Nazism, anti-semitism, and their anti-communist hateful and fearful rhetoric are aimed to stir true believers against those who oppose them. Rachel Maddow’s podcast, Ultra, is about Nazism in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. She based her podcast on the scholarly work of a Jesuit historian Professor Charles R. Gallagher, and his award-winning book, Nazis Of Copley Square: The Forgotten History Of The Christian Front. I was fascinated to learn more and discovered that he teaches at nearby Boston College. So we met for lunch, and he kindly consented to this fascinating interview. 

The Nazi Party, led by Adolf Hitler, rose to power in Germany in the early 1930s. The party’s ideology, which included elements of fascism, nationalism, and anti-Semitism, led to the persecution and murder of millions of Jews and other marginalized groups during World War II. The Nazis sent agents like Charles Scholtz to Boston to recruit and radicalize Americans. These agents wanted to prevent the United States from coming to the defense of the United Kingdom and other European countries. The Nazis did not want America to help Jews who were persecuted and exterminated. 

Father Charles Coughlin was a Roman Catholic priest and radio personality who was influential in the United States during the 1930s. He praised Hitler’s efforts to combat communism and advocated for a similar approach in the United States. Coughlin also used his radio broadcasts to spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and to attack Jewish people and Jewish-owned businesses. Coughlin also supported fascist regimes in Europe. Coughlin was a vocal supporter of the Christian Front, and he had over 30 million listeners, and that was at a time when there were 150 million Americans. 

Coughlin’s influence and popularity began to decline in the late 1930s as the public became more aware of the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. However, he continued to spread extremist views and call for the overthrow of the government. In the 1940s, Coughlin and some of his followers began to plot a violent coup to overthrow the United States government and establish a fascist regime. 

The FBI became aware of the plans and began to investigate Coughlin and his followers. However, the investigation was halted by the outbreak of World War II. Coughlin’s radio program was eventually taken off the air, and his influence waned. 

Coughlin’s plans for a violent coup and his support for fascist regimes in Europe serve as a reminder of the dangers of extremist views and the need to be vigilant against those who seek to overthrow our democratic government. It is important to remember the lessons of history and to speak out against any attempts to revive fascist ideologies in the present and future. 

The Christian Front was heavily involved in anti-Semitic activities, including distributing literature that portrayed Jews as a threat to American society and promoting boycotts of Jewish-owned businesses. The group also organized rallies and marches to protest Jewish influence in the government and media. 

Despite its anti-Semitic activities, the Christian Front was able to gain support from some prominent Catholic leaders in the United States. However, the group’s activities soon came under scrutiny from the FBI, which labeled the organization as a “subversive” group. In 1940, several members of the Christian Front were arrested and charged with conspiracy to overthrow the government. 

The Christian Front’s activities and its ties to fascist groups in Europe drew widespread condemnation from the Catholic Church and other religious organizations. The group’s leaders were excommunicated by the Catholic Church, and many of its members left the organization. The Christian Front’s influence waned in the United States after the arrests and subsequent trials of its leaders. However, the group’s activities served as a reminder of the dangers of fascist ideology and the need to be vigilant against the rise of extremist groups

The Nazi regime and its atrocities during World War II are a sobering reminder of the dangers of fascist ideology and the importance of standing up against hate and discrimination. The Christian Front’s activities in the United States also remind us of the need to be vigilant against extremist groups and ideologies, even in times of peace. We must continue to educate ourselves about the past and remain vigilant against any attempts to revive fascist ideologies in the present and future. 


Rachel Maddow’s podcast, ULTRA

Review: The Nazis of Copley Square: The Forgotten Story of the Christian Front by John D. Woodward Jr. 

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