The day Hitler unleashed his Panzer forces against Poland marked the formal beginning of World War II: September 1, 1939. War would lash across the European continent for another 6 years---a new war so horrific millions would perish as a result. It was a brutally savage war; over six million Jews perished in the Holocaust alone. For the first time in history an entire civilian population could be targeted for destruction, a feat made possible by new technology. War would spread into North Africa, China and engulf the South Pacific.
No single event of the twentieth century brought forth more geopolitical changes than WWII. Virtually every country of Europe saw a change in government during or after the close of the war. Nor was the change in governments confined to Europe. New governments and nations were born worldwide as the British Empire dissolved away. The United States was propelled from the position of a second tier nation to that of one of the two super powers and a world leader.
Domestically it brought forth a sea of changes. For the first time in the history, the United States would maintain a large standing army. As the only allied country to escape large-scale damage, it catapulted the U.S into an economic powerhouse. Moreover, with the fears of the red menace re-ignited, the United States bid farewell to an isolationist policy, choosing a proactive interventionist policy verging on imperialism.
For America, the war did not begin until Dec 7, 1941, the "day of infamy." For Americans it was a two front war perhaps, best symbolized by the Marines raising the flag on Mount Suribachi and GIs wading ashore at Normandy. For those Americans that lived through the war it meant ration cards, collection drives for scrap metal and other materials in short supply and images of Rosie, the Riveter.
It is this home front of the war that is grossly misunderstood by Americans today. Most Americans believe incorrectly that the country was totally united in its war efforts, yet nothing could be further from the truth. The native fascist remained active and considerable opposition to war existed in the halls of Congress. The war effort was hindered by the numerous cartel agreements between American corporations and I.G. Farben. Although the native fascists were unable to create widespread racial strife, they were successful in creating enough turmoil domestically to hinder the war effort.
In order to understand the many events of WWII both on the battlefield and on the home front a brief look at the Allies’ deadliest weapon is needed. The marks of this weapon were behind every headline throughout the war and traces of its presence can even be found in domestic events on the home front. This remarkable weapon fired no and dropped no bombs; it simply was our ability to break the Japanese code. Nevertheless, wrapped behind a shroud of secrecy Magic was undoubtedly the Allies’ ultimate weapon.
Although every student of WWII knows of the importance of Magic, few know of the bizarre and childish manner in which the military branches handled the information it yielded. Frank Rowlett of the Signal Intelligence Service broke the Japanese code on September 20, 1940. The rivalry between the army and navy led to a bizarre routine in which the information was passed onto Roosevelt. The traffic over Magic was too great for the army cryptanalysts to handle alone. Thus, the naval code breakers shared in the task of decrypting the messages. Each service had an officer, who decided which messages were passed onto the administration. This task fell to the army’s Colonel Rufus Bratton and the Alwin Kramer of the navy. Distribution was limited to the president, secretaries of state, war and navy, the Army Chief of Staff, the directors of military intelligence and naval intelligence and the chiefs of naval operations and war plans.
The bizarre nature in which the decrypts were delivered to FDR arose from the intense rivalry between the navy and army. After a prolonged dogfight between the two branches of the military a solution of sorts was reached. On odd-numbered months the decrypts would be delivered to the president by an army courier; on even-numbered months a naval courier would deliver them.
The level of absurdity would soon increase in July 1941. During June of 1940, Colonel Bratton noticed a decrypt of magic in Pa Watson’s wastebasket. Watson was FDR’s military aide and was in charge of appointments. He alone determined who would see the president. Watson had indeed been careless with the decrypt, and was not on the list of those approved to see Magic decrypts. The overzealous colonel reported Watson’s carelessness to his superior General Sherman Miles. The general then determined that the White House could no longer be entrusted with the decrypts. For the remainder of June FDR received the decrypts from the naval courier. However, starting in July the army delivered no decrypts to the White House. By August, the navy had managed to work out a new agreement with the army. The naval courier would read the decrypts to the President and then summarize them, however he was prohibited from showing the actual decrypt to the President.
A more serious leak arose inside the State Department. According to the Magic distribution scheme only the Secretary of State Cordell Hull was to receive the intercepts. Hull however, distributed copies to six of his top aides. One of whom shared the decrypts with four additional members in the Far Eastern Division. With so many copies to be distributed inside the State Department, multiple copies were mimeographed. Joseph Dugan was the man in charge of the mimeograph room and was a strict isolationist opposed to FDR. Dugan would discuss and even show the decrypts to a friend of his inside the State Department. Dugan’s friend however, was in the pay of Hans Thomsen, the German chargé ď' affaires in Washington and had conspired to fix the election in 1940. Thomsen reported to Berlin that the Americans had broken the Japanese code.
