Stephen J. Spingarn Oral History Interview, March 24, 1967

Oral History Interview with
Stephen J. Spingarn

Attorney, U.S. Treasury Dept., 1934-41; Asst. to the Attorney General of the United States, 1937-38; Special Asst. to the Gen. Counsel, Treasury Dept., 1941-42; Comdg. Officer, 5th Army Counter Intelligence Corps, 1943-45; Asst. Gen. Counsel, Treasury Dept., 1946-49; Alternate Member, President's Temp. Comm. on Employee Loyalty, 1946-47; Dep. Dir., Office of Contract Settlement, 1947-49; Asst. to the Special Counsel of the President, 1949-50; Administrative Asst. to the President, 1950; and Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission, 1950-53.

Washington, D.C.

March 24, 1967 (Eighth Oral History)
March 24, 1967 (Ninth Oral History)

By Jerry N. Hess

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | Additional Spingarn Oral History Transcripts]

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.

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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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 | Additional Spingarn Oral History Transcripts]

Oral History Interview with
Stephen J. Spingarn

Washington, D.C.
March 24, 1967 (Eighth Oral History)
By Jerry N. Hess


Eighth Oral History Interview with Stephen J. Spingarn, Washington, D.C., March 24, 1967. By Jerry N. Hess, Harry S. Truman Library.

SPINGARN: First of all this is going to be in the nature of a memorandum or letter to Dr. Brooks, Director of the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. However, I would like this to be part of the Spingarn files, too, the archival records because at least the second part of this letter I think will be of general interest to historians.

The first part of my letter to you, Phil, is specific, and the second part will be general. First, the specific. This is Friday morning, March 24th, 1967, and I am in my fifth day of tape recording my memories of the Truman administration and related matters as well as more up-to-date memories of political affairs that I have been involved in.

I am doing this at the invitation and the instigation of your Library. I have turned over to your able oral historian, Mr. Jerry Hess, a substantial number of papers which I have asked him to Xerox and return to me. In addition, yesterday, I turned over to him four boxes which I would estimate contain four or five


cubic feet of my files which I understand will be shipped out to the Library.

Now, with respect to the stuff that is going direct to the Library; that is, the four boxes or however many there are when they are shipped, I have no record or inventory of what is in those. I simply shoveled files from my White House and Federal Trade Commission periods into boxes and I couldn't even tell you what the titles of those files are.

I would, therefore, like you to do the following: I would like a detailed listing of each file by the name that I placed on it with some description of what is in it and particularly a description of how much of it is printed or mimeographed material and how much is in the form of copies of my own letters and memoranda or letters or memoranda to me or other typewritten documents or copies of typewritten documents.

In principle, I would like to get a Xerox copy of every typewritten document or carbon thereof in those files sent back to me in files under the same tabs or the same listing -- as I sent them to you. It is also


possible that I may want copies of some of the ephemeral printed or mimeographed material which I am sending you and which I could not possibly reproduce, there would be no way of getting it now -- I don't even know what is there and even if I did it would be a terrible task and probably impossible to duplicate that material, so I am asking you, in effect, first, to give me an inventory -- a listing -- showing the name of each file as I named it, but not merely that, giving me some idea of what is in each file; and, second, I would like you to begin to Xerox the copy of all the typewritten material in those files and place them in the same file covers and after I have examined your inventory I will advise you to what extent I want other than typewritten material Xeroxed and returned to me. If there are any questions on this would you write me or tell Jerry Hess and let me know so that we can have a meeting of minds.

So much for the specific. Now to the general which I think may be of interest to some historians.

Under your direction, as I understand it, Jerry Hess has tried vigorously to keep me confined to the


events of the Truman administration, whether actually White House events or Federal Trade Commission or whatever, and a lot of my recording has been on that.

On the other hand, like any other man, I am naturally somewhat more interested in current events that I am engaged in even more than I am in reminiscing about my past days in the Truman administration. Moreover, I think that Mr. Truman himself, and many historians, would be interested in things which I have discussed because all of them are political in character. I have never engaged really in any activity that wasn't in one term or another political, in the broadest sense of the word.

