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Under Cover — My Four Years in the Nazi Underworld in America

by John Roy Carl­son
1943, E. P. Dut­ton, 544 pages
Down­load Pt. 1 | Down­load Pt. 2

In Under Cover—My Four Years in the Nazi Under­world in Amer­i­ca, John Roy Carl­son penned the account of his suc­cess­ful infil­tra­tion of the vig­or­ous Nazi Fifth Col­umn that exist­ed in the Unit­ed States before and dur­ing World War II. Pos­ing as a sym­pa­thiz­er and activist on behalf of the Nazi cause, Carl­son gained access to the inner sanc­tum of the traitors—great and small—who sought to replace the Stars and Stripes with the Swasti­ka. In Under Cov­er, the author chron­i­cles the oper­a­tions and ide­o­log­i­cal tenets of a large (and fre­quent­ly over­lap­ping) group of orga­ni­za­tions that oper­at­ed on behalf of the Third Reich (and also Impe­r­i­al Japan). As Carl­son illus­trates in the book, the “small fry” domes­tic fas­cists are often cats’ paws for larg­er, more promi­nent polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic fig­ures. Many of the orga­ni­za­tions were actu­al­ly direct­ed and financed by the Deutsches Aus­land Institut—the for­eign sec­tion of the Nazi par­ty of Ger­many.

Among the most vir­u­lent of the above-ground Fifth Col­umn groups was the Ger­man-Amer­i­can Bund, com­posed large­ly of U.S. cit­i­zens of Ger­man­ic extrac­tion. On pages 110 and 111, Carl­son high­lights a Bund meet­ing at which those in atten­dance viewed news­reel footage of Nazi con­quests. This is fol­lowed by a brief his­to­ry and oper­a­tional overview of the orga­ni­za­tion:

“ . . . When the blis­ter­ing cam­paign in Poland was shown on the screen and a bomb heaved from an air­plane laid waste an area teem­ing with life, the audi­ence went into hys­ter­ics. When a Ger­man sub­ma­rine was shown tor­pe­do­ing a help­less Allied ship and the ship turned tur­tle, sink­ing stern first, the sea dot­ted with human beings crawl­ing like bee­tles, the audi­ence roared lusti­ly! ‘Won­der­ful!’ Wun­der­bar!”

Author Carl­son sets forth the Bund’s ear­ly his­to­ry. Note that founder Fritz Gis­si­bl was an asso­ciate of Hitler, dat­ing his con­nec­tion to the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch in Munich. Like many domes­tic fas­cists, Gissibl’s Bund ally Heinz Span­k­noebel was an employ­ee of Hen­ry Ford, one of Hitler’s ear­li­est finan­cial back­ers. Ford sup­port­ed many domes­tic fas­cists and their move­ments, as well as back­ing Hitler. (Carl­son details Ford’s asso­ci­a­tion with White Russ­ian exiles in the pub­lish­ing of the anti-Semit­ic tract The Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion, as well as the financ­ing of Hitler. For more about this sub­ject, see—among oth­er programs—FTR#511.) “The foun­da­tions of the Bund were laid in 1924. It orig­i­nat­ed with the Chica­go unit of the Teu­to­nia Club when that club raised a pla­toon of storm troop­ers mod­eled direct­ly on Hitler’s Brown­shirts, and adopt­ed the swasti­ka. The Teu­to­nia Clubs were orig­i­nal­ly found­ed in Detroit by Fritz Gis­si­bl, a Ger­man alien who was with Hitler in the Munich beer hall Putsch. Eight years lat­er, under Heinz Span­k­noebel, a for­mer work­er for Hen­ry Ford, the Friends of the Hitler Move­ment was found­ed in Detroit and in oth­er cities.”

Also on page 111, the author high­lights the “Amer­i­can­iza­tion” of the bund—its trans­for­ma­tion into a “patri­ot­ic” Amer­i­can orga­ni­za­tion in order to make it more mar­ketable. Like many domes­tic fas­cist move­ments the Bund rep­re­sent­ed itself as “patri­ot­ic.” As Dr. John­son not­ed cen­turies ago—“patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Note that Bund leader Fritz Kuhn was also a Ford employ­ee.

“When Hitler became Chan­cel­lor on Jan­u­ary 30, 1933, Span­k­noebel was called to Ger­many. On his return to Amer­i­ca, the Friends of the Hitler Move­ment changed its name to Friends of the New Ger­many—(Fre­unde des Neuen Deutsch­lands) and con­tin­ued to func­tion under that name. In the mean­while, Fritz Kuhn, also work­ing as a chemist in Hen­ry Ford’s plant, became the fuehrer of the Detroit region­al group. In Decem­ber, 1935, a merg­er of all the scat­tered ‘Friends’ was effect­ed and Kuhn was appoint­ed supreme Bun­des­fuehrer. In June, 1936, the ‘Friends’ were Amer­i­can­ized to the Ger­man-Amer­i­can Bund (Amerkadeutsch­er Volks­bund) and launched on a nation­al cam­paign of trea­son under the guise of star-span­gled ‘patri­o­tism.’”

Dis­missed by some as unim­por­tant, the Bund and oth­er, sim­i­lar orga­ni­za­tions were any­thing but triv­ial. On page 112, author Carl­son notes the impor­tance of the Bund, as well as the net­work­ing that domes­tic fas­cist groups did with impor­tant per­son­ages, includ­ing mem­bers of Con­gress.

“ . . . The influ­ence wield­ed by the Bund in our polit­i­cal dis­sen­sions must not be under­es­ti­mat­ed. The Bund was the spear­head of the anti-Demo­c­ra­t­ic cru­sade and set the pat­tern for the Chris­t­ian Front and the Sil­ver Shirts and count­less oth­ers like them. Viewed over the years, the swasti­ka-heil­ing peri­od was a tem­po­rary expe­di­en­cy staged to arrest pub­lic opin­ion and enthrall the admi­ra­tion of frus­trat­ed and sim­ple-mind­ed Amer­i­cans in the low­er class­es of our soci­ety.”

