The Roosevelt Legacy and The Kent Case
Introduction by Mark Weber
In May 1940, a 29-year-old American code clerk at the U.S. embassy in London was arrested by British authorities in his apartment. Tyler Kent was charged with having violated the British Official Secrets Act. “For a purpose prejudicial to the safety and interests of the state,” the charge stated, Kent had “obtained a document which might be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy.” He was sentenced to seven years in prison, but was released and returned to the United States after serving five.
Between June 1940 and December 1945, the Kent case was the subject of numerous American newspaper articles. Most were sensational or highly speculative, since reliable information was hard to come by. (At the time, the British press was strictly censored.) Many Americans wanted to know how a foreign government could secretly arrest and put on trial a U.S. citizen who held diplomatic immunity. Congressmen and newspapers speculated as to what the code clerk really knew about rumored secret arrangements between President Roosevelt and British leader Winston Churchill. Many wondered if Kent had been jailed to keep him from talking. But preoccupation with the war and official government statements satisfied the curiosity of all but a handful. When Kent returned to the United States in 1945 from British imprisonment, almost all interest in the case had evaporated in the general euphoria of Allied military victory. For many years the Kent story was virtually forgotten.
The passage of time and a more sober awareness of how American presidents operate have encouraged new interest in the case. Dramatic revelations of illegal Presidential actions that emerged from the Vietnam war and the Watergate affair shocked Americans into a bitter realization that their Chief Executive could lie and break the law. In recent years the Kent case has been the subject of several scholarly and semi-scholarly articles. Highly acclaimed author John Toland devoted several pages to the affair in his 1982 revisionist book on Pearl Harbor, Infamy. In December 1982 the British television program “Newsnight” examined the Kent case. The broadcast included excerpts from an interview with Kent filmed near his Texas home. Several books about the Kent story are reportedly in preparation. All this testifies to a healthy, growing readiness to critically re-examine President Roosevelt’s fateful path into the Second World War.
Tyler Gatewood Kent was born on 24 March 1911 in Nowchwang (Yingkow), northern China, where his father, William P. Kent, was serving as the American Consul. The family had strong roots in Virginia. Kent’s English forebears settled there in 1644. President John Tyler was a distant relative. A grandfather was Speaker of the Virginia Assembly and lieutenant governor.
Tyler Kent attended St. Alban’s School in Washington, D.C., and received his higher education at Princeton (AB, 1931), George Washington University, the Paris Sorbonne, and the University of Madrid. From an early age he showed a remarkable aptitude for languages. Eventually he learned numerous ancient and modern languages. Like his father, Kent chose a career in the State Department foreign service.
His first assignment was to the American embassy in Moscow. From 1934 to 1939, Kent learned first-hand in the Soviet capital about life under Communism. His fluent command of the Russian language helped young Kent to know the Russian people and the realities of Soviet life much more intimately than most diplomats. He developed an intense hatred for the Soviet system and for those who had foisted this monstrous tyranny on Russia.
Like many Americans, Kent was appalled at Roosevelt’s support for Stalin’s cruel and despotic regime. Kent’s personal experience and careful study convinced him that Communism represented a mortal danger to the world, and to the West in particular. President Roosevelt, though, considered the Soviet system a rougher but more progressive version of his own New Deal, both motivated by the same lofty humanistic ideals.
From Moscow Kent was transferred to the U.S. embassy in London. From October 1939 until that fateful 20th day of May, 1940, he served as a code clerk. This was an especially important position there because all diplomatic dispatches from American missions across Europe to Washington were routed through the London embassy’s code room.
When Kent began work, war had already broken out in Europe. U.S. law and overwhelming public sentiment seemed to insure that America would avoid entanglement in the conflict. But from his special vantage point in London, Kent quickly learned that President Roosevelt was doing everything in his power to subvert the law and deceive the people in order to get America into war.
Kent decided to make copies or summaries of diplomatic dispatches documenting Roosevelt’s secret policies and somehow bring them to the attention of sympathetic congressmen and senators. And so he took the course that led to his untimely arrest, briefly made him something of a celebrity, and cost him five years in prison. As he puts it, he got “tangled up in history.” In fact he came very close to changing its course.
As code clerk, Kent intercepted hundreds of diplomatic dispatches between the embassies in Europe and the State Department in Washington. He made verbatim copies of most of the messages and paraphrased summaries of the rest. The most important and incriminating of these was the top secret correspondence between Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, which began with a letter from the President dated 11 September 1939.
Until 11 May 1940, Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty (or head of the British navy). Thus, the exchange of communications between him and Roosevelt until that date was highly irregular because it took place behind the back of the head of the British government, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Officially, heads of state communicate only with their counterpart heads of state, and any communications otherwise are understood to be for the ultimate attention of the counterpart head of state. In the case of the Roosevelt-Churchill correspondence before 11 May 1940, not only was that exchange designed to be kept secret from Prime Minister Chamberlain, it was indeed something of a conspiracy against him. Churchill wanted to supplant Chamberlain, and Roosevelt himself desired this end. For this reason the exchange was kept especially secret. Until he became Prime Minister himself, Churchill signed his messages to Roosevelt simply, “Naval Person.”
The public revelation of the mere existence of a secret Churchill-Roosevelt exchange behind Chamberlain’s back would have been highly embarrassing to both correspondents. But if Kent had somehow succeeded in making the contents of the exchange known to the American public, there would have been loud demands for Roosevelt’s impeachment.
Kent intercepted and made a complete copy of Churchill’s message to Roosevelt of 25 December 1939 (Telegram 2720) in which Churchill informed the President that British warships would continue to violate American sovereignty to seize German ships within the U.S. three mile maritime territorial zone. However, in order to keep these violations secret, Churchill promised that the seizures would take place out of view from the American shore. “We cannot refrain from stopping enemy ships outside international three-mile limit when these may well be supply ships for U-boats or surface raiders, but instructions have been given only to arrest or fire upon them out of sight of United States shores.”
In his message to Roosevelt of 28 February 1940 (Telegram 490), which was also intercepted and copied out by Kent, Churchill wrote that the British would continue to seize and censor U.S. mail from American and other neutral ships on their way to Europe. “All our experience shows that the examination of mails is essential to efficient control,” Churchill told Roosevelt. This was, of course, a blatant violation of American neutrality and international law. There was considerable astonishment in the United States when the full extent of Roosevelt’s connivance in the illegal British seizure and censorship of American mail to Europe became known many years after the war. If this message intercepted by Kent had been made public in 1940 or 1941, there would have been a first-rate scandal.
In the secret correspondence between Churchill and Roosevelt intercepted by Kent, the two leaders conspired to insure that the United States government would secretly tolerate British violations of American territorial sovereignty and restrictions on neutral American shipping. The two men wanted to avoid any embarrassing incidents that would provoke public indignation in America over the illegal British actions. They also worked out procedures for joint British-American naval reporting of the location of German surface raiders and submarines which violated at least the spirit if not the letter of United States neutrality.
The fact that Kent’s diplomatic immunity was waived by the U.S. government so that British authorities could throw him into prison is itself proof that the Roosevelt administration was neutral in name only. If Kent had been discovered intercepting dispatches at the American embassy in Berlin, it is inconceivable that the U.S. government would have waived his immunity so that German authorities could imprison him. To the contrary, the Roosevelt administration would have done everything it could to protect him from any possible prosecution and imprisonment by the German government.
In response to a growing clamor in the press and among the public about a possible official government cover-up in the Kent case, the State Department issued a lengthy public statement on 2 September 1944. The cleverly worded document implied, without ever actually making the charge, that Kent had been a German spy. The State Department in effect admitted, however, that it had put British interests ahead of American interests and law in the case. Kent’s trial had been held in secret, the statement said, “because of the harmful effects to British counter-espionage efforts which were to be anticipated if certain of the evidence became public.” Even more revealing was the official admission that Kent’s extraordinary treatment was because “The interest of Great Britain in such a case, at a time when it was fighting for its existence, was therefore preeminent.” At a time, it must be remembered, when the United States was publicly and legally neutral in the conflict between Britain and Germany, the State Department considered British, and not American, interests in the Kent case to be “preeminent.”
