Heinz Spanknöbel

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Heinrich "Heinz" Spanknöbel (rendered Spanknoebel or Spanknobel; 27 November 1893 — 10 March 1947[1]) was a German immigrant to America who formed, and for a short time led, the pro-Nazi Friends of New Germany as its Bundesleiter.[2]



Heinz was born in Homberg, Germany to Konrad Spanknöbel (1866–1969) and Christiane Becker (1869–1966). He had an older brother, Karl Adolf (later Charles A. Noble; 6 September 1892, Homberg, Germany – 22 March 1983, Watsontown, Pennsylvania, USA) and younger brothers and sisters: Kathe (1897–1970), Anne (1898–1962), Wilhelm (1900–1980), August (1902–1969), Martha (1904–1966), and Freida (1907–?).

In 1918, he married Elsa Fourier (1892–1957) in Würzburg, Germany.


In 1920, Spanknöbel was ordained as a minister in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Würzburg.[3] He was admitted to the US as a minister in 1929.[4] Spanknöbel was a member of the Free Society of Teutonia and an employee of the Ford Motor Company.[5] Initial support for American fascist organizations came from Germany.[citation needed] In May 1933, Nazi Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess gave Spanknöbel authority to form an American Nazi organization.[6][7] Shortly thereafter, with help from the German consul in New York City, Spanknöbel formed the Friends of New Germany[6] by merging two older organizations in the United States— the Society of American Friends of Germany (formed from the dissolved Gauleitung-USA or Gau-USA)[2] and the Free Society of Teutonia; which were both small groups with only a few hundred members each. The Friends of New Germany was headquartered in Yorkville, Manhattan, but had a strong presence in Chicago.[6]

The organization led by Spanknöbel was openly pro-Nazi, and engaged in activities such as storming the German language New Yorker Staats-Zeitung with the demand that Nazi-sympathetic articles be published.[8] He attempted to infiltrate and influence other non-political German-American organizations, such as the United German Societies.[9] One of the Friends' early initiatives was to counter, with propaganda, a Jewish boycott of businesses in the heavily German neighborhood of Yorkville.

In an internal battle for control of the Friends,[10][11] Spanknöbel was ousted as leader and subsequently ordered to be deported in October 1933 because he had failed to register as a foreign agent.[6] At the same time, Congressman Samuel Dickstein's investigation concluded that the Friends represented a branch of German dictator Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party in America.[12] After a U. S. Federal arrest warrant was issued, Spanknöbel boarded the S.S. Europa ocean liner bound for Bremen on 29 October.[13][2]

Back in Germany, Spanknöbel reportedly became a director of the Propaganda School for Germans Living Abroad.[14] In 1942, a company called Vereinigte Leder- und Lederwarenfabriken Heinz Spanknöbel & Co. [United Leather and leather goods factories Heinz Spanknöbel & Co.] was founded in Hohenbruck near Königgrätz in then Sudetenland.[1]


After the occupation by the Soviet military, Spanknöbel was arrested on 4 October 1945 in Dresden by the NKVD secret police. He was held in captivity in the NKVD Special Camp No. 1 near Mühlberg, Brandenburg, where he died of starvation on 10 March 1947.[1][15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Leonhardt, Heike; Steinhoff, Uwe (12 May 2013). "Heinz Spanknöbel" (PDF) (in German). Retrieved 11 Nov 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Bernstein, Arnie (2013). Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund. St. Martin's Press. pp. 24–28. ISBN 1250036445.
  3. ^ "Heinz Spanknoebel No Desperado, Only Ridiculous German". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 29 October 1933. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  4. ^ Zalampas, Michael (1989). Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich in American Magazines, 1923-1939. Popular Press. pp. 42–43. ISBN 9780879724627. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  5. ^ Wallace, Max (2003). The American Axis: Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and the Rise of the Third Reich. New York City: St. Martin's Press. p. 133. ISBN 0-312-29022-5. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d Bredemus, Jim. "American Bund: The Failure of American Nazism: The German-American Bund's Attempt to Create an American 'Fifth Column'". TRACES. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  7. ^ Kaplan, Jeffrey (2000). "Adolph Hitler". Encyclopedia of White Power: A Sourcebook on the Radical Racist Right. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 131. ISBN 9780742503403. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  8. ^ Arbuckle, Alex Q. "When Nazis held mass rallies in Madison Square Garden". Mashable. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  9. ^ MacDonnell, Francis (1995). Insidious Foes: The Axis Fifth Column and the American Home Front. Oxford University Press. pp. 42–43. ISBN 9780195357752.
  10. ^ Diamond, Sander A. (1974). The Nazi Movement in the United States, 1924-1941. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell U.P. pp. 113–123. ISBN 0801407885.
  11. ^ Johnson, Ronald Wayne (1967). The German-American Bund, 1924-1941. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin. pp. 6–10.
  12. ^ Shaffer, Ryan (Spring 2010). "Long Island Nazis: A Local Synthesis of Transnational Politics". Long Island History Journal. 21 (2). ISSN 0898-7084. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  13. ^ "Foreign News: Fomenter Ousted". Time. 6 November 1933. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  14. ^ "United States v. Bregler, et al. —Decision". www.uniset.ca. District Court, New York. 16 June 1944. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  15. ^ "Freed American Gets a Passport; Says Brother, Ex-Nazi Here, Died; Noble Asserts Heinz Spanknoebel, Who Was Indicted by U. S., Succumbed to Illness While in Camp in East Germany". The New York Times. 22 August 1952. Retrieved 12 December 2017.