Do these photos show a 1939 Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden?


Photos circulating online in February 2020 show a Nazi rally that took place in Madison Square Garden in 1939.


Mostly true

What’s true

Photographs document a Nazi rally that took place in Madison Square Garden in 1939.

What is wrong

The viral photos in question were not all taken at the same rally. They actually depict various Nazi rallies, some of which took place in Madison Square Garden in the 1930s.

In February 2020, photos purporting to show a Nazi rally taking place in Madison Square Garden in the late 1930s circulated on social media:


On February 20, 1939, the pro-Nazi organization German American Bund, or German American Federation, held a rally in Madison Square Garden in New York City. Billed as a “pro-America rally,” this rally featured swastikas, Hitler salutes, and a 30-foot-tall portrait of US President George Washington.

Here’s how described the rally:

Six and a half months before Adolf Hitler invaded Poland, Madison Square Garden in New York City held a rally to celebrate the rise of Nazism in Germany. Inside, more than 20,000 attendees gave Nazi salutes to a 30-foot-tall portrait of George Washington flanked by swastikas. Police and around 100,000 demonstrators gathered outside.

The organization behind the February 20, 1939 event, advertised on the arena marquee as a “Pro American Rally,” was the Deutsch-Amerinische Bund (“Bund” is German for “Federation”). The anti-Semitic organization held National Socialist summer camps for young people and their families in the 1930s. Bund youth were in attendance that evening, as were the Sicherheitsdienst or OD, the group’s vigilante group, who dressed in the style of Hitler’s SS officers.

Banners at the rally had messages such as “Stop Jewish Supremacy of Christian Americans” and “Wake Up America.” Smash Jewish Communism”. When federal national chairman Fritz Kuhn delivered his closing address, he referred to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as “Rosenfield” and Manhattan District Attorney Thomas Dewey as “Thomas Jewey.”

Contemporary news articles noted that around 20,000 people attended this rally, while nearly 100,000 “anti-Nazis”, made up of protesters, theatergoers and passers-by, gathered outside the arena. The day after the rally, The Associated Press reported that about a dozen protesters were arrested after scuffles with police. Newspaper columnist Dorothy Thompson was nearly thrown from the rally after shouting “nonsense” during a pro-Nazi speech.


Tue, 02/21/1939 – page 1 The Simple Speaker (Hazleton, Pennsylvania)

The 1939 Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden was also featured in an Oscar-nominated 2017 documentary called A Night At the Garden.

While the images displayed at the top of this page are often shared as if they were from a single Nazi rally in 1939, several Nazi rallies actually took place at the famous arena during the 1930s. The photo Captured at a rally in 1938 showing the Nazi flag surrounded by American flags. We found one too photo which showed a group of children giving the Hitler salute on the stage in the garden in 1936. The image below shows another rally of 20,000 people organized by the League of Friends of New Germany, the American pro-Nazi organization that preceded the German American Bund, at Madison Square Garden in 1934:


Getty Images

It should be noted that these Nazi rallies did not take place in the currently standing Madison Square Garden in 2020, but in the old building referred to as MSG III, which was built and erected in 1925 destroyed In the 1960s. Do these photos show a 1939 Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden?

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