Remarkably, on May 6, Magic code breakers decrypted a message from Oshima in Berlin relaying Thomsen’s report of the broken code to Tokyo. Even more remarkable after a nonchalant investigation, the Japanese determined their code to be unbreakable and continued to use the broken code. In November, Roosevelt had tired of the psychotic manner in which the Magic decrypts were delivered to him. He demanded to see the full text of the messages and ordered that they were to be delivered to him only by the naval courier. 101
The breaking of the Magic and Ultra codes lead directly to one of the most controversial aspects of WWII, "did Roosevelt have a forewarning of the attack on Pearl Harbor?" The controversy has raged for over 60 years. The first to level such a charge was the Chicago Tribune. This was the same anti-Roosevelt paper that published the secret Rainbow 5 war plans, the same paper that was charged with treason in revealing the location and names of the ships involved in the battle at Midway and the same paper that scuttled the plans for making the OSS a permanent agency at the end of the war. The best evidence to date suggests there was no such warning. Right up to the hour of the bombing of Pearl, the White House and the military planners expected the attack to occur elsewhere in the Pacific.
Writers after the war concocted a similar story on the other side of the Atlantic. According to British writers, the Allies were willing to go to extreme ends in protecting the secret of Magic and Ultra. The British writers claimed Churchill had foreknowledge of the attack on Coventry. According to the over-active imagination of these writers Churchill was willing to allow the destruction of the city rather than tip off the Germans that their code had been broken. Ultra did yield that a massive attack was planned but the intercept was not translated until three days after the attack, and even then, the location of the attack was not mentioned. The Japanese's final message also failed to name the location of the attack.
While there is more than enough blame to go around, General Shorts and Admiral Kimmel must share the bulk of the blame. It was their command and they failed to take appropriate actions following the war-warning message. Such a message should have alerted both officers of the need to take full defensive measures such as manning anti-aircraft guns, have scout planes in the air at all times, and to rotate and separate the fleet. Washington shares some of the blame in failing to follow up on the war-warning message to insure appropriate actions had been taken. Additionally a large proportion of the blame can be placed on the insane rivalry between the army and navy in the way they handled Magic. December 6 was an army day to decrypt, and time was wasted by the navy, sending the intercept to the army. Additional time was wasted since the army decoders had already left for the weekend. Further delay was added as the intercept was returned to the navy to be decoded.
Finally, much of the blame can simply be placed on old-fashioned American arrogance. No one from the President on down believed Japan could attack American soil. No one believed that torpedo bombs could be used at Pearl Harbor. Naval experts simply dismissed the idea because they believed that the harbor was too shallow. No nets were ever deployed before the bombing to protect the ships from torpedo bombs. Yet of all the bombs dropped at Pearl the torpedo bombs probably were responsible for more damage than the conventional bombs.
In November 1941, in an attempt to strengthen security Roosevelt had dispatched his own man to the West Coast to assess the loyalty of the Japanese residents on the West Coast. John Carter selected Curtis Munson, a Chicago businessman for this assignment. Carter was a news reporter that Roosevelt had employed as essentially a spy and had set up a small special intelligence unit under him. Munson reported that 90 to 98 percent of the Japanese were loyal. However, Munson’s report alerted FDR to the dangers of dams, bridges, power stations and other such targets which were unguarded. Roosevelt spent a large amount of time worrying over the possibility of espionage such as had occurred during the first war. He could not shake the image of another Black Tom sabotaging the war effort.
In the period immediately following the bombing of Pearl, Donovan contributed to Roosevelt’s fears of a fifth column. He reported to the president that German saboteurs were about to descend on America’s shores supported and aided by U.S. bands of storm troopers. Donovan also forwarded a report to FDR claiming Japanese soldiers disguised as civilians were mobilizing to attack San Diego. Additionally Donovan reported that Los Angles was in danger of an imminent Japanese air strike. Perhaps the most damning statement of Japanese loyalty came from Naval Secretary Frank Knox. On December 15, Knox was quoted claiming: "I think the most effective fifth column work of the entire war was done in Hawaii."102
Immediately following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the West Coast was gripped in panic. Local civilians formed coast watcher groups up and down the coast from San Diego to Seattle. The army also put in place armed coast watchers. Both the army and civilian coast watchers were prone to shoot first. The worsening news contributed further to the near-hysteric conditions along the coast. On December 23, a Japanese submarine sank an oil tanker just six miles offshore after leaving the port of San Luis. The Philippines had fallen and the Japanese were now in firm control of the south Pacific. Additional Japanese submarine sightings were made particularly off the Oregon Coast. On Feb 23, 1942, a Japanese submarine surfaced a mile offshore and shelled the Richfield Oil Company. The following night the skies of Los Angeles resembled a Fourth of July celebration as they were lit up with searchlights, trace bullets and antiaircraft fire, as an uncontrolled fear gripped the city fearing it was under attack. There was no attack.