Still more about the Bund, this also on page 112:

“The Deutsches Aus­land Insti­tut launched a two-pronged pin­cer attack on our Democ­ra­cy. Lead­er­ship on the first ‘Fifth Col­umn’ was entrust­ed to Ger­man-Amer­i­cans, while the sec­ond was entrust­ed to care­ful­ly select­ed can­di­dates of non-Ger­man ‘one hun­dred per cent Amer­i­can’ ancestry—the Edmond­sons and Pelleys—whose job it was lit­er­al­ly to trans­late Nazi pro­pa­gan­da into Eng­lish terms and serve it as ‘patri­o­tism’ to those who would swal­low it as such. The Amer­i­can wing of the Nazi psy­cho­log­i­cal Fifth Col­umn pen­e­trat­ed Park Avenue soci­ety, or busi­ness and indus­tri­al cir­cles and even­tu­al­ly pro­ject­ed itself deep into the halls of Con­gress. . . .”

One can not stress too heav­i­ly that these sub­ver­sives and trai­tors rep­re­sent­ed them­selves as “patri­ots.” On page 113, Carl­son notes the “patri­ot­ic” makeover that the Bund under­went. Note that much Third Reich pro­pa­gan­da and many spies came to the U.S. on the Ham­burg-Ameri­ka Line, one of the com­pa­nies that fea­tured the Bush fam­i­ly in part­ner­ship with the Third Reich. (For more about the Ham­burg-Ameri­ka Line and the Bush/Nazi con­nec­tion, see—among oth­er programs—FTR#’s 273, 361, 475.)

“ . . . It was the boom peri­od for espi­onage in which the boats of the Ham­burg-Ameri­ka Line played a promi­nent role. Dr. Col­in Ross, a Nazi of Scot ances­try, toured Amer­i­ca pho­tograph­ing our indus­tries, har­bors, pow­er plants and ral­ly­ing Hit­lerites in our key cities. ‘Ger­mans in Amer­i­ca, too, have expe­ri­enced their Ver­sailles,’ he wrote. ‘A man will arise and ral­ly them, a Ger­man Thomas Paine.’”

More about the Bund and its “Amer­i­can makeover,” this from pages 113 and 114:

“In the mean­while, the Bund had so antag­o­nized most Amer­i­cans by its swasti­ka-heil­ing phase that orders came from Berlin to cut out pub­lic singing of the Horst Wes­sel Lied, shelve the Sam Browne belts and march­ing boots and ‘go Amer­i­can.’ The par­ty line changed, as a buck­et of red-white-and-blue paint was applied to make overnight ‘patri­ots’ of the Nazis. The Deutsch­er Weck­ruf became The Free Amer­i­can. And no longer pro­fess­ing to con­vert the Unit­ed States to Nation­al-Social­ism, the Bund became nation­al­ist and iso­la­tion­ist, showed great con­cern for the wel­fare of the Repub­lic and adopt­ed the slo­gan: Amer­i­ca First.”

“Amer­i­ca First” became the title of an orga­ni­za­tion devot­ed to keep­ing the U.S. out of World War II. Although some of its mem­bers were sin­cere­ly opposed to war, the major­i­ty were of fas­cist per­sua­sion, many of them Ger­man spies. “Amer­i­ca First” echoed the slo­ga­neer­ing of fas­cist move­ments in oth­er coun­tries, includ­ing the Croix de Feu in France and the Falange in Spain—both cov­ered at length in the Cot’s Tri­umph of Trea­son and Chase’s Falange. On pages 498 and 499, Carl­son relates:

“ . . . Mussolini’s fas­cist sys­tem was first described as ‘nation­al­ist.’ The French fas­cist orga­ni­za­tion Croix de Feu, which devel­oped into a Vichy instru­ment was called ‘nation­al­ist.’ The Nazi par­ty is the Nation­al-Social­ist Par­ty. The Japan­ese War Par­ty is a ‘nation­al­ist’ par­ty. All these coun­tries had their ‘Ger­many First,’ ‘France First’ and ‘Spain First’ par­ties. Recall that the mot­to of Sir Oswald Mosley’s Black­shirts was ‘Britain First’ and Stahrenberg’s slo­gan of the Amer­i­can Nation­al-Social­ist Par­ty was ‘Amer­i­ca First, Last and Always.’ ‘Amer­i­ca First’ can be no dif­fer­ent in its con­no­ta­tion and ulti­mate out­come despite the sin­cere intents of some of those who mouth it. ‘Amer­i­ca First’ is a cry unwit­ting­ly used by Liberty’s hang­men.”

If patri­o­tism is—as Dr. John­son observed—“the last refuge of a scoundrel,” then reli­gion is usu­al­ly the first. A stag­ger­ing num­ber of the fas­cist Fifth Col­umn orga­ni­za­tions in the U.S. pro­fessed to be “Chris­t­ian.” Most promi­nent among the fas­cists march­ing behind the façade of Chris­tian­i­ty was the infa­mous Father Cough­lin — the dri­ving force behind the Chris­t­ian Front. Rail­ing against Pres­i­dent Roo­sevelt, Jews and any­thing that stood in the way of the Third Reich’s path of con­quest, Couglin used Social Jus­tice as his pri­ma­ry bul­ly pul­pit. After the war, it emerged that he was actu­al­ly in the pay of Third Reich intel­li­gence. Invok­ing the name of Jesus to sup­port every­thing Christ con­demned, fas­cists and fas­cist insti­tu­tions mas­querad­ing as Chris­tians abound­ed with­in the Fifth Column—the Rev­erend Ger­ald Win­rod, the Chris­t­ian Mobi­liz­ers, The Cross and the Flag, ad infini­tum. Indeed, author Carl­son was able to infil­trate the Fifth Col­umn by pos­ing as a fas­cist pam­phle­teer, pub­lish­ing The Chris­t­ian Defend­er. This ingra­ti­at­ed him to the trai­tors.

