I think that we can all say that we have found ourselves on the wrong side of history…at the very least our belief system. That is really where most of the world found themselves when Adolf Hitler was elected to office, and almost immediately began to pour out his evil plan for the world, and his hatred for anyone not Aryan, which in Nazi ideology, “denotes white non-Jewish people, especially those of northern European origin or descent typically having blond hair and blue eyes and regarded as a supposedly superior racial group.” Hitler had so deceived the world, in fact, that just a short six and a half months before Hitler invaded Poland, New York City’s Madison Square Garden hosted a rally to celebrate the rise of Nazism in Germany!! More than 20,000 people were in attendance. They raised Nazi salutes toward a 30-foot-tall portrait of George Washington flanked by swastikas. Of course, not everyone was fooled by Hitler, and in fact the 20,000 were a very small percentage, but these 20,000 were, whether they ever understood it or not, on the wrong side of history, trying to follow a man who was insanely evil, murderous, and racist. Outside, police and some 100,000 protestors, who saw right through Hitler’s beliefs, gathered.
The organization who was behind the February 20, 1939 event, was the German American Bund (“Bund” is German for “federation”), had advertised the event as a “Pro American Rally.” The antisemitic organization held Nazi summer camps for youth and their families during the 1930s. Doesn’t that sound a lot like Hitler’s Youth Camps, that later turned into just the Hitler Youth, where he forcefully took children from their parents saying that the parents were ill-equipped to properly raise their children. Then, he turned those youth into killing machines, with no regard for human life. The Bund’s youth members were present at the February 20th rally, as were the Ordnungsdienst, or OD, the group’s vigilante police force who dressed in the style of Hitler’s SS officers. In Germany, these were the Jewish Ghetto Police or Jewish Police Service (German: Jüdische, Ghetto-Polizei, or Jüdischer Ordnungsdienst), also called the Jewish Police by Jews, and they were auxiliary police units organized within the Nazi ghettos by local Judenrat (Jewish councils). Their “job” was to keep order, or rather monitor the orderly persecution and murder of the Jewish people.
At the rally, there were banners hanging with messages like “Stop Jewish Domination of Christian Americans” and “Wake Up America. Smash Jewish Communism.” When the Bund’s national leader, Fritz Kuhn, gave his closing speech, he referred to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as “Rosenfield” and Manhattan District Attorney Thomas Dewey as “Thomas Jewey.” Kuhn, a naturalized American who lost his citizenship during World War II, declared, “We, with American ideals, demand that our government shall be returned to the American people who founded it. If you ask what we are actively fighting for under our charter: First, a socially just, white, Gentile-ruled United States. Second, Gentile-controlled labor unions, free from Jewish Moscow-directed domination.” Isadore Greenbaum, a brave Jewish-American man, interrupted Kuhn’s speech by charging the stage in protest. Undaunted, the police and the vigilante force quickly tackled him and proceeded to beat him up on stage. The crowd cheered as they threw him off stage, pulling his pants down in the process. Police charged Greenbaum with disorderly conduct and gave him a $25 fine, which today would have equaled about $450. They were not only intent on inflicting pain, but also humiliation. They are people who have stepped into the insane world of evil. Definitely the wrong side of history.
At the time the rally took place, Hitler was completing his sixth concentration camp. The protesters, many of them Jewish Americans, were trying to call attention to what was happening in Germany, saying that it could happen in the United States. Their fliers proclaimed, “Don’t wait for the concentration camps—Act now!” Outside the rally, people carried signs with messages like “Smash Anti-Semitism” and “Give me a gas mask, I can’t stand the smell of Nazis.” The police responded to the protesters with violent attacks. The night was riddled with violence. One protester escaped a mounted police officer, by punching his horse in the face. As the rally broke up, some protesters slipped by the police to punch departing Nazis in the face.
Looking back on how the Nazi history played out, and especially the atrocities of Hitler, I wonder if the people who were at the rally in support of Hitler felt about their…hero now. I suppose that being obsessed with evil, they might have been fine with the Holocaust, and all of the killing that took place. All we can hope is that maybe at least a few of then saw the error of their ways, and realized just how evil Hitler and the Third Reich really were.
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