The Bund began as the Friends of New Germany in Chicago in 1933. This group traced its roots to the Teutonia Society and National Socialist Party, both active in the United States during the 1920s. The success of the Third Reich fueled the organization's rapid growth.
In 1936, the Friends regrouped as the German American Bund, an organization espousing to be "100% American." They professed to be for "constitution, flag and a white gentile ruled, truly free America." The Bund had two goals: to establish an effective power base by "Nazifying" the German American community and to sway American public opinion in favor of the New Germany.
The Bund divided the country into three geographic districts, or "Gaus," with Los Angeles as the headquarters of the Western Gau. From the Deutsches Haus near downtown Los Angeles, Gauleiter Hermann Schwinn supervised the district's activities.
Locally and nationally, the Bund maintained close ties with Hitler's Germany. Schwinn and other Bundists visited German steamships docked in Los Angeles Harbor to exchange reports on their activities for packages or orders and propaganda materials. Though vehemently denied by all, unofficial ties existed between Bund officials and German consulate staff.