An excerpt of the book Sabotage! The Secret War Against America by Michael Sayers & Albert E. Kahn
Harper & Brothers - 1942, hard cover
from pages 151 - 153
By 1939 the Christian Front had assumed the proportions of a subversive army numbering some 200,000 members, many of whom were secretly drilling with rifles and other military equipment. Working closely with the German American Bund, the Christian Mobilizers, Silver Shirts and similar gangs, the Fronters made American cities the scenes of violent anti-Semitic agitation. Armed bands roamed the streets of New York City, indiscriminately insulting and attacking men and women. The same Propagandamarsch (terror parade) technique was practiced in Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Akron and other cities. In these demonstrations, the Nazi campaign of psychological sabotage reached a new peak in the United States.
On January 13, 1940, the Federal Bureau of investigation arrested 17 members of the Christian Front. According to J. Edgar Hoover, the Fronters planned "to knock off about a dozen Congressmen," to assassinate prominent Americans of Jewish extraction, and to seize Post Offices, the Customs House, and armories in New York City. The FBI uncovered a number of Christian Front arsenals containing bombs, cordite, rifles, ammunition, powder and dynamite, including arms which had been stolen from the arsenals of the National Guard. The arrested Fronters hailed Coughlin as their Leader.
There followed one of the strangest trials in the history of the American law courts. Although the defendants were proven to have plotted violent acts, although they had been caught redhanded with weapons and explosives in their possession, the followers of Coughlin were acquitted of the charge of conspiring against the United States Government and were set free. (One of them, exposed as a Nazi agent, had committed suicide in his cell.) When the jury was chosen, none of its members was asked whether or not he belonged to the Christian Front or was a follower of Coughlin. The foreman of the jury, a Mrs. Titus, turned out to be related to Father Edward F. Brophy, ideological leader of the Eastern division of the Christian Front and author of one of its chief propaganda works, an anti-Semitic tract entitled The Christian Front.
Although the Christian Front trial ended as a personal triumph for Coughlin, the radio priest was not destined to become the Leader of the "spontaneous American movement." The character of his activities and his extreme anti-Semitism were too obvious. His organization, while still large, failed to grow into a real mass movement.
The Nazis continued their search for the right Leader.
"You know who might become the Fuehrer of our great political party?" Hermann Schwarzmann, leader of the Astoria, Long Island unit of the German American Bund had told a Chicago newspaperman in 1937. "Lindbergh! Yes, that is not so far-fetched as you might think. You know he would carry the public with him very easily. The Americans like him.... Yes, there are a lot of things being planned the public knows nothing about as yet."*
*This statement was made in July 1937 to John C. Metcalfe, reporter for the Chicago Daily Times and later a Federal agent.