Breadcrumb

Walter Hehmeyer Oral History Interview

Oral History Interview with
Walter Hehmeyer

Former investigator for the Truman Committee (Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program) and in charge of public relations for the Committee.

Memphis, Tennessee
April 16, 1969
by J. R. Fuchs

See also Frank McNaughton and Walter Hehmeyer Papers finding aid

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]


Notice
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.

Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. [45]) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.

RESTRICTIONS
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.

Opened April, 1972
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]



Oral History Interview with
Walter Hehmeyer

Memphis, Tennessee
April 16, 1969
by J. R. Fuchs

[1]

FUCHS: Mr. Hehmeyer, I wonder if you would care to begin by giving a little bit of your background: Where you were born and raised, your education and jobs you may have held prior to your coming to the Truman Committee.

HEHMEYER: I was born in New York -- in New York City, and I graduated from Yale. After college I went with a daily newspaper in New Jersey, and I started out as a cub reporter and then became the night editor before taking a job with Cue Magazine in New York, which was starting out then.

FUCHS: In about what year was this?

HEHMEYER: This goes back. Nineteen hundred and thirty-nine. Yes, that was about 1939 I went with Cue. I stayed with the magazine about two years. The National Defense Program was getting underway at that time and my brother, who is an attorney, was then in the law firm of Cravath, De Gersdorff, Swaine and Wood, and he had known Hugh Fulton who had also been with that firm. Hugh was with

[2]

the United States Attorney's office in New York and had just gone down to Washington to become the Chief Counsel for this new committee that was set up headed by Senator Truman. He was getting a staff together and was looking specifically for someone to handle the press relations. Although everybody on the staff was an investigator, my special duties were to deal with the communications media. And I remember Hugh sent me a telegram and said could I come down to Washington to see Senator Truman and he was the first United States Senator that I had ever met. I met him in his office one morning, that was about May of 1941, and it was a spring day like about now in Washington and I went in to talk to him. I was very impressed with his friendliness and his very direct manner. Hugh Fulton was also there and Senator Truman told me, "Well, we're going to have a lot of national press attention and," he said, "we want to be very careful that this doesn't become the kind of committee that's looking for headlines. You certainly are not to be a press agent for the Committee. You are to handle the public relations for the Committee and at the same time be sure that the press gets all the information that we are able to release."

It was a short interview and, as I say, I was very

[3]

impressed with him. A very vigorous man. Alert. Straightforward. He and Hugh Fulton were on their way to Florida on the camp and cantonment investigation; one of the first investigations the Committee conducted. I got a telegram from Hugh Fulton a few days after our interview saying, "Come to work Monday morning." That's how I was hired.

FUCHS: Well, did your brother put you in touch or...

HEHMEYER: With Hugh Fulton. Yes, he put me in touch with Hugh Fulton.

FUCHS: You went to see Hugh Fulton?

HEHMEYER: Yes. I didn't know Hugh and I didn't know Senator Truman, but my brother and Hugh had been colleagues in the same law firm as I mentioned. [Mr. Hehmeyer's brother, Alexander Hehmeyer, has written an interesting letter about the decision by Hugh Fulton to accept the position of Chief Counsel with the Truman Committee. See Appendix I. J. R. Fuchs, HSTL].

FUCHS: Were you particularly interested in going to Washington or looking for a better job or...

HEHMEYER: I was getting restless in New York and things were getting very serious, what with Europe at war -- the defense program was moving along at that time and I was most anxious to get into something like that that would be productive and a real challenge. And I thought the

[4]

background that I'd had in college and journalism qualified me for the job and I guess they did too.

FUCHS: I wonder what Mr. Truman had to offer in the way of remuneration at that time since he said that of the $15,000 that he originally got he was paying Hugh Fulton better than half. That'll leave about $7,000.

