Title: German American Bund
Extent: 5 boxes (2.5 linear ft.)
Creators: Dr. David M. Kopp & Eliot A. Kopp
Location: University Archives & Special Collections – Lehman 201
Abstract: This collection consists of materials collected by Mr. Eliot A. Kopp and Dr. David M. Kopp to document the rise and demise of the German American Bund, a pro-Nazi organization established in the United States in 1936 by American citizens of German descent aiming at propagating a favorable view of Nazi Germany. The collection includes correspondence, reports, legal documents, published articles, and previously classified material received after a Freedom of Information Act request by Dr. David Kopp.
Language of Material: English with some materials in German.
The German American Bund, an organization of ethnic Germans living in the United States, was marked by a pro-Nazi stance.
Aside from its admiration for Adolf Hitler and the achievements of Nazi Germany, the German American Bund program included antisemitism, strong anti-Communist sentiments, and the demand that the United States remain neutral in the approaching European conflict.
Public opinion surveys of 1939 show that Fritz Kuhn, the leader of the German American Bund, was seen by the US public as the leading anti-Semite in the country.
Actual membership figures for the German American Bund are not known with certainty, but reliable estimates place membership at 25,000 dues-paying members, including some 8,000 uniformed Sturmabteilungen (SA), more commonly known as Storm Troopers.
The German American Bund carried out active propaganda for its causes, published magazines and brochures, organized demonstrations, and maintained a number of youth camps run like Hitler Youth camps.
German American Bund activities often led to clashes—even street battles—with other groups, most notably with Jewish veterans of World War I. A February 1939 rally was held on George Washington’s birthday to proclaim the rights of white gentiles, the “true patriots.” This Madison Square Garden rally drew a crowd of 20,000 who consistently booed President Franklin D. Roosevelt and chanted the Nazi salutation “Heil Hitler.”
The German American Bund closely cooperated with the “Christian Front” organized by the anti-Semitic priest Father Charles Coughlin. The activities of the German American Bund led
both Jewish and non-Jewish congressional representatives to demand that it be investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee chaired by Martin Dies. The Committee hearings, held in 1939, showed clear evidence of German American Bund ties to the Nazi government.
Shortly thereafter, Kuhn was convicted of embezzling funds from the organization and was sentenced to prison. In the following years, a number of other German American Bund leaders were interned as dangerous aliens, and others were jailed for various offenses. By 1941 the membership of the organization had waned. After the United States entered World War II in December 1941, the US government outlawed the German American Bund.
Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum at https://www.ushmm.org/
Scope and Content
The collection is a valuable resource for the study of German-American Bund organization from the year 1939 to 1942, as well as for the study of the American history and politics related to that time.
The collection consists of legal records declassified by the U.S. Department of Justice documenting communication to the FBI from 1939 to 1942 regarding the German American Bund Organization. It also includes FBI detailed reports that were prepared in several States to inform the investigation of the cases which originated in Chicago Illinois against the pro-Nazi organization. Many items of the collection comprise investigation records of the German-American Bund as an entity and describe its activities and ideology as well as investigating the roles, the actions, and the financial activities of the people involved in it. Part of the collection present memorandums to the Attorney General Investigation committees and records of legal cases that were brought against individuals involved in this organization.
The collection also includes Congressional records covering the German-American Bund practices and legitimacy as well as important legal publications and organizational records prepared by the German-American Bund in addition to contemporary newspaper clippings and magazine articles that capture the public sentiment and the official reaction to the organization.
Information from this archive was utilized by Mr. Eliot A. Kopp for a graduate thesis entitled, “Fritz Kuhn, 'The American Fuehrer' and the Rise and Fall Of The German-American Bund” submitted to the College of Arts and Letters In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts Florida Atlantic University, May, 2010. Most recently the collection was utilized by Dr. David M. Kopp's most recent book Famous and Infamous Training.
Acquisition Information: Gift of Dr. David M. Kopp
Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research
Processed by: Maitham Al Lami, Doctoral Student, Curriculum and Instruction, Barry University Adrian Dominican School of Education, 2016
Research Guide: Ximena Valdivia, 2017
Preferred Citation: German American Bund, Barry University Archives and Special Collections