Further north in Washington State, a power line from one of the dams suddenly went dead. The gun shops and hardware stores in the towns affected by the power outage had a bonanza day in selling ammunition. Their streets were soon empty of adult males as everyone was in the backwoods hunting Japs. With the power soon restored, these patriotic Jap hunters came straggling back home. Miraculously none of them suffered any injuries greater than a severely bruised ego. The power company had located the problem and repaired the damage. The power line ran through a rather boggy area, which was used as pasture by the landowner. Apparently, the cows had found one of the power poles to be a convenient scratching post. In the soft wet ground the pole sound had started to lean and finally toppled over.
As tension and fear continued to mount on the West Coast, Roosevelt was soon under intense pressure to do something about the perceived problem of Japanese living on the West Coast. The call for internment was led by General DeWitt, the West Coast Army Chief, Culbert Olson, California’s governor and Earl Warren, California’s attorney general. The governors of Washington and Oregon were squarely behind internment. Both of these states were hotbeds of support for the Klan during the 1920s. Only a single state west of the Mississippi, Colorado would accept the Japanese freely. With political pressure reaching a feverish pitch, Roosevelt signed executive order 9066 on February 19, 1942 starting one of America’s grievous sagas, the internment of Japanese citizens.
While many people like to place the blame solely on Roosevelt in an effort to discredit him, he hardly acted in a vacuum. The political pressures were immense but the real roots for this sad saga lie deeper in the roots of American racism. The roots of Japanese racism can be traced to a 1924 report prepared by the Labor Department during the Coolidge administration, which had remained secret until the outbreak of war. At the time, the Oriental Exclusion Act was pending in Congress and the report was suppressed. Tennessee Democrat Senator Thomas Stewart, the prosecutor in the Scopes trial, released the report. The report was a study conducted of the strike against the sugar planters in Hawaii. The report noted that the Japanese in Hawaii were settling near strategic military areas and otherwise imperiling national defense. Senators Stewart, Maybank of South Carolina and Rufus Holman of Oregon stated the report should have been publicized at the time and the nation put on guard concerning the compromised defenses of Hawaii.
The roots of Asian racism can be traced back further than the 1924 Exclusion Act to 1882. In that year, President Chester A. Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred the immigration of Chinese for ten years. In 1892, the law was extended another ten years and in 1902, it was made permanent. In 1907, The U.S. struck a deal with Japan to limit Japanese immigration and prevented the Japanese immigrants from ever gaining citizenship. Without citizenship, the immigrants could not legally own land.
While ultimately the burden for issuing the executive order must be placed squarely on Roosevelt's shoulders, the roots for such action came from America’s sordid past of racism.
Politically the war years were the beginning of the transformation and polarization of both major political parties. Prior to the war, both parties had had conservative and liberal wings. By the end of the 1960s both parties had been fully polarized, the Republican became the party of conservatives the Democrats became a party of liberals. In addition, just as both major parties started evolving during this time so did the fascists.
During the war years the native fascist were forced to change their tactics twice. The first change came with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The second change began when everyone realized Nazi Germany was defeated and it would be only a mater of time before they were forced to surrender. This second change began around mid-1943.
The bombing of Pearl forced the native fascist to abruptly change their tactics to preserve their ideology. America was fighting back; it wasn't giving up. Open rallies and parades were now out of the question for the pro-fascists. Membership in such groups quickly dwindled leaving only the hard core fascists. The hard core fascist would go underground. It would be an all-out propaganda war. The fascist agenda would be cloaked under a false banner of patriotism with a new goddess for America to worship. Lady Liberty, the symbol of American freedom since colonial times would be savagely brutalized in the process.
Before looking at this transformation of fascism, one needs an understanding of the extent of the fascist infiltration into American society of the time. In November 1940, FDR set aside one week as National Bible Week. The National Bible Association organized the celebrations and the event has continued ever since. Such a group would appear to be rather innocuous and wholesome, but all is not what it appears to be. The National Bible Association had an elitist agenda and was rooted in the National Committee for Religious Recovery founded in 1940 by New York business interests. Newsweek described the National Committee as a group of "a few Wall Streeters." In 1941, the National Committee changed its name to The Laymen’s National Committee.
The first chairman of the National Committee for Religious Recovery was Lambert Fairchild. His following words can describe the agenda of the National Committee best.
"For God and Country you’re going to see religion and business formed into a solid phalanx. Let no rabble-rousing communist tell you anything else, you security-holders who want security for your holdings."15
Fairchild was attempting to fuse business interests with religion
interests in those words. It provides a common theme with the
conversion of nativist groups to groups that adopted fascism at the
heart of their ideology. Although similar to the participation of
religious groups in the Red Scare of 1919, it is much broader. During
the Red Scare the nativist religious elements remained largely
independent from corporate funding. This conversion from nativism to
fascist involved a direct link between business funding and fascists.
