Democracy Must Go!

Pearl Harbor Attack


The following section of United States Army Orientation Fact Sheet #64 dated March 24, 1945, offended certain congressmen the most because its description of fascist traits reminded them of themselves:

“The basic principles of democracy stand in the way of their desires hence democracy must go! Anyone who is not a member of their inner gang has to do what he’s told. They permit no civil liberties, no equality before the law. They make their own rules and change them when they choose. If you don’t like it, it’s T.S.”

Henry Hoke, author of It’s A Secret, the well known expose of fascism published in 1945, stated that Congressman John Rankin of Mississippi, the notorious racist who sat on the Veteran Affairs Committee and who had accused black soldiers of causing high fatalities in the war, was rankled by the orientation piece. Hoke had sat through the hearings of the Veteran Affairs Committee, and reports that, under Rankin’s guidance, it “sounded like a Nazi tribunal.”

Hoke also mentions in passing Martin Dies’ Committee to Investigate Un-American Activities, precursor of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and its witch-hunters who were doggedly determined to pin a communist label on every liberal in private and public life. He declined to report on the sordid operations of the Dies Committee, but he did write at some length about H. Ralph Burton, the chief counsel for “the worst committee of the House” i.e. the Military Affairs Committee.

“At some point in his training something must have happened to turn his emotions toward a rather point Red-baiting, to venomous anti-Semitism and anti-Negroism… and to thoroughly reactionary and garbled economic, political and social thinking,” reported Hoke.

Burton had served as special counsel for William Ludicke, the number two Nazi in the United States. He had been counsel for the DAR during its blatant Red-baiting days. He had also been counsel for the Coalition of Patriotic Societies, an umbrella organization for numerous Tory organizations. He was also intimate with Walter Steele, editor and publisher of the fascist publication, ‘National Republic.’ Furthermore, he was general counsel in Maryland for Father Coughlin’s National Union for Social Justice, and the influential pro-Nazi priest who entertained Nazis in his home. H. Ralph Burton’s partner and son, Robert Burton, who carried credentials authorizing him to represent the Military Affairs Committee, frequently visited the Japanese Embassy, and had consorted with and was attorney for certain Nazi sympathizers who were under investigation by the F.B.I.

Hoke recounts that in 1939 H. Ralph Burton was an investigator for the WPA Sub-Committee of the House Appropriations Committee. His objective was to discredit and harm the Federal Theatre and the Federal Writers Project; he succeeded in harming individuals by accusing them of being communists without proof. He also was determined to show that the WPA was dominated by Jews, Communists, and persons of foreign origin. A number of politicians in those days believed the New Deal was a communist conspiracy and that the Army had been infiltrated by Jews, communists and other “undesirables.” Burton’s investigators asked Army executives to supply lists of employees with Jewish names.

Hoke does not say what specific role Burton played in suppressing the Army Reorientation Fact Sheet, but he believes Burton and his colleagues thought the piece against Fascism was Communist propaganda, and they certainly did not want controversial issues such as “What are we fighting for?” discussed by soldiers.

H. Ralph Burton was a powerful man. Hoke said he knew for a fact that Army big-shots would fly soldiers in at the behest of Burton, even from the front lines, just to be questioned by him. However that may be, Piece #64 was eventually pulled and military personnel were transferred or were separated from the service. Thereafter vigorous protests were made by Army personnel concerning a radical change for the worse in the entire Army Reorientation Course.

Of course Hoke’s main concern in It’s A Secret is secrecy. He raised the suppression of Piece #64 in the chapter entitled ‘Who Investigates the Investigators?’ as a particular instance of same; in fact, secrecy prevented him from telling the full story about the incident. The further we delve into the investigations and the persons involved, the more we get the impression that investigators, attorneys, and politicians were involved in a vast right-wing authoritarian conspiracy, one that we might loosely call a ‘fascist’ conspiracy to subvert the democratic principles the United States is allegedly founded on.

Hoke goes on to discuss Burton’s role, in ‘One of the big mysteries behind the House Military Affairs Committee—what happened to the so-called Rohl-Wymann investigations.’ He refers his readers to Fulton Lewis’ sensational story, broadcast on November, 1943. Fulton Lewis shows were broadcast on weekday evenings to over 16 million people.

Lewis was Richard Nixon’s close friend; after one election, Nixon said, “Except for you, Fulton, it never would have happened.” Liberals remember Lewis well for saying, “The honest American of liberal political bent, even a former Communist who has seen the light and is willing to admit it, has nothing to fear in the way of persecution from any Congressional investigating committee, including that of my friend, Joe McCarthy.”