In 1939 and 1940, the vast majority of the American people wanted to avoid involvement in the European war. They felt that U.S. participation in the First World War had been a catastrophic error and wanted to insure that the mistake would not be repeated. The Congress was likewise committed to a policy of firm neutrality and had passed the Johnson and Neutrality Acts to make sure that America kept out of war in Europe.
The President is constitutionally charged with the duty to execute the will of the American people as expressed through the Congress. The Constitution reserves the power to make war and peace exclusively to Congress. But with brazen contempt for the will of the people, the law and the constitution, President Roosevelt conspired with a small circle of confidants to incite war in Europe and bring the United States into the conflict. He broke his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Over the years, numerous lies have been invented and spread about Tyler Kent. The most slanderous is that he was a traitor to the United States and a spy for Germany. In fact, Kent was a genuine patriot who put the welfare of his nation above his own personal happiness and security. He was never charged with violating any American law. Kent acted on the traditional principle that for United States government officials, American interests (and not those of Britain or any other country) come first. He was sacrificed to foreign interests by his own government.
In London Tyler Kent faced a painful dilemma: What should a government official do when he discovers that his boss, the President of the United States, is breaking the law? Kent felt a greater loyalty to his nation and its laws than to President Roosevelt. His sense of honor moved him to collect documentary evidence of Roosevelt’s treacherous crimes and try to bring it before the American people. Kent paid for his “crime” with five years in prison and a tarnished reputation for the rest of his life, while Franklin Roosevelt, who violated the Constitution and numerous laws, was re-elected President and praised as a hero.
If Tyler Kent had somehow succeeded in making public his collection of intercepted documentary evidence, he would have unleashed an enormous public outcry for President Roosevelt’s removal from office. At the very least he would have temporarily halted Roosevelt’s campaign to get America into war. Roosevelt might well have been so discredited that Wendell Willkie would have defeated him in the 1940 presidential election. It is difficult to say whether the Kent disclosures would have been enough to bring about Roosevelt’s impeachment. Certainly the documents provide proof of criminal activity sufficient to warrant removal from office. Congress would have been virtually compelled to begin at least preliminary impeachment proceedings. This much can be said with certainty: disclosure of the Kent documents would have dealt a powerful blow to Roosevelt’s prestige and credibility. Tyler Kent might then have significantly altered the course of American and world history.
There are those who would have us believe that to dust off the mildewed pages of history is an exercise in futility. Those especially believe this who consider the events of forty years ago “ancient history.” Many such persons are motivated by a wish to conceal from the rest of us the relatively recent events which have created the world as it is today. There can be no question that the events which led to World War II, and that war itself, have shaped the lives of all of us alive now. In the United States, the political figure who looms largest on the scene as creator, through this war, of the world we live in today is of course Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
During his unprecedented 12 years as President, he was the arbiter of the fates of the hapless millions of his fellow citizens. Roosevelt became President at the beginning of a severe depression which found millions of Americans without work or the means of subsistence. Banks failed and factories shut their gates. Roosevelt inaugurated what he touted as a “New Deal.” It consisted mainly of trying to solve the economic woes of the nation with make-work projects financed out of the public treasury. From previous administrations he had inherited a sound monetary system and virtually no national debt. He could therefore launch with impunity a policy of “spend and elect” as a permanent feature of his administration.
Unfortunately, this deficit-financed, government-sponsored program did not solve the problem of the Great Depression. As late as 1939, there was still 17% unemployment. I am wholly convinced that Roosevelt understood perfectly well that his stopgap measures were not going to achieve any lasting solutions to the economic problems of the nation and so, from the earliest days, covertly, and sometimes overtly, began laying the groundwork for a much more cynical approach. He knew that for the United States, protected as it was by two vast oceans, a nice, bloody and expensive war with foreigners doing most of the fighting and dying would be just the thing for the economy. This would seem to be the reason for the fact that all during the 1930s Roosevelt secretly aided and abetted the forces in Europe which were preparing for a war against National Socialist Germany. Such a war suited his domestic scenario perfectly. He had been elected by a coalition of Big Labor, the “Solid South” and the enormously powerful Jewish minority. All three elements saw in a war the answer to their prayers. Labor would have jobs as the factories hummed with armament production. The poorly educated, and thus somewhat gullible, common folk of the South were easily persuaded by their senators and congressmen that a war-oriented economy would mean high prices for cotton and hogs and other primary products. As for the Jews, they had already declared war on Hitler at the infamous meeting of World Jewry in Amsterdam in 1933. They with their control of the press, radio and the movie industry in the United States (there was as yet no television to add to their arsenal of propaganda) were avidly awaiting the opportunity to drag the United States into a war of unholy vengeance. Roosevelt was their willing lackey.
In 1936 Congress, reflecting the wishes and sentiments of the electorate, had enacted stringent neutrality laws which prevented the President from advancing his plans to embroil the United States lawfully in a European war. But Roosevelt believed himself to be above mere laws. The Gods had decreed his path and he had a divine mission to right the world’s “wrongs” whatever might be the cost. Like most self-appointed “crusaders,” he made a fool of himself and at the same time he jeopardized the whole future of his country and the world.
Plots have a way of coming most unexpectedly to light. And so it almost was with Roosevelt’s illegal plot to embroil this country in a foreign war. In 1940, an obscure cypher clerk at the American Embassy in London came across documents which, in his judgment and that of many reputable historians subsequently, proved conclusively that Roosevelt both directly and through his agents was engaged in activities designed to foment a war and eventually to compel American participation in it.
I was that cypher clerk.
I was born in 1911, the son of a member of the United States Foreign Service who was stationed in China at that time. After returning to the United States, I pursued my advanced education at Princeton and then in various European universities. In 1933, I joined the staff of the new American Embassy in Moscow which had just been established as a result of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Bolshevik Russia by President Roosevelt. I already had some knowledge of the Russian language and as I have always been blessed with a natural aptitude for languages my tour of duty in Russia enabled me to become quite fluent very rapidly. I took the opportunity to meet and mingle with the ordinary Russian citizens in Moscow and learned first hand the beastly nature of Bolshevism, realizing what it would mean if this oriental barbarism were to spread further. My awareness grew also of the worldwide ideology of the soi-disant “liberals,” who gushed over what they called the “new civilization” of the Soviet Union. I began to see, dimly, the power of Jewish propaganda in the United States which harped constantly on the alleged brutalities of the new National Socialist regime in Germany while simultaneously completely ignoring the far worse brutalities in the USSR. Yet the latter had antedated the Nazi regime by more than a decade. The reasons for this distorted and lop-sided picture soon became clear. In Germany, the burden of state action was falling upon Jews whereas in the Soviet Union, the secret police (NKVD) was almost entirely in Jewish hands until the very ate 1930s. The administration of the gulags (“labor camps” which were virtually extermination camps) was wholly Jewish and thus the Jews could wreak their vengeance on their age-old adversaries among the Russian people.
The Jews in America and their “liberal” allies soon took up the hue and cry for the destruction of Germany — which, of course, implied the strengthening of the Soviet Union as a future ally. Roosevelt naively believe that he could control Stalin as long as he gave him everything he wanted. He was encouraged in this opinion by such “learned” Kremlinologists as George Kennan, Charles Bohlen and Joseph E. Davies. These pundits actually learned nothing of Soviet aims and policies while in Russia. Their pronouncements were simply the expression of liberal ideology as developed in American universities. For example: the much touted Kennan doctrine of “containment” proclaimed by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in 1948 so far from “containing” the Soviet Union or Communism, resulted in the spread of the latter over 40% of the planet and the establishment of a Soviet bastion in Cuba — a mere go miles from our shores. Not until 1948 did it appear that the United States government had any real comprehension of what Soviet Communist aggression would mean for the world and for civilization. With all due modesty, I believe I have the right to claim that I did understand the realities at least ten years earlier than the recognized Kremlin “experts.”
I arrived in London in September of 1939 to assume duties at the United States embassy there. My duties included access to sensitive documents dealing with matters of policy. Almost immediately, I became aware that the clandestine activities of the Roosevelt administration were at variance with the public statements of its spokesmen. This included Roosevelt himself and the lesser figures around him. The Neutrality Acts passed by Congress were being cynically flouted. It seemed to me at the time that it was my inescapable duty to try to inform the right persons in the United States of what was going on. It should always be borne in mind that at this time there was no unanimity either in Congress or among the general public with regard to either passive or active participation of the United States in a European conflict. Opinion polls had, in fact, shown a huge majority-83% -opposed to such involvements. On the other hand, Jewish opinion was violently hostile to Germany and great use was made of their control of the media to whip up pro-war sentiments. It seemed hard to understand why the desires of an alleged 3% of the population should prevail over those of 83%.
