groups, persisted. The mayor received the group, including Spanknoebel, in a conference room at City Hall. “Several score” attended the session. A handful of disgruntled German-American testified, including Victor Ridder, who with his brother Bernard published the Staats-Zeitung. Another prominent member of the group, Dr. Fritz Schlesinger, stated at the hearing that “Every meeting of the Societies between September 18 and October 25, was terrorized by the orders of Spanknoebel and Erich Wiegand.” The leader of the New York local even tried to use force to expel Victor Ridder from a meeting. A representative of the German-Lutheran group testified that Spanknoebel had warned him at a meeting that “We have 400 Nazi Storm Troopers ready with blackjacks to kill anyone who disturbs our meeting.” Ridder blasted Spanknoebel, his techniques, his objectives. “His position in the German-American organizations is merely that of a terrorist,” he exclaimed. “When in three months, he obtains such domination in certain German-American organizations by his methods of terror that the decent German element cannot attend meetings, then we have a right to ask for protection against that kind of a man.” Ridder continued. He called those who attempted to intimidate him “gangsters and racketeers.” He turned to Spanknoebel’s and his top aids’ overt anti-Semitism. “His group issued orders to our societies that they were to drop their Jewish members,” he explained. “By virtue of his turbulent crew, he prevents men who have devoted their lives to the activities of the German-American organizations from carrying on their work and brings about, by his methods, the resignations of officers of the societies.”
Mayor O’Brien insisted that Spanknoebel be present along with “every alien associated with him.” Once all were in attendance, the mayor unleashed blistering criticism. “The question before me is one of whether or not alien agitators shall be permitted to come to our peaceful community under the name and protection of the German-American societies to sow the seeds of religious hatred and dissention,” he stated bluntly. “There is no room here for the preaching, in these days of crisis, of any such un-American doctrine, whether it be anti-Semitic, Ku-Kluxism or nay related phase of bigotry.” O’Brien had listened carefully and reaffirmed his decision quickly. He banned the annual German Day celebration from being held in a municipal armory. Spanknoebel and representatives of several well established German societies challenged the major’s decision. Those from the main-stream organizations openly stated that “We have no desire to discuss Hitlerism or any other ism” and wanted the celebrations to proceed as planned. Spanknoebel clearly wanted to post the Nazi flag and to have the German ambassador speak, to make a strong pro-Hitler statement and a show of their strength in New York City. Ignaz Griebl, the spokesman for the Nazi supporters in New York, called the mayor’s decision “nothing but a Jewish conspiracy.”
The mayor’s hearing, the articles in the Staats-Zeitung, and the growing belligerency of Spanknoebel led to further scrutiny of the pro-Nazi organization. The press reported in mid-October that the House of Representatives’ Immigration Committee was preparing an inquiry. Furthermore, Samuel Dickstein, a member of Congress representing a New York district, chair of the committee, announced that he would introduce deportation hearings against Spanknoebel and “forty others like him. He’s one of the chief agitators for a complete Nazi program.” The Congressman announced that he would soon launch hearings on “alien agitation in America.” These were to begin November 14th. Dickstein explained that “We have enough material on hand to open the eyes of the American public to Nazi propaganda in this country.” The New York Congressman added, “Evidence already available indicates beyond reasonable doubt that the Nazis have a large force of persons working in this country spreading Hitlerite doctrines spending large sums of money in doing so.” The focus of the inquiry was to be on the spread of Nazi propaganda backed by the German government, who was involved in its distribution, and how the network of Hitler’s supporters operated. Dickstein had grown alarmed and in his announcement of the inquiry he stated emphatically the reasons for his concern: “The soil of the United States is being used as the ground on which to hatch plots detrimental to the government and to the peace of this country by men and women, some of whom are being sent to the Unites States under the guise of diplomatic or consulate attaches.” These individual had entered the country with the goal of “not only of forming here a brand of Hitler’s government and Hitler’s newspapers, but to establish here racial and religious hatred and bigotry.” Pressure on Spanknoebel mounted and greater attention was now focused on the pro-Hitler activists in the United States, especially in the New York City area.
In late October, New York’s attorney general announced an investigation into the activities of the Friends of New Germany. The U.S. Attorney in New York soon took a statement from Bernard Ridder. Next, he called a federal Grand Jury to inquire. This investigation was to determine if Spanknoebel’s organization had violated state regulations. On October 27th the office of the U.S. Attorney in New York issued a criminal complaint again Spanknoebel charging that he had “acted as an agent of the German government without being an accredited member or an attache of the consular service, and that he had failed to notify the Department of State of his activities,” the New York Tribune reported. The arrest warrant gained widespread attention. Prior to filing the complaint, the U.S. Attorney had asked the State Department to confirm with the German Embassy in Washington whether or not Spanknoebel was an accredited agent. German diplomatic and consular officials disavowed him and denied that he had functioned in any official capacity whatsoever. That was, however, immaterial according to the law and the fact that he had represented himself as such constituted a felony. The warrant had “no legal connection” with Spanknoebel’s actions “in seizing the leadership of the United German societies” and his overt anti-Semitism, the U.S. Attorney told the press.
The federal grand jury probe alleged illegal acts in Spanknoebel’s efforts to organize support for the Hitler government. It soon turned to other issues. Already in October, before the issue of a criminal warrant for Spanknoebel’s arrest, the Nazi regime openly denied that he held any official position, revealing, in part, how sensitive the Hitler government was to alienating or precipitating an unnecessary diplomatic row with an economic powerhouse such as the United States. When the Nazi press chief in Berlin, Ernst Hanfstaengl, learned of the charges against Spanknoebel he stated emphatically that Spanknoebel “in no wise represents the Nazi movement,” that his actions were “not authorized by the party.” That same day, October 25th, Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda and key Hitler aid, issued an “emphatic disclaimer,” The New York Times reported. The Society of Friends of New Germany was, Goebbels asserted, “a private organization,” with “no relation to Berlin official headquarters.” Furthermore, Goebbels insisted that the Nazi government had “recently cabled instructions forbidding him [Spanknoebel] to indulge in any propagandist activities.” The involvement by the Nazi regime in any propaganda activities in the United States was “thoroughly denied.”
The State Department in Washington took notice of Spanknoebel’s activities and contacted Hans Luther, the German Ambassador to the United States. “Excellency: I have been informed that an announcement has been published in the City of New York to the effect that on October 29, 1933, a meeting was to be held in New York City by one Hans Spanknoebel,” the State Department official wrote. “I am informed also that Mr. S has held himself out to be a representative of the German Government. Will you please inform me whether Mr. S is a representative of the German Government and, if so, in what capacity he is serving….”[86
Faced with an arrest warrant, Spanknoebel fled the country. He had, associates told the press, sailed to Germany on the Deutschland, a ship of the Hamburg-American line. In a letter to the President of the League of Friends of New Germany, Dr. Ignaz Griebl, an out-spoken anti-Semite, Spanknoebel explained his hasty departure from the United States. “You know that I did not leave because of being afraid not to be able to acquit myself against the heavy charges and slanderous accusations, but because I was told by my lawyer that I cannot and will not find justice facing Jewish judges.” He denied being a German agent. In early December the New York press reported that Spanknoebel was in Germany. A host of rumors circulated, including that Spanknoebel had been “recalled to Germany to explain to Nazi headquarters the situation,” several of his associates told the press. Spanknoebel’s actions had become an embarrassment for Nazi leaders who remained concerned about relations with the United States, especially trade relations. A former officer of the Friends of New Germany insisted that Spanknoebel had been “kidnaped at pistol point” and hustled aboard a ship sailing for Germany. He was abducted because his handlers back in Germany “feared he would make disclosures” about Nazi supported activities in the United States.
