New York City police form a line outside Madison Square Garden to hold in check a crowd that packed the streets where the German American Bund's rally was held, February 20, 1939.
Murray Becker/Associated Press
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When Nazis Took Manhattan

In 1939, 20,000 American Nazis rallied in New York. It was billed as a "Pro-American" rally, but championed Hitler and fascism.
80 years ago, on the evening of February 20, 1939, the marquee of Madison Square garden was lit up with the evening’s main event: a “Pro-American Rally.”  The organizers had chosen the date in celebration of George Washington’s birthday and procured a 30-foot-tall banner of America’s first president for the stage. 20,000 men and women streamed inside and took their seats. The view they had was stunning: Washington was hung between American flags…and swastikas.

It was the eve of World War II. A few months after Kristallnacht in Germany, a few months before the invasion of Poland. The rally was sponsored by the German American Bund, one of several American organizations that openly supported Fascism and Hitler.

Now we tell the story of what happened…When Nazis took Manhattan.
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