Friday, January 16, 2009


Let me tell you a bit about Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler.

The terror machinery of Nazi Germany and its attempt to implement the "Endlösung" led to the deaths of six million Jews and ten million Slavs.
It was undoubtedly one of the most evil acts perpetrated by man.

Amerikadeutscher Bund Parade

on eastern 86. Street in New York City, 30. October 1939

It came from a regime which was, in many ways, evil made solid and put in charge of a nation. In the period 1933-37 the NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or National Socialist German Workers' Party) gradually took charge of all influences over the German people by their policy of "alignment" (Gleichschaltung). Paul von Hindenburg, who had beaten Adolf Hitler in the 1932 run for Presidency (Reichspräsident) appointed Hitler to the position of Chancellor of Germany in 1933 after the NSDAP achieved a large plurarity of seats in the Reichstag (German parliament). It's a common fallacy that Hitler was elected, but he wasn't. And even before he seized power (which I'll get to in a minute) his influence was eroding the liberties of the German people and furthering his Party's ideology because Hindenburg was lapsing in and out of senility and Hitler was the real "power behind the throne".

On February 27, 1933, the Reichstag suffered an arson attack, and known Communist agitator (and ideological enemy of the Nazis) Marinus van der Lubbe was found near the scene of the crime. Many historians now think the Nazis carried out the attack themselves as justification for what followed. (compare this to 9/11. See FALSE FLAG in wikipedia!)

What followed was the Verordnung des Reichspräsidenten zum Schutz von Volk und Staat or "Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State". Under the pretense of protecting the people, the decree destroyed their human rights: including the right to habeas corpus (the right not to be imprisoned without trial), freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press and the freedom to communicate without the government listening. (Compare this to warrantless phone tapping, Gitmo, Bagram, Balad, Abu Ghraib.. you get the picture.
1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
2. Create a gulag
3. Develop a thug caste
4. Set up an internal surveillance system
5. Harass citizens' groups
6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
7. Target key individuals
8. Control the press
9. Dissent equals treason
10. Suspend the rule of law

This new power was zealously exercised by the Sturmabteilung ("stormtrooper"s) against Communists and other political enemies of the Nazi Party, and many were not allowed to retake their seats in the Reichstag after the 1933 legislative elections.

After the Sturmabteilung had imprisoned, intimidated or killed a great number of anti-Nazi legislators, a two-thirds majority was achieved for the passing of the Enabling Act (Ermächtigungsgesetz)1. This Act allowed the executive to ignore and change the Weimar Constitution and to publish legislation in the "Reich Law Gazette" without reference to the Reichstag (although the Nazis continually tried to make their regime look as legal as possible by using the legislative branch when they could). After the law was passed, other political parties were outlawed and a law was passed on July 14, 1933 which outlawed the formation of any new parties. Between then and the Night of the Long Knives, decrees were published which centralised power in the executive and at the federal level at the expense of the power of the localities.

The Night of the Long Knives was a purging of the Sturmabteilung leadership following fears by leaders of the German Army that their influence and power would be lost as the Sturmabteilung expanded their own power. Most notable among the dead was Ernst Röhm, leader of the Sturmabteilung and a personal favorite of Hitler. The Chancellor needed to maintain the support of the regular Army and so he was compelled to take this measure. The Night was legalised twenty seven days after it occured by the "Law Regarding Measures of State Self-Defence" (Gesetz über Maßnahmen der Staatsnotwehr). It consisted of a single article which read -

"The measures taken on June 30, July 1 and 2 1934 in order to put down attacks of high treason shall be legal State self-defense."

Several days later came Hitler's final grab for power. The Reich President died on August 2. Convieniently, the government had passed a law three hours prior to his death that would merge the offices of Reichspräsident and Reichskanzler (what Hitler was) on von Hindenburg's death. The new ruler would be (and the law said this exactly), Führer und Reichskanzler Adolf Hitler. Hitler was now Head of State and Head of Government, and the Nazi Party's ascendancy and his ascendancy within it was complete.

Gleichschaltung was an example of the Orwellian use of language that totalitarian regimes practice. Gradually the whole of society was being "Nazified", but people would say they had been gleichgeschaltet ("re-aligned"). By hiding behind this word the people in power could hide the true nature of what they were doing (subjecting people to physical violence and intimidation) and the people could accept it. In practice it meant subjecting every organisation in the country to Nazi leadership and removing anyone of non-Aryan descent from it (being "Aryan" essentially meant having four Gentile grandparents). A portion of the German nation had sanctioned what was going on in the 1930s, out of nationalism and frustration and not so much out of anti-semitism.

July 12, 2002

'Jewish only' public land in Israel – what’s up with that?

Although I am sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, and hardly a friend of Israel, I must admit to being shocked at the analogy – made by many in the anti-Israel camp – between the Jewish state and the Thousand Year Reich. I remember seeing photos of a pro-Palestinian demonstration in the US that had swastikas scrawled all over the picket signs and slogans equating Sharon with Hitler. It seemed, at the time, a little over-the-top, and even offensive: after all, there is something distinctly … icky about likening the victims of the Holocaust to the perpetrators. Now that the Israeli government is not only seizing Palestinian land but building public sector "Jews only" housing on it, however, the analogy between Zionism and Nazism is obscenely undeniable.

The Nazi-Zionist equation is still overblown, of course, since Ariel Sharon has a looong way to go before the number of his victims even distantly approaches the six-million mark. But an important principle has been established, that of exclusivism as an official Israeli policy. Just as the Nazis declared that Europe would one day be "Judenrein" (without Jews), so the leaders of the Jewish state are now announcing their intent to create a Palestinian-free nation. Unless they are stopped, the radical Zionists will be forced to utilize the same methods as Hitler's stormtrooopers: massacre, deportation, and genocide.

In America, the ceaseless refrain of Israel's amen corner boils down to one essential argument: that Israel is a "democracy," a member in good standing of the West, and even (incredibly) a "free market" economy – compared to the "closed" economies of the Arab world. It was my old friend, the pseudonymous "Emmanuel Goldstein," formerly our British correspondent and now writing his own excellent blog, Airstrip One, who first raised the interesting question as to whether Israeli political culture is, in reality, a Western phenomenon. Goldstein asserts that the waves of immigration to Israel from Arab countries, coupled with the growing Russian influence, consitutute a radically de-Westernizing influence:

"So what are the cultural implications of this? Well it is orientalising Israel. Whereas the predominantly Ashkenasi Zionist movement was heavily influenced by the ideas sweeping around Western Europe because of the years spent in or near Western Europe – what is the likely outcome of a longer immersion in Arab culture for the Sephardic Jews?"

The egalitarian socialist ideals the Labor Zionist founders of the kibbutz movement brought with them from Europe and planted in Israeli soil have been transmuted, in the Middle Eastern climate, into a malevolent hybrid that now openly pursues a policy of ethnic cleansing. The wall idea, the increasingly popular mass deportation option, the announcement that the IDF is in the West Bank "indefinitely,"and now ethno-religious exclusivism, all point to the dead-on accuracy of Goldstein's trenchant analysis, which he sums up succinctly:

"Maybe what we are seeing is that Israel is becoming a foreign country to us. So our high standards should not be applied to Israel so rigorously."

