There are also American citizens, many of them in high places, who, unwittingly in most cases, are aiding these [Axis] agents.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, December 29, 1940.
In the United States we have many of our compatriots and even more friends among the citizens of the United States who are favourably disposed toward us. Many of the latter hold important positions in political and economic life.
From a speech delivered in Berlin in 1940 by Reichsminister R. Walter Darre.
I. Secret Offensive
The Axis war against America did not begin on December 7, 1941, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The momentous events of that morning climaxed a secret war that the German, Japanese and Italian General Staffs had been waging against the United States for almost a decade. The major battles of this undeclared war were fought on American soil.
During the 1930s a huge fifth column apparatus of Axis-inspired organizations, pro-Nazi propaganda centres, military-espionage and racist terrorist cells, ramified through every phase of American life. When Hitler’s mechanized legions swept into Poland on September I, 1939, and launched the Second World War, there were already more than 700 fascist organizations operating in the United States.
These were a few of the openly pro-Axis or native fascist organizations that functioned in America during 1933-41:
American Destiny Party; American Guards; American White Guards; Ausland-Organization der N.S.D.A.P. (Overseas Branch of the Nazi Party); A.V. Jugendschaft (Hitler Youth); Black Dragon League; Blackshirts; Christian Front; Christian Mobilizers; Deutscher Krieger Bund von Nord-Amerika (German Soldiers League of North America); Ethiopian-Pacific League; Falangists; German-American Bund; Gray Shirts; Hetman; Hindenburg Youth Association; Italian Fascist Clubs; Japanese Imperial Comradeship League; Japanese Military Servicemen’s League; Ku Klux Klan; Kyffhaeuser Bund (German Veterans League) Black Legion National Copperheads National Workers League ODWU (Organization for the Rebirth of the Ukraine) Ordnungsdienst (Order Service Storm Troops); Patriots of the Republic; Russian Fascist National Revolutionary Party; Silver Shirts; Social Justice Clubs; Stahlhelm (Steel Helmets); White Russian Fascists
Cooperating with or directly supervised by the Axis Propaganda Ministries and Military Intelligence Agencies, such organizations flooded America with anti-democratic and anti-labor publications, openly fomented racial antagonisms, denounced the Roosevelt Administration, or called for the establishment of a fascist regime in America. At mass rallies and clandestine conferences, on the radio and by mail, in industrial centres and small towns, in factories, farms, schools, churches and army training posts, the fifth column network conducted ceaseless hostilities against the American nation.
The major objectives of the fascist fifth column were these: to disrupt and disunite the American -people; to undermine public confidence in Roosevelt; to convince Americans they were menaced not by Fascism but by Communism; to hamstring U.S. defence preparations; and to isolate America from its anti-fascist allies abroad.
Extraordinarily enough, the fascist fifth columnists were allowed to pursue these pernicious aims in America, with practically no interference whatsoever from the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
And, from the beginning, the machinations of the fifth columnists were directly aided by some of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the United States. *
* The organization most vividly exemplifying the amazing impunity with which the Axis fifth column was permitted to operate in the United States was the German-American Bund, which functioned under the command of Nazi agents trained at Dr. Goebbels’s Propaganda Ministry and German Military Intelligence espionage-sabotage schools.
By the time of the outbreak of the Second World War in Europe, seventy-one branches of the German-American Bund were active in key cities throughout the United States; four official Bund newspapers were being issued in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles; and the Bund membership and that of its affiliates was estimated at 200,000. Thousands of goose-stepping, brown-shirted Bund Storm Troops, complete with swastika armbands and rubber truncheons, were staging public Nazi demonstrations in American cities and openly heiling Hider.
Bund members, all of whom had to take an oath of allegiance to Hitler and Nazi Germany, held jobs in vital defence plants, on railroads and steamship lines, and in every major industry, and moved in large numbers into the U. S. Army . . .
From the outset, the German-American Bund served as a recruiting agency for the German Military Intelligence, and enlisted and trained spies and saboteurs. Almost every major spy trial in the United States during the Second World War involved Bund members. Figures issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed that during 1940-41 the Bund was responsible for smuggling into the United States and protecting “at least 200 key Nazi agents.”