Fairchild had close ties with several fascist organizations including the American Bund, the Christian Mobilizers and the Christian Front. After Newsweek exposed Fairchild’s pro-Nazi associations he was replaced with Howard Kiroack, who also had several ties with pro-fascist groups. The full extent of both individuals involvement can be found in Carlson's book.16 In 1945, the group presented an Annual Award of Merit to the pro-fascist newspaperman William Randolph Hearst.
The National Bible Association has maintained close ties with the elitist as evidenced from its list of chairmen over the years. Past chairmen have included: Wlliam Grede (Grede Foundation), Charles Hook (Armco Steel), Edward Werle (New York Stock Exchange), J. Peter Grace (W. R. Grace & Co) C. Fred Fetterolf (Alcoa) and Richard DeVos (Amway) among others. In other words, most of the past directors were CEOs of large corporations rather than prominent religious leaders.
This example of fascist founding a religious group is indicative of the extent of the fascist influence within the United States at the time. No organization or institution was free from fascist infiltration. In an environment based on capitalism, fascism is insidious, its tentacles reach out an infect all organizations and groups. After the Klan formed an alliance with the American Bund, the Klan urged its members to join unions in an effort to instigate strikes that would stop war production. The press and even Congress had their share of native fascists.
As the real power of the fascist movement in the United States was the leaders of corporate America and their Wall Street cronies the evolution of fascism took two predictable forms. One form became virulently anti-union; the other became fanatically anticommunist. This transformation of fascism came about largely through various groups financed by the leaders of corporate America. Financial support from corporate America was provided to all types of fascist groups ranging from the extremely violent Black Legion to the more subdued American First group.
Most of the various fascist groups remained active during the war and continued to receive funding from the leaders of corporate America. They found many allies in their struggle to further the fascist cause within America in the press, in Congress and in various government agencies, including Hoover’s FBI.
To understand this transformation of fascism into the mainstream of America society a brief look at the background of anti-unionism is needed. Both anti-unionism and anti-communism go back to the end of WWI and are probably uniquely American as they are grounded in nativism and emigration. Donner describes this transformation of the anti-union movement as follows.
"The root of the anti-subversive impulse was fed by the menace. Its power strengthened with the passage of time, by the late twenties its influence had become pervasive and folkish. Bolshevism came over wide areas of the country by God-fearing Americans as the Antichrist come to do eschatological battle with the children of light. A slightly secularized version, widely shared in rural and small-town America, postulated a doomsday conflict between decent upright folk and radicalism-alien, satanic, immorally incarnate. The enemy was perceived with the kind of retching horror evoked by the biblical cry "Unclean." 2
Unionism came to be regarded in the same form. It was an alien concept imported by lazy and unclean aliens. The trial of Sacco and Vanzetti came in 1920. Despite strong alibis from witnesses placing Vanzetti at a location other than the robbery location both men were found guilty and sentenced to death. One overriding factor the jury could not overlook was the political views of Vaneztti.3 The trial was essentially a crystallization of the views expressed in the quote above.
The roots of anti-unionism can be traced back to the Civil War and the Pinkerton Agency. Following the Civil War employers used the agency as a weapon against the labor unions.1 Pinkerton had the most success in the 1870s when it smashed the Molly Maguires for the Reading Railroad. It was a short step from labor intervention to labor espionage. Agencies such as Pinkerton were transformed into an institutionalized tool for class warfare. Since unionism was involved in political events of the time, surveillance of union activity would invariably embrace political targets as well. It became fashionable and politically expedient for pro-business politicians to associate labor with violence, conspiracy and the communist revolution.
Much of the violence was not the result of the unions but that of the employers. It was the employers that stockpiled tear gas and Thompson submachine guns, it was employers that urged the local sheriff into murdering the IWW members in Everett, Washington, and it was the employers that instigated the violence in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
It was during the 1930s that religious fundamentalist and anti-communist groups began to take on a fascist flavor. The transformation of these nativist groups to fascism was often times subtle. For instance, anti-union groups went from mere opposition of unions to promoting and protecting corporations, monopolies and cartels. The transformation of fundamentalist religious groups was marked by an increased anti-Semitic view. In almost all nativist groups the transformation was marked from a shift from isolationism to global intervention.
There were powerful forces at work behind the scenes that protected the fascists. Like Germany in which the leaders of the large corporations in a backroom deal placed Hitler in the chancellery office, it was the leaders of corporate America who wielded such unbridled power that they could attempt a plot against FDR in an effort to install a fascist government. Although the participants were known and the evidence damning Roosevelt was left virtually powerless to bring the plotters to justice and in the end no arrests were made.
