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Roosevelt und seine Hintermänner:
Hitler speaks of Roosevelt’s Hate Campaign:
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U.S.A attacked Germany – post
Roosevelt’s Sneak Attacks – post
The Good War Myth of WWII – link
Roosevelt’s ‘Secret Map’ Speech
By Mark Weber
President Franklin Roosevelt was a master of deceit. On at least one occasion, he candidly admitted his readiness to lie to further his goals. During a conversation in May 1942 with his close Jewish adviser, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr., the President remarked: “You know I am a juggler, and I never let my right hand know what my left hand does … I may have one policy for Europe and one diametrically opposite for North and South America. I may be entirely inconsistent, and furthermore, I am perfectly willing to mislead and tell untruths if it will help win the war.”
Roosevelt was not the first or the last American president to lie to the people. But rarely has a major American political figure given a speech as loaded with brazen falsehood as Franklin Roosevelt did in his Navy Day address of October 27, 1941, which was delivered to a large meeting in Washington, DC, and broadcast live over nationwide radio.
A lot had happened in the preceding months. On March 11, 1941, Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease bill into law, permitting increased deliveries of military aid to Britain — a policy that violated U.S. neutrality and international law. In April Roosevelt illegally sent U.S. troops to occupy Greenland. On May 27 he claimed that German leaders were set on “world domination,” and proclaimed for the U.S. a state of “unlimited national emergency.” Following Germany’s attack against the USSR in June, the Roosevelt administration began delivering military aid to the beleaguered Soviets. These shipments also blatantly violated international law. In July Roosevelt illegally sent American troops to occupy Iceland. And in September Roosevelt announced a “shoot on sight” order to U.S. naval warships to attack German and Italian vessels on the high seas.
The President began his Navy Day address by recalling that German submarines had torpedoed the U.S. destroyer Greer on September 4, 1941, and the U.S. destroyer Kearny on October 17. In highly emotional language, he characterized these incidents as unprovoked acts of aggression directed against all Americans. He declared that although he had wanted to avoid conflict, shooting had begun and “history has recorded who fired the first shot.” What Roosevelt deliberately failed to mention was the fact that in each case the U.S. destroyers had been engaged in attack operations against the submarines, which fired in self-defense only as a last resort. In spite of Roosevelt’s “shoot on sight” order, which made incidents like the ones he so piously condemned inevitable, Hitler still wanted to avoid war with the United States. The German leader had expressly ordered his submarines to avoid conflicts with U.S warships at all costs, except to avoid imminent destruction. In spite of President Roosevelt’s provocative efforts to goad Hitler into declaring war against the U.S., most Americans still opposed direct involvement in the European conflict.
And so, as part of his effort to convince Americans that Germany was a real threat to their security, Roosevelt continued his Navy Day speech with a startling announcement: “Hitler has often protested that his plans for conquest do not extend across the Atlantic Ocean … I have in my possession a secret map, made in Germany by Hitler’s government — by the planners of the new world order. It is a map of South America and a part of Central America as Hitler proposes to reorganize it.” This map, the President explained, showed South America, as well as “our great life line, the Panama Canal,” divided into five vassal states under German domination. “That map, my friends, makes clear the Nazi design not only against South America but against the United States as well.”
Roosevelt went on to reveal that he also had in his possession “another document made in Germany by Hitler’s government. It is a detailed plan to abolish all existing religions — Catholic, Protestant, Mohammedan, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jewish alike” which Germany will impose “on a dominated world, if Hitler wins.”
“The property of all churches will be seized by the Reich and its puppets,” he continued. “The cross and all other symbols of religion are to be forbidden. The clergy are to be forever silenced under penalty of the concentration camps … In the place of the churches of our civilization, there is to be set up an international Nazi church — a church which will be served by orators sent out by the Nazi government. In the place of the Bible, the words of Mein Kampf will be imposed and enforced as Holy Writ. And in place of the cross of Christ will be put two symbols — the swastika and the naked sword.”
Roosevelt emphasized the importance of his alarming claims. “Let us well ponder,” he said, “these grim truths which I have told you of the present and future plans of Hitlerism.” All Americans, he went on, “are faced with the choice between the kind of world we want to live in and the kind of world which Hitler and his hordes would impose on us.” Accordingly, “we are pledged to pull our own oar in the destruction of Hitlerism.”
In Berlin, the German government quickly responded to the speech with a statement that categorically rejected the President accusations. Both of the purported secret documents, it declared, “are forgeries of the clumsiest, grossest type.” Furthermore, the official statement went on: “Assertions of the conquest of South America by Germany and elimination of the religions of the churches in the world and their replacement by the National Socialist church are so nonsensical and absurd that it is superfluous for the Reich Government to discuss them.” German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels also responded to Roosevelt’s claims. The American president’s “absurd accusations,” he wrote in a widely read essay, were a “grand swindle” designed to “whip up American public opinion.”
At a press conference the day after the address, a reporter rather naturally asked the President for a copy of the “secret map.” Roosevelt refused, but insisted that it had come from “a source which is undoubtedly reliable.”
The full story did not emerge until many years later. The map did exist, but it was a forgery produced by the British intelligence service, most probably at its technical laboratory in Canada. William Stephenson (code name: Intrepid), chief of British intelligence operations in North America, passed it on to U.S. intelligence chief William Donovan, who gave it to Roosevelt. In a memoir published in late 1984, wartime British agent Ivar Bryce claimed credit for thinking up the “secret map” scheme. Of course, the other “document” cited by Roosevelt, purporting to outline German plans to abolish the world’s religions, was just as fraudulent as the “secret map.”
The American public of 1941 overwhelmingly accepted as truthful their president’s fantastic and alarmist claims. Few Americans could believe that their chief executive might be lying, while “the Nazis” might be telling the truth. In his Navy Day address, Franklin Roosevelt thus succeeded in his main goal, which was to frighten the public into supporting, or at least tolerating, his campaign to push the U.S. further into war.
John F. Bratzel and Leslie B. Rout, Jr., “FDR and The ‘Secret Map’,” The Wilson Quarterly (Washington, DC), New Year’s 1985, pp. 167-173.
“Ex-British Agent Says FDR’s Nazi Map Faked,” Foreign Intelligence Literary Scene (University Publications of America), December 1984, pp. 1-3.
Ted Morgan, FDR: A Biography (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985), pp. 600-603.
James MacGregor Burns, Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom (New York: 1970), pp. 147-148.
“President Roosevelt’s Navy Day Address on World Affairs,” The New York Times, Oct. 28, 1941.
“The Reich Government’s Reply To Roosevelt’s Navy Day Speech,” The New York Times, Nov. 2, 1941.
Joseph Goebbels, “Kreuzverhör mit Mr. Roosevelt,” Das Reich, Nov. 30, 1941.(In English: “Mr. Roosevelt Cross-Examined”) Reprint/ Nachdruck in Das eherne Herz (1943), pp. 99-104.
For Further Reading
Warren F. Kimball, The Juggler: Franklin Roosevelt as Wartime Statesman (Princeton Univ. Press, 1991)
Mark Weber, “President Roosevelt’s Campaign to Incite War in Europe: The Secret Polish Documents,” The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1983.
Mark Weber, “The ‘Good War’ Myth of World War Two.” May 2008.
( http://www.ihr.org/news/weber_ww2_may08.html )
This item was originally published in The Journal of Historical Review, Spring 1985 (Vol. 6, No. 1), pages 125-127. It was revised in Nov. 2010.
INSTITUTE FOR HISTORICAL REVIEW
The Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau
The Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau, 1939-1945, by Alfred M. de Zayas. Nebraska University Press, 1989. Softcover, 364 pages. Bibliography, index, photographs. ISBN: 0-8032-9908-7
Reviewed by Robert Clive
When the topic of atrocities committed during the Second World War is discussed, such places as Babi Yar, Lidice, Malmedy and Oradour-sur-Glane almost immediately come to mind. But few will mention — or even have heard of — Bromberg, Bassabetovka, Goldap, Hohensalza, Nemmersdorf, or St. Pierre de Rumilly. The first group of names are associated with war crimes attributed to the Nazis. In the second list, the victims were Germans murdered by anti-Axis forces.
That atrocities were committed by the Allies against Germans and non-combatant civilians on both the Eastern and Western fronts is not often acknowledged. In large measure this reflects the fact that “victors write the history.” As a recent spate of popular books attests, the Second World War has been established in the public consciousness as “the last good war,” in which the forces of Evil were vanquished, despite the enormous costs involved, both material and moral.
In an important book only now available in English translation, Alfred M. de Zayas, a graduate of Harvard Law School, outlines the history of the Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau, which from September 1939 until May 1945 kept a running record of war crimes committed against the Germans, their allies, and civilians.
The study grew out of research de Zayas undertook among previously unexamined German war-time legal records while he was director of the “Working Group on the Laws of War” at the Institute of International Law at Göttingen University (from which institution he also holds a Ph.D. in history). First published in 1979 as Die Wehrmacht-Untersuchungsstelle by Universitas/Langen Muller, the book was very favorably received throughout German-speaking Europe and served as the basis for a highly acclaimed two-part television documentary broadcast in Germany in 1983.
All belligerents investigated reported breaches of the laws and customs of war. When hostilities ended in 1945, Axis political and military leaders were imprisoned and many were executed for their alleged involvement in war crimes — a process that continues to this day. Allied officials who were responsible for committing atrocities against Axis personnel have not been similarly dealt with.
The Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau was the direct successor to the Prussian Bureau of Investigation of Violations of the Laws of War, which conducted investigations until after the end of the First World War as an arm of the Reich War Ministry. There was a remarkable degree of continuity between the two organizations. Johannes Goldsche, a military judge who served as deputy chief of the Prussian Bureau, was appointed director of the Wehrmacht Bureau and served in this capacity throughout the Second World War. Both bureaus had the identical mission: to document allied offenses and submit reports. Some of their findings served as the basis for diplomatic protests lodged by the German Foreign Office against the Allied powers. But as we know, during and after the two wars, international public opinion tended to dismiss out of hand German allegations of Allied war crimes. Thus far, the one exception has been the case of Katyn, where thousands of Polish officers and intellectuals were murdered by the Soviets near Smolensk.
The author did not accept German allegations at face value. After sifting through several hundred volumes of official records, he interviewed more than 300 judges, witnesses, and victims. He cross-checked events mentioned in Bureau reports by consulting other German record groups and relevant American, British, French, and Swiss files. (Soviet records remain largely unavailable to scrutiny by Western researchers). De Zayas’s research “confirmed the correctness of the protocols.” He goes on to forthrightly state:
All in all the coherency of the War Crimes Bureau files, the confirmation of persons involved, and the comparison with other historical sources justify the conclusion that the Bureau did function in a trustworthy manner, that its investigations were authentic and its documents reliable … The Bureau was not a propaganda arm of the Nazi regime …
De Zayas divides his study into two parts. The first twelve chapters outline the history of the Prussian bureau and then relate why and when the Wehrmacht agency was started. The Bureau’s personnel and methods of operation are delineated.
Part Two presents details on specific cases. A careful line is drawn between historical events and mere propaganda. To those who have been brought up on a steady diet of Nazi atrocity stories, it is this second section that contains real eye-openers.
The Wehrmacht Bureau established that Polish military personnel and civilians committed numerous atrocities against ethnic Germans living within Poland’s pre-war frontiers, and against German civilians and soldiers after the war commenced. On the Western Front, the Bureau determined that the British were guilty of plundering the French and Belgian populace. The famous Belgian cyclist Julian Vervaecke was among the civilians killed by British soldiers. The French likewise executed Belgian non-combatants, Jewish refugees, and prisoners of war.
In his discussion of atrocities committed by the Allies in the West, de Zayas affirms that “there was no fabrication of atrocity stories [by the Bureau] but rather the methodical collection and evaluation of evidence. Nor was there any attempt to blame the Allies for destruction that may have been caused by the Germans themselves.”
Most of the existing records deal with atrocities committed on the Eastern Front by the Red Army and Soviet secret police (the NKVD). From the outset of the war in the East, the Bureau received reports of atrocities and wholesale violations of the internationally accepted rules of warfare. And as the Axis armies advanced, Soviet subjects came forward to reveal additional acts of barbarism perpetrated by the Soviet authorities.
POWs, whether Germans or Axis allies, were often shot out of hand, or shortly after they had been questioned. At Feodosiya, on the Black Sea, wounded soldiers were drenched with water and then left on the beaches to freeze to death. Captured soldiers were not merely executed, but frequently subjected to torture and mutilation first, then left where their remains could be easily discovered.
When the Red Army invaded German territory in late 1944, civilians who had been unable to flee before their advance were condemned to undergo a regime of ferocious brutality. At such towns as Goldap, Gumbinnen, and Nemmersdorf, even children were raped before being murdered by Russian soldiers. (The book includes photographs of these deeds). Alexander Solzhenitsyn is cited by de Zayas for his testimony on this topic. The famous Russian author, who fought as a captain in the Red Army, confirmed that, “all of us knew very well that if the girls were German they could be raped and then shot. This was almost a combat distinction.”
The Bureau also documented Soviet crimes against non-Germans. Chapters deal with Lvov, where thousands of civilians were found murdered in the prisons of the NKVD; Katyn; and Vinnitsa, a Ukrainian town where mass graves dating from 1936 were discovered. De Zayas reiterates that “the War Crimes Bureau was not established to fabricate documents on Allied war crimes: its records are genuine; its investigations were carried out methodically, in a judicial manner.”
This study does not consider atrocities attributed to the Germans and their allies. De Zayas does point out, however, that the Soviets conducted the first war crimes trials against members of the German armed forces when three soldiers captured at Stalingrad were hanged in 1943, after being found “guilty” of liquidating Soviet citizens in specially constructed gas vans.
With respect to the alleged Nazi “Final Solution” to the Jewish Question, in a footnote de Zayas concedes:
Without exception, all the German military judges interviewed by the author claimed not to have known about exterminations at any of the concentration camps until after the end of the war. A few admitted hearing rumors of executions on the Eastern Front but claimed that they had been unable to obtain corroborative evidence.