Among the Chris­t­ian prelates oper­at­ing on behalf of the Nazi cause was the Rev­erend Nor­man Vin­cent Peale. Best known as the expo­nent of “the pow­er of pos­i­tive think­ing,” Peale long graced the pages of pub­li­ca­tions like Reader’s Digest and his name became syn­ony­mous with whole­some, main­stream Amer­i­cana in the post­war years. Pri­or to and dur­ing the war, how­ev­er, Peale front­ed for Edward A. Rume­ly, a spy and agi­ta­tor for Ger­many dur­ing both World Wars. Like so many oth­ers, Rume­ly, too, ben­e­fit­ed from his asso­ci­a­tion with Hitler bene­fac­tor Hen­ry Ford. Note that anoth­er of Rumely’s fel­low trav­el­ers in the Fifth Col­umn move­ment was Frank Gan­nett, founder of the news­pa­per chain that bears his name. On pages 474 and 475, Carl­son writes:

“Rume­ly is boss of the Com­mit­tee for Con­sti­tu­tion­al Gov­ern­ment and sec­ond in com­mand to Frank E. Gan­nett, pub­lish­er of a string of news­pa­pers and founder of the com­mit­tee in 1937. As soon as the Sen­a­to­r­i­al inves­ti­ga­tion was over, Rume­ly lit­er­al­ly went under­ground and erased his name from the Com­mit­tee sta­tionery. But he con­tin­ued to run it by appoint­ing a docile Protes­tant cler­gy­man as ‘act­ing chair­man and sec­re­tary’ who vis­it­ed the office only occa­sion­al­ly. He was the Rev­erend Nor­man Vin­cent Peale, once a joint speak­er with [Amer­i­can fas­cist] Mrs. Eliz­a­beth Dilling and the Rev­erend Edward Lodge Cur­ran [key aide to Father Cough­lin] at a ‘pro-Amer­i­can mass meet­ing spon­sored by more than 50 patri­ot­ic orga­ni­za­tions’ at the Hotel Com­modore in New York. . . . Rumely’s friend­ship with Hen­ry Ford dat­ed pri­or to the sum­mer of 1918 when Ford rushed to Wash­ing­ton in an unsuc­cess­ful attempt to save Rume­ly from being indict­ed. . . .”

When eval­u­at­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of the Fifth Col­umn for con­tem­po­rary Amer­i­cans, it is impor­tant to remem­ber that there was no de-Naz­i­fi­ca­tion process for the Unit­ed States after the war. The Nazi con­spir­a­tors in this coun­try not only went untouched, many of them became promi­nent, or con­tin­ued in posi­tions of promi­nence. In addi­tion, some of the most heinous Third Reich alum­ni were import­ed into this coun­try under the aus­pices of the Gehlen spy orga­ni­za­tion, Project Paper­clip and the Cru­sade For Free­dom, where they joined their domes­tic Amer­i­can part­ners in cor­rupt­ing post­war Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. Not­ing the rise of the reac­tionary Chris­t­ian forces in this coun­try, one must won­der if they are heirs to Father Cough­lin and his ilk.

In FTR#476, we viewed the pol­i­tics of Joseph Schmitz, for­mer Inspec­tor Gen­er­al of the Pen­ta­gon and now head of the par­ent com­pa­ny of the Black­wa­ter secu­ri­ty firm. Son of domes­tic fas­cist John G. Schmitz, Joseph was described after his res­ig­na­tion in dis­grace from the Pen­ta­gon as “obsessed with Von Steuben and all things German”—a ref­er­ence to Schmitz’s pro­found affin­i­ty for Gen­er­al Von Steuben and his descen­dants. The elder Von Steuben fought on the Amer­i­can side in the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War and is thought to have been the first Inspec­tor Gen­er­al of the U.S. mil­i­tary. Joseph Schmitz even changed the seal of the Inspec­tor Gen­er­al to the coat of arms of the Von Steuben fam­i­ly. Is it pos­si­ble that he was an admir­er of the Steuben Soci­ety, a branch of the Third Reich Fifth Col­umn in the Unit­ed States? On pages 118 and 119, Carl­son describes the Steuben Soci­ety:

“ . . . Aris­to­crat in its class, the Steuben Soci­ety hat­ed the Bund because of its dif­fer­ence in tac­tics, shunned wild Nazi talk and avoid­ed in recent years the pub­lic heil­ing of Hitler, while the Bund con­tin­ued as before. . . . It goes back to his [Steuben Soci­ety Pres­i­dent Theodore H. Hoff­man] trip to Ger­many and his recep­tion by Hitler. Hoff­man told the sto­ry in a by-lined arti­cle in the Decem­ber 20, 1934 issue of the Deutsch­er Beobachter pub­lished in New York: ‘Who­ev­er thinks that Nation­al-Social­ism rules by oppres­sion, is mis­tak­en. . . . My per­son­al impres­sions of Hitler were that he is an ide­al­ist, an unusu­al orga­niz­er and a man of tremen­dous ener­gy. It is my con­vic­tion that he is hon­est and sin­cere in his endeav­ors not only to unite the Ger­man peo­ple, but also in his deter­mi­na­tion to break the chains of slav­ery. . . . He is the one man who filled the life of the Ger­man nation. . . . with new hope of the future. . . .’”

Is this what Joseph E. Schmitz thinks today?


