New York Times - Nazi Past of Long Island Hamlet Persists in a Rule for Home Buyers
A form of racial segregation in modern day America? This sure sounds like it. I’m only stunned that they were able to get away with this in Yaphank for so long after the passage of the Fair Housing Act. In fact I have a hard time imaging how their bylaws couldn’t be in violation of that law. The courts had better coerce them into changing them, if they don’t do so voluntarily. Nicholas Casey reports,
Members of the German-American Bund marching near Camp Siegfried in Yaphank, N.Y., circa 1937. Credit Rex Hardy Jr./The LIFE Picture Collection — Getty Images
YAPHANK, N.Y. — Here in this rural Long Island community, a Nazi summer camp once held parades before American flags and banners bearing swastikas. Nearby streets were named after Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels and other leaders of Nazi-era Germany.
While the parades are gone and the streets have been renamed, one thing has not changed: The original owners of this tract of land kept a clause in its bylaws requiring the homeowners to be primarily “of German extraction.” That has kept this community of 45 families almost entirely white.
It has also left one family frustrated and headed to court to challenge the bylaws. Philip Kneer and Patricia Flynn-Kneer, a couple who lived in a two bedroom, ranch-style home along the main road, are suing the community organization that owns the land under their house, the German American Settlement League, alleging that the league’s housing practices are discriminatory and violate the Fair Housing Act. The complaint was filed on Monday in Federal District Court in Central Islip.
The couple, both of German descent, originally agreed in 1999 to enter the community under its rules. But in subsequent years, a mix of both moral and practical concerns came to trouble them.