The German American Bund was an American Nazi organization operating stateside. Their purpose: Drum up support for “New Germany”, i.e. Nazi Germany. In 1935 this organization establisehd Camp Siegfried in Long Island, New York, led by German-American born citizen, Fritz Julius Kuhn. Obviously, some people were not terribly happy or supportive of the camp, which claimed protection under the 1st Amendment, so there was nothing anyone could do about it. That is until Germany declared war against America.
According to Messy Nessy Chic (at Roadtrippers):
“The land of the campsite in Yaphank, New York, was owned by the German-American settlement League, an organization which still operates as a private community today. The summer camp taught Nazi ideology but claimed to show its loyalty to America by displaying the flag of the United States at the camp entrance alongside a Nazi swastika and declared that George Washington was the “first Fascist” who did not believe democracy would work.”
The New York City Department of Records has now digitized photographs taken from inside the Camp during the 1930s and 1940s. These are now available for view online and they’re pretty weird. The NYPD’s “Alien Squad” at the time was keeping a close watch over pro-Nazi groups operating in the area. The “Alien Squad” is a term that “dates back to the Civil War when it monitored rebels and sympathizers.” Kuhn, leader of the German American Bund gathered a group of about 20,000 pro-Nazi supporters to march at Madison Square Gardens in February of 1939.
As you peruse the photos you’ll notice plenty of swastikas embroidered on uniforms, adorning flags and even lawns in manicured into the shape of the Nazi emblem. The camp at Long Island wasn’t the only pro-Nazi training camp, there were several others scattered throughout the U.S. prior to Germany’s declaration of war against America.
“Very little remains of these camps, although I came across a local New Jersey blog which claims remnants of Bergwald Camp in Hillside Park, Andover are an easy find. When the camp was on the verge of collapse, they reportedly invited the KKK to join forces with them. Eventually the camp required police protection from increased local animosity towards them and once the US joined the war in 1941, summer at Nazi camp was most definitely over.” – Messy Nessy Chic