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The 1930s: Nazis Parading on Main Street
Part 2: Republicans, Nazis & Elections

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With its pro-business agenda, and the fascist views of the leaders of corporate America, the Republican Party soon became laden with fascists.

Even before Hitler and the Nazis seized power in Germany, the Nazis were already actively involved in American politics and elections. Shockingly, the Nazis did not have to infiltrate the party; many were already employed at high levels in the national or state Republican Party organizations.

In October 1928, Edmond Furholzer, a pro-Nazi publisher from Germantown, NY presented the New York State Republican Committee with an offer that for twenty thousand dollars he would deliver the German vote to Hoover. With Hoover's chances looking good, and it being late in the campaign, Furholzer's offer was turned down.

Furholzer was hardly an obscure Nazi, and was a leading figure in the hard right of Yorkville, a heavily German neighborhood of Manhattan. The Republican State Committee adopted many of Furholzer's proposals in 1928, and four years later, when Hoover's chances were dismal; Furholzer's help was gladly accepted. In fact, during the 1932 campaign, Furholzer worked endlessly for the Republican National Committee, campaigning tirelessly for Hoover in New York State. He smeared Roosevelt as the new Wilson, the man that had destroyed Germany.92 In 1933, Furholzer returned to Germany.

By 1934, the Nazis had only been in power for less than a year, but already were active in placing their agents or pro-Nazis into positions of power. On February 22, 1934, the Republican Party merged their Senatorial and Congressional Campaign Committees into a single organization independent of the Republican National Committee.

Senator Daniel Hastings of Delaware and Representative Chester Bolton announced the merger. Just before the merger, the two campaign committees hired Sidney Brooks, the long-time head of research at International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT). ITT was one of many American corporations that went to extraordinary means to continue trading with the Nazis after war broke out.

Shortly after Brooks took charge, he made a frantic visit to New York. On March 4, 1934, he went to Room 830 of the Hotel Edison, a room rented to a Mr. William Goodales of Los Angles. Goodales was in fact William Dudley Pelly. The meeting concluded with an agreement to merge the Order of 76 with the Silver Shirts. Later Brooks would stop at 17 Battery Place, the address of the German Consulate General.

Brooks was a member of the Order of 76, a pro-fascist group. The Order of 76 application required the fingerprints of the proposed member, and certain details of their life. Brooks' application revealed that he was the son of Nazi agent Colonel Edwin Emerson and that he chose to use his mother's maiden name to conceal his father's identity.80 Emerson was a major financial backer of Furholzer and his paper.

Thus, as early as 1934, the Republican Party was collaborating with Nazis and pro-fascist groups at a high level. This would not be the last example of collaboration between high level Republicans and Nazis, as the following headlines make clear.

On October 22, 1936, the New York Post broke the following story.

Nazi Publicist On G.O.P. Payroll

To win votes for Landon and Bleakley, the Republican State Committee is employing on its payroll a staff of propagandists identified with local Nazi organizations, the Post learned today.78


On October 30, 1936, the New York World-Telegram revealed additional details.

U.S. Nazi Attack on Jews Is Laid to Republicans

Anti-Semitic Radio Speeches by Griebl, Others sponsored by G.O.P

Fritz Kuhn Among Speakers in Regular Broadcasts over WWRL

The Republican Party had been sponsoring radio broadcasts by American Nazis to win German votes, it was disclosed today. One of the recent speakers was Dr. Ignatz T. Griebl a national Nazi leader and pronounced anti-Semitic…79


The hiring of Brooks in 1934 to head up the joint election campaign committee, and the headlines from 1936 sets up a pattern of collaboration between elements of the Republican Party and the Nazis. While the use of a false name by Brooks provides some means of deniability, his pro-fascist views were hardly a secret. However, the earlier involvement of the Republican State Party with Furholzer would render any deniability moot. There is no deniability for the 1936 headlines, as all were well known Nazis.

The more damaging second quote provides proof that the Republican Party leadership was willing to promote Nazi racism. In fact, an integral part of the Nazi battle plan was the promotion of racial riots or division within the United States to weaken or prevent the U.S. from entering the war. Such collaboration with the Nazis was tantamount to treason. Hitler and his agents in the United States must have been very pleased that leaders of the Republican Party were willing to promote and incite civil unrest.

This example of vicious anti-Semitic campaigns by Republican leaders was not an isolated incident. In fact, it was commonplace. In the 1938 Minnesota governor's race, leading officials of the Republican Party conducted another vicious anti-Semitic campaign, this one to defeat Farmer-Labor Governor Elmer Benson.