HEHMEYER: Hugh Fulton, I think was getting eight to nine thousand and the ceiling for a Senator was ten, so nobody could go higher than ten. We were all very modestly paid, believe me, there at the beginning. However, a standard practice of that time was, and this was the case with the Truman Committee, they had a $15,000 appropriation, but they put a number of their staff people on other payrolls in the executive branch. The idea was that Congress appropriated the money so that if there was a vacancy on some payroll and there was no conflict of interest so to speak, then congressional employees would be placed on executive payrolls. Officially I was with the Housing Administration. I went down there and I was fingerprinted, photographed and so on. And then they assigned me to the Truman Committee. Because on $15,000 they couldn't pay a staff. As you point out, Hugh was getting more than half of that.

[5]

FUCHS: Do you know of any of the others with similar assignments?

HEHMEYER: Yes, there were -- I'm not sure, I think Charles Clark, he was the Associate Chief Counsel. Whether he was on some other payroll or not I don't know. It was not a desirable practice though perfectly legal. Once the Committee got its own money, then everybody was switched over to the Committee payroll. It was just the only way that they could get a staff together on a small Senate appropriation like that. Of course, it raised the question: "Well, supposing some of those agencies were subject to investigation?" But as a matter of fact, the Housing Administration, for example, was not involved directly in the war effort.

FUCHS: Who else was there when you joined the staff?

HEHMEYER: Well, when I got there Hugh Fulton was the Chief Counsel and Charlie Clark was the Associate Counsel, and Matt Connelly was on the staff then, although he was not the Chief Investigator. The Chief Investigator was Henry A. Stix, an accountant and friend of Hugh Fulton's from New York. Another topflight man and another friend of Hugh's was H. G. Robinson who had been with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for about nine years and had worked with Fulton in New

[6]

York in the U.S. Attorney's office; Robby was an outstanding investigator and an accountant. Another man was Peter Ansberry, who was a young attorney in Washington, and another was Herb Maletz -- he may have come shortly after I did, but I was one of the early ones. Rudy Halley came long after that and so did George Meader.

FUCHS: Now Robinson didn't stay too many years along with the Committee, why was that?

HEHMEYER: Why, yes he did, he stayed with the Committee until Hugh left to set up his own law firm..

FUCHS: Oh, is that right?

HEHMEYER: ...and Robby went with him and became the office manager of that law firm. The law firm was centered in New York, but they had a branch in Washington.

FUCHS: Maybe I'm thinking of Maletz, I guess who left...

HEHMEYER: No, Maletz left to serve in the Army for a brief period of time. Various staff members came on after that: Bob Irvin and Joe Martinez and others.

FUCHS: Who was the first one that you named? Before Martinez?

HEHMEYER: Bob Irvin.

FUCHS: Irvin.

[7]

HEHMEYER: He's out in Long Beach, California now. He and I were roommates during Committee days.

FUCHS: I have a list here of a good many of the members but I don't seem to have Irvin or Ansberry.

HEHMEYER: Frank Parks. Frank Parks.

FUCHS: Frank Parks I have.

HEHMEYER: Wilbur Sparks, you probably have them because they are still in Washington.

FUCHS: I see.

HEHMEYER: Now Peter Ansberry was a brilliant young fellow and he -- well, he married a girl with money and he had money too and Peter was a very able guy, he worked on a number of those investigations.

FUCHS: He was an investigator. How long did he stay, approximately?

HEHMEYER: He was with the Committee the better part of this period under Truman.

FUCHS: I do have Irvin here. He started in '42 and served to September '45.

HEHMEYER: He was a lawyer.

FUCHS: I see. Where was he from?

HEHMEYER: He was from Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan.

FUCHS: Anything in particular that you might mention about

[8]

him, particular investigations that he handled or anything?

