August 19, 2017

1932. Hitler Claims Nazis Are Victims of "Alarmist Propaganda"

Hitler Complains About Crackdown
President Paul von Hindenburg in Berlin followed closely behind by Chancellor Adolf Hitler, February 25, 1934 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism. Two weeks ahead of the German presidential election in 1932, Adolf Hitler complained to incumbent President Paul von Hindenburg (Hitler's opponent) that Nazi adherents were subject to "alarmist propaganda" claims that a Nazi victory would lead to violence.

From The New York Times, February 29, 1932:
Complains to Hindenburg About Forecasts of Disturbance if Nazis Win Elections
Appeals to Foreign Correspondents After Prussia Tightens Ban on Agitation by "Subversive Parties"
BERLIN, Feb. 28 — Adolf Hitler summoned foreign correspondents to his headquarters at the Kaiserhof today to protest against his opponents' practice of predicting terrorism and disturbance to Germany's foreign relations and credit in the event that the National Socialists were victorious in the Presidential election March 13. He declared that such "alarmist propaganda" was dangerous in that it might really produce such an effect.

Herr Hitler said he believed his election would contribute to better foreign relations and establish internal stability. Then he made public an open letter to President von Hindenburg protesting against the alleged attempt to discredit him abroad and muzzle his newspapers and periodicals which he declared compelled him to appeal to the foreign press.

Herr Hitler's protest to the President follows instructions issued by Carl Severing, Prussian Minister of the Interior, to local administration officials to suppress agitation by "subversive parties inimical to the State" by rigorous employment of the special powers of censorship over the press and public meetings conferred by the emergency decrees.

Der Angriff Suspended

Der Angriff, the Nazis' Berlin organ, has been suspended for a week for an article representing President Hindenburg as the candidate of the Socialist party, whose spirit, according to the paper, is characterized by the words of one of its members, "We know nothing of the German fatherland; our country is the world."

"Herr Field Marshal, do you consider it worthy of your name to have your honor as a Presidential candidate guarded by a wilderness of emergency decrees and legal paragraphs while abandoning the candidate opposing you as a free game for partisan lies and defamation?" Herr Hitler asks in his open letter.

Citing the Socialist election appeal that "Hitler instead of Hindenburg means chaos in Germany and Europe, the direst peril and bloody struggles at home and abroad, and the annihilation of all civic liberties," Herr Hitler enters "an indignant protest against the attempt to mobilize the foreign world under cover of your name, Herr Reichspräsident, against the free decision of political issues in Germany."

Will Ward Off Attacks

"In my statements to foreigners," the Nazi leader continues, "I have never failed to emphasize that every German government to date has been imbued by a sincere love of peace.

"Attempts to discredit an inconvenient German movement before the foreign world as a disturber of the peace, made under cover of your name and not disclaimed, I shall henceforth know how to ward off personally. During the election campaign my utterances shall come to the knowledge of the world, just as do the statements of the representatives of the present system."

Herr Hitler charges that although his party is represented as endangering civil liberties the present system's emergency decrees have abolished democratic freedom and the liberty of the press, and that the suppression of his newspapers while the campaign is in progress represents a violation of the freedom of election guaranteed by the Constitution.

He contrasts his opponents' demands for a "chivalrous campaign" with alleged defamation of his lieutenants and himself, such as false accusations that he deserted the Austrian military service.

August 18, 2017

1967. The Central Intelligence Agency's Long Financial Reach

The Department of Dirty Tricks
The 6th World Festival of Youth in Students in Moscow, later revealed to have been infiltrated by the CIA (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

February 19, 1967

Official Washington was reminded this week of the double standard by which the citizens judge their government and its operations. It's a Puritanical and, some say, a hypocritical ethic, the kind that made Nathanial Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter an American classic. For it is still a fact of life in this country that the people regard secrecy in government very much like they regard adultery in marriage. Or more accurately, they seem to equate the super-secret Central Intelligence Agency with the kind of man who finds it necessary to keep a discreet mistress as a professional sideline. It's really no one's business as long as the mistress doesn't interfere with his family, that he keeps her out of the neighborhood, and above all he does not get caught.