As a corollary to his war policy, it was quite obviously necessary for Roosevelt to develop a system of alliances and coalitions against the Third Reich since no single Power could successfully challenge the German military. Aside from Roosevelt’s collaboration with British agents in Washington, the President had two henchmen in Europe whose function it was to make sure that war would be declared against Germany. These were William C. Bullitt in Paris and Anthony Drexel Biddle in Warsaw. Bullitt had been ambassador in Moscow and had originally gone there full of enthusiasm for the “new civilization.” That was in 1934. By 1936 he left, much disillusioned by what he had seen and by the way he had been treated. Bullitt was the quintessential Anglo-American-Fabian-Liberal. He was the wealthy playboy scion of a Philadelphia banking family who early in life took up “liberal” causes. As early as 1919, he was strongly urging Woodrow Wilson to extend recognition to the new Soviet regime lest “some more radical regime might take over.” Whomever he had in mind as “more radical” than Lenin and Trotsky and company, he did not identify. Bullitt was not a Communist but he married Louise Bryant, a Communist newspaperwoman and the widow of the Communist John Reed. As is widely known, John Reed’s remains are buried in the Kremlin wall in grateful appreciation of his services to the infant Communist regime in Russia. It is not my intent to impute to a husband all the views of his wife but in the case of William Bullitt and Louise Bryant, it would seem that birds of a feather do indeed flock together.
Bullitt, from his vantage point in Paris, became one of the most virulent anti-German war-mongers in the Anglo-American camp. Possibly his partly Jewish ancestry (Hurwitz) blinded him from recognizing where the true interests of America lay. He was intelligent enough, if somewhat lacking in judgment. He should have known that the only winner in a war which eliminated Germany as a military power would be Soviet Russia. No doubt it was difficult for a lifetime Fabian to admit that he had been wholly wrong about the “new civilization.”
The “Potocki Papers,” the gist of which I learned in London, clearly and accurately reflected the views of both Bullitt and Biddle: British interests first, American interests last. (Subsequent American Presidents would seem to have learned nothing from the lessons of World War II. Ronald Reagan demonstrated in 1982 that British interests take precedence over those of his own country when he sided with the British in the Falklands-Malvinas dispute, choosing to destroy whatever good relations this country had with Latin America for the sake of British prestige.)
Only the passage of time and the unfolding of history can definitively settle matters of historical dispute. Sufficient time has elapsed — some 45 years — since the formulation of Roosevelt’s disastrous pre-war and wartime policies so that any impartial observer of the contemporary world scene could now evaluate for himself the concrete results of those policies in terms of the specific interests of the United States. America has gained no advantage whatsoever from “winning” World War II. Thus the war must be considered a net loss — a failure. The very virulence of the “crusade against evil” propaganda which still today fills the air waves and the press is witness to the fact that there really is nothing else to say when assessing the effects of the war. The security of this continent was not enhanced. American trade advantages were ephemeral and transient. Only the Jews profited insofar as they gained their revenge on Nazi Germany as well as spreading Soviet Communism over 40% of the world, not to mention moving great numbers of European Jews into Palestine.
How odd it is that the statesmen of the Western world did not appear to grasp the truth that a defeated and crushed Germany would mean the emergence of Soviet Russia as a major military power inimical to our interests. But so it has come to pass. The modern United States is unable to implement the Monroe Doctrine which had, for more than a century, protected the Americas from European aggression and alien ideologies. We must swallow the bitter pill of Dr. Castro, the Soviets’ proconsul. in the Western hemisphere, and stand impotently by as Communist regimes wax and flourish in Nicaragua and elsewhere in Central America. My “crime” was in foreseeing some of this when I was a cypher clerk in the American embassy in London, and in trying to do something to forestall it.
Much of the vicious slander that has been directed against me over the years has centered around the allegation of “disloyalty.” The Department of State’s press release of 2 September 1944 hammers away at this. Yet to whom and to what was my loyalty due? It was claimed that I owed loyalty to Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy and to President Roosevelt. Under most circumstances I would agree. But a government employee takes an oath to “support the laws and Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.” (My italics.) Events have now proven that as regards the damage done to the interests of this country no foreign enemy could have done more than Roosevelt. He was the greatest “domestic enemy” and no subordinate owed him any loyalty whatsoever in the furtherance of his illegal activities. No court of law has convicted Franklin Delano Roosevelt but the court of history will do so in time. This is the essence of the “Tyler Kent incident” and the justification for my actions in London in 1939 and 1940.
No one — least of all myself — is ever going to claim that the 20th of May, 1940, will go down in history on a par in importance with Roosevelt’s “date that will live in infamy.” But the former date may well be of interest to those who entertain some respect for constitutional and international law. It was on the morning of that date — 10 a.m. if my memory serves me accurately — that the government of the United States took a rather drastic step when it permitted — and in fact cooperated in allowing — the British police to arrest and incarcerate a member of the staff of the American embassy in London, a person who was the bearer of a diplomatic passport and officially protected by the provisions of “diplomatic immunity.” In so doing, the government of the United States set an unusual precedent the nature of which we shall examine below. It would be an error to claim that the arrest and imprisonment of embassy officials had never previously occurred in history, but the incidence of such cases is very rare indeed.
This particular day in May was rare for another reason. In a city noted for many things but certainly not for the delights of its climate, this happened to be a quite beautiful day. I was not fated to enjoy it. At 10 a.m. I was startled to hear the smashing of wood and the snapping of locks as a burly goon squad from Scotland Yard, accompanied by an officer of British Military Intelligence and an official of the American embassy, burst into my apartment. My visitors could most certainly have arrived in a more conventional manner and I would certainly have admitted them had they simply knocked and requested admission in the normal polite manner. But they evidently preferred the dramatic smashing of doors. Looking back on it all now, I have become convinced that such tactics were and are used by the police precisely in order to surprise and intimidate. If the wretched object of all this is not only cowed and overawed but is also, perhaps, in. his pyjamas, so much the better for the police.
Why then, one must ask, would the United States government have been a party to this very rare kind of violation of all the normal rules and conventions governing diplomatic personnel? Surely the circumstances which gave rise to such an act must themselves have been quite extraordinarily wicked or dangerous. And why, after 42 years, have the circumstances not been brought out into the clear daylight? Above all: why have I waited so long to present the facts to the American public?
The answer is that there is a right time and a wrong time for everything. November 1945, the time when I finally returned to the United States after a period of incarceration in England which lasted the entire duration of the war, was certainly not the right time. This country was in a state of euphoria occasioned by its “victory” over the dastardly enemy. Any attempt to point out that the “victory” just achieved might turn out to be Pyrrhic and more costly to the general welfare than any other event in American history would not only have fallen on deaf ears, but might well have led to the actual physical lynching of anyone expressing such a view. It certainly did entail the moral and psychological lynching of a number of people by the vicious, alien-controlled press and electronic media. No, 1945 was not the time. Certain friends of mine and my family made it possible for me to travel about the country and take a sounding of the mood of the people. I found them, in the main, totally unreceptive to any criticism of Franklin the Great, of America’s participation in the war or of the methods used to involve us in that conflict. So it was then; today, things have changed somewhat. There are facts which can no longer be successfully covered up even by the most virulent propaganda of the alien-controlled media. Even the least politically-minded citizens are beginning to ask why, today, after our greatest war and greatest final victory, we are faced with the greatest threat to our national security we have ever known. Someone is responsible; after all, it was Roosevelt himself who said, “Things don’t just happen; they are planned that way.” Well then, who planned what and why? Who planned to turn over 40% of the world to Bolshevism? Who planned to set up the Bolshevik’s advanced bases only ninety miles from our coasts? And if the answer is that no one “planned” these things then the only alternative explanation is that someone committed the most colossal political errors in our history. Is it wrong to try now to assess the blame? Some would call it mere muckraking and inappropriate in such critical times as we now face. But there are enormous vested interests in preserving the Roosevelt myth. For starters, there is the entire Democratic party. There was a time when they invoked the ghost of Thomas Jefferson as their patron saint. Since the 1930s, Roosevelt has largely taken Jefferson’s place. To cast doubts on Roosevelt’s sagacity and good judgment is, for some, like doubting the existence of God. Then there are the veterans with their huge organizations. Is it to be supposed that they would take kindly to being told that they were “suckered in” or “taken for a ride,” or that the war they fought was ultimately disastrous for their country? As for organized American Jewry, its interests lay entirely in seeing Germany destroyed regardless of the long-term interests of the America in which the Jews hang their shingles.