Elsewhere, de Zayas remarks:
The investigations described in this book manifest again and again the subjective conviction of the German military judges in the field and of the staff members of the Bureau that the German armed forces were fighting honorably, in compliance with the Hague and Geneva Convention, while those on the other side were violating those Conventions.
De Zayas has opened a new chapter in the study of the conduct of the Second World War. Now that his book is available in English translation, and published by a distinguished university press, its appearance hopefully will generate discussion of the topics it has raised, and inspire others to further research.
From The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1990 (Vol. 10, No. 2), pp. 237-241.
President Roosevelt’s Campaign To Incite War in Europe:
The Secret Polish Documents
Major ceremonies were held in 1982 to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. With the exceptions of Washington and Lincoln, he was glorified and eulogized as no other president in American history. Even conservative President Ronald Reagan joined the chorus of applause. In early 1983, newspapers and television networks remembered the fiftieth anniversary of Roosevelt’s inauguration with numerous laudatory tributes.
And yet, with each passing year more and more new evidence comes to light which contradicts the glowing image of Roosevelt portrayed by the mass media and politicians.
Much has already been written about Roosevelt’s campaign of deception and outright lies in getting the United States to intervene in the Second World War prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Roosevelt’s aid to Britain and the Soviet Union in violation of American neutrality and international law, his acts of war against Germany in the Atlantic in an effort to provoke a German declaration of war against the United States, his authorization of a vast “dirty tricks” campaign against U.S. citizens by British intelligence agents in violation of the Constitution, and his provocations and ultimatums against Japan which brought on the attack against Pearl Harbor — all this is extensively documented and reasonably well known.
Not so well known is the story of Roosevelt’s enormous responsibility for the outbreak of the Second World War itself. This essay focuses on Roosevelt’s secret campaign to provoke war in Europe prior to the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939. It deals particularly with his efforts to pressure Britain, France and Poland into war against Germany in 1938 and 1939.
Franklin Roosevelt not only criminally involved America in a war which had already engulfed Europe. He bears a grave responsibility before history for the outbreak of the most destructive war of all time.
This paper relies heavily on a little-known collection of secret Polish documents which fell into German hands when Warsaw was captured in September 1939. These documents clearly establish Roosevelt’s crucial role in bringing on the Second World War. They also reveal the forces behind the President which pushed for war.
While a few historians have quoted sentences and even paragraphs from these documents, their importance has not been fully appreciated. There are three reasons for this, I believe. First, for many years their authenticity was not indisputably established. Second, a complete collection of the documents has not been available in English. And third, the translation of those documents which has been available in English until now is deficient and unacceptably bad.
When the Germans took Warsaw in late September 1939, they seized a mass of documents from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In a letter of 8 April 1983, Dr. Karl Otto Braun of Munich informed me that the documents were captured by an SS brigade led by Freiherr von Kuensberg, whom Braun knew personally. In a surprise attack, the brigade captured the center of Warsaw ahead of the regular German army. Von Kuensberg told Braun that his men took control of the Polish Foreign Ministry just as Ministry officials were in the process of burning incriminating documents. Dr. Braun was an official of the German Foreign Office between 1938 and 1945.
The German Foreign Office chose Hans Adolf von Moltke, formerly the Reich’s Ambassador in Warsaw, to head a special Archive Commission to examine the collection and sort out those documents which might be suitable for publication. At the end of March 1940, 16 of these were published in book form under the title Polnische Dokumente zur Vorgeschichte des Krieges [“Polish Documents on the Pre-History of the War”]. The Foreign Office edition was subtitled “German White Book No. 3.” The book was immediately published in various foreign language editions in Berlin and some other European capitals. An American edition was published in New York by Howell, Soskin and Company as The German White Paper. Historian C. Hartley Grattan contributed a remarkably cautious and reserved foreword.
The translation of the documents for the U.S. White Paper edition was inexcusably bad. Whole sentences and parts of sentences were missing and portions were grossly mistranslated. H. Keith Thompson explained to me why this was so during a conversation on 22 March 1983 and in a letter of 13 May 1983. A poor first draft English-language translation had been prepared in Berlin and sent to America. It was given to George Sylvester Viereck, a prominent pro-German American publicist and literary advisor to the German Library of Information in New York City. Thompson knew Viereck intimately and served as his chief aide and re-writer. Viereck had hurriedly redrafted the translation from Berlin into more readable prose but without any opportunity of comparing it to the original Polish text (which he could not read in any case) or even the official German-language version. In making stylistic changes for the sake of readability, the meaning of the original documents was thereby inadvertently distorted.
The matter was also discussed at a small dinner for Lawrence Dennis hosted by Thompson at Viereck’s apartment in the Hotel Belleclaire in New York City in 1956. Viereck explained that he had been a highly paid literary consultant to the German government, responsible for the propaganda effect of publications, and could not be concerned with the translation groundwork normally done by clerks. Even the most careful translation of complicated documents is apt to distort the original meaning, and literary editing is certain to do so, Viereck said. Thompson agreed with that view.
In preparing the English-language text for this essay, I have carefully examined the official German translation and various other translations, and compared them with facsimiles of the original Polish documents.
The German government considered the captured Polish documents to be of tremendous importance. On Friday, 29 March, the Reich Ministry of Propaganda confidentially informed the daily press of the reason for releasing the documents:
These extraordinary documents, which may be published beginning with the first edition on Saturday, will create a first-class political sensation, since they in fact prove the degree of America’s responsibility for the outbreak of the present war. America’s responsibility must not, of course, be stressed in commentaries; the documents must be left to speak for themselves, and they speak clearly enough.
The Ministry of Propaganda specifically asks that sufficient space be reserved for the publication of these documents, which is of supreme importance to the Reich and the German people.
We inform you in confidence that the purpose of publishing these documents is to strengthen the American isolationists and to place Roosevelt in an untenable position, especially in view of the fact that he is standing for re-election. It is however not at all necessary for us to point Roosevelt’s responsibility; his enemies in America will take care of that.
The German Foreign Office made the documents public on Friday, 29 March 1940. In Berlin, journalists from around the world, including the United States, were given facsimile copies of the original Polish documents and translations in German. journalists were permitted to examine the original documents themselves, along with an enormous pile of other documents from the Polish Foreign Ministry.
The release of the documents was an international media sensation. American newspapers gave the story large front page headline coverage and published lengthy excerpts from the documents. But the impact was much less than the German government had hoped for.
Leading U.S. government officials wasted no time in vehemently denouncing the documents as not authentic. Secretary of State Cordell Hull stated: “I may say most emphatically that neither I nor any of my associates in the Department of State have ever heard of any such conversations as those alleged, nor do we give them the slightest credence. The statements alleged have not represented in any way at any time the thought or the policy of the American government.” William Bullitt, the U.S. Ambassador to Paris who was particulary incriminated by the documents, announced: “I have never made to anyone the statements attributed to me.” And Count Jerzy Potocki, the Polish Ambassador in Washington whose confidential reports to Warsaw were the most revealing, declared: “I deny the allegations attributed to my reports. I never had any conversations with Ambassador Bullitt on America’s participation in war.”
These categorical public denials by the highest officials had the effect of almost completely undercutting the anticipated impact of the documents. It must be remembered that this was several decades before the experiences of the Vietnam war and Watergate had taught another generation of Americans to be highly skeptical of such official denials. In 1940, the vast majority of the American people trusted their political leaders to tell them the truth.
After all, if the documents made public to the world by the German government were in fact authentic and genuine, it would mean that the great leader of the American democracy was a man who lied to his own people and broke his own country’s laws, while the German government told the truth. To accept that would be quite a lot to expect of any nation, but especially of the trusting American public.
Comment from Capitol Hill generally echoed the official government view. Senator Key Pittman, the Democratic Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, called the documents “unmitigated falsehood designed to create dissension in the United States.” Senator Claude Peper, Democrat of Florida, declared: “It’s German propaganda and shouldn’t affect our policies in the least.” Only a few were not impressed with the official denials. Representative Hamilton Fish of New York, the ranking Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called for a Congressional investigation and declared in a radio address: “If these charges were true, it would constitute a treasonable act. If President Roosevelt has entered into secret understandings or commitments with foreign governments to involve us in war, he should be impeached.”
American newspapers stressed the high-level denials in reporting the release of the documents. The New York Times headline read: U.S. BRANDS AS FALSE NAZI DOCUMENTS CHARGING WE FOSTERED WAR IN EUROPE AND PROMISED TO JOIN ALLIES IF NEEDED. The Baltimore Sun headlined: NAZI DOCUMENTS LAYING WAR BLAME ON U.S. ARE ASSAILED IN WASHINGTON.
Although the book of Polish documents was labeled “first series,” no further volumes ever appeared. From time to time the German government would make public additional documents from the Polish archives. These were published in book form in 1943 along with numerous other documents captured by the Germans from the French Foreign Ministry and other European archives, under the title Roosevelts Weg in den Krieg: Geheimdokumente zur Kriegspolitik des Praesidenten der Vereinigten Staaten [“Roosevelt’s Way Into War: Secret Documents on the War Policy of the President of the United States”].
An important unanswered question is: Where are the original Polish documents today? Unless they were destroyed in the conflagration of the war, they presumably fell into either American or Soviet hands in 1945. In view of recent U.S. government policy on secret archival material, it is very unlikely that they would still be secret today if they had been acquired by the United States. My guess is that if they were not destroyed, they are now either in Moscow or at the East German Central State Archives in Potsdam.
It is particularly important to keep in mind that these secret reports were written by top level Polish ambassadors, that is, by men who though not at all friendly to Germany nonetheless understood the realities of European Politics far better than those who made policy in the United States.
For example, the Polish ambassadors realized that behind all their rhetoric about democracy and human rights, and expressions of love for the United States, the Jews who agitated for war against Germany were actually doing nothing other than ruthlessly furthering their own purely sectarian interests. Many centuries of experience in living closely with the Jews had made the Poles far more aware than most nationalities of the special character of this people.
The Poles viewed the Munich Settlement of 1938 very differently than did Roosevelt and his circle. The President bitterly attacked the Munich agreement, which gave self-determination to the three and a half million Germans of Czechoslovakia and settled a major European crisis, as a shameful and humiliating capitulation to German blackmail. Although wary of German might, the Polish government supported the Munich agreement, in part because a small Polish territory which had been a part of Czechoslovakia against the wishes of its inhabitants was united with Poland as a result of the Settlement.
The Polish envoys held the makers of American foreign policy in something approaching contempt. President Roosevelt was considered a master political artist who knew how to mold American public opinion, but very little about the true state of affairs in Europe. As Poland’s Ambassador to Washington emphasized in his reports to Warsaw, Roosevelt pushed America into war in order to distract attention from his failures as President in domestic policy.
It is beyond the scope of this paper to go into the complexities of German-Polish relations between 1933 and 1939 and the reasons for the German attack against Poland at dawn on the first day of September 1939. However, it should be noted that Poland had refused to even negotiate over self-determination for the German city of Danzig and the ethnic German minority in the so-called Polish Corridor. Hitler felt compelled to resort to arms when he did in response to a growing Polish campaign of terror and dispossession against the one and a half million ethnic Germans under Polish rule. In my view, if ever a military action was justified, it was the German campaign against Poland in 1939.
Poland’s headstrong refusal to negotiate was made possible because of a fateful blank check guarantee of military backing from Britain — a pledge that ultimately proved completely worthless to the hapless Poles. Considering the lightning swiftness of the victorious German campaign, it is difficult to realize today that the Polish government did not fear war with Germany. Poland’s leaders foolishly believed that German might was only an illusion. They were convinced that their troops would occupy Berlin itself within a few weeks and add further German territories to an enlarged Polish state. It is also important to keep in mind that the purely localized conflict between Germany and Poland was only transformed into a Europe-wide conflagration by the British and French declarations of war against Germany.
After the war the Allied-appointed judges at the International Military Tribunal staged at Nuremberg refused to admit the Polish documents as evidence for the German defense. Had these pieces of evidence been admitted, the Nuremberg undertaking might have been less a victors’ show trial and more a genuinely impartial court of international justice.
Authenticity Beyond Doubt
There is now absolutely no question that the documents from the Polish Foreign Ministry in Warsaw made public by the German government are genuine and authentic.
Charles C. Tansill, professor of American diplomatic history at Georgetown University, considered them genuine. “… I had a long conversation with M. Lipsky, the Polish ambassador in Berlin in the prewar years, and he assured me that the documents in the German White Paper are authentic,” he wrote. Historian and sociologist Harry Elmer Barnes confirmed this assessment: “Both Professor Tansill and myself have independently established the thorough authenticity of these documents.” In America’s Second Crusade, William H. Chamberlin reported: “I have been privately informed by an extremely reliable source that Potocki, now residing in South America, confirmed the accuracy of the documents, so far as he was concerned.”
More importantly, Edward Raczynski, the Polish Ambassador in London from 1934 to 1945, confirmed the authenticity of the documents in his diary, which was published in 1963 under the title In Allied London. In his entry for 20 June 1940, he wrote:
The Germans published in April a White Book containing documents from the archives of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, consisting of reports from Potocki in Washington, Lukasiewicz in Paris and myself. I do not know where they found them, since we were told that the archives had been destroyed. The documents are certainly genuine, and the facsimiles show that for the most part the Germans got hold of originals and not merely copies.
In this ‘First Series’ of documents I found three reports from this Embassy, two by myself and the third signed by me but written by Balinski. I read them with some apprehension, but they contained nothing liable to compromise myself or the Embassy or to impair relations with our British hosts.
In 1970 their authenticity was reconfirmed with the publication of Diplomat in Paris 1936-1939. This important work consists of the official papers and memoirs of Juliusz Lukasiewicz, the former Polish Ambassador to Paris who authored several of the secret diplomatic reports made public by the German government. The collection was edited by Waclaw Jedrzejewicz, a former Polish diplomat and cabinet member, and later Professor Emeritus of Wellesley and Ripon colleges. Professor Jedrzejewicz considered the documents made public by the Germans absolutely genuine. He quoted extensively from several of them.