As this week in Washington ended, the most avidly-read publication in the national capital was not the Congressional Record with its slightly juicy revelations of the investigated antics of Adam Clayton Powell. It was a slick, West Coast, monthly publication called Ramparts magazine with a story about the CIA which during the week captured the top headlines from the war in Vietnam, the troubled Cultural Revolution in Communist China and the political pronouncements from the White House and Capitol Hill.

The Ramparts' exposé revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency for years had been consorting with its mistress of secrecy right under the noses of some of the most respected members of American society. The Agency not only brought her into the neighborhood but actually brought her in the nation's bedroom, so to speak, to entice innocent young collegians in the National Student Association.

Not only that, it now develops that the CIA, in its secret efforts to advance American foreign policies and defend the nation from infiltrating espionage agents, also employed the international departments of a number of AFL and CIO unions, including the American Newspaper Guild, which when I was a member was concerned with getting the normal $25 a week salaries of legmen raised to maybe $30 a week.

CIA gold also was channeled into the US branches of a number of so-called egghead and do-gooder organizations such as the international society of writers called PEN—or the Paris-based, highly intellectual Congress for Cultural Freedom.

But most startling of all was the complex and most cumbersome method which the CIA used to disburse its secret money. More than a dozen wealthy foundations have been named as conduits for the Agency's dollars—dollars which, incidentally, by law the CIA does not have to make a public accounting.

These foundations, which channeled the money into a myriad of projects connected with the CIA's overseas intelligence operations, were based in such disparate places as Boston, Philadelphia, Columbus, Baltimore, and Dallas. Over the years, millions of tax dollars were involved. The foundations don't pay taxes, so presumably the CIA funds were not themselves taxed.

But what the Ramparts magazine article did was to open a floodgate of criticism of the Agency. For the Central Intelligence Agency, like the respected adulterer, made that unforgivable mistake—it got well and truly caught. But of more seriousness, as the professional intelligence officials put it, the CIA has lost its fig leaf—or rather a whole vine-full of fig leaves—which is going to make its covert operations overseas more difficult.

This correspondent spent some fifteen or so years as a foreign correspondent working around the world, including a wartime year in the Soviet Union. We suspect that the hullabaloo over the CIA's financing of students to attend international youth rallies, the financing of international labor organizations to teach democratic unionism to the working men of developing nations being wooed by the Communists, the secret sponsorship of professional organizations to counter totalitarian propaganda among the intellectuals of the world—we suspect these revelations are causing much more sensation here in Washington and across the country than they are in most foreign capitals.

In Moscow, for example, we found that every foreign correspondent was automatically assumed to be an intelligence agent for his government. News reporters deal in facts. Facts about Russia, put together even in the most innocuous story, constitute intelligence in the Communist mind. It did no good to explain that the private companies like the press associations, newspapers, and broadcast networks who sent their own correspondents overseas did so as a competitive business policy to sell the news collected by its correspondent-employees. To the Kremlin we were foreign intelligence agents. And to make it clear, they assigned black-capped and leather-coated members of the secret police to follow us about and report what we were up to.

Let me clear up one point here. When I was in the Soviet Union there was no CIA. The Office of Strategic Services under General William Donovan was just getting its intelligence service organized. To my knowledge, the news organizations for whom I worked overseas never accepted a dime of federal financing. For the United Press, CBS, and the American Broadcasting Company to allow its correspondents to become secret agents would risk the basic asset of the news that it markets—the integrity of their news gathering staffs. Destroy that integrity and the news organization is destroyed. It would be just plain bad business, because the UPI and the Associated Press and the broadcast networks market their integrity and their news not only in the United States but in foreign countries as well.

