Throughout the latter half of the 1930s, 19 Nazi summer camps and family retreats operated across the United States, from New York to California. Sponsored by the Deutsche-Amerikanische Berufsgemeinschaft, DAB, or German-American Bund, the camps were set up to indoctrinate children and adults with Nazi ideology.“The camps basically had everything the Hitler Youth camps had in Germany. Their uniforms were similar, right down to the Sam Brown belts and swastikas on the arms,” said Arnie Bernstein, author of the 2014 book, “Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund.”
The campers, aged 8 to 18, wore official uniforms and carried official banners of the Hitler Youth. Most were the children or grandchildren of German immigrants or naturalized citizens.
At the helm of the Bund stood Fritz Kuhn, a German naturalized citizen, who insisted on being called Bundes Fuhehrer. He understood that for his organization to succeed he had to make sure the camps appeared loyal to the United States. In one 25-minute film taken at Camp Highland in the Catskills one can see a swastika flag raised alongside an American flag.
“He insisted on it being an American group. In reality it was a hard core Hitler organization,” Bernstein said.
Today the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration houses a trove of photos and footage of the camps. Additionally, the New York Department of Records has about 30,000 photos taken by the Alien Squad, a surveillance unit with the New York Police Department, which documented subversive activity in the 1930s.
The snapshots and films show young people with their arms extended in stiff Heil Hitler salutes, lined up for drills, participating in rifle practice.
During the summer, staff awakened campers in the dead of night and taken on forced marches through the woods. They sat around bonfires singing “Deutschalnd, Deutschland Über Alles” and repeated the words Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhehrer.
“The summer camps, complete with the official uniforms and banners of the Hitler Youth, might be the most visual and chilling example of the DAB’s attempts to instill Nazi sympathies in German-American children,” wrote Audrey Amidon an archivist in National Archives’ Motion Picture Preservation Lab. “Even though it happened more than 75 years ago, it’s unsettling to see American children raise a Nazi flag and know that it occurred just 150 miles outside New York City.
Full article: When Hitler Youth summered near Long Island (The Times of Israel)