I didn't uncover any of this information myself. The basic outline of the Frank Collin/Joseph story can be found in many places online, including on Wikipedia, in this piece by R. D. Flavin, and in this post by Jason Colavito.
I'm bringing it up because I think Frank Joseph's Nazi past is relevant to his writings about ancient North America.
Joseph's (2014) book The Lost Colonies of Ancient America was reviewed by Larry Zimmerman in a recent section of American Antiquity (2015, Vol. 80:615-629) devoted to addressing popular works of pseudoarchaeology. Zimmerman writes that Joseph
"assures readers, of course, [that unlike academic archaeology] his book has no such preconceived notions and allows for available evidence to lead where it will."
Brad Lepper wrote a short piece about Zimmerman's review for yesterday's Columbus Dispatch, highlighting Josephs' mischaracterization of how archaeologists evaluate evidence as well as the racism that underlies the nineteenth century "Moundbuilder" myth that remains important to the claims of American hyperdiffusionists today.
Neither Zimmerman nor Lepper mentioned Joseph's past as one of America's leading Nazis. It may be that the pages of American Antiquity and the Columbus Dispatch aren't really the place to bring it up, and that's fine. But I think it's an important part of the story and I'm not under any editorial constraints, so I'm bringing it up: Joseph's Nazi past is relevant to understanding his ideas about pre-Columbian transoceanic contacts. I'll briefly explain why.
Lepper is correct when he writes that
"Opinions, mainstream or otherwise, don’t count for much in science. Evidence is what’s important."
It is for that very reason that I'm bringing "fringe" theorists into the class I'm planning for next fall. Ideas can come from wherever they come from, but in a scientific framework it is evidence that lets us determine whether those ideas can withstand scrutiny. Ideas can be tested and refined through evidence-based falsification, allowing us to build an understanding in which we can have some confidence. That's how it works.
I've found that many "fringe" writers operating outside of a scientific framework (i.e., where ideas are not subject to testing) tend to use evidence differently, often marshaling only those pieces that seem to fit into the puzzle they're imagining themselves putting together. They think they already know what the answer is and are focused on presenting the evidence that supports that answer. Contrary bits and pieces that are inconvenient to the narrative they're assembling are ignored. This is not generally going to produce a story about the past that is credible.
Evidence matters, but so does how you use it. When there's no mechanism for testing an idea, the origin of the idea becomes more important because it guides what evidence you choose to include.
According to Jason Colavito's post about Joseph, Joseph's defenders claim that there is no connection between the man's Nazi past and his current assertions about the roles of Old World peoples in New World prehistory. Really? If you understand the history of the "Moundbuilder" myth, you may legitimately ask why some "fringe" authors are so reluctant to let it go. Systematic, evidence-based inquiry (i.e., actual archaeology) long ago proved to most people's satisfaction that the "Moundbuilder" idea was not correct, no matter what contributed to its origin or popularity. I can tell you that those that are still holding on to fantasies about some lost white race of "Moundbuilders" aren't arriving at that point through a careful consideration of the evidence.
I have not read any of Joseph's books. Based on Zimmerman's review, I doubt I will find much of interest in them. If I ever do read The Lost Colonies of Ancient America, however, I'll do it with Joseph's Nazi past in mind. That past is relevant to understanding what "evidence" he chooses to accept and present, and what evidence he chooses to ignore.
In cases like this, where evidence is chosen to support rather than test an idea, the source of the idea does indeed matter.