HEHMEYER: He had a great deal to do with the landing boat investigation involving Andrew Jackson Higgins. The Navy was hampering Higgins' efforts to get the Higgins' landing boat into war service, which was really a better designed boat. Far better designed than the Navy model. And there was quite a bit of controversy over him. Andrew Jackson Higgins gave the Committee credit for having opened up that whole thing and put him in business, and, once he got into mass production he had landing boats coming out of people's ears. He was a tremendous man, that Andrew Jackson. He was from New Orleans. And this is a little anecdote here. When Shirley and I got married we were able to get away for a week to go to New Orleans on our honeymoon. And Hugh Fulton said, "Now I want you to call Andrew Jackson Higgins while you're down there." And so we called him and he said, "Oh, yes, I'll have a car at the hotel for you, I want you to come over here and see our operation." This was 1943 in February. We went out there and it was the most impressive assembly line operation of boats that you ever saw in your life. He gave us a personally conducted tour. He was a flamboyant figure, Andrew Jackson

[9]

Higgins, given to violent outbursts of language and temper, but a tremendous driver. Anyway we finally got in his private office and he said, "You're Hugh Fulton's secretary."

And Shirley said, "Yes."

He said, "Here's a pad." We were on our honeymoon! He dictated a long, confidential memorandum to Hugh Fulton and Senator Truman. He said, "This is a good opportunity for me to get all this off my chest."

When we were returning to Washington Shirley was very fearful on the train that somebody might take the memorandum. I said, "I don't think that they could transcribe your notes." And when we got back home she transcribed what proved highly useful and confidential information.

FUCHS: Do you remember the gist of that?

HEHMEYER: I really wish that I could remember. Shirley might remember some of it. Anyway, that was Andrew Jackson Higgins. But Bob Irvin, getting back to him, he did work closely on that landing craft investigation and I would have to jog my memory on others that he worked on; because all of us had a regular caseload of investigations and most of them -- this people don't realize -- most of them never got to the hearing stage

[10]

and never got on the public stage. Mr. Truman said, "If something is wrong, let's get it corrected and not make a big to-do about it because there is a war on here and we don't want a lot of credit." And he was also careful that if we had -- all the investigations that we had going, if we had made those a matter of public hearing or public knowledge, as Senator Truman said, "We'd just become known as a common scold. We'd find nothing right. And that is not our job, our job is to try to quietly correct these situations." And there were many of those, for example, I was assigned to a case which came in through Senator Green's office of Rhode Island. Quite a few of the complaints about inefficiencies or something wrong in the war effort would come through Senators' offices -- through their constituents. And this one came through Senator Green's office from a man by the name of Gazda. He was an inventor and had developed and held the basic patents on the Oerlikon gun, which was a 20mm antiaircraft gun; which was standard equipment with our Navy and the English navy, and Gazda had developed an improved Oerlikon gun. He called it the Gazda gun.

FUCHS: Was the Oerlikon gun the Swedish gun?

HEHMEYER: No. I think he got his basic patents in Switzerland,

[11]

I'm not certain about that. But the basic patents for the gun were held by Gazda. Tony Gazda. And, at the time before Pearl Harbor, he tried to interest the British in the Oerlikon and they were not interested in it, and then he tried to sell our Navy on the gun. And our Navy was not interested in it. He went to Japan -- remember this was long before Pearl Harbor -- he went to Japan and they were very interested in it. He closed a licensing agreement with the Japanese for this 20mm Oerlikon gun -- they took the Oerlikon gun, and then subsequently our Navy and the British navy adopted that gun as a standard weapon.

FUCHS: You mean the Japanese took it?

HEHMEYER: They had it. They had it before Pearl Harbor. Then he started to work on the Gazda gun which had basic improvements in it. The recoil mechanism and other things in it were vastly improved with much more rapidity of fire. This was about 1943 or '44. At the time of Pearl Harbor -- when we declared war on Germany, Gazda was picked up as an enemy alien. He was an Austrian and he was put on Ellis Island. He was a wealthy man. He was put on Ellis Island, but he had friends here in this country. One of his big friends in England was Lord Mountbatten. Anyway, through

