‘scarface’ Fritz Treads a Path of Thorns on Road to ‘glory’
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‘scarface’ Fritz Treads a Path of Thorns on Road to ‘glory’

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That Fritz “Scarface” Gissibl, revealed at the McCormack hearings as dictator of Hitler forces in this country, has had anything but smooth sailing in his task of Nazifying compatriots here is clearly indicated in the series of letters between himself and various colleagues both in America and Germany.

The first sign that ###issibl’s path to power was strewn with thorns appeared in a letter to Heinz Spanknoebel dated April 19, 1933, from Chicago. Spanknoebel, now a fugitive from justice with a Federal indictment hanging over his head, at that time was reputed kingpin of the American Nazis.


In the Spanknoebel ###missive “Scarface” revealed his irritation at the backwardness of Windy City Germans to throw their lot with der Fuehrer, his deep anger at Jews and his annoyance at being forced to submit to Federal investigation. In his reference to obstacles placed in his path by Jews, he scurriously attacked, by implication, Governor Horner of Illinois.

“I have been assured of the support,” he wrote Spanknoebel, “of the consul and the Chicago Abendpost, but our German clubhounds couldn’t pull themselves together for any action and we, together with the Stahlhelm and the Deutsche Handels Verein, have been absolutely unable to bring about manifestation of the necessary propositions. I’ve had to swallow enough dirty tricks and Jew impertinence during recent weeks and shall avoid anything which could deliver my co-fighters into the hands of police which are controlled by Jews. You know, of course, that here we have even a Jewish Governor not to mention other Jewish crooks. Already I’ve bad to submit to investigation by the American Federal government and so I know the works.

“I shall send a copy of this letter to the Chief of Staff of the Supreme Party office to clear up the matter as soon as possible.”


Shortly afterwards another Gissibl letter, this time to Walter Kappe, editor of the Deutsche Zeitung, revealed the bitter quarrel for leadership between Gissibl and Spanknoebel.

“We can no longer stand by idly,” Fritz wrote on July 15, 1933, “and see our cause being degraded into a farce. We will do our cause the greatest service if we clean up thoroughly this time because we will perish if we submit to the leadership of Spanknoebel in the future.”

Prior to that, on June 13, 1933, Gissibl, in a letter to Hans Straus, member of the German Nazi party living in Detroit, showed his hand for all it was worth.

“I refuse to recognize Spanknoebel under any conditions,” he wrote, “because I am firmly convinced that he deceived us in a wholly uncomradelike fashion. We have to deal with a job hunter of the worst type, with a man who has not accomplished the least for the movement. I give you the assurance that I’m always ready to subordinate myself at any time to you without reservation. I shall work in such a manner as agreed with you and with party member Weidemann (Hans Weidemann, Goebbels’ representative who visited the Chicago Fair) but shall limit myself to Chicago because I deem it absolutely essential that a situation of complete understanding be created abroad.”

The behind-the-scenes part played by the Hitler government in financing propaganda activities here was revealed in letters between Gissibl and Straus. On May 21, 1933, Gissibl wrote to the Detroit Nazi as follows:

“We don’t beg to be recognized. On the contrary we have the will and the ability to call attention of the German federal government to ourselves. The day will and must come when the German federal government must negotiate with us if it wants to win United States of America Germandom for our Welt Anschauung.”

Shortly thereafter the Hitler regime, according to a letter from Straus to Gissibl, fulfilled the latter’s prediction.

“It can be assumed with certainty,” Straus wrote, “that we in the United States will receive a subsidy from the propaganda ministry. Negotiations are not yet completed. This information is confidential because nothing about this undertaking is known on the outside.”

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