United States v. Baecker, Equity No. 8775

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
Citation55 F. Supp. 403
Docket Number3843.,3656,Equity No. 8775,Civil No. 3666,8778,8776,8780
Decision Date25 March 1944

55 F. Supp. 403

BAECKER et al.

Equity Nos. 8775, 8780, 8778, 8776; Civil Nos. 3666, 3656, 3843.

District Court, E. D. Michigan, S. D.

March 25, 1944.

55 F. Supp. 404
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55 F. Supp. 409
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55 F. Supp. 412
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John C. Lehr, U. S. Atty., and Louis M. Hopping, Asst. U. S. Atty., both of Detroit, Mich., for the United States

Fred R. Walker, of Detroit, Mich., for defendant.

MOINET, District Judge.

The defendants have contended that the case of Schneiderman v. United States, 320 U.S. 118, 63 S.Ct. 1333, 1335, 87 L.Ed. 1796, is decisive of this case. I do not so hold.

Some features of the Schneiderman case are applicable, such as the procedural requirements. In the main, however, these cases which were consolidated for trial, and which we called collectively, the Bund cases, present to the Court a quite different situation from that which existed in the Schneiderman case.

The suit to cancel Schneiderman's citizenship was based solely upon illegality and not upon fraud. In the Bund cases the Government charges fraud, and the proofs in support of those charges show that the defendants practiced a fraud upon the naturalization court and upon the United States, by purporting to take a bona fide oath of allegiance to the United States when in truth and fact each secretly retained some measure of allegiance to Germany, and also secretly lacked attachment to American principles, as set forth in the respective findings filed herein.

In the Schneiderman case the Court looked with disfavor upon the imputation of the teachings of an organization to one of its members. The Court recognizes the great force and full applicability of this rule of law. However, these are not the same kind of cases as Schneiderman.

Even so far as the illegality of the procurement of citizenship by Schneiderman is concerned, entirely aside from fraud, the complaint there presented a very slender legal thread, when compared with these cases. The Schneiderman complaint charges that the certificate had been illegally procured in that petitioner was not at the time of his naturalization, and during the five years preceding his naturalization "had not behaved as, a person attached to the principles of the Constitution

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of the United States and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States, but in truth and in fact during all of said times, respondent * * * was a member of and affiliated with and believed in and supported the principles of certain organizations then known as the Workers (Communist) Party of America and the Young Workers (Communist) League of America, whose principles were opposed to the principles of the Constitution of the United States and advised, advocated and taught the overthrow of the Government, Constitution, and laws of the United States by force and violence."

If the Government failed at any point to prove the chain of facts necessary to sustain that charge it had failed to prove its case. The Court found that Schneiderman's beliefs did not show lack of attachment to the Constitution of the United States. The issue then depended upon whether membership in, affiliation with, or support of the Communist Party organizations amounted to clear, unequivocal and convincing evidence that the naturalization court could not have been satisfied that petitioner was attached to the principles of the Constitution when he was naturalized. It is admitted in the Schneiderman case that the evidence was conflicting as to what the organizations advocated, and the petitioner testified that he did not believe in those teachings of the organizations which were found to be reprehensible and in conflict with the Constitution. In that situation the Supreme Court held that where two interpretations of an organization's program are possible, the one reprehensible and a bar to naturalization and the other permissible, a court in a denaturalization proceeding is not justified in canceling a certificate of citizenship by imputing the reprehensible interpretation to a member of the organization in the absence of overt acts indicating that such was his interpretation.

In the Bund cases, there is no conflict of evidence as to the reprehensible character of the organization's program. No one has even attempted to show that there is a permissible interpretation of its program. It is overwhelmingly shown that the German American Bund and its predecessor organizations were formed and carried on for the purpose of aiding Germany. Whatever benefits would accrue to the United States, according to their claim, were secondary and incidental to helping Germany. One can no longer doubt that the program of the Bund was deliberately designed to extend the authority, influence and control of the Nazi German government over German nationals, former German nationals and persons of German descent in the United States. The leaders of the Bund maintained contact with and took directions from high officials of Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler was looked upon as the personification of their fondest hopes. The Bund assiduously taught the sanctity of the blood ties. They preached the doctrine that naturalization which resulted in expatriation of a German was a mere paper transaction. Assimilation into American ways of thinking was represented to be a corruption of German blood and culture. The idea of denial of political equality to non-German racial groups, as advocated by the Bund, is absolutely opposed to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, as are also other features of the Bund program. The practices in Germany of denial of political rights to racial minorities was applauded by the Bund. The establishment and maintenance of governmental authority upon the leadership principle — Nazi dictatorship — is repugnant to our principles of representative government. Democratic ideas of government of laws and not of men, with constitutional guarantees of individual rights and limitations, checks and balances in powers of government were scoffed at in Bund teachings as being decadent weaknesses. The Bund demanded continuous obeisance of its followers and required a repeated show of loyalty to the German cause in the use of the German language, the raised right hand Nazi-like salute, the display of German flags, the brazen insistence upon display of the swastika, the celebration of German National Socialist holidays and heroes, the distribution of German propaganda, the adoption and use of uniforms patterned after those of German Storm-troopers, the use of German form of organization, the encouragement of frequent visits to Germany and the use of German books and methods to teach American youth. On the other hand, the Bund in its publications and by its speakers acted as a continuous detractor of American newspapers, people, political practices and general culture. Persons of German descent were pictured as victims of organized oppression in America. Germans in other countries were said to be suffering even worse oppression. Germany was upheld as

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a helpless nation who by super-human effort and inspired leadership had won the right to unify all German blood-brothers under one strong government. The use of force in international affairs was said to be Germany's only chance of obtaining justice. The members of the Bund were exhorted by official Bund publications to resist compliance with American laws. Bundists were taught to prepare themselves for speedy, organized action under Bund leadership and authority in the event of future widespread disorder in America

Considering the overwhelming evidence produced to show that the Bund program was of the un-American, subversive character indicated above, it is understandable that no one has arisen to say that the program of the German-American Bund was anything but reprehensible. It follows, therefore, that the logical difficulties encountered by the Court in the Schneiderman case, are not presented to the Court in this case.

There are additional distinctions between the cases, which have been urged by the Government here, and some of them are also substantial. For example, in the Bund cases, in addition to evidence of membership and activity in the organizations, there is evidence of statements and conduct on the part of the individual defendants which shows that they believed and acted in accordance with the Bund program and in some instances, independent of the organizations, the defendants spoke and acted in ways inconsistent with unqualified allegiance to the United States and attachment to its principles.

Accordingly, the orders admitting the defendants to citizenship are respectively set aside and canceled.

MOINET, District Judge.

It seems to me that the Findings of Fact, with respect to the activities of the German-American Bund and its predecessor organizations, are necessary to an understanding of the decision of the Court with respect to each of these defendants.


Findings of Fact.

1. The defendant herein entered the United States as an immigrant in October of 1928.

2. Prior to September 9, 1935, the defendant was a native and citizen of Germany.

3. On May 9, 1935, defendant herein filed a petition for citizenship No. 92351 in the United States District Court, Detroit, Michigan, in which he alleged under oath as follows:

"I am attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States. It is my intention to become a citizen of the United States and to renounce absolutely and forever all allegiance and...

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4 cases
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