On October 31st the grand jury began to examine witnesses who aided Spanknoebel in fleeing from the arrest warrant, namely other prominent figures in the New York pro-Nazi scene. Griebel, the newly anointed leader of the Friends of the New Germany, was called to answer questions because Spanknoebel had been staying in his apartment when the warrant was first filed. Griebel explained that Spanknoebel had fled upon learning of the warrant and had sent a letter explaining his actions. “I am going to leave the United States of America,” Spanknoebel wrote. “I learned through the papers yesterday that there is a warrant of arrest issued against me, which is self-explanation for my action.” Griebel made the letter public. A translation of the letter was published in the New York Evening Post, on the front page, and in his note Spanknoebel, mimicking the tactics of the Nazis in Germany, denied allegations made against him and lied about his openly anti-Jewish stand. “I was not a paid agent of Germany,” he asserted. “It was never my intention to spread anti-Semitic propaganda.” At the court inquiry, Griebel answered the questions of the grand jury reluctantly. His wife, also called to testify, went so far as to send a telegram to President Roosevelt demanding the removal of Dickstein. Her request was based, a press report stated, “on the grounds that Mr. Dickstein, a Jew could not discharge the duties of his office with fairness and tolerance.” Mrs. Griebel openly voiced the deep rooted anti-Semitism prevalent within the ranks of the Friends of the New Germany. When called before the Grand Jury she refused to even to attend because the U.S. Attorney George Medalie was a Jew. “As an American citizen I have the right to be questioned by a Gentile District Attorney or judge,” she insisted.
On the front page of the Das Neue Deutschland, the group’s New York City based newspaper, Griebel issued a call to “All Members of the League!” He termed the investigation of the League and the press coverage “completely unjustified” and stated that he would take the opportunity to show the group’s “totally correct” activities. “It is furthermore the obligation of every individual member to refute all allegations against the League,” he added. “The battle continues,” Griebl concluded, and ended the appeal with “Heil Hitler.” The League went on the offensive. A key vehicle was its newspaper, Deutsche Zeitung, which began weekly publication in New York City with the January 4, 1934, issue. The front page banner called it a “newssheet fighting for truth and law,” a powerful vehicle to combat the current “campaign of mudslinging and the boycott” directed against Nazi Germany. Articles in each issue were regularly laced with anti-Semitic comments and tirades that mimicked the tone that had become increasingly more common in Nazi Germany. Often, the New York based newspaper carried pieces written by some of the Third Reich’s most vociferous anti-Semites. The December 16th edition, for example, printed a long article on “The Foundations of the Nazi World View,” written by Johann von Leers, a prolific and fanatical hater of Jews. When the leader of the American Workers’ Federation came out in support of the planned boycott of German goods, a response to the both regime’s hostile measures against Jews and its crushing of organized labor, a reporter for the Deutsche Zeitung wrote that he had “responded, no doubt, to pressure from certain Jewish circles.” Critics included, however, the American Federation of Labor. The article and the entire edition of the newspapers was laced with anti-Semitic remarks. The supplement to the issue called the boycott a “war against Germany.” It also ran an ad titled “Germany Awaken!” which aimed to explain “How the Jewish Boycotters Work.”
The newspaper carried articles filled with anti-Semitic tirades in most every issue. And much like its model, the Nazi press in Germany, the Deutsche Zeitung claimed not to be anti-Semitic but was rather only “defending” the German community in America and the new regime in Germany from what it termed unjustified attacks. Much like the Nazi press, the Deutsche Zeitung and the League of the Friends of New Germany blamed “the Jews” for any criticism of the Hitler regime. The boycott and outrage over anti-Jewish measures, the violent attacks against the country’s Jewish citizens and the oppression of organized labor were termed attacks upon Germany orchestrated by the Jews, it insisted, despite the fact that German consulates throughout the nation and the embassy in Washington received dozens of letters of protest from workers. “It is not our intent to repeatedly fill the columns of the Deutsche Zeitung with anti-Jewish articles,” the editor wrote in the March 24, 1934, issue. Rather, the goal was, he asserted, “to combat the self-pronounced haters of Germany. If the Jews are more or less identified with this campaign, then it is not our fault.”
The vigorous response to the boycott persisted, largely because it proved effective. Attacks on it came in almost every issue of the Deutsche Zeitung. The New York City based newspaper issued a call to rally against the “unconstitutional” boycott and urged all those against the boycott to attend a rally on April 8th. “Everyone who condemns the boycott, everyone who does not go along with the Jewish incitement will, through his presence, show clearly that the Germans hang together and thereby show all of New York the solidarity of the Germans.” Following the rally, the newspaper’s headlines announced proudly that “12,000 Protested against the Unconstitutional Measure,” a turnout that “exceeded all expectations. Other New York City newspapers estimated the number attending as closer to 9,000. While the rally called upon President Roosevelt to end the boycott and to “boycott the boycotters,” the session was marked by violence. More than 150 policemen were on hand to keep the protesters out of the meeting. Inside, members of the Order Service “pounced” upon any dissenters and “hurled” them from the session. Outside, those opposing the Nazi gathering clashed with backers. The police had their hands full dealing with “numerous fist fights.” The rally was not the stunning success claimed by the Deutsche Zeitung.
By mid-November 1933 the investigations into Nazi activities had broadened. Representative Samuel Dickstein (Democrat, New York) opened hearings on November 14th, many of the sessions remained, however, closed. He feared that the witnesses might be harmed if named. Nevertheless, the subcommittee on immigration, chaired by Dickstein, announced that it planned to call 200 individuals to testify. The local Nazi supporters’ press responded with a headline “How They Are Lying!” and called the investigations of Congressman Dickstein “defamations.” In New York City the German consulate and in Washington the German Embassy followed the hearings closely and each sent regular reports back to Berlin. “The anti-German hysteria in New York, orchestrated by the same Jewish string pullers, resulted in two different investigations,” wrote a consular official. The Embassy asserted in late December that “the questioning is, as the previous rounds, fully without any results. The press and the public, therefore, pays them hardly any attention” as it attempted to present the inquiry in a most favorable light.
In fact, the American press followed the proceedings closely for they offered sensational and frightening insights into the activities of Nazi supporters in the United States, their objectives, their methods of intimidation, and how they smuggled propaganda material into the country, namely aboard commercial vessels and with exchange students sent, a witness explained. These efforts were backed and financed by directly by the Nazi regime. Propaganda was especially important for the overall mission of the Friends of New Germany. The material was, ‘Mr. X’, a witness who chose to remain anonymous, told the November 13th session, intended to “promote racial antagonisms” in the country and it was “primarily directed at the Jewish people.” The investigations found that much of the propaganda was anti-Semitic, intended to spread discord and to build upon the prejudice already existing. This group, Dickstein stated in his report on the hearings, “concentrate[ed] their efforts in promoting racial antagonism among the different national groups in the United States and particularly direct[ed] them all into one channel of hatred, that is, hatred against the Jewish people.” All else, he wrote, was “subordinated to this aim, and just as in Germany where Hitler was able to seize owner on the anti-Jewish racial issue, so in the United States does his [Spanknoebel] group of adherents expect to become successful by stressing the anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish racial issue.” In short, the goal of the Nazi supporters in the United States was “the establishment of a dictatorship through an assault on our Constitution in so far as our Constitution guarantees to our citizens equal rights irrespective of race, religion, or other conditions.” Furthermore, Dickstein told the press that he had reports of some 50 instances in which individuals were pressured to cooperate with the Nazi groups “through threats of reprisals” against relatives and family members still in Germany. A number of businesses in New York City had been directly threatened by Nazi supporters. A witness told his subcommittee that “an organization in America sends reports to Germany to punish people living in this country.”