Moreover, the government was ill prepared to deal with fascism and the threat it posed. Congress made a feeble attempt to come to the grips of the threat posed by fascism in establishing a committee to investigate fascism. The committee was promptly seized by Martin Dies and converted into a red-baiting committee. Any efforts of investigating fascism were promptly sabotage. Unlike communism, fascism posed no threat to corporate America. In fact fascism was corporate friendly and would be protected.
The only other government agency with a role in domestic investigations was the FBI. Lead by the patron saint of the right wing, J. Edgar Hoover. Enough ink has been used already in detailing the racist and anti-Semitic views of Hoover so his racism will not be discussed further. Nevertheless, much mystery still surrounds Hoover and his role in fascism during the war years. Hoover was always known to be very politically ambitious about seeking power and control. His first real experience came with the forerunner of the present day FBI in the repressive Palmer Raids of the early 1920s. Evidence showed Hoover was an overly-enthusiastic participant and that he perceived anti-communism and anti-unionism as a means of furthering his career and increasing his power. Donner sums up Hoover’s true legacy as follows.
"Out of nativism, anti-communism, super-patriotism, religion and political conservatism, he forged an ideology of capitalism in the American grain, a blueprint for American fascism."4
There is abundant evidence of Hoover’s sympathy for fascism. Hoover’s most open political ties were with "respectable" super patriotic conservative groups including various veteran organizations, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the American Security Council (a group formed in the mid-1950s from members of three pro-Nazi groups of the 1930s) and the Freedom Foundation. Hoover also maintained links with various right wing or conservative churches.5
Up until the 1940 election Hoover spent more time spying on British agents and communists than spying on Nazi agents. As early as 1939, Roosevelt allowed British agents to wiretap Americans who were believed to be aiding the Nazi cause. Master spy Sir William Stephenson, better known as Intrepid headed the British operation. By the time the United States had entered the war, Stephenson had uncovered a web of Nazi-American financial ties.
The wiretaps were of course illegal and evidence gathered from the wiretaps was not allowable in court, but they provided the British with a means to stop the flow of American support to Hitler. In most cases, this meant intercepting vital shipments of war materials to Germany. However, there is evidence that in some cases in which the damage to the British war effort was acute, Intrepid's agents murdered fascist agents within the United States. Some evidence suggests William Rhodes Davis; a Texas oilman may have been poisoned by Intrepid's operation.
Roosevelt however, planned to leak the information gahered by the
British operation to the media
after the war to generate a public uproar over treason. Due to the
resulting public out cry, Roosevelt then could launch a
full investigation safetly without harming the war effort. As part of
this secret scheme between Roosevelt and
British intelligence, Roosevelt deliberately placed, suspected
individuals in positions in which they could easily be monitored. It
was no accident that after his appointment to the OSS that Allen
Dulles' office in New York was one floor directly below the British
wiretapping office. Dulles's appointment was a deliberate setup. It
placed him in a position in which he would be tempted the most to
continue aiding the Nazis. Following the war Roosevelt
planned on using this information to help prosecute Dulles. Two
unforeseen events occurred to scuttle FDRs plan, one someone tipped
Dulles off. The leak is commonly attributed to Vice President Henry
Wallace and this was the motivation for dumping him from the ticket in
1944. Secondly the death of Roosevelt killed the plan entirely, as
Truman was never informed over it. Dulles likewise was not Roosevelt's
only target, many other wealthy Wall Street investors were also targets
reportedly also including Joseph Kennedy. Former Supreme Court Justice
Arthur Goldberg confirmed Dulles was being set up before his death.106
While Roosevelt's relationship with J. Edgar Hoover was reportedly harmonious, Roosevelt’s scheme with British intelligence betrays a telltale hint that Roosevelt did not trust the Hoover fully and may have even suspected his loyalties.
In addition to the British import/export office in 30 Rockefeller Plaza was the offices of Western Continents Corporation. Western Continents had been established by George Muhle on August 14, 1941. The firm described itself as a "research and analyzation work and export and import." Dun and Bradstreet report carried a brief synopsis of Muhle’s life. It also listed Council of Foreign Relations member, William Diebold Jr. as treasurer.
What the Dun and Bradstreet report failed to note was that George Muhle was a fictitious name. George Muhle was in fact George Muhle Mertens. A significant part of Mertens' life had been omitted in the otherwise correct synopsis of the Dun and Bradstreet report. From 1926 to 1927, Mertens had been the head of Germany's Bureau of Investigations for Anti-Democratic Activities. The bureau was a government intelligence organization formed to counter leftist and rightist organizations in Germany. Mertens had been dismissed from all his posts in the Nazi government by Goering and charged with high treason.
