There are eerie similarities between this American Nazi rally from 1939 and today.

As Adolf Hitler continued construction on concentration camps in Europe, 20,000 American Nazis gathered in one of the most iconic venues in the world.

The event? "A Pro-American Rally" in New York's Madison Square Garden.

Image via "A Night At The Garden"/YouTube.


The black and white footage seen below — curated by documentarian Marshall Curry in a 7-minute film, "A Night At The Garden" — is appalling. There's no added audio commentary or dramatized film editing — the bone-chilling scenes and speeches from the 1939 event speak for themselves.

This, terrifyingly, happened in America:

"A Night At The Garden" premiered in October 2017 on The Atlantic. But the film, also published on YouTube, went viral on Reddit in February 2018, sparking another wave of attention to the alarming and often forgotten event.

Nearly eight decades later, many of the themes and rhetoric on display are strikingly similar to the political climate of today.

A speaker at the event attacked a biased media and portrayed himself as the victim: "Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Americans, American patriots," he began. "I am sure I do not come before you tonight as a complete stranger. You all have heard of me through the Jewish-controlled press, as a creature with horns, a cloven hoof, and a long tail." The crowd laughed.

Much of the event showed overt signs of nationalism: a massive banner of George Washington hung above the stage while dozens of officials marched proudly, American flags held high. The event, let's not forget, was dubbed "Pro-American."

‌Image via "A Night At The Garden"/YouTube.‌

The speaker promoted a nostalgic yearning for the past — one undeniably tied to race and power. "We, with American ideals, demand that our government shall be returned to the American people who founded it," he yelled to cheers. The event turned violent at one point as well, while the speaker did nothing to calm tensions, grinning from behind the podium as the crowd roared.

“The first thing that struck me was that an event like this could happen in the heart of New York City,” Curry noted to The Atlantic last year. “Watching it felt like an episode of 'The Twilight Zone,' where history has taken a different path. But it wasn’t science fiction — it was real, historical footage. It all felt eerily familiar, given today’s political situation."

“It seems amazing that [the event] isn’t a stock part of every high school history class," Curry said.

But there's a reason why that is, according to the filmmaker: "This story was likely nudged out of the canon in part because it’s scary and embarrassing. It tells a story about our country that we’d prefer to forget."

But it's crucial — now more than ever — that we don't.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less