In mid-January 1934 Representative Dickstein submitted a preliminary account of his findings on “Nazi Propaganda Activities by Aliens in the United States.” It was what he termed a “Report on an emergency and informal investigation into the extent and character of activities of aliens in the United States engaged in Nazi propaganda and into the sources of funds to finance activities.” The initial focus was on propaganda, how this group sought to use it to sow discord and “to overthrow established constitutional principles of the United States,” how it attempted to penetrate American life, how it was financed. The Congressman asked if it presented a “menace to our institutions, and how can we best combat it?” Across the nation backers of the investigation voiced their support. The chairman of the Disabled American Veterans of the World War wrote in an open letter that units and members throughout the country urged that the organization “aggressively support” the investigation into “Nazi activities in the United States,” and that such “subversive movements in America” be vigorously opposed. On the floor of the House of Representatives Representative James Taylor (Republican, Tennessee) stated that the Friends of New Germany, “directed from Berlin,” operated “in direct contravention and subversion of our system of government.” It had penetrated “every section of our country” and employs “every conceivable artifice” to “introduce and dispense Nazi propaganda in the United States with a view to ultimately covert the United States to the Nazi doctrine and overthrow our form of government.”
As the committee expanded its investigations and released more revelations on German interference in America, the League of the Friends of New Germany stepped up its counter-campaign of allegations, lies, and anti-Semitic diatribes. The League’s voice, the weekly newspaper Deutsche Zeitung, published in almost every issue throughout the spring attacks on Congressman Dickstein. The headlines of the articles read, for example, “Who Rules in Washington, the Jews or Roosevelt?” which ran on the front page of the April 7th edition. Some members of Congress criticized the expense of further investigations. Attacks in the German-American press grew, the committee persisted. In mid-May 1934 the sub-committee announced that it had found materials that would soon be made public.
By mid-June the sub-committee was completing the Washington phase of the investigation during which it “rip[ped] the mask of secrecy of the subversive and illegal activities of the swarm of Nazi agents and their allies,” wrote Bernard Postal in The American Israelite newspaper. The hearings confirmed, he added, many of the allegations of Nazi penetration of communities throughout the nation that had been published in the local press. The witnesses “revealed under oath by what means and through what channels the private and official emissaries of Hitler are spreading the gospel of that and bigotry throughout the United States.” Witnesses told of funds received from the German Embassy to publish pamphlets that advanced the Nazi cause or which espoused anti-Semitism. Letters to Spanknoebel were introduced, several from the Nazi propaganda office in Germany that discussed the shipment of propaganda leaflets. Other letters made clear that German consuls were “directly interested in the activities of the Friends of New Germany and helped Nazi leaders to get prospective members.”
In mid-July the recently elected head of the Friends of the New Germany, Hubert Schnuch, told the Congressional committee that his group had ”followed the Nazi party of Germany” in “excluding” Jews from its ranks. When questioned about the uniformed detachments of uniformed young men that stood ominously at the meetings of the Friends of New Germany Schnuch explained proudly that they were members of the Order Service. Their uniform, he boasted, “differed only in insignia from that of the Schutzstaffel,” Hitler’s elite protective unit, the SS. A naturalized citizen, Schnuch told the committee that his group was “sympathetic” to the Nazi Party of Germany, though not affiliated with it. Despite the fact that members shouted “Heil Hitler” at its rallies and saluted the Nazi flag, they showed no “double allegiance,” he asserted. Schnuch taunted the Congressmen and calmly asserted the rights of his group’s members to show their open “sympathy” with Hitler’s Germany. At the same session, Raymond Moley, the editor of Today, the magazine that revealed in full detail the threatening activities of the Friends of the New Germany, testified that “if an organization here is shown to have the same ideals as the National Socialists it is a menace to this country.”
Schnuch offered further details about his group and agreed to provide the Special Committee with materials on its “German Youth Movement” as well as the organization’s constitution and articles of incorporation, an important legal document that could be used to shut down its operations. Another prominent witness was Kurt Lüdecke who had worked with groups in a number of cities, including New York, since 1921 to boost support for Hitler and the Nazi Party. In preparation for Lüdecke’s appearance before the committee, Representative Dickstein outlined the issues to be raised, the questions he aimed to ask. The Congressman was interested to learn about the “origin of Nazi activities and Hitler propaganda in this country.” The line of questioning moved to establish the close links between the local groups in the United States and the Nazi Party and German officials. Enjoying the spotlight, Lüdecke spoke openly of his single-handed efforts to promote Hitler in the United States. For Dickstein, the witness revealed just how long the Nazi Party had worked to penetrate the nation and the close ties of German officials with these groups.
The committee’s hearings continued through mid-October 1934 and its work went far in awakening public attention to the mounting Nazi threat to American democracy. The last public session came to an abrupt close when Nazi sympathizers, mostly members of the Friends of the New Germany, disrupted the hearing with shouts of “Heil Hitler” and “repeated outbursts of laughter, jeers and shouts, whenever evidence damaging to the Nazi cause was introduced,” wrote a reporter who attended. Emboldened by Hitler’s strong position in Germany, they now felt confident in disrupting the hearings. When a former member spoke of the actions of the Storm Troopers, spectators “created disturbance by shouts, boos, and cries of ‘Heil Hitler,’ which lasted approximately 10 minutes, when the hall was cleared,” the record of the hearings noted. That brought the public hearings in the inquiry to an end.
During November pressure on Spanknoebel’s backers mounted steadily. On November 10th he was indicted by a Grand Jury that had reviewed his case, despite the fact that he was no longer in the country. A day later the German Consulate cabled Berlin that “proceedings until now have focused solely on Spanknoebel.” In recent days, he added, “his supporters” are also being investigated on charges of conspiracy and a number have been questioned under oath. That same day the Embassy in Washington cabled Berlin that “according to today’s press reports Heinz Spanknoebel has been indicted.” The cable advised, too, that the “press and the public are following this development with great interest and mounting criticism.” Following the usual procedure, the U.S. Attorney asked the court to issue a bench warrant for his arrest. With Spanknoebel out of reach, federal investigators turned to his immediate associates. On November 28th, Engelbert Roel, a German national and treasurer of the League of the Friends of the New Germany, was taken into custody when he refused to hand over a list of 80 members. Roel, when questioned by the Grand Jury which had been examining Nazi activities in the New York area for the past month and ordered him to over the list, refused. The judge sent him to the Federal House of Detention for a day to think over his decision. While in custody, Roel was “treated like a criminal and roughed-up by other inmates,” German consular officials in New York and Washington cabled Berlin. Roel was released the next day and he provided the list to the Federal grand jury.
