The Nazi Party/Foreign Organization was a branch of the Nazi Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei [NSDAP], "National Socialist German Workers' Party") and the 43rd and only non-territorial Gau ("region") of the Party. In German, the organization is referred to as NSDAP/AO, "AO" being the abbreviation of the German compound word Auslands-Organisation ("Foreign Organization"}. Although Auslands-Organisation would be correctly written as one word, the Nazis chose an obsolete spelling with a hyphen.
Nazi Party members who lived outside the German Reich were pooled in this special Party department. On May 1, 1931 the "AO" was founded on the initiative of Reich Organization Leader (German: Reichsorganisationsleiter) Gregor Strasser, and its management was assigned to Hans Nieland, who resigned from office on May 8, 1933, because he had become head of the Hamburg police authority; he was replaced by Ernst Wilhelm Bohle. Only actual citizens of the German Reich – (German: Reichsdeutsche) – with a German passport could become members of the AO. Persons of German descent, ethnic Germans (German: Volksdeutsche), who possessed the nationality of the country in which they lived, were refused entry to the Nazi Party.
In 1928, in Paraguay and in Brazil, party members abroad joined forces for the first time. Similar associations came into being in Switzerland and in the United States in 1930. These groups were officially accepted by the Nazi Party only after the founding of the Auslands-Organisation. On August 7, 1931 Local Group Buenos Aires was accepted. Shortly thereafter followed National Committee Paraguay (August 20, 1931) and Local Group Rio de Janeiro (October 5, 1931). From 1932 until its prohibition in 1934 there existed a national committee in the Union of South Africa, which enjoyed great popularity (see German Namibians) and maintained numerous offices in the former German South-West Africa (today Namibia). Nazi Party Local Groups (German: Ortsgruppen) included at least 25 "party comrades" (German: Parteigenossen), while the so-called Stützpunkte (English: bases, literally support points) had five members or more. Furthermore, large Local Groups could be partitioned into "Blocs" (German: Blöcke).
Ideological training and congruity of all party comrades with the interests of the German nation were the principal tasks of the NSDAP/AO. It was assigned the mandate of uniting all Party members (and members of Nazi Party affiliated organizations) living abroad in a loosely affiliated group and to educate them in the philosophy, ideology and political programs of the Nazi Party for the betterment of Germany. The AO was not a Fifth Column organization and had ten basic principles to be followed that included:
- "Obey the laws of the country in which you are a guest.
- "Let the citizens take care of the internal policy of the country where you are a guest; do not mix in these matters, even by way of conversation.
- "Identify yourself to all, on all occasions, as an NSDAP party member.
- "Always speak and act on behalf of the NSDAP movement, thus doing honor to the new Germany. Be honest, honorable, fearless and loyal.
- "Look out for all your fellow Germans, men of your blood, style and being. Give them a hand, irrespective of their class. We are all creators of our people."
These and the other principles were intended to create a feeling of amiability towards Germans and Germany in general and hopefully convince as many foreigners as possible that the Nazi Party was the right choice for Germany, and as result, the rest of the world.
In Costa Rica
The local NSDAP/AO delegation in Costa Rica existed in the 1930s - 1940s, numbered 66 members, and lobbied for Germany during World War II. Its leaders were the engineer Max Effinger, Herbert Knöhr and Karl Bayer. They met at the German Club, which was located on Calle 21, Avenida 1, San José.
Records of the time, show that there was communication between Berlin and the German community and that there was a deliberate effort by the Third Reich to promote Nazism among the German diaspora in Costa Rica, and in the rest of Latin America. Support of German-Costa Ricans to Nazism was not uniform, apparently the older generations took it with skepticism and many others were open opponents. But it had its support especially among young or German-born Germans. A branch of the Hitler Youth was created led by the director of the German School Hannes Ihring, but had problems being implemented due to the constant questioning of its participants.
One of the leaders, Max Effinger, was appointed immigration advisor in the government of León Cortés Castro (1936-1940), thus preventing the entry of many Polish Jews fleeing Germany.
In the Dominican Republic
By the early 1940s, the NSDAP/AO had perhaps around 50 active members in the Dominican Republic, a relatively large number considering that the German-born population in the country stood at around 150 with an additional 300 persons of German descent. The Party had organized groups in five Dominican cities: Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata, Montecristi, Cibao Valley and San Pedro de Macorís.
NSDAP/AO had a Landesgruppe Schweden. During the first years of World War II it was led by W. Stengel, but the leadership was later taken over by the German diplomat Heinz Gossmann. There were several Ortsgruppen in different parts of Sweden, such as Gothenburg, Borås, etc.
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