Let it be posed that there are only two reasons for a State to mobilize its people into armed forces to fight another State: 1) the acquisition of booty in,the form of territory or other forms of wealth and 2) to defend the nation from external threats. The “booty” theory is irrelevant in modern times, especially as Roosevelt repeatedly renounced during the war any American claims upon the territory of the enemy. (That, he would relinquish to his partner Joseph Stalin.) In innumerable public statements, Roosevelt argued that this country was compelled to take part in the war, either as a belligerent or as “the arsenal of democracy” supplying war materials (illegal under domestic and international law), in order to “guarantee the security of this country in the future.” His constant theme was that if Britain were defeated, the immense Royal Navy would fall into German hands. Germany would then be able to invade South America and would do so. A fake map was circulated which purported to show the areas of South America to be taken over by the Nazis. The map was later revealed as a clever forgery by British intelligence which Roosevelt had knowingly cooperated in disseminating in order to frighten the American public. We know this from British sources; the whole matter is very clearly set forth in the biography of William Stephenson, the principal British agent in the United States engaged in bringing about American participation in the shooting war. Slowly, we are beginning to learn more and more about the intimate cooperation between Britain and the United States in the pre-war epoch. The purpose was allegedly to improve the security of the United States. Thus even though Roosevelt’s activities have been shown subsequently to have been illegal, the justification was and is offered that he acted in the overriding national interest.
We return to that Spring day in London, the 20th of May 1940, and the interruption of the Scotland Yard goon squad into my apartment. They were accompanied by one Franklin Gowen, a Second Secretary at the American embassy of whom more anon. Questions were put to me as to whom I knew and what I did. I gave non-committal answers. While this interrogation was going on, other of the officers were looking into a clothes closet in which they quickly discovered a leather suitcase full of American embassy documents. It has been alleged that there were 1500. I do not know. I never counted them. I was only interested in the contents. I was then whisked away to the embassy in a police car and brought before Ambassador Joseph Kennedy with whom I had a short but acrimonious interview. I could well understand his anger but I believed myself to have been presented with a moral dilemma. On the one hand I wished before it was too late to lay the evidence before the America First Committee and certain non-interventionist Senators. On the other hand, it would be quite useless to me — an unknown person with no political “clout” — to have returned to the United States expecting hard-boiled politicians to give any credence to my story unless I had positive documentation of my charges. I knew that taking documents from the embassy was, under all normal circumstances, a most reprehensible action. On the other hand I did not begin to do so until I had become convinced beyond any further possibility of doubt that Roosevelt and his diplomatic agents were going to embroil us in a war against the wishes of a vast majority of the American people whose opinions on that score had been made very plain in numerous opinion polls in the months just prior to the war and during the “phony war” period. Even the liberal-interventionists admit the accuracy of these polls; what they most vociferously deny is that President Roosevelt deliberately tried to circumvent public opinion. I knew different. From my vantage point in the embassy, I was able to see the dispatches from there to the State Department and to and from other embassies around Europe. From every place the picture was the same: war and intervention. “I hate war,” said Roosevelt, but he was planning it. On 3 September 1939, just after the outbreak of war in Europe, Roosevelt said in a radio address: “We seek to keep war from our own fireside by keeping war from coming to the Americas…. This nation will remain a neutral nation.” At the same time, William C. Bullitt, United States ambassador to France and one of the principal implementers and architects of Roosevelt’s interventionist policy, was bringing the strongest pressure to bear on the French prime minister, Edouard Daladier and on his foreign minister, Georges Bonnet, to reject out-of-hand a last minute proposal by Benito Mussolini to organize another summit meeting of European heads of state to head off the impending war. Bullitt — fully in concurrence with Roosevelt — wanted the war to begin, the sooner the better. Any concession to peace-making efforts would only raise the unwelcome possibility that the war could be staved off. Accordingly, Bullitt resisted any such efforts with all his powers of persuasion. In this he was aided greatly by Jules Lukasiewicz, the Polish ambassador, whose country had just been invaded and who was demanding French-and therefore also British- intervention. Bullitt and Lukasiewicz between them were able to dissuade the Daladier government from accepting Mussolini’s initiative and thus ensured the outbreak of a major European war right on schedule.
At this point it is useful to mention that the Potocki papers which the Germans discovered in the Polish foreign office and which shed considerable light on other interventionist activities of Bullitt, are all quite genuine; their substance was reflected in dispatches which passed through the London embassy and were read by me in plain English. But when they were discovered and published by the Germans they were all declared by Roosevelt and the State Department to be impudent forgeries. Today, most reputable historians, though minimizing their importance, recognize that they are quite genuine. Their significance, however, is much better appreciated when they are studied in conjunction with other documents bearing on the American foreign policy of that period. Of especial interest are the conversations which Biddle, America’s ambassador to Poland, had with the Polish foreign minister, Colonel Beek, and General Rydz-Smigly, head of the Polish army, during the Summer of 1939. The conversations were duly reported to the State Department.
It must be remembered that until the Germans demonstrated the efficacy of the blitzkrieg, all of the Allies and the United States as well believed that the coming war would be one of attrition and trench warfare. The Poles were expected to hold out for weeks or even months. And so we find Biddle assuring the Polish authorities that American military assistance would be forthcoming just as soon as Roosevelt could put the concept over on Congress. This was rather cold comfort for the Poles but they had, perforce, to put as good a face on it as possible and accept whatever crumbs fell their way.
Shortly after these interviews between Biddle and the high-ranking Poles, President Roosevelt had the sublime hypocrisy to address a letter to President Moscicki of Poland offering to mediate the dispute with Germany. So the picture is thus: on the one hand the American ambassador is urging the Poles to fight and promising military assistance if they do; on the other hand Roosevelt is offering himself as a mediator, olive branch in hand. Take your choice. It should be remembered that much of the warmongering engaged in by Roosevelt’s diplomatic agents in the late 1930s, particularly in France and Poland, was in the form of verbal exhortations and promises of aid and support of all kinds, including direct military intervention. Every head of state in Europe, and especially in England, recognized perfectly well that if the United States were to become sufficiently involved in an economic and political sense, military intervention would inevitably follow soon thereafter. Much of the American activity was never committed to paper in the exact manner in which it transpired. Thus, to the chagrin of historians, it will never appear in the National Archives as available “hard facts.” Bullitt in France and Biddle in Poland did not commit to paper blunt promises of almost immediate military aid in the event of war but such was the gist of their private conversations. The record of them is to be found in the Potocki papers. But that is not the only source. There are records and memoirs of persons active at that time and memoranda which, though subsequently destroyed, passed among various embassies and remained in the memories of those who had seen them. Nor were all the details always officially and duly dated and numbered and sent to the State Department whence they could only with the greatest difficulty have been abstracted and destroyed. There is also the fact that much diplomacy is carried on at diplomatic receptions. One ambassador buttonholes another and behind a potted palm with a glass of champagne in one hand and a cigarette in the other, the two settle the fate of the world without the knowledge of the politicians or the public which elects them. Such contacts and negotiations might be reported by, say, Ambassador Bullitt directly to the White House by means of a scrambled telephone or in private letters which never pass through the records of the State Department. Such will clearly never appear in the National Archives. In these circumstances it may be asked how I could ever have had much knowledge of the schemings and plottings. Well, it happened that the London embassy served as a sort of unofficial clearing house for most of the diplomatic activities of the United States, at least in the European theater. Thus there was much flotsam and jetsam floating around in the form of memoranda and inter-departmental communications. Conversations were often overheard and they afforded insights into attitudes and activities which were a legitimate part of diplomacy but which ordinarily could only be gleaned from personal memoirs and seldom found their way into official records. Many memoranda were circulated to a few foreign service officers with instructions to read and then destroy.