Though under scrutiny from the courts and Congress, the supporters of Hitler and Nazi ideals in America continued their activities as they sought “new channels for Hitlerism’s invasion,” wrote Frank Rising in the April, 28, 1934, issue of Today, the weekly that offered readers the first and most thorough examination of the spread of Nazi ideals. “New devices…are being perfected,” he added. “Especial attention and expense are being devoted to the distribution of books and pamphlets preaching anti-Semitism and proclaiming the rise of Hitlerism throughout the world.” One such publication was a slick 16 page piece entitled simply “The German National Revolution. Major Events from Feb. 1 to May 15, 1933.” Prepared for American reader, it attempted to provide a reasoned and but very positive spin on Hitler’s take-over. “Whoever wants to gain the basis for a sound and objective judgment on Germany’s National Revolution has to look upon it in the light of certain facts,” its author Fritz Morstein Marx wrote. For one, the preceding government was, he asserted, “on the verge of collapse.” The Hitler government, an “authoritarian state,” had replaced a “party state,” and at last “a German government really could speak in the name of the German people,” he asserted. Furthermore, the “National Revolution” went “almost without bloodshed” and it was “not forced on the German people but put through by the ‘common man’.” Published in English and targeting the American audience, the booklet attempted to present Hitler’s takeover as necessary to give a voice back to the people. Marx addressed some of the recent controversial issues, such as the mounting violence on the streets of the major cities, the takeover of the German states, the purging of the civil service of democrats and Jews, and the aggressive foreign policy. He twisted and distorted the widely reported developments to present the Nazi regime in the most favorable light.
Propaganda material from Germany was intended to influence American opinion, to make their views more favorable. This material, Representative Dickstein told his colleagues, was “brought into the United States with official sanction of the German Government by German ships.” Investigative reporters concurred. German-American commercial firms and “American companies seeking German trade are being utilized as nerve centers for Nazi propaganda,” wrote a reporter for The American Hebrew, a New York City based weekly. He found that the Hamburg American Line and the North German Lloyd Line, two steamship lines, carried the bulk of the propaganda materials across the Atlantic. The heads of each firm were identified as “allies of Heinz Spanknoebel, the Nazi chieftain in this country.” The newspaper’s investigation into the activities of the League of the Friends of the New Germany gained the attention of the German ambassador in Washington who forwarded a selection of newspaper clippings to the Foreign Office in Berlin.
English language pamphlets and brochures such as “The New Germany desires Work and Peace” came to the United States on board German merchant ships, smuggled in the belongings of the seamen. During a routine search custom agents found Nazi leaflets in the possessions of the purser of the S.S. New York of the Hamburg-America Line and they seized them. Scrutiny of German ships and their crew intensified in October/November 1933. Within weeks custom officials in New York City had confiscated 300 pounds of Nazi literature just from the North German Lloyd shipping line freighter Este. During the Congressional investigation, Dickstein had uncovered evidence that German seamen were “being used as messengers of Nazi propaganda.” A New York City newspaper demanded that “the activities of German exchange students” in the U.S. “be investigated to disclose whether they are engaged in Nazi propaganda work,” the German Embassy in Washington reported to Berlin as concern mounted. That concern was justified, for support of Nazi sympathizers and their message came directly from the German regime’s Ministry of Propaganda, an intrusion on American sovereignty. It had openly provided subsidies for the New York published newspaper the Deutsche Zeitung, the journal of the Friends of the New Germany, its English language supplement The German Outlook, and its news sheet the Deutsche Rundschau. The latter was termed “frankly a by-product of German propaganda.” When these newspapers failed to pay the bills to publishers they were sold and the new owners believed that “90 percent of the German population here was in sympathy with the new Germany, and that a profitable circulation could be had for a newspaper which they regarded as ‘fair.’” They insisted, furthermore, that “no aid had ever been received from Berlin.” In March 1934 the Berlin propaganda office stated openly that “no maintenance for it would be forthcoming from here,” a journalist wrote from Berlin. Despite the open denials Nazi propaganda continued to pour into the country and these newspapers continued to mimic the press of Nazi Germany. In addition to the established pro-Hitler newspapers in New York City, “new channels are being sought and found for spreading the propaganda of Hitlerism in the United States,” observed a journalist in April 1934. “New devices…are being perfected.” Slick publications, books and pamphlets “preaching anti-Semitism and proclaiming the rise of Hitlerism throughout the world” were being sent to all those in America with any links to Germany.[132
During the spring of 1934 the New York City press and media outlets across the nation carried reports of investigative journalists into what two newspapers headlined as “Nazi Activities in United States,” “Nation-Wide Plot By Nazis Charged,” and “Hitlerism Invades America.” That same week as these articles ran in the press, the House of Representatives voted to fund a Congressional probe into Nazi propaganda activities and it reported that the probe, led by a sub-committee under Congressmen John McCormick and Samuel Dickstein, would commence within 10 days. These press accounts summed up the concerted efforts of Nazi backers to gain a foothold in the United States that was stepped up in the early 1930s and accelerated after Hitler came to power. The reports were alarming. Nazi propaganda was distributed nation-wide to 20 cities, and in 19 “uniformed Nazi storm troopers are being secretly drilled…by German military officers sent here by the Hitler regime as part of a nation-wide drive to establish a Nazi dictatorship in this country.” Their ranks had grown rapidly, thanks to vigorous recruiting efforts. In New York City “400 new members are taken in every week.” Furthermore, these groups “are in constant communication with Germany and are approved and supported by official representatives of the Reich.”
The publicity surrounding the Congressional investigations into pro-Nazi groups and in particular their activities in New York City brought attention to what many saw as a genuine threat to American democracy, to the underlying principles of American political life. The threat came less from a Nazi-like takeover in this country--even the most enthusiastic members of the pro-Hitler groups saw that as unrealistic--than an alliance with racist and anti-Semitic elements in the nation. For each strived to heighten racial differences, to stir anti-Semitic outbursts, and to erode democracy. Investigative journalists probed Hitler’s supporters in New York and other cities and called attention to these activities. Although the pro-Hitler groups strived to rally all individuals of German ethnicity the efforts fell far short in the early and mid-1930s. As the New York City experience showed, many ethnic Germans, proud of their heritage, and with little connection to Hitler and Nazism remained steadfast in their commitment to American democracy. Many of the long-time residents openly challenged and defied the bullying of the pro-Hitler forces.
Those who called for the backing of Nazi Germany were largely non-citizens or those who had only recently been naturalized. Most of these young immigrants stemmed from the generation that came of age during World War I. They looked favorably upon Hitler and his calls for change in Germany. Yet, their clumsy and bellicose efforts, the openly anti-Semitic and racist calls, alienated many even within New York’s ethnic German community. Their aggressiveness prompted legal action and Congressional investigations, adverse publicity that the regime in Berlin, still struggling to solidify its control and sensitive to diplomatic relations, particularly with the economically strong United States, caused Nazi agencies to openly abandon their followers in New York and other American cities.
Already in April 1934 the German Embassy in Washington reported to Berlin on the Congressional investigation and cautioned that the State Department had made it clear that “any organization of the Nazi Party, regardless how construed, would not be looked upon favorably.” It also warned that “any engagement here by a unit of the Nazi Party…would be rejected by the vast majority of the American people.” In July 1934 the chiefs of the Political Police in the German states sent out a circular to “officials of all the State Police offices” forbidding them to have “any written correspondence” with Party members in America or members of the League of the Friends of the New Germany.” The German General Consulate in New York wrote to a constituent in Brooklyn that it had been notified that all German citizens [Reichsangehӧrige] were to resign from the League of the Friends of the New Germany. The Foreign Organization of the Nazi Party determined in July 1936 that “on account of reasons of foreign policy no local organization of the NSDAP can exist in the United States and those party members currently there will be taken as individual members of the Foreign Organization.”
This, however, did not remain the case. Concerns over the actions of Nazi supporters in New York and other cities grew throughout the latter years of the decade as the press and political figures paid more attention to the groups’ drilling, its mounting belligerence and anti-Semitic outbursts. The Nazi movement in America, weakened in 1934 by the Congressional investigations, the adverse publicity, and the mounting concerns of the Hitler regime in Berlin about antagonizing the United States early in its reign, now saw the German Consulate in New York move to curb its activities. In fact, the regime in Berlin was very sensitive to the mood in the United States in the year following the Nazi takeover. With the economy still vulnerable and its hold on the country still be strengthened, the Nazi leadership shied from confrontation with the United States. Berlin went out of its way to deny any links to the pro-Nazi forces in New York City and it remained particularly duplicitous.
