Preserving the Past is a blog about just that. Clarence Simonsen has been researching a lot about the past especially about World War Two for close to 50 years. This blog offers him the opportunity to share his views about what history often neglected.
Research and article by Clarence Simonsen
Hunting der Fuehrer’s in North America
On 23 November 1936, American Time Corporation published the first issue of LIFE, a pictorial news magazine, recording history with photographs. This was a great step forward in magazine publishing, and today it is just as great in preserving our hidden past. The first issue of LIFE sold out and in two months it had earned the title “America’s Most Potent Editorial Force.”
On 7 December 1936, LIFE [Vol. 1, #3] introduced American and Canadian readers to six full pages titled “Hitler On High.”
LIFE magazine editors would also expose the fact both Canada and the United States of America had fascist leaders who followed the teaching of Nazi Germany and each man gave himself the title der Fuehrer. This is the true history of French/Canadian Fuehrer Adrien Arcand and American/German Immigrant Fuhrer Fritz Kuhn.
Signal magazine was Hitler’s Wartime Picture propaganda publication from 1940 until March 1945. It was a product of Goebbels’ German Ministry of Propaganda, printed in 20 languages, and today it is a living illustrated record of the brutal fact of the Third Reich and Germany in world war. Its circulation reached almost three million by 1943, and the use of action images, color photos, combined with the powerful force of Nazi propaganda, in fact preserves today a view of the Third Reich itself. The original German/English copies were published until Paris fell on 25 August 1944, selling over 20,000 copies a month in mostly the United States, Canada, and Southern Ireland. This was the most widely circulated magazine in Europe during World War Two and assisted the spread of Nazi Fifth Columns everywhere in the world, including Canada and the United States. Hitler’s popular and highly paid propaganda illustrator was [Viennese born – 1893-1946] Theo Matejko.
Beginning in 1920, millions of German immigrants arrived in North and South America, many veterans who had served in World War One. From 1920-33 over 430,000 arrived in United States and 600,000 in Canada.
Life magazine WWI German drawings – May 1940
These Germans belonged to the “Deutsche Auslands Organisation” [League of Germans Living Abroad] which was controlled by the German Foreign Office in Berlin. As soon as Hitler seized power of Germany in 1933, he began his dream of making his Third Reich the most important power in first Europe and then the complete world. He envisioned a new German society centered on the much superior Aryan race and the total elimination of all Jewish people. To achieve his goals, he began to consider the use of far flung worldwide German communities, including over 600,000 living in Canada, some with growing political clout.
To win over these Canadian-Germans to National Socialism, the Nazi German Government established three new agencies in Canada. Auslands Organisation der Deutsche Bund Kanada, Deutsche Arbeitsfront, and Deutsche Arbeitsgeminschaft [German United League], with over 3,000 members. These new fascist fringe groups were investigated by the RCMP in early 1933, who in turn viewed them as no direct threat to Canada.
The Canadian Liberal Government saw no problems and the Canadian Press missed a huge French-Canadian political story. It took the new American editors of LIFE magazine, who dispatched reporters to Montreal in late 1937, and exposed this new “Canadian Fuhrer” complete with published photos. Canada’s Maclean’s magazine soon followed with two stories appearing in the 15 April 1938, and 1 May 1938 issues by Frederick Edwards.
In February 1934, a non-German, French-Canadian, Quebec-based fascist named Adrien Arcand formed the “Parti National Social Chrétien” Canadian political party in Montreal. In English the party was known as the “Canadian National Socialist Unity Party” and Arcand gave himself the title “Canadian Fuehrer.” In October 1934, the Quebec party merged with the more powerful Canadian Nationalist Party, which was based on a large German population in the Western Prairie provinces. In 1931, Alberta census recorded 75,500 Germans living in the province, listed as mostly mixed-farmers living south of the City of Calgary. This new Nazi fascist party soon became known as the “Swastika Club” or “Blue-shirts” due to their Nazi insignia and color of shirts they wore. The party followers commonly fought with new immigrants, minorities, Canadian leftist organizations, and hated Canadian Jews.
