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German American Bund

Origins

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.

Activities

At the height of the Bund's power, national membership estimates varied from an exaggerated 50,000 to the FBI's count of 6,600. In Los Angeles, Bundists probably numbered no more than 500 active meetings, rallies and parties at Deutsches Haus and Hindenburg Park in La Crescenta. The Bund's highly publicized activities attracted the curious as well as the sympathetic.

The Bund held grand celebrations at the Deutsches Haus to commemorate the successes of Hitler and the Third Reich, such as the "liberation" of Sudetenland and the "Anschluss" of Austria.

At Hindenburg Park, the Bund held dances and "patriotic" assemblies. They often featured speakers from other native fascists groups including The Silver Legion and Militant Christian patriots. Bundists believed meetings with other fascists were an effective way to reach a greater American audience.

During summers in the 1930s, several recreation areas nationwide including Hindenburg Park served as the district site for Camp Sutter, a youth camp of the national Jugendschaft movement. The Jugenschaft or "Community of Youngsters" modeled itself after the Hitler Youth in Germany. Children were indoctrinated with the customs, ideals and traditions of Germany under the Third Reich.

Exhibit Image: 
Pamphlet for Nazi Fifth Column
Photograph of Hermann Schwinn
Membership book for German American Bund
Booklet cover for German Association of LA
Booklet cover for Awake and Act
Flier for Peace Festival
Photograph depicting celebration of Adolf Hitler's birthday
Photograph of the Deutsches Haus Tavern
Newsletter for the News Research Service
Report from Spy R-3 about the activities at German House
Report on the Opening Day Ceremonies for the XI Olympiad
Photograph of people protesting in front of a German house
Photograph of a Nazi meeting
Photograph of German flags in Los Angeles
Photograph of Gau West Leader Hermann Schwinn
Booklet cover for Nazi Germany: I lived with the Brown Shirts
Booklet cover for Programme of the Party of Hitler
Photograph of Hans Diebel at a firing range
Business card titled Wake Up Patriotic Americans
Booklist from an Aryan Bookstore
Flier for Giant Pro-American Rally
Brochure cover for La Crescenta Park
Photograph of children at Hindenburg Park
Ticket for the Day of National Labor and Mayday Festival
Photograph of men selling newspapers at Hindenburg Park
Postcard titled Deutscher Tag
Newspaper page for California Weckruf
Photograph of a vandalized Aryan Bookstore
Newspaper page of News of the World
German American Bund Members at a march in Hindenburg Park
Men lifting a Swastika statue at Hindenburg Park
Diebel on a speaker platform
Bund choir and naval cadets at Hindenburg Park
Bund choir group
Bishop A. Dunstan Bell at a Hindenburg Park rally