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The Fascist Left During the 1930s and 1940s By: Myles Kantor
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, March 05, 2002


AMERICAN BOLSHEVIKS DURING THE 1930S AND 1940S sought to turn the USA into the USSA. With slogans of brotherhood and justice, these individuals would have supplanted the American Way with Marxian dogma.

But Stalinists in America weren't the only subversive group during this period. While these anti-Americans aspired to a dictatorship of the proletariat (or the vanguard thereof), other anti-Americans aspired to a dictatorship of race in which pigment would determine one's freedom. The latter, borrowing Paul Johnson and David Horowitz's phrase, constitute the Fascist Left.

I. Brownshirts in America: The Bund

In July 1933, a group emerged calling itself the Association of Friends of the New Germany. Beneath its anodyne name was solidarity with a fascist, white supremacist tyranny (i.e., the New Germany).

Friends of the New Germany became the American-German Bund in 1936 under the leadership of Fritz Kuhn. A German officer in World War I and former employee of Henry Ford, Kuhn tried to create a Nazi colony in America and contrived parallels between Nazism and Americanism.

Reminiscent of camps for red diaper babies, Kuhn organized youth camps where "the children ate, slept, talked, and dreamed Nazism just as the Hitler Jugend did." With names like Camp Hindenburg, these fascist madarassas inculcated National Socialist dogma.

By 1940, the Bund was moribund. In May and June of 1939, its reputation declined when Kuhn appeared before Congressman Martin Dies' House Committee to Investigate Un-American Activities. In December 1939, Kuhn was convicted of misappropriating Bund funds and sentenced to two and a half to five years.

The federal government outlawed the Bund after America went to war against Nazi Germany. Kuhn later returned to Germany and died in Munich in December 1951.

II. Father Coughlin's Man in the Ranks

Father Charles Coughlin found much to admire in fascism. On his popular CBS radio program, he rationalized Nazi brutality and read Joseph Goebbels' propaganda; in his magazine, Social Justice, Coughlin made asinine pronouncements like, "The Rome-Berlin Axis is serving Christendom in a peculiarly important manner."

Martin James Monti was a Coughlinite from St. Louis and joined the military to advance the Axis cause. While serving in Italy with the Army Air Corps in 1944, Monti stole a photoreconnaissance aircraft and flew it to the Nazis' base in Milan.

The Nazis accepted Monti's subsequent offer to join them. He propagandized for the Reich on radio in Berlin, shortly thereafter awarded the rank of lieutenant in the Waffen-SS.

Monti was court-martialed after the Nazis' fall and received a suspended sentence of fifteen years for his treasonous acts. To exacerbate this lenience, Monti reenlisted as a private and became a sergeant in 1946.

III. Il Duce's American Cheerleader

Poet Ezra Pound detested Jews. So rabid was Pound's anti-Semitism that it manifested in his magnum opus, The Cantos. Such references included "kikery" and "yidd."

Born in Idaho in 1885, Pound moved to Italy in 1924 after Benito Mussolini's ascendancy in 1922. Elated by his fascist regime, Pound wrote in 1933 (the year he also met Mussolini), "The heritage of Jefferson, Quincy Adams, old John Adams, Jackson, Van Buren, is HERE, NOW in the Italian peninsula at the beginning of the fascist second decennio [decade], not in Massachusetts or Delaware."

From 1941 to 1943, Pound served Mussolini through broadcasts on Rome Radio. Among his claims during these broadcasts were that Bolshevism derives from the Talmud and that the Talmud "is the dirtiest teaching that any race ever codified."

American forces interned Pound in May 1945, preceded by an indictment for treason in July 1943. He was committed to St. Elizabeth's Psychiatric hospital in December 1945 and remained there until April 1958. Pound returned to Italy and died in Venice in 1972.

IV. Charles Lindbergh and the Nazi Question

The man who flew the Spirit of St. Louis is remembered by some as an historic aviator and great patriot. Others remember Lindbergh as an anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer.

Corruption of conscience followed by quiet repudiation characterizes Lindbergh's relationship to the Nazi regime. He first visited Germany in 1936 at the request of the American military attaché in Germany, Major Truman Smith. Lindbergh's objective was to acquire information on Germany's aviation development. (The Nuremberg Laws had been perpetrated the year before.)

Lindbergh initially exhibited critical capacity toward the Nazis. He admonished his hosts at a speech before the German Aero Club: "Aviation has brought a revolutionary change to a world already staggering from changes. It is our responsibility to make sure that in doing so, we do not destroy the very things we wish to protect." Joyce Milton observes, "These words were widely interpreted as a stern rebuke to the Germans. They were that and much more."

The Nazis' propaganda would soon seduce Lindbergh, though. While he wrote (tepidly) after his visit in January 1937 that "I am not in accord with the Jewish situation in Germany," Lindbergh also described Nazi Germany as "the most interesting nation in the world today." "The condition of the country, and the appearance of the average person whom I saw," he wrote, "leaves me with the impression that Hitler must have far more character and vision than I thought existed in the German leader who has been painted in so many different ways by the accounts in America and England." Lindbergh also attempted to mitigate Hitler's "fanaticism":

With all the things we criticize, he is undoubtedly a great man, and I believe has done much for the German people. He is a fanatic in many ways, anyone can see that there is a certain amount of fanaticism in Germany today. It is less than I expected, but it is there. On the other hand, Hitler has accomplished results (good in addition to bad), which could hardly have been accomplished without some fanaticism.

During another visit in October 1938, Air Marshal Hermann Goering presented Lindbergh with the Service Cross of the German Eagle. Lindbergh was so enchanted with Germany that he planned to relocate to Berlin with his family.

