In the years after Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, some Americans of German heritage strongly identified with the Nazi regime. Within the United States, an organization called the German American Bund played the leading role in building support for Nazism.1 The organization included roughly 25,000 members spread across more than 50 local branches.2 The Bund sponsored a network of male youth groups and summer camps modeled on the Hitler Youth, enabling the organization to grow its membership and promote Nazism. The short film "German Youth in the USA," featured here, provides a view of this effort.
The film—likely shown to encourage parents to enroll their children in a Bund summer camp—captures the daily routine at a camp in Windham, New York. Many of the scenes are typical of daily life at an ordinary summer camp. The film shows boys doing morning calisthenics, washing up in an open field, and stacking cases of canned beans outside rows of tents.3 Smiling widely, one group shines their shoes and neatens their uniforms for the approval of an adult behind the camera. Happy, healthy, and hygienic, these children appear as proud members of the German American Bund.
In the selected clip, campers assemble around a flagpole erected earlier in the film for a "flag ceremony." At the center is the American stars-and-stripes, flanked by the Nazi swastika flag and a black flag with another Nazi symbol. The spectacle of the Nazi and American flags flying side-by-side was a feature of German American Bund events. The pairing of these two symbols captured the Bund's dream of an America that embraced fascism.