Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Silver Shirts Haven't Completely Disappeared

newyorker  |  Los Angeles’s Nazis and Fascists, some of whom were taking orders directly from Hitler and Goebbels, were preparing for what they saw as an inevitable Nazi take-over of the United States. Anticipating that day, Norman and Winona Stephens bought a fifty-acre piece of land above the Pacific Palisades, and started to build a fortress that would serve as Hitler’s West Coast White House, halfway between Tokyo and Berlin. “This was going to be the equivalent of San Clemente for Nixon, or Mar-a-Lago, only more convenient,” Ross said.

Another day, Ross hiked up a fire road leading toward the Nazi ruins. He found a gap in the fence, and began to descend a steep concrete staircase. “This is a lo-o-o-ng trip down,” he said.

Inside the compound, Ross led the way to a dazzling spray-painted building, the remains of a powerhouse. Catching sight of a “Fuck Trump” tag, he said, “Quite the opposite of Nazis!” The Stephenses, who spent some seventy million dollars in today’s money on the project, installed, in addition to generators, a huge water tank, a diesel fuel tank, and a meat locker, and erected a stable. Plans included meeting rooms, twenty-two bedrooms, and a pool: a luxurious and private place for Nazis to make war plans. “They were going to have a totally self-sustaining compound,” Ross said. Lewis’s spies warned him that there were Nazis in the hills, coaching sympathizers in marksmanship, urban warfare, and hand-to-hand combat. (Members of a clandestine Storm Trooper unit insisted that their militia-training exercises were a Sportabteilung, a club devoted to hiking and drilling for parades.)

“Hitler was hoping first to conquer more of Europe, and then turn his eyes to America,” Ross said. “If Japan had not bombed Pearl Harbor, we would have remained neutral a lot longer. The thinking was, by the time America woke up it would have been too late.”