United States v. Bregler, Civ. A. No. 3197

Decision Date16 June 1944
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 3197,2967,3034,3120,3087,2979.,2953,3352
Citation55 F. Supp. 837
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York

Harold M. Kennedy, U. S. Atty., of Brooklyn, N. Y. (Frank J. Parker, Asst. U. S. Atty., of Brooklyn, N. Y., Jack London, of Washington, D. C., Louis Bender, of New York City, and Arthur Callahan, of Washington, D. C., Sp. Attys. Department of Justice, of counsel), for plaintiff.

Edwin A. Livingston, of New York City, for defendants Carl Bregler and Rudolf Markmann.

George C. Dix, of New York City, for defendant Henry Hauck.

David V. Cahill, of New York City, for defendant Frederick William Van Den Bergh.

ABRUZZO, District Judge.

The Government filed separate complaints against each of these defendants under Section 338 of the Nationality Act of 1940, 8 U.S.C.A. § 738. This section is an adaptation of Section 15 of the Naturalization Act of 1906, 34 Stat. 601. In its complaint the Government is seeking to cancel the certificate of naturalization issued to each of these defendants and to set aside the order admitting these eight defendants to citizenship on the general ground that they were obtained fraudulently and illegally. These defendants admittedly were all at one time or another members of the German-American Bund.

After each of these cases was at issue a motion was made by the plaintiff, the Government, for an order permitting the consolidation of these eight actions as to one issue that apparently was common to all of the defendants, to wit, what were the aims, purposes, character and practices of the German-American Bund and its predecessor organizations? The order, as entered by one of my colleagues, D.C., 3 F. R.D. 378, directed the trial of this issue as against all eight defendants in advance of the trial of each individual's case. The trial of that separate and distinct issue was then proceeded with. It was understood that after the trial of this separate issue the case of each individual defendant was to be proceeded with and a decision rendered by this Court as to each defendant.

There have been many cases tried all over the United States as to the un-American activities of the German-American Bund resulting in many decisions having been written by the various Judges who tried these cases. The proof before me followed the same pattern of proof in these other cases. It has been held so repeatedly that the German-American Bund was un-American in its origin, its practices, and its ideology that the Court might almost take judicial knowledge of that fact in rendering its decision; however, a brief resume might be pertinent at this time with respect to that particular issue.

The Bund traces its origin to the Free Society of Teutonia organized in Chicago, Illinois, in 1924. It was founded by Fritz Gissibl, a member of the National Socialistic German Workers Party, the Adolf Hitler Party. In 1926, the name of this group was changed to the National Socialistic Society of Teutonia, and it is singular to note that the proof indicates that at that time the members were convinced that Adolf Hitler would soon be the leader of Germany, and it is also singular to note that at least half of the members in 1926 were affiliated and associated with the Adolf Hitler Party. The organization gradually spread through the Middle West, new units were founded, and, in order to make clear that the Movement was closely associated with the Hitler Movement in Germany, the delegates at the 1932 Teutonia Convention adopted the new name of "Friends of the Hitler Movement."

On January 30, 1933, Hitler rose to power as Chancellor of the German Reich. The Society, in order to indicate that they were friends of Hitler's Germany, again changed the name of the organization to "Friends of the New Germany."

In 1936, the name was officially changed to the "German-American Bund," and this organization continued to function until its apparent dissolution in December, 1941. Even after this apparent dissolution, many units continued to meet under the disguise of sport clubs, singing societies, and social clubs. The leaders of these sport clubs, singing societies, and social clubs anticipated a time when the Bund might be forced underground. From its inception in 1924, to 1941, the change of names in no way affected the basic structure, aims or purposes of the organization, the policy remaining the same—to help Germany in any way the organization could.

As the pattern remained the same throughout the existence of the organization, the facts elicited from the witnesses with respect to the Bund are applicable to its predecessor groups.

The general organizational structure of the Bund was patterned after that of the Nazi Party in Germany. The membership was divided into cells, units, and districts. The programs and activities of the various subdivisions of the Bund and the uniforms worn by the members were the same as those of the N.S.D.A.P. The head of the organization was called a bundesfuehrer. He had power to render decisions in all matters pertaining to the Movement. There were three gauleiters subordinate to him, one for the Eastern part of the United States, one for the Middle West, and one for the Western District. The gauleiters were directed by the bundesfuehrer. Many units were formed all over the United States and each unit had its ortsgruppenleiter. He was responsible to the gauleiter for his district who in turn was responsible to the bundesfuehrer. Each unit leader had officers directly under him who were responsible for their activities to him.