[12]

various connections, including Senator Green and the Governor of Rhode Island, who was Howard McGrath. I think that Biddle was the Attorney General, anyway Biddle "sprung him," you might say, from Ellis Island, and he was sent back to Providence where he lived -- Providence, Rhode Island, and a guard was put on him, military guards in civilian clothes. He lived in the Biltmore Hotel in Providence and they even walled up one of the doorways so there was only one entrance and exit. He was watched constantly to see that he only worked on the Gazda gun. This was fine with him, he said, because he was convinced this gun should be replacing the Oerlikon gun as standard equipment and -- but he was having his headaches with the Army and with the Navy who were showing no interest in this improved version.

FUCHS: How did this gun compare to the, I believe it was the Bofors that I probably had in mind. Wasn't that a Swedish antiaircraft gun?

HEHMEYER: I don't know. Was it 20mm?

FUCHS: I think so, but...

HEHMEYER: The Oerlikon was a standard antiaircraft gun, and I believe that the Japanese had it on aircraft 20mm. Gazda was not getting anywhere in interesting

[13]

our Army or our Navy in the merits of the Gazda gun. They wouldn't even test it. So we got this complaint and the Truman Committee always took the position that we could not stand in technical judgment of a given weapon or anything like that, but that we could look into it and insist that if it had merit that it be properly and fairly appraised by the agencies involved. I went up to Providence and the first man I saw was Howard McGrath, the Governor. He assured me that Tony Gazda was a trustworthy man and he said that this was just utterly ridiculous -- oh, they had lifted the ban by that time -- on the guard. They had some kind of hearing in which they said that he was actually free to walk around the streets like anybody else, and Governor McGrath said that the whole thing was an outrage. I made it clear that the Committee's only interest would be if the gun really was better. But we weren't the ones who would decide that. I wrote a long memorandum -- stating all the facts in the case as I had gathered them -- and the memorandum was sent to the Navy Department initially. We got a rather terse response from Secretary Forrestal who was Secretary of the Navy at that time. He said that the Navy did not trust Mr. Gazda because of his evident willingness to deal with

[14]

any governments. He was referring to the licensing agreement Gazda had made with the Japanese. We replied that that may be true, but the fact of the matter was that Gazda was spending his own money and had developed what he regarded as an improved weapon which he was prepared to turn over to the U.S. He had a working model of the gun -- and we insisted that the Navy and the Army should test this weapon and if it proved to be a superior weapon that we should have it for the war effort. Well, you know how it is when you get into the high brass, they take a different attitude on these things and we strongly suspected, too, that maybe there was some production contracts and whatnot involved, because this would have meant scrapping the Oerlikon and substituting the Gazda gun as an improved weapon. Anyway, I'll never forget, it was a very cold day and Senator Truman called me into his office and he said, "I understand that a test for this Gazda gun is being set up at Aberdeen Proving Ground."

I said, "That's right, Senator, they are finally going to test it."

He said, "Well, we've got to be there." And he said, "You're in charge of this investigation, but

[15]

you're a civilian so I'm going to give you some brass to go with you." And he assigned, at that time, a lieutenant colonel, Harry Vaughan, and a major general, Frank Lowe. Frank Lowe had been assigned to the Committee by the War Department -- he had a wonderful kind of status, he wasn't really beholden to the War Department; so we set off in an Army car and drove from Washington to the Aberdeen Proving Ground. It was below zero.

FUCHS: About what date was that?

HEHMEYER: That was about 1944 sometime. And I'll never forget driving up there, I was sitting up front with the driver and General Lowe and Colonel Vaughan were in the back, and as we approached the gates to Aberdeen Proving Ground, General Lowe, who looked like MacArthur, he even wore a Sam Brown belt. He was a magnificent cut of a military figure. But he was a businessman primarily -- he was a Reserve officer. Frank Lowe said, "Now, Walter, he said, "you're in charge of this investigation." And he added, "You know all of the ins and outs of this, but," he said, "just because -- let's put it this way -- because I'm the oldest man here I will be in complete charge of the military." Harry Vaughan told me later, "I've had rank pulled on me

[16]

before, but never like that."

