Hitler in Los Angeles
The chilling, little-known story of the rise of Nazism in Los Angeles, and the Jewish leaders and spies they recruited who stopped it.No American city was more important to the Nazis than Los Angeles, home to Hollywood, the greatest propaganda machine in the world. The Nazis plotted to kill the city's Jews and to sabotage the nation's military installations: plans existed for hanging twenty prominent Hollywood figures such as Al Jolson, Charlie Chaplin, and Samuel Goldwyn; for driving through Boyle Heights and machine-gunning as many Jews as possible; and for blowing up defense installations and seizing munitions from National Guard armories along the Pacific Coast.U.S. law enforcement agencies were not paying close attention--preferring to monitor Reds rather than Nazis--and only Leon Lewis and his daring ring of spies stood in the way. From 1933 until the end of World War II, attorney Leon Lewis, the man Nazis would come to call "the most dangerous Jew in Los Angeles," ran a spy operation comprised of military veterans and their wives who infiltrated every Nazi and fascist group in Los Angeles. Often rising to leadership positions, this daring ring of spies uncovered and foiled the Nazi's disturbing plans for death and destruction.Featuring a large cast of Nazis, undercover agents, and colorful supporting players, Hitler in Los Angeles, by acclaimed historian Steven J. Ross, tells the story of Lewis's daring spy network in a time when hate groups had moved from the margins to the mainstream.

Hitler in Los Angeles Details

TitleHitler in Los Angeles
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 24th, 2017
PublisherBloomsbury USA
ISBN-139781620405628
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, War, World War II, Holocaust

Hitler in Los Angeles Review

  • Jon Boorstin
    January 1, 1970
    Before WWII, before Hitler was seen as our enemy, winning over Los Angeles was vital to his plans for gaining influence in America – it’s port, it’s airplane factories, and most of all Hollywood, megaphone to the world. Anti-semitism was a fact of life here, embraced by many, and the Nazis were trying to exploit it as a path to power, as they did so effectively in Germany. The FBI wasn’t interested, already obsessed with hunting Communists, and the LAPD had strong fascist sympathies. Who would s Before WWII, before Hitler was seen as our enemy, winning over Los Angeles was vital to his plans for gaining influence in America – it’s port, it’s airplane factories, and most of all Hollywood, megaphone to the world. Anti-semitism was a fact of life here, embraced by many, and the Nazis were trying to exploit it as a path to power, as they did so effectively in Germany. The FBI wasn’t interested, already obsessed with hunting Communists, and the LAPD had strong fascist sympathies. Who would stop them, or even slow them down? Well, a group of Jews, funded by Hollywood moguls. Steve Ross has dug deep and told the story well, concentrating on the Jewish leader who inflitrated Nazi organisations with Christian secret agents, and the German Consul his principal antagonist, a patriot who was appallingly effective at containing the movie industry, but detested his Nazis bosses. A remarkable story, with much resonance in the era of Trump.
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  • Shae McDaniel
    January 1, 1970
    Sorry, I need to just sit and stare at a wall in unblinking horror for the next few hours. Holy crow. Mr. Ross does an incredible job of detailing just how close we came on multiple occasions to utter disaster only to be saved by the dogged persistence of an amateur spy ring run by a Jewish lawyer. Leon Lewis and his crew are heroes, full stop.
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  • Samantha
    January 1, 1970
    Note: I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!I wanted to like this, I really did. I'm a big history buff, and this particular era of American/world history has always fascinated me. This, however, really sort of let me down. The subject was fascinating, but the execution just didn't really do much for me. It read more like a long, tedious history book a lot of the time and I found myself getting easily distracted by other things. I'm not a quitter, I rare Note: I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!I wanted to like this, I really did. I'm a big history buff, and this particular era of American/world history has always fascinated me. This, however, really sort of let me down. The subject was fascinating, but the execution just didn't really do much for me. It read more like a long, tedious history book a lot of the time and I found myself getting easily distracted by other things. I'm not a quitter, I rarely ever DNF a book, but I came sadly very close with this one. It just dragged, bogged down a lot of jargon and too much to muddle through at times. I found myself sometimes skimming, just wanting to at least make it to the end.History needs to be made engaging, and I was not engaged at all. It was quite a let down.