On 18 July 1938, LIFE magazine reports Canadian Fascists assemble at Toronto’s Massey Hall, 4 July 1938, where leader Canadian Fuehrer Arcand waggles a warning finger.
Propaganda is the meat on which young Fascists are fed. They even admit the French pamphlets are printed in Nazi headquarters in Hamburg, and sent from Germany to Canada. Just like the German Fuehrer, photos of Canadian Fuehrer Arcand hang from both walls in Montreal, Quebec.
The French/Canadian Fascist tailor Goulet has no job and lives on welfare, while he makes new Canadian Nazi uniforms. His new son [below] Adolf Benito Adrien Goulet is being raised as a Canadian Nazi baby, just like the S.S. babies in Germany. Registered as a member of the Canadian Nationalist Party, with Canadian Beaver and Nazi Swastika symbol.
The Party used the insignia or badge of a Nazi Swastika surrounded with Canadian Maple leafs and a Beaver on the top. The bottom Motto was “SERVIAM” which is Latin meaning – I will Follow. Used by Catholic faith as meaning honour Christian devotion to duty
Feet first, this “Communist” labelled heckler is rushed with brute force from the Fascist Rally in Toronto on 4 July 1938. I’m sure this Canadian protestor received a good beating from his Nazi enforcers. LIFE magazine continues to report on the rising threat of Fascists in both the United States and Canada.
LIFE magazine – 17 June 1940. The “Canadian Fuehrer”, Adrien Arcand [second from left] holds a meeting with his advisers in Montreal, 1938. The bald man to his left was Commander J. M. Scott, seen below, with Swastika insignia of Maple Leafs, Canadian Beaver, and circle photo of Canadian Fuhrer Adrien Arcand.
The new fascist party boasted that it would soon seize power in Canada, and in 1937 claimed a rare political first, when a fascist member ran in the Alberta Provincial By-Election in Lethbridge. Dr. Peter MacGregor Campbell [born in Ontario] won the By-election under the fascist Unity Party of Alberta, the only fascist Politician to ever win a seat in Canadian history. The population of Lethbridge was just over 15,000 and these mostly pro-Germans created this shameful part of our Canadian political history.
Even the Mayor of Montreal [Mr. Houde] and Quebec Premier Duplessis supported the French Canadian Fascists.
Canadian Liberal Prime Minister Mackenzie King saw no problem with the sudden increase in the Canadian fascist groups and after flying to Berlin in 1937 to meet Hitler, supported his policy of “appeasement” by Nazi Germany. The Michael Martin, 2007 report on the Political imprisonment in Hull, Quebec, during WWII, can be found on-line titled “The Red Patch.” An American FBI embassy official report in 1938, described P. M. King as being anti-Semitic, would not accept Jews to Canada, and found Hitler to be patriot, a simple, sincere man, clearly a dreamer having artistic temperament. During the Holocaust years, P.M. King admitted only 5,000 Jews to Canada, the worst record of any refugee receiving country during WWII. King hoped that Hitler would be satiated as soon as Germany consolidated the German-speaking areas in Europe. The Canadian Liberal Government under King had a timid foreign policy, which was clearly calculated not to make any political waves in 1938.
On 1 September 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, and it was finally clear to our Canadian Prime Minister that Hitler could not be trusted. Two days later, Britain and France declared war on Germany, followed on 10 September, with Canada declaring a state of war with Nazi Germany.
It took the Canadian Government [and our RCMP] nine months to act on the sixteen Nazi Fifth Column organizations in Canada, finally on 30 May 1940, the parties and all followers were banned under the War Measures Act of Canada. The Red patch report states – “Even getting the RCMP to move vis-à-vis the rightists operating in Canada required sustained effort from high-ranking public servants.” After Canada declared war on Germany, forty leftist [mostly Ukrainian] were arrested and interned in the new camp built at Kananaskis, near the Rockies in Banff, Alberta. This camp would contain special enemy alien internees living within Canada, which included 847 Germans, 632 Italians, and 782 Japanese. Over 22,000 Canadian-Japanese would also be evacuated and interned in B.C., while the Canadian Fuehrer and his followers received special treatment in Quebec.