Mr. Tyler G. Kent has also vouched for the authenticity of the documents. He states that while working at the U.S. embassy in London in 1939 and 1940, he saw copies of U.S. diplomatic messages in the files which corresponded to the Polish documents and which confirmed their accuracy.
Two Key Diplomats
Two American diplomats who played especially crucial roles in the European crisis of 1938-1939 are mentioned often in the Polish documents. The first of these was William C. Bullitt. Although his official position was U.S. Ambassador to France, he was in reality much more than that. He was Roosevelt’s “super envoy” and personal deputy in Europe.
Like Roosevelt, Bullitt “rose from the rich.” He was born into an important Philadelphia banking family, one of the city’s wealthiest. His mother’s grandfather, Jonathan Horwitz, was a German Jew who had come to the United States from Berlin. In 1919 Bullitt was an assistant to President Wilson at the Versailles peace conference. That same year, Wilson and British Prime Minister Lloyd George sent him to Russia to meet with Lenin and determine if the new Bolshevik government deserved recognition by the Allies. Bullitt met with Lenin and other top Soviet leaders and upon his return urged recognition of the new regime. But he had a falling-out with Wilson and left diplomatic service. In 1923 he married Louise Bryant Reed, the widow of American Communist leader John Reed. In Europe Bullitt collaborated with Sigmund Freud on a psychoanalytical biography of Wilson. When Roosevelt became President in 1933, he brought Bullitt back into diplomatic life.
In November 1933, Roosevelt sent Bullitt to Moscow as the first U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union. His initial enthusiasm for the Soviet system gave way to a deep distrust of Stalin and Communism. In 1936 the President transferred him to Paris. He served there as Roosevelt’s key European diplomat until 1940 when Churchill’s assumption of leadership in Britain and the defeat of France made his special role superfluous.
In the Spring of 1938, all U.S. envoys in Europe were subordinated to Bullitt by an internal directive of the State Department. As the European situation worsened in 1939, Roosevelt often spoke with his man in Paris by telephone, sometimes daily, frequently giving him precisely detailed and ultra-confidential instructions on how to conduct America’s foreign policy. Not even Secretary of State Cordell Hull was privy to many of the letters and communications between Bullitt and Roosevelt.
In France, the New York Times noted, Bullitt “was acclaimed there as ‘the Champagne Ambassador’ on account of the lavishness of his parties, but he was far more than the envoy to Paris: He was President Roosevelt’s intimate adviser on European affairs, with telephone access to the President at any hour.”
Bullitt and Roosevelt were fond of each other and saw eye to eye on foreign policy issues. Both were aristocrats and thorough internationalists who shared definite views on how to remake the world and a conviction that they were destined to bring about that grand reorganization.
“Between these teammates,” the Saturday Evening Post reported in March 1939,
there is a close, hearty friendship and a strong temperamental affinity. The President is known to rely upon Bullitt’s judgment so heavily that the ambassador’s mailed and cabled reports from abroad are supplemented several times a week by a chat by transatlantic telephone. In addition, Bullitt returns to the United States several times each year to take part in White House councils, to the displeasure of the State Department, which considers him a prima donna.
In the whole roster of the State Department the President could not have found an adviser who would have been so responsive to his own champagne personality as Bullitt. Both men, born patricians, have the same basic enthusiasm for remolding society …
In Europe, Bullitt spoke with the voice and the authority of President Roosevelt himself.
The second most important American diplomat in Europe was Joseph P. Kennedy, Roosevelt’s Ambassador at the Court of St. James. Like Bullitt he was a wealthy banker. But this Boston Catholic of Irish ancestry was otherwise a very different sort of man. Roosevelt sent Kennedy, an important Democratic party figure and father of a future President, to Britain for purely political reasons. Roosevelt disliked and distrusted Kennedy, and this sentiment grew as Kennedy opposed the President’s war policies more and more vehemently. Moreover, Kennedy despised his counterpart in Paris. In a letter to his wife, he wrote: “I talk to Bullitt occasionally. He is more rattlebrained than ever. His judgment is pathetic and I am afraid of his influence on F.D.R. because they think alike on many things.”
Here now are extensive excerpts from the Polish documents themselves. They are given in chronological order. They are remarkably lucid for diplomatic reports and speak eloquently for themselves.
On 9 February 1938, the Polish Ambassador in Washington, Count Jerzy Potocki, reported to the Foreign Minister in Warsaw on the Jewish role in making American foreign policy:
The pressure of the Jews on President Roosevelt and on the State Department is becoming ever more powerful …
… The Jews are right now the leaders in creating a war psychosis which would plunge the entire world into war and bring about general catastrophe. This mood is becoming more and more apparent.
in their definition of democratic states, the Jews have also created real chaos: they have mixed together the idea of democracy and communism and have above all raised the banner of burning hatred against Nazism.
This hatred has become a frenzy. It is propagated everywhere and by every means: in theaters, in the cinema, and in the press. The Germans are portrayed as a nation living under the arrogance of Hitler which wants to conquer the whole world and drown all of humanity in an ocean of blood.
In conversations with Jewish press representatives I have repeatedly come up against the inexorable and convinced view that war is inevitable. This international Jewry exploits every means of propaganda to oppose any tendency towards any kind of consolidation and understanding between nations. In this way, the conviction is growing steadily but surely in public opinion here that the Germans and their satellites, in the form of fascism, are enemies who must be subdued by the ‘democratic world.’
On 21 November 1938, Ambassador Potocki sent a report to Warsaw which discussed in some detail a conversation between himself and Bullitt, who happened to be back in Washington:
The day before yesterday I had a long conversation with Ambassador Bullitt, who is here on vacation. He began by remarking that friendly relations existed between himself and [Polish] Ambassador Lukasiewicz in Paris, whose company he greatly enjoyed.
Since Bullitt regularly informs President Roosevelt about the international situation in Europe, and particularly about Russia, great attention is given to his reports by President Roosevelt and the State Department. Bullitt speaks energetically and interestingly. Nonetheless, his reaction to events in Europe resembles the view of a journalist more than that of a politician …
About Germany and Chancellor Hitler he spoke with great vehemence and strong hatred. He said that only force, and ultimately a war would put an end to the insane future German expansionism.
To my question asking how he visualized this coming war, he replied that above all the United States, France and England must rearm tremendously in order to be in a position to oppose German power.
Only then, when the moment is ripe, declared Bullitt further, will one be ready for the final decision. I asked him in what way a conflict could arise, since Germany would probably not attack England and France first. I simply could not see the connecting point in this whole combination.
Bullitt replied that the democratic countries absolutely needed another two years until they were fully armed. In the meantime, Germany would probably have advanced with its expansion in an easterly direction. It would be the wish of the democratic countries that armed conflict would break out there, in the East between the German Reich and Russia. As the Soviet Union’s potential strength is not yet known, it might happen that Germany would have moved too far away from its base, and would be condemned to wage a long and weakening war. Only then would the democratic countries attack Germany, Bullitt declared, and force her to capitulate.
In reply to my question whether the United States would take part in such a war, he said, ‘Undoubtedly yes, but only after Great Britain and France had let loose first!’ Feeling in the United States was no intense against Nazism and Hitlerism, that a psychosis already prevails today among Americans similar to that before America’s declaration of war against Germany in 1917.
Bullitt did not give the impression of being very well informed about the situation in Eastern Europe, and he conversed in a rather superficial way.
Ambassador Potocki’s report from Washington of 9 January 1939 dealt in large part with President Roosevelt’s annual address to Congress:
President Roosevelt acts on the assumption that the dictatorial governments, above all Germany and Japan, only understand a policy of force. Therefore he has decided to react to any future blows by matching them. This has been demonstrated by the most recent measures of the United States.
The American public is subject to an ever more alarming propaganda which is under Jewish influence and continuously conjures up the specter of the danger of war. Because of this the Americans have strongly altered their views on foreign policy problems, in comparison with last year.
Of all the documents in this collection, the most revealing is probably the secret report by Ambassador Potocki of 12 January 1939 which dealt with the domestic situation in the United States. This report is given here in full:
The feeling now prevailing in the United States is marked by a growing hatred of Fascism and, above all, of Chancellor Hitler and everything connected with Nazism. Propaganda is mostly in the hands of the Jews who control almost 100 percent radio, film, daily and periodical press. Although this propaganda is extremely coarse and presents Germany as black as possible — above all religious persecution and concentration camps are exploited — this propaganda is nevertheless extremely effective since the public here is completely ignorant and knows nothing of the situation in Europe.
Right now most Americans regard Chancellor Hitler and Nazism as the greatest evil and greatest danger threatening the world. The situation here provides an excellent platform for public speakers of all kinds, for emigrants from Germany and Czechoslovakia who don’t spare any words to incite the public here with every kind of slander. They praise American liberty which they contrast with the totalitarian states.
It is interesting to note that in this extremely well-planned campaign which is conducted above all against National Socialism, Soviet Russia is almost completely excluded. If mentioned at all, it is only in a friendly manner and things are presented in such a way as if Soviet Russia were working with the bloc of democratic states. Thanks to the clever propaganda the sympathy of the American public is completely on the side of Red Spain.
Besides this propaganda, a war psychosis is being artificially created. The American people are told that peace in Europe is hanging only by a thread and that war is unavoidable. At the same time the American people are unequivocally told that in case of a world war, America must also take an active part in order to defend the slogans of freedom and democracy in the world.
President Roosevelt was the first to express hatred against Fascism. In doing so he was serving a double purpose: First, he wanted to divert the attention of the American people from domestic political problems, especially the problem of the struggle between capital and labor. Second, by creating a war psychosis and by spreading rumors about danger threatening Europe, he wanted to get the American people to accept an enormous armament program which exceeds the defense requirements of the United States.
Regarding the first point, it must be said that the internal situation on the labor market is steadily growing worse. The unemployed today already number twelve million. Federal and state expenditures are increasing daily. Only the huge sums, running into billions, which the treasury expends for emergency labor projects, are keeping a certain amount of peace in the country. Thus far there have only been the usual strikes and local unrest. But how long this kind of government aid can be kept up cannot be predicted. The excitement and indignation of public opinion, and the serious conflict between private enterprises and enormous trusts on the one hand, and with labor on the other, have made many enemies for Roosevelt and are causing him many sleepless nights.
As to point two, I can only say that President Roosevelt, as a clever political player and an expert of the American mentality, speedily steered public attention away from the domestic situation to fasten it on foreign policy. The way to achieve this was simple. One needed, on the one hand, to conjure up a war menace hanging over the world because of Chancellor Hitler, and, on the other hand, to create a specter by babbling about an attack of the totalitarian states against the United States. The Munich pact came to President Roosevelt as a godsend. He portrayed it as a capitulation of France and England to bellicose German militarism. As people say here: Hitler compelled Chamberlain at pistol-point. Hence, France and England had no choice and had to conclude a shameful peace.
The prevalent hatred against everything which is in any way connected with German Nazism is further kindled by the brutal policy against the Jews in Germany and by the émigré problem. In this action, various Jewish intellectuals participated: for instance, Bernard Baruch; the Governor of New York State, Lehman; the newly appointed judge of the Supreme Court, Felix Frankfurter; Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau; and others who are personal friends of President Roosevelt. They want the President to become the champion of human rights, freedom of religion and speech, and the man who in the future will punish trouble-makers. These groups of people who occupy the highest positions in the American government and want to pose as representatives of ‘true Americanism’ and ‘defenders of democracy’ are, in the last analysis, connected by unbreakable ties with international Jewry.
For this Jewish international, which above all is concerned with the interests of its race, to portray the President of the United States as the ‘idealist’ champion on human rights was a very clever move. In this manner they have created a dangerous hotbed for hatred and hostility in this hemisphere and divided the world into two hostile camps. The entire issue is worked out in a masterly manner. Roosevelt has been given the foundation for activating American foreign policy, and simultaneously has been procuring enormous military stocks for the coming war, for which the Jews are striving very consciously. With regard to domestic policy, it is very convenient to divert public attention from anti-Semitism, which is constantly growing in the United States, by talking about the necessity of defending religion and individual liberty against the onslaught of Fascism.
On 16 January 1939, Polish Ambassador Potocki reported to the Warsaw Foreign Ministry on another lengthy conversation he had with Roosevelt’s personal envoy, William Bullitt:
The day before yesterday, I had a longer discussion with Ambassador Bullitt in the Embassy where he called on me. Bullitt leaves on the 21st of this month for Paris, from where he has been absent for almost three months. He is sailing with a whole ‘trunk’ full of instructions, conversations, and directives from President Roosevelt, the State Department and Senators who belong to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
In talking with Bullitt I had the impression that he had received from President Roosevelt a very precise definition of the attitude taken by the United States towards the present European crisis. He will present this material at the Quai d’Orsay [the French Foreign Ministry] and will make use of it in discussions with European statesmen. The contents of these directives, as Bullitt explained them to me in the course of a conversation lasting half an hour, were:
1. The vitalizing of foreign policy under the leadership of President Roosevelt, who severely and unambiguously condemns totalitarian countries.
2. United States preparations for war on sea, land and air will be carried out at an accelerated pace and will consume the colossal sum of 1.25 billion dollars.
3. It is the decided opinion of the President that France and Britain must put an end to any sort of compromise with the totalitarian countries. They must not get into any discussions aiming at any kind of territorial changes.
4. They have the moral assurance that the United States will abandon the policy of isolation and be prepared to intervene actively on the side of Britain and France in case of war. America is ready to place its whole wealth of money and raw materials at their disposal.
The Polish Ambassador to Paris, Juliusz (Jules) Lukasiewicz, sent a top secret report to the Foreign Ministry in Warsaw at the beginning of February 1939 which outlined U.S. policy towards Europe as explained to him by William Bullitt:
A week ago, the Ambassador of the United States, William Bullitt returned to Paris after a three months’ leave in America. Meanwhile, I have had two conversations with him which enable me to inform you of his views regarding the European situation and to give a survey of Washington’s policy.
