Hart, Bradley W. “Hitler’s American Friends. The Third Reich’s Supporters in the United States.” St Martin’s Press, NY, 2018
A highly successful German spy and propagandist officed with a U.S. Senator in the Capitol. At least three senators cooperated in letting the spy use their franking privileges (envelopes with stamps) to disseminate articles from the Congressional Record from Senate speeches that were originally written by the spy himself!
Literally millions of Americans subscribed to fascist literature and radio broadcasts. One of the most popular men in America, aviator Charles Lindburgh, was the main spokesperson for Hitler’s American Friends.
Lindburgh, and a lot of the other people mentioned in the book, may have been more committed to non-intervention, pacifism, or isolationism more than they were to Hitler himself; consequently there is a lot of gray area. In the late 1930s, there were lots of non-interventionists, including many liberals and the Communist Party itself. There were also a lot of anti-semite Jew-haters, including Lindbergh and the great industrialist, Henry Ford.
In basic statistics, probably the largest part of Hitler’s American Friends were simply German immigrants who continued to favor their homeland, right or wrong.
Other than the many paid spies and saboteurs, most of the Americans who assisted Hitler could claim some other ideological motivation. Hardly any of them faced any serious punishment after the war.
One of the prominent persons who suffered only from a tarnished reputation was labor leader John L. Lewis, founding leader of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). His motivations seemed to be non-interventionism and dislike for President Roosevelt. Strike action during the war, when almost all unions took a wartime no-strike pledge, further subtracted from Mr. Lewis’ patriotic credentials.
How far did the pro-Hitler movement get? Author Bradley Hart speculates that the Republicans may have gone far if they had chosen Lindbergh as their presidential candidate in 1940. But who really knows?
I was more interested in the long list of U.S. corporations that cooperated with the Hitler regime. Henry Ford led the list. He is also named as Hitler’s largest American financial contributor in another very good book, “Who Financed Hitler.” Ford accepted Germany’s second highest medal of honor from Nazis! But General Motors, in Hart’s book, was hardly less guilty than Ford in cooperating with and profiting from the Nazi era. Coca-Cola and IBM were deeply involved, too. Did you know that Fanta was originally created for the Nazi Germany market?
History is probably not the main reason people will have for reading this book. We want to compare American fascism from another period with what is going on today. Right now, we want to know, how many Americans would accept fascism as the way to govern our country? Your guess?
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