Canadian home-grown Fuehrer, Adrien Arcand was arrested in June 1940, along with only 27 of his most senior Quebec advisors and they were transported to a special Army prison at Petawawa, Ontario. This is all contained in the Red Patch report and is a must read, if anyone is interested. Arcand was supported by many public figures in Quebec such as Scott, Lambert, Lessard, Closse, Clement, Menard, Lalanne, Decarie and Papineau. While not all were interned, [like J. Ed Lessard] the more powerful, Mr. Camillien Houde, Conservative Mayor of Montreal, joined the Canadian Fuhrer in prison in Petawawa.
It is very important to note that when the Liberal Government and RCMP did move against the German, Italian, and most of all the Japanese, they acted with overkill, interning mostly innocent Canadians, while the home-grown fascists [in Quebec] were allowed to float around eastern Canada unimpeded. The Canadian public in their first year of war had no idea what was taking place in Canada. The interned Nazi Fifth Column organizers were also treated much different in what is clearly a political twist. In 1933, the Duplessis Quebec Government constructed a special provincial prison, however it was never used for criminals. This special prison did not meet the Provincial Prison standards for the Province of Quebec and remained vacant until 27 August 1941. On that date, the Liberal Government of Canada moved over 70 enemy alien internees from Camp Petawawa, Ontario, to a new home in Gatineau, Quebec, in the Val-Tetreault District of Hull, on the north end of the Saint-Francois St. At this date, Quebec still had the most dominant Fascist movement in all Canada, and the leaders were all together as a group in Hull, Quebec. This complete history is contained in “The Red Patch” by Michael Martin, 2007, Political imprisonment in Hull, Quebec, during World War II, and makes for very interesting political reading.
Henry Luce created LIFE magazine for the American people, to see the world, eyewitness great events, and the power of the press took over with stunning photos and color paintings. Millions of copies were also sold in Canada and the power of the American press began to expose the hidden Canadian fascist truth.
In the 12 August 1940 issue of LIFE, under “Letters to the Editor” one J. Ed Lessard from Montreal, Canada, wrote to the American editor in an attempt to clear his “Nazi” name. Why did the Liberal Government of Canada allow the most dominant Quebec Fascism members in Canada to remain free in Montreal and area during World War Two? This is the same Government that ordered mass evacuations of innocent Japanese Canadians who were interned until 1945, and lost everything. Read the on-line history “Too Close to Home” the anti-Semitic and Fascism in Canada 1930-40s, by Frieda Miller. It will answer this shameful political part of Canadian history, while our fighting men and women were being killed.
The detailed complete history of the Fascism in Canada can be read online from the Government of Canada collections – May 1997, Thesis by Michelle McBride, titled – “From Indifference to Internment RCMP responses’ to Nazism and Fascism in Canada 1934-1941. This is a surprising historical paper on Quebec and German-Canadians during WWII.
The arrest of Fuehrer Arcand finally ended Hitler’s Aryan dream in Canada, however across the border in the United States, his dream was still growing under the American Fascists dictatorship of Fuhrer Fritz Kuhn.
The American history of Nazis living in their midst follows the same early pattern as Hitler employed in Canada. Almost 500,000 German immigrants came to the United States from 1920-33 and a large number settled in the Bronx of New York City. In 1922, the first extreme right-wing pro-fascist faction was formed in New York City and two years later German immigrants in Detroit founded “Teutonia Association” which became the first political expression of an organized German National Socialist Party in the United States of America. Both groups imported literature from Berlin under the German Foreign Office, as part of the League of Germans Living Abroad. Ironically, the two sides could not agree and due to internal disputes they disbanded in 1933, the same year that Hitler seized power in Germany.
A group of hard core former Teutonia members next created a new organization which they called “Friends of the New Germany.” At a convention in 1936, [Munich born] American citizen, Fritz Julius Kuhn seized control of the party and formed the Amerika-Deutscher Volksbund or American-German Bund.
On 23 November 1936, a new pictorial news magazine was published in the United States, titled LIFE; it featured a front cover of Fort Peck Dam by Margaret Bourke-White. This large picture magazine became the modern CNN of 1936, advertised as America’s most potent editorial force.
