German Gardens Map-Yaphank Long Island-Town of Brookhaven-Adolf Hitler Street-Goering-Goebbels-Nazi-German American Bund-Settlement League Town Camp Seigfeld-001

From the German Gardens street plan in Yaphank, Long Island, approved by the Town of Brookhaven in 1936

The United States of the 1930s, as World War II loomed ahead, was a prolific era for radical movements. The third Madison Square Garden was packed to the gills for an anti-Nazi rally in 1937 and a pro-Nazi rally in 1939. But the latter was really the pinnacle of a more entrenched pro-Hitler community in the United States. One planned community in Yaphank, Long Island replete with an indoctrination camp amidst streets named after Hitler, Goering, and Goebbels, serves as a prime example of how the German-American Bund and German Settlement League managed to put forth a message in which American democracy and fascism could co-exist, something that Ryan Schaffer of the Department of History at Stony Brook University explores in an article for the Long Island History Journal. A special Long Island Railroad train, the “Camp Siegfried Special” even ran at 8am from Penn Station to Yaphank to bring guests to the site.

Camp Siegfried Long Island Railroad LIRR Special Train-Yaphank-Penn Station-NYCLong Island Railroad greeted by Bundists at Yaphank giving the Nazi salute, via Marvin Miller’s Wunderlich’s Salute

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Close up of German Gardens Street Plan with Adolf Hitler Street, Goebbels Street and Goering Street

As Shaffer writes, “support for Nazi Germany in the United States was a unique blend of German and American ideology rather than just a foreign import.” That being said, American patriotism was limited. To be a member of the German-American Bund, one had to be “Aryan,” with a mission of uniting “similar” people. Indeed, brochures for Camp Seigfried promised: “You will meet people who think like you.”

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There was a special focus on local development of the German-American Bund, seen as a key strategy in not only the evolution of the German community in the United States, but also of the country as a whole. According to Shaffer, the 1937 issue of the Bund’s Fighting Germanness opened with an excerpt from Colin Ross’ Our America “which claims that those with German blood will lead the United States into a new era.”

In 1995, the Suffolk County legislators attempted to pass a resolution to erase such pro-Nazi history, specifically “for the removal of pro-Nazi references on subdivision records.” The state declined to pass the resolution, which is why today we have access to the original, signed and approved street plans for the community of “German Gardens” in Yaphank. We recently took a trip out to the community, part of which became incorporated into the town of Yaphank after the war, and a part that remains part of the German American Settlement League.

German Gardens Map-Yaphank Long Island-Town of Brookhaven-Adolf Hitler Street-Goering-Goebbels-Nazi-German American Bund-Settlement League Town Camp Seigfeld-003Zoomed details of the 1936 German Gardens community street map

Many of the most offensive street names (Hitler, Goering and Goebbels) were renamed to innocuous ones. Adolf Hitler Street became Park Street, Goering became Oak Street and Goebbels turned into Northside Avenue. But many other things have stayed the same. The neighborhood is still called German Gardens, even though it is no longer a private community. One of the main thoroughfares is still called German Boulevard. Many German street names were not changed, like Bohle Road (in a neighboring community) which is the last name of a convicted Nazi leader. Whether it was originally named after that particular Bohle or not, we have not been able to confirm yet.

German Gardens-Nazi Town Yaphank-Adolf Hilter Street-Goebbels-Goering-Camp Siegfeld-Long Island-NY-020Former intersection of Adolf Hitler Street and Goering Street

German Gardens-Nazi Town Yaphank-Adolf Hilter Street-Goebbels-Goering-Camp Siegfeld-Long Island-NY-011Former intersection of Goebbels Street and German Boulevard

German Gardens-Nazi Town Yaphank-Adolf Hilter Street-Goebbels-Goering-Camp Siegfeld-Long Island-NY-035Intersection of Bohle Street and Landsberger Street

At the same time, Berliner, Hindenburg, Hamberger and Westfalen Streets have also been replaced. Berliner is now Center Garden, Westfalen became Martin Street, and Hindenburg became Broad Street. And while Lindemann was the captain of the Nazi battleship Bismarck, it appears that Lindeman Court (incorrect as Linderman Court on Google Maps) is actually named after Mary Lindeman who owned land there. All in all, today there’s just something bizarre about describing to someone, “So here we are at what would have been the intersection of Hitler and Goebbels.”

German Gardens Today-Yaphank NY Nazi Neighborhood Google MapsGoogle Maps aerial view of German Gardens today, with renamed streets. The northern end of the Camp Siegfried parade ground is shown at the bottom of the image.

