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"'Propaganda Kit' Made in Germany"

Propaganda Kit
US Holocaust Memorial Museum; Courtesy of Yehuda Nir
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tags: activism community propaganda visual art

type: Pamphlet

After gaining power in 1933, the Nazi Party attempted to influence American public opinion using a variety of strategies. The Nazi regime hired US public relations firms, broadcast via radio from Berlin, created academic exchange programs for American college students, and even opened a German Library of Information in New York. The regime wanted to create a positive image of Nazi Germany to counter accusations of Nazi brutality against Jews and political opponents—and to encourage social tensions in the United States. In doing so, Nazi authorities hoped to keep the United States out of World War II.

In spite of these efforts, Nazi Germany's march to war and its brutal treatment of Jews and other supposed internal "enemies" counteracted its propaganda campaigns. Just as importantly, Nazi activities in America were exposed by journalists, congressional committees, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Jewish organizations, veterans groups, and even ordinary citizens. These revelations brought public attention to Nazi propaganda efforts.

An organization called the National Americanism Committee of the Disabled American Veterans took several measures to expose Nazi propaganda in America. The organization was run by Roy P. Monahan, a World War I veteran and New York lawyer. In September of 1938, Monahan testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), which was investigating Nazi propaganda in the United States. He informed the congressional representatives that the German American Bund wanted to instill children with "poisonous un-American doctrines."1 He charged that the Bund's recreation center at Camp Siegfried on Long Island, New York was indoctrinating children with Nazi ideas.2

Two months later, Monahan addressed a "Thank God for America" rally held by the Jewish War Veterans of the United States. He announced that his organization—along with the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars—were launching a campaign to change US immigration and postal laws. One measure would ban the mailing of "misleading matter tending to incite religious intolerance or race prejudice." Another law would attempt to prevent naturalization for non-citizen immigrants who had participated in organizations deemed anti-American.

Monahan and his National Americanism Committee of the Disabled American Veterans published featured brochure, "'Propaganda Kit' Made in Germany." The publication drew links between the "hate-inciting literature" published by the German "news agency" Welt-Dienst [World Service] to allegedly independent "patriotic organizations" in the United States. The pamphlet reminded Americans that the country was vulnerable to "sabotage from within," particularly from American fascists. The solution, it concluded, was simple: "We cannot reach the source of this filth, as we did in 1917, but the poison pumps that are busy in our own land must be plugged."

Monahan’s testimony can be found in Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States, Hearings Before a Special Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Seventy-Fifth Congress, Third Session on H. Res. 282, vol. 2, (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1938), 1081-1096.

For more on the Bund's camps, see the related item in Experiencing History, "German Youth in the USA."

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Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Courtesy of Yehuda Nir
Accession Number 2001.337.1
Date Created
1938
Author / Creator
National Americanism Committee of the Disabled American Veterans
Language(s)
English
Location
New York, USA
Document Type Pamphlet
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