So while the current flap over the Central Intelligence Agency has surfaced many of its overseas operations, we suspect that the intelligence organizations in most capitals of the world darn well knew or suspected what was going on. In the case of the Russians and other Communist countries, the KGB and other secret police groups would expect the CIA to use American students. They've been doing it for years. Just as here in Washington it's generally assumed that the foreign correspondents for Pravda, Izvestia, and Tass most certainly are expected to work for the KGB. In fact, it's their patriotic duty by the standards of the USSR.

But what disturbs many people here in Washington is the extent to which the CIA secret operations have penetrated the economic and intellectual structure of our society.

For example, the Agency has channeled some of its money into the publication of books, good books which give a fair picture of the country and explain its origins. To give these books the necessary "cover," as it's called, reputable publishers put them on the newsstands for sale to American readers, thus divorcing them from any covert propaganda purposes when they are distributed overseas. This raises the question of whether there is something wrong about the US citizens purchasing again a book for which he has already been taxed to publish. Or more seriously, it raises the question of whether any democratic agency should ever be in a position to secretly propagandize its own people.

The use of federal funds to finance collegiate delegations overseas could and should be a worthy educational project. But for the CIA to make secret use of the National Student Association for this end has raised serious questions about the integrity of American education.

Allen Dulles this week defended the action, which he administered at the time when he was directer of the CIA.

"If you studied the student conference movement abroad during those years of the early 1950s," Mr. Dulles explained, "you would find that the Communists were making very effective use of them. The international conference had great propaganda value for them, and were influencing the youth in the United States as well as in other countries."

The question still remains: having succeeded, why didn't the CIA get out of the National Student Association? Its so-called fig leaf cover became more transparent as each graduating class increased the number of young people aware of the CIA secret. And, sure enough, it was a former NSA official which blew the whistle on the Agency in the Ramparts magazine article.

President Johnson this week ordered a review of the CIA's involvement and assistance to the Student Association and other areas of the nation's education establishment. The Washington Post says today that the investigation will probably broaden its scope to look into the CIA's involvement with American labor unions, charitable foundations, and ostensibly independent organizations and other institutions.

Mr. Johnson appointed a three-man panel to make the study, composed of Under Secretary of State and former Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare John Gardner, and the present CIA director Richard Helms.

Congressional criticism already is blowing from Capitol Hill about the membership of the investigating group. "It's like asking an errant husband to investigate his mistress," said one Congressman.

Translated, that probably means that before the fig leaves have settled to the ground, either the Senate or the House of Representatives—or both—will be getting into the act.

More than a century ago, observing foreigners traveling in the United States returned to their homelands to write books about the brash young country. Eminent writer such as Alexis de Tocqueville, Charles Dickens, and Oscar Wilde, to name a few, variously admired or criticized many facets of US life. But they all agreed on one thing: Americans have big mouths. Their pride and energy make them talk too much, and living in a broad and open country where freedom of speech is a way of life, they have a great disdain for secrets—especially official secrecy.

Therein lies the paradox of the Central Intelligence Agency and the roots of the troubles which now are plaguing it. In the open society that is the United States, how does the government and its people accommodate an institution which, to serve them, must remain anonymous?

The authoritative Washington Star today raises the question of whether "the current flap over the CIA can be escalated to the point where it will destroy the nation's intelligence organization." We don't think so. In the nuclear era of what might be called the possibility of "instant stone age," if the CIA did not exist then Congress and the White House would invent it.

We do think that the Central Intelligence Agency can, like the snail, emerge out of its shell so people can observe and understand it. Like the snail, the Agency can keep its most sensitive organs concealed and people can still admire its impressive super-structure.

For ironically, by public declaration of virtually every CIA director from Allen Dulles to Dick Helms, about eighty percent of the enormous work that the Agency does is in the non-secret area. Today's intelligence mostly is made up of collecting, collating, and assessing overseas publications, winnowing statistics and details from agricultural, engineering, and professional journals, scanning big and little newspapers for national trade and troubles, and most important, monitoring thousands of broadcasts in dozens of languages which serve to update the top secret National Intelligence Estimate—a global summary of events prepared for the president and the National Security Council each morning.