Some of my work has been to try to beef up the Democratic National Committee in one way or another, for example. Other items that I have touched on are an attempt to defend President Lyndon Johnson who is a good friend of President Truman and who I see as a man rather similar to President Truman because, as I see them both, each is a regional politician, who started as a rather parochial local politician, and who grew to national stature and became a great national


politician, but who did not shed, as no man really does, all of his parochialism and who therefore encountered the distrust in some cases, and the animosity or the contempt if you like, of some people, especially a certain ivory tower type of intellectual who found that these parochialisms or regionalisms grated, or who don't like Lyndon Johnson, for example, because he didn't go to Harvard and his wife can't speak French to Andre Malraux, and who would not have liked Lincoln for very similar reasons.

And who didn't like Harry Truman when he was President because he had been a haberdasher, and he didn't have a Harvard education either, or even a degree from Southwest Texas Teachers College.

It therefore seems to me that my activities on behalf of Lyndon Johnson, my -- shall I say -- unauthorized and self-starting activities on behalf of Lyndon Johnson and his administration might be of interest to Mr. Truman and to historians who are interested in the Truman administration, because there is a very real link, both personal, because there is a deep friendship between the two men and in character and style between the two men.


The main difference between them, as I see it, is that Lyndon Johnson, by nature, is a very hard-driving type of man, who drives himself hard and drives people under him. And while Mr. Truman was a hard worker, he was not that driving kind of man. He worked hard himself, but he did it in what seemed to be a sort of relaxed way. He got up early in the morning, he did his homework, he took papers back at night and read them, but as I have pointed out, he never really beat his staff over the ears as Lyndon Johnson is reported to do, and as Winston Churchill was reported to do, and as Dwight Eisenhower from time to time was reported to do, and as many other top executives have done. As I have said before it has been my experience that the hard-driving executive, is usually difficult with his staff from time to time -- he's hard on himself and he's hard on them.

I remember, for example, I served eleven years in the Treasury, from '34 to '49 with the exception of four war years, during most of which I was overseas in the Army, and eight of those eleven years were under Henry Morgenthau who died last month. I wrote a letter


to the New York Times at that time which appeared in the New York Times on February 18th, 1967.

And I said that I had great satisfaction remembering my years in the Treasury under Henry Morgenthau. I said that he was a hard-driving man. He drove himself hard and he drove his staff hard. He was not an easy man to work for, and I said he probably wasn't always right in all of his decisions and I don't know any man who is. But looking back on that period from the vantage point of a generation, almost, it seemed to me that I felt then and I still feel now, that the men who worked in the Treasury in those days (and they worked nights and weekends, too, a lot), felt that they were making some contribution to the freedom and security and welfare of their country, and the free world for that matter, and that gives a man a good deal of psychic income. I said that might be Henry Morgenthau's best memorial and let us not say that this memorial perished with him.

I got two letters as a result of that; one was from a fearless and courageous patriot who, however, refrained from signing his name. Two days later on the 20th, I received a letter from him, he had evidently


written it -- the 20th was a Monday -- he had evidently written it the same day my letter appeared in the New York Times, and he said that Henry Morgenthau was a dirty Jew Communist, a traitor to his country, worse than Benedict Arnold, and obviously I was cut out of the same cloth, or words to that effect. It made my day. I could see this poor sick man sitting in his garret somewhere, thinking of ugly, anonymous letters he could write to people who, unlike him, were not afraid to sign their names to documents, in which they expressed their views.

I sent a copy of that letter to Bob Morgenthau, Secretary Morgenthau's son, who is United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and who was the unsuccessful candidate for governor of New York back in 1962 on the Democratic side, and Bob wrote me back a few days ago saying he had enjoyed my letter and appreciated it in the New York Times and said he also enjoyed my "fan" letter -- the "fan" letter I sent him -- he felt the same way about it I did. We feel sorry for this poor fellow, this patriot, this fearless, courageous, anonymous, faceless patriot.