As luck would have it when we got there, the Navy had a lot of rank and the Army did too, but no officer as high as Lowe, which was a break. The Navy had two captains and the Army a couple of full colonels, and, I think, a brigadier general. But Lowe was the top guy as far as rank was concerned. Gazda was shivering in the freezing weather and just beside himself with worry. He came running up to me and he said, "It's going to be too cold." He said, "It's below zero and," he said, "I just hope that gun doesn't malfunction." It was all set up.

And I said, "Now what do you want done?"

He said, "Well, let's have rapid fire first." It shot very well on rapid fire and we were all standing around there, and this colonel who was in charge at Aberdeen, he said, "Well, I don't know."

And Gazda said to me, "We've got to have antiaircraft fire too. It's got to fire that way to show that it will do both."

The Colonel didn't want to. He didn't want to set up for antiaircraft. I went to General Lowe and whispered in his ear. He ordered antiaircraft fire. I'll never forget that colonel. He was furious. But

[17]

what could he do. He had a direct order from a superior officer. Unfortunately the gun malfunctioned, which ended the testing and Gazda was very upset. However some time later he did get a development contract from the Army. As far as I know he may have even later with the Navy, but before that gun ever got into production, the war was over.

FUCHS: Yes.

HEHMEYER: I've never followed through whether that gun has ever come into use in our armed forces -- whether the special features of that gun have been adopted. As I say the war ended. That was just one investigation.

FUCHS: How did they fire the antiaircraft, with a towed target?

HEHMEYER: No, they just fired it into the air, they didn't have a target.

FUCHS: Was it a...

HEHMEYER: It was a handmade model that Gazda and his engineers had built. He clearly was a genius in his way, and, I say, he was so well connected, he was a man of considerable wealth and a charming man. He'd come to Washington and, of course, as a Committee investigator I had to be very careful not to become indebted in any way. He was just a friendly kind of guy, but so many

[18]

times he'd call me from Senator Green's office for lunch or cocktails, and I simply begged off. I would continue to work through Senator Green's office because they were the original complainant in the case. But there was a good example of an investigation that never was made public.

FUCHS: Yes. Well, now, were you the only staff investigator on this particular case?

HEHMEYER: Well, as actual staff investigator, yes, although of course, Hugh Fulton got involved in it in phone calls and conferences; and of course he reviewed everything that I did and of course Senator Truman was fully informed too.

FUCHS: Was this the normal procedure to have one person on each case?

HEHMEYER: It depended on the case. Some cases there might be two or three men working on it depending on the scope, but this was a relatively confined matter. But I think it's a good example of what the Committee tried to do. In other words, if it would help the war effort then we felt that it should be given every consideration, and there was no sense in blocking something. My own personal view was that Gazda was a completely loyal man. He was a businessman and he set up this arrangement with the Japanese after our Navy and after the British navy had turned it down. And there was no war

[19]

at that time. He had a perfect right to conclude a licensing agreement with the Japanese.

FUCHS: Yes. Well now, how much did you, as a staff investigator, consult with Mr. Truman personally?

HEHMEYER: Not a great deal. Occasionally, like the example I mentioned, there might have been several dozen times where you'd drop into his office; and I know a couple of times I'd have to clear something with him -- maybe even on the floor of the Senate. I'd go in there and talk to him briefly, but Hugh Fulton, as the head of the staff, he conferred with Truman just about every day and they were both farmers by upbringing and they'd be at work at 7 o'clock in the morning. I think this had a great deal to do with the efficiency of it. The staff was small and therefore you didn't have a lot of administrative problems or personnel problems and so -- and we were advised, don't bother the Senators unless there were -- of course there were ten Senators on that Committee before we got through and frequently an investigation would come out of a particular Senator's office. Senator [Olden] Brewster of Maine was very active on that Committee. Senator [James M.] Mead, although he was from New York and couldn't devote as much time as he would

[20]

have liked to, he was involved. I'll say this for all of the Senators, they didn't drag in a lot of state matters, and I think the fact that the war was on and a lot of these men had their own sons involved, that's why they stayed away from the political side. They really did and a great deal of this credit goes to Truman for having kept it on a non-partisan basis

FUCHS: Well, now would Senator Brewster, for instance, bring the matter to the attention of Hugh Fulton and then Hugh Fulton would make the assignment?

