Bare Fists and Brass Knuckles
excerpted from the book
America's recruitment of Nazis,
and its disastrous effect on our domestic and foreign policy
by Christopher Simpson
Collier / Macmillan, 1988
Many of the Bloodstone recruits-both Nazi collaborators and
anti-Nazis-were passed along to two heavily funded CIA psychological
warfare projects that are still in operation. These two enterprises
were authorized under the "subversion against hostile states"
and "propaganda" sections of NSC 10/2 and are probably
the largest and most expensive political warfare efforts ever
undertaken by the United States. They are certainly the longest-running
and best-publicized "secret" operations ever. Their
names are Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberation from Bolshevism,
the latter of which is better known as Radio Liberation or Radio
Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (usually abbreviated RFE/
RL) began in 1948 as a corporation named the National Committee
for a Free Europe, a supposedly private charitable organization
dedicated to aiding exiles from Soviet-occupied Eastern Europe.
The roots of the RFE/RL effort, in an administrative sense, are
the same political warfare programs that gave birth to Bloodstone
and NSC 10/2.
George Kennan, Allen Dulles, and a handful of other foreign
affairs specialists came up with the National Committee for a
Free Europe (NCFE) as a unique solution to a knotty problem. The
U.S. government found it advantageous to maintain conventional,
albeit frosty, diplomatic relations with the Communist-dominated
governments of the USSR, Poland, Hungary, and the other satellite
states. However, the Department of State and the intelligence
community also wished to underwrite the anti-Communist work of
the numerous emigre organizations that claimed to represent "governments-in-exile"
of the same countries. It was impossible to have diplomatic relations
with both the official governments of Eastern Europe and the "governments-in-exile"
at the same time, for obvious reasons. The NCFE was therefore
launched to serve as a thinly veiled "private-sector"
cover through which clandestine U.S. funds for the exile committees
could be passed.
The seed money for the National Committee for a Free Europe
was drawn from the same pool of captured German assets that had
earlier financed clandestine operations during the Italian election.
At least $2 million left over from that affair found its way first
into the hands of Frank Wisner's OPC and then into the accounts
of the NCFE, according to former RFE/RL president Sig Mickelson,
who helped administer Radio Free Europe money for many years.
Printing presses, radio transmitters, and other equipment salvaged
from the Italian campaign were also transferred to the OPC and
from there on to the NCFE.
Allen Dulles and Frank Wisner combined their talents to line
up an all-star board of directors for the NCFE that served as
a cover, in effect, to explain where all the money was coming
from. Early corporate notables who served on the board or as members
of the NCFE include (to name only a few) J. Peter Grace of W.
R. Grace & Company and the National City Bank; H. J. Heinz
of the Mellon Bank and Heinz tomato ketchup fame; Texas oilman
George C. McGhee; auto magnate Henry Ford II; film directors Darryl
Zanuck and Cecil B. De Mille; and so many Wall Street lawyers
that NCFE board meetings could have resembled a gathering of the
New York State Bar Association. The intelligence community's contingent
featured former OSS chief William J. Donovan, Russian emigre Bernard
Yarrow, and Allen Dulles himself, among others. Labor was represented
in the person of James B. Carey, a self-described CIO "labor
executive" who played a leading role in the trade union movement's
purge of Communists during the late 1940s. Carey was outspoken
in his attitude concerning communism. "In the last war we
joined with the Communists to fight the Fascists," he told
the New York Herald Tribune. "In another war we will join
the Fascists to defeat the Communists."
From the beginning the National Committee for a Free Europe
depended upon the voluntary silence of powerful media personalities
in the United States to cloak its true operations in secrecy.
"Representatives of some of the nation's most influential
media giants were involved early on as members of the corporation
[NCFE]," Mickelson notes in a relatively frank history of
its activities. This board included "magazine publishers
Henry Luce [of Time-Life] and DeWitt Wallace [of Reader's Digest],"
he writes, "but not a word of the government involvement
appeared in print or on the air." Luce and Wallace were not
the only ones: C. D. Jackson, editor in chief of Fortune magazine,
came on board in 1951 as president of the entire Radio Free Europe
effort, while Reader's Digest senior editor Eugene Lyons headed
the American Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia
Inc., a corporate parent of Radio Liberation. Still, "sources
of financing," Mickelson writes, were "never mentioned"
in the press.