Among the things that have interested me, as I say, has been the Democratic National Committee, and within the last month I succeeded in persuading them to launch, and they are going to do it they tell me within the next two or three months, a program which I call KOED to attempt to harness the energies and expertise of the activist Democratic professors on the 2,000 campuses of the United States, not just the prestige colleges, to the Democratic Party, with a home base in the committee run by a hard-hitting, extroverted, politically savvy political scientist, with actual experience in politics, the purpose being to run this around the year and not just in campaigns, and to give those who wish to an opportunity to work for our officeholders at every level, members of Congress and at lower levels, our candidates, our party organizations at all levels, write speeches, fact sheets, position papers, do political intelligence, political market research, surveys on politics, on issues, make their own speeches to local groups that are interested, and many other things. The name KOED is an acronym for Knock On Every Door, a rather gimmicky title


mainly for promotional purposes.

Mr. Truman expressed favorable sentiments about this program way back in 1956 when I first originated it. I have a letter from him which I referred to on that and, so did Mrs. Roosevelt at that time. I've put in the Archives a letter of January '57 from her and she wrote several letters to Paul Butler, who was then the chairman of the Democratic National Committee in support of KOED, and Speaker John McCormack has written innumerable letters over the years and has been a major factor in getting this program into being.

At my request, only last month in a long telephone conversation I had with him, he called John Criswell who is the staff man who is really running the Democratic National Committee to urge him to put this KOED program into effect.

So did many others call or write Criswell at my request. Senator Claiborne Pell, Dean Stephen Bailey of the Maxwell Graduate School of Public Affairs at Syracuse, Evron Kirkpatrick the executive director of the American Political Science Association, James MacGregor Burns of Williams College, the Roosevelt and


Kennedy biographer, and many other professional politicians, as well as these hard-boiled eggheads, as I call them, not the ivory tower type but the pragmatic type.

Well, it would seem to me that program ties in with Mr. Truman and it should be of interest. He once spoke well of it and I am sure he would now if I were to submit it to him again, but it didn't need it this time.

Similarly I have talked about my activities in attempting to get launched an organization to counteract the lunacies of the extreme right and left. Again, this was a field that Mr. Truman was very much interested in and I don't see why bringing that up to date is not strictly within the purview of the Truman Library. It is a continuation of his sort of thing, I mean, actually, such as his proposal for the Nimitz commission which aborted because Senator Pat McCarran, the then chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee would not give the lawyer members of that commission the exemption from conflict of interest laws that they needed to take on this thankless, unpaid job. But the Nimitz commission


was exactly in the same context -- I mean, it wasn't the same operation, but it was in the same context. I am sure that Mr. Truman would think well of the new Institute for American Democracy which I have talked about.

By the way, I want to report a victory yesterday in a matter in which I have already tape recorded the story, and it was in the paper this morning. I have told this tape that I am speaking to now about the Carl Siler case here in Washington. Briefly it involved a Negro police private who while off duty last September 15th on a date with his girl was arrested and beaten up -- in a ruckus arising out of a minor traffic violation -- by two white police officers. And then to add insult to injury after being cleared by the courts of anything but a $5 fine for driving without lights, the police department brought dismissal charges against him and after a six day hearing recommended his dismissal on nine counts.

A hearing on an appeal from that decision to the three District of Columbia Commissioners was held on February 10th, and yesterday the Commissioners, in


effect, reversed the police trial board. They threw out seven of the charges; they restored Siler to full duty with back pay to September 15th -- he was suspended without pay then -- and they only sustained two minor charges which involved a fine of $75 for him, so in any fair examination of the case, it was a tremendous victory for Carl Siler and the people who supported him.

