Believe it or not, Nazi sympathizers were out and about in the borough as early as 1934.
It started in 1934 when Heinz Spanknobel, a German immigrant, put together a gathering called “Friends of New Germany” with financial assistance from the German Consul. He wasn’t alone: Nazis lived in all areas of Brooklyn, from Williamsburg to Ridgewood. By 1938, there were enough Nazis to establish a weekend getaway called Camp Siegfried on Long Island, chock full of family picnics and morale-boosting parades.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, many of the Brooklyn Nazis went into hiding. They were afraid of being persecuted (ironic, no?), and their fears were true: many were imprisoned or denaturalized.
But now, over 75 years later, the better borough has the largest and most diverse Jewish population in the city. As one recent sighting indicates, though, it isn’t completely clear of its Nazi past. Curiously enough, most New York Jews don’t seem too concerned.
June 3, 2013