The original LIFE weekly humor magazine folded during the Great Depression and the name was bought by influential American publisher Henry Luce. Luce had enjoyed great success as the publisher of “Time” weekly magazine which told the world news. Now Luce had the idea to show the world news in his new photo magazine LIFE. The magazine would provide the American and Canadian people with eyewitness photos of great events and tragic news in the early 20th century. LIFE was an overwhelming success which changed the way people looked at the changing world in vivid pictures that captured the truth. LIFE became the opposite to the German subtle mix of straight news reporting and Nazi propaganda published in Hitler’s Wartime Picture Magazine, “Signal” and the official Nazi Luftwaffe magazine Der Adler [The Eagle].
Each week over eighteen million copies of LIFE were delivered to homes and stores in the United States and Canada. LIFE put on display the personal and public images of the world at war and became society’s means of communication before the invention of television. The picture-heavy content was like watching breaking news on CNN today. Today my collection of over 700 magazines covers the third issue, 7 December 1936, until mid-1949. Thanks to the internet, all issues can be found and enjoyed today free online.
LIFE was almost born into the Second World War and the articles with images exerted great editorial force on the American people before and after 7 December 1941. It changed the way Americans looked at the World at War, by changing the way Americans looked at themselves. Beginning in the third issue of 1936, LIFE exposed the truth about Adolf Hitler, his 67,000,000 German followers around the world and his new world “Fatherland.”
In September 1939, the world was at war with Nazi Germany, while the citizens of the United States of American remained totally opposed to becoming involved. At the same time, in the United States of America, over 800 American Nazi organizations were devoted to spreading anti-Semitic, anti-democratic, pro-Fascist doctrines to the American public, and a good portion came directly from Nazi Germany. The new editors of LIFE magazine believed that public exposure was the best treatment for this growing Anti-American Nazi propaganda, and they took a stand to tell and show the truth.
LIFE’s issue for 7 December 1936 featured six full length pages on the Biography of a World Dictator: Adolf Hitler.
These young German students also learned how to wage a war of propaganda, using literature and even comic books published in Germany. These samples were directed at Mexico showing the British as the aggressors’ of war. Mailed to Germans in Mexico and South America by the German Colonial Society, they had a major impact for the first two years of WWII.
This is a most powerful image in the 1936 LIFE magazine article. In 1934, Hitler created the “Stuttgart Institute for Germanism Abroad”, [German Colonial Society] which trained future Nazi leaders how to regain and rule the lost German colonial empire. The chart on the rear wall lists four main objectives – Europe, Asia, Africa, and United States of America. The German population is listed beside the names of cities and on the floor little colored figures represent the German population from 200 to 50,000. The area of Northeastern U. S. could possibly show a population of one or more million Germans. This area was possibly placed under control of Amerika-Deutscher Volksbund or German American Bund, with German born leader Fritz Julius Kuhn. American leader Kuhn met with Hitler in Berlin on 2 August, during the 1936 Olympics. An F.B.I. report dated 15 October 1943, from an agent in San Antonio, Texas, revealed Kuhn received one million American dollars a year from the Nazi Government, to organize the activities of the German American Bund in 1936. Adrien Arcand admitted in 1938, he received Nazi material printed in French from Hamburg, Germany, and it is possible he also received money from Germany.
This German image [released by associated press in United States] was taken on 2 August 1936, when American Fritz Julius Kuhn [far right] was invited to the Reich Chancellery in Berlin and had his photo taken with Fuhrer Hitler [left]. The man in the background looks very much like Adrien Arcand, but there is no evidence to support he had any connections with the American Bund. Kuhn and fifty of his American Bund members [with family] left New York in June 1936, however their names are unknown. Kuhn has just presented Hitler with the “Golden Book” containing hundreds of American/German signatures from well wishers in the United States. Below is another image taken in Berlin same date and time, released by associated press in the United States. This photo was in the American FBI files and used to investigate American Bund members, however the four Bund members in the background are not identified. These photos became a major propaganda tool for American Bund membership, but that is about all. If Canadian Adrien Arcand had any connections with the American Bund members it is still hidden from history.