Every time the Los Angeles Times reports a news story that puts Israel in a bad light, they are flooded with emails vehemently protesting the coverage, and a boycott has been launched. On the East Coast, the other Times is under a similar assault. Major newspapers across the country have been boycotted, pestered, and bitterly denounced as the modern-day equivalent of Der Stuermer if they so much as look at Ariel Sharon cross-eyed – and they have been amazingly (I would say frighteningly) effective. Now, just think if all those angry emailers channeled their energies toward stopping this immoral and counter-productive "Jews only" policy from taking effect. How long would it take before the policy was changed? Of course, this time they aren't up against some mushy liberal editor, but the Iron Minister, the Israeli Bismarck, who is unlikely to be swayed quite as easily. But perhaps the argument that blatant exclusivism will alienate potential allies in the US – the source, after all, of Israel's main support and the key to its continued survival – will persuade some of the more reasonable elements within Israeli ruling circles, assuming that any are left.

That's a big assumption, considering the troubling direction that Israeli society seems to be taking. You may blame this on the suicide bombers, but the growth of Israeli fundamentalism as a religious-political movement has reached new heights. I discussed this phenomenon in a column on the "red heifer," the birth of which is supposed to signal some theologically-ordained Armageddon in the Middle East according to both Jewish and Christian fundamentalists. Now it has reached a new pitch of nuttiness with the news that the Western Wall of the ancient Jewish temple, otherwise knowing as the Wailing Wall, is itself shedding tears – and the nutballs, naturally, are in a perfect lather….

It's all because of "a small damp patch that has appeared on one of the giant stone slabs," as the BBC dryly puts it. Ultra-orthodox Jews believe this may be a portent of the Messiah, and already two men tried to climb the wall in an attempt to discover the source of the leak; they were escorted away by police.

This is the spot where the holiest of holies of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism stand practically on top of one another: the site of the original Jewish temple, the Muslim Dome of the Rock mosque, and the site of many Christian shrines – and it is a tinderbox waiting to explode. The visions of apocalypse shared by most fundamentalist strains intersect here, at the crossroads of the world's major religions – the flashpoint of a new world war.

The War Party often compares the "war on terrorism" to World War II, but who are the real Nazis here? We hear much about "Islamofascism" from the likes of neoconservative lefties like Christopher Hitchens and neoconservative rightists like Andrew Sullivan, but of its close cousin, Judeo-fascism, we hear nary a word. Now, why is that? It isn't just the many cruelties of Sharon's blitzkrieg, what Israel's apologists skillfully explain away as as necessary cruelties, but its blatant destructiveness, clearly meant to tear down an entire nation and build another on the rubble, that recall the Hitlerian style:

"Armed Israeli police, with the help of a locksmith and a moving van, stormed into the administrative offices of the preeminent Palestinian university in Jerusalem today, closing the building and accusing officials there of working for Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority. Witnesses said police sealed the offices of the university president, Sari Nusseibeh, the senior Palestinian representative in Jerusalem and internationally one of the most recognized voices of moderation among Palestinians."

This Washington Post report then quotes the aptly named Israeli Public Security Minister, Uzi Landau, describing the university as "the long arm of the Palestinian Authority, operating against the law." So this is now the "law" – a lawless attack not on terrorist targets, but on every manifestation of Palestinian culture and presence. When the Nazis invaded German universities, burning books and purging Jews, the face of German national socialism was revealed for all the world to see. Now the masks have come off in Israel, and we are witnessing the birth of a phenomenon straight out of Bizarro World, a grotesque inversion that couldn't – just couldn't – be real: Jewish Nazism.

Aggressive, expansionist, exclusivist, belligerent even in cyberspace – Israel increasingly fits the Nazi-fascist profile:

"During the first half of 2002, Israel ranked first in the world in the number of hacker attacks relative to its number of Web users, according to a study published by the American security firm Riptech. The study found that for every 10,000 Israeli Web surfers, there are an average of 33.1 hacker attacks generated against Internet sites throughout the world."

Israel uber alles – this is the program of the proto-fascist movement now incubating in Israel, and it has its share of American supporters. Perhaps, however, this "Jews only" housing policy is too blatant even for them, and they'll put pressure on Tel Aviv to back down. I await the gently scolding screeds in National Review and the Weekly Standard, prefaced by all sorts of exculpatory phrases and equivocations, advising the Israelis to cool it. Either that, or else an endorsement of exclusivism – accompanied, naturally enough, by a suggestion that AIPAC change its name from the Israel-American Public Affairs Committee to the Israeli-American Bund.


The Horrifying American Roots of Nazi Eugenics

By Edwin Black

Mr. Black is the author of IBM and the Holocaust and the just released War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race, from which the following article is drawn.

Hitler and his henchmen victimized an entire continent and exterminated millions in his quest for a co-called "Master Race."

But the concept of a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed master Nordic race didn't originate with Hitler. The idea was created in the United States, and cultivated in California, decades before Hitler came to power. California eugenicists played an important, although little known, role in the American eugenics movement's campaign for ethnic cleansing.

Eugenics was the racist pseudoscience determined to wipe away all human beings deemed "unfit," preserving only those who conformed to a Nordic stereotype. Elements of the philosophy were enshrined as national policy by forced sterilization and segregation laws, as well as marriage restrictions, enacted in twenty-seven states. In 1909, California became the third state to adopt such laws. Ultimately, eugenics practitioners coercively sterilized some 60,000 Americans, barred the marriage of thousands, forcibly segregated thousands in "colonies," and persecuted untold numbers in ways we are just learning. Before World War II, nearly half of coercive sterilizations were done in California, and even after the war, the state accounted for a third of all such surgeries.

California was considered an epicenter of the American eugenics movement. During the Twentieth Century's first decades, California's eugenicists included potent but little known race scientists, such as Army venereal disease specialist Dr. Paul Popenoe, citrus magnate and Polytechnic benefactor Paul Gosney, Sacramento banker Charles M. Goethe, as well as members of the California State Board of Charities and Corrections and the University of California Board of Regents.

Eugenics would have been so much bizarre parlor talk had it not been for extensive financing by corporate philanthropies, specifically the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman railroad fortune. They were all in league with some of America's most respected scientists hailing from such prestigious universities as Stamford, Yale, Harvard, and Princeton. These academicians espoused race theory and race science, and then faked and twisted data to serve eugenics' racist aims.

Stanford president David Starr Jordan originated the notion of "race and blood" in his 1902 racial epistle "Blood of a Nation," in which the university scholar declared that human qualities and conditions such as talent and poverty were passed through the blood.

In 1904, the Carnegie Institution established a laboratory complex at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island that stockpiled millions of index cards on ordinary Americans, as researchers carefully plotted the removal of families, bloodlines and whole peoples. From Cold Spring Harbor, eugenics advocates agitated in the legislatures of America, as well as the nation's social service agencies and associations.

The Harriman railroad fortune paid local charities, such as the New York Bureau of Industries and Immigration, to seek out Jewish, Italian and other immigrants in New York and other crowded cities and subject them to deportation, trumped up confinement or forced sterilization.

The Rockefeller Foundation helped found the German eugenics program and even funded the program that Josef Mengele worked in before he went to Auschwitz.