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  • Kitty
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating and chilling. I had no idea that Nazi operatives were so active in America and LA in particular. Let's all be thankful for brave people like Leon Lewis and his spy ring. I listened to the audio book of this, which I wouldn't particularly recommend. The reader always had a sinister tone, which was sometimes appropriate, sometimes just odd.
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  • Eric
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this book. I love history especially about World War II and the Nazi regime....shocking how close to home this stuff was....but a great read...just a lot of names to keep track of.
  • Natalie L.
    January 1, 1970
    An amazing story. Leon Lewis, the man who planned and implemented the dismantling of the Nazi ring here in the USA, is a true unsung hero.
  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    Not the best writing in the world but the story is fascinating.
  • Marcella Wigg
    January 1, 1970
    American sympathies towards Nazism in the years preceding Pearl Harbor are chronically under-covered in high school history classes, so while I was familiar with the fact that far more Americans had antisemitic attitudes and sympathized with the then-rising German regime in the 1930s, the sheer number of prominent Nazi sympathizers in the Los Angeles area alone is pretty interesting to read about. And despite the Nazi-sympathetic isolationists' claims that Jews were cowardly and unwilling to sta American sympathies towards Nazism in the years preceding Pearl Harbor are chronically under-covered in high school history classes, so while I was familiar with the fact that far more Americans had antisemitic attitudes and sympathized with the then-rising German regime in the 1930s, the sheer number of prominent Nazi sympathizers in the Los Angeles area alone is pretty interesting to read about. And despite the Nazi-sympathetic isolationists' claims that Jews were cowardly and unwilling to stand up in the face of intimidation, in a decade when law enforcement was content to look the other way at fascist tendencies due to the perceived greater threat of communism, American Jews, most prominently Leon Lewis of the Anti-Defamation League, coordinated anti-fascist German-Americans' infiltration of the Silver Shirts and other elements of the fascist underground in Los Angeles. At personal risk, members of his extralegal spy ring tracked the various fronts of the Nazi threat in the U.S. in the 1930s, from private plans to commit genocide against "the Jewish bankers" to the sabotage on the production line of military equipment that might eventually serve the war effort against the Germans.It's also interesting to read about Nazi plans for victory. Since I've never lived in a pre-World War II world, it can be hard to remember sometimes that there was no inevitability to the victors of the war except in hindsight; in the lead-up to the war, many Americans sympathized with Hitler. Meanwhile, Hitler and Goebbels were both not oblivious to the influence of Hollywood film, which made L.A. a particularly strategic target for a place to gather influence. Ross' portrait of Gyssling was also interesting, a reminder of the varieties of opinion of the Third Reich even among its diplomats.One of the things that stood out to me most throughout this book was law enforcement's complicity in continuing to allow virulently and openly anti-Jewish, pro-Nazi hate groups to continue to flourish in Los Angeles because they opposed the "larger foe" of the Soviet Union. Eventually, these attitudes became less permissible to law enforcement, but it's a valuable insight into institutional attitudes in the era and how the institution is not always right, as judged by history.
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  • Donald Luther
    January 1, 1970
    Most who are familiar with American history leading up to World War II know about America First and, possibly, the Silver Shirts. But there is an impression that those groups simply disappeared after Pearl Harbor and that, even during their peak periods, they were fringe groups without much influence and with a small membership. This is a very thorough chronicling of the very large number of Nazi-supported, anti-Semitic organisations that sprouted up in southern California during the 1930s and e Most who are familiar with American history leading up to World War II know about America First and, possibly, the Silver Shirts. But there is an impression that those groups simply disappeared after Pearl Harbor and that, even during their peak periods, they were fringe groups without much influence and with a small membership. This is a very thorough chronicling of the very large number of Nazi-supported, anti-Semitic organisations that sprouted up in southern California during the 1930s and early 40s. And it demonstrates that those organisations were neither on the fringe nor very small.Leon Lewis and Joe Roos are at the center of Ross's story about the private enterprise to ferret out Nazi spies and their efforts to keep the US out of European affairs. Their work was so successful that, after Pearl Harbor, government agencies (the FBI, Immigration, and the War and State Departments, among others) relied upon the information they had gathered to locate German agents on the west coast. Through agents of their own creation, Lewis and Roos collected data on membership, reports on speeches and rallies, and plans (often quite fantastic) for sabotage and even the assassination of important members of Los Angeles' Jewish community. The work done by these agents was dangerous, as the book points out, as there is a strong suspicion that two of these spies within the Nazi community were killed by the subjects of their investigations.The book also makes clear that anti-Nazi, antifascist, and anti-Semitic investigations always held a lower priority to official investigations (state and federal government and FBI) to the search for communists. Some congressional investigations were even led by office-holders who either supported or may have been members of America First. We also see the jealousies that sprouted among the official agencies when it came to publicity and newspaper coverage of their work.The book is comprehensive and well-written, often with surprising information, such as revealing a German government official in Los Angeles who opposed the Nazi regime and who served as a source for some investigations into Nazi espionage.
