World War I and the Rise of Totalitarianism 1917-1940

excerpted from the book

The Tree of Liberty

A Documentary History of Rebellion
and Political Crime in America

edited by Nicholas N. Kittrie and Eldon D. Wedlock, Jr.

The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998


The steady political pressure from women to secure the right to vote finally resulted in the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Success did not come without dramatic confrontations between suffragists and the forces of law and order, which resulted in the arrest, conviction, and imprisonment of women activists for the zealous pursuit of their cause.

The second and more central focus of this chapter is on)America's response to World War I, a war in which the Old World nations had a vested interest. Pacifists, socialists, partisans of the various European camps, and America Firsters strongly opposed the New World's involvement in this conflagration. The resistance to America's involvement gave rise to a new class of political offenders-antiwar activists.

The wartime and postwar fears and anxieties also gave rise to a movement for the purification of the American melting pot by eliminating "un-American" influences. United States entry into World War I and the success of the Russian Revolution had a dramatic effect upon the American public. Socialism and communism were not mere idle notions expounded by foreign philosophers but could provide a stimulus for conspiracies on American soil. In addition, the call to arms, which previously had been resisted in instances of domestic conflict, was likely to encounter even greater opposition in cases of foreign wars. In short, the suspicion grew that the nation's pluralistic population was not as committed to the American Way as had been assumed and could be manipulated by foreign agitators.

The criminal law was invoked directly to punish war and draft resisters, as well as those who advocated the forceful overthrow of government. Other quasi-criminal methods for purging the country of the disloyal, such as the exclusion and deportation of politically suspect aliens-often associated with the labor movement-were also utilized. Ideological dissidents were subject to punishment for political associations, and several documents reflect less a concern with the enforcement of traditional justice than the desire of the authorities to convey a symbolic message to left-leaning aliens to watch their step...

Although it was at the height of World War I and shortly thereafter that the movement toward enforcing American homogeneity reached its peak, its legacies lingered on for several decades and are still evident today.

... In its quest for legitimacy, labor finally achieved its long-sought goal of preventing federal power, in the form of the labor injunction, from playing a partisan role in the contest between labor and capital. It ultimately succeeded in having the federal government cast as an impartial referee of labor disputes, and several long-standing management techniques for curbing labor's power were determined to be illegal. The changing relations between capital and labor are reflected further in the increased sophistication of labor tactics, including the sit-down strike, which led to many violent confrontations with local police.

Greatly diminished from the labor scene, federal force was evident, nevertheless, in Washington, D.C., during the Depression, as the encampment of the Bonus Marchers was dispersed by military force. But tensions continued between state and federal authorities in several other arenas of political and civil rights. The power of the state to resort to martial law in order to avoid the command of a federal injunction was tested and denied. But federal involvement in protecting blacks in the South from terrorist attacks was as passive as before. Also, the failure of the assimilationist policies toward Native Americans accounted in large part for the new grant of limited powers of self-determination to them.

... with the blowing winds of World War II, one can observe the beginning of the government's renewed attempts to curb political and related activities motivated by sympathy to various foreign causes. With mounting tensions overseas, the authorities set out once again, as they had done a quarter-century earlier, to enforce the American Way.

How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty? (1917)

The suffragist movement contributed to Woodrow Wilson's continuing political education. Before he secured reelection in 1916, Wilson had decided that women's right to vote could be denied no longer. Yet he was reluctant to assume an active role in securing suffrage for them.

The militant suffragists were convinced that only a strong exercise of presidential power could overcome congressional resistance, and they set out to spur Wilson into action. They picketed the White House throughout 1917. After the United States declared war on Germany, banners continued to point out to "Kaiser Wilson!" that "20,000,000 American women are not self-governed."

After six months of picketing, the authorities stepped in to suppress the embarrassing demonstrations. The following contemporaneous account of the events reported the escalation of government response from toleration to arrest and release to the filing of charges, fines, and imprisonment. Those arrested received sentences of up to sixty days. The prosecutions only served to stiffen the resolve of the suffragists. They engaged in more alarming tactics: hunger strikes, public burnings of Wilson's lofty speeches on democracy, and the burning of the president in effigy.

It was not until September 1918 that Wilson directly urged Congress to pass the National Suffrage Amendment. Though gravely ill, Wilson worked hard to ensure that women could vote in the presidential election of 1920.