Much of the spiritual guidance and political agitation for the American eugenics movement came from California's quasi-autonomous eugenic societies, such as the Pasadena-based Human Betterment Foundation and the California branch of the American Eugenics Society, which coordinated much of their activity with the Eugenics Research Society in Long Island. These organizations--which functioned as part of a closely-knit network--published racist eugenic newsletters and pseudoscientific journals, such as Eugenical News and Eugenics, and propagandized for the Nazis.

Sir Francis Galton, aged 73Eugenics was born as a scientific curiosity in the Victorian age. In 1863, Sir Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, theorized that if talented people only married other talented people, the result would be measurably better offspring. At the turn of the last century, Galton's ideas were imported into the United States just as Gregor Mendel's principles of heredity were rediscovered. American eugenic advocates believed with religious fervor that the same Mendelian concepts determining the color and size of peas, corn and cattle also governed the social and intellectual character of man.

In an America demographically reeling from immigration upheaval and torn by post-Reconstruction chaos, race conflict was everywhere in the early twentieth century. Elitists, utopians and so-called "progressives" fused their smoldering race fears and class bias with their desire to make a better world. They reinvented Galton's eugenics into a repressive and racist ideology. The intent: populate the earth with vastly more of their own socio-economic and biological kind--and less or none of everyone else.

The superior species the eugenics movement sought was populated not merely by tall, strong, talented people. Eugenicists craved blond, blue-eyed Nordic types. This group alone, they believed, was fit to inherit the earth. In the process, the movement intended to subtract emancipated Negroes, immigrant Asian laborers, Indians, Hispanics, East Europeans, Jews, dark-haired hill folk, poor people, the infirm and really anyone classified outside the gentrified genetic lines drawn up by American raceologists.

How? By identifying so-called "defective" family trees and subjecting them to lifelong segregation and sterilization programs to kill their bloodlines. The grand plan was to literally wipe away the reproductive capability of those deemed weak and inferior--the so-called "unfit." The eugenicists hoped to neutralize the viability of 10 percent of the population at a sweep, until none were left except themselves.

Eighteen solutions were explored in a Carnegie-supported 1911 "Preliminary Report of the Committee of the Eugenic Section of the American Breeder's Association to Study and to Report on the Best Practical Means for Cutting Off the Defective Germ-Plasm in the Human Population." Point eight was euthanasia.

The most commonly suggested method of eugenicide in America was a "lethal chamber" or public locally operated gas chambers. In 1918, Popenoe, the Army venereal disease specialist during World War I, co-wrote the widely used textbook, Applied Eugenics, which argued, "From an historical point of view, the first method which presents itself is execution… Its value in keeping up the standard of the race should not be underestimated." Applied Eugenics also devoted a chapter to "Lethal Selection," which operated "through the destruction of the individual by some adverse feature of the environment, such as excessive cold, or bacteria, or by bodily deficiency."

Eugenic breeders believed American society was not ready to implement an organized lethal solution. But many mental institutions and doctors practiced improvised medical lethality and passive euthanasia on their own. One institution in Lincoln, Illinois fed its incoming patients milk from tubercular cows believing a eugenically strong individual would be immune. Thirty to forty percent annual death rates resulted at Lincoln. Some doctors practiced passive eugenicide one newborn infant at a time. Others doctors at mental institutions engaged in lethal neglect.

Nonetheless, with eugenicide marginalized, the main solution for eugenicists was the rapid expansion of forced segregation and sterilization, as well as more marriage restrictions. California led the nation, performing nearly all sterilization procedures with little or no due process. In its first twenty-five years of eugenic legislation, California sterilized 9,782 individuals, mostly women. Many were classified as "bad girls," diagnosed as "passionate," "oversexed" or "sexually wayward." At Sonoma, some women were sterilized because of what was deemed an abnormally large clitoris or labia.

In 1933 alone, at least 1,278 coercive sterilizations were performed, 700 of which were on women. The state's two leading sterilization mills in 1933 were Sonoma State Home with 388 operations and Patton State Hospital with 363 operations. Other sterilization centers included Agnews, Mendocino, Napa, Norwalk, Stockton and Pacific Colony state hospitals.

Even the United States Supreme Court endorsed aspects of eugenics. In its infamous 1927 decision, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, "It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind…. Three generations of imbeciles are enough." This decision opened the floodgates for thousands to be coercively sterilized or otherwise persecuted as subhuman. Years later, the Nazis at the Nuremberg trials quoted Holmes's words in their own defense.

Only after eugenics became entrenched in the United States was the campaign transplanted into Germany, in no small measure through the efforts of California eugenicists, who published booklets idealizing sterilization and circulated them to German official and scientists.

Hitler studied American eugenics laws. He tried to legitimize his anti-Semitism by medicalizing it, and wrapping it in the more palatable pseudoscientific facade of eugenics. Hitler was able to recruit more followers among reasonable Germans by claiming that science was on his side. While Hitler's race hatred sprung from his own mind, the intellectual outlines of the eugenics Hitler adopted in 1924 were made in America.

During the '20s, Carnegie Institution eugenic scientists cultivated deep personal and professional relationships with Germany's fascist eugenicists. In Mein Kampf, published in 1924, Hitler quoted American eugenic ideology and openly displayed a thorough knowledge of American eugenics. "There is today one state," wrote Hitler, "in which at least weak beginnings toward a better conception [of immigration] are noticeable. Of course, it is not our model German Republic, but the United States."

Hitler proudly told his comrades just how closely he followed the progress of the American eugenics movement. "I have studied with great interest," he told a fellow Nazi, "the laws of several American states concerning prevention of reproduction by people whose progeny would, in all probability, be of no value or be injurious to the racial stock."

Hitler even wrote a fan letter to American eugenic leader Madison Grant calling his race-based eugenics book, The Passing of the Great Race his "bible."

Hitler's struggle for a superior race would be a mad crusade for a Master Race. Now, the American term "Nordic" was freely exchanged with "Germanic" or "Aryan." Race science, racial purity and racial dominance became the driving force behind Hitler's Nazism. Nazi eugenics would ultimately dictate who would be persecuted in a Reich-dominated Europe, how people would live, and how they would die. Nazi doctors would become the unseen generals in Hitler's war against the Jews and other Europeans deemed inferior. Doctors would create the science, devise the eugenic formulas, and even hand-select the victims for sterilization, euthanasia and mass extermination.

During the Reich's early years, eugenicists across America welcomed Hitler's plans as the logical fulfillment of their own decades of research and effort. California eugenicists republished Nazi propaganda for American consumption. They also arranged for Nazi scientific exhibits, such as an August 1934 display at the L.A. County Museum, for the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

In 1934, as Germany's sterilizations were accelerating beyond 5,000 per month, the California eugenics leader C. M. Goethe upon returning from Germany ebulliently bragged to a key colleague, "You will be interested to know, that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought.…I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people."

That same year, ten years, after Virginia passed its sterilization act, Joseph DeJarnette, superintendent of Virginia's Western State Hospital, observed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "The Germans are beating us at our own game."

