Prompt Counter-action to Check Fifth Column Here Urged by Col. Knox
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Prompt Counter-action to Check Fifth Column Here Urged by Col. Knox

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Timely discernment of fifth column methods in this country and prompt counter-action whenever possible is a task of primary importance, even more immediate than the military problem, Col. Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy, said today in a summary of a series of press articles on the fifth column which he sponsored. The articles were written by Col. William J. Donovan, who recently returned from a mission abroad on behalf of the Secretary, and Edgar Mowrer, European correspondent.

Col. Knox warned in the summary, issued as the last installment of the series, that if the fifth column peril is not removed the military problem may be incapable of solution. He said that among the main objectives of fifth column agitation and propaganda were the following:

1–To create confusion of thought, suspicion and dissensions to weaken popular morale.

2–To incite jealousy and antagonism between different classes of society as well as racial and religious groups.

3–To retard any effective preparation for defense.

4–To secure the cooperation and possible treason of key men in official positions through subtle persuasion, secret pressure and eventual bribing.

The Secretary stressed the disastrous effects of these fifth column tactics on France and other countries which the Germans picked as their victims.

“Fortunately, there is an effective primary means of defense against the under-hand activities of fifth column agents,” he said. “It lies in tearing down the veil of secrecy and subterfuge under which they operate…A secondary means of defense lies in the timely discernment of fifth column methods, with prompt counter action wherever possible… We should be ready to back this program with all the energy and resources at our command.”

In the fourth of the series of articles, Col. Dnovan and Mowrer said it was conceivable that the United States possessed the finest Nazi-schooled fifth column in the world and which, in the event of war with Germany, would be this country’s undoing.

The writers urged action against German-language publications and legislation permitting cancellation of naturalization obtained under false pretenses. If the Nazi conspiracy is unearthed in time, it will prove relatively harmless, they concluded.

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