Wednesday, June 13, 2018

When Nazis Targeted Los Angeles

nazi fascism corruption war anti-semitism history Hollywood crime

Jewish activists in Los Angeles in the 1930s ran a spy ring that helped break up plans of the Hitler regime and local Nazi sympathizers to carry out violent attacks on the West Coast, according to a new book.

Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America, by Prof. Steven Ross of the University of Southern California (published by Bloomsbury), describes how Anti-Defamation League official Leon Lewis recruited disabled World War I veterans to infiltrate fascist and pro-Nazi groups in the Los Angeles area, primarily the Friends of New Germany, and the Silver Shirts.

The spies provided Lewis with a steady stream of reports about the frightening appeal of these extremist groups to citizens struggling to survive the Great Depression. The phenomenon of desperate people flocking to charismatic leaders who make grandiose promises—and who offer them scapegoats to blame for their troubles—is a familiar story. The fateful question is whether such groups are embraced by the wider society or are relegated to its margins.

Under ordinary circumstances, a Jewish organizational figure who receives such information would forward it to the authorities. But the 1930s was no ordinary era. Unemployment, fear of Communism, and hatred of foreigners accelerated the spread of bigotry even among some government officials.

So when Lewis met with Los Angeles police chief James “Two Gun” Davis to tell him about the activities of local Nazi sympathizers, he had a rude surprise. “Lewis was shocked when, three minutes into his talk, Davis interrupted him to defend Hitler,” Ross says, “the police and sheriff’s departments [in the Los Angeles area] were indeed filled with men sympathetic to the Silver Shirts, the Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan.”  (more...)

nazi fascism corruption war anti-semitism history Hollywood crime

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