More than just providing the scientific roadmap, America funded Germany's eugenic institutions. By 1926, Rockefeller had donated some $410,000 -- almost $4 million in 21st-Century money -- to hundreds of German researchers. In May 1926, Rockefeller awarded $250,000 to the German Psychiatric Institute of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, later to become the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatry. Among the leading psychiatrists at the German Psychiatric Institute was Ernst Rüdin, who became director and eventually an architect of Hitler's systematic medical repression.

Another in the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute's eugenic complex of institutions was the Institute for Brain Research. Since 1915, it had operated out of a single room. Everything changed when Rockefeller money arrived in 1929. A grant of $317,000 allowed the Institute to construct a major building and take center stage in German race biology. The Institute received additional grants from the Rockefeller Foundation during the next several years. Leading the Institute, once again, was Hitler's medical henchman Ernst Rüdin. Rüdin's organization became a prime director and recipient of the murderous experimentation and research conducted on Jews, Gypsies and others.

Beginning in 1940, thousands of Germans taken from old age homes, mental institutions and other custodial facilities were systematically gassed. Between 50,000 and 100,000 were eventually killed.

Leon Whitney, executive secretary of the American Eugenics Society declared of Nazism, "While we were pussy-footing around…the Germans were calling a spade a spade."

A special recipient of Rockefeller funding was the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics in Berlin. For decades, American eugenicists had craved twins to advance their research into heredity. The Institute was now prepared to undertake such research on an unprecedented level. On May 13, 1932, the Rockefeller Foundation in New York dispatched a radiogram to its Paris office: JUNE MEETING EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS OVER THREE YEAR PERIOD TO KWG INSTITUTE ANTHROPOLOGY FOR RESEARCH ON TWINS AND EFFECTS ON LATER GENERATIONS OF SUBSTANCES TOXIC FOR GERM PLASM.

At the time of Rockefeller's endowment, Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, a hero in American eugenics circles, functioned as a head of the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. Rockefeller funding of that Institute continued both directly and through other research conduits during Verschuer's early tenure. In 1935, Verschuer left the Institute to form a rival eugenics facility in Frankfurt that was much heralded in the American eugenic press. Research on twins in the Third Reich exploded, backed up by government decrees. Verschuer wrote in Der Erbarzt, a eugenic doctor's journal he edited, that Germany's war would yield a "total solution to the Jewish problem."

Verschuer had a long-time assistant. His name was Josef Mengele. On May 30, 1943, Mengele arrived at Auschwitz. Verschuer notified the German Research Society, "My assistant, Dr. Josef Mengele (M.D., Ph.D.) joined me in this branch of research. He is presently employed as Hauptsturmführer [captain] and camp physician in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Anthropological testing of the most diverse racial groups in this concentration camp is being carried out with permission of the SS Reichsführer [Himmler]."

Josef MengeleMengele began searching the boxcar arrivals for twins. When he found them, he performed beastly experiments, scrupulously wrote up the reports and sent the paperwork back to Verschuer's institute for evaluation. Often, cadavers, eyes and other body parts were also dispatched to Berlin's eugenic institutes.

Rockefeller executives never knew of Mengele. With few exceptions, the foundation had ceased all eugenic studies in Nazi-occupied Europe before the war erupted in 1939. But by that time the die had been cast. The talented men Rockefeller and Carnegie financed, the institutions they helped found, and the science it helped create took on a scientific momentum of their own.

After the war, eugenics was declared a crime against humanity--an act of genocide. Germans were tried and they cited the California statutes in their defense. To no avail. They were found guilty.

However, Mengele's boss Verschuer escaped prosecution. Verschuer re-established his connections with California eugenicists who had gone underground and renamed their crusade "human genetics." Typical was an exchange July 25, 1946 when Popenoe wrote Verschuer, "It was indeed a pleasure to hear from you again. I have been very anxious about my colleagues in Germany…. I suppose sterilization has been discontinued in Germany?" Popenoe offered tidbits about various American eugenic luminaries and then sent various eugenic publications. In a separate package, Popenoe sent some cocoa, coffee and other goodies.

Verschuer wrote back, "Your very friendly letter of 7/25 gave me a great deal of pleasure and you have my heartfelt thanks for it. The letter builds another bridge between your and my scientific work; I hope that this bridge will never again collapse but rather make possible valuable mutual enrichment and stimulation."

Soon, Verschuer once again became a respected scientist in Germany and around the world. In 1949, he became a corresponding member of the newly formed American Society of Human Genetics, organized by American eugenicists and geneticists.

In the fall of 1950, the University of Münster offered Verschuer a position at its new Institute of Human Genetics, where he later became a dean. In the early and mid-1950s, Verschuer became an honorary member of numerous prestigious societies, including the Italian Society of Genetics, the Anthropological Society of Vienna, and the Japanese Society for Human Genetics.

Human genetics' genocidal roots in eugenics were ignored by a victorious generation that refused to link itself to the crimes of Nazism and by succeeding generations that never knew the truth of the years leading up to war. Now governors of five states, including California have issued public apologies to their citizens, past and present, for sterilization and other abuses spawned by the eugenics movement.

Human genetics became an enlightened endeavor in the late twentieth century. Hard-working, devoted scientists finally cracked the human code through the Human Genome Project. Now, every individual can be biologically identified and classified by trait and ancestry. Yet even now, some leading voices in the genetic world are calling for a cleansing of the unwanted among us, and even a master human species.

There is understandable wariness about more ordinary forms of abuse, for example, in denying insurance or employment based on genetic tests. On October 14, America's first genetic anti-discrimination legislation passed the Senate by unanimous vote. Yet because genetics research is global, no single nation's law can stop the threats.

Americans for Hitler

On the eve of World War II, the German American Bund insisted the Nazi salute was as American as apple pie.

By Mark D. Van Ells

Jesus Christ and Adolf Hitler. Only a Nazi would have dared to compare. “Hitler is the friend of Germans everywhere,” one girl in a Nazi youth camp remembered being told, “and just as Christ wanted little children to come to him, Hitler wants German children to revere him.” The comment may hardly sound shocking, considering the Nazi mindset, but the girl who heard it wasn’t in Düsseldorf or Stuttgart or Berlin. She was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the heartland of America, American children were being indoctrinated into Nazism as the Nazis prepared to take over Europe.

The youth camps were run by an organization of German immigrants in the United States to cultivate a loyal Nazi following in their adopted homeland. All but forgotten today, the group known as the German American Bund (bund is German for “alliance”) was one of the most controversial political groups of the politically uncertain 1930s. Nazi ideology taught that all Germans were united by blood and that the descendants of German emigrants around the world needed to be awakened to their racial duties in support of Hitler. The United States, 25 percent of whose population traced ancestry back to Germany, was a tempting target for Nazi recruiters. Forty-three percent of the population of Wisconsin, a state noted for its beer and bratwurst, was either German-born or first-generation German American in 1939. Nazis believed those German Americans could be awakened to their cause.