For a while in 1936 Mertens had worked for the Commerz Bank in Berlin. Mertens entry into the United States was aided by the counselor of the American Embassy in Berlin, Prentiss Gilbert. Gilbert had joined the Schering Corporation believing that the Nazis had sold it to legitimate owners, only to find that it was merely a front for continued Nazi activity.
Mertens had contacted the Roosevelt administration through Adolf Berle who passed him along to Francis McNamara of the Alien Property division of the Department of Justice. McNamara, feeling legally bound, finally put Mertens in contact with Donovan and William Stephenson. It was Stephenson’s organization that put up the front money to form Western Continents.
In 1942, control of Western Continents was passed from Stephenson to Donovan. However, by that time Mertens had been able to map out the Nazi commercial structure within the United States and its relationship with the Sichereitsdienst (SD). Additionally, Mertens exposed the Nazi front companies in South America and how they interacted with their North American cousins. Moreover, Mertens presented a detailed exposure of the SD and the personal financial arrangements of the fascist French prime minister Pierre Laval and his associates including the Bank of Worms. 103
The information gained from Mertens proves that Stephenson's operation was not only successful, but also its reached extended very far, including into the top levels of foreign governments friendly to the Nazis.
Arthur Goldberg confirmed before his death that Roosevelt had Allen Dulles under surveillance. During the war, Goldberg served in the labor division of the OSS. Thus it seems likely that the OSS or at least one of its branches was involved with Roosevelt’s secret plan of placing people suspected of aiding the Nazi cause under surveillance. The involvement of the OSS in the plot would have been illegal as its charter banned the OSS from spying within the United States. The evidence would have been inadmissible in courts, but was in keeping with Roosevelt's plan to leak the information to the press and use the public uproar to call for a full investigation. The involvement of the OSS would indicate that the plot was much more far reaching and that many more Nazi sympathizers were under a careful watch.
However, this scheme with the British was only one of many in which Roosevelt relied on others for intelligence. Roosevelt often asked his friends to take on special missions for him. Many of these missions by friends ended in failure, such as Vincent Astor’s voyage in the South Pacific. Another recruit into FDR’s private spy network was John Carter a writer for the fledging Time magazine.
Joseph Kennedy was another individual like Dulles that was placed in a position where he could be watched carefully. Roosevelt had dispatched the Irishman to England as an ambassador. Churchill’s son, Randolph, confirmed Kennedy was under electronic surveillance. The surveillance revealed that a lowly code clerk named Tyler Kent had passed secret documents to Anna Wolkoff. Wolkoff then passed the information on to the Italian foreign minister who would forward it on to the Nazi foreign office. Kent, an American citizen, was tried in secret in the Old Bailey on October 23, 1940. He was sentenced to seven years.100
Roosevelt abruptly terminated Kennedy's ambassadorship, during a weekend visit to FDR's estate at Hyde Park. The termination was very uncharacteristic of Roosevelt and centered about differences in the opinion of the two men. It is highly unlikely that FDR would have dismissed Kennedy if the monitoring operation had revealed any link to the Nazis by that time. Roosevelt would simply have waited until after the war when Kennedy and the rest of the Nazi sympathizers would have to face justice.
Hoover’s spying on the British was more of a fence-sitting maneuver on his part. It was a position that left him largely neutral in favor of the Nazis. This fence-sitting by Hoover was due to his overly-ambitious aspirations. Loftus claims that the fascist forces within the Republican Party had offered Hoover the position of Attorney General, a position he coveted, if Roosevelt was defeated in the 1940 election.71
With Roosevelt’s reelection Hoover had to hurry to mend fences with the White House by offering files on Nazi sympathizers. However, Hoover had spent so much time spying on the British and chasing suspected communists that he had no central index of suspected pro-Nazis. Hoover then went begging to the Anti-Defamation League for their records. The British of course had better files but refused to share them with Hoover and the FBI, fearing that the right-wing elements within the bureau would leak information of their wiretap operation. Hence, it is clear MI6, the top intelligence service of the world at the time, believed the FBI was infested with Nazis or Nazi sympathizers.
Many have attributed Hoover's opposition and refusal to cooperate with the OSS to his over-ambitious aims for the FBI. In reality, it was Hoover's thin skin of and his tendency to hold a grudge. Rather Hoover’s opposition to the OSS stems from the 1920s. During the 1920s, Coolidge appointed William Donovan to the position of assistant attorney general. During his tenure in the Department of Justice, Donovan became aware of Hoover’s wiretapping of politicians’ telephones and hauled the young Hoover before Attorney General Stone. Hoover was nearly fired over the incident and never forgot who embarrassed him.85
However, even more damaging was Hoover’s sabotage and obstruction of the fledging intelligence network prior to and during the war, much of which was corroborated by Dusko Popov. Polov a British master spy, who had earned the confidence of the Nazis and was playing the role of a double agent. In 1941, the Germans dispatched him to the United States to reorganize and run their spy network. For a double agent it was the chance of a lifetime to deceive the Nazis on a grand scale. However, Hoover disapproved of Polov’s playboy lifestyle and refused to help maintain Polov’s cover.