The best American research can be found in Thesis titled Fritz Kuhn “The American Fuehrer” and the Rise and fall of the German – American Bund, Eliot A. Kopp, 2010.
The following history of Fritz Julius Kuhn is taken from the released microfilm files of the F.B.I. investigation from 1935 to 1958. These original files were ordered destroyed by the United States Justice Department in 1958.
Fritz Kuhn was born on 18 May 1896, in Munich, where he attended [Volkschule] primary and [Oberrealschule] High School, studying chemistry and related subjects. He also fulfilled his military duty in the Bavarian Life Guards of Munich. He served from 1914 to 1918, at the German front in WWI as a machine gunner in the Reserves of the Bavarian Life Guards, and was wounded three times. Promoted to Lieutenant, he distinguished himself in the French, Italian, Serbian, and Rumanian front lines. In 1919, he fought in the Epp Voluntary Corps against politics which threatened to destroy Germany. In February 1922, he joined the party of the Oberland Volunteer Corps and worked directly under the leader. It was during this time he went to hear Hitler speak at a town hall meeting in Munich. He graduated from the University of Munich with degree in Chemistry in July 1922. He married Elsie Walter in Munich, Germany, on 28 March 1923, and left for Mexico, which he entered on 23 May 1923.
He began working in the oil fields of Tampico in the Gulf of Mexico, and sent for his wife in November that same year. A daughter and son were born to the family in Mexico, and in 1925 he purchased a small cosmetic factory in Mexico City. In 1927, the factory was forced into bankruptcy and the family made plans to immigrate to the United States. On 18 May 1928, they legally entered the U. S. at Laredo, Texas, thanks to help from an ex-American WWI soldier who lived in Grosse Point of Detroit, on Lake Point Avenue. [The FBI blacked out this name]
His first job was a laboratory technician at the Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, where he worked 5 August to 23 December 1929. The records contain a notation he was ‘laid off’ due to slow work. He next obtained work with the Stafford Laboratory, using the name Fred Kuhn, 7527 Dunedin St., Detroit, Michigan. In 1930, he obtained a position with the Henry Ford Motor plant, where he worked for the next seven years. In November 1931, Kuhn joined an organization known as “German Steel Helmets’, composed of former German World War One veterans. He next joined the “Friends of the New Germany” organization and became a naturalized American citizen on 3 December 1934, in Detroit, Michigan. In January 1936, Kuhn took over as union leader of the Detroit group, replacing Heinz Spanknoebl as national leader of the Friends of the New Germany organization. In May 1936, it was renamed and became known as the “German American Bund, at which time Fritz Kuhn began using the title -“Fuehrer of the Bund.”
In late June 1936, Kuhn and 50 members of the German American Bund sailed on the S.S. New York, to attend the Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. On 26 July 1936, the American Bund passed in review in front of the Chancellery in Berlin, carrying the American flag and German swastika. The Americans were reviewed by Chancellor Hitler and Marshal Goering, and shortly after were invited to join Hitler in a special reception. At such time, Kuhn presented Hitler with a “Golden Book” which contained hundreds of signatures of Bund members in the United States. The American Bund also donated $2,300 from all the well wishers in the U.S.
Photos were taken of this event and one was investigated by the F.B.I. on 29 September 1941. The report by Special Agent E. E. Conroy to Director Hover records six persons in the photograph and names each one. Reading from left to right they are as follows: 1. Adolf Hitler, 2. [Censored] 3. Unknown 4. Fritz Kuhn 5. Unknown 6. [Censored] The photo was identified as MK-9-6-41-WQP 1.
FBI report # NY 100-49694, records that while in Germany Kuhn attended the Party Congress of the N.S.D.A.P. in Nurenburg, Germany. Kuhn also contacted the [censored] leader of the German N.S.D.A.P. for foreign countries to obtain a clarification on the status of the German American Vocational League in United States. In August 1936, Kuhn obtained a Russian passport and travelled to Kharkov for two weeks. [Reason never explained] He returned to the United States in October 1936.