14 comments for “Under Cover — My Four Years in the Nazi Underworld in America

  1. I am amazed — hav­ing just watched the events at the Lin­coln Memo­r­i­al on 8/28 — that this sce­nario is replay­ing in Amer­i­ca, that tox­ic (but heady!) com­bi­na­tion of fer­vent patri­o­tism and reli­gion. I pre­dict that Glenn Beck will more and more por­tray him­self as a revival­ist reli­gious leader, mak­ing more and more ref­er­ences to “God” (while his audi­ences are bliss­ful­ly unaware that the Mor­mon god is not the Chris­t­ian one), and aggran­diz­ing pow­er for him­self and the politi­cians he sup­ports.

    Posted by Eliza Howarth | August 29, 2010, 8:24 am
  2. I have a hard cov­er 1943 orig­i­nal copy of Under Cov­er for sale. 544 pages. Pulp paper, some edge burn­ing oth­er­wise in great shape
    Extreme­ly enter­tain­ing book that drew con­sid­er­able legal atten­tion in its time. Email for a coloured pho­to.


    Non nego­tion­able.

    Posted by Colwyn G.Beynon | February 10, 2012, 9:16 pm
  3. Mr. Beynon–

    Good to see that you’re fol­low­ing this web­site and famil­iar with the land­mark work of John Roy Carl­son.

    Don’t know that $100.00 is some­thing the lis­ten­ers would want to pay.

    It’s avail­able for down­load for free here!



    Posted by Dave Emory | February 10, 2012, 9:35 pm
  4. Any­body ever read “Behind the Egypt­ian Sphinx”? Con­gress held hear­ings on this book in 1963 — escapt­ed nazis run­ning around Egypt, Syr­ia, and Iraq- pos­ing as Islamists — orga­niz­ing ter­ror groups — I found a copy in an archive — made a copy for myself before they burn it

    Posted by Louise Hodges | October 26, 2012, 7:48 am
  5. Hen­ry Ford’s fin­ger­prints are every­where.

    Posted by Alex Kogut | February 21, 2013, 4:30 pm
  6. I read that Heinz Span­k­noebel was “called to Ger­many” in 1933; I also read he was deport­ed in 1933.
    So was Spanky called, deport­ed or both?

    Posted by Alex Kogut | February 22, 2013, 2:30 pm
  7. http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/books/135982/english-nazi-club-revealed?print=1

    Secrets of Eng­lish World War II Upper-Class Nazi Club Revealed by a Venet­ian Dandy
    A new film about England’s avowed anti-Semi­tes stirs a cham­pi­on of Euro­pean tol­er­ance, lib­er­al­ism, and civ­i­liza­tion
    By Vladislav Davidzon|June 26, 2013 12:00 AM

    Venice, with its grandil­o­quent man­ner and grandiose style, has for almost half a mil­len­ni­um pro­vid­ed refuge to a cer­tain kind of Eng­lish dream­er who would not coun­te­nance the drab and gray shores of Eng­land. The list of illus­tri­ous and dis­solute Eng­lish expa­tri­ates, hon­ing their art in this most glo­ri­ous­ly decay­ing of cities, stretch­es from lumi­nar­ies like Byron, Ruskin, Hous­man, and Brown­ing to minor eccentrics such as the Alpin­ist and lit­er­ary gad­fly Hor­a­tio Brown [1], or the nov­el­ist, mad­man, and mys­tic Fred­er­ick Rolfe [2], aka “Baron Cor­vo,” who went com­plete­ly native and became a gon­do­lier. I went there to vis­it the lat­est exem­plar in this odd­ball tra­di­tion of exiles, the British trav­el writer and his­to­ri­an Robin Saikia—author of The Red Book: The Mem­ber­ship List of The Right Club–1939, which pro­vides [3] star­tling and unset­tling insight into upper-class Eng­lish anti-Semi­tism dur­ing Hitler’s rise to pow­er.

    The Red Book is a pri­ma­ry source for this year’s doc­u­men­tary release Churchill and the Fas­cist Plot (now avail­able in some regions for view­ing online [4]), by Peter Nichol­son, one of England’s best-known doc­u­men­tary film­mak­ers. A charm­ing made-for-TV thriller, its nos­tal­gic con­fec­tion of news­reels of march­ing armies, jagged shots of men in trench coats pass­ing fold­ers in dark alleys, and women whis­per­ing malig­nant secrets over cups of tea in south Kens­ing­ton is inter­spersed with inter­views of the three or four his­to­ri­ans who have done the most to bring the sto­ry to light. Though its pri­ma­ry focus is the espi­onage caper and the col­or­ful back sto­ry of the intrigues, its far more dis­qui­et­ing rev­e­la­tion is that the iso­la­tion­ist ten­den­cy and incli­na­tion toward appease­ment was more deeply root­ed in the mid­dle and upper stra­ta of British soci­ety than our a pos­te­ri­ori vic­to­ri­ous and self-con­grat­u­la­to­ry selves might like to admit. My vis­it to the dandy Saikia in Venice revealed a dark world of reac­tionary intrigue, along with its inverse poten­tial of a capac­i­ty for redemp­tion through humane reflec­tion.


    Arriv­ing at a dis­creet minor palaz­zo on a small canal behind Cam­po San­ta Margheri­ta, the his­tor­i­cal nucle­us of Venice’s bohemi­an life for the last cen­tu­ry, I found Saikia in his idyl­lic gar­den, smok­ing and sip­ping cham­pagne in the twi­light, sur­round­ed by a clus­ter of white Siamese cats. Half Indi­an and half Eng­lish, the tweedy Saikia has an impos­ing patri­cian nose that peeks out from below his expan­sive Cae­sar dome of a fore­head, and his jet-black shoul­der-length hair belies the fact that he has just turned 50. His upper-crust Eng­lish-weirdo résumé of eccen­tric affec­ta­tions is unim­peach­able. Dur­ing his post-colo­nial child­hood in Zam­bia, his moth­er kept a pet lion named Alexan­der that slept in his bed. He has flown around the world teach­ing “Received Pro­nun­ci­a­tion” to pro­fes­sion­al elites in the Arab world, the post-Sovi­et sphere, and Far East Asia. He admits that he has had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to “pol­ish the pro­nun­ci­a­tion of the occa­sion­al Russ­ian oli­garch” with his patent­ed method of teach­ing Eng­lish elo­cu­tion, and that he holds the dis­tinc­tion of being the only British writer to receive roy­al­ties from the sale of a cock­tail he invent­ed: the “Death in Venice” (straw­ber­ry aqua­vit, Ciroc vod­ka, ver­mouth), which is served at Win­ston Churchill’s favorite water­ing hole, the bar of the Excel­sior on the Venice Lido.