The international situation is regarded by official circles as extremely serious and in constant danger of armed conflict. Those in authority are of the opinion that if war should break out between Britain and France on the one hand, and Germany and Italy on the other, and should Britain and France be defeated, the Germans would endanger the real interests of the United States on the American continent. For this reason, one can foresee right from the beginning the participation of the United States in the war on the side of France and Britain, naturally some time after the outbreak of the war. As Ambassador Bullitt expressed it: ‘Should war break out we shall certainly not take part in it at the beginning, but we shall finish it.’
On 7 March 1939, Ambassador Potocki sent a remarkably lucid and perceptive report on Roosevelt’s foreign policy to his government in Warsaw. This document was first made public when leading German newspapers published it in German translation, along with a facsimile reproduction of the first page of the Polish original, in their editions of 28 October 1940. The main National Socialist party newspaper, the Voelkischer Beobachter, published the Ambassador’s report with this observation:
The document itself needs no commentary. We do not know, and it does not concern us, whether the internal American situation as reported by the Polish diplomat is correct in every detail. That must be decided by the American people alone. But in the interest of historical truth it is important for us to show that the warmongering activities of American diplomacy, especially in Europe, are once again revealed and proven by this document. It still remains a secret just who, and for what motives, have driven American diplomacy to this course. In any case, the results have been disastrous for both Europe and America. Europe was plunged into war and America has brought upon itself the hostility of great nations which normally have no differences with the American people and, indeed, have not been in conflict but have lived for generations as friends and want to remain so.
This report was not one of the Polish documents which was released in March 1940 and published as part of the “German White Book No. 3” (or the German White Paper). However, it was published in 1943 as part of the collection entitled “Roosevelt’s Way Into War.” As far as I can determine, this English translation is the first that has ever appeared. Ambassador Potocki’s secret report of 7 March 1939 is here given in full:
The foreign policy of the United States right now concerns not only the government, but the entire American public as well. The most important elements are the public statements of President Roosevelt. In almost every public speech he refers more or less explicitly to the necessity of activating foreign policy against the chaos of views and ideologies in Europe. These statements are picked up by the press and then cleverly filtered into the minds of average Americans in such a way as to strengthen their already formed opinions. The same theme is constantly repeated, namely, the danger of war in Europe and saving the democracies from inundation by enemy fascism. In all of these public statements there is normally only a single theme, that is, the danger from Nazism and Nazi Germany to world peace.
As a result of these speeches, the public is called upon to support rearmament and the spending of enormous sums for the navy and the air force. The unmistakable idea behind this is that in case of an armed conflict the United States cannot stay out but must take an active part in the maneuvers. As a result of the effective speeches of President Roosevelt, which are supported by the press, the American public is today being conscientiously manipulated to hate everything that smacks of totalitarianism and fascism. But it is interesting that the USSR is not included in all this. The American public considers Russia more in the camp of the democratic states. This was also the case during the Spanish civil war when the so-called Loyalists were regarded as defenders of the democratic idea.
The State Department operates without attracting a great deal of attention, although it is known that Secretary of State [Cordell] Hull and President Roosevelt swear allegiance to the same ideas. However, Hull shows more reserve than Roosevelt, and he loves to make a distinction between Nazism and Chancellor Hitler on the one hand, and the German people on the other. He considers this form of dictatorial government a temporary “necessary evil.” In contrast, the State Department is unbelievably interested in the USSR and its internal situation and openly worries itself over its weaknesses and decline. The main reason for United States interest in the Russians is the situation in the Far East. The current government would be glad to see the Red Army emerge as the victor in a conflict with Japan. That’s why the sympathies of the government are clearly on the side of China, which recently received considerable financial aid amounting to 25 million dollars.
Eager attention is given to all information from the diplomatic posts as well as to the special emissaries of the President who serve as Ambassadors of the United States. The President frequently calls his representatives from abroad to Washington for personal exchanges of views and to give them special information and instructions. The arrival of the envoys and ambassadors is always shrouded in secrecy and very little surfaces in the press about the results of their visits. The State Department also takes care to avoid giving out any kind of information about the course of these interviews. The practical way in which the President makes foreign policy is most effective. He gives personal instructions to his representatives abroad, most of whom are his personal friends. In this way the United States is led down a dangerous path in world politics with the explicit intention of abandoning the comfortable policy of isolation. The President regards the foreign policy of his country as a means of satisfying his own personal ambition. He listens carefully and happily to his echo in the other capitals of the world. In domestic as well as in foreign policy, the Congress of the United States is the only object that stands in the way of the President and his government in carrying out his decisions quickly and ambitiously. One hundred and fifty years ago, the Constitution of the United States gave the highest prerogatives to the American parliament which may criticize or reject the law of the White House.
The foreign policy of President Roosevelt has recently been the subject of intense discussion in the lower house and in the Senate, and this has caused excitement. The so-called Isolationists, of whom there are many in both houses, have come out strongly against the President. The representatives and senators were especially upset over the remarks by the President, which were published in the press, in which he said that the borders of the United States lie on the Rhine. But President Roosevelt is a superb political player and understands completely the power of the American parliament. He has his own people there, and he knows how to withdraw from an uncomfortable situation at the right moment.
Very intelligently and cleverly he ties together the question of foreign policy with the issues of American rearmament. He particularly stresses the necessity of spending enormous sums in order to maintain a defensive peace. He says specifically that the United States is not arming in order to intervene or to go to the aid of England or France in case of war, but rather because of the need to show strength and military preparedness in case of an armed conflict in Europe. In his view this conflict is becoming ever more acute and is completely unavoidable.
Since the issue is presented this way, the houses of Congress have no cause to object. To the contrary, the houses accepted an armament program of more than one billion dollars. (The normal budget is 550 million, the emergency 552 million dollars.) However, under the cloak of a rearmament policy, President Roosevelt continues to push forward his foreign policy, which unofficially shows the world that in case of war the United States will come out on the side of the democratic states with all military and financial power.
In conclusion it can be said that the technical and moral preparation of the American people for participation in a war-if one should break out in Europe-is preceding rapidly. It appears that the United States will come to the aid of France and Great Britain with all its resources right from the beginning. However, I know the American public and the representatives and senators who all have the final word, and I am of the opinion that the possibility that America will enter war as in 1917 is not great. That’s because the majority of states in the mid-West and West, where the rural element predominates, want to avoid involvement in European disputes at all costs. They remember the declaration of the Versailles Treaty and the well-known phrase that the war was to save the world for democracy. Neither the Versailles Treaty nor that slogan have reconciled the United States to that war. For millions there remains only a bitter aftertaste because of unpaid billions which the European states still owe America.
Juliusz Lukasiewicz, Poland’s Ambassador to France, reported to Warsaw on 29 March 1939 about further conversations with U.S. envoy Bullitt in Paris. Lukasiewicz discussed Roosevelt’s efforts to get both Poland and Britain to adopt a totally uncompromising policy towards Germany, even in the face of strong sentiment for peace. The report concludes with these words:
… I consider it my duty to inform you of all the aforesaid because I believe that collaboration with Ambassador Bullitt in such difficult and complicated times may prove useful to us. In any case it is absolutely certain that he agrees entirely with our point of view and is prepared for the most extensive friendly collaboration possible.
In order to strengthen the efforts of the American Ambassador in London [Joseph Kennedy], I called the attention of Ambassador Bullitt to the fact that it is not impossible that the British may treat the efforts of the United States with well-concealed contempt. He answered that I am probably right, but that nevertheless the United States has at its disposal the means to really bring pressure on England. He would be giving serious consideration to mobilizing these means.
The Polish Ambassador in London, Count Edward Raczynski, reported to Warsaw on 29 March 1939 on the continuing European crisis and on a conversation he had with Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, his American counterpart. Kennedy’s remarks to Raczynski confirmed Bullitt’s reputation in diplomatic circles as an indiscreet big mouth:
I asked Mr. Kennedy point blank about the conference which he is supposed to have had recently with [British Prime Minister] Mr. Chamberlain concerning Poland. Kennedy was surprised and declared categorically that a conversation of such special significance never took place. At the same time, and thereby contradicting his own assertion to a certain extent, Kennedy expressed displeasure and surprise that his colleagues in Paris and Warsaw [William Bullitt and Anthony Biddle] ‘who are not, as himself, in a position to get a clear picture of conditions in England’ should talk so openly about this conversation.
Mr. Kennedy-who made me understand that his views were based on a series of conversations with the most important authorities here-declared that he was convinced that should Poland decide in favor of armed resistance against Germany, especially with regard to Danzig, it would draw England in its wake.
This concludes the excerpts from the Polish reports.
The Path To War
While the Polish documents alone are conclusive proof of Roosevelt’s treacherous campaign to bring about world war, it is fortunate for posterity that a substantial body of irrefutable complementary evidence exists which confirms the conspiracy recorded in the dispatches to Warsaw.
The secret policy was confirmed after the war with the release of a confidential diplomatic report by the British Ambassador to Washington, Sir Ronald Lindsay. During his three years of service in Washington, the veteran diplomat had developed little regard for America’s leaders. He considered Roosevelt an amiable and impressionable lightweight, and warned the British Foreign Office that it should not tell William Bullitt anything beyond what it wouldn’t mind reading later in an American newspaper.
On 19 September 1938 — that is, a year before the outbreak of war in Europe — Roosevelt called Lindsay to a very secret meeting at the White House. At the beginning of their long conversation, according to Lindsay’s confidential dispatch to London, Roosevelt “emphasized the necessity of absolute secrecy. Nobody must know I had seen him and he himself would tell nobody of the interview. I gathered not even the State Department.” The two discussed some secondary matters before Roosevelt got to the main point of the conference. “This is the very secret part of his communication and it must not be known to anyone that he has even breathed a suggestion.” The President told the Ambassador that if news of the conversation was ever made public, it could mean his impeachment. And no wonder. What Roosevelt proposed was a cynically brazen but harebrained scheme to violate the U.S. Constitution and dupe the American people.
The President said that if Britain and France “would find themselves forced to war” against Germany, the United States would ultimately also join. But this would require some clever maneuvering. Britain and France should impose a total blockade against Germany without actually declaring war and force other states (including neutrals) to abide by it. This would certainly provoke some kind of German military response, but it would also free Britain and France from having to actually declare war. For propaganda purposes, the “blockade must be based on loftiest humanitarian grounds and on the desire to wage hostilities with minimum of suffering and the least possible loss of life and property, and yet bring the enemy to his knees.” Roosevelt conceded that this would involve aerial bombardment, but “bombing from the air was not the method of hostilities which caused really great loss of life.”
The important point was to “call it defensive measures or anything plausible but avoid actual declaration of war.” That way, Roosevelt believed he could talk the American people into supporting war against Germany, including shipments of weapons to Britain and France, by insisting that the United States was still technically neutral in a non-declared conflict. “This method of conducting war by blockade would in his [Roosevelt’s] opinion meet with approval of the United States if its humanitarian purpose were strongly emphasized,” Lindsay reported.
The American Ambassador to Italy, William Phillips, admitted in his postwar memoirs that the Roosevelt administration was already committed to going to war on the side of Britain and France in late 1938. “On this and many other occasions,” Phillips wrote, “I would like to have told him [Count Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister] frankly that in the event of a European war, the United States would undoubtedly be involved on the side of the Allies. But in view of my official position, I could not properly make such a statement without instructions from Washington, and these I never received.”
Carl J. Burckhardt, the League of Nations High Commissioner to Danzig, reported in his postwar memoirs on a remarkable conversation held at the end of 1938 with Anthony Drexel Biddle, the American Ambassador to Poland. Biddle was a rich banker with close ties to the Morgan financial empire. A thoroughgoing internationalist, he was an ideological colleague of President Roosevelt and a good friend of William Bullitt. Burckhardt, a Swiss professor, served as High Commissioner between 1937 and 1939.
Nine months before the outbreak of armed conflict, on 2 December 1938, Biddle told Burckhardt
with remarkable satisfaction that the Poles were ready to wage war over Danzig. They would counter the motorized strength of the German army with agile maneuverability. ‘In April,’ he [Biddle] declared, ‘a new crisis would break out. Not since the torpedoing of the Lusitania [in 1915] had such a religious hatred against Germany reigned in America as today! Chamberlain and Daladier [the moderate British and French leaders] would be blown away by public opinion. This was a holy war!,
The fateful British pledge to Poland of 31 March 1939 to go to war against Germany in case of a Polish-German conflict would not have been made without strong pressure from the White House.
On 14 March 1939, Slovakia declared itself an independent republic, thereby dissolving the state known as Czechoslovakia. That same day, Czechoslovak President Emil Hacha signed a formal agreement with Hitler establishing a German protectorate over Bohemia and Moravia, the Czech portion of the federation. The British government initially accepted the new situation, but then Roosevelt intervened.
In their nationally syndicated column of 14 April 1939, the usually very well informed Washington journalists Drew Pearson and Robert S. Allen reported that on 16 March 1939 Roosevelt had “sent a virtual ultimatum to Chamberlain” demanding that henceforth the British government strongly oppose Germany. According to Pearson and Allen, who completely supported Roosevelt’s move, “the President warned that Britain could expect no more support, moral or material through the sale of airplanes, if the Munich policy continued.” Chamberlain gave in and the next day, 17 March, ended Britain’s policy of cooperation with Germany in a speech at Birmingham bitterly denouncing Hitler. Two weeks later the British government formally pledged itself to war in case of German-Polish hostilities.
Bullitt’s response to the creation of the German protectorate over Bohemia and Moravia was to telephone Roosevelt and, in an “almost hysterical” voice, urge him to make a dramatic denunciation of Germany and immediately ask Congress to repeal the Neutrality Act.
In a confidential telegram to Washington dated 9 April 1939, Bullitt reported from Paris on another conversation with Ambassador Lukasiewicz. He had told the Polish envoy that although U.S. law prohibited direct financial aid to Poland, it might be possible to circumvent its provisions. The Roosevelt administration might be able to supply war planes to Poland indirectly through Britain. “The Polish Ambassador asked me if it might not be possible for Poland to obtain financial help and aeroplanes from the United States. I replied that I believed the Johnson Act would forbid any loans from the United States to Poland but added that it might be possible for England to purchase planes for cash in the United States and turn them over to Poland.”
On 25 April 1939, four months before the outbreak of war, Bullitt called American newspaper columnist Karl von Wiegand, chief European correspondent of the International News Service, to the U.S. embassy in Paris and told him: “War in Europe has been decided upon. Poland has the assurance of the support of Britain and France, and will yield to no demands from Germany. America will be in the war soon after Britain and France enter it.”
In a lengthy secret conversation at Hyde Park on 28 May 1939, Roosevelt assured the former President of Czechoslovakia, Dr. Edvard Benes, that America would actively intervene on the side of Britain and France in the anticipated European war.
In June 1939, Roosevelt secretly proposed to the British that the United States should establish “a patrol over the waters of the Western Atlantic with a view to denying them to the German Navy in the event of war.” The British Foreign Office record of this offer noted that “although the proposal was vague and woolly and open to certain objections, we assented informally as the patrol was to be operated in our interests.”
Many years after the war, Georges Bonnet, the French Foreign Minister in 1939, confirmed Bullitt’s role as Roosevelt’s deputy in pushing his country into war. In a letter to Hamilton Fish dated 26 March 1971, Bonnet wrote: “One thing is certain is that Bullitt in 1939 did everything he could to make France enter the war.” An important confirmation of the crucial role of Roosevelt and the Jews in pushing Britain into war comes from the diary of James V. Forrestal, the first U.S. Secretary of Defense. In his entry for 27 December 1945, he wrote:
Played golf today with [former Ambassador] Joe Kennedy. I asked him about his conversations with Roosevelt and [British Prime Minister] Neville Chamberlain from 1938 on. He said Chamberlain’s position in 1938 was that England had nothing with which to fight and that she could not risk going to war with Hitler. Kennedy’s view: That Hitler would have fought Russia without any later conflict with England if it had not been for [William] Bullitt’s urging on Roosevelt in the summer of 1939 that the Germans must be faced down about Poland; neither the French nor the British would have made Poland a cause of war if it had not been for the constant needling from Washington. Bullitt, he said, kept telling Roosevelt that the Germans wouldn’t fight; Kennedy that they would, and that they would overrun Europe. Chamberlain, he says, stated that America and the world Jews had forced England into the war. In his telephone conversations with Roosevelt in the summer of 1939, the President kept telling him to put some iron up Chamberlain’s backside.
When Ambassador Potocki was back in Warsaw on leave from his post in Washington, he spoke with Count Jan Szembek, the Polish Foreign Ministry Under-Secretary, about the growing danger of war. In his diary entry of 6 July 1939, Szembek recorded Potocki’s astonishment at the calm mood in Poland. In comparison with the war psychosis that had gripped the West, Poland seemed like a rest home.
“In the West,” the Ambassador told Szembek, “there are all kinds of elements openly pushing for war: the Jews, the super-capitalists, the arms dealers. Today they are all ready for a great business, because they have found a place which can be set on fire: Danzig; and a nation that is ready to fight: Poland. They want to do business on our backs. They are indifferent to the destruction of our country. Indeed, since everything will have to be rebuilt later on, they can profit from that as well.”
On 24 August 1939, just a week before the outbreak of hostilities, Chamberlain’s closest advisor, Sir Horace Wilson, went to Ambassador Kennedy with an urgent appeal from the British Prime Minister for President Roosevelt. Regretting that Britain had unequivocally obligated itself in March to Poland in case of war, Chamberlain now turned in despair to Roosevelt as a last hope for peace. He wanted the American President to “put pressure on the Poles” to change course at this late hour and open negotiations with Germany. By telephone Kennedy told the State Department that the British “felt that they could not, given their obligations, do anything of this sort but that we could.” Presented with this extraordinary opportunity to possibly save the peace of Europe, Roosevelt rejected Chamberlain’s desperate plea out of hand. At that, Kennedy reported, the Prime Minister lost all hope. “The futility of it all,” Chamberlain had told Kennedy, “is the thing that is frightful. After all, we cannot save the Poles. We can merely carry on a war of revenge that will mean the destruction of all Europe.”
Roosevelt liked to present himself to the American people and the world as a man of peace. To a considerable degree, that is still his image today. But Roosevelt cynically rejected genuine opportunities to act for peace when they were presented.
In 1938 he refused even to answer requests by French Foreign Minister Bonnet on 8 and 12 September to consider arbitrating the Czech-German dispute. And a year later, after the outbreak of war, a melancholy Ambassador Kennedy beseeched Roosevelt to act boldly for peace. “It seems to me that this situation may crystallize to a point where the President can be the savior of the world,” Kennedy cabled on 11 September from London. “The British government as such certainly cannot accept any agreement with Hitler, but there may be a point when the President himself may work out plans for world peace. Now this opportunity may never arise, but as a fairly practical fellow all my life, I believe that it is entirely conceivable that the President can get himself in a spot where he can save the world …”
But Roosevelt rejected out of hand this chance to save the peace of Europe. To a close political crony, he called Kennedy’s plea “the silliest message to me that I have ever received.” He complained to Henry Morgenthau that his London Ambassador was nothing but a pain in the neck: “Joe has been an appeaser and will always be an appeaser … If Germany and Italy made a good peace offer tomorrow, Joe would start working on the King and his friend the Queen and from there on down to get everybody to accept it.”
Infuriated at Kennedy’s stubborn efforts to restore peace in Europe or at least limit the conflict that had broken out, Roosevelt instructed his Ambassador with a “personal” and “strictly confidential” telegram on 11 September 1939 that any American peace effort was totally out of the question. The Roosevelt government, it declared, “sees no opportunity nor occasion for any peace move to be initiated by the President of the United States. The people [sic] of the United States would not support any move for peace initiated by this Government that would consolidate or make possible a survival of a regime of force and aggression.”
Hamilton Fish Warns The Nation
In the months before armed conflict broke out in Europe, perhaps the most vigorous and prophetic American voice of warning against President Roosevelt’s campaign to incite war was that of Hamilton Fish, a leading Republican congressman from New York. In a series of hard-hitting radio speeches, Fish rallied considerable public opinion against Roosevelt’s deceptive war policy. Here are only a few excerpts from some of those addresses.
On 6 January 1939, Fish told a nationwide radio audience:
The inflammatory and provocative message of the President to Congress and the world [given two days before] has unnecessarily alarmed the American people and created, together with a barrage of propaganda emanating from high New Deal officials, a war hysteria, dangerous to the peace of America and the world. The only logical conclusion to such speeches is another war fought overseas by American soldiers.
All the totalitarian nations referred to by President Roosevelt … haven’t the faintest thought of making war on us or invading Latin America.
I do not propose to mince words on such an issue, affecting the life, liberty and happiness of our people. The time has come to call a halt to the warmongers of the New Deal, backed by war profiteers, Communists, and hysterical internationalists, who want us to quarantine the world with American blood and money.
He [Roosevelt] evidently desires to whip up a frenzy of hate and war psychosis as a red herring to take the minds of our people off their own unsolved domestic problems. He visualizes hobgoblins and creates in the public mind a fear of foreign invasions that exists only in his own imagination.
On 5 March, Fish spoke to the country over the Columbia radio network:
The people of France and Great Britain want peace but our warmongers are constantly inciting them to disregard the Munich Pact and resort to the arbitrament of arms. If only we would stop meddling in foreign lands the old nations of Europe would compose their own quarrels by arbitration and the processes of peace, but apparently we won’t let them.
Fish addressed the listeners of the National Broadcasting Company network on 5 April with these words:
The youth of America are again being prepared for another blood bath in Europe in order to make the world safe for democracy.
If Hitler and the Nazi government regain Memel or Danzig, taken away from Germany by the Versailles Treaty, and where the population is 90 percent German, why is it necessary to issue threats and denunciations and incite our people to war? I would not sacrifice the life of one American soldier for a half dozen Memels or Danzigs. We repudiated the Versailles Treaty because it was based on greed and hatred, and as long as its inequalities and injustices exist there are bound to be wars of liberation.
The sooner certain provisions of the Versailles Treaty are scrapped the better for the peace of the world.
I believe that if the areas that are distinctly German in population are restored to Germany, except Alsace-Lorraine and the Tyrol, there will be no war in western Europe. There may be a war between the Nazis and the Communists, but if there is that is not our war or that of Great Britain or France or any of the democracies.
New Deal spokesmen have stirred up war hysteria into a veritable frenzy. The New Deal propaganda machine is working overtime to prepare the minds of our people for war, who are already suffering from a bad case of war jitters.
President Roosevelt is the number one warmonger in America, and is largely responsible for the fear that pervades the Nation which has given the stock market and the American people a bad case of the jitters.
I accuse the administration of instigating war propaganda and hysteria to cover up the failure and collapse of the New Deal policies, with 12 million unemployed and business confidence destroyed.
I believe we have far more to fear from our enemies from within than we have from without. All the Communists are united in urging us to go to war against Germany and Japan for the benefit of Soviet Russia.
Great Britain still expects every American to do her duty, by preserving the British Empire and her colonies. The war profiteers, munitions makers and international bankers are all set up for our participation in a new world war.
On 21 April, Fish again spoke to the country over nationwide radio:
It is the duty of all those Americans who desire to keep out of foreign entanglements and the rotten mess and war madness of Europe and Asia to openly expose the war hysteria and propaganda that is impelling us to armed conflict.
What we need in America is a stop war crusade, before we are forced into a foreign war by internationalists and interventionists at Washington, who seem to be more interested in solving world problems rather than our own.
In his radio address of 26 May, Fish stated:
He [Roosevelt] should remember that the Congress has the sole power to declare war and formulate the foreign policies of the United States. The President has no such constitutional power. He is merely the official organ to carry out the policies determined by the Congress.
Without knowing even who the combatants will be, we are informed almost daily by the internationalists and interventionists in America that we must participate in the next world war.
On 8 July 1939, Fish declared over the National Broadcasting Company radio network:
If we must go to war, let it be in defense of America, but not in defense of the munitions makers, war profiteers, Communists, to cover up the failures of the New Deal, or to provide an alibi for a third term.
It is well for all nations to know that we do not propose to go to war over Danzig, power politics, foreign colonies, or the imperialistic wars of Europe or anywhere in the world.
Powers Behind The President
President Roosevelt could have done little to incite war in Europe without help from powerful allies. Behind him stood the self-serving international financial and Jewish interests bent on the destruction of Germany. The principal organization which drummed up public support for U.S. involvement in the European war prior to the Pearl Harbor attack was the cleverly named “Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies.” President Roosevelt himself initiated its founding, and top administration officials consulted frequently with Committee leaders.
Although headed for a time by an elderly small-town Kansas newspaper publisher, William Allen White, the Committee was actually organized by powerful financial interests which stood to profit tremendously from loans to embattled Britain and from shrewd investments in giant war industries in the United States.
At the end of 1940, West Virginia Senator Rush D. Holt issued a detailed examination of the Committee which exposed the base interests behind the idealistic-sounding slogans:
The Committee has powerful connections with banks, insurance companies, financial investing firms, and industrial concerns. These in turn exert influence on college presidents and professors, as well as on newspapers, radio and other means of communication. One of the powerful influences used by the group is the ‘400’ and social set. The story is a sordid picture of betrayal of public interest.
The powerful J.P. Morgan interest with its holdings in the British Empire helped plan the organization and donated its first expense money.
Some of the important figures active in the Committee were revealed by Holt: Frederic R. Coudert, a paid war propagandist for the British government in the U.S. during the First World War; Robert S. Allen of the Pearson and Allen syndicated column; Henry R. Luce, the influential publisher of Time, Life, and Fortune magazines; Fiorella LaGuardia, the fiery half-Jewish Mayor of Now York City; Herbert Lehman, the Jewish Governor of New York with important financial holdings in war industries; and Frank Altschul, an officer in the Jewish investment firm of Lazard Freres with extensive holdings in munitions and military supply companies.
If the Committee succeeded in getting the U.S. into war, Holt warned, “American boys will spill their blood for profiteers, politicians and ‘paytriots.’ If war comes, on the hands of the sponsors of the White Committee will be blood-the blood of Americans killed in a needless war.”
In March 1941 a list of most of the Committee’s financial backers was made public. It revealed the nature of the forces eager to bring America into the European war. Powerful international banking interests were well represented. J.P. Morgan, John W. Morgan, Thomas W. Lamont and others of the great Morgan banking house were listed. Other important names from the New York financial world included Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, Felix M. and James F. Warburg, and J. Malcolm Forbes. Chicago department store owner and publisher Marshall Field was a contributor, as was William Averill Harriman, the railroad and investment millionaire who later served as Roosevelt’s ambassador in Moscow.
Of course, Jewish names made up a substantial portion of the long list. Hollywood film czar Samuel Goldwyn of Goldwyn Studios was there, along with David Dubinsky, the head of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. The William S. Paley Foundation, which had been set up by the head of the giant Columbia Broadcasting System, contributed to the Committee. The name of Mrs. Herbert H. Lehman, wife of the New York Governor, was also on the list.
Without an understanding of his intimate ties to organized Jewry, Roosevelt’s policies make little sense. As Jewish historian Lucy Dawidowicz noted: “Roosevelt himself brought into his immediate circle more Jews than any other President before or after him. Felix Frankfurter, Bernard M. Baruch and Henry Morgenthau were his close advisers. Benjamin V. Cohen, Samuel Rosenman and David K. Niles were his friends and trusted aides.” This is perhaps not so remarkable in light of Roosevelt’s reportedly one-eighth Jewish ancestry.
