Hans Mayer: An Atypical Nazi in Alberta

By Grams, Grant W. | Alberta History, Winter 2010 | Go to article overview

Hans Mayer: An Atypical Nazi in Alberta


Grams, Grant W., Alberta History


Five days before Canada declared war on Germany, a Vegreville farmer named Hans Mayer was arrested and interned. (1) At that time, he was described by Canadian authorities as follows:

   Following the rise to power [of Hitler],
   MAYER became an enthusiastic Nazi. The
   most influential German in the Vegreville
   district, MAYER is the President of the
   German Club [Deutsche Bund] and
   exercises complete domination over its
   members. He is an enthusiastic supporter
   of the Third Reich and endeavours to
   foster support for the Nazi cause by
   meetings and by personal canvas. He
   distributes German propaganda literature
   and his influence is such that he has
   obtained relief direct from Germany to
   prevent Germans from applying for local
   relief. He is interested in the question of
   German Nationals returning to Germany
   and has stated that if any German, whether
   naturalized or not, desires to return to
   Germany, the Third Reich will provide the
   ticket. (2)

Hans Mayer was born on June 25, 1889, in Blaubeuren, Wurttemberg, Germany, and emigrated to Canada in November 1912. A stone mason by profession, he changed his vocation and became a farmer and cattle breeder near Vegreville. Shortly afterwards he returned to Germany, married, and came back in 1913 with his bride Bertha. They eventually had four children--two boys, Fred and Hans Jr., and two girls, Katie and Mina. Mayer won various provincial prizes for dairy cattle and seed grains and became well established as a farmer. He became a Canadian citizen in 1928.

Prior to World War II, Mayer made two trips to Germany. On his 1923 visit he sold his property there and invested the money in his Alberta farm. His second trip was made in 1937, and with WW II looming, this visit and his admiration for Nazi Germany warranted special attention from Canadian authorities.

One week before Canada declared war on Germany in 1939, it imposed the Defence of Canada Regulations under the War Measures Act. These regulations gave the government the right to intern any person that might disturb the safety of the state. Under these regulations, Mayer was arrested (3) and appeared before the Advisory Committee on the Restriction and Detention (ACRD). He was brought before Judge F.L. Smiley, W.J.R O'Mera, and Jacques Fortier in Calgary on January 23, 1940, to assess if he was a threat to the country (4) and should be detained. (5) Much about Mayer and his opinions were revealed in his personal testimony.

According to Mayer, German speakers on farms around Vegreville had been meeting socially since 1927, visiting, playing cards, joking, and relaxing. In the 1930s its members were contacted by Montreal members of the Deutscher Bund, Canada (German Club). Mayer later maintained that Bund members in Montreal knew about him through his reputation and success as a cattle breeder, and that he had not sought them out. He contended that the promise of literature and recent news of events in Germany perked his attention, and swayed he and others to become members of a Nazi organization. (6)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

This essay will review the contact Mayer had with the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei--NSDAP) or Nazis in Canada prior to World War II. It was due to this contact that dictated that he would be detained during the war. Although this paper will examine aspects of Nazi organizations it is not meant to be an analysis of National Socialism in Canada.

The Bund was founded on January 1, 1934, and initially membership was open to all German speakers, regardless of citizenship or country of origin. Adolf Hitler then issued a decree in late 1934 that National Socialist Party members and German nationals were not to be involved in the Bund. Thereafter the Bund worked almost exclusively amongst German-Canadians, claiming to merely advocate the advancement of German culture. …

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