World War I had been traumatic for Germans on both sides of the Atlantic. In the United States, a wave of anti-German hysteria had swept through the nation. Fear spurred by government propaganda led some to attack what they believed was the enemy in their midst, even though there was little evidence to justify their fears. So-called superpatriots maligned German culture. Some localities banned German music and instruction in the German language. Sauerkraut became “liberty cabbage.” There were reports of dachshunds being attacked, and German-language books being hauled out of libraries and burned in the street. Some Germans endured humiliations such as being forced to kiss the American flag in public, being spied upon by their neighbors, and in some cases even being attacked. In Illinois, one German immigrant was killed by a mob. Many German Americans hid their ethnic identity. What remained of the public German-American community grew insular, defensive, and wary of outsiders.

After the war, another wave of German immigrants came to America. Most assimilated successfully, but some did not. These maladjusted new arrivals were German fascists, described by historian Sander Diamond as “self-proclaimed émigrés” who feared “proletarianization” in Germany’s unstable new democracy. They had experienced the humiliation of Germany’s wartime defeat and occupation, and the social and political chaos that reigned there afterward. Many were young, middle-class professionals, and some had participated in street fighting against socialists and communists. Once in America, these fascists formed political groups like the Teutonia Association, founded in Detroit in 1924.

Just four months after Hitler came to power in January 1933, Nazi groups in the United States merged to form the Friends of the New Germany. The involvement of German nationals in the organization caused friction between Berlin and Washington, so in 1936 it was reorganized as the German American Bund and was to consist only of American citizens of German descent. Headquartered in New York, the Bund was led by Fritz Kuhn, a chemical engineer from Munich who had served in the German army during the war. Dubbed the “American fuehrer” in the press, he arrived in America in 1928, settling first in Detroit and then in New York. He became a citizen in 1934.

Not officially part of the Nazi party, the Bund behaved as if it were. It operated on the Nazi leadership principle, which demanded absolute obedience to superiors. Like Germany’s Nazi party, the American Bund divided its territory—the United States—into regional districts, and created a youth program and a paramilitary Order Division. Members donned uniforms with brown shirts and jack boots eerily like those of Germany’s Nazis. Despite their foreign appearance, members considered themselves to be loyal, patriotic Americans who were strengthening their adopted homeland, protecting it from Jewish-communist plots and black cultural influences such as jazz music. The Midwestern regional leader George Froboese of Milwaukee described the Bund as “the German element which is in touch with its race but owes its first duty to America.” To avoid another clash between Germany and America, it urged US neutrality in European affairs.
The Bund made far more enemies than friends in the United States. Socialists and communists immediately opposed it. So did Jewish Americans, who organized a boycott of products from Nazi Germany (the Bund, in turn, organized a boycott of Jewish merchants and harassed Jewish and communist groups). In Washington, Congressman Samuel Dickstein of New York began an investigation of Nazism in America. The Bund also attracted the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

[Image]The German-American reaction to Hitler and the Bund was mixed. Most supported American neutrality, and many were glad to see the revival of Germany and were angry about the Jewish boycott of German goods. But they were also uneasy about Hitler. Some tried to be cautiously optimistic. The Milwaukee Sonntags-post argued in 1933, for example, that “the Hitler dictatorship represents for the moment the most efficient and expedient concentration of the united will of the German nation.” Any hopes German Americans may have placed in Hitler would soon be dashed. Nazi behavior overseas and the presence of the Bund in America would soon revive German Americans’ deepest fear: a repeat of World War I’s anti-German hysteria.

The Bund used several methods to try to awaken German Americans to Nazism. One was to infiltrate existing German ethnic clubs. The Bund hoped to Nazify German-American cultural life as Hitler had done under his policy of “political coordination.” The infiltration instead tore German-American communities apart. The Bund then tried to take control through intimidation. When the Wisconsin Federation of German-American Societies voted to ban displays of the swastika at cultural events in 1935, for example, Bund members threatened anti-Nazi delegates. The meeting became so heated that the police were called to restore order. Bund harassment of anti-Nazi Germans continued, and the Wisconsin federation president once received an anonymous letter saying “It is a very poor bird that dirties its own nest.”

One way the Bund promoted its cause was by sponsoring meetings and rallies, well-publicized events in which leaders outlined Nazi ideology and members distributed propaganda. Uniformed members gave the Nazi salute and shouted “Heil Hitler” as the Order Division kept a stern watch over the proceedings. There was fiery rhetoric aimed at Jews, communists, and certain politicians. Bund leaders lambasted President Franklin Roosevelt, calling him “Franklin Rosenfeld” and criticizing his “Jew Deal” social programs.

The Bund took care to display patriotism for America during its gatherings. George Washington’s birthday was a common occasion for Bund rallies. On stage, the American flag and portraits of Washington appeared side by side with the swastika. Both countries’ national anthems were played.

Bund rallies frequently became public spectacles. Protesters were a common sight, sometimes appearing in numbers comparable to the Bund members in attendance. Violence seemed all but inevitable. In Milwaukee in 1938, riots broke out at two separate Bund rallies. “Hecklers arose to break up the meeting,” the Milwaukee Journal reported of a Washington’s birthday rally in February. “The order division went to work, gloved fists flying.” One heckler lost several teeth in the melee. A month later, violence erupted again when a communist rushed the stage during a rally, enraged by the sight of children in Nazi youth uniforms.

Children were an important part of the Bund. Members sent their children to places such as Camp Hindenburg in Wisconsin each summer to participate in a youth program the Bund compared to boy and girl scouting. The camps were also gathering places for adult activities—everything from picnics to rallies. At these camps, children dressed in Nazi uniforms and drilled military-style, with marching, inspections, and flag-raising ceremonies. Although the Bund denied it, children were taught Nazi ideology.

The rise of the Bund stimulated considerable discussion in America. A few homegrown racist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Christian Enforcers, and the Silver Shirts (who sniped that democracy was “strictly kosher)” found common ground with the anti-Semitic, white-supremacist Bund. Most Americans, however, objected to the Bund’s racist and undemocratic ideology, and the fact that the Bund rose to prominence just as Hitler began expanding German control in Europe raised other concerns. The Bund seemed to most Americans like a dangerous foreign element, perhaps a secret Nazi fifth column in the United States. By 1938, the anti-fascist movement broadened to encompass a diverse coalition ranging from communists to veterans groups.

German Americans were torn. Some German clubs had spoken out against the Bund early on, but others resisted public criticism of the organization, fearing that a divided German community would be subject to further cultural erosion. But by 1938, anti-Bund sentiment had grown so strong that German-American leaders concluded they either had to dissociate themselves completely from the Bund or run the risk of being branded Nazis themselves. In 1938, the Wisconsin Federation of German-American Societies issued a statement declaring it had “nothing whatsoever to do with the propaganda of racial hatred and religious intolerance fostered by the Volksbund [literally, the people’s alliance—the German American Bund].” The federation claimed that the average German American was “strongly opposed to the Nazi doctrines of hate” and pleaded “America, please take notice!”

The Wisconsin federation backed up its words with action. In 1939, with the help of some in the business community, it acquired the lease to Camp Hindenburg, renaming it Camp Carl Schurz in honor of the 19th-century German-American political leader and turning it into its own youth camp. Federation president Bernhard Hofmann stated that children would be instructed there in Americanism and that there would be “no flag but the stars and stripes.” Froboese claimed the site had been “stolen,” stating “I am glad they had the decency to abandon the name Camp Hindenburg.” The Bund meanwhile obtained another site, just a mile to the south. These and other rival German-American camps operated around Milwaukee for several years.