In his diary entry of 1 May 1941, Charles A. Lindbergh, the American aviator hero and peace leader, nailed the coalition that was pushing the United States into war:
The pressure for war is high and mounting. The people are opposed to it, but the Administration seems to have ‘the bit in its teeth’ and [is] hell-bent on its way to war. Most of the Jewish interests in the country are behind war, and they control a huge part of our press and radio and most of our motion pictures. There are also the ‘intellectuals,’ and the ‘Anglophiles,’ and the British agents who are allowed free rein, the international financial interests, and many others.
Joseph Kennedy shared Lindbergh’s apprehensions about Jewish power. Before the outbreak of war he privately expressed concerns about “the Jews who dominate our press” and world Jewry in general, which he considered a threat to peace and prosperity. Shortly after the beginning of hostilities, Kennedy lamented “the growing Jewish influence in the press and in Washington demanding continuance of the war.”
Betrayal, Failure, Delusion
Roosevelt’s efforts to get Poland, Britain and France into war against Germany succeeded all too well. The result was untold death and misery and destruction. When the fighting began, as Roosevelt had intended and planned, the Polish and French leaders expected the American president to at least make good on his assurances of backing in case of war. But Roosevelt had not reckoned on the depth of peace sentiment of the vast majority of Americans. So, in addition to deceiving his own people, Roosevelt also let down those in Europe to whom he had promised support.
Seldom in American history were the people as united in their views as they were in late 1939 about staying out of war in Europe. When hostilities began in September 1939, the Gallup poll showed 94 percent of the American people against involvement in war. That figure rose to 96.5 percent in December before it began to decline slowly to about 80 percent in the Fall of 1941. (Today, there is hardly an issue that even 60 or 70 percent of the people agree upon.)
Roosevelt was, of course, quite aware of the intensity of popular feeling on this issue. That is why he lied repeatedly to the American people about his love of peace and his determination to keep the U.S. out of war, while simultaneously doing everything in his power to plunge Europe and America into war.
In a major 1940 re-election campaign speech, Roosevelt responded to the growing fears of millions of Americans who suspected that their President had secretly pledged United States support to Britain in its war against Germany. These well-founded suspicions were based in part on the publication in March of the captured Polish documents. The speech of 23 October 1940 was broadcast from Philadelphia to the nation on network radio. In the most emphatic language possible, Roosevelt categorically denied that he had
ledged in some way the participation of the United States in some foreign war. I give to you and to the people of this country this most solemn assurance: There is no secret Treaty, no secret understanding in any shape or form, direct or indirect, with any Government or any other nation in any part of the world, to involve this nation in any war or for any other purpose.
We now know, of course, that this pious declaration was just another one of Roosevelt’s many brazen, bald-faced lies to the American people.
Roosevelt’s policies were more than just dishonest-they were criminal. The Constitution of the United States grants authority only to the Congress to make war and peace. And Congress had passed several major laws to specifically insure U.S. neutrality in case of war in Europe. Roosevelt continually violated his oath as President to uphold the Constitution. If his secret policies had been known, the public demand for his impeachment would very probably have been unstoppable.
The Watergate episode has made many Americans deeply conscious of the fact that their presidents can act criminally. That affair forced Richard Nixon to resign his presidency, and he is still widely regarded as a criminal. No schools are named after him and his name will never receive the respect that normally goes to every American president. But Nixon’s crimes pale into insignificance when compared to those of Franklin Roosevelt. What were Nixon’s lies compared to those of Roosevelt? What is a burglary cover-up compared to an illegal and secret campaign to bring about a major war?
Those who defend Roosevelt’s record argue that he lied to the American people for their own good — that he broke the law for lofty principles. His deceit is considered permissible because the cause was noble, while similar deception by presidents Johnson and Nixon, to name two, is not. This is, of course, a hypocritical double standard. And the argument doesn’t speak very well for the democratic system. It implies that the people are too dumb to understand their own best interests. It further suggests that the best form of government is a kind of benevolent liberal-democratic dictatorship.
Roosevelt’s hatred for Hitler was deep, vehement, passionate — almost personal. This was due in no small part to an abiding envy and jealousy rooted in the great contrast between the two men, not only in their personal characters but also in their records as national leaders.
Superficially, the public fives of Roosevelt and Hitler were astonishingly similar. Both assumed the leadership of their respective countries at the beginning of 1933. They both faced the enormous challenge of mass unemployment during a catastrophic worldwide economic depression. Each became a powerful leader in a vast military alliance during the most destructive war in history. Both men died while still in office within a few weeks of each other in April 1945, just before the end of the Second World War in Europe. But the enormous contrasts in the lives of these two men are even more remarkable.
Roosevelt was born into one of the wealthiest families in America. His was a life utterly free of material worry. He took part in the First World War from an office in Washington as UnderSecretary of the Navy. Hitler, on the other hand, was born into a modest provinicial family. As a young man he worked as an impoverished manual laborer. He served in the First World War as a front line soldier in the hell of the Western battleground. He was wounded many times and decorated for bravery.
In spite of his charming manner and soothing rhetoric, Roosevelt proved unable to master the great challenges facing America. Even after four years of his presidency, millions remained unemployed, undernourished and poorly housed in a vast land richly endowed with all the resources for incomparable prosperity. The New Deal was plagued with bitter strikes and bloody clashes between labor and capital. Roosevelt did nothing to solve the country’s deep, festering racial problems which erupted repeatedly in riots and armed conflict. The story was very different in Germany. Hitler rallied his people behind a radical program that transformed Germany within a few years from an economically ruined land on the edge of civil war into Europe’s powerhouse. Germany underwent a social, cultural and economic rebirth without parallel in history. The contrast between the personalities of Roosevelt and Hitler was simultaneously a contrast between two diametrically different social-political systems and ideologies.
And yet, it would be incorrect to characterize Roosevelt as merely a cynical politician and front man for powerful alien interests. Certainly he did not regard himself as an evil man. He sincerely believed that he was doing the right and noble thing in pressuring Britain and France into war against Germany. Like Wilson before him, and others since, Roosevelt felt himself uniquely qualified and called upon by destiny to reshape the world according to his vision of an egalitarian, universalist democracy. He was convinced, as so many American leaders have been, that the world could be saved from itself by remodeling it after the United States.
Presidents like Wilson and Roosevelt view the world not as a complex of different nations, races and cultures which must mutually respect each others’ separate collective identities in order to live together in peace, but rather according to a selfrighteous missionary perspective that divides the globe into morally good and evil countries. In that scheme of things, America is the providentially permanent leader of the forces of righteousness. Luckily, this view just happens to correspond to the economic and political interests of those who wield power in the United States.
President Roosevelt’s War
In April 1941, Senator Gerald Nye of North Dakota prophetically predicted that one day the Second World War would be remembered as Roosevelt’s war. “If we are ever involved in this war, it will be called by future historians by only one title, ‘the President’s War,’ because every step of his since his Chicago quarantine speech [of 5 October 1937] has been toward war.
The great American historian, Harry Elmer Barnes, believed that war could probably have been prevented in 1939 if it had not been for Roosevelt’s meddling. “Indeed, there is fairly conclusive evidence that, but for Mr. Roosevelt’s pressure on Britain, France and Poland, and his commitments to them before September 1939, especially to Britain, and the irresponsible antics of his agent provocateur, William C. Bullitt, there would probably have been no world war in 1939, or, perhaps, for many years thereafter.” In Revisionism: A Key to Peace, Barnes wrote:
President Roosevelt had a major responsibility, both direct and indirect, for the outbreak of war in Europe. He began to exert pressure on France to stand up to Hitler as early as the German reoccupation of the Rhineland in March 1936, months before he was making his strongly isolationist speeches in the campaign of 1936. This pressure on France, and also England, continued right down to the coming of the war in September 1939. It gained volume and momentum after the quarantine speech of October 1937. As the crisis approached between Munich and the outbreak of war, Roosevelt pressed the Poles to stand firm against any demands by Germany, and urged the English and French to back up the Poles unflinchingly.
There is grave doubt that England would have gone to war in September 1939 had it not been for Roosevelt’s encouragement and his assurances that, in the event of war, the United States would enter on the side of Britain just as soon as he could swing American public opinion around to support intervention.
Roosevelt had abandoned all semblance of neutrality, even before war broke out in 1939, and moved as speedily as was safe and feasible in the face of anti-interventionist American public opinion to involve this country in the European conflict.
One of the most perceptive verdicts on Franklin Roosevelt’s place in history came from the pen of the great Swedish explorer and author, Sven Hedin. During the war he wrote:
The question of the way it came to a new world war is not only to be explained because of the foundation laid by the peace treaties of 1919, or in the suppression of Germany and her allies after the First World War, or in the continuation of the ancient policies of Great Britain and France. The decisive push came from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
Roosevelt speaks of democracy and destroys it incessantly. He slanders as undemocratic and un-American those who admonish him in the name of peace and the preservation of the American way of life. He has made democracy into a caricature rather than a model. He talks about freedom of speech and silences those who don’t hold his opinion.
He talks about freedom of religion and makes an alliance with Bolshevism.
He talks about freedom from want, but cannot provide ten million of his own people with work, bread or shelter. He talks about freedom from the fear of war while working for war, not only for his own people but for the world, by inciting his country against the Axis powers when it might have united with them, and he thereby drove millions to their deaths.
This war will go down in history as the war of President Roosevelt.
Officially orchestrated praise for Roosevelt as a great man of peace cannot conceal forever his crucial role in pushing Europe into war in 1939.
It is now more than forty years since the events described here took place. For many they are an irrelevant part of a best-forgotten past. But the story of how Franklin Roosevelt engineered war in Europe is very pertinent — particularly for Americans today. The lessons of the past have never been more important than in this nuclear age. For unless at least an aware minority understands how and why wars are made, we will remain powerless to restrain the warmongers of our own era.
- See, for example: Charles A. Beard, President Roosevelt and the Coming of the War 1941 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1948); William Henry Chamberlin, America’s Second Crusade (Chicago: Regnery, 1952, 1962); Benjamin Colby, ‘Twas a Famous Victory (New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington House, 1979); Frederic R. Sanborn, Design for War (New York: Devin-Adair, 1951); William Stevenson, A Man Called Intrepid (New York: Ballantine Books, 1980); Charles C. Tansill, Back Door to War (Chicago: Regnery, 1952); John Toland, Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath (New York: Doubleday, 1982).
- Saul Friedlander, Prelude to Downfall: Hitler and the United States 1939-1941 (New York: Knopf, 1967), pp. 73-77; U.S., Congress, House, Special Committee on Investigation of Un-American Activities in the United States, 1940, Appendix, Part II, pp. 1054-1059.
- Friedlander, pp. 75-76.
- New York Times, 30 March 1940, p. 1.
- Ibid., p. 4, and 31 March 1940, p. 1.
- New York Times, 30 March 1940, p. 1. Baltimore Sun, 30 March 1940, p. 1.
- A French-language edition was published in 1944 under the title Comment Roosevelt est Entre en Guerre.
- Tansill, “The United States and the Road to War in Europe,” in Harry Elmer Barnes (ed.), Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace (Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton, 1953; reprint eds., New York: Greenwood, 1969 and Torrance, Calif.: Institute for Historical Review [supplemented], 1982), p. 184 (note 292). Tansill also quoted from several of the documents in his Back Door to War, pp. 450-51.
- Harry Elmer Barnes, The Court Historians Versus Revisionism (N.p.: privately printed, 1952), p. 10. This booklet is reprinted in Barnes, Selected Revisionist Pamphlets (New York: Arno Press & The New York Times, 1972), and in Barnes, The Barnes Trilogy (Torrance, Calif.: Institute for Historical Review, 1979).
- Chamberlin, p. 60.
- Edward Raczynski, In Allied London (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1963), p. 51.
- Orville H. Bullitt (ad.), For the President: Personal and Secret (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1972), p. x1v [biographical foreword]. See also Time, 26 October 1936, p. 24.
- Current Biography 1940, ed. Maxine Block (New York: H.W. Wilson, 1940), p. 122 ff.
- Gisleher Wirsing, Der masslose Kontinent: Roosevelts Kampf um die Weltherrschaft (Jena: E. Diederichs, 1942), p. 224.
- Bullitt obituary in New York Times, 16 February 1967, p. 44.
- Jack Alexander, “He Rose From the Rich,” Saturday Evening Post, 11 March 1939, p. 6. (Also see continuation in issue of 18 March 1939.) Bullitt’s public views on the European scene and what should be America’s attitude toward it can be found in his Report to the American People (Boston: Houghton Mifflin [Cambridge: Riverside Press], 1940), the text of a speech he delivered, with the President’s blessing, under the auspices of the American Philosophical Society in Independence Hall in Philadelphia shortly after the fall of France. For sheer, hyperventilated stridency and emotionalist hysterics, this anti-German polemic could hardly be topped, even given the similar propensities of many other interventionists in government and the press in those days.
- Michael R. Beschloss, Kennedy and Roosevelt (New York: Norton, 1980), pp. 203-04.
- Robert Dallek, Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy 1932-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), p. 31. See also pp. 164-65.
- Dispatch No. 349 of 20 September 1938 by Sir. R. Lindsay, Documents on British Foreign Policy (ed. Ernest L. Woodward), Third series, Vol. VII (London, 1954), pp. 627-29. See also: Joseph P. Lash, Roosevelt and Churchill 1939-1941 (New York: Norton, 1976), pp. 25-27; Dallek, pp. 164-65; Arnold A. Offner, America and the Ori-, gins of World War II (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971), p. 61.
- William Phillips, Ventures in Diplomacy (North Beverly, Mass.: privately published, 1952), pp. 220-21.
- Carl Burckhardt, Meine Danziger Mission 1937-1939 (Munich: Callwey, 1960), p. 225.
- Drew Pearson and Robert S. Allen, “Washington Daily Merry-Go-Round,” Washington Times-Herald, 14 April 1939, p. 16. A facsimile reprint of this column appears in Conrad Grieb (ed.), American Manifest Destiny and The Holocausts (New York: Examiner Books, 1979), pp. 132-33. See also: Wirsing, pp. 238-41.