    Indeed, the balmy and plea­sure-seek­ing Lido is his spir­i­tu­al home, and Saikia is the author of its sole Eng­lish-lan­guage lit­er­ary his­to­ry, The Venice Lido. The book [5] includes a per­cep­tive chap­ter on the his­to­ry of the Jews in Venice, to me the first clue in his iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with the tribe, and a vivid descrip­tion of what might be Europe’s most remark­able Jew­ish ceme­tery. There is also an amus­ing anec­dote about the Jew­ish pas­try chef who suc­cess­ful­ly sab­o­taged a cer­e­mo­ni­al lunch giv­en by Mus­soli­ni for Hitler on the lido by spik­ing the cof­fee with salt. John Julius Nor­wich, the Eng­lish-speak­ing world’s pre­mier his­to­ri­an of Venice, is an avowed fan of the book, and when pressed Saikia admit­ted to me that on occa­sion he and Lord Nor­wich “drink bub­bly and dis­cuss mat­ters Venet­ian.”

    Still, the care­ful­ly cul­ti­vat­ed appear­ance of the friv­o­lous run-of-the-mill Eng­lish dilet­tante-dandy is mis­lead­ing. Saikia is as (mys­te­ri­ous­ly) proud as any Eng­lish­man to have grad­u­at­ed from the old­est and most aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly rig­or­ous Eng­lish schools, includ­ing Win­ches­ter Col­lege, fol­lowed by Oxford. And yet despite his prove­nance, he is man­i­fest­ly ill at ease with the estab­lish­ment he was born into and con­sid­ers him­self an out­sider. The prod­uct of an inter­ra­cial mar­riage, Saikia vivid­ly recalls the social oppro­bri­um his par­ents encoun­tered from many quar­ters of British and Indi­an soci­ety when they mar­ried in the late 1950s. His father, the scion of a very grand Assamese tea-plant­i­ng dynasty, escaped India’s repres­sive social pro­scrip­tions to make his way, only to run up against England’s own spe­cial brand of prej­u­dice. The fam­i­ly soon decamped again for new­ly inde­pen­dent Zam­bia, and Saikia led a peri­patet­ic child­hood bounc­ing between his Eng­lish prep school, the African bush, and the Indi­an plan­ta­tion, which made him, in his own words, “an hon­orary Jew.” In all three places he encoun­tered and observed at first hand what he terms the “the cor­rupt­ing and degrad­ing con­se­quences of racial prej­u­dice and polit­i­cal cor­rup­tion,” which in turn became the source of his inter­est in debunk­ing racist and anti-Semit­ic secret soci­eties in Eng­land.

    The Right Club was one such secret soci­ety, part of a con­stel­la­tion of reac­tionary right-wing social clubs that exist­ed in Eng­land pri­or to the begin­ning of World War II. A “patri­ot­ic soci­ety” whose upper- and mid­dle-class mem­bers would gath­er for din­ners and rous­ing dis­cus­sions of the “Jew­ish prob­lem,” it was found­ed by a well-con­nect­ed Scot­tish aris­to­crat and par­lia­men­tary nonen­ti­ty named Capt. Archibald Hen­ry Maule Ram­say, who served as con­ser­v­a­tive MP for Pee­bles and South Mid­loth­i­an. Scan­dal­ized by the anti­cleri­cism of the Repub­li­can and Anar­chist Left, he began mak­ing rad­i­cal speech­es dur­ing the Span­ish Civ­il War call­ing for the for­ma­tion of a unit­ed Chris­t­ian front. He pro­ceed­ed to gath­er around him­self a pesti­lent group of reac­tionar­ies, many of them lumi­nar­ies of British anti-Semit­ic thought like the Irish-Amer­i­can William Joyce (lat­er known as Lord Haw-Haw [6]), Antho­ny Ludovi­ci, A.K. Chester­son (who was no less opin­ion­at­ed and no less anti-Semit­ic than his famous writer cousin, G.K. Chester­ton, but lack­ing genius and wit), and Arnold Spencer Leese, a vet­eri­nar­i­an who com­bined his fas­cist pol­i­tick­ing with a fanat­i­cal oppo­si­tion to kosher meat slaugh­ter­ing and titled his auto­bi­og­ra­phy [7] Out of Step: Events in the Two Lives of an Anti-Jew­ish Camel Doc­tor. Ludovi­ci was a for­mer assis­tant to Rodin, a spe­cial­ist on Niet­zsche, and an ide­o­log­i­cal eugeni­cist with links to the rur­al British right wing who wrote chill­ing vol­umes such as Jews, and the Jews in Eng­land; The Quest of Human Qual­i­ty: How To Rear Lead­ers; and In Defense of Aris­toc­ra­cy: A Text Book for Tories.

    Though the club offi­cial­ly dis­band­ed with the onset of the war, and the mem­bers at the high­est lev­el of British soci­ety melt­ed away, a ded­i­cat­ed nucle­us of activist mem­bers soon began to hold secret meet­ings with pow­er­ful (and now infa­mous) pro-Nazi fig­ures in Britain—including Adm. Bar­ry Domville and British fas­cist leader Oswald Mosley—with the express objec­tive of achiev­ing a nego­ti­at­ed peace with Nazi Ger­many. Ram­sey inscribed the names of each new club mem­ber in a thick and totemic leather-bound ledger, the epony­mous Red Book.

