The town that fascism built: Inside the New York hamlet that once was home to a pro-Nazi camp and a street named after Hitler
- Yaphank in Long Island was founded in part by the German American Bund, a pro Nazi group that flourished in the 1930s
- They established Camp Siegfried in 1935 as a place for like-minded Aryans to drink beer, hold military demonstrations and learn about eugenics
- Yaphank remains a town in Long Island, but gone are the roads once called Adolf Hitler Street, Goebbels and Goering
Nestled in eastern Long Island is a sleepy little town called Yaphank where the streets have cozy names like Oak and Park, names that hide a dark past: they once bore signs like Hitler and Goebbels Streets.
Yaphank, in the 1930s, appeared as a haven for Americans–most of them of German heritage–who sympathized with the causes of the Third Reich.
In fact, it was largely founded as a Nazi camp, one of several scattered across the U.S., where the children in the German American Bund (AKA American Nazis) could fish, swim, hunt and learn about things like eugenics.
Today, Yaphank is still a town on Long Island. Missing now, though, are the homes with swastikas built into the brick work and hedges, pro-Hitler parades and, of course, the Nazi camp.
That camp was founded in 1935 by Friends of New Germany, writes Dangerousminds.net. That group went on to become the German American Bund.
The Bund in Yaphank, as it did in similar communities in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New Jersey, organized military demonstrations where they waved both the American and Nazi flags.
In an article published in the Long Island History Journal, Stony Brook University historian Ryan Shaffer describes a typical day at Camp Siegfried thusly:
‘Locals from Yaphank, Jamesport, Aquebogue, and Riverhead visited the camp to drink beer, join in the festive atmosphere walking or driving down Hitler Street to salute American and Nazi flags.’
Shaffer writes that ‘support for Nazi Germany in the United States was a unique blend of German and American ideology rather than just a foreign import.’
However, members had to be Aryan and were united in their belief that those with German blood would lead America into a ‘new era.’
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