The Agency has boasted that it has "the most comprehensive information retrieval system now in operation anywhere," with rows and rows of electronic memory banks, specialized miniature photographic machines, facsimile printing devices, and punch card indexes which contain more than fifty million cards.

One intelligence official once boasted that the Agency had collected a most eminent group of scholars knowledgeable about China, and that this collection of Sinologists was better than any university staff in the world.

For what it's worth, we suggest that the CIA's information retrieval system would be of great value to the students and historians throughout the country—that the CIA's historians and scholars should be shared with the nation when they can be spared.

We even suggest that someone in the Agency be allowed to come right out and say that there's a $60 million building on the banks of the Potomac in Langley, Virginia that several employees drive out to for work every day, and that they proudly work for the Central Intelligence Agency, which is a keystone to the defense and security of the nations of the Free World.

Let the Agency keep its so-called "department of dirty tricks" to itself. But when the government needs American students to attend the next International Youth Conference, let the appeal be open and above-board, not a behind-the-barn operation.

This is Bill Downs for ABC in Washington.

August 17, 2017

1950. German Communists React to McCarthy's Attacks on State Department

"Total Dementia in Washington"
Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1950 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

April 2, 1950

This morning we have the first German Communist reaction to the sensational charges in Washington against State Department leaders who Senator McCarthy says are pursuing pro-Kremlin policies.

The official Communist party newspaper in Berlin prints a long commentary under the headline "Total Dementia in Washington." With unconcealed glee, the newspaper describes the charges against Secretary of State Acheson, Ambassador Jessup, and Owen Lattimore.

The paper says it has its own reports from Washington that General George Marshall soon will be accused of pro-Communist sympathies and that even President Truman will be charged with being in the service of the Kremlin.

Then, making a reference to the recent tragic death of Defense Secretary James Forrestal, the Neues Deutschland cynically declares that Truman, Acheson, and Marshall already have made reservations in Washington's Bethesda hospital for luxury padded cells.

The Communist propaganda, in quoting our own Senate to discredit the American government, says that the massive attack on the State Department really is propaganda for the coming Congressional elections in which an imperialistic clique hopes to bring war to the world.

There is no doubt but that propaganda chief Gerhart Eisler is very happy about the whole situation.

Army engineers continue to probe into the secret treasure trove of Hermann Göring today. Authorities are keeping very close-mouthed about their findings, but the loot already is estimated to be more than a million dollars in art objects, gold plate, rare wines and liqueurs, as well as a silver bathtub. The treasure was brought to Göring's Veldenstein Castle near Nuremberg and hidden in underground concrete vaults shortly before the war ended.

There was another small riot on the border of the French-Soviet sector in Berlin last night. Several arrests were made and a policeman was knifed.

Otherwise, the East-West Cold War today is being fought by railroad officials. Western rail authorities charge that German sleeper trains are picking up bedbugs going through the Soviet zone. The argument is about who will delouse the trains.

This is Bill Downs in Berlin. Now back to CBS in New York.

August 16, 2017

1937. Mickey Mouse the Rebel

The Most Omniscient Mouse in the World
Top: "Mickey Mouse is amazed at the misconceptions about himself such as shown below." Bottom: "Mickey Mouse can be all things to all men. While Yugoslavia suspects him of revolutionary designs, Russia thinks he represents the meekness of the masses under capitalism." (Illustrations by Al Hirschfeld in The New York Times, December 26, 1937)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism and world politics in the years leading up to World War II.

In December 1937, with China and Japan at war and Europe on the brink, Herbert Russell wrote a tongue-in-cheek article in The New York Times Magazine about the international appeal of Mickey Mouse, whose image and personality changed depending on the country.

From The New York Times Magazine, December 26, 1937, pp. 4, 17:
An Inquiry Into a Plot of World-Wide Scope: Mickey and Company As Arch Conspirators

Now that that unreconstructed international rebel, Mickey Mouse, has been thrown out of Yugoslavia for conspiring against the throne—he together with the newspaper correspondent who rashly reported the plot—the expulsions from foreign countries of this arch-enemy of nations have risen to two. Hitler once barred him from Germany because Mickey was accompanied by a brigade of animals wearing Uhlan helmets, which was a reflection on the honor of the German Army and too serious to be passed over. Of course, Mickey was eventually pardoned, because not even dictators are completely immune to his spell; Mussolini loves him.

The incident in Yugoslavia serves to emphasize the international character of Mickey's activities, the boring from within by means of which he is winning the populations of a good part of the world to his cause. He is apparently without principles and can be all things to all men. While Yugoslavia suspects him of communistic and revolutionary designs, the Soviet thinks he represents the meekness and mildness of the masses under capitalism, and has countered by creating a Russian Mickey, known as Yozh, or the Porcupine, an animal favorite of Russian children. But Yozh will probably turn out to be the old Mickey in disguise.

•      •      •

Mickey does not care what he does so long as he gains his ends—he is completely unscrupulous—and while his victims laugh as he conspires. Or so one might think. Walt Disney, his father and Prime Minister, slyly deprecates the subtleties of Mickey's character. He says that all he wants is laughter, that he has no ulterior thoughts, no philosophy of life, no hidden political, social, or psychological motivations, none of the Eastern mysticism of which he is sometimes suspected, with reason, as will be seen. Those who read anything else into his life are all wrong, says Mr. Disney—but look at the record, as Al Smith used to remark.

In the first place there is no doubt that Mickey is an internationalist, and to be an internationalist these days is unorthodox to every one except Leon Trotsky. Mickey has been in thirty-eight countries in the world, and he is looking for others. In all these countries he has been popular and has captivated the masses; and that, to say the least, is suspicious. He promises them release for the time from worry and unhappiness, and speaks of a promised land where anything can, and does, happen.

That the great and near-great laugh at him merely proves his universality. He draws no distinctions, race, color or previous condition; he is kind even to jailbirds. President Roosevelt is his friend, and Queen Mother Mary sends for him regularly. He is the idol of savages, as Douglas Fairbanks found in Africa, and the Zulus refuse cakes of soap unless they bear his picture, just as natives used to refuse coins which did not have Queen Victoria's picture on them.

Reports from abroad continually show his increasing influence, an influence as mysterious as it is real. England, in self-defense, is creating a rival to him. In France his black-shirted pictures are everywhere. The shortness of his trousers has caused him to be looked upon as almost a Sans Culotte, or revolutionary, and his creatures, similarly dressed, may be found serving as ushers in theatres. A traveler in the East found Mickey peeking from a store window in Manchuli, which is a transfer point from the Chinese Eastern Railway to the Transsiberian. His being there at that time, just before the outbreak in China, was looked upon as highly suspicious, although it could not be determined whether he was coming from or going to Moscow. And paradoxically, he is the most popular figure in Japan, next to the Emperor.

•      •      •

Every country Mickey visits calls him by some variant of his name—for his real name is unknown; once it was said to be Hilarity Jones. Under that variant as a flag it is apparent his purpose is to rally his followers. The complete record of his aliases has never been compiled, but the following list of countries and the names they give him will show his international character:
Germany – Michael Maus
France – Michel Souris
Japan – Miki Kuchi
Spain – Miguel Ratoncito
Italy – Topolino
Greece – Mikel Mus
Sweden – Musse Pigg
Brazil – Camondongo Mickey
Argentina – El Raton Mickey
Central America – El Raton Miguelito
Mickey is not only appealing to the grown-up mob in the countries of the world; he has taken a leaf from the dictators and is organizing youth movements. These exist almost everywhere, from east to west, and from Singapore to Juneau, Alaska. Nearly every nationality is represented in the Singapore Mickey Mouse Club, but this cell of agitation has apparently not yet aroused the British Government to take action against it as protection for the Singapore naval base. Low, the British cartoonist, has pointed out that Mickey must appeal to the sophisticated before he can be completely successful. Mr. Low thinks Mickey lacks subtlety, and that his antics merely titillate the lower nervous system; but Low may have underestimated Mickey.