Would it be reasonable to expect that a written record exists of the commitment to provide military aid which Roosevelt gave to Neville Chamberlain prior to the latter’s announcement to Parliament in March 1939, that Britain and France would provide military assistance to Poland if she were attacked? Such a commitment was in fact given by Roosevelt to the British ambassador in Washington and a telephonic confirmation was sent to Ambassador Kennedy in London. Next, a memorandum to this effect was circulated among some of the higher ranking foreign service officers and there the matter ended. Subsequent correspondence is quite clear on this point: there would have been no Franco-British guarantee to Poland and no World War II without the previous American commitment. Chamberlain and Daladier were fully aware of the limitations placed on the President by the Constitution with respect to the use of the armed forces, but such were the powers of persuasion of the ambassadors Biddle and Bullitt that the Polish and French governments were convinced Roosevelt could do whatever he wished. The British end of it was taken care of in Washington in direct communications between Roosevelt and the British ambassador.
The exclusive reliance on archival material is the essential weakness in the position taken by two historians who have written on the “Kent case.” Warren Kimball and Bruce Bartlett in the fall 1981 issue of Diplomatic History wrote an account which purports to deal with the pre-war commitments of Roosevelt to Churchill. Pre-war, in this case, relates to the entry of the United States into World War II, not the beginning of hostilities in September 1939. These two academicians have poked around in the National Archives and looked at the Roosevelt-Churchill exchange of cables which have so far been published, and have come to the conclusion that there is nothing much there worth making a fuss over. But who has been making a fuss? Not I. This is the first time I have made any public statement on the subject. I do so now because the dire consequences of Roosevelt’s “errors of judgment” (if indeed they were “errors” and not deliberate policies) are now so obvious that even egg-head academics like Kimball and Bartlett can no longer ignore their realities.
For far too long academics have been hypnotized by the Churchill-Roosevelt correspondence and have ignored everything else in the diplomatic correspondence between the United States and foreign countries during this time-period. They have ignored, too, statements by quite prominent persons who were privy to the facts. The Forrestal Diaries was published several years ago and the editors, Walter Millis and E.S. Duffield, were at liberty to edit out or to keep in anything they wished. No one would have been any the wiser had they omitted to include the direct quotation of a remark made by Neville Chamberlain to Joseph Kennedy to the effect that “America and the world Jews” had forced Britain into the war. This of course is a very accurate statement but it is not to be found in the numbered telegrams and dispatches from the London embassy to Washington. The record is most probably in the private papers of Joseph Kennedy and it is unlikely that these will see the light of day until such time as politicians and historians no longer fear to tell the truth because of the menaces of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League. In the meantime I am making use of the incident to illustrate my contention that not all accurate history is to be located in government files and archives. To aver that it is so is to declare that governments do not lie- at least that democratic governments do not. The fact is, while they may possibly lie less often, and certainly less crudely, than the Bolsheviks, they nevertheless lie when it suits them to do so. One has only to consider the case of the Potocki papers mentioned earlier. The White House and the State Department declared them to be forgeries. Today, all reputable historians recognize them to be genuine.
What do Kimball and Bartlett know about the British plans to invade Norway or about the manner in which the United States government encouraged these plans on the grounds that some thing had to be done to raise the morale of allied troops in garrisons whose unrelieved idleness might eventually lead to insubordination and even mutiny? The “phony war” had been on for over half a year. The British plan was to draw out the German fleet for battle. Churchill and others believed that the best way to do this would be to challenge the Germans in an open competition to invade Norway. Churchill was typical of that breed of wartime leaders who always fight the previous war. He had a fanatical and absolute conviction that the British fleet could solve an of Britain’s problems if only the Germans could be induced to come out and give battle. He was to be proven wrong in this as in so much else.
The plan connived between Britain and the United States was for the British to make overt and easily detectable plans for the invasion of Norway. The United States diplomatic service would assist in spreading the news all over Europe in such a way that the Germans could not possibly fail to learn about it. The Germans did take the bait and organized their own expedition to take Norway before the British could get there. There was a naval engagement in the Skagerrak, the body of water which separates Denmark from Norway, and a number of warships of Germany’s rather small navy were sunk. But not enough to prevent the troopships from landing their contingents and taking over the country while meeting very little resistance.
The United States’ role in this British ploy was certainly not consistent with neutrality either under domestic or international legal definition. But Roosevelt had already told the American public that they were not required to be “neutral in thought.” So perhaps the diplomatic service was authorized to be one jump ahead of the public and to be un-neutral in deed as well. I do not know of any actual written instructions on record. By this, I mean direct instructions from the State Department. I personally saw, however, some of the numerous memoranda sent out from the London embassy to various heads of missions around Europe. These gave very specific instructions to make known as widely as possible, without arousing suspicion, the British plan to invade Norway. Some of the envoys “not in the know” actually queried these instructions as they could not understand why they were required to make public supposedly secret British military plans. I do not know how their doubts were resolved but the scheme did work. Perhaps in addition the scrambled telephone from the White House was used to tell the ambassadors what to do. The professors will probably ignore this little item as being “undocumented” since they have a naive confidence in what the State Department says as “fact,” and their blind reliance on the National Archives is tantamount to saying “We only publish what the State Department says we can.” But then one wonders why they have gone beyond the department’s press release of 2 September 1944 which purports to be the last word on the “Kent Case,” although it is actually a hodge-podge of innuendo, smears and lies. It is the sort of thing that is made to order for the Anti-Defamation League. It could have been composed by one of their agents “planted” in the State Department. For example: it alleged that I had come to the attention of the British because of my acquaintance with Anna Wolkoff, a refugee from Bolshevik Russia. According to the police, this woman had a channel of communication with Germany of which she was making use. The implication was clear: I was supposed to be transmitting information to Germany through Wolkoff. At the time that the State Department issued the press release referred to above, it already had at its disposal a copy of the transcript of my trial which had been held in 1940. In that transcript the Director of Public Prosecutions stated: “Kent did not have any knowledge of the transmission (of a certain document) nor does the prosecution contend that he acted in concert with his co-defendent, Anna Wolkoff, in this matter.” But even when possessed of this information, the State Department still disseminated the innuendo that I had contacts with Germany and some vaguely defined “confederates” who were attempting to communicate with Germany, with which Britain was then at war. But the British prosecuted me only for having in my possession “documents which might be useful to an enemy”-not for transmitting them knowingly to any foreign power. This, of course, did not prevent the American “free” press from printing banner headlines about me such as “He Helped The Nazis.” In this connection, I have in my possession the sworn testimony of a certain Nathan Perlmutter, dated 6 November 1963, taken as a deposition in a libel suit filed by me against the Miami Herald and the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times. Perlmutter had taken to the two newspapers some material which the Anti-Defamation League had about me, and was instrumental in having the Miami Herald print a defamatory article which occasioned the libel suit. Incidentally, Perlmutter did such a good job that he is now National Director of the Anti-Defamation League at its headquarters in New York. At the time I had dealings with him, he was head of the Florida chapter of that organization.
Professors Kimball and Bartlett in their article on the “Kent Case” have argued that, as regards the question of Roosevelt’s role as a warmongering conspirator, there was “nothing in it.” I would reply that Roosevelt was probably the most shameless liar ever to occupy the White House and that his lies have done what is probably irreparable harm to this nation. Curiously enough, those who were on the spot at that time in London-namely, British Military Intelligence, Scotland Yard, and others-held an opinion different from Kimball and Bartletts’. Otherwise, there would never have been a “Kent Case” at all.
On 8 June 1940, a couple of weeks after my arrest, Ambassador Kennedy informed the State Department by cable that:
The appropriate authorities inform me that investigation of the case in which Kent is involved is being carried out with great care and has involved an enormous amount of labor. A final decision as to whether Kent is to be prosecuted may be expected within the next ten days at the latest.