This, however, changed quickly. Only a couple of years later Frank C. Hanighen, a prominent journalist and veteran foreign correspondent raised the question have “political organizations controlled and subsidized by foreign states…gained a foothold in this country and have [they] been engaged in stirring up class, racial and religious antipathies and prejudices in order to undermine the American democratic system and eventually overthrow the constituted government of the United States”? The actions of the Friends of the New Germany in New York City, particularly its aggressiveness and open animosity to fundamental American ideals such as democracy, tolerance and diversity, had led already in 1933 to state and federal investigations. These went far in bringing to light the aims and operations of the Nazi movement and these legal actions effectively shut them down. Yet, as the Hitler regime strengthened its grip on Germany and became more confident and aggressive in world affairs its backers in New York and other cities resumed and even intensified their activities.
Reorganized in 1936 as the “German American Bund,“ the Hitler boosters were now more vocal, more bellicose than its predecessors. And the group attracted more attention. The FBI maintained surveillance of it. Investigative journalists wrote about it, including John Roy Carlson, whose expose Under Cover, was published in 1943. Carlson did exactly that – he went under cover and spent four years, from the fall of 1938 to the spring of 1943, penetrating the web of Nazi supporters. His book revealed in detail the operations and efforts of “Axis agents” who were “plotting to destroy the United States” and their tight connections with racist American organizations, such as the Ku Klux Klan. Carlson wrote the book as “a warning to America of those factors which have led to the development of a nativist, nationalist, American Nazi or American Fascist movement, which, like a spearhead, is poised to stab at Democracy.” The most serious threats were in New York City. Through the attentions of journalists, such as Carlson, McCoy and those at the Hebrew and National Tribune, and concerned and committed political figures such as Representative Samuel Dickstein, the nation was alerted to this threat. Decisive actions were taken and these caused the Nazi regime to back off its support for the local Nazis. Yet, this victory was only short lived. By 1936 a revitalized pro-Hitler organization emerged and this was to present an even greater threat. Carlson persisted in exposing its activities, his determined efforts “a warning to those Americans who respect Democracy and want to preserve it.”
About the author: Robert G. Waite has a Ph.D. in modern European history from SUNY Binghamton and is a resident of Shushan, New York. Currently, he is a research historian at the German Resistance Memorial Center in Berlin.
 Samuel Duff McCoy, “Hitlerism Invades America,” The Nation 1, No. 23(March 31, 1934), 3. His series gained attention; see “Nation-Wide Plot By Nazis Charged,” New York Times (March 30, 1934); and “Writer Reveals Nazi Activities in United States,” The American Israelite (April 5, 1934).
 McCoy, “Hitlerism Invades America (March 31, 1934), 3. The articles ran in the March 31st, April 7th, April 14th and April 20th issues of The Nation. On McCoy, see his obituary, “Samuel D. McCoy, Reporter, 82, Dies, New York Times (April 11, 1964).
 See the Editor’s comments in “Exposing Nazi Propaganda in the U.S.,” American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune 132(October 20, 1933), 371.
 On the early efforts to organize pro-Nazi sympathizers, see Sander A. Diamond, “The Years of Waiting: National Socialism in the United States, 1922-1933,” Jewish Historical Quarterly 59(March 1970), 256-266; and Sander A. Diamond, The Nazi Movement in the United States, 1924-1941(Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1974),
91-92. For a contemporary survey of the origins, structure and location of these various early pro-Nazi organizations see “Appendix. Origin and Extent of Nazi Activities in United States,” in Committee Report. Nazi Propaganda Activities by Aliens in the United States (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1934), 14-19.
 David A. Brown, “Americans Must Fight Hitler in America. Nazi Cells and Nazi Activity in Many Sections of This Country!,” American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune132 (October 13, 1933), 359. On this investigative journalism, see David A. Brown, “Behind the Scenes,” American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune 132(November 3, 1933), 417.
 See the Committee Report, January 18, 1934, “Report on an Emergency and Informal Investigation into the Extent and Character of Activities of Aliens in the United States Engaged in Nazi Propaganda and into the Sources of Funds to Finance Activities,” conducted by a Subcommittee of the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization House of Representatives and chaired by NY Representative Samuel Dickstein (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1934).
 Diamond, Nazi Movement in the United States, 179ff.
 On this generation see, for example, Peter Loewenberg, “Psychohistorical Origins of the Nazi Youth Cohort,” American Historical Review 76(1971), 1457-1502; and Michael Wildt, An Uncompromising Generation. The Nazi Leadership of the Reich Security Main Office (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003) 21-36.
 “Immigration – Immigrants by Country,” in Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States 1987-1945 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1949), 33.
 Ibid., 32. “Foreign-Born Population, by Country of Birth,” in U.S. Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United Stated, Part 1 (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of the Census, 1975), 118.
 Diamond, Nazi Movement in the United States, 42ff. Tammo Luther, Volkstumspolitik des Deutschen Reiches, 1933-1938 (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2004), 24-26, 30-45. Dr. Emil Ehrich, Die Auslands-Organisation der NSDAP (Berlin: Junker und Dünnhaupt Verlag, 1937), 22-30.
 Letter, Kurt W. Luedecke, New York, to Gregor Strasser (Hamburg), October 21, 1931;and Lüdecke, “Der deutsch Weltkampf und Nord-Amerika,” Vorposten, No. 10, I(July 1931), Bundesarchiv Lichterfelde [hereafter BA], NS 9/339. Confidential Committee Report, Historical Sketch on the Origin and Extent of Nazi Activities in United States (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1933), 1-2. Testimony of Kurt Lüdecke, in Public Hearings Before the Special Committee on Un-American Activities, October 16 and 17, 1934 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1934), 95ff. On Ludecke see Arthur L. Smith, Jr., “Kurt Lüdecke: The Man Who Knew Hitler,” German Studies Review 26(October 2003), 597-606. John Roy Carlson, Under Cover. My Four Years in the Nazi Underworld of America (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1943), 111.
 NSDAP Auslandsabteilung, Hamburg, June 24, 1931, BA, NS 9/338.
 Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei Auslandsabteilung, Hamburg, June 24, 1931, An den Herrn Reichsorgansationsleiter I, München, BA, NS9/338.
 NSDAP Auslandsabteilung, Hamburg, July 21, 1931, An Herrn Reichsorganisationsleiter München, BA, NS9/338.
 Frank C. Hanighen, “Foreign Political Movements in the United States,” Foreign Affairs 16(October 1937), 5. Sander A. Diamond, “Zur Typologie der amerikadeutschen NS-Bewegung,” Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 23(1975), 271-274. Sander A. Diamond, “The Years of Waiting: National Socialism in the United States, 1922-1933,” American Jewish Historical Quarterly 59(1970), 263-264. McCoy, “Nazism Invades America,” 26-27. FBI, Freedom of Information/Privacy Acts Release, “German American Bund,” 11/17/1941, 2.
 McCoy, “Nazism Invades America,” 5, 24-26. FBI, “German American Bund,” 4-6. Diamond, Nazi Movement in the United States, 87-88.
 Hanighen, “Foreign Political Movements in the United States,” 1.
 Brown, “Americans Must Fight Hitler,” 259. Robert G. Waite, “’Raise My Voice Against Intolerance’, The Anti-Nazi Rally in Madison Square Garden, March 27, 1933, and the American Public’s Outrage over the Nazi Persecution of Jews,” New York History Review 7(December 2013), 189-191.
