(JNi.media) According to the bylaws of the German American Settlement League, which owns much of the land of Yaphank, Long Island, some 65 miles east of NY City, homeownership in this quiet hamlet is restricted to people of “German extraction.” According to a lawsuit filed on Monday in federal court in Central Islip, the GASL, which founded Yaphank as a summer camp for American Nazis in the 1930s, “has excluded non-whites from its membership, recreational programs, and summer homes in favor of new residents with German ancestry” since its incorporation in 1937.
Philip Kneer and Patricia Flynn-Kneer, who are looking to sell and move out of Siegfried Park, Yaphank, say in their lawsuit that the GASL rules violate the Fair Housing Act. According to the NY Times, which broke the story, the couple, both of German descent, in 1999 joined the community and accepted its rules, but as the years had gone by, they became troubled by their life in what amounts to a relic of the Nazi era, and In 2006, after the birth of their second child, they decided to sell and move out.
“You feel like a caged animal here,” Kneer told the Times. “It’s terrible for everyone — for the kids, for us and even for our dogs.”
From the early 1930s, Nazis from all over the eastern seaboard spent their summers at Camp Siegfried, parading down Adolf Hitler Street, waving Nazi flags and displaying swastikas armbands.
GASL president Robert Kessler, referring to the Nazi rallies the locals used to hold in his remote hamlet, told the Times, “Most people don’t even know any of this happened here; it hardly comes up.” The lGASL intends to discuss changing those embarrassing bylaws Kessler called “antiquated,” but previous attempts to change the rules were voted down.
Mrs. Kesslers said she felt betrayed by the Kneers, who suddenly moved out of the neighborhood on Friday and hit the town with a lawsuit. She told the Times with tears in her eyes, “They were like our grandchildren.”
During the war, the town was on the FBI’s list for vigilant monitoring, and after Hitler’s fall, the federal government seized the town’ land. Eventually, following a lengthy legal battle, the GASL got the land back and converted the Nazi summer camp into nice co-op homes.
According to the Times, the [Siegfried Park,] Yaphank community of 45 families remains “almost entirely white.”