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Copyright © 2016-2017 Mary Frances Fisher

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German-American Bund

PFIB includes a cast of Germans (born in the U.S. and immigrants) with a large contingent residing in Cleveland close to the Irish community. Many felt ostracized during periods of discrimination and, in an effort to seek the glory days of the Fatherland, sought help from the German American Bund (pronounced “Boond”.) Purported to be a German group of businessmen helping fellow immigrants find jobs and keeping alive pride in their country, the Bund hid behind Christianity and social justice as seen in the Bund application below.

Beginning as a fledgling organization in the 1920s (originally called "Friends of Germany"), the Bund grew in numbers by the 1930s with estimates of approximately 25,000 members although the Bund claimed 200,000 members. It was headquartered in New York with branches in major cities throughout the US. Many German immigrants came to America after World War I following the devastation of war and hope for a better life. But they faced discrimination and hatred for their involvment in the war and began to search for common ground where they were accepted and understood. They found this in the Bund. My 93 year-old aunt told me that the gym she attended in Cleveland, OH during the 1930s, was owned by a German proprieter. He proudly hung the Nazi flag and all children had to goosestep in the gym with their hands held high in a Nazi salute. However, once Germany attacked Poland, he took down the flag and stopped the Nazi marches.

Embedded in the Bund culture were anti-Semitism and allegiance to Hitler as dual flags (American and Nazi) were flown during rallies with chants of “Heil Hitler!” Summer camps, disguised as scenes of bonhomie and camaraderie seen in the following slide show, camoflaged the true goal of the Bund. Subversive elements, monitored by the FBI, established an intricate spy network intent on destroying America from within. They even came dangerously close to obtaining final plans for the atomic bomb. The German American Bund was a true threat to America that could have reached massive proportions as immigrants grouped together in support of their homeland.

Pictured above is Fritz Julius Kuhn, the leader of the German American Bund, who called himself the American Fuhrer, much to Hitler's dismay. He was later imprisoned for tax evasion and embezzlement.

During World War II, all remaining members of the Bund were held in concentration camps or imprisoned as subversives and membership in the group was outlawed. America would house approximately 400,000 Nazis in concentration camps during World War II, including Bund members.