George Z. Medalie, United States attorney, Saturday announced that the Federal Grand Jury today would take up the case of Heinz Spanknoebel, Hitlerite propaganda agent in the United States, and a number of his aides.
“Twenty witnesses will be introduced,” Mr. Medalie said, “to prove that Spanknoebel and his crowd have violated feloniously the Foreign Relations Section of the United States Code, which was passed shortly after the German espionage system in this country was uncovered prior to America’s entrance into the World War in 1917.”
Section 2331 of the code, allegedly violated by Spanknoebel, provides for punishment of $5,000, 5 years imprisonment, or both, for representatives or foreign governments who have failed to identify themselves before the United States Department of State. The warrant for Spanknoebel’s arrest is based upon charges brought by Bernard and Victor Ridder, publishers of the New Yorker Staats-Zeitung, who declared that Spanknoebel presented credentials from Berlin and demanded that they conduct their editorial policies in accordance with his specifications.
AIDES’ NAMES KEPT SECRET
Names of Spanknoebel’s aides, who will also be investigated in connection with the felony charge lodged against the Nazi agent, were not divulged.
In the meantime the whereabouts of Spanknoebel and his lieutenants continued to be a mystery Saturday.
Among those closest to Spanknoebel are Erich Wiegand, a German Nazi assistant in propaganda dissemination, and Carl Nicolay, temporary chairman of the United German Societies, who took office after the resignation of Rev. Dr. William Popcke on Thursday. Nicolay is wanted by Medalie for questioning.
A petition to the state for the dissolution of the Friends of Germany organization has been made by Julius Hochfelder, counsel for the Jewish War Veterans, who sought cancellation of the incorporation papers of the local chapters from Attorney General John J. Bennett.
Attorney General Bennett’s office announced yesterday that it had started a probe of the activities of the Friends of Germany organization.
HEINZ SEEN ABOARD
Representative Samuel Dickstein, conductor of an investigation into the affairs of Spanknoebel, Saturday asserted that the Nazi propagandist was seen aboard the S.S. Deutschland, of the Hamburg-American Line, as it cleared the harbor Wednesday midnight.
When told that the captain of the Deutschland had responded to queries with the cabled message, “Spanknoebel is not on board Deutschland,” Mr. Dickstein declared, “I have good reason to believe he is.”
The representative stated that in his opinion Spanknoebel had been taken aboard the steamer by members of the crew and “technically at any rate” is being maintained aboard the ship without the captain’s knowledge.
NAZI STEWARDS’ POWERS
“Our investigation has disclosed this much,” said Mr. Dickstein, “that certain Germans in the stewards’ department of almost every German ship have been planted there by the Nazi Party and enjoy powers greater than those of the captain.
“These stewards are known to have put their men through Nazi #rills of a patriotic nature on board the ships. I am convinced that the Nazi elements of the Deutschland have Spanknoebel in their care.”
Mayor John P. O’Brien Saturday met the challenge of Nazi supporters with an outright defense of his action in banning the German Day celebration scheduled for yesterday in New York and declared himself ready to make a political issue of the matter if necessary.
O’BRIEN ACCEPTS DARES
Referring to reported statements of Fritz Gissibl, Nazi speaker in Chicago, who recently declared, “In New York we have a fight on our hands, but we are going to win,” and that of Dr. I. T. Griebl, head of the New York Friends of New Germany, who said, “We are going to make Mayor O’Brien sorry for this ban before election day,” the mayor Saturday said, “I accept the challenge.”
“No men or set of men seeking to set up a state of terrorism can frighten or coerce the Mayor of New York,” said O’Brien. “There will be no gang rule here while I am mayor. I have directed the Commissioner of Police to see that order is preserved; and if these people want to make this a political issue, I shall be glad to take the decision of the people.”
Representative Dickstein who spoke over the National Broadcasting Company’s network Saturday night declared that all citizens of the United States would be allowed to testify at the House investigation of Nazi activities in Washington. He barred the testimony of aliens, however.
Attacking Communistic and Hitlerite restrictions of personal liberty, Mr. Dickstein declared that “any alien coming to this country must accept our philosophy of government and must comply with our laws and the scheme of government if he wishes to continue in the country.” He said that the investigation would not be used for the dissemination of Nazi political viewpoints.