Most astounding of all was the fact that the Bund’s army of trained Nazi spies and propagandists continued to operate unmolested on American soil for seven months after Nazi Germany had formally declared war on the United States. Not until July 1942 did U. S. authorities finally get around to arresting twenty-nine of the top Bund leaders and begin rounding up other Bundists on charges of conspiring to obstruct the Selective Service Act. Only a few hundred of the many thousands of active Bundists were arrested and imprisoned or interned for the duration of the war. Officially disbanded in the summer of 1942, the Bund continued to operate during the war years through affiliate societies and various other channels.
The only possible explanation for the amazingly temperate attitude of the Justice Department and the FBI toward the German-American Bund was the fact that these Government agencies were traditionally far less concerned about fascist machinations than about labor, progressive and left-wing activities in the United States. Moreover, much of the Bund’s program — such as its “anti-Communist” and anti-labor agitation — was not exactly sharply divergent from the general orientation of the Justice Department and the FBI.
In this respect, the Bund was not an exceptional case. Leniency toward fascist conspiratorial operations in America has been a consistent policy with the Justice Department and FBI. When editor of The Hour, the author of this book repeatedly called to the FBI’s attention cases of Axis and native fascist intrigue in America, and was almost invariably unable to effect action by the FBI.
“It becomes more apparent every day that there is a sinister movement in this country that seeks to super-impose on our free American institutions a system of hateful fascism,” declared Secretary of Interior Harold L. Ickes in a speech at Altoona, Pennsylvania, in 1935. “This group is composed of, or at least has the active support of, those who have grown tremendously rich and powerful through the exploitation not only of natural resources, but of men, women and children of America. Having stopped at nothing to acquire the wealth that they possess, they will stop at nothing to hold onto that wealth and add to it.” Secretary Ickes added:
Stimulating us to a patriotic fervor by pretending that a Communist uprising threatens in this country, these gentry are attempting to line us up in support of a fascist coup d’état.
In the movement to which Ickes referred, a leading role was being played by an organization headed by a group of Americans outstanding industrialists and financiers. The organization was called, rather euphemistically, the American Liberty League . . .
In August 1934, the American Liberty League had been officially incorporated with the proclaimed intention “to combat radicalism,” and “defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States.”
The dominant influence in the Liberty League came from du Pont-Morgan interests. On the League’s national executive committee and advisory council sat Pierre S. du Pont, Irénée du Pont, and John J. Raskob, respectively Chairman of the board. Vice chairman of the board and Vice-President of E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
Among the other members of the national executive or advisory council were:
John W. Davis, former presidential candidate, counsel for the House of Morgan, director in Morgan’s Guaranty Trust Company and of the Morgan-dominated American Telephone and Telegraph Company
Sewell L. Avery, president and chairman of the board of the Morgan controlled Montgomery Ward & Co.
Alfred P. Sloan, chairman of the board of General Motors Corp.
William S. Knudsen, president of General Motors Corp.
Cornelius F. Kelley, president of the Anaconda Copper Co.
Colby M. Chester, chairman of the National Association of Manufacturers and of the board of General Foods Corp.
Ernest. T. Weir, chairman of the board of National Steel Corp. and president of Midwest Steel Corp.
Alvan Macaulay, president of Packard Motor Car Co.
Herbert L. Pratt, chairman of the board of Socony-Vacuum Co.
In a lavishly financed promotional campaign, the Liberty League was presented to the American public as a patriotic society dedicated to championing “the rights of the American citizen.” The extent to which the League actually reflected the interests of average Americans was indicated in a United Press dispatch on January 9, 1935, which read in part:
The American Liberty League, a non-partisan society created to oppose “radical” movements in the national government, was shown today to be under control of a group representing industrial and financial organizations possessing assets of more than $37,000,000,000.
League directors were shown to have affiliations with such organizations as the United States Steel Corp., General Motors, Standard Oil Co., Chase National Bank, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the Mutual Life Insurance Co. and scores of others.
The writer Herbert Harris had this to say about the underlying aims of the American Liberty League:
… the only liberty the League fosters is the liberty to water stock, rig the market, manipulate paper, and pyramid holding companies to the stratosphere … It is the liberty to pay starvation wages and break strikes with hired thugs … It is the liberty to warp the minds and bodies of children in textile mills and on “share-cropping” farms. It is the liberty to buy opinions of the pulpit and the press. It is the liberty that leads to death.
While publicly proclaiming the Liberty League’s concern for the nation’s welfare, the leaders of the League were privately spending huge sums in an intensive effort to discredit the Roosevelt Administration, impugn New Deal social reforms, and incite hostility against the organized labor movement. To help promote these aims, League members created or subsidized a number of anti-democratic auxiliaries. These were the names of some of them:
American Federation of Utility Investors; American Taxpayers League; Crusaders; Farmers Independence Council; League for Industrial Rights; Minute Men and Women of Today; National Economy League; New York State Economic Council; Sentinels of the Republic; Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution; Women Investors in America, Inc.