And I want to say this, I don't pretend that my part was determinative at all. Aside from Carl Siler, who displayed both courage and good judgment in the way he handled himself after this episode, the two people who deserve the most credit are Mrs. Willie Hardy, who was his sponsor you might say and the sparkplug of the whole operation, and who is a remarkable woman -- I've talked about her. But one thing I failed to mention -- last fall, I think it was October -- Scotty Lanahan who is the daughter of F. Scott Fitzgerald and who was my colleague on the Reeves-Lanahan slate in the Democratic primary in 1964 and who now runs an excellent column in the women's section of the Washington Post about three times a week, it's too good for the women's section. I would like to


see it get out in the broad pampas of the general news section.

In any event, she had a column on Willie Hardy, a whole column, and she called Willie Hardy one of the most important people in this city, and I wrote Scotty congratulating her on the fine column and saying that I fully agreed with her -- Willie Hardy is that kind of a person.

And the other person who deserves the main credit is John Karr, a Washington lawyer and a very able one who handled the main part of the legal case for Carl Siler and who did an effective job.

And, by the way, I called Carl Siler at 7:20 a. m. this morning, woke him up to congratulate him, and I said, "Carl, for whatever it's worth, I'm going to give you a piece of advice which you may have already thought of, but think it over anyway." I said, "If I were you, when I go back to the police department, as you are going to do, I wouldn't go back with a chip on my shoulder, I wouldn't blame you for feeling bitter about what's happened to you, but don't act that way. Go back with the spirit that that's water over the dam,


it's behind me, I'm here and I'm going to do my best to be a good police officer from this day forward if people will let me. I think you will be happier, it would be better for you, it would be better for all concerned." He indicated that that made sense to him and since he is a sensible fellow, I am pretty sure that that is the way he will behave himself. And, if people will let him, on the other side, I am sure he will be a good, competent, efficient and effective police officer.

All I am trying to say to you, Phil Brooks, and to anyone else who hears or reads this, is that I would think that since history is a stream, not a series of isolated compartments, that what has happened to Mr. Truman since 1953 is of interest to the Truman Library, what has happened to the men who served him, and the country, particularly where it deals with public affairs, and all of my activities have been dealing with public affairs, though admittedly I have been dealing with them on a self-priming basis as a Democratic politician without portfolio, and perhaps spinning my wheels a lot, but as an enthusiastic citizen, and not loafing. I get up between four and


six o'clock every morning seven days a week, almost without exception. I got up at 4:30 this morning -- that's how I find time to do all these tape recordings, because I do my other chores before I come over here at ten o'clock and I work right through usually until six or seven o'clock in the evening when I go out and have two or three drinks and relax, and I find that I need only four or five hours of sleep and I wake up refreshed.

Some people say that I am spinning my wheels, and perhaps that is true. One man said to me a few months ago, "You know, I think you are the last of the gadflies," and possibly that is true too. But my theory of the case is this: That there is a certain value in having an outsider with some experience in Government but without any commitments or investments in existing people or policies other than his own instincts and judgment, commenting on how things are running, because the people inside are sometimes too close to the woods to see the forest. All they can see are the trees and the bark on them. I try never to make merely critical remarks, I try always to present


constructive alternatives of how I think things ought to be done. I certainly don't claim I'm always right, but I don't think I'm always wrong either. So with that somewhat prolix statement of my view, I will terminate this letter to you, Phil, and go on to other matters.

HESS: What would you like to take up first, this morning, Sir?

SPINGARN: I'm now going to talk about Oscar Cox., who died in early October, 1966. Oscar Cox was a Treasury lawyer when I first knew him in the middle thirties. He was assistant to the General Counsel of the Treasury who was Herman Oliphant, a brilliant and very able law professor who died in early '39. Oscar Cox was brilliant, imaginative, and an able lawyer. And he accomplished many worthwhile things. I think that in some ways, although no one can make that judgment for someone else, it's unfortunate that he left Government in '45 to go into private practice where he was very successful but never returned to Government. I think the Government could have used his many talents.