 Brown, “Americans Must Fight Hitler,” 259.
 “Nazi Units in United States List 1,000 Aliens; Admit Their Aim Is to Spread Propaganda,” New York Times (March 23, 1933).
 “Hitler Supporters Here Launch Membership Drive,” New York Herald Tribune (April 1, 1932). “Hitlerites Open Bureau Here to Promote Cause,” New York Herald Tribune (April 4, 1932).
 The quote is from Mr. ‘X’, in Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1934), 2. “Nazi Units in United States List 1,000 Aliens.”
 Letter, Reichs Minister Rudolf Hess, Muenchen, November 1, 1935, BA, NS 20/127 a.
 “Hitlerites Open Bureau Here to Promote Cause.”
 “Nazis Here Score Jews,” New York Times (April 9, 1933).
 On the Silver Shirts, see Carlson, Under Cover, 62, 317-319. Congressional Record, Proceedings and Debates, Volume 78-Part 5, March 15, 1934, to March 28, 1934 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1934), 4941. Confidential Committee Report, Historical Sketch on Origin and Extent of Nazi Activities in the United States (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1933), 6-7.
 “An Appeal to the Common Sense of the American People,” American Guard I (June, 1932). “Who’s Who in the Nazi Party,” Today (March 31, 1934), 29. “Hitlerites Open Bureau Here to Promote Cause.” Smith, “Kurt Lüdecke, 597-606. Raymond Moley, “What is Hitlerism?,” Today (March 31, 1934), 16-17.
 “Die Hakenkreuzfahne in der Brooklyner Schwabenhalle,” Deutsche Zeitung (January 11, 1934.).
 Dienstvorschriften des O.D., undated, BA, NS 20/127c.
 Ibid. The New York City group met every Tuesday evening; see “Ortsgruppe New York City,” Das Neue Deutschland (January 11, 1934).
 “Report Nazi Secret Police In Five American Cities,” The American Israelite (August 24, 1933).
Vigilante, “Exposing Nazi Propaganda in the United States,” American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune 132(November 3, 1933), 408. Brown, “Americans Must Fight Hitler,” 259.
 McCoy, “Hitlerism Invades America,” 2, 24. NSDAP, Gauleiter, Hamburg, December 17, 1932, An Reichsorganisationsleitung, BA, NS9/338.
 Samuel Duff McCoy, “Hitlerism Invades America,” Today 1(April 7, 1934), 26. Volker Koop, Hitler’s Fünfte Kolonne: Die Auslandsorganization der NSDAP (Berlin: be bra Verlag GmbH, 2009, 141-145; on the bid to take over the Steuben Society see pages 151-152.
 A translation of the directive was printed in “Spanknoebel? Here Is Evidence!,” American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune 132(November 3, 1933), 409. Diamond, Nazi Movement in the United States, 113.
 McCoy, “Hitlerism Invades America” (March 31, 1934), 28.
 Letter, Reichs Minister Rudolf Hess, Munich, November 1, 1935, BA, NS 20/127a.
 Hauptabteilung I, April 3, 1933, Herrn Dr. med. James Gessner, BA, NS9/338.
 See, for example, Letter, Rudolf Hess, who wrote of the constant “differences of opinion” and the efforts of some to “fully destroy” the movement.
 Quoted in McCoy, ““Hitlerism Invades America” (April 7, 1934), 27.
 Hauptabteilung I, April 3, 1933.
 Die Oberste Leitung der P.O., Berlin, May 28, 1933, BA, NS 9/338.
 Vigilante, “Exposing Nazi Propaganda in America,” American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune 132(October 13, 1933), 355.
 McCoy, “Hitlerism Invades America” (April 7, 1934), 21. Diamond, Nazi Movement in the United States,” 121. The circulation figure is from N.W. Ayer & Son’s, Directory of Newspapers and Periodicals 1931 (Philadelphia: N.W. Ayer & Son, 1931), 682
 “Ein jüdischer Mӓdchenhӓndler der Führer Deutsch-Amerikas?;” and “Die New Yorker Staatszeitung belügt ihre Leserschaft,” Vorposten, No. 1 2(October 1, 1931), BA, NS 9/338.
 “Federal Writ Out for the Arrest of Spanknoebel,” New York Herald Tribune (October 28, 1933). Quotes from Bernard Ridder’s sworn affidavit on this encounter are in “Hitlerism Invades America” (April 7, 1934), 27. Ranking Nazi officials denied that Spanknoebel had any official mandate; see “Repudiated by Goebbels: Spanknoebel Represents Neither Hitler Nor Party, He Says,” New York Times (October 26, 1933). “Arrest Is Ordered of Spanknoebel As German Agent,” New York Times (October 24, 1933).
 See, for example, “Die ‘Staatszeitung’ Hetzt,” Deutsche Zeitung (January 27, 1934).
 “US Is Aroused By Revelations On Nazi Propaganda,” (source newspaper not identified), PAAA, R 80308, K54119. McCoy, “Nazism Invades America” (April 7, 1934), 27. “Probe of Nazi Propaganda in U.S. Ordered,” American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune 133(October 13, 1933), 354.
 Quoted in McCoy, “Hitlerism Invades America” (April 7, 1934), 27. “Federal Writ Issued for Arrest Of Spanknoebel,” New York Tribune (October 28, 1933).
 “Missing Nazi Chief Is Indicted Here,” New York Times (November 11, 1933).
 McCoy, “Nazism Invades America (April 7, 1934), 27.
 Dienstvorschriften des O.D., BA, NS 20/127c. “Exposing Nazi Propaganda in America,” 355.
 An das Reichs-Ministerium des Auswӓrtigen Amtes Berlin, W.F. Reinhold, PAAA, R80308, K454145.
 McCoy, “Nazism Invades America” (April 7, 1934), 27. Luther, Volkstumspolitik des Deutschen Reiches, 129.
 “Untermyer Rebukes Lehman And 3 for Mayoralty Stand,” New York Herald Tribune (October 24, 1933).
 “Nazis Here Score Jews,” New York Times (April 9, 1933).
 O’Brien Bars German Rally As Pro-Nazi,” New York Herald Tribune (October 22, 1933). “Germans Will Ask Mayor to Drop Ban,” New York Times (October 24, 1933). “Germans Divided on Defying Mayor,” New York Times (October 23, 1933). “Exposing Nazi Propaganda in America,” 366.
 “Anti-Nazi Mob of 2,000 Fights 300 in Newark,” New York Herald Tribune (October 17, 1933).
 “All Officers Quit German Societies,” New York Times (September 23, 1933).
 “Jewish Groups Here Again Bolt German Rally.”
 “Jews Again Quit German Societies,” New York Times (October 3, 1933). “Jewish Groups Here Again Bolt German Rally,” New York Herald Tribune (October 3, 1933).
 McCoy, “Hitlerism Invades America” (April 7, 1934). “Veteran Protest Fails. Plea for Revocation of Armory Permit to Nazis Here Rejected,” New York Times (October 17, 1933).
 The full letter is reprinted in “O’Brien Bars German Rally.”
 “Federal Writ Out for the Arrest of Spanknoebel,”
 “Ridders Charge Nazi Terrorism,” New York Evening Post (October 24, 1934).
 Quoted in McCoy, “Hitlerism Invades America (March 31, 1934), 28. “Not an Agent, Nazis Say,” New York Times (October 25, 1933). “Ridder Assails Spanknoebel,” The Sun (October 24, 1933).