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  • Evelyn Switzer
    January 1, 1970
    This is a well researched and powerful book.
  • Darlene
    January 1, 1970
    This reads like a thriller, all the more amazing because it’s based on true events. It’s hard to believe that the Nazi threat wasn’t taken seriously in the 1930s, in fact, Hitler had widespread support and the German government could exercise tremendous influence in Hollywood. A handful of Jewish activists, many of whom were WWI veterans, banded together with other veterans and supporters to expose the Nazi threat. Densely packed with facts and figures, it’s a cautionary tale that’s sadly timele This reads like a thriller, all the more amazing because it’s based on true events. It’s hard to believe that the Nazi threat wasn’t taken seriously in the 1930s, in fact, Hitler had widespread support and the German government could exercise tremendous influence in Hollywood. A handful of Jewish activists, many of whom were WWI veterans, banded together with other veterans and supporters to expose the Nazi threat. Densely packed with facts and figures, it’s a cautionary tale that’s sadly timeless as Nazis again get airtime and exposure for their warped cause.
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  • Roger
    January 1, 1970
    Patriot Anti-Nazis in LAAn historical account of the undercover work of anti-nazi patriots in LA to subvert and inform on nazi agents and sympathizers in the Southern California area. Well written, fast-paced, wonderfully narrated, and inspiring.
  • Elise Libnic
    January 1, 1970
    Reads like a spy thriller and exposes a hidden and dark chapter inn the history of Los Angeles. Highly recommend.
  • Joshua Cheifetz
    January 1, 1970
    Very interesting story that I did not know. Glad that I read. However, extremely detailed and reads more like a history textbook than a novel.
  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    “...when a government fails to stem the rise of extremists bent on violence, it is up to every citizen to protect the lives of every American, no matter their race or religion.”This book documents the history of Nazism and anti-Semitism in Los Angeles and beyond. Had Lewis and Roos not acted as they did in coordinating the undercover actions of people determined to show the true goals of the Nazi party in U.S. before and during WWII, the atrocities that occurred in Europe would have been duplica “...when a government fails to stem the rise of extremists bent on violence, it is up to every citizen to protect the lives of every American, no matter their race or religion.”This book documents the history of Nazism and anti-Semitism in Los Angeles and beyond. Had Lewis and Roos not acted as they did in coordinating the undercover actions of people determined to show the true goals of the Nazi party in U.S. before and during WWII, the atrocities that occurred in Europe would have been duplicated here.
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  • C
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting history. It puts into context for me the internment of my German grandfather during WWII. He thought he was a US citizen due to previous US military service, so after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he tried to reenlist. He lived in southern California at the time. He was arrested and then interned for the entire war and was rather bitter about it. Was the dragnet too wide? Hard to say. His whole family thinks he was innocent of Nazi motives, though.
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  • Joan
    January 1, 1970
    Not many books deepen my knowledge of the recent past as did this one. It’s a detailed study of Jewish organizers and German-American undercover agents who worked together to prevent Nazi murder and sabotage in Los Angeles and the West Coast in the years before World War II. They did a lot. In the process, it describes the precursors to today’s white nationalists, without explicitly mentioning present day hate groups.
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  • Travis
    January 1, 1970
    This was really, really good and I highly recommend it. So many parallels to the present day. Also really eye-opening in terms of what was really going on during the years leading up to WWII (and to the US entering the war). The way it was presented in all my history classes was that although the US was late to enter the war, everyone thought what the Nazis were doing was terrible. Since then I've learned of things like the ships of Jewish refugees that the US turned away, but I was unaware of h This was really, really good and I highly recommend it. So many parallels to the present day. Also really eye-opening in terms of what was really going on during the years leading up to WWII (and to the US entering the war). The way it was presented in all my history classes was that although the US was late to enter the war, everyone thought what the Nazis were doing was terrible. Since then I've learned of things like the ships of Jewish refugees that the US turned away, but I was unaware of how anti-semitic the average person was and how many people approved of Hitler and thought the same should be done to Jews in the US.
