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‘counter Attack’ on Fifth Column Drive Here Advocated in ‘fortune’ Survey

October 1, 1940
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A “counter attack” on Nazi fifth column activities in the United States is urged in the interests of national defense by Fortune magazine in an exhausitive study of “Nazi Agents in the U.S.” featured in its October issue.

Pointing out by voluminous citations from official Nazi statements that Germany’s technique is to split a nation on ideological issues and honey comb it with fifth columnists before an attack, Fortune declares that the activities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and exposure in the press have accomplished some results in combating the fifth column, but holds that more drastic action is necessary.

“Possibly a government agency set up to analyze and warn against foreign propaganda might have some value,” the article states. “Such an agency has been proposed, and it would have an authority and an ability to give its findings wide publicity…A more drastic solution, also with its adherents, would be to break off diplomatic relations with Germany, ship the Nazi diplomats back home, and broaden the powers of the FBI to clean out all subverters, plain and fency.

“Yet it can be doubted that even this would be an effective answer to the basic danger threatening the U.S. For that danger originates in the worldwide repudiation of the principles of democracy…But the price of freedom today is no longer merely vigilance; it does not reside in defense, but in counterattack. Like Nazism now, democracy was once a revolutionary faith. The spirit and methods of revolution must be employed again. They must be employed at home — and abroad, in the nations under fire and on the grounds of the attacker.”

In a section on German diplomats in this country, Fortune points out that the staff of the New York consulate has been increased from 39 to 110; that Consul Fritz Wiedemann in San Francisco is “probably the single most important Nazi functionary in the U.S.”; that Albert Mueller in the New York consulate “has the right to sack an official seen eating in a Jewish restaurant or otherwise misbehaving.”

About half of the 7,000,000 first and second-generation German-Americans are members of German clubs and societies, it is stated. “Most of them rather are pro-Germany in the war and more or less lukewarm about Nazism…and it is quite certain that the overwhelming majority would remain completely loyal to the U.S. in case of war with Germany or any other power. It also seems clear, however, that a very small minority is more or less militantly pro-Nazi. How many of them there may be is anybody’s guess–and guesses have ranged from 10,000 to 500,000 or more. Whoever and wherever they are, they are a threat to U.S. security.”

The best defense against the Nazi “invisible assault,” the article says, is “aware ness that the assault is being made, and in counter assault with the same weapons. The free press of the U.S. is our best medium of defense. Already the publicity it has given the operation of Nazi agents here has started them on the run. There are indications that the German Library of Information may close shop. The diplomatic corps is being shaken up. And Dr. (Frederick) Auhagen (organizer of the American Fellowship Forum) is now preparing to leave the country and has now turned the management of his Forum over to George F. Bauer…

“New instructions have come from Berlin, and activities in the U.S. from now on will be much more carefully masqueraded. One device will be to use the existing French. propaganda mechanism, which is now subject to Nazi control. Nothing will be obvious, of course; the approach will be not so much pro-Nazi as anti-British and anti-blockade, pro ‘humanitarianism’ and pro the Vichy brand of Fascism.”

One weapon of the Nazi fifth column, Fortune asserts, is the 800 or more “Fascist-minded groups in the U.S.,” who “take the Nazi line in their interminable rallies and meetings; they denounce democracy either openly or by indirection. There are quacks, psychopaths, and a few honestly misguided patriots among them. Their outstanding and most dangerous member is Father Coughlin, whose Social Justice (circulation 229,000) has even gone so far as to lift material from Goebbels and other official Nazi sources…The groups are growing in strength and are getting more support from well-to-do anti-Semites. They are dangerous, but at least they are visible and can be taken account of.

“What is not visible is the extent to which unconscious Fascist sympathies and predilections have taken root among numerous important persons in the U.S. And this is enormously important.”

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