4. A Nazi Rally was Held Inside

Screenshot of historical footage from Michael Curry’s short documentary Night at the Garden

The Garden has hosted many positive and historic events such as the 12-12-12 benefit concert for Hurricane Sandy and George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh. However, there are some dark spots in its repertoire. In 1939, inside the third iteration of Madison Square Garden on 8th Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets, there was a Nazi rally hosted by the German American Bund. The rally was the subject of a short documentary by filmmaker Marshall Curry, which featured historic footage from inside.

Twenty thousand Nazi supporters filled the arena to hear from German American Bund leader Fritz Julius Kuhn as he stood in front of a giant portrait of George Washington. The German American Bund was founded in 1936 by pro-Nazi ethnic Germans living in the United States. The organization ran several summer camps for Nazi youth throughout the United States and Camp Siegfried, a pro-Nazi planned community in Yaphank, Long Island, with streets named after Hitler, Goering, and Goebbels. New Yorkers who opposed the rally protested outside and held a counter rally at Carnegie Hall. The Nazi rally was an anomaly in the usual programming since throughout the 1930s, Madison Square Garden hosted many anti-Nazi rallies attended by public officials and religious leaders.