Once the spadework was done by the early Nazi agents sent into the United States, the web rapidly embraced native fascists, racketeering “patriots” and deluded Americans who swallowed their propaganda.
When Japan joined the Rome-Berlin axis, espionage directed against American naval and military forces became one of the major interests of the foreign agents, especially on the West Coast.
Some five years ago, after the McCormick Congressional Committee investigation into Nazi activities turned up a number of propagandists, there was a lull in their activity until the nation-wide denunciations died out. In the meantime, Goebbels again ordered the reorganization, of the entire propaganda machine in this country.
It was during this period that the approaching Presidential elections presented an immediate task for the Nazis to work on. The Roosevelt Administration was considered by the Nazis both here and in Germany as none too friendly to Hitler, and before the election got well under way the Nazis here, upon instructions from their local leaders who act only upon instructions from the German Propaganda Bureau, became active in the anti-Roosevelt campaign.
Both Nazi agents and “patriotic” American groups working with Nazi agents (without much money after the Congressional Committee’s exposés) suddenly found themselves possessed of more than enough capital with which to operate. Some of the money came from the Nazis and some from anti-Roosevelt forces.
One of the most vicious of the anti-Roosevelt propaganda mediums was established by Nazi agents in a carefully hidden printing plant.
The White Russians and the Nazi agents then decided to start a publishing business as the first step to attract followers. They issued a paper called the Gentile Front. They were extremely careful to keep the editorial and publication addresses secret. All mail was sent only to Post Office Box No. 526 in the old Chicago Post Office. The company was named the Patriotic Publishing Co. and with the utmost secrecy editorial offices were established at 5 S. Wabash in Chicago and the paper printed in the basement at 4233 N. Kildare where the Merrimac Press functioned.
Subsequently, to throw anyone who might be watching them off the trail, they changed the name of the publishing company to the Right Cause Publishing Co. and issued an avalanche of Nazi propaganda. It was through this secretly organized and secretly functioning propaganda center that Harry A. Jung, ultra-“patriot,” distributed printed attacks on Roosevelt just before the Presidential election.
The American Gentile, backed by Nazi money, published the most insane rantings imaginable. But when one is inclined to dismiss them as insanity, one remembers that it was the same sort of stuff Hitler used in winning millions of bewildered Germans to his banner. The pre-election issue (October, 1936) of the Gentile will serve as an illustration of what they published and distributed through the United States mails:
Former Congressman Louis T. McFadden died on October 1 from a stroke. He was sixty years old. The American Gentile, however, implied that he had been murdered by Jews; Senator Bronson Cutting (killed in an airplane crash) also was murdered by Jews. Huey Long was murdered by Jews. Walter A. Liggett, the newspaper editor, was murdered by Jews, and it was an international ring of Jewish bankers who hired Booth to murder Abraham Lincoln.
Of course it was crazy, but the coal digger in Kentucky or the bedeviled farmer in the Middle West who couldn’t pay his taxes or the unemployed worker in an industrial center who couldn’t find a job did not know history any too well nor understand the workings of the economic system; and when they were told by newspapers brought to them by the United States Government mails that their economic difficulties were due to a Jewish-Communist plot, that Roosevelt was a Jew and was controlled by Jews and Communists, some of them were prone to believe it. With this irresponsible propaganda
With this irresponsible propaganda, anti-Semitism grew. Men and women were attracted to the Nazi web without dreaming of the forces disseminating the propaganda of the motives behind them.
Along with efforts to carry on their work in the universities, Nazi agents tried to get a foothold in the political life of the country by finding a few Republicans who were willing to use anti-democratic propaganda in their efforts to defeat Roosevelt during the Presidential campaign. At no time in American history did secret agents of a foreign power so brazenly attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of the American people. Nor at any time in American history did agents of a foreign government find such willing cooperation from unscrupulous American politicians.
Among those who worked with Hitler agents was Newton Jenkins, director of the Coughlin-Lemke Third Party. The Detroit Priest and the Congressman were fully aware, preceding and during the campaign, that Jenkins supported Hitler and was a Jew-baiter of the first order. They were aware of this while they were appealing for Jewish votes. The Radio Priest and the Congressman kept in constant touch with their campaign manager and knew what sort of government Jenkins wanted.
Jenkins’ association with Nazis dates to the days preceding the launching of the Presidential campaign. At that time he participated in a secret conference held in Chicago with the object of uniting the scattered fascist forces in the United States to form a powerful fascist united front. Among those who attended were Walter Kappe, Fritz Gissibl and Zahn—three active Hitler agents assigned to the Mid-West area; William Dudley Pelley, leader of the Silver Shirts; Harry A. Jung, the ultra-“patriot”; George W. Christians of Chattanooga, Tenn., head of the American fascists; and several others. The conference ended with an agreement to support a Third-Party movement directed by Jenkins.
Throughout the campaign Jenkins stressed an exaggerated nationalism, advocated “party patrols” similar to Hitler’s storm troops and adopted the Nazi Jew-baiting tactics.His first public appearance with the Nazis was on October 30, 1935, at a meeting held in Lincoln Turner Hall, 1005 Diversey Building, Chicago. Uniformed storm troopers with the swastika on their armbands patrolled the room. In the course of his talk he said:
“The trouble with this country now is due to the money powers and Jewish politicians who control our government. The Federal Treasury is being controlled by a Jew, Morgenthau, and a Jew, Eugene Meyer. The State, County and our own Municipal Government is being controlled by Jewish politicians. Our own Mayor signs what the Jews want him to sign. Nearly in every department of our country and local government you will find a Jew at the head of it.
Not only under a Democratic administration, but also under a Republican administration we will find the same conditions…. The American people must free itself from the money plunderers who have thrown this country into the World War and also a possibility of dragging them into the present war for private gain and shake off their shoulders the Jewish politicians. The Third Party promises to do both.”
This is precisely the sort of stuff paid Nazi agents in the propaganda division are ordered to disseminate.
Adapted from Secret Armies: The New Technique of Nazi Warfare, by John L. Spivak (1939). Photographs courtesy Stephen Melkisethian and V@s. Published under a Creative Commons license.