The practical effect of this arrangement was the creation
of a powerful lobby inside American media that tended to suppress
critical news concerning the CIA's propaganda projects. This was
not simply a matter of declining to mention the fact that the
agency was behind these programs, as Mickelson implies. Actually
the media falsified their reports to the public concerning the
government's role in Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberation for
years, actively promoting the myth-which most sophisticated editors
knew perfectly well was false-that these projects were financed
through nickel-and-dime contributions from concerned citizens.
Writers soon learned that exposes concerning the NCFE and RFE/
RL were simply not welcome at mainstream publications. No corporate
officers needed to issue any memorandums to enforce this silence:
with C. D. Jackson as RFE / RL's president and Luce himself on
the group's board of directors, for example, Time's and Life's
authors were no more likely to delve into the darker side of RFE/
RL than they were to attack the American flag.
CIA-funded psychological warfare projects employing Eastern
European émigrés became major operations during
the 1950s, consuming tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars.
Noted conservative author (and OPC psychological warfare consultant)
James Burnham estimated in 1953 that the United States was spending
"well over a billion dollars yearly" on a wide variety
of psychological warfare projects, and that was in pre-inflation
dollars. This included underwriting most of the French Paix et
Liberte movement, paying the bills of the German League for Struggle
Against Inhumanity, and financing a half dozen free jurists associations,
a variety of European federalist groups, the Congress for Cultural
Freedom, magazines, news services, book publishers, and much more.
These were very broad programs designed to influence world
public opinion at virtually every level, from illiterate peasants
in the fields to the most sophisticated scholars in prestigious
universities. They drew on a wide range of resources: labor unions,
advertising agencies, college professors, journalists, and student
leaders, to name a few. The political analysis they promoted varied
from case to case, but taken as a whole, this was prodemocracy,
pro-West, and anti-Communist thinking, with a frequent "tilt"
toward liberal or European-style Social Democratic ideals. They
were not "Nazi" propaganda efforts, nor were many of
the men and women engaged in them former Nazi collaborators or
sympathizers. In Europe, at least, the Central Intelligence Agency
has historically I been the clandestine promoter of the parties
of the political center, not the extreme right.
Unlike the relative moderation of the present-day RFE/RL broadcasts,
the cold war operations of these stations were hardhitting. It
was "bare fists and brass knuckles," as Sig Mickelson
puts it. Their work was, as National Committee for a Free Europe
President Dewitt Poole noted in one 1950 directive, "to take
up the individual Bolshevik rulers and their quislings and tear
them apart, exposing their motivations, laying bare their private
lives, pointing at their meannesses, pillorying their evil deeds,
holding them up to ridicule and contumely." Further, the
radio broadcasting operations were themselves used as covers for
a much broader range of political warfare activities, including
printing and distributing black propaganda, intelligence gathering,
and the maintenance of agent networks behind the Iron Curtain.
This tough agitation drew its ideological vigor from a variety
of sources. Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln were often quoted
and praised in RFE/ RL broadcasts, as were Eastern European national
heroes like the Hungarian Lajos Kossuth and the Pole Thaddeus
Kosciuszko. At the same time, however, RFE/RL sometimes produced
a dull undertone of Nazi-like propaganda in its early years. At
times material that had been directly created by the Nazi security
service SD found its way into RFE/RL broadcasts and publications.
The NCFE often distributed the highly publicized- but fraudulent-"Document
on Terror," for example, as a means of crystallizing public
anger in the West against communism during Radio Free Europe fund-raising
campaigns. The "Document" purported to be a translation
of a captured Soviet secret police directive encouraging the use
of terror against civilian populations. It included sections on
"general terror" (murders, hangings, etc.), "creating
the psychosis of white fear," "enlightened terror"
(use of agents provocateurs), "disintegrating operations,"
and others. The CIA aggressively promoted the text of the "Document"
both directly through RFE/RL and indirectly through coverage planted
in a wide variety of sympathetic newspapers, magazines, and television
broadcasts to audiences around the world.