To qualify for membership throughout the existence of the Bund and its predecessor organizations, the applicant had to be of Aryan descent, free of Jewish or colored blood, and a believer in the National Socialist philosophy and the leadership principle. Unless a candidate met these qualifications he could not be admitted to membership.

Throughout the trial, the proof stressed the fact that each member of the Bund and its predecessor organizations believed that there could be only one leader whose dictates had to be followed. Each candidate signed an application in which he set forth that he knew the aims and purposes of the League and obligated himself to support them without reserve. If it were found that any applicant who subsequently became a member did not in fact subscribe to the ideology or the aims and purposes of the Bund, he would summarily be dismissed, apparently without a trial.

Uniforms were worn, similar to the Storm Troopers of the Nazi Party in Germany. These men were known as "O. D." (Ordnungs Dienst), and they preserved and maintained order at all large gatherings. They were the picked troops of the Movement. They were required to drill in military formation following German Army commands.

There were distributed to the members generally papers and writings setting forth the Nazi philosophy.

The main principles of the Nazi Party in Germany were expressed in its slogan "Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuehrer." "Ein Volk" meant that all persons of German blood, wherever they might be, were connected by indissoluble ties to the German world family and these ties were more important than any political obligation. "Ein Reich" meant that Germans, wherever they might be, were to look to Germany as their Homeland. "Ein Fuehrer" undoubtedly meant that Adolf Hitler was not only the Fuehrer of the German State, but of all persons of German blood throughout the world, regardless of their citizenship. The German-American Bund and all its units taught, not indirectly, this philosophy but, directly, as indicated by the voluminous testimony and the hundreds of exhibits that are in evidence.

As part of the Bund program, promising youth leaders were given special training in this philosophy. Trips to Germany were arranged so that a first-hand study might be made by these young leaders, both male and female. Textbooks in German language and history were furnished to the youth who were likely to become leaders. The members of this youth division attended summer camps where they received doctrinal and physical training closely following the Nazi method in Germany.

Women were admitted as members, were associated in the Frauenschaft division, and devoted their efforts to the welfare of the Bund and its philosophy. Apparently their motto was, "Speak, sing, think, buy, act German!"

At these unit meetings and at the camps, the Nazi salute "Heil Hitler" was used without restraint. The Bund published a series of newspapers, including the Deutsche Zeitung, Deutscher Beobachter, Deutscher Weckruf und Beobachter, and the Free American and Deutscher Weckruf und Beobachter, preaching the Nazi doctrine and, indeed, the proof indicated that many writings were smuggled into this country from German ships directly from the Nazi Party in Germany and distributed to Bund members.

At unit meetings, German motion pictures were often shown, depicting German life and activities.

The Bund was undoubtedly affiliated with the Nazi Party in Germany and the policies were from the beginning dictated by this Party in Germany. Instructions were asked for and received from Germany. The Bund used the Nazi greeting and the Nazi symbol of the Third Reich, the swastika, the Nazi salute, and the Horst Wessel song. The Nazi Party holidays were celebrated here.

Many early leaders of the Bund returned to Germany to be appointed to and hold high official positions in the Nazi Party and the Government of the Third Reich, to wit, Fritz Gissibl, founder and former leader of the Bund who became director of the Propaganda Ministry for Southern Germany; Heinz Spanknoebel, another former leader who became director of the Propaganda School for Germans Living Abroad; Josef Schuster, founder of the O. D. and Eastern Gauleiter in the Bund who became Storm Troop Leader in Munich and gauleiter; Bund Youth Leader, Hugo Haas, who became director of Youth Affairs for...

To continue reading

Request your trial
3 cases
  • Knauer v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • June 10, 1946
    ...22; United States v. Holtz, D.C., 54 F.Supp. 63, 66—70; United States v. Baecker, D.C., 55 F.Supp. 403, 404—408; United States v. Bregler, D.C., 55 F.Supp. 837, 839, 840; United States v. Wilmovski, D.C., 56 F.Supp. 63, 64; United States v. Claassen, D.C., 56 F.Supp. 71, 72. 5 'I find as a ......
  • United States v. Knauer
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit
    • June 28, 1945
    ...encourage such consolidation where possible. This practice has been uniformly adopted by trial courts in similar cases. United States v. Bregler, D.C., 55 F.Supp. 837; United States v. Baecker, D.C., 55 F. Supp. 403; United States v. Kusche, D.C., 56 F.Supp. 201; United States v. Holtz, D.C......
  • United States v. Hauck
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • April 2, 1946
    ...for citizenship and in his oath of allegiance were false, and gave judgment against him. The opinion below is reported as United States v. Bregler, D.C., 55 F.Supp. 837. Five of the defendants have With respect to the appellant Bregler, the government's brief states that reversal of the jud......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT