a review of the book

Under Cover:
My Four Years in the Nazi Underworld in America

by John Roy Carlson



In 'Under Cover-My Four Years in the Nazi Underworld in America', John Roy Carlson penned the account of his successful infiltration of the vigorous Nazi Fifth Column that existed in the United States before and during World War II. Posing as a sympathizer and activist on behalf of the Nazi cause, Carlson gained access to the inner sanctum of the traitors-great and small-who sought to replace the Stars and Stripes with the Swastika. In Under Cover, the author chronicles the operations and ideological tenets of a large (and frequently overlapping) group of organizations that operated on behalf of the Third Reich (and also Imperial Japan). As Carlson illustrates in the book, the "small fry" domestic fascists are often cats' paws for larger, more prominent political and economic figures. Many of the organizations were actually directed and financed by the Deutsches Ausland Institut-the foreign section of the Nazi party of Germany.

"America First" became the title of an organization devoted to keeping the U.S. out of World War II. Although some of its members were sincerely opposed to war, the majority were of fascist persuasion, many of them German spies. "America First" echoed the sloganeering of fascist movements in other countries, including the Croix de Feu in France and the Falange in Spain-both covered at length in the Cot's Triumph of Treason and Chase's Falange. On pages 498 and 499, Carlson relates: " . . . Mussolini's fascist system was first described as 'nationalist.' The French fascist organization Croix de Feu, which developed into a Vichy instrument was called 'nationalist.' The Nazi party is the National-Socialist Party. The Japanese War Party is a 'nationalist' party. All these countries had their 'Germany First,' 'France First' and 'Spain First' parties. Recall that the motto of Sir Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts was 'Britain First' and Stahrenberg's slogan of the American National-Socialist Party was 'America First, Last and Always.' 'America First' can be no different in its connotation and ultimate outcome despite the sincere intents of some of those who mouth it. 'America First' is a cry unwittingly used by Liberty's hangmen."

If patriotism is-as Dr. Johnson observed-"the last refuge of a scoundrel," then religion is usually the first. A staggering number of the fascist Fifth Column organizations in the U.S. professed to be "Christian." Most prominent among the fascists marching behind the façade of Christianity was the infamous Father Coughlin -- the driving force behind the Christian Front. Railing against President Roosevelt, Jews and anything that stood in the way of the Third Reich's path of conquest, Couglin used Social Justice as his primary bully pulpit. After the war, it emerged that he was actually in the pay of Third Reich intelligence. Invoking the name of Jesus to support everything Christ condemned, fascists and fascist institutions masquerading as Christians abounded within the Fifth Column-the Reverend Gerald Winrod, the Christian Mobilizers, The Cross and the Flag, ad infinitum. Indeed, author Carlson was able to infiltrate the Fifth Column by posing as a fascist pamphleteer, publishing The Christian Defender. This ingratiated him to the traitors.

Among the Christian prelates operating on behalf of the Nazi cause was the Reverend Norman Vincent Peale. Best known as the exponent of "the power of positive thinking," Peale long graced the pages of publications like Reader's Digest and his name became synonymous with wholesome, mainstream Americana in the postwar years. Prior to and during the war, however, Peale fronted for Edward A. Rumely, a spy and agitator for Germany during both World Wars. Like so many others, Rumely, too, benefited from his association with Hitler benefactor Henry Ford. Note that another of Rumely's fellow travelers in the Fifth Column movement was Frank Gannett, founder of the newspaper chain that bears his name. On pages 474 and 475, Carlson writes: "Rumely is boss of the Committee for Constitutional Government and second in command to Frank E. Gannett, publisher of a string of newspapers and founder of the committee in 1937. As soon as the Senatorial investigation was over, Rumely literally went underground and erased his name from the Committee stationery. But he continued to run it by appointing a docile Protestant clergyman as 'acting chairman and secretary' who visited the office only occasionally. He was the Reverend Norman Vincent Peale, once a joint speaker with [American fascist] Mrs. Elizabeth Dilling and the Reverend Edward Lodge Curran [key aide to Father Coughlin] at a 'pro-American mass meeting sponsored by more than 50 patriotic organizations' at the Hotel Commodore in New York. . . . Rumely's friendship with Henry Ford dated prior to the summer of 1918 when Ford rushed to Washington in an unsuccessful attempt to save Rumely from being indicted. . . ."

When evaluating the significance of the Fifth Column for contemporary Americans, it is important to remember that there was no de-Nazification process for the United States after the war. The Nazi conspirators in this country not only went untouched, many of them became prominent, or continued in positions of prominence. In addition, some of the most heinous Third Reich alumni were imported into this country under the auspices of the Gehlen spy organization, Project Paperclip and the Crusade For Freedom, where they joined their domestic American partners in corrupting postwar American politics. Noting the rise of the reactionary Christian forces in this country, one must wonder if they are heirs to Father Coughlin and his ilk.

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