On 11 June these same British authorities informed Kennedy that:
Those who have investigated the matter say that these papers disclose the existence of a traitorous and dangerous conspiracy to assist the enemy. The persons concerned as defendants are Miss Wolkoff, Capt. Archibald Ramsay, M.P., his wife Mrs. Ramsay, Mrs. Christbel Nicholson (wife of an admiral) and Mr. Tyler G. Kent. All except the last named are British subjects. It is of the greatest importance, if indeed not essential, to the presentation of this case that a representative of the United States Embassy should attend the trial to give certain formal evidence.
The following significant words are something to which the two professors might usefully give attention before concluding that the “Kent Case” is a non-story.
It is appreciated that neither the State Department nor the Foreign Office would be prepared to contemplate at the present time the public discussion of the documents in question. It is thought, however, that some documents could be selected from the whole which, while sufficiently proving the case against the defendants, could properly be produced in court.
But if Kimball and Bartlett are correct, why all the secrecy? Why was the consent of Prime Minister Winston Churchill required before the proceedings could be initiated? As Kennedy informed the State Department on 6 July 1940: “The British prosecutors further inform [Kennedy] that the proposed defendents take the view that they are safe from trial and punishment because neither of the governments concerned dare have these matters discussed in public.”
What was it that they dared not discuss in public? That is really the crux of the case. The real reason why I was tried and sentenced to a prison term in England and not tried in the United States is clear from the following statement of the British authorities, made to Joseph Kennedy: “The documents in question would certainly be produced only behind locked doors in a cleared court. Not only would the press be ordered not to publish their contents. No press man would be present.”
There you have it in a nutshell. The British, like the Bolsheviks, still have secret trials — a relic from medieval times when an absolute monarch was able to dispose of his enemies on the quiet without any public outcry being possible, since the facts would not be known until it was too late to do anything about it. In 1776, the thirteen colonies revolted against Britain precisely to do away with such Star Chamber proceedings as well as much else repulsive in the form of British government. Nonetheless, the United States government in the year 1940 was very glad to make use of Britain’s Star Chamber practices against one of its own citizens — for reasons of “cover-up” and secrecy.
In September 1944, in response to a certain interest in my case which had been aroused in Congress and led to questions being addressed to the Secretary of State concerning my imprisonment, the State Department issued a lengthy press release which purported to be the final word on the subject. I shall quote that part which deals with the reasons for turning me over to the British for a secret trial, since that action is prohibited by the 6th Amendment to the Constitution. The 6th Amendment requires that a criminal trial be “speedy and public.” My trial was neither. This is what the State Department had to say: “The interest of Great Britain was pre-eminent … and all the evidence, witnesses, et cetera, were available to the British Courts.” The true reasons were set forth in messages to and from the embassy and the State Department during the weeks following my arrest. I have already indicated what they were. So dense, in fact, were the clouds of secrecy around my case (in the “pre-eminent interest of Great Britain”) that when the New York Times applied to see the transcript of the stenographic notes of the trial they were informed by the London embassy in these terms:
The British Government is unable to give its consent in writing for an inspection by the New York Times of a copy of the transcript in our possession or in the possession of any other. It would require an Act of Parliament and not even the Home Secretary could waive the restriction.
Such an elaborate web of secrecy cast over an incident by the government principally involved and whose “interests are preeminent,” (Great Britain) has a tendency in the long run to defeat its purposes because it piques the curiosity of historians to get at the facts. The case must be recognized as truly extreme when even the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, had to give his consent before the trial could proceed, and the records could not be made public without an Act of Parliament.
And now I should like to discuss the case of Franklin Gowen, Second Secretary of the American Embassy in London. I call him a Knight of the Table Round, for he demonstrated such devotion to the British-above and beyond the call of duty-that if the British did not reward him with (at least) a knighthood then they were remiss in their duty to one of their best agents in the United States foreign service. I have already mentioned that he accompanied the police whey they broke into my flat and arrested me. He was later to appear in court and give testimony against me which he did with enthusiasm and evident glee. On the day of my arrest, Gowan undertook to impersonate me and accept any telephone calls which were made to me at the Embassy. He would then pass on the names and addresses of the callers to the British police, more specifically to Sir Norman Kendall, head of Scotland Yard. Sir Norman said to Ambassador Kennedy:
In cases of this kind we cannot take anything for granted. To ascertain who were Kent’s friends and their friends, where they met and what they did, is of the utmost importance. We can’t thank Ambassador Kennedy enough for his invaluable help in this case.
On the same day, Galahad-Gowan undertook what must rate as one of the most bizarre activities in the history of the United States Foreign Service. During the afternoon he intercepted a phone call from a certain person who asked that I come to Number “X,” Chesham. Street. Gowan immediately recruited a Scotland Yard police detective and they both went to the address given. There, in the darkness of the blackout, he was handed a note by an unknown person which asked that Kent go to a certain restaurant to meet some people. Gowan gave the note to the police and then, later that night, returned to the Chesham Street address “to keep watch on the house itself” and to report the numbers of the license plates of any cars that might stop there.
Before the interception of the note, Gowan had taken off his overcoat and lent it to the policeman so that it would cover his uniform and thus not alarm the person being talked to. Here we have the extraordinary spectacle of an American Foreign Service officer working with the British police and even providing one of them with a disguise in order to entrap British subjects. Gowan had long since done all that could be required of him in the matter of my arrest. Now he was extending his sleuthing to the possible arrest of Britons whom he did not know and with whom he had no connection whatsoever. Although the foregoing is mainly of anecdotal interest, it does serve to illustrate how closely Americans and British officials worked together before America entered the war, and to what extent they were willing to ignore legality in such cooperation. I am quite sure the Foreign Service regulations do not include a requirement that an officer of that service do the dirty work of the police of a foreign country with regard to the citizens of that country.
It must have been Sir Galahad-Gowan’s “finest hour.” This paunchy, balding non-entity of a Second Secretary savored it to the last drop and no doubt regales his grandchildren with the account of how he, single-handedly, broke up a dangerous spyring in London during the war. This alleged spy-ring to which I was supposed to have belonged was headed by Captain Archibald Ramsay, a Member of Parliament. Ramsay was subsequently described by the very prosecutor himself, SolicitorGeneral Sir William Jowitt, as an honorable man who would not knowingly do anything to harm his country. That did not prevent Ramsay being interned for a long period during the war although never convicted of any offense. These facts are public knowledge, yet they did not stop the New York Times from printing and circulating in the United States and in England libelous statements to the effect that I gave Ramsay certain vital defense information which Ramsay then took to the German embassy in Dublin for transmission to Germany. Ramsay sued the New York Times for libel as he was easily able to prove that he had never left Britain during the period alleged, much less visited any German embassy in Dublin or anywhere else. He won the suit. Both the New York Times and the author of the article, a certain Raymond Daniels, were shown up as liars.
By the time the Ramsay suit came to trial, I had already been languishing in a cell in the almost medieval Wandsworth prison in London, I had gone on a hunger strike and was at that time in the prison infirmary. One morning, I was informed that some lawyers wished to see me. Supposing them to be my own, I agreed to see them. It turned out that they represented the London offices of the New York Times and they wanted my help in defending the newspaper against Ramsay’s suit. They showed me the defamatory article and I saw immediately that it was a tissue of lies. I promptly told them to get out-which they did. Later, I learned that the article had been inspired by a Colonel William Donovan. Donovan was later appointed head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) at the behest of Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy. Knox was one of those turncoats from the Republican Party who had leaped on the Roosevelt bandwagon. I was, of course, deprived of civil rights as a convicted person and could not sue on my own behalf, but the New York Times studiously avoided commenting on the “Kent Case” thereafter.