Benson's inaugural address on January 5, 1937 placed him on the left end of the New Deal. FDR had endorsed Benson in 1936. The Republican Party considered it a declaration of war. Among the issues Benson supported were:

A two-year extension on the mortgage moratorium for farmers.

- A technical assistance program to assist and promote cooperatives.

- Union wages for state employees.

- The creation of a state commission on youth.

- Free transportation for rural high school students.

- Repeal of the criminal syndicalism laws (remember the Wobblies?)

- Creation of a state housing agency.

- The development of a state owned cement plant.

- Increased benefits for the disabled, people on relief, and the aged.

- A constitutional amendment enabling the state to produce and sell electrical power to municipalities.

- A state liquor dispensary.

- New provisions in the state's unemployment benefits--including benefits for striking workers.85

Few of Benson's proposals became law as his program was effectively blocked in the state senate. Central to Benson's programs was a restructuring of the tax code, which passed the state house of representatives intact. Some of the provisions were:

1. Complete removal of the state tax levy of homes and homesteads up to the value of $4,000.

2. Taxing of the net income of individuals and corporations on a graduated basis so that a large share of local school taxes would be replaced by state income tax revenues.

3. Increased taxes on accumulated wealth, including mining companies, so that the state budget could be balanced.

4. Increased taxes on chain stores.85

The conservatives in the Senate ignored the House tax bill until a few days before the legislative session closed, resulting in a special session. The Twin City press ran article after article denouncing the Farmer-Labor Party while citing such business leaders as Charles Fowler of Northern States Power, Mr. Montague representing the Steel Trust, Aleck Janes of Great Northern Railroad, and Aaron Youngquist of Minnesota Power and Light. With the press at the beck and call of business leaders clamoring that the Farmer-Labor Party was driving business out of the state, Benson's tax proposals failed to pass the Senate, but the stage was set for a bitter election campaign the following year.

In 1938, the Republican Party, with Harold Stassen heading the state ticket, ran two campaigns. One, a high road campaign by Stassen, the other a dirty campaign headed by the old guard within the Republican Party. Led by Ray P. Chase, this second campaign set new lows. Chase's vehicle for running this second campaign was the Ray P. Chase Research Bureau. Financing his efforts were some of Minnesota's business elite: George Gillette, President of Minneapolis Moline; J. C. Hormel, the meat packer; James Ford Bell, Northwestern Bank; Colonel Robert McCormick, owner of the Chicago Tribune; and George Belden of the Citizens Alliance.

To accomplish his goal, Chase used both legal and illegal methods. Files were stolen from the State Relief Department and Farmer-Labor members were scanned for communist activity. Dean Edward Nicholson supplied data about left wing student organizations on the University of Minnesota campus. One of the students labeled a dangerous radical was Eric Sevareid. Chase produced and distributed the red baiting pamphlet, Are They Communists or Catspaws. After the pamphlet's introduction, Chase launched into a vicious anti-Semitic attack about an alleged conspiracy, equating Judaism with communism, and Governor Benson's role in it.


Chase's attack did not stop inside Minnesota. Using the services of Cyrus McCormick, Chase managed to get U.S. Congressman Martin Dies to hold hearings in late October on communist influence in the Farmer-Labor Party.85

To understand how the Republican Party could run election campaigns based on intense and vicious racist platforms; one needs to understand the attitude of the country towards Jews at the time. A few days after Kristallnacht, Roosevelt spoke out publicly expressing his anger and horror. A Gallup poll that month revealed that 94% of the people disapproved of the Nazi treatment of Jews, but 97% of the people also disapproved of the way Nazis treated Catholics. A Roper poll that same month revealed the deep anti-Semitic views in America. The poll found that only 39% of the people believed that Jews should be treated as everyone else, 53% believed that Jews were different and should be restricted, and 10% believed Jews should be deported. In the winter of 1938-1939, many had denounced helping "refu-Jews." Polls revealed 71-85% opposed increasing immigration quotes; 67% opposed admitting any refugees and 67% opposed a one-time admission of 10,000 refugee children.

Turning away the refugees aboard the St. Louis was a low point in the Roosevelt administration and perhaps indefensible in light of the Holocaust, but Roosevelt hardly acted in a vacuum. The public opinion was decidedly against admitting Jews. One can only guess at how much of the anti-Semitism prevalent at the time, was the direct result of the various anti-Semitic campaigns conducted by the Republican Party. It could not be a minor factor, as many of these anti-Semitic campaigns ran by Republicans equated Judaism with communism, as in the example of the 1938 Minnesota election.

