Monday, October 19, 2015

Arnie Bernstein

Arnie Bernstein is the author of Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund.

From his Q & A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: Why did you decide to write this book, and how did you research it?

A: Like all good stories, this one started at the movies. In 2009 I went to see Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. For your readers who aren’t familiar with the story, it’s a WWII revenge tale about a group of Jewish American soldiers who are parachuted into Nazi-occupied France, then go terrorizing the countryside killing the enemy.

After hooting and hollering and enjoy the movie with the happiest ending ever (people who’ve seen the movie know what I mean!), I got curious about what the real stories were of Jews who fought back during the Hitler era.

There were lots of good stories out there, and it made for interesting reading. I kept coming across the stories of the German-American Bund, their leader Fritz Kuhn, and the many disparate groups that fought the Bund in the streets and in the courts.

The people involved were incredible larger than life figures: New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, his right hand man Thomas Dewey (then a prosecutor), Walter Winchell, members of HUAC [the House Un-American Activities Committee], and the biggest names of the Jewish underworld.

The stories existed in little bits and pieces in various histories and a few academic studies, but there was no book devoted to telling this story fully.

This was one of those moments in history that seemed to have fallen between the cracks and was forgotten. But it was so rich and so full of fascinating...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Arnie Bernstein's website.

Writers Read: Arnie Bernstein.

--Marshal Zeringue