Suffragists as Political Prisoners (1917)

The country's preoccupation with winning World War I did not deter the suffragists. Arrested for their persistent picketing, the suffragists carried their struggle to the jails. Although segregated from each other, they collectively managed to frame and sign the earliest known claim in the United States for special treatment, in the European tradition, as political prisoners. Refusal of the authorities to accede to the demands led to hunger strikes and forced feeding.

Suffragists, Letters from Prison

Reprinted in D. Steven's, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni & Live right, 1920),175.


As political prisoners, we, the undersigned, refuse to work while in prison. We have taken this stand as a matter of principle after careful consideration, and from it we shall not recede.

This action is a necessary protest against an unjust sentence. In reminding President Wilson of his pre-election promises toward woman suffrage we were exercising the right of peaceful petition, guaranteed by the Constitution....

Conscious, therefore, of having acted in accordance with the highest standards of citizenship, we ask the Commissioners of the District to grant us the rights due political prisoners. We ask that we no longer be segregated and confined under locks and bars in small groups, but permitted to see each other, and that Miss Lucy Burns, who is in full sympathy with this letter, be released from solitary confinement in another building and given back to us.

We ask exemption from prison work, that our legal right to consult counsel be recognized, to have food sent to us from outside, to supply ourselves with writing material for as much correspondence as we may need, to receive books, letters, newspapers, our relatives and friends.

Our united demand for political treatment has been delayed, because on entering the workhouse we found conditions so very bad that before we could ask that the suffragists be treated as political prisoners, it was necessary to make a stand for the ordinary rights of human beings for all the inmates. Although this has not been accomplished we now wish to bring the important question of the status of political prisoners to the attention of the commissioners, who, we are informed, have full authority to make what regulations they please for the District prison and workhouse.

The Commissioners are requested to send us a written reply so that we may be sure this protest has reached them.

Signed by,


The Commissioners' only answer to this was a hasty transfer of the signers and the leader, Miss Burns, to the District Jail, where they were put in solitary confinement. The women were not only refused the privileges asked but were denied some of the usual privileges allowed to ordinary criminals.

"false reports or false statements" (1917) (Espionage Act)

On June 15, 1917, Congress passed the Espionage Act giving the United States broad powers to punish acts of gathering, transmitting, or negligently handling information that would be injurious to the defense of the United States if in the hands of a foreign nation or enemy. The act also imposed penalties for certain antiwar commentary and opinions. Congress enacted the law in large part to check enemy sympathizers residing in the United States. A widespread propaganda campaign had stirred up Germanophobia, and German immigrants throughout the country were accused of supporting the Kaiser and spying for him.

President Woodrow Wilson, apparently recognizing the potential for abuse, approved the Espionage Act with the statement that "I shall not permit . . . any part of this law to apply to me ... as a shield against criticism."

The Espionage Act

40 Stat. 217 (1917i.

CHAP. 30-An Act to punish acts of interference with the foreign relations, the neutrality, and the foreign commerce of the United States, to punish espionage, and better to enforce the criminal laws of the United States, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled:

SEC. 3. Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully make or convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies and whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or shall willfully obstruct the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States, to the injury of the service or of the United States, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both.

SEC. 4. If two or more persons conspire to violate the provisions of sections two or three of this title, and one or more of such persons does any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each of the parties to such conspiracy shall be punished as in said sections....

SEC. 5. Whoever harbors or conceals any person who he knows, or has reasonable grounds to believe or suspect, has committed, or is about to commit, an offense under this title shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or by imprisonment for not more than two years, or both.

"I do not believe that I am seeking martyrdom" (1917-1918) (conscientious objectors)

Some conscientious objectors declined to register for the draft and were prosecuted in regular civilian courts. But in 1917 and 1918 the army inducted more than twenty thousand men who previously had filed claims to be classified as objectors. Of these, some four thousand declined to perform military service. The conscription bill made liberal provisions for members of recognized religious sects to choose a noncombatant corps. In addition, conscientious objectors whom a presidential board of inquiry deemed to be "sincere" were eligible for noncombatant service or for agricultural furloughs. But some men refused all forms of alternative service. The military court-martialed several hundred such men, together with the "insincere" objectors who professed no religious or moral antipathy to war.

The statements of three objectors illustrate the variety of motives for refusing conscription. Carl Haessler, a Rhodes Scholar and a professor of philosophy, objected on political grounds. Maurice Hess, voicing religious objections, also later became a college professor. Roger Baldwin, who founded the American Civil Liberties Union, articulated moral grounds. These men and the others were punished for refusing to accommodate their political, religious, or moral beliefs to the duties of allegiance owed to their government. Their criminality lay not in any affirmative deed against the government but rather in refusing to act in accordance with the demands of the authorities.

"any profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government" (1918)
(Espionage Act - strengthened)

The Espionage Act of 1917 proved unable to curtail all criticism of the war effort. Attorney General Gregory requested amendments prohibiting attempts to obstruct recruitment and efforts to discredit war loans. The Senate Judiciary Committee responded by revamping Section Three provisions in order to eliminate all disloyal utterances. There were nearly two thousand prosecutions and nine hundred convictions under the combined espionage acts, including that of motion picture producer Robert Goldstein, sentenced to ten years in prison for his unbecoming portrayal of the British, now United States allies, in a film about the American Revolution. Socialist leader Eugene V. Debs was convicted as the result of a speech at a Socialist party state convention in which he criticized former president Theodore Roosevelt's support of the war and praised the moral courage of our revolutionary forefathers who "opposed the social system of their time."

The Espionage Act (as Amended)

40 Stat. 555 (1918).

Sec. 3. Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully make or convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States, or to promote the success of its enemies, or shall willfully make or convey false reports or false statements, or say or do anything except by way of bona fide and not disloyal advice to an investor or investors, with intent to obstruct the sale by the United States of bonds or other securities of the United States or the making of loans by or to the United States, and whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully cause or attempt to cause, or incite or attempt to incite, insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or shall willfully obstruct or attempt to obstruct the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States [to the injury of the service or of the United States], and whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States, or the Constitution of the United States or the military or naval forces of the United States, or the flag of the United States, or the uniform of the Army or Navy of the United States, or any language intended to bring the form of government of the United States, or the Constitution of the United States, or the military or naval forces of the United States, or the flag of the United States, or the uniform of the Army or Navy of the United States into contempt, scorn, contumely, or disrepute, or shall willfully utter, print, write or publish any language intended to incite, provoke, or encourage resistance to the United States, or to promote the cause of its enemies, or shall willfully display the flag of any foreign enemy, or shall willfully by utterance, writing, printing, publication, or language spoken, urge, incite, or advocate any curtailment of production in this country of any thing or things, product or products, necessary or essential to the prosecution of the war in which the United States may be engaged, with intent by such curtailment to cripple or hinder the United States in the prosecution of the war, and whoever shall willfully advocate, teach, defend, or suggest the doing of any of the acts or things in this section enumerated, and whoever shall by word or act support or favor the cause of any country with which the United States is at war or by word or act oppose the cause of the United States therein, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both: provided that any employee or official of the United States Government who commits any disloyal act or utters any unpatriotic or disloyal language, or who, in an abusive and violent manner criticizes the Army or Navy or the flag of the United States shall be at once dismissed by the head of the department in which the employee may be engaged, and any such official shall be dismissed by the authority having power to appoint a successor to the dismissed official.

"any unlawful method of terrorism" (1919) (anti-sedition law) (California antisedition law)

In essence, California's antisedition law, similar to laws passed by some two-thirds of the states, was directed not against overt acts but against seditious doctrines and their advocacy. The law was enacted against the background of the Red Scare. Communists had succeeded in Russia, and Germany and other industrialized countries seemed in danger.

The California law defined criminal syndicalism as a doctrine that advocated resort to force and violence for effectuating changes in the political arena or in industrial ownership. Syndicalism, an anticapitalist, working class ideology, held that any form of the state was an instrument of oppression. In a syndicalist society, a universal union, in which membership would entitle one to vote regardless of age, sex, race, property, or residence, would make all social and political decisions. Until its demise in the 1920s, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was the chief syndicalist-oriented organization in the United States.

The sense of urgency regarding communist and syndicalist infiltration and power led to the anti-Red "Palmer Raids" (named after U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, assisted by a twenty-four-year-old lawyer, J. Edgar Hoover) against political and labor activists. Arrested aliens, including Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, were deported summarily. On January 2,1920, twenty-seven hundred people in thirty-three cities were seized. The raids, which ceased in May 1920, were a major impetus for the organization of the American Civil Liberties Union.

California Criminal Syndicalism Law


An act defining criminal syndicalism and sabotage, proscribing certain acts and methods in connection therewith and in pursuance thereof and providing penalties and punishments therefor.

[Approved, April 30, I9l9.]

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

SECTION 1. The term "criminal syndicalism as used in this act is hereby defined as any doctrine or precept advocating, teaching or aiding and abetting the commission of crime, sabotage (which word is hereby defined as meaning willful and malicious physical damage or injury to physical property), or unlawful acts of force and violence or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing a change in industrial ownership or control, or effecting any political change.

SECTION 2. Any person who:

1. By spoken or written words or personal conduct advocates, teaches or aids and abets criminal syndicalism or the duty, necessity or propriety of committing crime, sabotage, ... violence or any unlawful method of terrorism as a means of accomplishing a change in industrial ownership or control, or effecting any political change; or

2. Willfully and deliberately by spoken or written words justifies or attempts to justify criminal syndicalism or the commission or attempt to commit crime, sabotage, violence or unlawful methods of terrorism with intent to approve, advocate or further the doctrine of criminal syndicalism; or

3. Prints, publishes, edits, issues or circulates or publicly displays any book, paper, pamphlet, document, poster or written or printed matter in any other form, containing or carrying written or printed advocacy, teaching, or aid and abetment of, or advising, criminal syndicalism; or

4. Organizes or assists in organizing, or is or knowingly becomes a member of, any organization, society, group or assemblage of persons organized or assembled to advocate, teach or aid and abet criminal syndicalism; or

5. Willfully by personal act or conduct, practices or commits any act advised, advocated, taught or aided and abetted by the doctrine or precept of criminal syndicalism, with intent to accomplish a change in industrial ownership or control, or effecting any political change; is guilty of a felony and punishable by imprisonment in the state prison not less than one nor more than fourteen years...

SECTION 4. Inasmuch as this act concerns and is necessary to the immediate preservation of the public peace and safety, for the reason that at the present time large numbers of persons are going from place to place in this state advocating, teaching and practicing criminal syndicalism, this act shall take effect upon approval by the governor.

"falsely shouting fire" (1919)

In Schenck v. United States, a convicted draft resistance organizer attacked the constitutionality of the 1917 Espionage Act on First Amendment grounds. The Supreme Court reviewed this wartime law in an opinion by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in which he enunciated the famous "clear and present danger" doctrine. Justice Holmes pronounced, "The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent." The Supreme Court upheld Schenck's conviction.

"There can be no peace" (1919) (Industrial Workers of the World - IWW)

In 1905, the Industrial Workers of the World organized in Chicago as an industrial union uniting skilled and unskilled workers for the purpose of overthrowing capitalism and building a socialist society. Committed to total class warfare, the IWW opposed arbitration and collective bargaining. IWW members, nicknamed "Wobblies," were vocally antimilitaristic during World War I, and their union's uncompromising rhetoric led to zealous federal and state suppression during the postwar era. The IWW led a total of 150 strikes, including the 1919 general strike in Seattle, before internal rifts and a loss of members to the Communist Party accounted for its demise.

Preamble of the Industrial Workers of the World

Reprinted in S. Lynd, ed., Nonviolence in America A Documentary History (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1966), 240-41.

The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.

There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people, and the few who make up the employing class have all the good things of life.

Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth, and the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system.

We find that the centering of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade-unions unable to cope with the ever-growing power of the employing class.

The trade-unions foster a state of affairs which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping to defeat one another in wage wars.

Moreover the trade-unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers.

These conditions can be changed and the interests of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all its members in any one industry, or in all industries, if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.

Instead of the conservative motto, "A fair day's wage for a fair day's work," we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, "Abolition of the wage system."

It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism.

The army of production must be organized, not only for the everyday struggle with the capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown.

By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of a new society within the shell of the old.

"violence ... impelled by persecution and self-defense" (1923-1927) (Sacco and Vanzetti)

The 1920s were a period of widespread anti-alien and anti-radical hysteria. Nicola Sacco, a shoemaker, and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, a fish peddler, were tried and convicted in connection with the murders of Alessandro Berardelli, a guard, and F. A. Parmenter, paymaster of a shoe factory, in South Braintree, Massachusetts. Sacco and Vanzetti were Italian-born members of the Galleani anarchist group. The alleged motive for the crime was the robbery of the shoe factory payroll. To distribute some radical literature, they had borrowed a car identified as the vehicle used in the earlier hold-up and murder. The worldwide popular interest in the case stemmed from a belief that the men were denied a fair trial because of their political and social views. Many petitions were filed for clemency after Judge Webster Thayer imposed the death sentence on April 9,1927. Governor Alvan T. Fuller appointed a committee to investigate charges of prejudice against the defendants. The committee characterized the judge's hostile private statements as "a grave breach of decorum" but decided they had not affected his conduct or influenced the jury. The defendants were executed on August 23,1927.