But in any event, when Oscar died the Washington


Post of October 6, 1966 on page B-4 had a lengthy obituary, and the headline was OSCAR S. COX DIES AT SIXTY: DRAFTED LEND-LEASE ACT. And the New York Times of the same day in the story describing his death says:

Mr. Cox was the author of the Lend-Lease Act approved before the entry of the United States into World War II.

And it proceeds to quote Winston Churchill and others in this matter. It says:

Mr. Cox"s lend-lease work was mentioned by Sir Winston in his book, The Second World War:

'The idea had originated in the Treasury Department,' the former British Prime Minister wrote. 'The departmental lawyers, especially Oscar S. Cox of Maine had been stirred by Secretary Henry Morgenthau.

It appeared that by a statute of 1892 the Secretary for War "when in his discretion it will be for the public good," could lease Army property if not required for public use for a period of not longer than five years.'

That's the end of the Churchill quote.

Mr. Cox's discovery of this statute according to a New York Times editorial in 1945 praising his service, permitted the United States to lease munitions of war to other countries and was the basis of the Lend-Lease Act.

And in an editorial of October 7, the Washington Post


(on Oscar Cox), said:

The lend-lease concept, the idea of making American industrial might available to the allies in the period prior to direct American involvement in World War II, originated in Oscar Cox's resourceful mind, and the drafting of the Lend-Lease Act in which he played a principal role exemplified his sure handed legal craftsmanship.

Now, here is an interesting historical myth: (A) Oscar Cox did not draft the Lend-Lease bill; (B) the concept did not originate in his fertile mind, although it was a fertile and imaginative mind; (C) the drafting of the Lend-Lease bill was a routine legal chore which took about two hours one evening at the end of December, 1940, or early January, 1941.

The 1892 statute had nothing to do with it, and yet this myth has arisen. There was no credit really in writing this thing, because the bill had already been written about seven or eight months before and passed by Congress in the form of a bill to provide help to the Latin American republics, and that was written, presumably, by War Department and Navy Department lawyers, unknown to me. And they may have borrowed that from somewhere else.

But my understanding of the situation, and I speak


with firsthand assurance, because I was there, is that the lend-lease concept originated really in Franklin Roosevelt's fertile mind, and the putting of this concept into legislative phraseology it's true was done at the Treasury. It was done one night around the turn of the year, from '40 to '41, I think, perhaps right after the first of January. And the two lawyers who did it, did it in two hours or so, as soon as they found the earlier statute of 1940 that I spoke of, the Latin American statute; they knew their work was done for them. It was simply a matter of taking that out and making it applicable to this new situation, and blowing out whatever restrictions were in that statute so that you had more flexibility and more power.

It never occurred to them that they had done an historic task, and in fact, they hadn't because, as I say, the work had been done by other lawyers in the War Department or the Navy Department or both, and very likely they had plagiarized earlier lawyers, because no one ever knows. I have been a legislative lawyer most of my government career, and you're always looking for someone to plagiarize from.


And as for the 1892 statute, I've had that looked up and that had nothing whatever to do with the case, although the mythology has grown. And the funny thing is, Oscar Cox has many great achievements to his name, but he'll go down probably in history as the man who wrote the Lend-Lease Act, and he didn't do it. After the bill was drafted that night only relatively minor changes were made in it, and then it was taken up to the Hill and put through. I am going to lend the Library, One: a Photostat of the obituaries of Oscar Cox, which give the record of what history now is saying happened: a memorandum of October 29, 1966, which I wrote, and which is headed: "Question: Who wrote the Lend-Lease Act of 1941? Answer: It was not Oscar S. Cox," which discusses that situation.

And a memorandum of November 2, 1966, written by Admiral Ernest R. Feidler, who is now the top man at the national Gallery of Art, he's the secretary-treasurer and general counsel, that is the equivalent of the secretary of the Smithsonian, titulary the top man, although John Walker, the Director of the gallery, is the man who you usually see in the newspapers.