American leader Kuhn used the same August 1936 image, [Golden Book presentation] in his Amerikadeutschen Year Book for 1937, with the background member’s images deleted.
LIFE magazine issue 29 March 1937 devoted two full pages, with six photos, on the rising problems of the German-American League and “American Nazis.” For the first time American national leader Fritz Kuhn is using the title “Fuehrer” like his counter-part in Montreal, [French] Canada.
The FBI investigation reported in January 1938, the American Bund had 65 local chapters in the New York area and 8,000 to 10,000 American Nazi Storm Troopers. The State of New York passes a new law, signed by Governor Lehmann, which prohibited the wearing of uniforms of foreign countries at all public meetings. Nothing changed, and nobody was arrested by American authorities. The American flag is being flown beside the Nazi Swastika at major events in the United States of America, and the picture of American Fuehrer Kuhn and Fuhrer Hitler appear side by side at meetings in eastern United States.
New York City, January 1938, and the Nazi Swastika is growing in size and strength in the United States of America.
American and Nazi flags march side by side New Jersey 18 July 1937.
14 February 1938, LIFE informs the American/Canadian reading public, Nazi Germany is now waging a war of propaganda by short-wave radio from Berlin. This reaches 67,000,000 members of world-wide German Colonial Society and keeps them updated on Nazi homeland events. German radio propaganda is growing and Americans and Canadians are listening.
LIFE 7 March 1938, the American Nazi Bund of New Jersey gives a speech hailing George Washington as a Fascist, using American history as propaganda. The organization is growing fast and claims to have over 200,000 members. This is causing great excitement in Berlin and gives Hitler and Goering a more powerful scheme for American citizens. LIFE continues to report but Americans are not listening.
Fritz Julius Kuhn [center] at New York City American Nazi meeting in September 1938. [Associated Press release]
Hermann Goering was the Commander-in-Chief of the German Luftwaffe, and he understood the use of propaganda very well. The powerful results of his overseas radio broadcasts, combined with the growing Nazi movement in U. S. gives him another idea, publish a German military propaganda magazine of his Luftwaffe, in both German and English.
The new magazine Der Adler [The Eagle] was born in November 1939, printed in both German and English. The new propaganda magazine was itself a German political and cultural publication, heavy with photographs, drawings, [by illustrator Theo Matejko] and articles on Luftwaffe individuals who won the highest German military order, the Knight Cross.
It was published twice a month, 30 pages in length, and size 13″ by 10″. The majority of the English editions were printed for the United States with large letters USA 8 cents. In 1939, the German-American Bund boasted over 200,000 American members and these USA issues were intended mostly for these North American Nazi supporters. This also convinced German home readers that Nazism was being supported by a large section of the American population, a double use of propaganda by the Third Reich. From 1940-41, Der Adler printed many victories in air battles, bombing, and defeat of the British, which was reported as overpowering and dynamic to the citizens in the United States. American LIFE magazine continued to tell the truth and report facts and photos of the Nazi Fascism growing in United States and Canada.
American Bund Nazi Youth camps are being constructed in New York and New Jersey. This is Camp Griggstown, New Jersey in 1938. [Associated press photo release]
6 March 1939, LIFE devoted thirteen full page photos and articles on the growing Nazi Fascism in the United States. This included an unabridged translation of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” [My Battle].
LIFE published four full pages and exposed fifteen American Nazi-bully Bund leaders, 6 March 1939 issue.
On the 28 August 1939, LIFE covered the Special U.S. House Committee to Investigate Un-American Activities in the American Nazi movement. A 19-year-old Brooklyn, New York, American girl testified underage boys and girls in the American Bund Youth Movement at Camp Andover, New Jersey, were having sex. She also exposed that American born underage boys and girls were being sent to Germany to attend special Nazi training. The House Un-American Activities was created in 1938 to uncover Nazi ties in the United States. Texas Democrat Martin Dies was the Chairman, and amazingly the U.S. Government did nothing.
The special training that Hitler had created in 1934, at the Stuttgart Institute for Germanism Abroad, headed by General Franz von Epp, was becoming a complete success in the United States of America, just five years later.