HEHMEYER: Hugh would either assign if directly or to the Assistant Counsel or Associate Counsel to handle. He'd delegate it to them; and then one man would get it and he might pursue that and it would get to a certain point where he'd get up a memorandum and that would go to Fulton, in some cases it might go to Mr. Truman. But usually, the bigger aspects of the thing -- I mean Truman was busy and on three or four other committees in addition to his own. He was on Military Affairs at that time.

FUCHS: Appropriations?

HEHMEYER: Appropriations, and I think Interstate Commerce. So, most of the work directly with Truman we did it through the Counsel.

[21]

FUCHS: Yes. Now would the Senators ever make recommendations as to who would be assigned a case? To your knowledge?

HEHMEYER: They might have. I don't recall any direct case where, except where a Senator might know some man that he had worked with on some other investigation and he might say, you know, "Is Joe free to look into this matter?" That might happen.

FUCHS: Senator Truman usually left it up to Fulton?

HEHMEYER: He left that up to Fulton or individual Senators.

FUCHS: You don't recall of any case when Mr. Truman said, "I want so and so put on this case?"

HEHMEYER: I'm sure that he did do things like that, but usually where a case -- Hugh would come down and say, "Well, now we have these cases that we're looking into," it wouldn't be a person saying, "Well somebody's handling this or handling that." Truman would just assume that it was being properly handled, and if it got to a place where he should be involved, he would come into it. And he was always free, I mean he would -- well, sometimes I'd get a telephone call from him and -- in the middle of the morning and he might ask me something that he figured I would know. It was very free and

[22]

easy because of the small number of people on the staff. I think that if we had had a great big cumbersome staff, I don't know how we would have done the job.

FUCHS: Well, now how did Mr. Fulton select an investigator for a case?

HEHMEYER: Well, I explained how I was put on. Usually they would be people that either he would know personally, naturally he would have more confidence if he knew their work. And he was pretty free to do this. Mr. Truman gave him a very free hand. Or if someone was recommended by Mr. Truman or someone else, Hugh would be glad to interview them and if he seemed to be capable and qualified he would put him on.

FUCHS: This is for the hiring; but after they were actually on the staff how did he assign a staff member to a particular case? Did he consider certain qualifications?

HEHMEYER: Yes, he might or he might consider certain knowledge that the man might have. Now I mentioned Robinson who was an accountant and was tremendous at being able to work up charts and track down a pattern or something. In that kind of investigation, invariably he would get it.

[23]

FUCHS: Robinson resigned in November '44. Did he depart for a particular reason?

HEHMEYER: He departed to go with Hugh Fulton's law firm.

FUCHS: How long was he with Fulton then?

HEHMEYER: He was with Fulton for several years and then Rudy Halley persuaded him to go with him on the Kefauver investigation. He was really the chief investigator on that crime investigation under Senator [Estes] Kefauver. So Robinson was in Washington for quite awhile. And then he came out to the West Coast and became the head of crime prevention -- on the state side in California -- for the entire state of California. I haven't seen Robby in years.

FUCHS: Do you recall anything about Mr. Truman's investigation of incompetence, inefficiency in the war effort that led to his asking that the Committee be set up, in other words, on this trip that he was supposed to have made?

HEHMEYER: That was before I went with them. We cover that in This Man Truman, how he went out to Fort Leonard Wood.

FUCHS: I was wondering how you got that information that's in your book. Was it from Mr. Truman or Hugh Fulton?