    One of the last mem­bers to join the Right Club was an Amer­i­can named Tyler Kent. A 29-year-old cipher clerk at the Amer­i­can Embassy in Lon­don, Kent was intro­duced to Ram­say and the club by Anna Wolkoff, a staunch­ly anti-Semit­ic White Russ­ian and the daugh­ter of an Impe­r­i­al Russ­ian navy admi­ral who had been reduced to run­ning a gen­teel estab­lish­ment in South Kens­ing­ton, the “Russ­ian Tea Rooms.” The Wolkoffs, accord­ing to Saikia, “had fall­en on hard times and were an embit­tered pair”: Their tea rooms soon became a gath­er­ing place for “dis­af­fect­ed émi­grés like them­selves and the exiled Russ­ian Prince Yuri Gal­izine, along with pro-Nazi Britains” who shared their fanat­i­cal hatred for Jews and Bol­she­viks. Wolkoff led the aris­to­crat­ic women in the group in night­ly out­ings plas­ter­ing anti-Semit­ic posters on back-alley walls in Lon­don.

    After the out­break of war Ram­say gave Kent the Red Book for safe-keep­ing, think­ing that his flat would be the best hid­ing place for this radioac­tive­ly com­pro­mis­ing doc­u­ment, since Kent held diplo­mat­ic immu­ni­ty as a mem­ber of the Amer­i­can lega­tion. Kent, mean­while, was pil­fer­ing copies of top-secret pri­vate telegrams between Churchill and Roo­sevelt, which were being passed by way of embassy back chan­nels. These telegrams, emblem­at­ic tokens of the “spe­cial rela­tion­ship,” con­tained Churchill’s open, frank, and urgent beseech­ing of Roo­sevelt for Amer­i­can assis­tance in the war. As the cor­re­spon­dence was being con­duct­ed extra-con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly in both the Unit­ed States and in Britain, they con­sti­tut­ed polit­i­cal dyna­mite on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Ramsay’s involve­ment with Kent was a con­cern of para­mount impor­tance to British secu­ri­ty author­i­ties since Ram­say, as a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, enjoyed par­lia­men­tary priv­i­lege: If Kent hand­ed over his stolen doc­u­ments to Ram­say, it would have been impos­si­ble to pre­vent their pub­li­ca­tion, which may very well have sab­o­taged Britain’s war ini­tia­tive and set in motion the com­plete takeover of Europe by the Third Reich.

    Sir Maxwell Knight, the head of MI5 and an eccen­tric and a remark­able char­ac­ter [9] in his own right—he went on to become a nat­u­ral­ist with 34 books to his name, as well as serv­ing as the mod­el for Agent M in the James Bond novels—had built his career infil­trat­ing the fetid under­ground of Britain’s myr­i­ad right-wing cir­cles. Knight had been keep­ing Kent and the oth­er Right Wing Club mem­bers under sur­veil­lance for some time. As their plans crossed the Rubi­con from nox­ious stu­pid­i­ty into the realm of exis­ten­tial threat to the British empire, he mas­ter­mind­ed a sting oper­a­tion in which Kent and his accom­plice Wolkoff were duped into accepting—and agree­ing to pass along—a let­ter to Berlin sup­port­ing the pro­pa­gan­da efforts of the trai­tor­ous broad­cast­er William Joyce.

    On May 20, 1940, Kent’s flat was raid­ed and he was arrest­ed; the Red Book’s fas­ten­ing was forced open. U.S. Ambas­sador Joseph Kennedy, him­self a Nazi sym­pa­thiz­er in the 1930s, was brought to the apart­ment to observe British Intel­li­gence break open the book’s lock and cat­a­log its con­tents and per­son­al­ly waived Kent’s right to diplo­mat­ic immu­ni­ty. Kent and Wolkoff were impris­oned for sev­en and 10 years respec­tive­ly. The British Cab­i­net decid­ed to extend the invo­ca­tion of “Defense Reg­u­la­tion 18B,” the anti-ter­ror­ism laws of their day, and the pre­cur­sor of our own, which enabled Churchill to imprison or intern any­one sus­pect­ed of Nazi sym­pa­thies for the dura­tion of the war.

    Capt. Ram­say was also interned for sev­er­al years, until Sep­tem­ber 1944 when, in a “breath­tak­ing act of chutz­pah” (Saikia’s words yet again), the first thing he did upon his release—the war was not yet over—was to resume his seat in Par­lia­ment. He then called for a motion to rein­state the 1275 Statute of Jew­ry, a per­ni­cious piece of medieval anti-Semit­ic leg­is­la­tion first intro­duced dur­ing the reign of Edward I that, among oth­er things, required Jews to wear a yel­low badge and that also out­lawed usury. Ram­say died an unapolo­getic fas­cist.

    For sev­er­al years the actu­al Red Book has resided in the Wiener Library [10] for the Study of the Holo­caust and Geno­cide in Lon­don. The first time its totemic con­tents are to be made pub­lic, read­ers will dis­cov­er that the new edi­tion includes Ramsey’s list of Right Club mem­bers pub­lished in fac­sim­i­le, with notes on every peer, diplo­mat, mem­ber of the armed forces, and par­lia­men­tar­i­an who joined the club. I inquired of Saikia his view of the fraught issue of posthu­mous­ly dis­hon­or­ing the descen­dants of the Right Club mem­bers, some of whom are from fam­i­lies still promi­nent at the high­est lev­els of British soci­ety. He replied, with a wry smile, that “if they have noth­ing with which to reproach them­selves, then I am sure they would take the book in good part.”