 Deutsches Generalskonsulat, New York, September 15, 1933, PAAA, R80308, K269217. “Nazi Spy System Is Reported Here,” New York Times (October 17, 1934).
 Letter, Dr. K.O. Bertling, Amerika-Institut, Berlin, September 21, 1933, Politische Archiv des Auswartiges Amts (Berlin) (hereafter PAAA), R K454180.
 “Nazi Gathering Ends in Brawl,” New York Times (October 17, 1933).
 Ibid. McCoy, “Nazism Invades America” (April 7, 1934), 28. “Germans Bolt Mayor’s Meeting,” New York Evening Post (October 25, 1933).
 The Ridders were severely criticized and threatened at planning meetings; see, for example, “Germans Ask Mayor to Drop Ban,” New York Times (October 24, 1933).
 McCoy, “Nazism Invades America” (April 7, 1934), 28. “Mayor O’Brien Forbids Nazi Mass Meeting,” American Israelite (October 26, 1933). “Mayor Bans ‘German Day’ Celebration,” American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune 132(October 27, 1933), 393.
 “O’Brien Warns Alien Agitators On Even of German Day Decision,” New York Herald Tribune (October 25, 1933).
 “O’Brien Bars German Day Assemblage,” New York Herald Tribune (October 26, 1933). A Spanknoebel ally called the Mayor’s decision “nothing but a Jewish conspiracy;” quoted in “O’Brien Assailed By Nazi,” New York Times (October 27, 1933). Some defended the assembly on the basis of free speech; see “Ban On Nazi Rally Upheld by O’Brien,” New York Times (October 26, 1933). “Mayor Bans ‘German Day’ Celebration,” American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune 132(October 27, 1933), 393.
 “Germans Bolt Mayor’s Meeting.” “Launch Inquiry Into Activities of Nazis in N.Y.,” Chicago Daily Tribune (October 29, 1933).
 “O’Brien Warns Alien Agitators.” “German Fete Row Stirs Nazi Foes in New York,” Washington Post (October 25, 1933). “Nazi Propaganda Alleged in U.S.A.,” The Globe (October 25, 1933). “Dickstein Pushes Inquiry,” New York Times (October 26, 1933). “Dickstein Asks Probe of Nazi Action in U.S.,” Washington Post (October 26, 1933). “Congress Nazi Quiz Planned,” Los Angeles Times (October 26, 1933).
 “Nazi Activity in the United States. Government Inquiry,” Manchester Guardian (October 11, 1933). Dickstein is quoted in “Probe of Nazi Propaganda in U.S. Ordered,” American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune 133(October 13, 1933), 354.
 “New York Inquiry Into Nazi Group,” Daily Boston Globe (October 29, 1933). “Nazis Probed By New York State Officials,” Washington Post (October 29, 1933). “Launch Inquiry Into Activities of Nazis in N.Y.”
 “Federal Writ Issued for Arrest Of Spanknoebel” also quotes the section of the code under which the charges were filed. Spanknoebel’s actions are described in “U.S. Warrant Issued for Nazi Leader in N.Y. Accused of Being Bogus Diplomatic Agent,” Chicago Daily Tribune (October 28, 1933). U.S. Jury Takes Up Nazi Inquiry,” Daily Boston Globe (October 31, 1933). “New York Inquiry Into Nazi Group.” “Bennett Calls For Inquiry on Nazis’ Society,” New York Herald Tribune (October 29, 1933).
 “U.S. Orders Alleged Nazi Agent’s Arrest,” Washington Post (October 28, 1933). “Federal Writ Out for Arrest Of Spanknoebel,” New York Herald Tribune (October 28, 1933). “O’Brien Warns Alien Agitators.” “Nazi Inquiry Resumed By Federal Grand Jury,” New York Herald Tribune (November 29, 1933). See, for example, “Arrest Is Order of Spanknoebel As German Agent,” New York Times (October 28, 1933); and “Orders Arrest Of Nazi Agent,” American Israelite (November 2, 1933).
 “U.S. Search For Spanknoebel On Nazi Charges,” New York Evening Post (October 28, 1934).“Not an Agent, Nazis Say,” New York Times (October 25, 1933). “Berlin Disavowed Spanknoebel,” New York Herald Tribune (October 25, 1933). “Repudiated by Goebbels,” New York Times (October 26, 1933).
 Telegram, New York, 11. November 1933, Nr. 132, PAAA, K269282. ??
 “U.S. Warrant Issued for Nazi Leader in N.Y.” “Spanknoebel Disappears in Face of Attack,” New York Herald Tribune (October 27, 1933). The quote from Spanknoebel’s letter is in “Nazi Suspect Still Missing,” Los Angeles Times (October 31, 1933) and “Airports Watched For Spanknoebel,” New York Times (October 31, 1933). The full letter is reprinted in “Germans Chide Mayor and Say They Will Rally,” New York Herald Tribune (October 31, 1933). “Heinz Spanknoebel Is Now In Germany,” New York Times (December 9, 1933).
 “Nazi Agent Called ‘Home to Explain’,” New York Times (October 27, 1933).
 “Nazi Spy System Is Reported Here. “Nazis Kidnaped Spanknoebel, Inquiry Hears (New York Herald Tribune (October 17, 1934).
 “Aid To Nazi Agent Sifted in Inquiry,” New York Times (November 1, 1933). “Where Is Spanknoebel?,” American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune 132(November 3, 1933), 412. Spanknoebel announced Griebl’s appointment at the October 16th meeting of the Local Group New York; see “Ortsgruppe New York,” Deutsche Zeitung (New York) (October 16, 1933).
 “Nazi Agent Flees U.S., Note Reveals,” New York Evening Post (October 30, 19343). “Mrs. Griebl Asks Ousting Of Dickstein by Roosevelt,” New York Herald Tribune (November 4, 1933). “Nazis in U.S.,” American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune 132(November 10, 1933), 440.
 “Nazi Leader’s Wife Balks At Inquiry,” New York Times (November 3, 1933). “Anti-Semite’s Boast Futile,” Los Angeles Times (November 3, 1933).
 “An alle Mitglieder des Bundes,” Das Neue Deutschland (New York) (November 16, 1933).
 “’Das Neue Deutschland’ wird Wochenzeitung,”
 Dr. Johann von Leers, “Die Grundlagen der nationalsozialistischen Weltanschaung,” Das Neue Deutschland (December 16, 1933). Leers authored a large number of anti-Semitic texts, some termed Jews “the world’s hereditary criminals” who had to be destroyed; see Marco Sennholz, Johann von Leers: ein Propagandist des Nationalsozialilsmus (Berlin: Be.bra-Wiss.-Verl., 2013).
 “Mr. Green and the Boycott,” Das Neue Deutschland (January 27, 1937). “Deutschen-Hetzer am Werk!;” Deutschland Erwache!;” and “Das Deutschtum Amerikas und die jüdische Hetze!,” Deutsche Zeitung (February 3, 1934). Letter, W.C. Roberts, American Federation of Labor, in Congressional Record – House, Mar h 20, 1934, 4940.
 See the file of letters forwarded to Berlin, PAAA, R287849. Ein offenes Wort an Freund und Feind. Die ‘Deutsche Zeitung’ nimmt Stellung zu Tagesfragen,” Deutsche Zeitung (March 24, 1934).
 “Boycott Ruins German Ports, Official Admits,” New York Herald Tribune (Aprl 13, 1934). “Deutschamerikaner heraus, zum Protest gegen den verfasshungswirdigen Boycott!,” Deutsche Zeitung (March 31, 1934). “Zwӧlftausend protestieren gegen verfassungswirdigen Boycott,” Deutsche Zeitung (April 14, 1934).