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  • Christopher Saunders
    January 1, 1970
    Steven J. Ross's Hitler in Los Angeles recounts the efforts of Nazi spies and homegrown fascists to establish a foothold in 1930s California - and the efforts of a small network of Jewish activists to foil them. Other books cover bits and pieces of this story but Ross expertly connects them: from the German-American Bund and the Silver Shirts to German diplomats, pro-Nazi millionaires, movie stars and other con men (Victor McLaglen's crazy brother!), by Ross's account they posed a more serious t Steven J. Ross's Hitler in Los Angeles recounts the efforts of Nazi spies and homegrown fascists to establish a foothold in 1930s California - and the efforts of a small network of Jewish activists to foil them. Other books cover bits and pieces of this story but Ross expertly connects them: from the German-American Bund and the Silver Shirts to German diplomats, pro-Nazi millionaires, movie stars and other con men (Victor McLaglen's crazy brother!), by Ross's account they posed a more serious threat to democracy than most people realize. But Ross spends equal time chronicling the heroism of Leon Lewis, a well-connected Jewish attorney who worked to subvert these organizations, whether by public exposure or internal sabotage. What could easily veer towards sensationalism or overwrought speculation (like Charles Higham's American Swastika, which covers a lot of the same ground) becomes a vivid, chillingly convincing window into a forgotten moment in American history.
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  • Julia ☔️
    January 1, 1970
    Unbelievable. Well documented.
  • Alex
    January 1, 1970
    Should have been right up my alley, but this never got very interesting. Little sense of personalities or stakes in the writing. Surprised it was a Pulitzer finalist.
  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    See my review at http://www.thereportergroup.org/Artic...
  • Earl Adams
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating!
  • CS
    January 1, 1970
    This meticulously-researched book reveals a chapter of American history that seems impossible to be true, yet it is. It's a fascinating story that should be read.
  • Michelle Kidwell
    January 1, 1970
    Hitler in Los AngelesHow Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and Americaby Steven J. RossBloomsbury USAHistory , Nonfiction (Adult)Pub Date 24 Oct 2017I am reviewing a copy of Hitler in Los Angeles through Bloomsbury USA, and Netgalley:This book shows us that many American Jews did rise greatly oppose Hitler, but they could not agree on the best path of resistance. Many saw New York as the Jewish capital of America but. Joeseph Goebells though no citywas more dangerous to the twisted views Hitler in Los AngelesHow Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and Americaby Steven J. RossBloomsbury USAHistory , Nonfiction (Adult)Pub Date 24 Oct 2017I am reviewing a copy of Hitler in Los Angeles through Bloomsbury USA, and Netgalley:This book shows us that many American Jews did rise greatly oppose Hitler, but they could not agree on the best path of resistance. Many saw New York as the Jewish capital of America but. Joeseph Goebells though no citywas more dangerous to the twisted views of Nazi Propoganda. Because in his eyes Jews ruled the motion picture industry.No city was more important to the Nazi’s than Los Angeles, home to Hollywood the greatest propoganda machine in the world. The Nazi’s had plotted to kill the city’s Jews, a plot that was foiled in part by Captain John.H.Schmidt, a fellow German, and a Christian. Leon Lewis had asked Captain John H.Schmidt to help spy on the Nazi’s. The Nazi’s had plans for Hanging twenty prominent figures including Charlie Chaplin, Al Jolson and Samuel Goldwyn. They had plans drawn up to drive through Boyle Heights and taking out as many Jews as possible by Machine guns, as well as for seizing munitions and blowing up National Guard Armories across the Pacific Coast.At the time US law enforcement agencies were not paying close attention, they preferred to monitor Reds rather than Nazi’s. It was only Leon Lewis and his ring of spies that stood in the way of Nazi’s. From 1933 to the end of World War Two Leon Lewis ran a spy operation of military veterans and their wives. This group infiltrated every Nazi and fascist group in Los-Angeles. The spies often moving up to leadership position, uncovering and stopping the Nazi’s from attacking.In this book we learn of how one man helped to lead a group of spies into stopping the Nazi’s from killing thousands if not millions in Los Angeles.This book was well written and thoroughly researched.I give Hitler in Los Angeles five out of five stars!Happy Reading!
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