The pattern of collaboration between the Republican Party and the Nazis extends further. On November 23, 1937, executives of General Motors and other corporate and political leaders met with Baron Manfred von Killinger, and agreed to a total commitment towards the Nazi cause. The agreement also called for the replacement of Roosevelt---preferably with Burton Wheeler of Montana. The agreement was secret but leaked to George Seldes and published in In Fact. The entire text of the agreement can be found in Facts and Fascism, a portion of which appears below.9

"The substance of the German suggestion amounts to changing the spirit of our nation as expressed by recent elections. That is possible but by no means easy. The people must become aware of the disastrous economic effects of the policies of the present administration first. In the wake of reorientation of the public opinion a vigorous drive must start in the press and radio. Technically it remains a question as to whether this drive may center around the Republican National Committee.

Farsighted businessmen will welcome conferences of this kind. A tremendous inspiration might come out of them. There is no reason why we should not learn of emergencies similar to those prevailing in our own country and the methods by which farsighted governments were trying to overcome them. It is also clear that manufacturers, who usually contributed to the campaigns of all candidates must realize that their support must be reserved to one, in whose selection they must take an active hand."

Each section of the document was written by one of the participants. A member of the United States Senate wrote the first paragraph of the quote above, a representative of General Motors wrote the second. Once again, it is clear from the first paragraph that leaders of the Republican Party were collaborating with the Nazis. It further establishes this pattern of collaboration over a period of several years. Nor would this be the last involvement of Nazis within the Republican Party. In 1940, a group of Republican congressmen accepted money from Hitler for their election campaigns.

The second paragraph above is of paramount importance. The leaders of corporate America did follow the prescription above for subverting democracy.

After the failure of Landon in the presidential race, and in defiance of Roosevelt's desire to improve working conditions for the average man, Knudsen and du Pont launched a speed-up system at General Motors. The system forced men to work at horrifying speed and many line workers died from the heat and the pressure.

Irenee du Pont personally paid out almost one million dollars to hire armed storm troopers modeled after the Gestapo, and equipped them with gas to sweep through his plants and beat any rebellious workers. He also hired Pinkerton to look through his industrial empire to spy on left-wingers, "malcontents," or labor leaders. This was at the same time he started to finance the notorious Black Legion in the Detroit area. He encouraged foremen at General Motors to join this group of terrorists.

The prime purpose of the Black Legion was to fire bomb union meetings, murder union leaders and terrorize all workers to prevent unionization. The Black Legion was linked to the Klan, and to the even more terrifying Wolverine Republican League. Members of this later group included several big business leaders. The Black Legion murdered at least 50 people, many of them black .6

Just as the backers of Hitler's were rich industrialists, so were the backers of fascism in the United States. Corporate America willingly entered into cartel agreements, which, in effect, granted them a monopoly. A second aspect of fascism that appealed to big business was its extreme anti-unionism. Professor Gaetano Salvemini of Harvard was quoted in the undergraduate daily, that a new fascism threatened America, the fascism of corporate business enterprise in this country. He also believed that 100% of American big business was in sympathy with fascism .8 At the very least support, for fascism was widespread among industrialists in this country, as the following quote from The New York Times from the Ambassador to Germany, William Dodd shows:

"A clique of U.S. industrialists is hell-bent to bring a fascist state to supplant our democratic government and is working closely with the fascist regime in Germany and Italy. I have had plenty of opportunity in my post in Berlin to witness how close some of our American ruling families are to the Nazi regime. On (the ship) a fellow passenger, who is a prominent executive of one of the largest corporations, told me point blank that he would be ready to take definite action to bring fascism into America if President Roosevelt continued his progressive policies.

Certain American industrialist had a great deal to do with bringing fascist regimes into being in both Germany and Italy. They extended aid to help fascism occupy the seat of power, and they are helping to keep it there.

Propagandists for the fascist groups try to dismiss the fascist scare. We should be aware of the symptoms. When industrialists ignore laws designed for social and economic progress they will seek recourse to a fascist state when the institutions of our government compel them to comply with the provisions." 7

The collaboration between the Republican Party and the Nazis was an ongoing effort throughout the 1930s. However, it would not reach epidemic proportions until the 1940 election. With the European continent already embroiled in war, and President Roosevelt espousing pro-British views, the Nazis were desperate to keep the United States out of the war. In a bizarre plot full of intrigue involving Texas oilman William Rhodes Davis, labor leader John L. Lewis, and Mexico, Nazis provided extensive funding to the Republican Party for the 1940 election.

