Beginning in 1933, Nazi Germany attempted to influence American public opinion using a variety of strategies. They 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 Nazi Regime's goals were several: to create a positive image of Hitler's 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 the war in Europe.
In spite of these many efforts, Nazi Germany's rearmament and ruthless treatment of internal "enemies" did much to counteract its propaganda campaigns. Just as importantly, Nazi activities in America were uncovered by journalists, congressional committees, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Jewish organizations, veterans groups, and even ordinary citizens. These revelations gained almost immediate media attention and brought public attention to Nazi propaganda efforts.
An organization called the National Americanism Committee of the Disabled American Veterans took several measures to expose Nazism in America. The organization was run by Roy P. Monahan, a World War I veteran and New York attorney. 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 on Camp Siegfried, on Long Island, New York, was indoctrinating children with Nazi ideas.
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 a brochure, "'Propaganda Kit' Made in Germany," selections from which are included here. 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."