HEHMEYER: We got that from Mr. Truman -- and Hugh, too. Hugh

[24]

knew the background of it and I might add here I think Hugh took a pretty big chance taking that job. And I know that a lot of his lawyer friends thought he'd lost his mind. But -- going to Hugh Fulton, and this is something I think the record should show, as far as the reports were concerned, now I think that the Committee's reputation in a very large measure was made by the thoroughness and the concise and lucid manner in which those reports were prepared and the impact that they exerted. As far as authorship of those reports was concerned, most of that credit belongs to Hugh Fulton. He would stay up all night sometimes writing out the draft. Now, he'd leave a lot of spaces in there where information had to be developed that he didn't have; dates, figures -- things like that. He was great for leaving a lot of blanks. You'd come in in the morning and find you'd have to fill in all the blanks which took a lot of phoning and checking around. But, I frequently -- and again I would sort of be the final editor as far as language was concerned on those reports -- but you couldn't improve much on his language. He had sort of a metallic style that was very direct, you couldn't wrench it apart. I remember very few instances where Senator Truman

[25]

made corrections or the other Senators made corrections. Maybe a little bit here and there, they would make a comment or two -- but they were substantially Hugh's reports. As I say, it took a whole staff to get all the information together, but the thought content and the direction of those reports and the scope of those reports were his.

FUCHS: What percentage of your time would you say was applied to public relations, editing, as against investigation?

HEHMEYER: Well, that's a little difficult to say. On the press side I simply tried to make myself available to the press people, mainly through the Senate press gallery. They'd call me if they were expecting something, but I would never say to some reporter, "Well, you know you can't just go wandering in there to Truman's office or Hugh Fulton's office," we didn't have any kind of rules like that. And they usually would come to me and say, "Look, can you set up an appointment, I'd like to talk to Hugh Fulton or (in some cases), Senator Truman." Although, with the Senator, because he was a Senator and not just the chairman, they would always feel free to cover his office in their own way; but as far as press matters were

[26]

concerned we kept it centralized. In other words, if it was something to do with the Truman Committee, the announcement would not come out of Senator Truman's office. It might come out of his office as chairman, but usually we released it from what you might say, Committee headquarters. And I think this had a lot to do with the -- you know the press, frequently they'll think they are getting a runaround or something like that, and I might mention here that one of the difficult problems was not to get publicity for investigations, but to cut it off. Because, after the first annual report which I guess every magazine and newspaper in the country covered, I'd be on the phone sometimes all day talking to reporters, "What have you got in this area or that area," and I'd always tell them, "We'll let you know, we are going to make an announcement on it," and -- in other words, we'd try to keep it cool. Lots of times it was a question of -- now of course you go into public hearings and you automatically got coverage. On hearings, I would simply advise the press gallery that we were having hearings and who the witnesses were going to be and I'd be sure that the statements, if they had prepared statements, that there was sufficient numbers of them available for

[27]

the press; and then I would go up there and if they needed to know something else I would go to whatever Senator it might be or Hugh Fulton and try to get the answer for them.

FUCHS: Did you have a specific assistant who helped you with press matters?

HEHMEYER: No, we had a secretarial pool, and of course there would be a fair amount of dictation and mimeographing copies and things like that; but, no, I didn't have any assistant.

FUCHS: Well, now when reporters would call in, did you have a specific secretary that those calls came to?

HEHMEYER: No, they came through the main one, but again I didn't go through a secretary, I figured if they wanted to talk to me I was going to be available. If I wasn't in the office, then there was one particularly who handled more of the press calls. She knew how to talk to press people a little bit better than the others did, and she would take most of them and then I'd pick up the messages when I got back to the office. I think that on the press side, again, the press was aware of the job the Committee was trying to do; we stayed as accessible to the press as we could. Yet I know I made many friends among the press people;

[28]

I felt they always gave us a very, very fair shake.