W.R. Davis of Texas Oil had been supplying the Germany navy with oil since 1936, and was the owner of Eurotanker, a huge German refinery. For the complete story of Davis, the reader should see Dale Harrington's Mystery Man.93 Davis had arranged a deal to supply the Nazis with oil from Mexico. Since Mexico had nationalized its oil fields, including some owned by Davis, the Mexican oil market was boycotted by big oil, led by Standard Oil of New Jersey. The deal, therefore, was vital for the Mexican economy.

The outbreak of war in Europe also jeopardized Davis' road to riches. Davis used his friendship with John L. Lewis to arrange a meeting with Roosevelt early in 1940 in which he proposed a wild peace plan to FDR. Roosevelt was cool to the plan and informed Davis that any peace plan would have to come through official channels. Davis rushed to Europe, arriving in Italy, and then traveling to Germany. There he met with Goering. Central to Davis' plan was the removal of Hitler; the Nazis would remain in power under Goering. Upon his return, Roosevelt refused to meet with Davis.

Besides the peace plan, talk between Goering and Davis centered on the upcoming presidential election. The Nazis were desperately seeking the defeat of Roosevelt, although they were less than enthusiastic with the Republican candidates. They agreed the best chance of defeating Roosevelt was to back the Republicans rather than run a third party. Davis knew that Lewis was opposed to war and had informed the Nazis that Lewis had control over the election with his large block of union voters. Lewis was not pro-fascism. Instead, he feared that a new war would lead to a dictatorship and the placing of the CIO under emergency laws. In light of the Red Scare of 1919 one can hardly fault Lewis for his fears.94 Talk soon settled on how much money would be needed to defeat Roosevelt, with the final sum settled at five million dollars.


Joachim Herslet of the Reich Foreign Economic Ministry carried the plan to the United States. To obtain dollars, Goering had persuaded the Italians to release money from their fund used to finance fascist propaganda and espionage. An Italian courier, Luigi Podesta delivered the money to the German consulate in New York. Herslet informed the charge d'affairs of the German Embassy in Washington of his mission, and that he had five million dollars at his disposal. Davis received some of the money from Herslet, then opened accounts in the Bank of Boston, Irving Trust, Bank of America and Banco Germany of Mexico City.

On the eve of the Republican National Convention, money from this Nazi slush fund was used in a propaganda blitz for the isolationists. One Republican congressman received $3,000 for heading up a contingent of fifty isolationists. The Nazi money was well spent, as the convention closed with a party platform plank firmly opposed to US involvement in the war. The Nazis were especially pleased to note that the platform plank was taken almost verbatim from the full-page German propaganda ads placed in the New York Times on June 25.35 Stephen Day had been paid thousands of dollars to form the committee publishing the ad. Day, a Republican congressman from Illinois, would be named as a fascist collaborator by Maloney. The ad was signed by Representatives Samuel Pettingill, Harold Knudsen, John O'Conner and Hamilton Fish, and Senators Edwin Johnson, Bennett Clark, David Walsh, Burton Wheeler and Rush Holt.101 Both Lewis and Democratic Senator Burton Wheeler, a leading isolationist, spoke before the convention.

With this success behind them, the Nazis then decided to spring a similar effort on the Democratic convention. Central to the scheme was Davis distributing $100,000 to buy forty delegates from Pennsylvania to vote against Roosevelt. The Nazi press agent Kurt Sell arranged for several other Democratic congressmen to attend the convention on German Embassy funds. Sell also funded a number of anti-war ads in the Chicago Tribune on July 15.

Although the Nazis were not enthused over Willkie's nomination, they thought any president would be better than Roosevelt. With their slush fund of five million dollars, the Nazis surreptitiously helped Willkie through secret donations to various pro-Willkie clubs. Thomsen, the charge d'affairs of the German embassy, destroyed all receipts, so it may never be known how much money the Nazis funneled into the Republican Party, or to whom. It is not clear if the entire five million was spent. Supposedly, $3 million dollars was found in the embassy when the FBI seized it in December 1941. Nevertheless, the embassy had other sources of funding other than Herslet's funds. In fact, Thomsen did not cooperate with Herslet and ran his own separate campaign.

Perhaps the best summary of this plot is a quote from a report to the German Foreign Ministry by the German Ambassador Thomsen.