One thing that the embassy correspondence made abundantly clear was the truly desperate situation of the British after the Norwegian fiasco and on the eve of their tremendous defeat at Dunkirk whence the entire British army fled for their lives, leaving their weapons in the hands of the enemy. The British knew where they stood and told Roosevelt all about it. They knew that without direct military participation by America, they were finished in the war. All the pompous talk about “give us the tools and we’ll finish the job” was pure Churchillian bluff and the British knew it. But it provided Roosevelt with the propaganda weapon which enabled him to induce Congress to pass the “Lend-Lease” bill making the United States, in contravention of international law and our neutrality statutes, the “Arsenal of Democracy.” After the Norwegian fiasco, Winston Churchill became prime minister. This he did primarily because he could boast of his American connections and was able to convince those hidden powers behind the scenes that he was the best bet to get America into the war. Embassy correspondence left no room for doubt that after Dunkirk the policy of the British was to hang on by the skin of their teeth until Roosevelt could get America into the war. He did his best in the Atlantic but Hitler declined to take the bait. The British had, perforce, to wait until Roosevelt could get us in by the back door at Pearl Harbor. On several occasions we find Churchill threatening Roosevelt with the prospect of British surrender or, at least, some compromise with the Germans unless America came to the rescue and soon. These messages are in sharp contrast to the public image of Churchill in his jump suit, cigar cocked in one corner of his mouth, prating that “We shall never surrender. We shall fight them on the beaches. We shall fight them in the streets,” etc. All that was for the public morale and we must all admit that Churchill was a fine actor. Perhaps he took lessons from Vic Oliver, his Jewish son-in-law who was a vaudeville comic.
The British had not forgotten the role played by the sinking of the Lusitania in getting the United States into the earlier war. We now know the real story from British sources. A well-researched book entitled The Lusitania published in England a few years ago proved that the ship with its American passengers was deliberately sent to its doom by the British authorities. They knew positively that a German submarine was lying in wait for the liner off the south coast of Ireland, and purposely failed to inform the Lusitania‘s captain. The hulk of the Lusitania lies in comparatively shallow water and divers have examined it. Its holds have been shown to have been filled with contraband of war and its decks equipped with defensive weapons. This made it a warship and a legitimate target for the German submarine. Knowing the psychological effect that the sinking of the Lusitania had on public opinion in the United States and how the loss of American lives helped so greatly in gaining support for intervention, the British lost no time in contriving a similar incident very early in World War II. This was the sinking of the liner Athenia on 4 September 1939 when the war was only twenty-four hours old. Some thirty American lives were lost. However, the anti-war sentiment was so strong this time that the ploy failed in its object. The public more or less shrugged off the incident, saying in effect: “Stay out of the war zones if you don’t want to get hurt.”
Now some very mysterious correspondence came to my notice at that time. It was from the office of the Naval Attache, a Captain Kirk. By close questioning, Captain Kirk had been able to ferret out of the British an admission that the Athenia might have been sunk on their own orders. Not that it was sunk by a torpedo from a British submarine. Rather, it was done by one of the two Polish submarines which escaped from the Germans and had come to England where they were under the command of the British Admiralty. It is true that a German U-Boat commander was forced by torture and intimidation to confess at the Nuremberg trials that he sank the Athenia. But such a confession is as credible as all the other confessions extorted by similar means.
By now it should be obvious to the reader that the screen of secrecy which surrounded my case was for a long time virtually impenetrable. Were the “Kent documents” of a vital military nature? Did they involve information about troops or armaments? The answer is provided by the words of the judge, Mr. justice Tucker. judge Tucker, in passing sentence, said: “I am taking into consideration that the documents in question did not involve any military matters.” But if not military matters, then what? Obviously, there remained only political matters. And these were then so sensitive that the British told Kennedy that there could be no public discussion of the documents in question. What then was their nature, which could justify my trial and imprisonment? The United States was not at war at that time. The people of this country were overwhelmingly in favor of neutrality. This, in fact, was the great frustration which Roosevelt had to suffer. He had been a rabid Anglophile all his life. As early as 1915, when he was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, he expressed great anxiety in his personal correspondence lest he should commit some unneutral act. His more limited authority at that time compelled him to put a tight rein on his natural sympathies which were entirely pro-British. This is the key to understanding the diplomatic activity of the United States in the immediate pre-war period-this, and a certain mental disease which had become endemic in the English-speaking world. I shall call this disease “Fabianism.” Its symptoms are a total inability to assess correctly the true nature of Marxism and the aims, purposes and methods of Marxist countries, which at that time meant the Soviet Union.
The Fabian Society was founded in England in 1884 principally by Sidney and Beatrice Webb and George Bernard Shaw. It was a group of intellectuals whose declared purpose was to correct the evils of British industrial society such as child labor, slave wages for women and very bad living conditions for workers in general: all very worthy aims. But these high-minded reformers all lost their senses when the Russian Revolution occurred in 1917. They made utter fools of themselves by holding up before the world this bloody, Jewish-inspired and -led regime as an example for all humanity. It was the characteristic failure of the intellectuals everywhere and in most fields, but especially in the socio-political. Intellectuals rely on the printed word and disparage common-sense conclusions based on direct observation of the facts.
The Webbs authored a ponderous tome entitled Soviet Russia: A New Civilization. For all the time it took putting it together, it was worse than useless as a guide to understanding Bolshevik Russia. The Webbs amassed millions of words from official Soviet reports, from the laws and the 1936 Constitution (“the most democratic in the world”) and presented this to the public as the definitive account of modern Russia. Anyone who, like myself, had resided even for short time in the “Workers’ Paradise” knew perfectly well that laws and constitutions meant absolutely nothing there as far as protecting human rights was concerned. That nation was-and is-ruled by a power elite which is outside and above the law much as its predecessor the Tsarist regime was. They do whatever they wish without the least regard for what the law might say. Yet even now, when the truth about Russia is widely known throughout the world, thanks to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and others, there are many academics in this country who still teach the Marxist line to the young and vulnerable. Harvard University is a hotbed of such teaching. Did Roosevelt become enamoured of Fabianism at Harvard? After all, he said to Congressman Martin Dies:
There is nothing wrong with Communists in this country. Several of the best friends I have are Communists. I do not regard the Communists as any present or future threat to our country. In fact I look upon Russia as our strongest ally in the years to come.
He said the same thing to Cardinal Spellman, as recorded in the prelate’s biography. This unadulterated Fabianism is the key to Roosevelt’s mentality and explains his mishandling of our foreign relations. It also explains his legacy with which we are now burdened.
Americans are a pragmatic people, or so they like to regard themselves. That is to say, they prefer to look at the world with a practical eye rather than through the colored glasses of ideology. Most readers will know something about the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). It is a sort of extra-governmental, semi-secret organization having on its membership list many leaders in the fields of education, finance, communications, politics, etc. Its purpose is to formulate policy and then pass that on to the government for implementation. To this end, it is able to place many of its members in high offices in various departments of government. What better source for an authoritive statement on America’s attitude to the European war of 1939, then, than the CFR? This is what the CFR had to say:
The German strategical objective in this war is the destruction of the power of the British Navy. To maintain communications with Dominions, to insure the food supply, and to save herself from becoming literally a third-rate power, Britain must maintain the supremacy of that fleet. No compromise between these alternatives is possible. For the British Commonwealth of Nations this war is a matter of life or death … It is an important fact, however, that in protecting its own interests it [the British Navy] has simultaneously served to protect American interests too….
The existence of Nazi Germany, with its power, its ambition and its momentum is the fundamental factor in the foreign relations of the United States. Against it the defenses of this country must be expanded; against it diplomacy must be turned; against it friends must be won and kept. And against the possibility of its success on the continent of Europe the unity of the United States must be re-established.
These words were written in 1938 and 1939. It could not be put more plainly. These peace-time statements were not made by some two-bit journalist. They came from the government behind the government; from the people who plan and (albeit in slightly veiled language) call for war and make it happen. Come what may, says the CFR, a German victory cannot be tolerated. First of all diplomacy must be used against Germany, which is what I saw happening. Surely, the drastic action of the authorities in the “Kent Case” is a little more comprehensible in the light of these CFR statements. But even now, after 43 years, the veil of secrecy has not been entirely stripped away. What element of national security needed such drastic protection? No doubt nothing but the personal reputations of some of the protagonists.
I have spoken heretofore of the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In fact, he left several. There is the legacy of Keynesian inflationary economic philosophy-a long subject which merits a separate study. I am concerned here with the legacy of foreign policy and its conduct, and in that field I can claim some small but special knowledge.