 “Fists Fly At Rally Of 9,000 Nazis Here,” New York Times (April 9, 1934).
 Ibid. “Hitlerites Clash With Hecklers At Queens Rally,” New York Herald Tribune (April 9, 1934).
 “Hearings Open Today on Nazi Propaganda,” Daily Boston Globe (November 14, 1933). “Quiz on Nazi Hold in U.S. Set Tuesday,” Washington Post (November 12, 1933).
 “Wie Sie Lügen!;” and “Das Deutschtum vewӓhrt sich gegen die Verleumdungen Samuel Dickstein,” German Outlook (January 11, 1934). “Wie Sie Lügen,” Deutsche Zeitung (February 3, 1934).
 Aufzeichnung betr. Die antideutsches Hetze in New York, December 20, 1933, PAAA, R 80309, K269351. Deutsche Botschaft, Washington DC, December 28, 1933, PAAA, R 80309, K269355.
 Testimony of Mr. ‘X’, November 13, 1933, in Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, 2. Congressional Record – House, 4946.
 Nazi Propaganda Activities by Aliens in the United States, Report, 3-5, 10.
 “Coercion Charged to Get Nazi Agents,” New York Times (October 12, 1933). “Nazi Spy System Is Reported Here.”
 Committee Report. Nazi Propaganda Activities by Aliens in the United States, 1-2.
 Disabled American Veterans, March 17, 1934, letter to Hon. Samuel Dickstein, in Congressional Record - House, 4937.
 Congressional Record- House, March 30, 1934, 4937.
 “Wer regiert in Washington, die Juden oder Roosevelt?,” Deutsche Zeitung (April 7, 1934).
 Congressional Record, House, March 20, 1934, 4937. “Evidence On Nazis to be Made Public,” New York Times (May 19, 1934).
 Bernard Postal, “Official Revelation Of Hitlerism In United States Outrages Nation,” American Israelite (June 14, 1934).
 A national convention elected Schnuch “absolute leader” on July 1st; see “Nazi Leder Here Defends Drilling and Ban on Jews,” New York Times (July 10, 1934). “Nazi Effors in U.S.Told,” Chicago Daily Tribune (July 10, 1934). “’Bales’ of Propaganda by Nazis Menace U.S., Moley Declaes,” New York Herald Tribune (July 19, 1934). “German Activities In United States Declared Menace,” Christian Science Monitor (July 10, 1934).
 Letter, F.P. Randolph, Committee Secretary, to Dr. Hubert Schnuch, September 29, 1934, American Jewish Archives (hereafter AJA), Samuel Dickstein Papers, MS-8, Box 3, Folder 5. After 1939 Schnuch returned to his former occupation, school administrator. He died in 1958; Diamond, Nazi Movement in the United States, 350.
 See the record of Lüdecke’s prepared statement and testimony, in Public Hearings Before the Special Committee on Un-American Activities (New York City, October 16 and 17, 1934) (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1934), 95-137. “Outline for Public Examination of Kurt. W. Lüdecke,” AJA, Samuel Dickstein Papers, MS-8, Box 3, Folder 5.
 Testimony of Ludwig Werner, in Public Hearings, October 16 and 17, 1934, 142. “Jeering Nazis Pack Congress Hearing,” New York Times (October 18, 1934). Testimony of Kurt Lüdecke, 115.
 Telegram, New York, November 11, 1933, Nr. 132, PAAA, R80308, K269282.
 Telegram, Washington, November 11, 1933, Nr. 623, PAAA, R80308, K269283.
 Spanknoebel Is Indicted by Federal Jury,” New York Herald Tribune (November 11, 1933). “Missing Nazi Chief Is Indicted Here.” “Successor to Spanknoebel Arrives,” American Hebrew and Jewish Tribune 132(November 10, 1933), 441. Spanknoebel returned to Germany, worked in a leather factory, and was conscripted into the Wehrmacht. He died in a Soviet prison in 1957; Diamond, Nazi Movement in the United States, 350.
 “Nazi Witness Is Jailed One Day by U.S. Court,” New York Herald Tribune (November 29, 1933).
 Deutsche Reichspost, Telegram, New York, November 30, 1933; and Telegram, Washington, December 1, 1933, Nr. 655, PAAA, R80309, K269327. “Jury To Get German List,” New York Times (November 30, 1933).
 Frank Rising, “New Channels for Hitlerism’s Invasion,” Today (April 28, 1934), 16.
 Fritz Morstein Marx, The German National Revolution. Major Events from Feb. 1 to May 15, 1933 (NY: Friends of the New Germany, n.d.).
 Ibid., 1-2.
 Ibid., 2-16.
 “Says Nazis Use U.S. Businesses,” The American Israelite (October 26, 1933). Congressional Record – Congress, March 30, 1934, 4946.
 PAAA, R80308, K269263.
 See, for example, the testimony of Mr ‘Y’, Tuesday, November 14, 1933, and the Statement of George Teas, in Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, 36. McCoy, “Hitlerism Comes to America,” 7, 29. “Seamen Smuggle Nazi Leaflets,” Wall Street Journal (November 2, 1933). “Says Nazis Use U.S. Businesses,” The American Israelite (October 26, 1933). “Griebl Testifiess At Spanknoebel Inquiry by U.S.,” New York Herald Tribune (November 1, 1933).
 Telegram, Washington, October 27, 1933, Nr. 591, PAAA, R80308, K269257.
 “Reich to End to Publications. New York Propaganda Organs to Loose Subsidies from Berlin,” The American Israelite (April 5, 1934). “Germany To End Aid For 2 Papers Here,” New York Times (March 13, 1934). “Nazi Papers Here Deny Official Aid,” New York Times (March 15, 1934).
 Frank Rising, “New Channels for Hitlerism’s Invasion,” Today (April 28, 1934), 16.
 “Writer Reveals Nazi Activities in United States;” “Nation-Wide Plot By Nazis Charged;” and “Vote $10,000 For Probe,” American Israelite (April 5, 1934).
 “Writer Reveals Nazi Activities in United States.”
 “Nation-Wide Plot By Nazis Charged.” McCoy, “Hitlerism Invades America,” (March 31, 1934), 2, 24.
 Deutsch Botschaft Washington DC 19. April 1934 and Washington, 20. April 1934, Nr. 779, BAL, NS9/338.
 Bayerische Politische Polizei, Munich, July 9, 1934, An sӓmtliche Polizeidirektionen und Bezirksӓmter Bayerns, BA, NS 9/338.
 Deutsches Generalkonsulat, New York, October 31, 1935, letter to Herrn Josef Schuster, Brooklyn, NY, BA, NS 20/127a.
 NSDAP, Leitung der Auslands-Organisation, July 23, 1936, BA, NS 9/338. Diamond, Nazi Movement in the United States, 131-133.
 Hanighen, “Foreign Political Movements in the United States,” 1, 18-20
 Diamond, Nazi Movement in the United States, 223ff. Leland V. Bell, “The Failure of Nazism in America: The German American Bund, 1936-1941,” Political Science Quarterly 85(1970), 585-588. Eliot A. Kopp, “Fritz Kuhn, ‘The American Fuehrer’ and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund,” (MA Thesis, Florida Atlantic University, 2010), 29-30, 33-40. On the connections with Germany, see Joachim Remak, “’Friends of the New Germany’: The Bund and German-American Relations,” Journal of Modern History 29(March 1957), 38-41.
 Carlson, Under Cover, 9, 517-519. FBI, German American Bund. On the developments in the late 1930s see Diamond, Nazi Movement in the United States, 185ff.