The Singapore club happens to be composed of adults, but it is one of the few exceptions. Most of the organizations take in only children, who carry a Mickey Mouse emblem and take a Mickey Mouse oath, which on its face is an innocuous pledge of good-will and patriotism. But they have a Mickey song, and a grip and a password. There are 1,500 of these clubs in the United States alone.

•      •      •

Whether Mickey is secretly building up cells in all these countries is not known, although the OGPU and the secret police of Germany might investigate. None of these nations, so far, has been able to agree upon interpretation of either Mickey or his activities. They see in him merely a reflection of their own ideologies or those of their enemies, according to their national psychology. His apparent simplicity, the fact that he is on the surface a gay creature who dashes madly into impossible situations, and escapes, giving the tail-waving, nose-thumbing Mickey salute—these things completely evade somber analysis.

There are continual attempts by the intelligentsia to interpret him, but he escapes them as easily as he avoided Mr. Low. Searching inquiry into Mickey has been made by a writer in The London Spectator, with the resulting judgment that he is an ebullient little rat, without an ounce of brains, half mug and half gallant, who by turns is meek and brave, and who represents the fantasy world in which adults, as well as children, may wander in a kind of Nirvana.

That there are no limits to his kingdom is also one of the allurements of Mickey which appeal to all the world. The air armadas of Europe, the plunging submarines, the skittering destroyers and dignified battleships cannot compete with the creatures which Mickey can call forth to battle if he chooses. He can scuttle a pirate with the aid of a sawfish and turn tortoises into tanks.

The capacity of such a Mouse for trouble is enormous, and those who pry into his motives cannot believe that he does everything for fun. He has appeared in international cartoons as a figure of importance. Newspapers in France and Italy and Russia speculate on his future and ineffectually try to link him with Br'er Rabbit and Krazy Kat as one who will have his day and then be forgotten. But Mickey shrugs his shoulders and bides his time, while his comic strips are in twenty-seven languages, and he speaks fluently four languages to hundreds of millions of people.

Now for his Eastern mysticism. The simplicity of Mickey is denied by one simple fact which has been overlooked by all the sage commentators and interpreters. Mickey can and does appear in thirty-eight countries at once. He is the most omniscient mouse in the world. Whether he is an Eastern Yogi, or Mahatma, or a Lama from Tibet, in the abbreviated raiment of a mouse, some odd victim of transmigration, has never been revealed since he was discovered seven years ago. But his Eastern origin may be assumed from the fact that he has such an affinity for Asiatic peoples—the Chinese seem to recognize in him much of their own guileful humor. Perhaps only as Mouse could he have won such world-wide fame, and if so, it rather confutes Mr. Low's theory of his lack of subtlety.

•      •      •

There is one other significant point to be made in any review of Mickey's international career. It is nothing that he is in Who's Who, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and has been decorated many times. But it is something that he has found a niche among the world's great in Mme. Tussaud's Wax Works in London. Somebody has recognized him for what he is to be; somebody knows his future.

Can it be possible that Mickey is waiting patiently for the collapse of civilization, waiting until the nations have pulled down their house of cards and destroyed all their own pretensions? Does he believe that the broken and oppressed people, wallowing in despond, will then turn to the one person whom they can depend upon for that happiness, and demand that Mickey shall become Emperor of the World? Perhaps Mickey isn't so dumb as he looks. Maybe that is why he is winning the ordinary folk and the great, building his youth movement through clubs, boring from within in Europe, Asia, Africa, India and the Americas.

And what a Cabinet he would have! Prime Minister, Walt Disney; Empress and Minister of Education, the ubiquitous Minnie; Minister of International Police, Pluto the Pup; Minister of Propaganda and Enlightenment, that notoriously bad egg, Donald Duck; and last, but not least, Minister of Nutrition, Clarabelle the Cow.

The only trouble with the idea of this world conspiracy of Mickey's is that its headquarters are in Hollywood.