Britain and France declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939. The ostensible reason was to honor a pledge made to Poland; the real reasons were to preserve a precarious balance of power in Europe and the dominance of the British Navy in the Atlantic. This navy, according to the CFR, was also protecting America. The CFR stated publicly in 1939 that “Nazi Germany could not under any circumstances be allowed to win in Europe.” As a part of this CFR guarantee to not allow the Nazis to win, Roosevelt thought up the Lend-Lease program which had been the subject of discussion between Roosevelt and Churchill in their private correspondense for many months. Roosevelt kept stressing that he needed time to overcome the objections of Congress, and Churchill was insisting that unless something were done soon, Britain would be forced to her knees. How Roosevelt got away with the transfer of fifty destroyers to the British fleet is one of the great mysteries of the period. But he did. And this was his most overt and un-neutral interventionist action in the prewar period. It, too, had been discussed for months between himself and Churchill. Various subterfuges were suggested by one or the other and had to be rejected as impractical. All the time, the emphasis was on how to circumvent Congress and the neutrality laws. Eventually, Congress was successfully browbeaten or cajoled into agreeing to Lend-Lease, which meant giving away billions of dollars worth of American wealth. The destroyer deal, however, was done without the participation of Congress at all and the government of laws went out the window.
Before this, the slow work of diplomacy had been pursued for months, even years, lining up coalitions by promises of aid which was not forthcoming in time to be of any use to those to whom it had been promised, namely Poland, France and Britain.
Nobody in a position of authority in this country expected the rapid and early military defeats of France and England. Dunkirk changed the whole picture. The United States government had been expecting a nice, leisurely trench war of attrition with the British fleet gradually blockading Germany to death. Hence Lend-Lease and the destroyers deal. These were the tools with which the British were going to “finish the job” according to Churchill. But the loss of the British army at Dunkirk really threw the Anglo-American ranks into a panic. The unbelievable had happened. Germany had won the war in Europe -something the CFR said must never be allowed to happen.
Within a few days after the British debacle at Dunkirk I was arrested; I stayed in jail until November 1945. The impression was given that I and my friends were in some measure responsible for the collapse at Dunkirk. In retrospect, it now seems as if the drastic action taken against me, Captain Ramsay and several others might well have been for propaganda purposes as much as anything else. The British had suffered one of the worst military defeats in their history and their troops were straggling back across the Channel without as much as a rifle. Under such circumstances it is good for home-front morale to attribute disasters to the activities of a fifth column. Ramsay, myself and the others seemed to the British to constitute some sort of “fifth column.” The stolid British can become hysterical at times and at this point they did so with good reason. Later, as the hysteria died down, Captain Ramsay was released from detention although I was incarcerated to the bitter end-and beyond. The SolicitorGeneral who prosecuted Ramsay said (as already quoted) that Ramsay was an honorable man who would never willingly have done anything which might harm his country. Since Captain Ramsay was my principal contact in London in the 1940s, an impartial observer might reasonably suppose that my motives were also honorable.
Some people have asked the quite legitimate question: Why, if my motive was to keep the United States out of the war, did I show the documents to British subjects? The answer is simple and straightforward. Ramsay and the members of his Right Club all knew that the principal warmongers in Britain were the Churchill-Eden-Duff Cooper-Vansittart gang, and it was our joint intention in our amateurish way to undermine Churchill’s position in Parliament by making use of some of the American documents I had in my possession. This, it was hoped, could be done through the assistance of Captain Ramsay who was, after all, a Member of Parliament. We all understood that the Western democracies could not emerge from this war as genuine winners. The only real winner would be Bolshevik Russia. The British Empire would be no more and England would sink to the level of a third class power-as it has. I also felt sure that the threat to the security of the United States would be magnified a hundredfold. Curiously, our great leader Roosevelt did not understand this. But a lowly employee of the Foreign Service did; like Cassandra, he prophesied never to be believed. Americans are supposed to prefer hard facts to theories. Here is a hard fact. In 1939, the United States defense budget stood at slightly over one billion dollars. The 1983 budget calls for expenditures for defense amounting to 221.1 billion dollars. If we halve the last figure to allow for inflation we still have expenditures one hundred times greater today than before World War Il. Since it is to be assumed that the United States does not now plan to launch a major war of aggression against any power, this 221 billion dollar sum is to defend ourselves against attack by the only plausible external enemy-Soviet Russia. By demanding the total destruction of Germany and “unconditional surrender,” Roosevelt established Soviet Russia as a world power without any counter-balance on the vast Eurasian heartland. But he had said that he saw nothing wrong with Communists or Communism and that Russia was our natural ally. Was it deliberate or was it only a colossal error of judgment? Most people would feel that a man who occupies the White House is not entitled to make mistakes on such a grand scale nor to play fast and loose with his nation’s security. Lesser mortals can plead ignorance but the President has information on the world situation pouring into his office twenty-four hours a day. He cannot legitimately plead that he didn’t know, that nobody told him.
How then did my friends and I know, in the tumultuous months of 1940? History, not I, will answer that.
Today, the ruling circles in this country recognize that none of the touted war aims were achieved. Hence they are not discussed. Instead there is a constant harping on the moral triumphs allegedly achieved. Hence the incessant ravings about the supposed Nazi atrocities, about the Belsens and Dachaus, the Buchenwalds and Auschwitzes- above all, the “Holocaust.” These are all deliberate diversions-red herrings dragged across the trail to obfuscate the facts of life. And those facts are that this country is in constant mortal danger from the overwhelming power of Soviet Russia. This is the Frankenstein monster created by Roosevelt and loosed upon the world. We live with this Roosevelt legacy each and every day. A Soviet base ninety miles from our shores is only one of the negative strategic incursions we have to deal with. Any possible moral basis for World War II was completely destroyed when Americans allied themselves with Soviet Russia, of which it may well be said that there has never been a viler regime in modern history. If the existence of concentration camps within a country is a sound basis for waging war against that country, then we should have been at war with Soviet Russia since about 1922, and with Britain since the turn of the century for it was the British who first employed them during the Boer War, interning thousands of civilians, many of them women and children who died in large numbers due to the unsanitary conditions within the camps.
The hoax of the twentieth century, as the title of Dr. Butz’s book on the “Holocaust” goes, is the smoke-screen to conceal the utter failure to achieve the professed war aims of Roosevelt, Churchill and the CFR. Now the Zionist Establishment will continue to have a free hand to commit genocide in the Near East and smear any person in this country who dares to dispute the orthodoxy or point out the real results of World War II. And the Establishment is so besmirched with the responsibility of failure that it needs the Jewish publicists and news media to destroy anyone who has the temerity to ask awkward questions. The horrid prospect looms of having to say: “Maybe we were wrong.” A further prospect then looms: “Maybe Hitler was right.” But such confessions buttered no parsnips in the harsh judgments of the post-war world. They were not accepted as excuses at Nuremberg under the new ex-post-facto “law” worked out by the United States and their Soviet allies. The new basic law of nations requires only one clause, very simply: “It pays to be on the winning side.”
Bibliography of Works on the Tyler Kent Affair and the Roosevelt-Churchill ExchangesHarris, Robert. “The American tearoom spy.” The Times (London) (4 December 1982), p. 6. [Irving, David]. “Tyler Gatewood Kent: The Many Motives of a Misguided Cypher Clerk.” Focal Point (23 November 1981), pp. 3-10. Kimball, Warren F. “Churchill and Roosevelt: The Personal Equation.” Prologue Vol. 6 (Fall 1974), pp. 169-82. Kimball, Warren F., and Bartlett, Bruce. “Roosevelt and Prewar Commitments to Churchill: The Tyler Kent Affair.” Diplomatic History Vol. 5, No. 4 (Fall 1981), pp. 291-312. Lash, Joseph P. Roosevelt and Churchill 1939-1941. New York: Norton, 1976. Leutze, James. “The Secret of the Churchill-Roosevelt Correspondence: September 1939-May 1940.” Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 10 (1975), pp. 465-91. Loewenheim, Francis L., Langley, Harold D., and Manfred Jonas (eds.). Roosevelt and Churchill: Their Secret Wartime Correspondence. London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1975. Snow, John Howland. The Case of Tyler Kent. New York: Domestic and Foreign Affairs, 1946; New Canaan, Conn.: The Long House, 1962 Whalen, Richard. “The Strange Case of Tyler Kent.” Diplomat (November 1965), pp. 16-19, 62-64.
This item is based on the address by Tyler Kent at the Fourth IHR Conference (Chicago), September 1982. It was published in The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1983 (Vol. 4, No. 2), pages 173-203. http://www.ihr.org *** HOME