- Jay P. Moffat, The Moffat Papers 1919-1943 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1956), p. 232.
- U.S., Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States (Diplomatic Papers), 1939, General, Vol. I (Washington: 1956), p. 122.
- “Von Wiegand Says-,” Chicago Herald-American, 8 October 1944, p. 2.
- Edvard Benes, Memoirs of Dr. Eduard Benes (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954), pp. 79-80.
- Lash, p. 64.
- Hamilton Fish, FDR: The Other Side of the Coin (Now York: Vantage, 1976; Torrance, Calif.: Institute for Historical Review, 1980), p. 62.
- James V. Forrestal (ads. Walter Millis and E.S. Duffield), The Forrestal Diaries (New York: Viking, 1951), pp. 121-22. I have been privately informed by a colleague who has examined the original manuscript of the Forrestal diaries that many very critical references to the Jews were deleted from the published version.
- Jan Szembek, Journal 1933-1939 (Paris: Plan, 1952), pp. 475-76.
- David E. Koskoff, Joseph P. Kennedy: A Life and Times (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1974), p. 207; Moffat, p. 253; A.J.P. Taylor, The Origins of the Second World War (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1961; 2nd ed. Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett Premier [paperback], 1965), p. 262; U.S., Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1939, General, Vol. I (Washington: 1956), p. 355.
- Dallek, p. 164.
- Beschloss, pp. 190-91; Lash, p. 75; Koskoff, pp. 212-13.
- Hull to Kennedy (No. 905), U.S., Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1939, General, Vol. I (Washington: 1956), p. 424.
- The radio addresses of Hamilton Fish quoted here were published in the Congressional Record Appendix (Washington) as follows: (6 January 1939) Vol. 84, Part 11, pp. 52-53; (5 March 1939) same, pp. 846-47; (5 April 1939) Vol. 84, Part 12, pp. 1342-43; (21 April 1939) same, pp. 1642-43; (26 May 1939) Vol. 84, Part 13, pp. 2288-89; (8 July 1939) same, pp. 3127-28.
- Wayne S. Cole, Charles A. Lindbergh and the Battle Against American Intervention in World War II (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974), pp. 128, 136-39.
- Congressional Record Appendix (Washington: 1941), (30 December 1940) Vol. 86, Part 18, pp. 7019-25. See also: Appendix, Vol. 86, Part 17, pp. 5808-14.
- New York Times, 11 March 1941, p. 10.
- Lucy Dawidowicz, “American Jews and the Holocaust,” The New York Times Magazine, 18 April 1982, p. 102.
- “FDR ‘had a Jewish great-grandmother'” Jewish Chronicle (London), 5 February 1982, p. 3.
- Charles A. Lindbergh, The Wartime Journals of Charles A. Lindbergh (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970), p. 481.
- Koskoff, pp. 282, 212. The role of the American press in fomenting hatred against Germany between 1933 and 1939 is a subject that deserves much more detailed treatment. Charles Tansill provides some useful information on this in Back Door to War. The essay by Professor Hans A. Muenster, “Die Kriegsschuld der Presse der USA” in Kriegsschuld und Presse, published in 1944 by the German Reichsdozentenfuehrung, is worth consulting.
- An excellent essay relating and contrasting American public opinion measurements to Roosevelt’s foreign policy moves in 1939-41 is Harry Elmer Barnes, Was Roosevelt Pushed Into War By Popular Demand in 1941? (N.p.: privately printed, 1951). It is reprinted in Barnes, Selected Revisionist Pamphlets.
- Lash, p. 240.
- New York Times, 27 April 1941, p. 19.
- Harry Elmer Barnes, The Struggle Against the Historical Blackout, 2nd ed. (N.p.: privately published, ca. 1948), p. 12. See also the 9th, final revised and enlarged edition (N.p.: privately published, ca. 1954), p. 34; this booklet is reprinted in Barnes, Selected Revisionist Pamphlets.
- Harry Elmer Barnes, “Revisionism: A Key to Peace,” Rampart Journal of Individualist Thought Vol. II, No. 1 (Spring 1966), pp. 29-30. This article was republished in Barnes, Revisionism: A Key to Peace and Other Essays (San Francisco: Cato Institute [Cato Paper No. 12], 1980).
- Sven Hedin, Amerika im Kampf der Kontinente (Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus, 1943), p. 54.
Sources and References
Listed here are the published editions of the Polish documents, the most important sources touching on the questions of their authenticity and content, and essential recent sources on what President Roosevelt was really-as opposed to publicly-doing and thinking during the prelude to war. Full citations for all references in the article will be found in the notes.
Beschloss, Michael R. Kennedy and Roosevelt. New York: Norton, 1980.
Bullitt, Orville H. (ed.). For the President: Personal and Secret. [Correspondence between Franklin D. Roosevelt and William C. Bullitt.] Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1972.
Germany. Foreign Office Archive Commission. Roosevelts Weg in den Krieg: Geheimdokumente zur Kriegspolitik des Praesidenten der Vereinigten Staaten. Berlin: Deutscher Verlag, 1943.
Germany. Foreign Office. The German White Paper. [White Book No. 3.] New York: Howell, Soskin and Co., 1940.
Germany. Foreign Office. Polnische Dokumente zur Vorgeschichte des Kriegs. [White Book No. 3.] Berlin: F. Eher, 1940.
Koskoff, David E. Joseph P. Kennedy: A Life and Times. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1974.
Lukasiewicz, Juliusz (Waclaw Jedrzejewicz, ed.). Diplomat in Paris 1936-1939. New York: Columbia University Press, 1970.
Wirsing, Giselher. Der masslose Kontinent: Roosevelts Kampf um die Weltherrschaft. Jena: E. Diederichs, 1942.
This item was first presented at the Fourth IHR Conference in Chicago, September 1982. It was first published in The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1983 (Vol. 4, No. 2), pages 135-172.
For Further Reading
Patrick J. Buchanan, Churchill, Hitler and ‘The Unnecessary War’. New York: Crown, 2008.
William H. Chamberlain, America’s Second Crusade. Chicago: 1950.
Benjamin Colby, ‘Twas a Famous Victory. New Rochelle: 1979.
Matthew DeFraga, “March 1939: America’s Guarantee to Britain,” Ex Post Facto: Journal of the History Students at San Francisco State University. 1998, Vol. VII.
( http://userwww.sfsu.edu/epf/journal_archive/volume_VII,_1998/defraga_m.pdf )
Thomas Fleming, The New Dealers’ War: Franklin Roosevelt and the War Within World War II. New York: Basic Books, 2001.
J. F. C. Fuller, A Military History of the Western World. New York: 1987. Vol. 3, esp. pp. 372-375, 411-419.
Germany, Auswärtiges Amt [German Foreign Office]. Documents on the Events Preceding the Outbreak of the War. New York: 1940.
Adolf Hitler. Reichstag speech of Dec. 11, 194. (Declaration of war against the USA)
( http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v08/v08p389_Hitler.html )
David L. Hoggan. The Forced War: When Peaceful Revision Failed. IHR, 1989.
Friedrich Stieve. Was die Welt nicht wollte: Hitlers Friedensangebote 1933- 1939. Berlin: 1940.
( http://de.metapedia.org/wiki/Was_die_Welt_nicht_wollte:_Hitlers_Friedens… )
Viktor Suvorov (pseud.), The Chief Culprit: Stalin’s Grand Design to Start World War II. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2008
A.J.P. Taylor, The Origins of the Second World War. New York: 1983.
John Toland, Adolf Hitler. Doubleday & Co., 1976.
Mark Weber, “Roosevelt’s ‘Secret Map’ Speech,” The Journal of Historical Review, Spring 1985 (Vol. 6, No. 1), pp. 125-127.
Mark Weber, “The ‘Good War’ Myth of World War Two.” May 2008.
American Policy Toward Europe: The Fateful Change
Notes On The Legacy Of Woodrow Wilson And Franklin Roosevelt
By Karl Otto Braun
Following the final defeat of Napoleonic France, the leaders of Europe gathered for the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to reorganize the war-torn continent. European recovery from the consequences of Napoleon’s downfall was considerably aided by the decent and magnanimous treatment of defeated France by the victorious powers. Henry Kissinger aptly entitled his study of the Congress of Vienna A World Restored. /1
In contrast, the leaders of the victorious coalition that defeated Germany in 1945 imposed a virtual Carthaginian peace upon the vanquished nation. Germany and Europe itself was split into two hostile camps: American-style democracy was imposed in the West and Soviet-style socialism was established in the East. The peace settlement of 1945 prevented European recovery from the consequences of Hitler’s downfall. Princeton professor Martin Sherwin gave his scholarly study of the consequences of the Second World War the appropriate title A World Destroyed. /2
Hitler’s primary aim in the Second World War was the eradication of the world threat of Soviet Bolshevism. By halting General Eisenhower, Roosevelt enabled Stalin to conquer Berlin and thus establish an Asian presence in the middle of Europe. When Roosevelt and Churchill met off Newfoundland in August 1941 to plan their common war strategy, they sang “Onward Christian Soldiers” before the cameras. Their exhortation later became, in practice, support for the anti-Christian Red Army in its subjugation of half of Europe. In 1945 the German commander invited U.S. General George Patton to seize Prague, but Patton’s superior, General Eisenhower, forbade it,
The peace established in 1945 by Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin laid the foundation for a long-term conflict which has regularly broken out in crisis: the West Berlin blockade of 1948, the East Berlin uprising of 1953, the Budapest uprising of 1956, the Prague uprising of 1968, and the recent worker’s uprising in Poland, a country sacrificed by Roosevelt and Churchill to Stalin’s rule. No less than ten countries found themselves under Moscow’s rule in 1945, an ominous development with foreboding for the future of Western civilization as a whole. It is not surprising that after nearly forty years, there is still no peace treaty between defeated Germany and the victorious powers. Instead, Germany and Europe remain divided, plagued with turmoil and facing the threat of annihilation in a new war. Historical failures of this magnitude have always had a deep and lasting impact.
In his 1961 historical study, Russia and the West Under Lenin and Stalin, diplomat and historian George F. Kennan wrote: “The pattern of the events that led the Western world to new disaster in 1939 was laid down in its entirety by the Allied governments in l918 and 1919. What we shall have to observe from here on in the relations between Russia, Germany, and the West follows a logic as inexorable as that of any Greek tragedy … In 1917, the Western powers, in their determination to inflict total defeat on a Germany far less dangerous to them than that of Hitler, had pressed so unwisely for the continuation of Russia’s help that they had consigned her to the arms of the Communists. Now, in 1939, they were paying the price for this folly.” The First World War, Kennan has correctly noted, was “the great seminal catastrophe of this century, excepting only perhaps the discovery of nuclear weaponry.” /3
The career of William C. Bullitt, whom Roosevelt appointed as America’s first ambassador to the Soviet Union, strikingly exemplifies the contradictory nature of U.S. policy toward the Kremlin over the years. President Wilson’s close advisor and alter ego, Colonel Edward M. House, encouraged young Bullitt to visit the fledgling, civil warracked Soviet state and its leader, Lenin, in 1919. Bullitt returned to the Versailles conference with a sensational proposal from the Bolshevik government. In return for an immediate cease fire on all fronts, an end to the Allied blockade, establishment of normal relations, and Soviet access to the railways and ports of the former Russian empire, the Soviets would agree to accept the loss of all territories then under de facto non-Soviet control.
Bolshevik rule would be confined to central Russia (including Moscow and Petrograd), while relinquishing Finland, Murmansk-Archangel, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, western Byelorussia Bessarabia, western Ukraine, Crimea, Caucasus, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the whole of the Urals and Siberia. /4 Wilson tabled this unique offer until it expired on April 10, 1919. Sigmund Freud, who co-authored a psychological biography of Wilson with Bullitt, considered this “the most important single decision that he [Wilson] made in Paris.” /5
This fumbled opportunity deeply disappointed Bullitt, and he resigned from the foreign service. In his resignation letter to Wilson of May 17, 1919, Bullitt denounced the Versailles Treaty which the Allies had imposed on defeated Germany as unjust and prophesied that the unresolved issues of Danzig and (detached) East Prussia would “make new international conflicts certain.” /6 In his youthful idealism, Bullitt did not foresee that one day, as Roosevelt’s ambassador to France in 1938-39, he himself would energetically promote uncompromising Polish opposition to any revision of the Versailles settlement. Twenty years later Bullitt helped to implement his own fateful prophecy! This was the first great historical irony of Bullitt’s life.
In the 1930s it was trendy for American intellectuals to idealize the Bolshevik revolution and the new Soviet regime, although the Red reign of terror had already claimed many times more victims than the guillotines of the French revolution. Bullitt shared that fashionable enthusiasm. He married Louise Bryant Reed, widow of American Communist leader John Reed, who had authored the flattering portrait of the Bolshevik revolution, Ten Days That Shook the World.
Roosevelt called Bullitt back to the diplomatic service in 1933 and appropriately sent him to Moscow as America’s first envoy to the USSR. When he arrived, he laid a wreath at the tomb of John Reed by the Kremlin wall. He was honored by the Soviet dictator in extraordinary fashion: “Stalin took my head in his two hands and gave me a large kiss! I swallowed my astonishment and when he turned up his face for a return kiss, I delivered it.” /7 But Bullitt’s sincere enthusiasm for the Soviet regime “ended in frustration.” /8 The Ambassador’s confidential dispatches to the President on the terror of the Soviet Commissars became as critical as the articles appearing in German newspapers of the time. His reports to Washington echoed the speeches of German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. He thus became an obstacle for Roosevelt, who sought friendship with Stalin. Bullitt was transferred to Paris in 1936.
