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David Sarnoff’s Axis Connection: Background to NBC and the Walter Sheridan Broadcast

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[5] [6]COMMENT: In our long series of inter­views with Jim DiEu­ge­nio about his mas­ter­work Des­tiny Betrayed [7], we high­light­ed vet­er­an intel­li­gence offi­cer Wal­ter Sheri­dan’s broad­cast hatch­et job on New Orleans D.A. Jim Gar­rison’s inves­ti­ga­tion of the JFK assas­si­na­tion. The TV hit piece was broad­cast on the NBC net­work.

In our dis­cus­sion of the Sheri­dan broad­cast [8], we not­ed the efforts of RCA chief David Sarnoff in res­ur­rect­ing the Nazi Radio France sta­tion and pre­sid­ing over its con­ver­sion to Radio Free Europe. (RCA is the par­ent com­pa­ny of NBC, which aired the Sheri­dan broad­cast.) In res­ur­rect­ing Radio France and mid­wiv­ing its con­ver­sion to Radio Free Europe, Sarnoff, who is Jew­ish, was build­ing on pro­found and trea­so­nous Axis con­nec­tions he main­tained dur­ing the war.

In Trad­ing with the Ene­my [9], Charles High­am chron­i­cled the deep involve­ment of David Sarnoff with the Tran­sra­dio Con­sor­tium, which joined the Axis nations with the West­ern Allies in a telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions car­tel that pro­vid­ed vital–and lethal–intelligence to the Axis dur­ing the war.

Key points of analy­sis and dis­cus­sion include:

  1. David Sarnof­f’s suc­cess­ful efforts to restore and expand the Nazi Radio France Sta­tion and re-brand it as “Radio Free Europe.” ” . . . . In 1944, Sarnoff worked for the com­plete restora­tion of the Nazi destroyed Radio France sta­tion in Paris until its sig­nal was able to reach through­out Europe. It was then reti­tled Radio Free Europe. He lat­er lob­bied the White House to expand the range and reach of Radio Free Europe. At about this point, Radio Free Europe became a pet project of Allen Dulles. Sarnoff’s com­pa­ny, Radio Cor­po­ra­tion of Amer­i­ca, became a large part of the tech­no­log­i­cal core of the NSA. . . . Robert was pres­i­dent of RCA, NBC’s par­ent com­pa­ny, at the time Sheridan’s spe­cial aired. David was chair­man. . . .”
  2. Sarnof­f’s RCA was part of the Tran­sra­dio Con­sor­tium, some­thing of a broad­cast car­tel meld­ing Axis and West­ern Allied broad­cast estab­lish­ments: ” . . . . RCA was in part­ner­ship before and after Pearl Har­bor with British Cable and Wire­less; with Tele­funken, the Nazi com­pa­ny; with Ital­ca­ble, whol­ly owned by the Mus­soli­ni gov­ern­ment; and with Vichy’s Com­pag­nie Gen­erale, in an orga­ni­za­tion known as the Tran­sra­dio Con­sor­tium, with Gen­er­al Robert C. Davis, head of the New York Chap­ter of the Amer­i­can Red Cross, as its chair­man. In turn, RCA, British Cable and Wire­less, and the Ger­man and Ital­ian com­pa­nies had a share with ITT in TTP (Telegrafi­ca y Tele­fon­i­ca del Pla­ta), an Axis-con­trolled com­pa­ny pro­vid­ing tele­graph and tele­phone ser­vice between Buenos Aires and Mon­te­v­ideo. Nazis in Mon­te­v­ideo could tele­phone Buenos Aires through TTP with­out com­ing under the con­trol of either the state-owned sys­tem in Uruguay or the ITT sys­tem in Argenti­na. Mes­sages, often dan­ger­ous to Amer­i­can secu­ri­ty, were trans­mit­ted direct­ly to Berlin and Rome by Tran­sra­dio. Anoth­er share­hold­er was ITT’s Ger­man “rival,” Siemens, which linked cables and net­works with Behn south of Pana­ma. . . .”
  3. Tran­sra­dio Con­sor­tium was the vehi­cle for lethal­ly trea­so­nous com­mu­ni­ca­tions dur­ing the war: ” . . . . But the pub­lic, which thought of Sarnoff as a pil­lar of patri­o­tism, would have been aston­ished to learn of his part­ner­ship with the ene­my through Tran­sra­dio and TTP. The British pub­lic, belea­guered and bombed, would have been equal­ly shocked to learn that British Cable and Wire­less, 10 per­cent owned by the British gov­ern­ment, and under vir­tu­al gov­ern­ment con­trol in wartime, was in fact also in part­ner­ship with the Ger­mans and Ital­ians through the same com­pa­nies and prox­ies. . . . Simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, the Tran­sra­dio sta­tions, accord­ing to State Depart­ment reports with the full knowl­edge of David Sarnoff, kept up a direct line to Berlin. The amount of intel­li­gence passed along the lines can scarce­ly be cal­cu­lat­ed. The Lon­don office was in con­stant touch with New York through­out the war, sift­ing through reports from Argenti­na, Brazil, and Chile and send­ing com­pa­ny reports to the Ital­ian and Ger­man inter­ests. . . .”

