Hitler in Los Angeles

The other night I drove up to AJU, American Jewish University, on Mulholand Drive to hear a lecture: Americans and the Nazi Threat:What Did Californians Know? (9th Annual Linda and Tony Rubin Lecture). It was a spectacular at night, full of fresh air and stars. But inside the auditorium, the mood was somber and serious, as we heard about the history of Nazis in America -- specifically, the 1930's in Los Angeles and the Antisemitism that reigned. It was hard to listen to this, but it was true history. American and German-American were enamored with Hitler's agenda and eager for it to take hold here in the U.S. Those living in Los Angeles were active in Los Angeles.

This is one of the scariest things I have learned in my research, because took place right here in Los Angeles, in our own backyard.

Moderator, Jon Healey, editorial editor of the LA Times interviewed
USC history professor, Steven Ross, about his new book recently published by Bloomsbury: HITLER IN LOS ANGELES.

Joanna Wasserman of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the education initiatives manager at USHMM, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., spoke about teaching through their exhibits.

Los Angeles, the Holocaust and the Nazi Party illuminated.

Many in the audience could not believe what they were hearing. There were Nazi recruitment organizations in LA in the 1930's.

  "Part thriller and all chiller," - LA Times 
We should all know about the city we live in.And if you don't live in LA, this is still fascinating and so very important to know. It was happening all over the U.S. but this book just focuses on Los Angeles. Ross shows how Jewish activist Leon Lewis organized others and because of their diligent efforts, the Nazi plots were thwarted.

From Chapter 1:
"Leon Lewis hoped for something more than boycotts, rallies, and denunciations...he wanted Jews to pursue a far more proactive approach to dealing with the Nazi threat - a threat most Americans did not yet fully understand."

Ross goes on to explain how Lewis organized and recruited people he knew - Jews and non-Jews for a spy ring that infiltrated the Nazis Bunds in LA and then reported back with information. Bund means Federation in German but it was the word used for the Nazi leaning groups. 

Leon and his undercover gang managed to foil the Nazi plots of German-Americans and Nazi loyalists here in Los Angeles in the 1930's and 40's. But one really need to read the book to understand the whole picture. It wasn't simple and it wasn't easy. Luckily, Hitler lost World War II also and America was not invaded by Germany or taken over by Nazis. Thank you to Leon Lewis and to Steve Ross for writing his story so clearly and in such detail.

People look at Washington, DC, newspapers on September 1, 1939—the day Nazi Germany invaded Poland, starting World War II. <i>Harris & Ewing Collection/Library of Congress</i>
People look at Washington, DC, newspapers on September 1, 1939—the day Nazi Germany invaded Poland, starting World War II. Harris & Ewing Collection/Library of Congress

Do you have any questions about this post?
You can order a copy of HITLER IN LOS ANGELES on Amazon or find it a nearby bookstore.