Donald Trump traveled to Paris to, as he put it in a tweet, “celebrate” the centenary of the armistice that ended World War I. Trump not only decided to skip a planned visit to the Aisne-Marne American cemetery at Belleau Wood, but also the inaugural ceremony of the Paris Peace Forum. The forum, organized by French President Emmanuel Macron and attended by over 70 world leaders, is held in conjunction with the armistice centenary commemoration. Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, following the Paris Peace Conference. Rather than ensuring that the “war to end all wars” – World War I, as it was known at the time – was the last major war, the Versailles Treaty actually helped lay the groundwork for World War II.
As far as the disrespect Trump showed to the American war dead at Aisne-Marne by canceling his visit due to rainy weather, Lord Soames, the grandson of Winston Churchill, who previously called Trump a “daft twerp,” tweeted: “They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate Donald Trump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen.”
While history, in addition to other academic disciplines, are not Mr. Trump’s strong suit, his deciding to be the only world leader in Paris not to attend Macron’s peace forum suggests that other, darker, influences are at play in Trump’s mind. Trump has publicly stated that he admires Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. It was Mussolini’s aggression against Ethiopia, which violated resolutions by the League of Nations, the precursor of the United Nations that was established by Versailles conference, that helped neuter the effectiveness of that international organization. According to Trump’s first wife, he kept a book of the collected speeches of Adolf Hitler’s, “My New Order,” on his night stand.
Trump’s statements and actions suggest that he boycotted the Paris Peace Forum not because of his tiff with Macron over European defense but because he views the World War I armistice and the exacting of massive war reparations by the victorious Allied Powers from defeated Germany in the same way as Hitler. In Trump’s limited lexicon, Versailles may have been a “disgrace.” Where would Trump have gotten such a notion? Perhaps, some of his views of the aftermath of World War I were garnered from Hitler’s speeches. Yet others may have come from Trump’s father, Fred Trump, Sr., a bona fide believer in Aryan supremacy during the 1920s, a decade that saw Hitler’s Nazis bully their way into power in Germany.
Fred Trump’s German-born father, Friedrich Trump, died in New York in 1918 at the age of 49 as a result of the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic. Many historians believe the flu was spread as a result of massive troop movements in Europe during World War I. It is also recorded that the flu’s first outbreak in the United States was recorded at Fort Riley, Kansas, where an Army cook contracted the disease and helped spread it to 522 men at the military installation. One thing is known about Friedrich Trump. Although Friedrich immigrated from Germany to the United States in 1885, eventually settling in the Klondike region of the Yukon Territory in Canada to strike it rich in the gold rush and by running a bordello, his ultimate loyalties were with Germany.
Friedrich originally left Germany for North America to avoid military service in the Bavaria army. He returned to Germany in 1901 a wealthy man. Friedrich ran into problems with Bavarian authorities over his dodging of conscription. Friedrich permanently settled in New York City with his German wife. During World War I, as a result of anti-German feelings in the United States, Friedrich came up with the phony cover story that he and his wife were Swedish. It is a lie that would be purveyed by Frederick Trump, Sr. during the interwar years and into World War II. Frederick Trump lied when he said his family came from Karlstadt, Sweden, not Kallstadt in Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany.
Although of draft age, Frederick Trump avoided military service in World War II, a distinction that was carried on by his son, Donald, during the Vietnam War. Donald also continued with the lie about his family being Swedish. In his book, “The Art of the Deal,” Trump wrote that his immigrant grandfather “came here from Sweden as a child.” His grandfather was not a child, but 16 years old when he left his native Germany for the United States to avoid the Bavarian military draft.
Three generations of Trumps – Friedrich, Fred Sr., and Donald – have altered the biography of the Trump family and their relationship to Germany to create a false impression of the family. Donald Trump has made no secret of his admiration for dictators and leaders who believe in white European racial superiority. From where did he obtain these notions and how do they play into his abhorrence for the Versailles Peace Conference of 1919 and Macron’s Paris Peace Forum? One must only look at his father Fred’s post-World War I activities in the United States.
There is evidence that Fred Trump was a white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer in the years following World War I. Proof rests on not only a June 1, 1927 article in “The New York Times,” but other New York newspapers about Fred Trump’s arrest at a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) rally in Queens, New York in 1927. Donald Trump denies the incident ever took place.
The 1920s in the United States saw a KKK reach unprecedented prominence. However, its influence would quickly subside in the early 1930s and give way to the German-American Bund as the leading far-right political grouping in the United States. The Bund supported Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party. Curiously, Fred Trump’s biography does not account for his activities during this period before the outbreak of World War II. The only bit of information on Fred Trump was that he continued to maintain that his parents were Swedish. Claiming false Swedish lineage was no guarantee of avoiding accusations of pro-Nazi sympathies.
During the 1930s, one of the biggest apologists for Nazi Germany was Swedish-American, Charles Lindbergh. "Lucky Lindy" was even awarded the Service Cross of the German Eagle by Nazi Air Minister Hermann Goering in Berlin in 1938. Lindbergh was a prominent member of the America First Committee, which urged the United States to avoid a war with Germany and which had much in common with the pro-Nazi German-American Bund. Interestingly, Donald Trump has resurrected "America First" in his political rhetoric.
In the years between Fred Trump's arrest as a robed Klansmen in Queens and his surfacing as a US government contractor, little is known. Trump was busy building barracks and other buildings for the US Navy troop embarkation ports in Chester, Pennsylvania and Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia. During World War II, German-American Bund member, German immigrant Waldemar Othmer, infiltrated the US military as a civilian employee and dutifully sent, via microfilm, information to his Abwehr handlers in Berlin on the movements of British and American military vessels, convoys, and merchant ships out of Brooklyn and Norfolk. Sinking American ships was a high priority for German naval commander Admiral Karl Donitz, who dubbed the program Operation “Paukenschlag” or Drumbeat. Thousands of American and Canadian troops, sailors, and merchant mariners died in the sinking of US-flagged vessels by German U-boats on patrol off the US east coast. One casualty was the passenger vessel, SS Dorchester, sunk in the north Atlantic by a U-boat, claiming 675 lives, including the revered “Four Chaplains.” The chaplains, representing the Methodist, Roman Catholic, Jewish, and Dutch Reformed faiths, gave up their life vests to others after the supply ran out.
The German-American Bund agreed with Hitler and the Nazis that Germany was right to reject the punishment it had received with the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Did Fred Trump agree with this belief and pass it on later to Donald after Germany was, again, defeated in World War II? Considering Fred Trump's Klan background, the 1937 "unite the right" agreement between the Klan and the Nazi Silver Shirts and Black Legion to form the Storm Troops, controlled by the Bund, presents a problem. In 1939, over 20,000 American Nazis staged a rally at Madison Square Garden in New York. Considering Fred Trump’s upbringing in German neighborhoods in New York and his far-right sympathies, it would have been likely that the father of President Trump – who, incidentally, believes neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville, Virginia were “fine people” – was present at the rally.
Did the father of the current US president also have wartime loyalties to another master, perhaps Herr Hitler? For a family like the Trumps, who have thrived on lies and false histories, the truth may never be known. However, Donald Trump did take to Paris some “personal baggage” that strongly suggested he wanted nothing to do with Macron’s peace forum, a conference at which 70 leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, were all present. America’s nationalist right-wing never liked President Woodrow Wilson going to Versailles to hammer out the Versailles Treaty and the League of Nations. Donald Trump appears to be following in those same nationalistic goose steps.