Ernie Feidler, like myself, was a young lawyer in the Treasury in 1940 and '41, and he later became a captain in the Coast Guard and then a reserve rear admiral, and the only rear admiral in the Coast Guard Reserve. And. he deals with the question as to the relationship of that famous 1892 statute which Oscar is supposed to have discovered and used as the basis, and I think, disposes of that. And I have here also a press release of January 10, 1941, 12 noon. There's no heading as to who issued the press release. It's for immediate release. It may have been the White House, I'm not sure. It says:

The attached bill giving effect to President Roosevelt's lend-lease proposals will be introduced simultaneously when Congress meets at noon today by Senator Barkley and Representative McCormack., the two majority leaders.

And it then describes what the bill does and it attaches a copy of the bill. And it states, I read in the third paragraph on page one:

It follows the precedent established by Congress last June [that is, June 1940] when the President was empowered to authorize the Secretaries of War and Navy to manufacture, purchase and repair war materials for the American Republics. Under the present bill, this country is enabled to


furnish war materials of every kind to any country whose defense the President considers to be vital to the defense of the United States.

You see, it pins the precedent on the 1940 act that I referred to. There's no reference to any 1892 statute, nor should there have been. I am going to lend you these documents which I would like Xeroxed and returned to me without fail.

HESS: All right, Xeroxed and returned.

SPINGARN: Right. And I might note that if any historians are interested in further discussion of this matter, and further investigation, I would be glad to talk to them and give investigative leads. It seems to me that this might make rather an interesting article for a historical journal, since the history books all say, or most of them say, that Oscar Cox drafted the Lend-Lease bill. So much for that.

First of all I'm going to start off with a general statement about this whole business of tape recording oral history, on the basis of my experience of doing this over the last five days.

Actually, in order to do a real job, the man who is doing the talking needs to do a lot of homework.


I have done some, but I haven't done nearly enough. It would take at least as much time, and I think more, probably double the amount of time that he spends actually talking to get ready for the talking, to examine his notes and files and papers, to arrange them in an orderly and systematic fashion, and to make notes to himself on the way in which he's going to develop each subject, the main points he's going to talk about. If he doesn't do that, and frankly, I haven't had the time to do that, just to scratch the surface, there's obviously going to be a good deal of digression and wandering and rambling.

And moreover, he's going to miss important things and hit minor things and so forth and so on. I don't know what the experience of you, Mr. Hess, has been, with other people you've talked to, but have you had the feeling that they've done a lot of homework before they went to the tape recorder; ordinarily, I would suppose not, I haven't. And I would suppose that they are too busy to do that, that they approach it fairly cold.

HESS: This is the general situation.


SPINGARN: Yes, that they have really done very little digging in their files before they meet that tape recorder. And so they're talking largely from memory. I have done some, but I admit I haven't done nearly enough, and the more I talk the more I realize that you have to do your homework on a thing like this. Otherwise, the historical tape recording becomes less valuable than it would be with a man who spent several days going over and arranging his papers and organizing what he's going to say. But you can't expect busy men to do that for you. You're lucky if you can get them to talk to the tape, much less do all the preliminary work.

HESS: That's very true.

SPINGARN: Well, I think this is something that historians who examine these oral tapes should understand. They're interesting, they throw insight, I think, on things that probably don't go into the papers, but .that they should always be checked against the records in the files because men's memories years later are not as good as contemporary records.

I did a little homework this morning, not much,


because I have just done a very superficial skimming of a file I have, much of it marked "secret and confidential," on "Internal Security in the Truman Administration," espionage and communism and things like that.

Throughout my Government career I was involved in loyalty and security matters.

As far back as 1939, I was the legal member of a three-man Treasury Un-American Activities Committee, which was then chairmanned by Martin Dies of Texas, who I don't think will rank in history as one of the greater members of Congress, had found, one way or another, lists of persons who supposedly belonged to Communist front organizations. As I recall, there were two or three thousand names.