FBI report in August 1939 – The Bund publishes a juvenile periodical as well as its own newspapers in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. In addition, it maintains twenty-five juvenile summer camps in the New York area. The American Nazi Flag was growing in U. S. when Adolf Hitler Invaded Poland, 1 September 1939. The former Nazi neighborhood on Long Island, N.Y., stills exists today, however the names Adolf Hitler St., Goering St. and Goebbels St. have been changed. Today the former “Camp Siegfried” remains a private German/American Settlement League “complete with old Nazi parade grounds.”
The German propaganda machine went to work as soon as Hitler invaded Poland. The 18 September 1939 issue of LIFE printed photos sent directly from Germany to United States. The British and French censors forbid any photo images and the Germans took great advantage in publicizing to the American and Canadian public the power and strength of the German forces. This also showed the German reputation for frankness in contrast to the British and French.
This same issue also introduced the American/Canadian readers to the art of 46-year-old Austrian born illustrator Theo Matejko. Born in Vienna on 13 June 1893, he became a war correspondent and combat artist in WWI. In 1918, Matejko illustrated a poster showing the effects of postwar Germany, titled “Children in Need.”
“Children in Need” 1918 – Federal German archives – free domain
After the war he worked as a poster/newspaper artist, moving to Berlin, Germany, in July 1920. By 1924, he was designing film posters, including German full frontal nudes, sports events, and auto racing. He soon became a very popular and highly paid German illustrator, which I believe attracted the attention of the new formed Stuttgart Institute of Germanism Abroad, possibly in 1934.
In 1935, he was sent to the United States to study painting and examine the American way of Life, which I believe was for future Nazi propaganda purposes. In 1937, Theo returned to Germany and was employed as a war artist for the Third Reich magazine “Die Wehrmacht” [The Army]. It is often stated that he was not a Nazi, but painted what he was told to do and this became his way of life.
This Polish invasion images [below] appeared in LIFE magazine 11 September 1939, however these same illustrations first appeared in the Third Reich publication Die Wehrmacht in 1938.
This early work was possibly drawn in 1937, after Theo Matejko returned from America and began illustrating for Die Wehrmacht [The Army] magazine. It appeared as cover art for the Third Reich in 1938 and was again used in LIFE magazine on the Nazi attack of Poland, 11 September 1939. Even today, his art has a powerful impact and it is very easy to see why Matejko became the most popular propaganda Nazi artist from 1937 to 1945. With the end of WWII, he worked for the journal Hommunculus [dwarf] and died of a stroke on 9 October 1946, Kufstein, Tyrol. These Nazi magazines with his combat art are still selling on the internet today.
By 1939, the FBI was conducting many investigations on Fritz Kuhn and his American Nazi members. The reports can be found online and make interesting reading. The FBI stated Fritz Kuhn holds a special position among the radical organizations in the United States of America, in view of the fact it is generally regarded as the organization which places the racial problems in the foreground. All similar organizations have one thing in common, namely, that they take “Americanism” as their basis and declare to be unconditionally loyal to the Constitution of the U.S.A. Kuhn was loyal to only Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.
In November 1939, the office of the District Attorney of the State of New York arrested and charged the Fuhrer of the American Bund with having stolen $14,548.59 from his own organization and spent the money for his personnel use. 20 November 1939, Fritz Kuhn [center] arrives in court with his lawyers.
On 5 December 1939, he was found guilty and sentenced to Two and one half to five years in prison for grand larceny and perjury, arising from his embezzlement trial. Kuhn served his time in Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York, and while in prison, his American denaturalization certificate was issued by order of U.S. District Judge, John J. Bright, S.D.N. Y. on 18 March 1943. He was released from Sing Sing on 1 June 43, and arrested by the FBI that same day, then interned at Clinton Prison, Dannemora, New York, as an alien enemy of German nationality. He was deported to wartime Germany, arrested again in 1945, and served time until 1949. He died in Munich on 14 December 1951.
The 17 June 1940 issue of LIFE reported the rise of American born German Nazi Fifth Columns and for the first time devoted a full page photo with the story. “NO DOGS” in sign stood for American JEWS.
Did these Americans fight for Germany or United States in the next four and one half years?