"Government cannot be coerced by mob rule" (1932) (Bonus Army)

At the end of World War I, each veteran of military service received sixty dollars as a special gratuity. The veterans lobbied and demanded an additional bonus for the difference between military and civilian salaries during their service time. On May 19, 1924, President Coolidge signed the "adjusted compensation" bill under which each veteran received a certificate that would entitle him and his family to about five hundred dollars in 1945. In May 1932, somewhere between fifteen thousand and twenty-five thousand unemployed veterans formed the "Bonus Expeditionary Force," which encamped in Washington, D.C., demanding that Congress immediately honor the certificates. In mid-June, Congress failed to pass the necessary appropriation but authorized transportation funds for the men. About two thirds left the city. On July 28 an uneasy President Hoover, fearing a communist-led insurrection, ordered federal troops to remove the remaining bonus marchers from federal property after the District of Columbia police failed in their attempt to do so. Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur ordered an attack, led by Majors Dwight D. Eisenhower and George S. Patton and employing tanks, tear gas, machine guns, cavalry, and fixed bayonets. The demonstrators were routed; two veterans and two policemen were left dead. On January 24,1936, Congress, over President Franklin D. Roosevelt's veto, passed a law providing for the exchange of the bonus certificates for cashable bonds.

"the right to organize for its common welfare" (1934) (The Indian Reorganization Act)

Both the individual and the communal political rights of the Native Americans finally stabilized during the post-World War I era as the earlier policies of ethnocide through assimilation proved ineffective in eliminating their culture. In 1924, Congress granted United States citizenship to all Native Americans in the United States, whether they wanted it or not. Congress had long wavered between policies encouraging tribalism and those supporting assimilation. In 1934 the Indian Reorganization Act reestablished the Native Americans' right to limited self-determination, permitting the tribes to reorganize as corporate entities for their collective benefit.

"strikes and other forms of industrial strife" (1935) (The National Labor Relations Act - Wagner Act)

With the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) which, among other things, legalized union organization and collective bargaining, labor disputes increased dramatically. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a fivefold increase from 1932 to 1933. The 1933-34 New Deal strikers were concerned primarily with union recognition rather than disputes over wages, hours, and working conditions. The wave of unrest which began in 1933 continued into 1935. That year the NIRA was held unconstitutional. Congress reacted by passing the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), popularly known as the Wagner Act after its chief sponsor. The NLRA was designed to guarantee workers' rights to associate, organize, and choose representatives to negotiate with management. To this end, it defined employer actions hindering organization as unfair labor practices and created an independent agency, the National Labor Relations Board, to conduct secret ballot elections by employees, settle controversies regarding union representation, oversee collective bargaining, investigate unfair labor practices, and issue cease and desist orders to restrain them. The selected sections of the act convey the flavor of the legislation placing governmental authority behind the rights of workers. The Supreme Court upheld the NLRA as constitutional in NLRB u Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U.S. 1(1937).

Whereas previously only the acts of workers were subject to government sanction, this act positions the federal government as an overseer of management tactics as well. Importantly, these new declarations of public authority were placed largely outside the reach of a judiciary that was still perceived by many as pro-management. Altogether, the government was now viewed as a referee rather than a participant in labor-management conflicts.

Those Inherent and Fundamental Rights That Distinguish This Country from All Foreign Nations (1938-1940) (The Dies Committee on Un-American Activities) (in 1945 became the House Un-American Activities Committee)

The economic recovery promised to America by the New Deal was not a speedy process. In 1934, over a year after Franklin D. Roosevelt's inauguration, more than eleven million Americans were still out of work and between sixteen and eighteen million were on the relief rolls. By the end of 1937, the unemployed continued to number nine million, and the economy's new downswing gave rise to the term "recession."

By 1938 tensions in Europe mounted as Hitler's Germany annexed Austria and occupied the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia. The spread of racism in Europe and the organization of domestic fascist organizations seemingly adherent to their overseas counterparts caused growing concern in the late 1930s. Several congressional committees had investigated these organizations, but in 1938 a new special committee formed. Popularly known as the Dies Committee after its chairman, Martin Dies of Texas, its activities and tactics received much criticism. Dies seemed more interested in the exposure of communist and socialist activities than fascist ones and complained that the federal government contained "hundreds of left-wingers and radicals who do not believe in our system of private enterprise" and that there were "two thousand outright Communists and Partyliners ... in the government in Washington."