As the 1930s came to a close, various problems had begun to take a serious toll on the Bund. The Nazi-Soviet Pact in August 1939 took the fire from the Bund’s anti-communist rhetoric. By the end of the year, Kuhn had been jailed for illegal use of organizational funds. Protests against the Bund continued as well, including the bombing of its Chicago offices in July 1940. The Bund developed a bunker mentality, holding its 1940 national convention secretly among three Midwestern camps. Although the Bund continued to speak out against the Jewish boycott and the “tories and internationalists” trying to provoke war with Germany, press coverage of the Bund tapered off as the group declined and public fear of domestic Nazism waned. Hundreds of dispirited Bund members returned to Germany.

When Hitler declared war against the United States four days after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Bund members found themselves stranded in enemy territory. Federal agents seized Bund records. Many of its members faced denaturalization proceedings and imprisonment. In a letter to the Bund’s lawyer, Froboese, who had risen from Midwestern regional leader to become the Bund’s national leader just weeks earlier, offered his assessment of the organization’s brief but tumultuous existence:

True it is that we made mistakes especially in the field of what you call “mental psychology.” Still, I would like to again emphasize, that I never looked upon the [Bund] as an offensive organisation. From the beginning it was a defensive movement. We have never been a cause, but instead have always been a reaction to a cause.... We always stood with both feet on American soil and in the final analysis of all of our doings, had only the very interests of this our America at heart.

In 1942 Froboese was issued a subpoena to testify before a New York grand jury concerning Bund activities. En route to New York, he got off the train in Waterloo, Indiana, and committed suicide by laying his head on the tracks in front of an oncoming train.

German Americans continued to emphasize their American-ism after the Pearl Harbor raid. “We appeal to the public not to think that everything German must be Nazi,” declared the Wisconsin Federation of German-American Societies. “We are not covering any aliens...[and] will not stand for anything that is against this country.” In New York the Loyal Americans of German Descent claimed that World War II “throws a searchlight” on German Americans and that “failure to distinguish between loyal Americans and Nazi sympathizers can create disaster.” In 1942 American Legion magazine featured the article “I Killed Americans in 1918, but Now I Fight for America.” The author called his US citizenship oath “sacred” and stated that immigrants such as he “must rally in defense of honor, family, and German-America.” Indeed, many German Americans served, fought, and died in defense of the United States during the war.

The emphasis on Americanism paid off, and a revival of anti-German hysteria did not occur. There were some unfortunate incidents of violence and prejudice against Germans during World War II, but they were not widespread. The extent of the government’s internment of German Americans during the war is hotly debated among scholars, but it was indisputably small in comparison to the internment of Japanese Americans. Most Americans seemed to make a distinction between what they believed were good Germans and bad Germans, and America became a refuge for many German intellectuals fleeing Nazi rule. In the Pacific, one of the troops’ favorite generals was German-born Walter Krueger, commander of the US Sixth Army. Actress and USO entertainer Marlene Dietrich, also born in Germany, was even more popular with the average GI than Krueger.

For all its prominence and bluster, the Bund involved only a small portion of the German-American community. Precise membership figures are not known. Estimates range from as high as 25,000 to as low as 6,000. Historians agree that about 90 percent of Bund members were immigrants who arrived in America after 1919. In Wisconsin, the most heavily German state, the Bund seems to have mustered barely 500 members, which would rule out the possibility of anywhere near 25,000 members nationwide.

Ironically, the Bund’s goal of awakening Germans in America actually weakened German culture where it had once thrived. The Holocaust, the lack of new immigrants after the war, and suburbanization hurt, but the mere existence of the Bund had forced many German Americans to emphasize the American part of their identities and sacrifice the German.


Mark D. Van Ells is a professor of history at the City University of New York. This article originally appeared in the August 2007 issue of America in WWII.

US NAZI Bishop Albert Dunstan Bell was consecrated on August 25, 1935

CARFORA LINE -- Prince Rudolphe Francois Edouard Hamilton, Grand Duke of Lorraine-Brabant, Prince de Landas-Berghes et de Roche and Duke de St. Winnock, Archbishop of the Old Roman Catholic Church, on October 3,1916, consecrated William Henry Francis Brothers, who, with co-consecrator Henry Carmel Carfora on August 25, 1935 consecrated Albert Dunstan Bell. -- 21) (*)Albert Dunstan Bell was consecrated on August 25, 1935 and consecrated Edgar Ramon Verostek. -- 22) Edgar Ramon Verostek was consecrated on March 9, 1940 and with Kleefisch (see Russian Orthodox lines below) consecrated Charles H. Hampton.

Deutsche Fahnen, German Flags, on Broadway Street in Los Angeles in April, 1936.
Flags; Swastika; Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter-Partei;

Adolf Hitler Geburtstagfeier. (birthday celebration) Los Angeles, April 20, 1935. Deutsches Haus Auditorium

Bund choir group of the Friends of New Germany. Hindenburg Park. La Crescenta, California.

The Jew Deal..

"The New Deal or Radical Change"


The newly-elected president set the tone for his administration when in his inaugural address he said: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself". Such a statement seemed ridiculous given the fact that the United States was at the very depths of the Great Depression at the time. What Franklin Roosevelt, of course, was saying was that as long as the nation and its citizens remained paralyzed by an irrational and all-consuming fear, it and they would never take the bold steps necessary to improve the economic situation. While conducting a relatively conservative campaign for the presidency in 1932, he had said: "The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, demands bold persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it freely and try another. But above all else, try something !"

Such a statement was of course designed to fix in voters' minds the image of incumbent President Hoover as a do-nothing executive who accepted the depression as a fact of life and who had done nothing to alleviate the suffering it caused. Such an image, though widespread, was absolutely fallacious. Hoover had applied a business-oriented approach which unfortunately had failed. The main thrust of Hoover's actions had been to restore business and investor confidence by keeping the federal budget in balance, raising protective tariffs, rejecting demands that the currency system be inflated, etc. With the failure of this conservative approach, Hoover acquired the reputation as an uncaring and do-nothing president.

Roosevelt's pledge of experimentation was also designed to prepare the country for change if he were elected and his countrymen were certainly ready for change. Roosevelt garnered 57 percent of the popular vote in 1932 and mauled Hoover in the Electoral College by a vote of 472 to 59. If the country was ready for action and change, Roosevelt was ready to lead.

The "Hundred Days" and the First New Deal

In the one hundred days following FDR's inauguration, the United States witnessed a flurry of legislative activity the likes of which had never been seen before. It seemed that the new president got everything he asked for from Congress in a matter of days, and in some cases hours. Congressmen - liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican - felt a national emergency existed. Their speedy passage of Roosevelt's program, known as the New Deal, was an expression of their preference for a legislative revolution to a violent and bloody revolution in the streets. Thus, the entire nature and direction of American government changed during the "Hundred Days". The following programs are only the most important components of that legislative revolution.

