George Sylvester Viereck

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George Sylvester Viereck (b. 31 December 1884 in Munich, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire; d. 18 March 1962 in Holyoke, Massachusetts, USA) was a German American poet, writer, propagandist and defendant in the Great Sedition Trial of 1944. He came to America at the age of 11 and later became an American citizen.[1]During World War I he was a register agent of the German government, later he was a propagandist and adviser for Hitler.


His father, Louis Viereck (1851–1922), born out of wedlock to German actress Edwina Viereck and a veteran of the Franco-German War and jurist, was reputed to be a son of Kaiser Wilhelm I, although another relative of the Hohenzollern family assumed legal paternity. Louis in the 1870s joined the Marxist socialist movement, and in 1896 emigrated to the United States, followed by his wife Laura and 12-year-old George Sylvester in 1897. In 1911, George Sylvester Viereck married Margaret Edith Hein. They had two sons, Peter and George.[2]


George Sylvester Viereck in 1904, with the help of literary critic Ludwig Lewisohn published his first collection of poems, followed in 1907 by Nineveh and Other Poems which won Viereck national fame. He graduated from the College of the City of New York in 1906.

In the 1920s, Nikola Tesla became a close friend with George Sylvester Viereck. Tesla considered Viereck to be the greatest contemporary American poet during this period. Tesla occasionally attended dinner parties held by Viereck and his wife. Tesla also wrote a poem which he dedicated to his friend Viereck. It was called "Fragments of Olympian Gossip" in which he ridiculed the scientific establishment of the day.

He was also personal friends of Kaiser Wilhelm II, George Bernard Shaw, and Sigmund Freud.[3]


Viereck turned into a Germanophile between 1907 and 1912. In 1908 be published the best-selling Confessions of a Barbarian; he lectured at the University of Berlin on American poetry in 1911. He founded two notable publications, The International and The Fatherland (changed to The American Monthly due to World War I[4] ), which argued the German cause during World War I.

Trials and imprisonment

As a German nationalist Viereck became a supporter of Hitler and the New Germany but rejected anti-Semitism. He was indicted for a minor violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act in October 1941. He was charged for withholding from the State Department information about his pro-German propaganda activities. He was convicted and imprisoned from July 31, 1942 to May 17, 1947. He served three years and ten months of a five year maximum sentence in the Federal Penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. The US Supreme Court later reversed this conviction on the grounds that he was not compelled to report his activities “except as an agent of a foreign government.”[5]

Viereck was also a defendant in the Great Sedition Trial of 1944. It was during his trial that he learned of the death of his son George Sylvester Viereck Jr. who was killed in Italy while serving with the U.S. Infantry on the Anzio beachhead.[6] Another son, Peter Viereck, served with the American military in North Africa during the war[7] and later became a professor and an early leader of the American conservative movement.

George Sylvester Viereck died at Mount Holyoke Hospital on March 18, 1962, at the age of 77.


  • Gedichte (1904)
  • The House of the Vampire (1907)
  • Nineveh and Other Poems (1907)
  • Confessions of a Barbarian (1910)
  • The Candle and the Flame (1912)
  • Songs of Armageddon & Other Poems (1916)
  • My First Two Thousand Years: The Autobiography of the Wandering Jew (1928) with Paul Eldridge
    • German edition: Meine ersten 2000 Jahre – Autobiographie des Ewigen Juden, List-Verlag, Leipzig 1928
  • Glimpses of the Great (1930)
  • Salome: The Wandering Jewess (1930) with Paul Eldridge
  • The Invincible Adam (1932) with Paul Eldridge
  • Strangest Friendship: Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House (1932)
  • The Kaiser on Trial (1937)
  • The Temptation of Jonathan (1938)
  • Men Into Beasts. New York: Fawcett Publications (1952)
  • The Nude in the Mirror (1953)

Criminal cases

  • Foreign Agents Registration Act—Cases:
    • George Sylvester Viereck v. United States, 130 F.2d 945 (D.C. Cir. 1942), rev'd, 318 U.S. 236 (1943)
    • George Sylvester Viereck v. United States, 318 U.S. 236 (1943)
    • George Sylvester Viereck v. United States, 139 F.2d 847 (D.C. Cir.), cert. den., 321 U.S. 794 (1944)

See also

External links