WASHINGTON (Sep. 25)
Fritz Kuhn, leader of the German-American Bund, was described as a direct agent of the Nazi Government and the Bund a source of Nazi espionage at today’s hearing before the House Committee investigating un-American activities. The charges were made by Gerhart H. Seger, former Social Democrat member of the Reichstag and now editor of the anti-Nazi German weekly published in New York, the Neue Volkszeitung.
They came as a preliminary to the recalling of Kuhn to the witness stand and it followed a statement by Rep. Thomas (Rep.,N.J.), who said there could be no doubt that the officers and members of the Communist Party and the German–American Bund were violating both the registration and espionage acts of the United States. Thomas asked immediate action by the State and Justice departments.
Seger said that the majority of Germans in the United States did not agree with Nazi principles, and asserted that Kuhn and the Bund were doing great damage to the reputations of these Germans. “There are two minorities in the United States,” Chairman Dies interrupted, “One German and the other Jewish. I think the Bund has done more harm to Germans than it has to Jews.”
Seger asked the committee to realize that only ten per cent of those persecuted by Hitler in Germany were Jews. “Not being a Jew myself,” he said, “I can point to my own case.” he explained that he had been imprisoned for six months in a concentration camp and then escaped to Czechoslovakia. After his escape, his wife and two-year-old daughter were imprisoned in an effort to force him to return. Seger told the committee that the ruthless arm of the Nazi Government had even reached to America to plague him. He revealed that one of his advertisers, a yorkville merchant, had been warned by Nazi storm troopers from the Bund to withdraw his advertising from Seger’s paper.
The primary purpose of the Bund, Seger said in answer to a question from Dies, was that of a recruiting agency for Nazi espionage. Kuhn, he said, has been appointed by Hitler as the Nazi leader in the United States just as Forster was named the leader in Danzig.
Rhea Whitley, committee counsel, repeatedly read from Kuhn’s testimony concerning the Bund leader’s reception by Hitler in 1936 as the committee gathered ammunition to hurl at Kuhn when he is recalled as a witness. Dies asked Seger to explain how anti-Semitism in Germany so quickly gained a foothold and Seger replied that Hitler used the Jews as political pawns. “The Jews in Germany,” he said, “were Germans, acted as Germans, felt as Germans and many died for Germany in the war.”
Seger said, however, that the Jewish issue had little to do with the rise of Hitler to power. He blamed this rise “30 per cent on the Treaty of Versailles, 30 per cent upon the fact that Germany was a very new democracy and 40 per cent upon Germany’s desperate condition during the depression and the failure of the democracies to aid the German Government when it was a republic.” He concluded his testimony with this statement: “The German Republic made one great mistake. We were too lenient with those who abused the privilege of free speech.”