On November 9, the Nazis unleashed Kristallnacht upon Germany's Jews. This pogrom dissuaded Lindbergh from his relocation plans. "My admiration for the Germans is constantly being dashed against some rock such as this," he wrote.

Lindbergh was also active in the America First Committee, which opposed American participation in World War II. In this capacity, Lindbergh gave what has been remembered as an infamous speech in Des Moines, Iowa on September 11, 1941.

"The three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war," he said, "are the British, the Jews, and the Roosevelt Administration." His remarks after this statement are not as often quoted:

"It is not difficult to understand why Jewish people desire the overthrow of Nazi Germany. The persecution they suffered in Germany would be sufficient to make bitter enemies of any race. No person with a sense of the dignity of mankind can condone the persecution of the Jewish race in Germany."

As Kristallnacht rattled Lindbergh's enchantment with Nazi Germany, Pearl Harbor rattled his non-interventionism. He wrote on December 12, 1941, "Now that we are at war I want to contribute as best I can to my country's war effort."

Lindbergh had resigned his commission as a colonel in the Army Air Corps Reserve earlier in the year after Franklin Roosevelt publicly criticized him. He sought to reinstate his commission through a number of channels but was unsuccessful.

Lindbergh instead served as an advisor to the Army and Navy in the Pacific theater and flew unofficially on fifty combat missions. Clearly this was not the conduct of someone who desired an Axis victory.

In his posthumously published autobiography, Lindbergh wrote of Hitler, "Some irrational quality of the man, his actions, and his oratory enticed the entire German nation to support his ideas." Lindbergh also experienced this hideous enticement (minus the ideology)—if only his ethics were as robust as his bravery.

 

End Notes

See Harvey Klehr, John Early Haynes, and Fridrikh Igorevich Firsov, eds., The Secret World of American Communism (New Haven: 1995); Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, and Kyrill M. Anderson, eds., The Soviet World of American Communism (New Haven: 1998); John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America (New Haven: 1999); Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel, The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America's Traitors (Washington, D.C.: 2000); Allen Weinstein, The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America, the Stalin Era (New York: 1999); Lloyd Billingsley, Hollywood Party: How Communism Seduced the American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s (Rocklin: 1998); David Horowitz, Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey (New York: 1997); and Ronald Radosh, Commies: a Journey through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left (San Francisco: 2001).

2 John Adams wrote in Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States, "Property is surely a right of mankind as really as liberty"; James Madison wrote in The Federalist Papers that "Government is instituted no less for protection of the property, than of the persons of individuals"; Thomas Jefferson wrote in his Autobiography that "The small landowners are the most precious part of a state." In The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels wrote of "Abolition of property in land." Suffice it to say these orientations aren't congruent.

3 Charles Higham, American Swastika (New York: 1985), p. 5. On Ford's anti-Semitism, see Neil Baldwin's Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate (New York: 2001).

4 On George Washington's birthday in 1939, Kuhn held a Bund rally in Madison Square Garden. With attendance of approximately 22,000, Kuhn compared Washington to Hitler. See American Swastika, pp. 8-9.

5 See Radosh, Commies, pp. 15-24.

6 American Swastika, pp. 6-7.

7 Ibid., p. 9.

8 See Sander A. Diamond, The Nazi Movement in the United States, 1924-1931 (Ithaca: 1974), pp. 336, 349.

9 American Swastika, pp. 70-72. Coughlin's claim is all the more asinine in light of recently released archives showing the Nazis' plan to abolish Christianity. See Edward Colimore, "Papers Reveal Nazi Aim: End Christianity," The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 9, 2002. For further discussion of Coughlin, see Donald Warren, Radio Priest: Charles Coughlin, the Father of Hate Radio (New York: 1996) and Alan Brinkley, Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and the Great Depression (New York: 1983).

10 Ibid., p. 78.

11 See Wendy Flory, "Pound and Antisemitism," in Ira B. Nadel, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Ezra Pound (Cambridge: 1999), pp. 291, 294.

12 Ezra Pound, Jefferson and/or Mussolini: L'Idea Statale, Fascism as I Have Seen It (New York: 1935), p. 12. Mussolini remarked, "Everything within the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State." Contrast Pound's claim of coherence between Mussolini and the Founders with the views cited in note 2, as well as Thomas Jefferson's assertion in Notes on the State of Virginia: "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others." On Pound's meeting with Mussolini, see Humphrey Carpenter, A Serious Character: The Life of Ezra Pound (Boston: 1988), pp. 489-491.

13 Leonard W. Doob, ed., Ezra Pound Speaking: Radio Speeches of World War II (Westport: 1978), p. 117.

14 Joyce Milton, Loss of Eden: A Biography of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh (New York: 1993), p. 354.

15 Ibid., p. 355.

16 Ibid.

17 Quoted in A. Scott Berg, Lindbergh (New York: 1998), p. 361.

18 Loss of Eden, pp. 365-367.

19 Ibid., p. 379.

20 Quoted in Bill Kauffman, America First! Its History, Culture, and Politics (Amherst, New York: 1995), p. 20.

21 Berg, Lindbergh, p. 433.

22 Ibid., pp. 418, 433-438.

23 Ibid., pp. 448-455.

24 Charles A. Lindbergh, Autobiography of Values (New York: 1977), p. 350. Lindbergh's claim of unanimous support for Hitler ("enticed the entire German nation") is false. For a discussion of one dissident group that suffered horribly, see Inge Scholl, The White Rose: Munich, 1942-1943 (Connecticut: 1983).

25 Milton observes, "It was the revolutionary ardor of the Third Reich, as opposed to the specifics of the Nazis' program, that appealed to Charles." Loss of Eden, p. 361.


Myles Kantor is a columnist for FrontPageMagazine.com and editor-at-large for Pureplay Press, which publishes books about Cuban history and culture. His e-mail address is myles.kantor@gmail.com.


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