Even more damning, Polov had brought with him important intelligence from Germany, intelligence that included the Japanese interest in the defenses and fortifications of Pearl Harbor. This information was received just four months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Hoover was hardly equipped to understand the importance of the information nor could he find a publicity use for it. With no personal use for the information, he promptly buried the report without forwarding it to the War Department or the White House.6
Included within Polov's documents was information about the German
microdot. This information was useful for publicity and in April 1946,
Hoover published an article in the Reader's Digest claiming
credit for capturing the secret of the microdot from an enemy spy.
Hoover lied, a British agent gave it to him, but more damning, the
article contained a diagram that exposed Popov’s source, a Brazilian
diplomat. While the war was over in 1946, South America was the
destination of many of the Nazi war criminals. In his effort to seek
the spotlight, Hoover had exposed a useful source of information that
could have provided information on war criminals in South America.
The Reader’s Digest has always held an extreme right wing bias. So much so that George Seldes in Facts and Fascism devoted an entire chapter to the Reader’s Digest.7 Seldes charged that Dewitt Wallace, the owner of the Reader's Digest, told his staff that he did not want Hitler defeated, that the editor was a pro-Hitlerite from the Hearst papers and that the Reader's Digest had consistently published anti-union and fascist propaganda. 8 The following quote from Facts and Fascism sums up Seldes' opinion of the Reader's Digest and its owner.
"It pretends to be an impartial reprint magazine, selecting the best items from all others, but it is in fact a skillfully manipulated publication spreading the reactionary views of a powerful nobody named DeWitt Wallace…DeWitt Wallace is either a knave or a fool. Either he is so stupid that he doesn’t know that he is spreading fascism, or he is a Machiavellian knave who has devised a wonderful and sinister method , far superior to any known to Herr Goebbels." 9
Hoover apparently saw nothing wrong with the Nazis either politically or morally. He Only three days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 4, 1940, Hoover finally broke relations with Interpol, an agency that was controlled at the time by the Nazis and then only at the urging of other top FBI executives broke the association.
In short, the top echelon of the FBI saw no danger from fascism but maintained a visceral hatred of communism and Russia as well as that of FDR, the New Deal and liberalism. The FBI's top intelligence officer during the war and up until 1954 was D. Milton Ladd, who in all seriousness claimed FDR was a Comintern agent.10
The FBI's policy under Hoover during the war years was openly antagonistic of our Russian ally, and liberalism in general including the New Deal. No attempt was made by the Attorney General or anyone else from the Department of Justice to muzzle Hoover. Hoover’s propensity for maintaining files on his enemies in Congress and throughout the entire federal bureaucracy was well known. It seems certain that Hoover was taping his enemies and potential enemies to a far greater extent than is known. As an example, Hoover maintained a file on Frank Murphy over a ten-year period that contained derogatory items from his private life, even after Murphy was appointed Attorney General in 1938.
This vast cache of secret files enabled Hoover to transform the FBI into a huge propaganda machine. Even more iniquitously, Hoover was solely responsible for transforming the crime-fighting agency into a domestic intelligence operation with a gut level hate of the left. From 1940 to 1945, Hoover gave some fifty speeches on the dangers of communism many of them openly critical of his superiors and their values. In effect, he was able to transform the FBI into a vast system of public opinion formation.11
Throughout his lifetime Hoover's favorite whipping boys were communists. He supported Joe McCarthy's witch-hunts of the early 1950s. Likewise, Hoover desperately tried to associate the civil rights leaders of the 1960s and the Vietnam War protestors with communism. The FBI's persecution of the left in the 60s through its COINTELPRO operation was a grave injustice. However, just like the Palmer Raids the effect of such operations depleted the left of leadership and left a vacuum of moderating forces allowing fascism to rise up in the 1930s and again in the 1980s. In any other country of the world the Palmer Raids, the McCarthy witch-hunts and COINTELPRO would be condemned as purges.
Nor can the role of the media be ignored in any of these purges. The media killed the story of COINTELPRO by a lack of reporting. Even today, the media is still content to cast McCarthy in a role of a patriot instead of a power mad tyrant. The end results have led to wasted decades of political repression and the growth of corporate power.
With such antagonistic views of the director and the top echelon of the FBI, the pursuit of fascists and seditionists suffered immensely. With the Department of Justice handicapped by the FBI’s lack of interest in fascists, most of those brought to trial for sedition went free. In any case, those were just the little guys, the power and money behind them was never exposed nor did the FBI have any interest in investigating the leaders and money used to support the fascist groups. There would be no mass arrest of fascists during the war, unlike the mass arrests of the Palmer Raids following WWI or in the following McCarthism era.