On April 18, 1936, the New York Post reported:
The brood of anti-New Deal organizations spawned by the Liberty League are in turn spawning fascism.
One of the first fascistic organizations to be formed under Liberty League sponsorship was the Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution. *
* League members contributing most heavily to the financial support of the Southern Committee included Lammot du Pont, President of du Pont de Nemours and Chairman of the board of General Motors Corporation; Pierre S. du Pont; Alfred P. Sloan; and John J. Raskob, Vice-President of the du Pont firm.
The Southern Committee concentrated on two main objectives: splitting the Democratic vote of the South away from Roosevelt; and stirring up anti-Negro sentiment, to prevent white and coloured workers from uniting in trade unions. “This is a hybrid organization,” commented the Baltimore Sun regarding the Southern Committee, “financed by northern money, but playing on the Ku Klux Klan prejudices of the South. When Raskob, a Roman Catholic, contributed $5,000, he was told his money would be used to stir up the KKK and also to finance a venomous attack on Mrs. Roosevelt.”
The chairman of the Southern Committee was John Henry Kirby, former NAM President, Texas oil magnate and one of the wealthiest lumbermen in America. Acting as Kirby’s right-hand lieutenant in the Committee was a self-styled “public relations counsel” named Vance Muse, editor of The Christian American and specialist in the promotion of “Christian” and “anti-Communist” organizations. “From now on,” said Vance Muse regarding the New Deal labor policies, “white women and white men will be forced into organizations with black African apes whom they will have to call ‘brother’ or lose their jobs.”…
Another fascist organization financed by Liberty League members was the Sentinels of the Republic. The National Chairman of the Sentinels was Raymond Pitcairn, President of the Pitcairn Company; and the total contribution of the Pitcairn family to the Sentinels amounted to more than $100,000* Other large contributors were Atwater Kent, President of the Atwater Kent Manufacturing Company; Horatio Lloyd, banker and Morgan partner; J. Howard Pew, President of the Sun Oil Company; and Bernard Kroger, banker and grocery tycoon.
* According to the findings of the Temporary National Economic Committee in 1 94 1, the Pitcairn family of Pennsylvania had holdings in industrial corporations amounting to $65,576,000 and ranked tenth among the nation’s richest families with industrial holdings. The largest holdings of the Pitcairn family were in the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company.
Like official Nazi propaganda, the literature disseminated by the Sentinels of the Republic stressed “the Jewish-Communist” menace of the New Deal. In 1936 the Senate Black Committee investigating lobbying activities made public certain revealing correspondence found in the files of the Sentinels. The correspondence consisted of an exchange of letters between Alexander Lincoln, the Boston investment banker who was President of the Sentinels, and W. Cleveland Runyon of Plainfield, New Jersey. Runyon’s first letter to Lincoln excoriated “the Jewish brigade Roosevelt took to Washington” and went on to say:
The fight for Western Christian civilization can be won; but only if we recognize that the enemy is worldwide and that it is Jewish in origin. All we need here is money . . . The time is getting short. Can you not do something?
To which the President of the Sentinels, Lincoln, replied:
I am doing what I can as an officer of the Sentinels. I think, as you say, that the Jewish threat is a real one. My hope is in the election next autumn, and I believe that our real opportunity lies in accomplishing the defeat of Roosevelt.
Runyon then wrote back:
The people are crying for leadership and we are not getting it. Our leaders are asleep. The Sentinels should really lead on the outstanding issue. The old-line Americans of $1,000 a year want a Hitler.
The concept of an American dictator was not new. As early as September 1932 the magazine Current History had reported:
For a good while, certain powerful elements have been toying with the idea that the way out of our troubles lies through the establishment of some form of economic and political dictatorship, and meetings of important personages are known to have been held in New York and Chicago, at which sentiment was tested out and possibilities discussed.
Returning from a visit to Europe in 1933, William S. Knudsen, President of General Motors, told a New York Times reporter that Hitler’s Germany was “the miracle of the twentieth century.”
If such a miracle could occur in Germany, why not in the United States?
One of the men being seriously considered in the early 1930s for the role of American Fuehrer was Major General Smedley Butler of the United States Marines.