PHOTOS: New York’s Infamous History: A Nazi Summer Camp

Camp Sigfried, a Nazi camp in Long Island, NY, was founded in 1935. It was operated by the German American Bund, an American Nazi organization also known as “Friends of New Germany.” The camp was devoted to promoting a favorable view of Nazi Germany and spreading its propaganda but was never verbally or financially supported by Hitler’s Third Reich.

Strangely enough, the camp survived for years and was shut down only after Germany declared war on the U.S in 1941. Before an official war declaration, the camp stayed active under first amendment rights, despite their hateful ideology. Only after the start of WWII did it become illegal for Americans to continue pledging allegiance to Nazi Germany, as adherents of the camp did.

The Sigfried summer camp taught Nazi ideology to all and yet professed to be loyal to America by displaying the flag of the United States at the camp entrance alongside a Nazi swastika. The attendees wore Nazi uniforms, ‘decorated’ lawns with swastikas and built fake tanks. They blasted then-president Roosevelt and attacked Jewish groups. The leaders also claimed that George Washington was the “first fascist” who did not believe in democracy.

The photos you see in the slideshow only became accessible to the public recently but were stored in in the New York City Department of Records for years. The photos were taken in the 1930s and early ’40s by the NYPD, who were documenting and keeping watch over the controversial and potentially dangerous political group. It was not uncommon for the police to photograph pro-Nazi rallies and meetings at that time. In fact, these watchers were known as the “Alien Squad”, a nickname that dates back to the Civil War when the feds monitored rebels and sympathizers.

The German American Bund group had established several other pro-Nazi training camps throughout the US during the 1930s too, including Camp Nordland and Camp Bergwald in New Jersey, the Deutschhorst Country Club in Pennsylvania, Camp Highland in New York state and Camp Hindenberg in Grafton, Wisconsin.

Thankfully, very little remains of these camps today, although the leadership did try to enlist the KKK to join forces with them before they were shut down in 1941.