George Sylvester Viereck

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George Sylvester Viereck (born December 31, 1884 in Munich, Germany, died March 18, 1962 in Holyoke, Massachusetts) (photo) 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, born out of wedlock to German actress Edwina Viereck, 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 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 William 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.


  • Ninevah and Other Poems (1907)
  • Confessions of a Barbarian (1908)
  • My First Two Thousand Years: The Autobiography of the Wandering Jew (1929) with Paul Eldridge
  • The Wandering Jewess: My First Two Thousand Years of Love (1930) with Paul Eldridge
  • Invincible Adam (1932) with Paul Eldridge
  • Glimpses of the Great
  • Spreading Germs of Hate (1930)
  • The Strangest Friendship in History: Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House (1932)
  • The Kaiser on Trial (1937)
  • Men into Beasts (1952)

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

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