The First New Deal

In order to buy time to solve the banking crisis caused by "bank runs" since 1929, FDR declared a "Bank Holiday" within hours of his inauguration, temporarily shutting down every bank in the country by executive order. Congress then immediately passed the Emergency Banking Act of 1933, lending government money to shaky banks and thereby restoring confidence. Shortly thereafter FDR and Congress created a more permanent solution - the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). FDIC was and still is a government-sponsored insurance program guaranteeing the security of deposits in member banks. If the bank fails, the FDIC reimburses depositors. The program eliminated the fear of losing one's life savings and therefore largely ended bank runs. REFORM

Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) - a government lending agency which attempted to save people's homes by refinancing mortgages and deferring or spreading out mortgage payments. RELIEF

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) - a government employment program whereby unemployed young men were put on the government payroll to work on reforestation and conservation projects. The CCC concurrently provided job training skills which prepared the men to step into private sector jobs as soon as the economy recovered. RELIEF

Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) - The AAA was FDR's attempt to solve the problem of agricultural overproduction and resulting depressed crop values. Farmers who agreed to limit their acreage in production in line with a national plan to drive up agricultural prices would receive monetary payments from the government. Roosevelt's hope was to drive up crop prices through government-engineered scarcity. The effort, in conjunction with the Dust Bowl phenomenon of the mid-1930s, was only moderately successful. While the value of farm commodities rose somewhat, 1929 values were not achieved again until World War II. The program also had unintended consequences - ending sharecropping in most parts of the country and giving rise to huge agribusinesses. The program was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1936 in the case of United States vs. Butler . The program was revived almost immediately however with congressional passage of the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act. RECOVERY

Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA) - established a system of federal relief or welfare payments to the needy throughout the nation. RELIEF

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) - a multi-purpose agency in the Tennessee River Valley which used government funds to construct and operate a series of hydroelectric dams. The program was designed to achieve flood control, soil conservation, recreation, production of fertilizers, production and distribution of cheap electricity, and increased employment. The TVA served as the model for the Lower Colorado River Authority which continues to operate in Central Texas. RELIEF

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) - a governmental regulatory commission to regulate the securities markets (stocks, bonds, etc.). The SEC was intended to prevent a recurrence of the speculative credit-based bull market of the 1920s. REFORM

Public Works Administration (PWA) - a government lending program designed to lessen unemployment by lending funds for the construction of numerous structures throughout the country. Local examples include Mansfield and Tom Miller Dams, the annex at ACC's Rio Grande Campus, House Park Football field, and the University of Texas Tower. RELIEF

National Recovery Administration (NRA) - The NRA was an attempt to stimulate industrial recovery through centralized planning on a cooperative basis by management, labor, and government economists. The program was based on the idea of "countervailing powers", initially laid out in Theodore Roosevelt's "New Nationalism" program.

Big business would not be broken up; rather, its influence would be controlled by enlarging and strengthening organized labor and government. Together, all three would plan out the economy - collectively determining production levels of each product, what it would sell for, how much workers would be paid, etc.

This program was an economic cornerstone of the First New Deal and was anything but anti-big business. Management was assured that if they cooperated, accepted codes of fair conduct, and agreed to preset wage scales, big business would be exempted from antitrust prosecution. It was "regulated monopoly" designed to produce recovery of the industrial sector of the economy through planned shortages.

It was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1935 in the case of Schechter vs. United States. RECOVERY

The Second New Deal, 1935-36

By early 1935 President Roosevelt had spent two full years exploring ways he hoped would end the Depression. Unrestrained by any overall philosophy of government, the administration tried a virtual plethora of programs - some designed to provide relief, some designed to engineer an economic recovery. In the aftermath of the congressional elections of 1934, which the Democrats and liberal candidates swept, he decided to go in a more liberal direction.

FDR shifted directions for a variety of reasons. First, while the economy was slightly improved and absolute despair had been vanquished, the Depression continued. The First New Deal, a relatively conservative approach which had attempted to work with a concentrated business sector, had failed to produce complete recovery and thus was easily abandoned. Secondly, the Supreme Court was beginning to strike down important pieces of the New Deal, including the National Recovery Administration and the Agricultural Adjustment Act. Finally, FDR perceived a significant electoral threat emerging from the liberal end of the political spectrum. While the Democratic party had done exceptionally well in the just completed elections, critics such as Huey Long, Father Charles Coughlin, and Dr. Francis Townsend were attracting more and more support by calling for programs far more liberal than those of the New Deal to date. In order to improve his chances of reelection in 1936, Roosevelt determined to coopt his liberal critics by supporting somewhat more liberal and anti-big business measures. Thus, the Second New Deal was born.

Works Progress Administration (WPA) - an immense government employment program with unemployed Americans building roads, airports, parks, writing and conducting plays, writing books, conducting musical concerts, etc. The WPA attempted to relieve unemployment by hiring far more workers than the programs of the First New Deal. Between 1935 and 1941, more than eight million Americans were employed by the WPA. It spent over $11 billion on 250,000 projects. The WPA was criticized by many as a highly-politicized boondoggle (i.e., "We Piddle Around") RELIEF

Wagner Labor Relations Act - Referred to as organized labor's Bill of Rights, the act was an attempt to equalize the power of big business by giving government support to unionization. The act gave a governmental guarantee regarding the rights of collective bargaining by a union chosen by employees under the supervision of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and legalized peaceful strikes and boycotts. With government support, labor unions tripled their membership, from a low of 3 million members in the early 1930s to about 9.5 million in 1941. Labor unions thus became an acceptable part of American society during the Great Depression. REFORM

Wealth Tax - an attempt to coopt the "soak the rich" aspects of Huey Long's Share-Our-Wealth program of confiscatory taxation and radical redistribution of wealth in the United States. The legislation instituted slightly higher income tax levels on the upper income groups and a corporate income tax. The proposal, mild at best to begin with, was watered down in the process of congressional enactment. While far more moderate than Long's ideas on redistributing the wealth of America, it did rhetorically embrace redistributive taxation and lessened the appeal among voters of the Share-Our-Wealth program.

Public Utilities Holding Company Act - outlawed the pyramiding of control of gas and electricity companies and gave various federal commissions the power to regulate strictly the rates and financial practices of these companies. This was FDR's attempt to shift from the "New Nationalism" of Rexford Tugwell, Adolph Bearle, and Gardiner Means in favor of the "New Freedom" ideas supported by Felix Frankfurter and Louis Brandeis. It also illustrates the ease with which a totally non-ideological FDR could shift directions. REFORM

Rural Electrification Administration (REA) - lent funds to rural communities and cooperatives to either manufacture or buy electricity and construct transmission lines to bring electricity to rural areas, ninety-five per cent of which were still without electrical services in the 1930s. A local example would be the Pedernales Electric Cooperative, which brought electricity to the Texas Hill Country through the REA program in the late 1930s. RELIEF

Social Security Act - creation of the Social Security system was FDR's attempt to coopt the Townsend Plan with a far more moderate program. The law created a government sponsored old-age and survivors insurance plan (retirement) and a federal-state plan of unemployment insurance. The program was far more moderate than the Townsend Plan - it required both employers and employees to finance the program rather than simply having the government pick up the total costs. REFORM

By the end of 1936 the New Deal for all practical purposes had come to an end for a variety of reasons. Though he would win a landslide reelection to the presidency in November against Alf Landon of Kansas in what amounted to a national referendum on FDR and the New Deal, factors conspired in the election aftermath to rob the president of the masterful control of Congress, the Democratic party, and the national political scene that had characterized his first term. As a response to the Great Depression and the despair of the American people, the New Deal had been an innovative, non-ideological, experimentive, and inherently conservative program that while it greatly enlarged the size and power of the federal government did not end the economic collapse in the United States. There had been some improvement in unemployment levels. There had been a limited upswing in industrial production. Agricultural production levels had been cut and prices driven up moderately. Nonetheless, the depression continued. However, the American people as a whole felt better about the economy and the future. Roosevelt's activism and buoyant optimism restored hope that had not been present when he assumed the presidency in March of 1933. Americans as a whole felt better about themselves and the country and exhibited greater willingness to wait the crisis out.

