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The time Walter Winchell condemned an American Nazi rally


In 1939, 20,000 Nazi sympathizers staged a rally in Madison Square Garden in New York City with Nazi imagery displayed next to a portrait of George Washington. Walter Winchell couldn’t allow the event to go unnoticed by the American people and condemned it on his national radio program. Later, he criticized aviator Charles Lindbergh and the America First Committee for it’s blatant antisemitism.

(typewriter clicking) (somber music) - The Ratzis are going to celebrate George Washington's birthday at Madison Square Garden, claiming G.W. to be the nation's first Fritz Kuhn.

- [Whoopi] In 1939, 20,000 Nazi sympathizers stage a rally at Madison Square Garden.

- The symbols of America and the symbols of Nazism sit side by side, so you get a large banner behind the podium of George Washington, (drums tapping) flanked by swastika flags and American flags.

- [Whoopi] Winchell cannot allow the event to go unnoticed by the American people.

- The Jewish Moscow-directed domination.

- In every corner of the land, America was nauseated.

The American press unanimously condemned it as the vilest sacrilege ever perpetrated in the name of American freedom.

(crowd roaring and chanting) - [Whoopi] As Hitler's forces occupy Paris and threaten to invade Britain, public sentiment in America remains strongly against intervening.

The America First Committee, founded as a student antiwar movement, takes a dark turn when Charles Lindbergh becomes its spokesman.

While most of the country reveres the heroic aviator, when Lindbergh praises Germany and is given a medal by the Nazis, Winchell is quick to go on the attack.

- [Walter] Lindbergh made a speech in Des Moines Thursday night, an unmistakable appeal to antisemitism.

- [Charles] We cannot allow the natural passions and prejudices.

- Lindbergh asks his audience, who's leading us to war?

It's the Jews.

- [Charles] The British, the Jewish, or the administration.

- And then he slips into some of the worst antisemitic tropes, and why are we getting this message to go to war?

Where are we getting it from?

Well, we're getting it from the media, and don't the Jews control the media?

What he's saying, Jews aren't Americans.

Our government, our press, the Jews are not part of our.

(crowd chanting) (explosion booming) - [Whoopi] In December, 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor puts an end to all debate about intervention.

Windchill feels vindicated.

(air raid sirens wailing) (telegraph clicking) - [Walter] The importance of the Japanese attack is that war between the U.S. and Hitler is imminent.

This will mobilize the efforts of the whole American people.

(plane engines roaring) (somber music)