The sensational story appertained to German espionage at Pearl Harbor, and a “missing Chapter Five.’ We have this fragment from a cover letter forwarding the Army Pearl Harbor Board’s report intimating that a fraud in construction at Pearl Harbor contributed to the scope of the disaster there at Japanese hands:

“Preamble: Authority for the Army Pearl Harbor Board and its action taken. This Board was appointed pursuant to the provisions of Public Law 339, 78th Congress, approved 13 June 1944… Subject: Report of House Military Affairs Committee dated 14 June 1944 alleging neglect and misconduct of Colonel Theodore Wyman, Jr., and others concerning Hawaiian and Canadian Defense Projects, and which was signed by Robert P. Patterson, Acting Secretary of War. This supplemental order directed the Board to consider the phase of the report which related to the Pearl Harbor disaster…. We append to this report a section indicating the additional information and documents which have been made available as a result of our extended investigation, and which probably did not come to the attention of the Roberts Commission; or, at least, were not mentioned in either of the testimony, documents or report of the Roberts Commission. We have been greatly aided by the Interim Report, Committee of Military Affairs, House of Representatives, Seventy-eighth Congress, 2nd Session, pursuant to H. Res. 30, A Resolution Authorizing the Committee on Military Affairs and the Committee on Naval Affairs to Study the Progress of the National War Effort, and the committee’s records, counsel, and investigation, with particular reference to the activities of Colonel Theodore Wyman, Jr., Hans Wilhelm Rohl, the Hawaiian Constructors, and others, as such activities had a bearing upon the Pearl Harbor disaster and what led up to it. We have been aided by the testimony of counsel from that committee and the complete record of the investigation of that committee on this subject and its exhibits. We have also heard testimony and investigated reports and reviewed affidavits of additional affiants, whose testimony came to light, or documents were discovered, after the conclusion of the investigation of the Committee on Military Affairs, as indicated in its Interim Report. We have also been aided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, and the Report of the Tenney Committee in California. We transmit with this report the record of testimony of the witnesses consisting of 41 volumes and 70 exhibits. In the appendix to this report is a tabulation in detail of the …”

Henry Hoke provided his account of the Rohl-Lyman investigation of possible fraud, collusion and espionage at Pearl Harbor to illustrate his contention that independent investigators are needed to investigate Congressional investigators. He refuses to draw any conclusions as to the guilt or innocence of the persons involved, preferring to pose loaded questions about them. The implications are, therefore, clear to those of us who are prone to jumping to conclusions according to our favorite conspiracy theories, some of which are no doubt valid. There are shady characters in the halls of government, aides, lawyers and investigators who do the bidding of their superiors while looking after their own personal fortunes on the side. The majority of red-blooded Americans are well aware of the hypocrisy, and many of them who disbelieve in democracy actually condone or approve of the contradiction of promising words and actually deeds done. The government sworn to uphold the law employs people to violate it at home and abroad, where the law of the jungle ultimately applies.

The Rohl-Lyman investigation took place in 1943-44. It’s shady characters remind us of the ones Richard Nixon was enamored of when he formed his life-long friendship with Ronald Reagan while Reagan, whose acting career was in the dumps, was tattling on his fellow actors. When we examine those crucial years, we get the definite impression that business and politics were conspiring to subvert democracy, that influential individuals who were charged with protecting Americans from both Communism and Fascism were in fact advancing the interests of the American brand of fascism, using their investigations of the ‘Reds’ as cover: the enemies happened to be anyone who was interested in a more liberal distribution of social justice. Of course the American fascists would from time to time wrongly accuse others of being fascists in order to divert attention from themselves and perpetuate their ends.

Hoke got the impression that the Rohl-Lyman investigation was conducted by men who were deliberately hunting for material that would embarrass the Government. Radio-show host Fulton Lewis, Jr. found witness, Robert Hoffman, in Mexico City, and brought him to H. Ralph Burton, the power chief counsel and investigator for the House Military Affairs Committee. Hoffman supposedly had information about espionage at military installations in the Pacific. The Truman Committee and the F.B.I. wanted to talk to Hoffman in Washington, but Burton had him along with a team of investigators flown out to California on an Army plane, where they went to work for the Tenney Committee, the Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities in California, chaired by Jack B. Tenney, predecessor to McCarthy.