    “This isn’t just a musty cor­ner of Eng­lish his­to­ry,” Saikia elab­o­rat­ed. “And in a way, the Wolkoff-Kent spy sto­ry is a sec­ondary issue. What is of great impor­tance is that the prin­ci­pal demons of the Right Club—Arnold Leese, A.K. Chester­son, and Antho­ny Ludovi­ci for example—are the ide­o­log­i­cal fore­fa­thers of today’s far right in Britain. Leese and Chestert­son were in dif­fer­ent ways found­ing fathers of the Nation­al Front and the BNP [British Nation­al Par­ty]. The racial ‘solu­tions’ pro­posed by Ludovi­ci and the idea that Eng­lish blood should not be con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed by for­eign immi­grants still have cur­ren­cy today. There is a mes­sage here, I think, for all extrem­ists whether they be Chris­t­ian, Mus­lim, or Jew­ish, for whichev­er peo­ple of whichev­er book.”

    The one redemp­tive sto­ry unearthed by Saikia is to be found in the post­war evo­lu­tion of the only Right Club mem­ber to have reneged on his racist past. “For me, the sto­ry of Prince Yuri Gal­izine, the White Russ­ian noble­man, is one of the most mov­ing and inspir­ing sto­ries I have come across when research­ing this book,” Saikia said. “Gal­izine began by join­ing the Right Club short­ly before the Sec­ond World War, and as a result of his con­sid­er­able lin­guis­tic skills he was recruit­ed into Allied intel­li­gence and end­ed the war inves­ti­gat­ing the Nazi crimes in mul­ti­ple con­cen­tra­tion camps, includ­ing Natzweil­er-Rud­hof. He began the war with a closed mind and end­ed it with a deeply strick­en con­science. He wrote an impas­sioned paper for Allied intel­li­gence propos­ing meth­ods by which pro­pa­gan­da could be turned to good effect in the cause of peace and tol­er­ance, which fell on deaf ears,” Saikia added. “Iron­i­cal­ly he forged a high­ly suc­cess­ful career as a PR tycoon in the ’50s and ’60s. He had the courage to change his mind. The rest of these men nev­er changed their mind.”

    The great insight that Saikia has drawn from his research is that the intel­lec­tu­al frame­works of exclu­sion and hatred devel­oped by nativists in reac­tion to suc­ces­sive waves of Jew­ish immi­grants in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry are now being applied to the Roman­ian con­struc­tion work­er and the Pol­ish nan­ny. “While it is true,” he told me, “that there are new ‘enemies’—in Eng­land it’s the Mus­lims, Afro-Caribbeans, East­ern Europeans—anti-Semitism remains deeply ingrained at all lev­els of British soci­ety. Though British Jews are for the most part suc­cess­ful (though not always rich) and hard work­ing, and at the top lev­els, promi­nent and influ­en­tial in cur­rent affairs, they are still dis­cussed behind closed doors as being par­a­sit­i­cal usurpers of the nation­al her­itage. No amount of leg­is­la­tion can remove such deeply ingrained prej­u­dices, which is why avowed­ly xeno­pho­bic orga­ni­za­tions such as the NBP get such dan­ger­ous­ly high lev­els of votes.”

    “There is hope however”—he fin­ished with a flour­ish. “The voice of the extrem­ist is always the loud­est; we mod­er­ates and lib­er­als need to turn up the vol­ume.” Thus, hav­ing made a com­pelling and stir­ring argu­ment for the virtues of tol­er­ance, lib­er­al­ism, and civ­i­liza­tion, he pro­ceed­ed to open anoth­er bot­tle of cham­pagne.

    Posted by Vanfield | July 1, 2013, 12:02 pm
  8. ...‘pro-Amer­i­can mass meet­ing spon­sored by more than 50 patri­ot­ic orga­ni­za­tions’ at the Hotel Com­modore in New York. . . .

    I found a cou­ple of ref­er­ences to this event on the internet–it is from an agen­da of the gath­er­ing held at the Com­modore Hotel on April 30, 1938. Nor­man Vin­cent Peale offered the invo­ca­tion. I find it inter­est­ing that the Com­modore Hotel was bought by Don­ald Trump in 1980, and ren­o­vat­ed and renamed the Grand Hyatt New York. This is prob­a­bly noth­ing more than a coincidence–but still, an inter­est­ing con­flu­ence of sev­er­al per­son­al­i­ties with fas­cist or at least, right wing con­nec­tions.

    Posted by Michael Hacker | July 2, 2016, 1:31 pm
  9. @Michael Hack­er–

    Good show. It may, indeed, be just coin­ci­dence, but there may be more to it than that.

    Trump’s father was wealthy and of mixed Ger­man and Swedish her­itage.

    I’ve seen it alleged that there were con­nec­tions of the fam­i­ly to ear­ly sup­port­ers of Hitler, how­ev­er that may have been an attempt at dis­sem­i­nat­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion.

    I could­n’t find any­thing on the web about what was alleged.

    Still, one won­ders if Dad­dy Trump was hooked up with the Bund or the Steuben Soci­ety?

    Nor­man Vin­cent Peale–the Trump fam­i­ly’s pastor–fronted for Axis spies.

    All in all, we are look­ing at some high­ly unsa­vory pos­si­bil­i­ties in the imme­di­ate future, if, indeed the Trumpenkampfver­bande wins the White House.

    “The Don­ald” will get to deter­mine who con­trols the Supreme Court and the rest of the Fed­er­al Judi­cia­ry.

    Once seat­ed, Fed­er­al judges are almost impos­si­ble to impeach.

    It remains to be seen if Hillary gets knocked out by the e‑mail imbroglio.

    Note that, at the out­set, this was NOT a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion of Hillary.

