On January 31st, 1933, William Dudley Pelley founded the Silver Legion of America (or Silver Shirts) inspired by Hitler's rise to Chancellor a day earlier. By 1936, Pelley touted a membership of 15,000 with an additional 100,000 supporters nationwide. This was the first and largest American Nazi organization.
From 1933 to 1940, Pelley published hundreds of copies of Liberation from his base in Asheville, North Carolina. These were sent across the nation to his supporters. Today, the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) has the second largest collection of Liberation magazines due to a subscription held by Esther Jerabek, then Head of Accessions at the Society. The below collage is composed of images and symbols extracted from the pages of Liberation found in the archives of the MNHS. In these images, we find an aesthetic merging of Americanism, Christianity, and Nazism.
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Pelley never himself visited Minnesota, opting instead to send his Lieutenant Roy Zachary to recruit and hold meetings in Minneapolis. While the Silver Legion were present and active as early as 1934, it wasn't until 1938 that Zachary held his first rally, which inspired a turnout of over 300 Minnesotans...