FUCHS: Yes.

HEHMEYER: Even papers that were hostile politically to Mr. Truman, or Democrats you might say in general, because I know even the Chicago Tribune -- their Washington correspondent, his name was Chet Manley, Chet was an excellent reporter, but working for the Tribune they were all kind of axmen for Colonel McCormick. I remember a particular incident, a writer for American Magazine (you may remember American Magazine), he wanted to do a story, to write it for Senator Truman's byline, about the war effort and the work of the Committee. And we said, "All right." He saw Hugh Fulton and he saw Senator Truman and -- this is amusing here this part of it was unbeknownst to us. So, we said, "Of course, the manuscript would have to be checked, that anything he wrote if he wrote it for Senator Truman's signature, it was going to have to be very carefully checked." Well, he submitted the manuscript and Hugh went over it and made some rather etensive changes. There were a couple of places there where it was just something that Senator Truman would not say; because we were very careful not to -- for heaven's sake, you have to be practical about it, he

[29]

wasn't going to say the Roosevelt administration was doing a lousy job of running the war. But this implication was in several statements that were in that article; and I went over it and made some other factual changes, and those, too, those were the same ones that Hugh had spotted, I said, "Senator Truman doesn't want to be saying this." Well the writer came down, he said, "Well, I've been up to Senator Truman," he said, "everything's cleared."

I said, "Fine," and it came out. Well, it wasn't actually published, it was in galley form and those objectionable passages were still in it. We said, "Holy mackerel, this can't be." And Hugh talked to Senator Truman and he said, "No, we can't have that in there." So, Hugh Fulton enjoined the publisher of American Magazine from publishing this article. It got to court in New York, I went up there with Hugh. I had signed one of the affidavits attesting that I had gone over the article. Hugh knew the judge; and the attorneys for American Magazine were there, because it would have been a hell of a thing if they had had to withdraw that magazine, I mean that would have cost -- you can imagine, in advertising alone. But the attorney for the publishers held up the manuscript and it had

[30]

Senator Truman's name on it; he had signed it in his own handwriting. We never did figure out that mix-up because evidently Senator Truman thought that any objectionable parts had been deleted. In any event, with Truman's signature on there there was nothing we could do. We couldn't enjoin the publication. They had written permission by the author to print it.

FUCHS: Did he initial every page, by any chance?

HEHMEYER: No. He did not, no, he did not, he just wrote his name across the title page. I can see what happened. The writer just said, "This is fine. Everybody on the staff says this is fine." So Senator Truman said, "Fine," and signed his name on it. Well, here's the strange thing. They adjourned the court hearing and Hugh and I went out and read the finished story as it appeared in the "make ready" press runs. By some fluke -- really this is a real fluke -- the objectionable passages had been deleted for space reasons -- they were towards the end and they just chopped them out. And the way the article appeared it was all right. It was the strangest thing. Of course, as I say, Hugh was embarrassed because when he saw his boss' signature there was nothing that he

[31]

could do except to say, "Is this manuscript the same as is going to appear in the magazine?" And that is where we made the comparison during an adjournment. And Hugh and I said that it was unbelievable. It came out O.K. -- space requirements had removed the explosive passages.

Well, to get back, Chet Manley of the Chicago Tribune called me up and he said, "We have a story we're about to break that Truman has suppressed an article to appear in American Magazine. Did he suppress it?" He gave me to understand that the White House had put pressure on this thing and so forth. I said, "Chet, let me level with you and tell you exactly what happened because I was there." I told him all about the hearing and I really was a little worried because of what the Trib. might print. But Chet never printed a line of that story. And the article came out which was critical of the war effort and what was wrong with it, but the objectionable passages had been taken out.

FUCHS: There was a little repercussion about the article. Is that correct?

HEHMEYER: Not after it appeared -- oh, a little bit -- almost anything that the Committee came out with there was some repercussion. But it worked out fine. I remember

[32]

saying to Hugh coming