1. Des­tiny Betrayed by Jim DiEu­ge­nio; Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing [SC]; Copy­right 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEu­ge­nio; ISBN 978–1‑62087–056‑3; p. 255. [7]

. . . . It is rel­e­vant to note here that Gen­er­al David Sarnoff, founder of NBC, worked for the Sig­nal Corps dur­ing World War II as a reserve offi­cer. In 1944, Sarnoff worked for the com­plete restora­tion of the Nazi destroyed Radio France sta­tion in Paris until its sig­nal was able to reach through­out Europe. It was then reti­tled Radio Free Europe. He lat­er lob­bied the White House to expand the range and reach of Radio Free Europe. At about this point, Radio Free Europe became a pet project of Allen Dulles. Sarnoff’s com­pa­ny, Radio Cor­po­ra­tion of Amer­i­ca, became a large part of the tech­no­log­i­cal core of the NSA. Dur­ing the war, David’s son Robert worked in the broad­cast arm of the Office of Strate­gic Ser­vices (OSS), the fore­run­ner of the CIA. Robert was pres­i­dent of RCA, NBC’s par­ent com­pa­ny, at the time Sheridan’s spe­cial aired. David was chair­man. . .

2.    Trad­ing with the Ene­my: An Expose of the Nazi-Amer­i­can Mon­ey Plot 1933–1949 by Charles High­am; Dela­corte Press [HC]; Copy­right 1983 by Charles High­am; ISBN 10–0440090644; 13–978-0440090649; pp. 104–107. [9]

. . . . In South Amer­i­ca, Sos­thenes Behn was in part­ner­ship (as well as rival­ry) with an even more pow­er­ful organ­ism: the giant Radio Cor­po­ra­tion of Amer­i­ca, which owned the NBC radio net­work. RCA was in part­ner­ship before and after Pearl Har­bor with British Cable and Wire­less; with Tele­funken, the Nazi com­pa­ny; with Ital­ca­ble, whol­ly owned by the Mus­soli­ni gov­ern­ment; and with Vichy’s Com­pag­nie Gen­erale, in an orga­ni­za­tion known as the Tran­sra­dio Con­sor­tium, with Gen­er­al Robert C. Davis, head of the New York Chap­ter of the Amer­i­can Red Cross, as its chair­man. In turn, RCA, British Cable and Wire­less, and the Ger­man and Ital­ian com­pa­nies had a share with ITT in TTP (Telegrafi­ca y Tele­fon­i­ca del Pla­ta), an Axis-con­trolled com­pa­ny pro­vid­ing tele­graph and tele­phone ser­vice between Buenos Aires and Mon­te­v­ideo. Nazis in Mon­te­v­ideo could tele­phone Buenos Aires through TTP with­out com­ing under the con­trol of either the state-owned sys­tem in Uruguay or the ITT sys­tem in Argenti­na.

Mes­sages, often dan­ger­ous to Amer­i­can secu­ri­ty, were trans­mit­ted direct­ly to Berlin and Rome by Tran­sra­dio. Anoth­er share­hold­er was ITT’s Ger­man “rival,” Siemens, which linked cables and net­works with Behn south of Pana­ma.

The head of RCA dur­ing World War II was Colonel David Sarnoff, a stocky, square-set, deter­mined man with a slow, sub­dued voice, who came from Rus­sia as an immi­grant at the turn of the cen­tu­ry and began as a news­pa­per sell­er, mes­sen­ger boy, and Mar­coni Wire­less oper­a­tor. . . .

. . . . After Pearl Har­bor, Sarnoff cabled Roo­sevelt, “All of our facil­i­ties and per­son­nel are ready and at your instant ser­vice. We await your com­mand.” Sarnoff played a cru­cial role, as cru­cial as Behn’s, in the U.S. war effort, and, like Behn, he was giv­en a colonel­cy in the U.S. Sig­nal Corps. He solved com­plex prob­lems, dealt with a maze of dif­fi­cult require­ments by the twelve mil­lion mem­bers of the U.S. armed forces, and coor­di­nat­ed details relat­ed to the Nor­mandy land­ings. He pre­pared the whole print­ed and elec­tron­ic press-cov­er­age of V‑J day; in Lon­don in 1944, with head­quar­ters at Clar­idge’s Hotel, he was Eisen­how­er’s inspired con­sul­tant and earned the Medal of Mer­it for his help in the occu­pa­tion of Europe.

Open­ing in 1943 with a cho­rus of praise from var­i­ous gen­er­als, the new RCA lab­o­ra­to­ries had proved to be indis­pens­able in time of war.

But the pub­lic, which thought of Sarnoff as a pil­lar of patri­o­tism, would have been aston­ished to learn of his part­ner­ship with the ene­my through Tran­sra­dio and TTP. The British pub­lic, belea­guered and bombed, would have been equal­ly shocked to learn that British Cable and Wire­less, 10 per­cent owned by the British gov­ern­ment, and under vir­tu­al gov­ern­ment con­trol in wartime, was in fact also in part­ner­ship with the Ger­mans and Ital­ians through the same com­pa­nies and prox­ies. . . .

. . . . Simultaneously, the Transradio stations, according to State Department reports with the full knowledge of David Sarnoff, kept up a direct line to Berlin. The amount of intelligence passed along the lines can scarcely be calculated. The London office was in constant touch with New York throughout the war, sifting through reports from Argentina, Brazil, and Chile and sending company reports to the Italian and German interests.