Hoffman, Burton’s ‘witness’ from Mexico, and his team proceeded to investigate a contractor by the name “Hans Wilhelm Rohl”, known prior to the investigation as Bill Rohl, for allegedly using illegal contracting methods at Pearl Harbor. Exaggerated testimony and affidavits were submitted to the Committee to the effect that Rohl was a German agent. Later on, a confused witness, a maid, contradicted her sworn statement, saying she was “pushed” into making it, and did not even remember the name given to her, namely, Rohl.

On 8 march 1944 Rohl, the target of the investigation, provided an affidavit swearing that Burton’s witness-investigator Hoffman met with him at the Mayfair Hotel and demanded a bribe: $25,000 was to immediately be paid into Hoffman’s account; then Rohl would received a confirmation from Burton saying the investigation had been dropped, whereupon another $75,000 would have to be paid into Hoffman’s account. Hoffman then threatened Rohl’s son, telling him that if his father did not cooperate, he would be a bad trouble.

Rohl, according to his affidavit, had his secretary call Hoffman and give “No” for his answer. Rohl’s testimony together with other information was submitted. A second team found evidence exonerating Rohl. Burton dropped the investigation against Rohl and issued a report without mention of the material incriminating Burton and his investigators. He fired the lead investigator of the second investigation without explanation, which prompted another man to resign, a reputable business man who was serving the House committee without pay: his letter of resignation included a scathing attack on the shady tactics used by the Military Affairs Committee.

The Rohl-Wyman investigation was the subject of the then famously missing Chapter Five of the Army’s Report on Pearl Harbor to President Truman. When the original draft of the chapter was released on 6 October 1945, it thanked H. Ralph Burton for his “reliable information.” Secretary of War Patterson said an investigation subsequent to the report disproved the charges made and that there was no connection with the content of Chapter Five in respect to Colonel Wyman and others and the Pearl Harbor disaster.”

“In other words,” writes Hoke, “the original Army Board of Inquiry was fooled by the Tenney and Burton ‘evidence’… the wording of the Patterson statement reveals that someone in the Army found the new evidence which Burton so carefully concealed from the members of the House Military Affairs Committee,”

In retrospect we wonder if certain members of the Committee did in fact know what was going on. This is the very committee that had suppressed the Army Orientation pamphlet defining Fascism so that soldiers would know what they were fighting for and against. An impartial analysis of the “race question,” ‘Races of Mankind’, written by anthropologists, was also suppressed, and Hoke wonders if H. Ralph Burton was behind that too, suggesting that Burton made sure his investigators would find some Communistic slant to it.

Hoke said of Burton, in respect to the suppression of Fact Sheet #64, that “I will not mince words. This should be clearly understood. H. Ralph Burton, Chief Counsel of the House Military Affairs Committee, FORCED the removal of Army Reorientation personnel and forced a change in Orientation courses because he, Burton, didn’t like what the Army had to say about Fascism.”

The government and the media were reluctant to define American fascism and reveal the identity of American Fascists. George Seldes, in ‘Fascism on the Home Front,’ first chapter of Facts and Fascism (1943), put it this way:

“The Office of War Information published millions of words… intended to inspire the people and raise the morale… but it is also a fact that to the date of this writing the OWI did not publish a single pamphlet, poster, broadside, or paper telling either the civilian population or the men and women in uniform what Fascism really is…. Certainly when it comes to relating foreign Fascism with Native American Fascism there is a conspiracy of silence in which the OWI, the American press, and all the forces of reaction in America are united…. The real Fascists of America are never named in the commercial press. It will not even hint at the fact that there are many powerful elements working against a great democracy…. I call these elements Fascists…. You may substitute Tories, or Economic Royalists, or Vested Interests…. Their main object was to end the civil liberties of the nation, destroy the labor unions, end the free press, and make more money at the expense of a slave nation.”

Have they succeeded? Have fascists in disguise taken over our government? Have Americans been duped by “friendly” i.e. smiling fascists? Are fascists presently engaged in a vast right-wing authoritarian conspiracy to subvert the democratic principles the United States is founded on? Patriotic Americans think the very supposition is ridiculous if not seditious. They should read Henry Hoke’s book and go over the Army definition of fascism now that it is no longer classified. Alas that Hoke simply exposed a few fascists of his day without rendering a cogent theory of fascism so that it could be understood and the fascist activities of its proponents suppressed as un-American!


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