It later turned out, if my memory serves me right, that these lists were, in some cases, mailing lists, and in other cases, they were the names of people who might have contributed two dollars; they represented in many cases, the most peripheral, or even no connection with the organization, because a man is not responsible for the mailing lists he's


on. I get mail from some very subversive organizations, including far rightwing outfits and far leftwing outfits and far middle wing outfits. I enjoy getting all kinds of mail. I don't mind getting anybody's mail no matter how subversive he is. I would be glad to read anything that George Lincoln Rockwell wants to send me, and as a matter of fact, I have bought material of the John Birch Society, because if there's one thing they teach an intelligence officer, it's know your enemy and the only way to do it is to see what he's doing and to read his stuff.

Well, in early 1942, just before the war, I was responsible for the Treasury firing a man who had been the chairman, and head man of a Communist front organization, but who disclaimed any membership or Communist sympathy. It was a rather interesting case because this gentleman was a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt's, and on one occasion when he was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee and she went with him and publicly showed her support for him.

Mrs. Roosevelt was a wonderful woman, but in those days (she became tougher in these matters later), but in those days she was a little gullible about such


matters. She liked young people and she was sympathetic to their tales of woe. I can recall when she invited the American Youth Congress, I believe it was, over to the White House, in 1940 or '41, and this was during the period of the non aggression pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, and the Communist Party line at that time was that this was an imperialistic war and that they were against the war and we should stay out of it and we shouldn't help the British and all that. So when President Roosevelt made a speech urging aid to the Western allies, they hissed him, they booed him and hissed him, Mrs. Roosevelt's own guests. It was in all the newspapers at the time. It was rather an ironical situation.

Well, the gentleman I'm referring to, had been hired by the Treasury subject to a favorable investigation, and of course he was on the payroll. We had to do that in those days, the pressure was so great to get things moving, and when the investigation came in, it revealed that he had been the chairman for several years of this front organization. He denied that he was a Communist, or had any sympathies.


I was asked to investigate the matter and make a recommendation and I did, and talked to a lot of people and looked up his records and eventually recommended that he be dismissed. But there was a difference of opinion. I remember my good friend, Herbert Gaston, who was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and who was the top man on internal security and loyalty matters, felt differently. He's now dead, and I admire Herbert Gaston, but I thought he was wrong on that. But anyway, the man involved was dismissed.

And years later, after the war, I read Elizabeth Bentley's book and she said that this fellow inducted her into the Communist Party at Columbia back in the early thirties, that he was the fellow who signed her card. And he also was dismissed in the early fifties as a Communist by some local school system in an adjoining state. And so I suspect that we were not too far wrong when we dropped him back in 1940 or '41.

I interrogated him myself at the time and he was a likeable fellow. Whenever you talk to a man who is


pleasant and likeable you must try not to feel too sympathetic for him, but the fact remains, I thought that he didn't belong with us and we fired him.

During the war, I was a counterespionage officer; I served three years overseas, I was in the invasion of North Africa on November 8, 1942, I was in the invasion of Italy, September '43, I was on the Salerno and Anzio beachheads and at Cassino and so forth. The three years I was overseas I was a counterintelligence corps officer, and for two of those years I commanded the Fifth Army Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC), from the end of the North African campaign, throughout the Italian campaign, July '43 to July '45.

And during that period Fifth Army caught 525, approximately, German spies and saboteurs, Abwehr and SD agents, and we interned perhaps 2000 people as security risks, Nazi collaborators, ardent fascists and so forth. And we always modestly said that we were the greatest combat counterintelligence outfit in the history of warfare, which might have been a slight exaggeration, but we did a pretty good job, I think.


And we also always said that in two years we had caught more spies than the FBI had in its entire forty years, or whatever was its history at that point. I think that was true.

Of course, the pickings were better. The last two hundred days of the war we caught 300 spies, if my memory serves me right. They were coming through the lines, they were dropping in by parachute, they were coming in by boat, they were stay-behind agents -- we were going crazy.

But higher headquarters estimated that we were catching about eighty-five percent of the agents that were coming in, which was considered a very high percentage, an excellent batting average.