Hoover's efforts to spread propaganda extended beyond the FBI. In the 1940s, Hoover fed information to Father John F. Cronin. During the 1940s, Cronin was the assistant director of the Social Action Department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference. With Hoover's aid, Cronin became an expert on communism and later close associate of Richard Nixon. Cronin was secretly retained by the Chamber of Commerce to write and distribute pamphlets critical of unions, communism and liberalism in general. The 1947 pamphlet, Communism Within the Labor Movement led to the drive to require union leaders to sign a non-Communist affidavit.12 No one should harbor the mistaken belief that the FBI is a crime-fighting agency. It is not nor has it ever been such. It has always been America's gestapo with a mission to destroy the left. That record extends from the Palmer Raids to COINTELPRO of the 1960s and even up to the present day.
Another individual in aiding the fascists was H. Ralph Burton, chief counsel to the House’s Military Affairs Committee. Burton was a racist and an anti-Semite with a long history of associations with fascists. At one point he was the lawyer for William Ludecke who bragged he was Hitler’s number two Nazi in the United States. Burton was also special counsel to DAR during their flagrant red-baiting days, and a close associate of Walter Steele, editor of the fascist National Republic.
In the mid 1930s, Burton was general counsel for Father Coughlin's National Union of Social Justice in Maryland. Burton’s son likewise had close associations with fascists. His son Robert was a frequent guest at the Japanese Embassy and was often observed in the company of other Nazis under surveillance. In 1939, Burton was an investigator for the WPA subcommittee and was determined to show that the WPA was controlled by and run for the benefit of the Jews.
How a man like Burton with known Nazi sympathies was able to maintain a sensitive position such as Burton held, when the country was at war with Nazi Germany is mysterious. Moreover, there were hundreds of others like Burton. However, anyone with the slightest tinge of socialism or communism was rapidly removed from any position within the government.
While he served in the Military Affairs Committee Burton proceeded to make himself a thorn in the side of Army officials. He would scan lists of draft deferments, skipping over ethnic surnames of Irish and other European surnames looking for the Jewish ones. Burton then called the local draft board demanding that these Jews be drafted.
Burton’s most damaging role was in the wrecking of the Army’s Orientation Course after the issue of Program #64. The Orientation Course was set up to teach recruits what they were fighting for and to counteract the fascist propaganda circulating at the time. At first, the Orientation Course was general in nature but as more and more recruits demanded more definitive information, it became specialized. Program #64 contained the following definition of fascism:
"If we don’t understand fascism and recognize when we see it, it might crop up again---under another label---and cause another war.
Fascism is a way to run a country---it's the way Italy was run, and the way Germany and Japan are run. Fascism is the precise opposite of democracy. The people run democratic governments, but fascists governments run the people.
Fascism is government by the few and for the few. The objective is seizure and control of the economic, political, social, and cultural life of the state. Why? The democratic way of life interferes with their methods and desires for: 1. Conducting business; 2. Living with their fellow-men; 3 having the final say in matters concerning others as well as themselves.
The basic principles of democracy stand in the way of their desires; hence—democracy must go! Anyone who is not a member of their inner gang has to do what he's told. They permit no civil liberties, no equality before the law. They make their own rules and change them when they choose. If you don't like it, its' T.S.
They maintain themselves in power by use of force combined with propaganda based on primitive ideas of blood and race, by skillful manipulation of fear and hate, and by false promises of security. The propaganda glorifies war and insists it is smart and realistic to be pitiless and violent. 41
It is hard to imagine that such a statement caused an outburst of protest on Capitol Hill. Indignant speeches were made on the floor of the House. Clare Hoffman of Michigan and John Rankin of Mississippi were outraged over Program #64 as were other pro-fascist members. Such outbursts of indignation from those aligned with the fascists on Capitol Hill soon led to the destruction of the top-rated Orientation Courses. In effect, the pro-fascists in Congress did not want the GIs to know the truth of what they were fighting and dying for.
There is one other contributing factor during this time: the general lack of education of the average GI, which stresses the need for programs such as the Army’s Orientation Courses. In 1947, the average level of education for all adults was only 8.6 years, 75% did not complete high school. In 1947, only 19% of the voters had a generally correct view of the Wagner act according to a Gallup poll. Another 69% simply didn’t know and the remainder gave wrong answers.
Even by 1951, only eight percent of adults could properly define the meanings of monopoly, antitrust suit, the Sherman Act and interlocking directories.27 The low level of education left 80% highly subjective to anyone’s propaganda. In short, the majority of the voters were dupes for whoever could shout the loudest. The same pro-fascist block in Congress would soon replace the Orientation Course with an anti-communism program.