Tiny NY Community With Nazi Roots Hit With Big Change
Enclave in Yaphank must now allow non-Germans to buy houses there
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 22, 2017 10:12 AM CDT
This May 18, 2017, photo shows one of 40 homes in a community run by the German American Settlement League in Yaphank, NY.   (Frank Eltman)
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(Newser) – An enclave of former summer bungalows, where Nazi sympathizers once marched near streets named for Adolf Hitler, is being forced to open ownership to people of non-German descent. The German American Settlement League, which once welcomed tens of thousands in the 1930s to pro-Nazi marches on eastern Long Island, has settled an anti-discrimination case brought by New York state and will change leadership and adhere to all state and federal housing laws. Many residents disputed their community discriminates, reports the AP. "There's a mixed bag; it's not like it was," says Fred Stern, a GASL board member and 40-year resident of the tiny community of 40 homes in Yaphank, who concedes it was once dominated by those of German descent. "If you went to every house and asked people's nationality, it wouldn't be any different than any other neighborhood."

News accounts recall a groundswell of Nazism in the enclave in the years before World War II. Camp Siegfried, where the homes stand today, was sponsored by the German-American Bund to promote Hitler. Swastikas were commonplace, says a Hofstra University archivist. "Some of the photos I have seen are kind of amazing." New York AG Eric Schneiderman said a 2016 federal lawsuit brought by two former residents, who claimed GASL policies hindered their attempt to sell, called for an end to discriminatory practices. Despite that, Schneiderman found the league "continued to make new membership and property re-sale within the GASL community unreasonably difficult." Investigators found the league prohibited public ads of properties for sale. Stern concedes that much turnover through the years was by word of mouth because "everybody knew when a house would become available."

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