A current resident who rents a home there tells Untapped Cities, “Years ago, these houses were not offered for sale to anyone who wasn’t German. I happened to play volleyball for a German sports club, and so, a door opened for me. German Gardens houses have individual deeds, and are a simple subdivision. The German American Settlement League is…a co-op– it simply means that there is only one deed for all of the houses…I am told that at one time, both Camp Siegfried and German Gardens were commercial flower plantations.”

German Gardens-Nazi Town Yaphank-Adolf Hilter Street-Goebbels-Goering-Camp Siegfeld-Long Island-NY-008

Next door Camp Siegfried borders a lake and access to the great outdoors was a key part of the activities, including rifle training as an affiliate of the National Rifle Association (NRA). Shaffer writes, “the camp was used for Bundist youth to learn about camping, hunting, shooting, and even eugenics. For the adults and locals, it was a place where politics and local events were discussed at the camp’s bar. Perhaps, most importantly the camp served for the celebration and dissemination of ideology.” The youth were even taken on trips to Germany, including a visit to the 1936 Olympics where German-American Bund leader Fritz Kuhn met Hitler.

Nazi Sign-Camp Siegfeld-Yaphank-Long Island-Nazi-NYImage via New York City Department of Records

Nazi Sign-Camp Siegfeld-Yaphank-Long Island-Nazi-NY-HouseImage via New York City Department of Records

The social aspect, compounded by the Bund selling alcohol in its camps, were observed by locals in Yaphank, where observed that the members of the community “appear[ed] to consume great quantities of beer and do a lot of marching in uniforms.” There were also comments about the propriety, noting that the men and women were wearing shorts (which seems funny today) and “abbreviated bathing suits on highways, trespassing on private property, stealing flowers and growing produce.” As war neared in Europe, the FBI started taking notice of the organization, noting in a letter that the camp in Yaphank contained 150 to 300 children who “used to wear a uniform like that of the Hitler Youth in Germany.” It should be noted that the German-American Bund also had numerous previous names, including “Friends of the Hitler Movement” and “Friends of the New Germany.”

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The German-American Bund lost control of the Camp Siegfried property to the German-American Settlement league, which still runs it today. Though the parade ground is now a park, it remains devoid of any landscaping or typical park furniture. It’s easy to imagine that military demonstrations once took place there.

German Gardens-Nazi Town Yaphank-Adolf Hilter Street-Goebbels-Goering-Camp Siegfeld-Long Island-NY-060Former parade ground with clubhouse in background

A clubhouse still exists but it looks architecturally different from the historic images. An American flag and a German flag hang from a flagpole, in contrast to the Swastika flag that used to adorn the front façade of the former clubhouse. A small bus stop sits curiously at the one end of the park. The street names in Camp Siegfried are Schiller Court, probably for the German philosopher, and Bach Court after the composer.

German Gardens-Nazi Town Yaphank-Adolf Hilter Street-Goebbels-Goering-Camp Siegfeld-Long Island-NY-044Current clubhouse with American and German flags on flagpole

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Today, Camp Seigfried remains a private community with a sign reading “German American Settlement League” clearly denoting the entrance. Most of the homes in both the current settlement and the area incorporated into the town of Yaphank have a 1930s and 1940s beach bungalow feel. The race restriction at the German American Settlement League remained in place until January 2016, when Federal Judge Joan Azrack, settling a lawsuit, approved an agreement that included the reformation of the German American Settlement League’s bylaws to make the residential community open to the public in compliance with federal, state and local fair housing laws.

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Camp Seigfried has recently returned back to the spotlight with the release of period photographs recently digitized and released by the New York City Department of Records. The town plans, though written about briefly by Ryan Schaffer in 2010, have not been corroborated with the present-street layout, which we attempted to do here.

The historical town center of Yaphank also has an amazing mid-century Shell gas station, kept as a relic of a former era.

Next, read about the film locations in Man in the High Castle, an Amazon show that reimagines the Untied States under Nazi and Japanese rule, as well as the real life Long Island locations featured in the AMC show Turn about the first spy ring in America. Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.


  1. James Demestihas says:

    very interesting chapter in US history…dont erase

  2. Ron says:

    I wonder how many of these people were interned during WWII?

    I had a friend, now gone, who had his dad snatched by the FBI in Milwaukee on Dec 9-10, 1941 for being a German citizen. The family had been in the US since 1924 but never applied for US citizenship. My friend was born in the US, but was not drafted into the army because of extremely poor eyesight. So he and his mom plus an older brother born in Germany were sent to Crystal City, Texas in 1944 where they rejoined their dad. This family and other German, Japanese & Italian families were intended to be used as trade bait for Allied prisoners of war held in Axis camps. The US even got Latin American countries to send them more people of German, Japanese and Italian ancestry to add to the trade pool. And these people from Latin America only spoke Spanish.

