A Long Island enclave established by Nazi sympathizers has to dramatically change the way it operates to end decades of discrimination against nonwhite people, according to a settlement announced today by the Attorney General’s Office.
The German-American League was founded in 1937 as an offshoot of the Nazi-promoting German-American Bund, and bought up tract homes in the Suffolk County hamlet of Yaphank. At first, the group operated its property as Camp Siegfried, a Nazi summer camp that for a time had its own train from Penn Station. In the late 1930s, Camp Siegfried officials were indicted on charges of violating the New York State Civil Rights Act, according to the New York Times.
Subsequently, as the camp transitioned into a 40-acre residential community, the League toned down the overt Nazi stuff, ending the parades and sieg heiling and coming up with new names for the streets originally named after Hitler, Goering, and Goebbels. Still, for decades, the organization has exercised strict control over who can live there. It owns the land beneath the houses, and long restricted leases to members and people sponsored by members. Membership, by the way, was limited to people “primarily of German extraction and of good character and reputation.”