Monday, October 13, 2014

Camp Siegfried

Location:   Yaphank, New York
Year:   1936

After Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, he attempted to influence American public opinion by inducing German-American immigrants and ethnic German-Americans to actively support Naziism. The U.S.-based Nazi Party organization, eventually called the German-American Bund, had at its peak some 25,000 members. 

The group, headquartered out of New York City, ran several "summer camps" for children and families where Nazi indoctrination was on the daily entertainment schedule. The largest of these "summer camps" was Camp Siegfried, in Yaphank on Long Island, where portraits of George Washington and Adolf Hitler hung side by side.

"Come and meet people who think as you think!" the camp's brochure read.

The Bund remained active until America entered World War II in December 1941. Long under surveillance, most Bund members were interned along with other suspected pro-Fascist German-Americans and Italian-Americans, and, more famously and dubiously, Japanese-Americans. 

The largest Bund Internment Camp was in Crystal City, Texas, on the Rio Grande. 

With a captive audience at their beck and call, the Bund used the Crystal City Internment Camp as a recruitment center, convincing many otherwise-innocent young German-Americans that their internment proved that American democracy was a sham. Many embraced Naziism, and their descendants number among American neo-Nazis today. 

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