    My friend had two younger brothers born in the US and were citizens, that served in the Merchant Marine during the war. One of the brothers later was in the Air Force during the Korean War.

    For more info read the recent book “The Train to Crystal City.”

    • michelle young says:

      Thank you for sharing Ron. The internment of US citizens (and long time residents) during WWII is a dark part of the country’s history, and one that needs to be remembered.

  3. Robert Alloo says:

    My family was out of Germany maybe 10 years when they heard about this place out east that had German cultural events, s one Saturday they packed into my Grandpa’s Dodges (he had about 20 of ‘em!), and headed East from Ridgewood.

    They got out there and saw what was going on and heard what was being said and He said “This is trouble! Let’s go home!”. He wasn’t the nicest man, nor always the wisest, but he got it right that day.

    We aren’t all Nazis. We are the single largest immigrant group in the United States (look it up!) and have made huge contributions in culture, labor, sweat and blood. Generally speaking we live quietly, we work hard, we are good neighbors and citizens.

    We are just as entitled as any group to enjoy and preserve our culture.

  4. anonymous says:

    I am German-American and proud of it. My family fought for the US in World War II. The people who live in Siegfried Park today have nothing at all to be ashamed of. I used to live nearby although not in SiegFried Park, and I can assure you that there’s not much going on there these days.

  5. anonymous says:

    Train To Camp Siegfried:

    And to think, if only the Germans has won WWII, Yaphank would have become the cultural
    administrative center of the 4th Reich, United States.
    (Perhaps in a parallel universe it already has?)
    Today, however, its just a sleepy little hollow minding its own business with a few elder commune members, no doubt, still contemplating, ”what if…………….?”

  6. Bill says:

    No more name changes merited! Offensive names changed, Nazis long gone. Why flog a dead horse? Current names relate to german background, culture. But insisting on german ancestry to live there discriminates, may be illegal, and creates “definition” problems similar to Native Americans: does 1/8, 1/16, or 1/64 “qualify” you? Philadelphia’s Germantown is no longer “german”! Ethnicity not required to stage an Oktoberfest or Cinco de Mayo!

  7. Robert Aloo says:

    If they were anything but Germans we would be obligated to “celebrate and preserve their culture”.

    -more power to them!

  8. Ivan says:


    • Ron Kinsella says:

      Americans of German descent did go to war against Nazi Germany, some coming from Yaphank NY

  9. kris says:

    What saddens me is that this article focuses on this area as being a Nazi camp. Thats far from what it was. It was a placed where German Americans summered. It was not build to support Hitler’s ideas. Unfortunately, many of the people there were lied to and manipulated. Just like many of the Germans in Germany itself. It was a terrible time for sure. However, I don’t think this place should be condemned or renamed.

    • michelle young says:

      While it is entirely possible the attendees of the camp may have been lied to/manipulated (many who were quite young) there is clear evidence that the German American Bund, who ran this camp, was exclusionary in nature, deliberately specifying that only Aryans could be part of their organization. There is also significant evidence that the local chapters were formed deliberately for promoting a particular blend of fascism that was not contradictory to American patriotism at this time––this is explored fully in Ryan Schaffer’s research: https://lihj.cc.stonybrook.edu/2010/articles/long-island-nazis-a-local-synthesis-of-transnational-politics/

      I completely agree this place should not be renamed, and should be highlighted as an important part of American history that should not be erased, but we should also be cognizant of what the larger organization of the German American Bund had in mind for this place, and its other local chapters––regardless of what the participants perceived it as.

  10. Colin says:

    Interesting article. Would love to have been around in the 1930s to experience the place then, it must have been fascinating.

  11. John says:

    I agree with anonymous that this was and is an historical fact of how Yaphank and “German Gardens” came to be. Communities came about through groups usually from a common nationalities located in the united states that made it what it is. Racism sadly still exists and really does not with those who are educated but to erase history would only increase ignorance.

  12. Jeannie says:

    I think Suffolk should try again. In this day we should not have something like this around. To many people with racist ideas might think this a cool thing to have.

  13. anonymous says:

    It seems as if you’re trying to create a little dissension where there is nothing but a sleepy, little community. True, there was an embarrassing past nearly a century ago, however none of that remains. We are just like any other town but with the addition of two lovely lakes and a great restaurant, The Mill House Inn. And by the way, the “small bus stop (that) sits curiously at one end of the park” was built only a few decades ago for our kids to wait in for their school bus. Like most people on Long Island, we care for our neighbors and their kids, except we go a little farther in showing that we do with things like that bus stop and the yearly breakfast with Santa that we host.

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