The NCFE announced that it had obtained the "Document"
from "a former Baltic cabinet minister, favorably known to
us," who in turn had gotten it from a Ukrainian refugee,
who in turn had "found it on the body of a dead NKVD officer"
in Poland in 1948. The committee acknowledged in small type that
it had "no means of conclusively establishing the authenticity"
of the "Document," but it insisted that it was a "genuine
product of Communist theory" whose recommendations "did
. . . take place." This low-key caveat concerning the questionable
authenticity of the "Document" was soon forgotten in
the media storm that followed publication of the item.
The "Document" became a staple of anti-Communist
propaganda and continues to show up occasionally in extreme-right-wing
publications to this day. Recycled extensively through congressional
hearings, Reader's Digest articles, and newspaper accounts, this
"captured report" emerged as one of the frequently cited
sources of "documentary evidence" of Communist terror
during the cold war. It was not until 1956, with the publication
of Khrushchev's extraordinary report detailing Stalin's crimes,
that the "Document" began to fade from view.
In fact, however, the "Document" was a forgery,
whose origins can be traced to the wartime Nazi intelligence service.
The true source of the "Document" was, according to
American psychological warfare expert Paul Blackstock, "one
of the Nazi secret police or related terrorist organizations such
as the Sicherheitsdienst or one of the notorious SD or SS 'action
groups' "-that is, the Einsatzgruppen (mobile murder squads).
Blackstock uses an etymological investigation to track the origins
of phrases used in the "Document" back to their sources.
He concludes that the section concerning "disintegrating
operations," for example, originated in a Nazi manual used
for indoctrinating Eastern European collaborationist troops, including
the Ukrainian Waffen SS.
RFE/RL broadcasts sometimes featured well-known Nazi collaborators
and even outright war criminals. Officially, of course, the political
slant of those stations was nondenominational support for "freedom"
and "democracy." The large majority of RFE/RL employees
were not Nazi collaborators, and the two stations often quoted
anti-Nazi European politicians with approval. RFE/RL's broadcasts
of European Social Democrats, in fact, occasionally led to complaints
from hard-core anti-Communist congressmen in the United States,
who found such ideas dangerously close to communism.
Even so, certain war criminals found a comfortable roost at
RFE / RL. Radio Free Europe repeatedly featured Romanian Fascist
leader (and Archbishop of the Romanian Orthodox Church in America)
Valerian Trifa, for example, in Romanian-language broadcasts,
particularly during the 1950s. Vilis Hazners, who was accused
in a CBS-TV 60 Minutes broadcast of spearheading a Nazi gang that
"force[d] a number of Jews into a synagogue [which was] then
set on fire," emerged as a prominent Latvian personality
in Radio Liberation transmissions. Hazners, at last report, was
still broadcasting for RL in the 1980s. Belorussian quisling and
mass murderer Stanislaw Stankievich also frequently free-lanced
programs for the radios.'
The Pentagon was gradually coming to grips with using former
Nazi collaborators at about the same time that the State Department
and CIA were. General Lucius Clay's war scare of early 1948, together
with the deepening cold war, convinced many Americans in and out
of government that there was at least an even chance of an all-out
U.S.-USSR war over Europe before the decade was out.
As the final arbiter of U.S. security the Pentagon considers
it part of its job to assume the worst about Soviet intentions
in order to be adequately prepared for any eventuality. By 1948
that the United States would increasingly rely on atomic weapons
to deter any Soviet military moves against the West had already
become a foregone conclusion among most U.S. military strategists.
The American perception that the Soviets enjoyed overwhelming
superiority in troops and conventional arms in Europe seemed to
leave few other choices.
The Pentagon was evolving a strategy of exactly how to go
about using atomic weapons in a war with the USSR at about the
same time that Kennan, Dulles, and Wisner were hammering together
the National Committee for a Free Europe and the NSC 10/2 clandestine
warfare authorization. By the time the decade was out the military's
preparations for waging nuclear war-if that proved necessary-had
merged with many of the ongoing CIA and State Department political
warfare operations that have been discussed thus far. As those
two streams came together, Nazi collaborators became entwined
with some of America's most sensitive military affairs.