From the perspective of the 1920s, the New Deal appears quite liberal in nature. It certainly brought about a phenomenal expansion in the size, activity level, and cost of government at the federal level. Yet from another perspective the New Deal was quite a conservative and incremental response to the worst economic collapse in all of American history. Given the anger of millions of Americans toward the business and financial communities and the free reign that Franklin Roosevelt was accorded when he assumed the presidency, he could have taken even more revolutionary steps such as nationalization of the banking industry or implementation of truly redistributive taxation. Roosevelt's actions also appear inherently conservative when compared to some of the more radical proposals being pushed by other political figures during the 1930s.

From FDR's perspective, his most threatening liberal critic was Senator Huey P. Long of Louisiana. "The Kingfish", as he liked to be called, founded a political machine in the Pelican State in the late Twenties that gave him almost dictatorial control of the state and elected him to the United States Senate. An early if tepid supporter of FDR in 1932, Long turned against the president in early 1934, charging that the New Deal was a sham which protected the interests of the wealthy and the aristocratic while giving the appearance of change. In reacting to conservative Senate critics of the New Deal, Long addressed his colleagues saying: "Men, it will not be long until there will be a mob assembling here to hang senators from the rafters of the Senate. I have to determine whether I will stay and be hung with you, or go out and lead the mob."

His enunciation of the "Share Our Wealth" program by mid-1934 revealed, if not his decision to lead the mob, his determination to offer voters a truly liberal alternative to FDR and the New Deal in 1936. Long's populist program offered depression-weary Americans the following:

    • personal fortunes would be limited to $5 million; the government would appropriate everything in excess of $5 million in the name of the people
    • annual income would be limited to $1 million in order to finance a guaranteed minimum annual income of $2,500
    • provisions would be made for old-age pensions, bonuses for veterans, and cheap food from AAA surpluses
    • the government would provide every American child a free education from kindergarten through college
    • the government would provide every American family a $5,000 homestead grant, a radio, an automobile, and a washing machine
While such proposals seem ludicrous, Long's pie-in-the-sky promises were made in the environment of the Great Depression when millions of Americans blamed the wealthy financiers and big business interests for their economic suffering and were therefore more willing to entertain such proposals than would normally have been the case. Furthermore, Long did understand that one of the most important causes of the Great Depression was the inequitable distribution of wealth in the United States and his soak-the-rich proposals, though radical, addressed this fact.

By 1935 yet another initial supporter had turned against FDR. In 1933 Father Charles Coughlin, a Roman Catholic priest from a Detroit suburb whose radio program attracted millions of listeners nationally, had declared "The New Deal is Christ's Deal". Following Roosevelt's election, Coughlin began pressing the president to embrace and implement the priest's panaceic ideas on how to end the depression. First, Coughlin proposed that the banking industry in the country be nationalized and all banking services be provided on a nonprofit basis by the federal government. Secondly, the priest pressured FDR to enact immediate and massive monetary inflation as a way of dealing with the unprecedented deflation which had crippled the economy since late 1929. When the president refused to accommodate Coughlin and instead pursued a far more moderate course, Coughlin instructed his radio audience and the supposed 7.5 million members of his National Union for Social Justice that FDR had betrayed them. The New Deal had become the "Jew Deal" and the president was "a liar" and an "anti-God." In a Cincinnati speech Coughlin went so far as to advocate the elimination of Roosevelt by the "use of bullets." Coughlin was the moving force behind the Union Party, a short-lived third political party that tried unsuccessfully to deny Roosevelt reelection in 1936.

Another radical alternative to the New Deal was proposed in 1935 by a retired physician from California, Dr. Francis Townsend. His claim to fame was an economic panacea known as the "Townsend Plan." Under this proposal, the federal government would give $200 a month to every American sixty years of age or older. The only requirement was that the recipient had to spend the entire $200 within thirty days in order to receive the next month's allotment. Townsend argued that not only would such a program provide relief for older Americans, it would end the Depression overnight. The massive increase in consumer spending would result in increased production of consumer goods which would result in higher employment - the cycle would be self-perpetuating and the depression would be over within sixty days. The fact that the program, that would be financed by a national sales tax that would cut into the spendable income of the majority of Americans, was estimated to cost $24 billion a year bothered neither Townsend or the millions he claimed supported the plan. Just as President Roosevelt found it necessary to propose and support the Tax Act of 1935 as a means of coopting Huey Long's Share-Our-Wealth plan, his proposal of the Social Security Act, creating a fiscally responsible program of old age assistance, was a means of satisfying the demand for some program to help the elderly while avoiding what would have been the devastating impacts of Townsend's proposal.


While Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal failed to end the Great Depression, it nonetheless changed America in a most profound manner. Organized labor gained both respectability and power with government support. The quality of life in rural agricultural areas had been greatly enhanced through the AAA and REA. The expectations of racial minorities had been elevated by the rise of an activist government even though the New Deal had failed to make significant progress in the field of civil rights. The power of the federal government had been greatly increased vis-a-vis state and local governments as the latter, under the economic pressures of the Depression, transferred more and more responsibility and power to Washington, D. C. The executive branch of the federal government grew more powerful as Congress and the judiciary gave the presidency primary responsibility for curing the economic collapse. The presidency has been the dominant branch of the federal government ever since.

The New Deal also marked the commitment of the federal government to active, interventionary programs in the areas of social welfare, regulation of business, and management of the economy. The New Deal marked the death of laissez-faire capitalism in its purest form in the United States.

Perhaps the greatest impact of the New Deal was what it prevented in the United States during the Great Depression - radical, revolutionary change such as that which occurred at least partially in response to the global depression in the same years in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and a Japan dominated by a military government. During a Philadelphia speech in the campaign of 1936, Roosevelt made the following statement:

There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny. In this world of ours in other lands, there are some people, who, in times past, have lived and fought for freedom, and seem to have grown too weary to carry on the fight. They have sold their heritage of freedom for the illusion of a living. They have yielded their democracy. I believe in my heart that only our success can stir their ancient hope. They begin to know that here in America we are waging a war against want and destitution and economic demoralization. It is more than that; it is a war for the survival of democracy. We are fighting to save a great and precious form of government for ourselves and for the world. The New Deal offered just enough change and restored just enough hope to make radical change undesirable and unacceptable to the majority of Americans. While pure laissez-faire capitalism died, democracy and capitalism survived the tremendous ordeal of the Great Depression. If the New Deal failed to end the Great Depression, its successes nonetheless transformed America permanently.
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