    Sev­er­al things to pon­der: Imme­di­ate­ly after the 2012 Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Petraeus was blown out of the water, and replaced (tem­porar­i­ly) by Michael Morell, who gave Dubya his intel­li­gence brief­in­gs and was at his side when the 9/11 attacks took place. https://spitfirelist.com/news/reflections-on-the-petraeus-affair/

    Morell does not appear to have been an objec­tive observ­er, shall we say: https://spitfirelist.com/news/benghazi-david-petraeus-michael-j-morell-and-the-destabilization-of-the-obama-administration/

    One of the things in play with regard to the e‑mail imbroglio con­cerns re-clas­si­fied com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

    What role might Morell have played in this?

    I also note that James Comey, head of the FBI, was a Mitt Rom­ney backer in 2012!

    Accord­ing to media accounts, Oba­ma appoint­ed him in order to find some­one palat­able to both right and left.

    As a Dubya cab­i­net offi­cial, he came down on the side of “pro-pri­va­cy” while Ashcroft was inca­pac­i­tat­ed.

    The GOP was appar­ent­ly OK with Comey, who was the for­mer gen­er­al coun­sel for a hedge fund that cap­i­tal­ized Palan­tir, that–their dis­claimers to the con­trary notwithstanding–makes the Prism soft­ware at the core of the Snow­den “dis­clo­sures.”

    The chief stock­hold­er in Palan­tir is Trump del­e­gate Peter Thiel, who cap­i­tal­ized Snow­den Pres­i­den­tial selec­tion Ron Paul’s super-PAC. Paul and Rom­ney are close. https://spitfirelist.com/news/nazi-linked-pied-piper-ron-paul-all-roads-lead-to-romney/

    Much of the appar­ent anx­i­ety on the part of Hillary about the e‑mail serv­er was expressed in 2010, AFTER the Wik­iLeaks affair broke, with lib­er­al hacking/accessing of clas­si­fied State Depart­ment mem­os.

    What role might that have played in Hillary’s defen­sive reac­tion?

    Note, also, that–at the time that Wik­iLeaks was hold­ing forth on the Pirate Bay serv­er in Swe­den (bankrolled by Swedish fas­cist Carl Lund­strom), Karl Rove was serv­ing as a key advis­er to the Swedish prime min­is­ter. https://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-733-wikileaks-soup-the-roveing-reporter-a-night-in-tunisia/

    The Wik­iLeaks and Snow­den affairs are inex­tri­ca­bly linked, and are part of what I called “The Con­ga-Line Ops.”

    Note, also, that the so-called Arab Spring, which keyed the Syr­i­an and Libyan blood­baths, which fig­ure promi­nent­ly in the e‑mail imbroglio.

    The Arab Spring began with an upris­ing in Tunisia, which some called “The Wik­iLeaks Coup.”

    Tak­en togeth­er, I don’t think it is too much of a reach to see these devel­op­ments as con­spir­a­to­ri­al­ly linked.

    Per­son­al­ly, I’m scared as hell.

    At least there is a sav­ior on the hori­zon: Saint Bernard (Sanders)–joke!



    Posted by Dave Emory | July 2, 2016, 1:58 pm
  10. “Amer­i­ca First” in the inau­gur­al speech:

    “From this day for­ward, it’s going to be only Amer­i­ca first, Amer­i­ca first. Every deci­sion on trade, on tax­es, on immi­gra­tion, on for­eign affairs will be made to ben­e­fit Amer­i­can work­ers and Amer­i­can fam­i­lies. We must pro­tect our bor­ders from the rav­ages of oth­er coun­tries mak­ing our prod­uct, steal­ing our com­pa­nies and destroy­ing our jobs.”

    CNBC’s head­line under­scores this theme:


    Comes across as code to these ears. These folks that Carl­son chron­i­cled have the reigns and it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

    Posted by Sampson | January 20, 2017, 11:15 am
  11. I just stum­bled on the Carl­son book recent­ly while search­ing Spit­fire List for dirt on Nor­man Vin­cent Peale because my elder­ly moth­er is prone to be tak­en in by mail scams and she sent me a health book­let pub­lished by “Guide Posts”, con­nect­ed with Peale and Gan­nett Pub­lish­ing. In the back of my mind was a dark place asso­ci­at­ed with Peale, but I’d nev­er run across the Carl­son book on Spit­fire List. I’m read­ing it now. The Spit­fire List archive is such a wealth of anti-fas­cist infor­ma­tion! It would make Mae Brus­sell proud. Thanks, Dave.

    Posted by Atlanta Bill | July 12, 2018, 1:46 pm
  12. Peter Nichol­son’s “Churchill and the Fas­cist Plot” (men­tioned by VANFIELD above) is avail­able for view­ing on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qjyiy471crw

    Posted by Atlanta Bill | July 12, 2018, 1:58 pm
  13. @Atlanta Bill–

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Peale was Trump’s pas­tor, hav­ing mar­ried Trump and his first wife Ivana.

    This is dis­cussed in FTR #920




    Posted by Dave Emory | July 12, 2018, 2:38 pm
  14. At the very end of chap­ter III in Carl­son’s book, he quotes one of the Ger­man-Amer­i­can Bundists:
    “Our idea is to sell nation­al­ism [alias fas­cism] to the peo­ple first. It’s eas­i­er that way. Once we sell it to the mob, then the big boys will swing around.” (the brack­et­ed words are Carl­son’s)
    Nev­er let it be said that all fas­cists are dumb. It was Amer­i­can fas­cists dis­pleased with the result of World War II, after all, who tried to make us believe it was COMMUNISTS who always “took the obvi­ous and reversed it”. In this case, the fas­cist who made the remark knows full well what any­one with the slight­est com­mon sense who paus­es to think about it should know: that the super-rich are few in num­ber and have to fund a pho­ny mass move­ment of their own to pro­tect their inter­ests when the vast major­i­ty are turn­ing against them (which in a nut­shell is what fas­cism is any­way).

    Posted by Atlanta Bill | July 12, 2018, 7:30 pm

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