"Roosevelt's prospects of being elected a third time have declined…3. The election campaign maneuvers of John L. Lewis, chief of the CIO, and Senator Wheeler… Regarding 3. At this juncture John L. Lewis enters the arena with approximately 8 to 10 million votes controlled by him. He is determined to make ruthless use of his influence, and will do so in favor of strict isolationism. Lewis is pursuing that policy not indeed because of any pro-German sentiments, but because he fears that America's involvement in a war would mean the establishment of an American dictatorship and the placing of his organization under emergency laws. He is negotiating with Republicans at present and will support them in the campaign if Willkie publicly declares himself for keeping America out of all European conflicts. Lewis can throw his strength at will to Republicans or the Democrats, but this much is certain that he surely will not use it for Roosevelt. He may even, as he has already threaten to do, organize a third party of disgruntled Democrats, the Peace party, and in the person of closely allied Senator Wheeler put up a suitable candidate."99

While $5 million dollars seems a trivial amount today in a presidential campaign, in 1940 the amount was significant as the total expenditures by the Republican Party was slightly less than $15 million.

Regardless of whether the Nazis spent only $2 million or the full $5 million dollars, they were a major source of campaign funds for the Republicans in 1940. While the total amount of Nazis funds spent on the Republican 1940 campaign may never be known with any certainty, from the funds recovered in the embassy raid it is clear that at least $2 million was spent from the slush fund alone. Therefore the lower limit is at least $2 million. In short, a major proportion ranging from 15% to over 33% of the Republican campaign funds in 1940 came directly from the Nazis. Considering the fact the major industrialists were active supporters of the Nazis and large donors to the Republican Party, well over 50% of the Republican campaign funding in 1940 came either directly from Nazis in Berlin or those within the United States.

Following the Nazis, Davis likewise donated at least $48,000 to Willkie, bypassing the $5,000 federal limit with several methods such as donating to individual state parties. Davis also bankrolled the radio address of Lewis on October 21 in which Lewis announced his support for Willkie. In late October, Davis forwarded copies of his documents pertaining to his proposed peace plan to leaders of the Republican Party including Willkie, former President Hoover, Sam Pryor and Verne Marshall. Willkie decided not to use the material, fearing it might backfire. In the end, labor chose to remain loyal to FDR and Roosevelt won the election with 27 million votes to Willkie's 22 million.95

Moreover, the involvement of the Nazis in the 1940 election extended beyond the monetary donations and the bizarre plot of Davis. Top Republican leaders, including former President Herbert Hoover closely collaborated with high-level Nazi officials in Berlin to bring about the defeat of Roosevelt. Hoover's conniving with the Nazis in the 1940 election was confirmed in post-war interviews of Goering and Rubbentrop. Furthermore, Hoover was a secret member of the fascist American First group, which was dedicated to bring about Roosevelt's defeat.

The close association of the Republican Party with the Nazis was confirmed in captured documents. In one captured document written in anticipation of defeat the Nazis expressed hope for a Republican victory so that they might achieve an "easy peace." A small excerpt from the document in the appendix follows:

Right now, the chances for a separate peace with the West are a little better, especially if we succeed, through our propaganda campaign and our confidential" channels, to convince the enemy that Roosevelt's policy of "unconditional surrender" drives the German people towards Communism.

There is great fear in the U.S.A. of Bolshevism. The opposition against Roosevelt's alliance with Stalin grows constantly. Our chances for success are good, if we succeed to stir up influential circles against Roosevelt's policy. This can be done through clever pieces of information, or by references to unsuspicious neutral ecclesiastical contact men.

We have at our command in the United States efficient contacts which have been carefully kept up even during the war. The campaign of hatred stirred up by Roosevelt and the Jews against everything German has temporarily silenced the pro-German bloc in the U.S.A. However, there is every hope that this situation will be completely changed within a few months. If the Republicans succeed in defeating Roosevelt in the coming presidential election, it would greatly influence the American conduct of war towards us.

With the Battle of the Bulge raging in Europe the Republican candidate, Dewey lashed out against Roosevelt, that his call for unconditional surrender was prolonging the war and costing American lives.

The Nazi involvement in the 1940 election was extensive and extended to congressional races. Evidence gathered by Roosevelt's scheme to have British intelligence spy on Americans also netted information about Roosevelt's political enemies. The evidence confirms that seven U.S. senators and thirteen represenatives recieved campaign contributions from the Nazis. Much of the isolation wing of congress was directly finanaced by Berlin.119

From the evidence above the Nazis were deeply involved in the political process within the United States from at least 1932. However, the extent of that involvement is still shrouded in fog. Somewhere in the vaults of the United State and England incriminating files lie hidden that will expose the collaboration of many more individuals and corporations with the Nazis