In July 1940, Canada, England, and Europe were in total war with Hitler, combined with a growing Nazi threat inside the United States itself. A LIFE magazine survey revealed that Americans did not see this as their problem to solve; they had become an isolationist nation. LIFE was attempting to change that, by showing and telling the truth.
On 1 April 1941, the Canadian public read of the German political advance in South America.
Even after President Roosevelt won his third term, and England stood alone in the advance of Hitler, the American public remained determinedly isolationist. The public exposure of the American Nazis by LIFE magazine, CLICK, and other editorials caused the organization to go underground, refuse to give names and forbid any photographs. The Nazi Bund membership declined from 25,000 to 2,000 by the end of 1941, as both Federal and local government’s actions damaged their image, arrested the leaders, and they became bankrupt.
With the sudden attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941, the American public national state of war denial was crushed. The American Nazi Bund organization voted to disband just two weeks after the United States declared war on Japan, Italy, and Germany.
The Roosevelt administration understood the power of propaganda and moved to create a massive new effort to prepare the American citizens for world war. The art of film and animation was entering its greatest period just when the U.S. Government required it the most. Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, Popeye, Donald Duck, and the world of animation would soon replace the Nazi propaganda machine in the world. That is another story.
The American Fuhrer, Fritz Kuhn was indicted, tried, and sent to prison for forgery and larceny for stealing his Nazi party funds. He was released on 1 June 1943, his American citizenship was revoked and he was deported back to war torn Germany. In 1945, he was convicted of war crimes and returned to German prison until 1949. He died in bombed-out Munich in 1951.
The Canadian Fuehrer, Adrien Arcand did much better when he was released from Hull, Quebec, prison in 1945, still a true Fascist and believer in Hitler. He entered Quebec politics and in 1949, placed second for the National Unity Party in the riding of Richelieu Vercheres, winning 29% of the French/Canadian vote. He made national headlines again on 14 November 1965, when he gave a speech to 650 followers at the Centre Paul-Sauvé in Montreal. He publicly thanked the newly elected Liberal Member of Parliament for Mount Royal for speaking on his defence when he was interned under the War Measures Act in 1940. That Member of Parliament would become the Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre E. Trudeau. He also thanked the former leader of the Conservative party, George Drew, for helping in his defence in 1940. Early in his career in 1930’s he received money from wealthy Ontario Tories such as R.B. Bennett. To the very end he supported the views of fascism, anti-Semitism, and Adolf Hitler. He died in Montreal in 1967, the most important and durable Quebec fascist in Canadian history.
In Western Canada, the Fascist Union was headed by William Whittaker in the Province of Manitoba and Alberta. He directed the Nationalist Party of Canada, which was sometimes called the “Brownshirts.” Adrien Arcand attempted to create an English and French nationalist political party based on the Nazi Party in Germany, and the National Unity Party was formed. Known as the Blue Shirts, they had a powerful but short history in southern Alberta.
Party card member Dr. Peter M. Campbell ran in the Lethbridge by-election on 2 December 1937, and won his seat for the Unity [Nazi] Party of Alberta. Peter MacGregor Campbell was born in Admaston, Ontario, on 9 February 1872. He graduated from Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario, as an M.D. in 1896 and soon after moved west. Dr. Campbell arrived in Lethbridge, Alberta, in 1906, opened his practice and was a high ranking member of the Masonic fraternity. How and why he became involved with the fascists movement in Alberta is not clear, maybe it was just for politics. When Canada declared war on Germany in September 1939, the Unity Party of Alberta lost power and disappeared. In January 1940, Peter M. Campbell left the Unity Party of Alberta, [which would be banned by the War Measures Act – 30 May 1940] and ran as an independent in the Alberta Provincial election. On 21 March 1940, he was re-elected to a four-year term in his Lethbridge riding defeating railway clerk Albert E. Smith of the Alberta Social Credit Party. At age 72 years, he retired from politics before the 1944 election and returned to his enjoyment of Alberta nature. The only Canadian Fascist Politian to ever be elected in Canadian history.
Copyright Clarence Simonsen 2016 (Updated 11 April 2020)