After America and the Soviet Union became allies in the Second World War, the latent friction between Bullitt and Roosevelt surfaced and finally led to a complete break between them. (The break was hastened by Bullitt’s circulation of stories about the sexual peccadillos of a rival and Roosevelt favorite, Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles. For this Roosevelt never forgave him.) According to Kennan, in early 1943 “Bullitt predicted with startling accuracy the situation to which the war would lead… He urged the President to use the great influence he still had with a view to bringing Stalin to a specific renunciation of all conquests and annexation in Europe.” Bullitt was “remarkably prophetic on what would happen in Europe, if the Russians were allowed to reach Berlin.” /9 He told Roosevelt: “This is not the old British policy of the Balance of Power in Europe, but a new one of the Balance of Impotence…” /10 His brother Orville remarked: “In retrospect it would appear that had Bullitt accompanied Roosevelt and later Truman, the meetings with Stalin might have been on a more realistic basis and might have saved the world untold misery.” /11 But Roosevelt remained totally deaf to Bullitt’s many realistic warnings. This was the second great historical irony of Bullitt’s life.
Bullitt left a valuable book to posterity. Together with the renowned Sigmund Freud he wrote a fascinating psychological study of President Wilson. /12 This analysis of Wilson’s character was so devastating that its publication had to be postponed until 1967, following the death of Wilson’s widow. Bullitt and Freud explain that Wilson was psychologically unable properly to carry out his duties at the Versailles Peace Conference. On April 8, 1919, he even suffered what Bullitt and Freud called a “moral collapse” in relinquishing his highly touted “Fourteen Points” peace plan on the promises of which Germany had laid down its arms. /13
The German Social Democratic party had welcomed returning German soldiers to the homeland in 1918 with the words: “Welcome back, brave soldiers. God and Wilson will help us from now on.” By abandoning his peace pledges, Wilson squandered his enormous popularity in Germany and paved the way for the sham peace which, in Kennan’s words, was “forced upon the loser” and “had to be accepted in humiliation under duress.” /14 Versailles gave birth to Hitler, just as the Polish “Solidarity” movement is the child of Yalta.
Yet another irony of history is the fact that at a second crucial international conference after a world war, an American president was physically incapable of fully understanding the awesome issues which were decided and which affect us still today. President Roosevelt was a visibly dying man. Churchill’s personal physician, Lord Moran, noted in his diary at Yalta on February 9, 1945: “Everyone was shocked by his [Roosevelt’s] appearance and gabbled about it afterwards. The President looked old and thin and drawn. He sat looking straight ahead with his mouth open, as if he were not taking things in.” /15 In his critical study of Roosevelt’s foreign policy, Hamilton Fish deals extensively with the great cover-up about the President’s mental and physical deterioration in 1944 and 1945. “This tragic deception over the status of his health… was one of the most unjustifiable, cruelest and most dangerous of all the political tricks and stratagems ever used to deceive the American people.” /16
Fish came to the same devastating conclusion about Roosevelt’s health in 1945 as Freud and Bullitt had about Wilson’s condition in 1919. These are two of the most appalling cases of failure in American leadership during critical periods of world history. In each of its “crusades” in Europe, America failed to reach the “Holy Land” of a world made safe for Democracy! On the contrary, the present “Great Wall of Europe” (or “Iron Curtain”) which divides the continent down the middle with barbed wire, explosive mines, baying dogs, and killer guards, is the real legacy of the last crusade. It is the most shameful monument of our age.
In light of all this, one must admit that the voice of the sober historian is often drowned out in the noise of rough power politics. Human passions prevail in history. Both President Wilson and President Roosevelt were imbued with blind hatred. In Wilson’s view, the French and British Allies were fighting in September 1915 with their backs to the wall against “wild beasts.” Roosevelt, in turn, went so far as to tell the Senate military affairs committee in May 1939 that it would be a good thing if Hitler and Mussolini were to be murdered. /17
In 1943 Roosevelt laid the basis for the destruction of Germany by unexpectedly demanding unconditional surrender, thereby surpassing the blunders of the Versailles conference. The destruction of the sovereignty of the German Reich had the effect of unilaterally promoting Soviet expansion. The intense hatred fomented by subversive pressure groups in America changed the course of U.S. foreign policy in a direction detrimental to the nation’s welfare. But hatred and vengeance have always been the most awesome tools of politicians.
The crucial turning point in American foreign policy dates from President Wilson’s fateful rejection of Washington’s admonition in his Farewell Address. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson warned against any U.S. entanglements in European disputes and called for strict neutrality in the Western hemisphere. For Jefferson, England was always the enemy. In 1776, when the thirteen colonies were still ruled from London, Thomas Paine prophetically wrote in Common Sense: “It is the true interest of America to steer clear of European contentions, which she can never do while, by her dependence on Britain she is made the makeweight in the scale of British politics.”
Backed by his intimate pro-Marxist advisor, Colonel House, Wilson proclaimed a hazy internationalism as the new foundation of U.S. foreign policy. The adoption of Marxist principles under a smokescreen of liberal rhetoric contributed tremendously to the decline of American national strength. Sixty years later, the full working-out of this progressive decline was made dramatically manifest in the humiliating, chaotic fall of Saigon in April 1975.
In 1913 President Wilson signed the law which established the Federal Reserve system. In contradiction to the U.S. Constitution, private enterprise was thereby authorized to print and circulate money, outside of the control of Congress. Under Roosevelt the term of office of the System’s governors was extended from seven to fourteen years, thus putting the governing Board’s membership beyond the reach of any president. During the debate on the proposed System, Representative Charles Lindbergh, Sr. (father of the famous aviator) warned in February 1912 that “the great special financial interests” of America would use the System to try “to control absolutely by law as well as by environment and manipulation the finances of this country, and eventually, I believe, the markets of the world to form a world trust.” The System “would practically put the people of this government and the government itself into a receivership. It would place within the control of a few the means of commercial exchange by the use of which they would control the rest of us to eat out of their hands on such terms as they fixed.” /18 After the financial association was established, he wrote: “The Federal Reserve Act panics are scientifically created.” /19 With the establishment of the Federal Reserve System, Wall Street finally triumphed over the White House.
In his 1979 study of Bismarck, George Kennan meticulously exposed the way in which international finance began promoting the Franco-Russian military alliance beginning in 1888. /20 Later, Wall Street financing of Britain’s war program between 1914 and 1917 virtually insured America’s eventual entry into the First World War on the British side. In 1939 Britain had still not repaid her war debt of 1918 to the United States and could not dare engage in a new conflagration without assurances of U.S. financial backing from the outset. With crucial help from Henry Morgenthau, head of the U.S. Treasury Department, and from Wall Street banking houses, Britain received the (then) staggering sum of 30.75 billion dollars in Lend-Lease aid during the course of the Second World War. The Soviet Union received aid amounting to 11.4 billion dollars. /21 These figures prove — better than could a thousand documents — America’s prime responsibility for the intensity and duration of the Second World War. The results of the enormous American sacrifices in money, material, and lives are utterly disappointing. George Kennan was right when he spoke at the end of the war of the “wreckage of FDR’s policy with relation to Russia and Poland.” /22
It was Wilson and, above all, Roosevelt, who were responsible for abandoning an independent, national and American foreign policy. Instead, American interests were twice subordinated to British interests in support of the antiquated British “balance of power” policy in Europe. Americans have been encouraged to forget that it was only after Napoleon’s fall that the British occupied Washington and burned the Capitol and White House (in 1814).
George Kennan was filled with “horror and shame” when he suddenly learned in Moscow from British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden of the secret Yalta agreement to “repatriate” all Russian, Cossack, and Ukrainian prisoners held by the Germans. The result was a Soviet-made holocaust. Britain induced America to participate in the crime. Between 1943 and 1947, 2.27 million Soviet citizens — many of whom had fought on the Axis side — were forcibly delivered to Stalin’s revenge by the British and Americans. /23
The U.S government similarly betrayed the traditional hemispheric principles of President Monroe and its Pan-American commitments when it sided with Britain in the recent tragi-comic colonial war over the Falklands/Malvinas Islands. (The forcible removal of the Argentine Governor of the Islands by a British military force in 1833 was a clear violation of the Monroe Doctrine proclaimed in 1823.) America’s support for (divergent) British interests may drag the United States into the abyss unless financial sovereignty is restored to Congress and the White House. In short, the “Paradise Lost” with Wilson’s abandonment of a sovereign foreign policy must be regained.
When this writer was a teenage student in Munich in 1927 he had to write a composition, “Germany, the Heart of Europe.” Until 1945, the German Reich was the heart and defender of Europe. The Reich defended Europe against Hungarians, Mongols, and Turks, and enabled Western culture to develop from the Middle Ages onwards. In this century, British envy attacked this continental heart without considering the consequences. America blindly followed the British slogans. America has paid for it. Bismarck once said: “Whoever rules Bohemia is master of Europe.” German culture and influence prevailed there for more than 900 years. A German emperor built Prague.
In 1945 German power was crushed. Consistent with the geopolitical principle that power abhors a vacuum, Soviet Russian influence filled the void. The Western-minded Czech Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk was thrown from a Prague window in 1948 as a prelude to complete Soviet rule, another consequence of Roosevelt’s lack of geopolitical awareness.
How did America come to war against Germany, the heart of Europe? Could not Roosevelt have acted as a great peacemaker by mediating the Danzig conflict in 1939, instead of instigating the Poles against Germany? Roosevelt knew full well that war between Germany and Poland would mean the end of Poland. Just a week before the outbreak of war, a traitor in the German embassy in Moscow informed the U.S. government that Germany and the Soviet Union had agreed to divide Poland between them. /24 Roosevelt knew this but refrained from telling the hapless Poles. Veteran New York Times correspondent Harrison Salisbury reports in his memoirs that Roosevelt knew in advance of the German-Soviet pact of August 1939 and could have delayed (or prevented?) war had he leaked this information to the press. /25 The American President could very possibly have saved the peace in 1939. Instead, he fed the American people inventions about a hypothetical German plot to take over the United States and the whole world. Of course, a Germany which was incapable of crossing the English Channel to conquer Britain had not the slightest ability (or intention) of conquering America from across the Atlantic ocean. Roosevelt and Truman should have easily realized that Churchill’s 1934 dream of finally destroying Germany for all time and subjecting her to a new super-Versailles would end in global chaos. /26 Bullitt’s prophecy became reality.
After dispatching his declaration of war to Berlin on August 4, 1914, British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey said: “The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.” In his book on Roosevelt, Hamilton Fish com- mented: “That remark was only partly true then but it does describe the aftermath of World War II. With communism dominating half the world and nuclear missiles threatening us all, the lights are dimmer. An overt act of aggression might unleash a nuclear war that would extinguish lights everywhere.” /27
- Henry Kissinger, A World Restored (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1973).
- Martin J. Sherwin, A World Destroyed (New York: Knopf, 1975).
- George F. Kennan, Russia and the West Under Lenin and Stalin (Boston: Little, Brown, 1961), pp. 164, 330.
- Orville H. Bullitt (ed.), For the President — Personal and Secret: Correspondence Between Franklin D. Roosevelt and William C. Bullitt (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1972), pp. 5-6; Sigmund Freud and William C. Bullitt, Thomas Woodrow Wilson, Twenty-Eighth President of the United States (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976), p. 253.
- Freud/Bullitt, pp. 253-54. (“Incidentally, Lenin had also offered to recognize Soviet responsibility for the debts of the Russian Empire.” p. 253)
- Ibid., p. 271.
- Orville H. Bullitt (ed.), p. 69.
- Ibid., Introduction by George F. Kennan, p. vi.
- Ibid., p. xiv.
- Ibid., p. 583.
- Ibid., p. 572.
- See note 4.
- Freud/Bullitt, pp. 255, 260.
- George F. Kennan, American Diplomacy 1900-1950 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951), pp. 66, 68.
- Charles M.W. (Lord) Moran, Winston Churchill: The Struggle for Survival 1940-1965 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966), p. 234.
- Hamilton Fish, FDR: The Other Side of the Coin (New York: Vantage, 1976; Torrance, Calif.: Institute for Historical Review, 1980), p. 181.
- Report by Charge d’affaires Dr. Hans Thomsen from the German Embassy in Washington to Berlin of May 17, 1939. Cited in David L. Hoggan, Der Erzwungene Krieg (Tuebingen: Grabert, 1974), p. 520.
- Speech of February 27, 1912. Congressional Record, Appendix (62nd Congress, 2nd Session), Vol. 48, part 12 (289) pp. 60 (col. 1), 64 (col. 1).
- Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr., The Economic Pinch (Philadelphia: Dorrance, 1923), pp. 145, 95.
- George F. Kennan, The Decline of Bismarck’s European Order (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979), p. 389. See especially the chapter “Financial and Military Stirrings.”
- Twenty-Second Report to Congress on Lend-Lease Operations [for period ending December 31, 1945] (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946), pp. 17, 26.
- George F. Kennan, Memoirs 1925-1950 (Boston: Little, Brown. 1967), p. 212.
- Nikolai Tolstoy, Victims of Yalta (London: Corgi, 1979), p. 468. See also: Charles Lutton, “Stalin’s War: Victims and Accomplices,” The Journal of Historical Review, Spring 1984 (Vol. 5, No. 1 ), pp. 84-94.
- Charles E. Bohlen, Witness to History (New York: W.W. Norton, 1973), pp. 69-87. Confirmed in telegram 465 of August 24, 1939, from Steinhardt in Moscow to Washington.
- Robert Sherill, review of Harrison Salisbury, A Journey for Our Times, in Washington Post, May 29, 1983, “Book World” section, p. 14.
- Heinrich Bruening, Briefe und Gespraeche 1934-1945 (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1974), p. 31. See also pp. 29, 206, 211, 220, 223.
- Fish, p. 178.
About the author
Karl Otto Braun (1910-1988) was a German diplomat and historian. From 1938 to November 1940, he served in Japan as a cultural attaché with the German embassy in Tokyo and as an economic affairs Vice Consul with the German Consulate General in Osaka. From 1941 until the end of the Second World War he was with the East Asia section of the Political Department of the German Foreign Office in Berlin. During the final two years of the war, he headed the section.
From The Journal of Historical Review, Winter 1984 (Vol. 5, Nos. 2, 3, 4), pages 241-249.