Nazi-founded enclave in NY, agree to change policies

YAPHANK, N. Y. – An enclave of the former summer bungalows, where the Nazi sympathizers once proudly marched in the neighborhood of streets named after Adolf Hitler and other Third Reich figures, will be forced to policies that limited the property for people of German descent.

The German-American Settlement League, which once welcomed tens of thousands in the 1930’s to pro-Nazi marches on Camp Siegfried in the east of Long Island, has an anti-discrimination case brought by the State of New York. The scheme requires a change in the league’s leadership and the compliance of all state and federal housing laws.

Many residents in the small community of about 40 homes that is a small part of the rural hamlet of Yaphank refused to speak on the record, but those who disputed their community is permeated by discrimination.

“There is a mixed bag; it is not like it was,” said Fred Stern, a member of the league’s board of directors and a 40-year-old resident, who gave the community was once predominantly inhabited by people of German descent. “It is not that everything they say. If you went from house to house and asked the people of the nationality, it could not be otherwise than a other quarter.”

Kaitlyn Webber told a television interviewer that her “family has always been very open. We have never had any problems with anyone to discriminate against anyone here.”

The houses, that extend to a narrow street called “Own Way” and are surrounded by large, green ballfield along Schiller Court, are a combination of small bungalows and larger suburban-type ranches. Lawns are meticulously landscaped and mailboxes — many German surnames — sit street-side in the curbless enclave.

News accounts of the calls of a tide of Nazism in the enclave in the years before the start of World War II. Camp Siegfried, where the houses stand today, was sponsored by the German-American Bund to promote Hitler, even though many at the time that greedy expressed loyalty to the United States.

Trains of New York City’s Penn Station were often crammed with people who traveled 60 miles east to Yaphank. A New York Times story from August 1938 reported 40,000 people had participated in the annual German Day festivities in the Camp Siegfried.

Swastikas were commonplace, including in some of the houses in the enclave at the time, said Geri Solomon, archivist at Hofstra University. “Some of the photos I’ve seen are great,” Solomon said.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, said a 2016 settlement of a federal lawsuit filed by two former residents, who claimed that The German-American Settlement League policy hindered in their attempts to sell their houses, called for an end to discriminatory practices. That settlement paid to the former residents, who eventually sell and moved out of state, $ 175,000.

Despite that agreement, Schneiderman found in the league “went through with the making of new members, and property re-sale within the GASL community is unreasonably difficult.”

The league is the owner of the land on which the houses are located and leases the property for homeowners, Schneiderman said. The researchers found that the league prohibited a public advertisement of the properties for sale. The members want the sale of their homes could only announce a listing in person at meetings or through internal flyers, and minutes of the meeting spread among the existing membership.

Stern, the league’s board of directors, admitted that much of the real estate sales through the years had taken place by word of mouth. There was no need to advertise a sale, he said, because “everybody knew when a house would become available.” He blamed the complaints by the couple who brought the federal lawsuit on sour grapes, because she had asked too much money for their house and that was the reason why it is not in the first instance to sell.

Stern said homes in the community range in price from about $95,000 for a small bungalow for $ 300,000 or more.

A lawyer for the couple involved, in 2016, the scheme declined to comment on the attorney-general of the announcement.

Schneiderman’s settlement with the league calls for the immediate replacement of the organization, and required to regularly report compliance.

A lawyer that the league did not return e-mails seeking comment.

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