Although the Dies Committee had the duty to investigate "the extent, character, and objects of un-American propaganda activities in the United States," the congressional debate reflected the difficulty of defining the meaning of "un-American." In 1945, the Dies Committee became the standing House Committee on Un-American Activities.

Report of the Dies Committee: H.R. Rep. No. 1476, 76th Cong., 3d Sess. (1940)

There is at present taking place in the world a struggle between democracy on the one hand and dictatorship on the other, upon the outcome of which the future of human liberties in the next few centuries may well depend.

... It is of primary importance to prevent the growth or spread of influence of . . . dictatorship of whatever sort.... But it is at least equally important that ... nothing be done which would undermine the fundamental structure of constitutional liberty itself.

One method which can and should from time to time be used is the method of investigation to inform the American people of the activities of [subversive] organizations in their nation. This is the real purpose of the House Committee to Investigate un-American Activities. By un-American activities we mean organizations or groups existing in the United States which are directed, controlled or subsidized by foreign governments or agencies and which seek to change the policies and form of government of the United States in accordance with the wishes of such foreign governments...

... The committee finds that the danger to American democracy lies not only in the rather remote possibility that Communists, Nazis, or Fascists will succeed in a frontal attack on our Constitutional government and overthrow it, but also in the much greater chance that each extreme totalitarian group seeking by deception to advance its own cause and pad its ranks will succeed in convincing a really substantial number of people that the* only defense against violence from the opposite extreme is to accept the violence of the one they find least objectionable...

The committee's work should result in freeing the progressive and labor movements from Communist control or domination and in preventing sincere conservatives from temporizing with essentially Fascist or Nazi groups or philosophies.... The committee wishes to state emphatically that the only proper and democratic method whereby un-American activities can be effectively combated is by the duly constituted law-enforcing bodies of America operating under our Constitution and with the support of an informed public opinion.


... In [1934] ... the attempt was made by Communists to bore from within the American Federation of Labor. On the whole this effort met with but slight success.

With the formation of the C.I.O. the principal efforts of the Communists were turned in the direction of that organization. It is unmistakably clear that the overwhelming majority of the members of the C.I.O. as well as its president are not Communists or Communist sympathizers.... The evidence before the committee indicates, however, that the leadership of some 10 or 12 of the constituent unions of the C.I.O. out of a total of some 48 unions is more than tinged with communism. The evidence shows that some of their leaders are either card-holding members of the Communist Party or subservient followers of that party's "line." In the rank and file membership of these unions, on the contrary, the proportion of Communists and Communist sympathizers is very small indeed. There is encouraging evidence of an attempt on the part of the C.I.O. Ieadership to remove this Communist influence and it is a matter of record that most of its largest organizations are free of any Communist control, domination, or even serious influence....

... [T]he Communist Party is interested in trade unions primarily for the purpose of attempting to utilize those labor organizations for the benefit of the Russian dictatorship and its foreign policies.


... These groups and organizations make the* chief appeal to the basest forms of religious and racial hatred. They promise to deliver this country from the menace of communism; they heap scorn upon the institutions of democracy; and they urge the short cuts of force and violence.


... [T]he German-American Bund receives its inspiration, program, and direction from the Nazi Government of Germany through the various propaganda organizations which have been set up by that Government and which function under the control and supervision of the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment.

.. . Fritz Kuhn ["fuehrer" of the Bund] testified that the bund has a membership of approximately 20,000 to 25,000. (A Department of Justice investigation made of the bund in 1937 placed the membership at 6,500.) In addition to the regular membership, it has what is known as the sympathizer or "fellow traveler" group, consisting of those who are sympathetic to the bund but do not actively participate in its proceedings. He testified that the sympathizer group is composed of approximately 80,000 to 100,000 individuals...

It was established . . . that the bund had worked sympathetically with other organizations throughout the United States and cooperates with them. Kuhn testified that some of these groups are the Christian Front, the Christian Mobilizers, the Christian Crusaders, the Social Justice Society, the Silver Shirt Legion of America, the Knights of the White Camelia and various Italian Fascist, White Russian and Ukrainian organizations.

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