A Truly Disturbing Film About the Night in 1939 When 20,000 American Nazis Rallied in New York City

When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labeled “made in Germany”; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, “Americanism.”Halford E. Luccock

In a noble effort to provide information helpful to current times, director Marshall Curry from Field of Vision gathered historical footage from various different archives to create the short film “A Night at the Garden“. This disturbing and difficult film spotlights that night in 1939 when the German American Bund (Nazi) gathered at Madison Square Garden in the heart of New York City to proclaim their patriotism as German-born Fritz Kuhn called for a return to a “white, gentile-ruled United States” with “gentile-controlled labor unions free from Jewish Moscow-directed domination.” Concerned about what was being said, a young Jewish protester named Isadore Greenbaum jumped onto the stage where he was savagely beaten, stripped of his trousers and fined for disrupting the peace. Curry explained why he felt the need to make this film because this shameful event seemed to have been erased from American memory.

The footage is so powerful, it seems amazing that it isn’t a stock part of every high school history class. But I think the rally has slipped out of our collective memory in part because it’s scary and embarrassing. It tells a story about our country that we’d prefer to forget. We’d like to think that when Nazism rose up, all Americans were instantly appalled. But while the vast majority of Americans were appalled by the Nazis, there was also a significant group of Americans who were sympathetic to their white supremacist, anti-Semitic message. When you see 20,000 Americans gathering in Madison Square Garden you can be sure that many times that were passively supportive.

Historical photos of that shocking night in the United States.

Bund Parade

Bund NYT

German American Bund

Denouncing Bund

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.