Chilling images of hooded Ku Klux Klan members holding BABIES at the height of their dark 1920s peak when the cult had six million members
These chilling photos of the Ku Klux Klan in their early 1920s heyday feature in a new book by a historian who fears a ‘Klannish spirit‘ is enjoying a resurgence in ‘s America.
In one of the photos a baby has been forced to wear a traditional Ku Klux Klan hood during a Klan ‘christening‘.
Another bizarre image shows a group of Klan members posing while stood on top of a plane.
Klan members can be seen taking part in elaborate secret rituals and mass ‘naturalisations‘, or initiation ceremonies, held in front of fiery crosses.
Other photos show prominent Klan figures including the initiator of the second Klan, Colonel William J Simmons, the man who ousted him as head of the movement, Imperial Wizard Hiram Evans, and the Pillar of Fire Church Bishop Alma White.
In the early 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan boasted six million members – many of them women and children – and spoke out against the number of immigrants entering the country.
Their attacks on Irish, Italian, Jewish and Oriental immigrants resonated with large swathes of the population.
The white supremacists also condemned alcohol, prostitution, movies and jazz music.
However, the Klan‘s popularity collapsed amid revelations of sordid sexual scandals and financial embezzlement.
The final straw was Indiana Grand Dragon David Stephenson‘s conviction for kidnapping, raping and murdering his secretary in 1925.
Historian Linda Gordon has charted the rise and fall of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s in her new book.
She says she sees worrying parallels between the America of the 1920s and America today under the presidency of Donald Trump.
She said: ‘Racism and bigotry has had a long tradition in the USA, sometimes it is subterranean and sometimes it is loud and shouty.
‘But what is new is the vociferousness of the bigotry where every grievance is blamed on immigrants.
‘The political elite are selling an explanation for people‘s problems which is entirely bigoted.
‘They direct fear and hatred against certain groups and this deflects people from trying to understand what really is the source of their problems.
‘The Klannish spirit – fearful, angry, gullible to sensationalist falsehoods, in thrall to demagogic leaders and abusive language, hostile to science and intellectuals, committed to the dream that everyone can be a success in business if they only try – lives on.‘
The original Ku Klux Klan emerged in the southern states in the late 1860s and were notorious for committing violent acts against African Americans before dying out in the 1870s after a government crackdown.
Members made their own robes, masks and conical hats which were designed to elicit fear while concealing their identities.
The second incarnation of the Klan was founded in 1915 and flourished nationwide in the early 1920s.
The third, present, version of the Klan sprung up after the Second World War to oppose the Civil Rights Movement and have been implicated in the murders of numerous civil rights activists.