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Four Freedoms, For All: American Information Agencies and the Effort to Publicize Nazi Crimes against Humanity

Quatre libertés pour tous : les agences d’information américaine et l’effort de médiatisation des crimes nazi contre l’humanité
Jeffrey Demsky
p. 97-125

Résumé

En juin 1942, le Président Franklin Delano Roosevelt a créé le bureau de l’information de guerre dont la mission consistait à « rendre plus accessible et intelligible l’effort de guerre américain, les politiques gouvernementales, la progression des combats et les objectifs de guerre ». Les responsables du bureau de l’information de guerre ont cherché à différencier les visions humanistes démocratiques et fascistes en contribuant à la diffusion d’histoires narrant l’intolérance raciale et religieuse des Nazis. Alors que les Nazis n’avaient de cesse de décrire les Juifs comme un peuple peu amène, les dirigeants du bureau n’hésitaient pas à diversifier les médias afin de démontrer la légitimité de défendre les Juifs comme étant partie intégrante du plus large effort de guerre américain, une preuve s’il en est d’un œcuménisme grandissant des législateurs américains qui allait s’instaurer après-guerre.

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Texte intégral

  • 1 Richard Owens, The Neutrality Imperative, Lanham, Md: University Press of America, 2009, 60; Walter (...)
  • 2 G. J. Meyer, A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914-1918, New York: Delacorte Press, 2006 (...)
  • 3 David A. Andelman, A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and The Price We Pay Today, Hoboken, NJ: J. W (...)

1In 1796, during his farewell remarks to the nation, George Washington warned Americans about the dangers associated with what he termed the “entangling alliances” of European diplomacy.1 For more than a century thereafter, Washington’s suspicion of international relations became a guiding principle in American politics. In 1916, for example, the same year that French and British forces soldiered at Verdun and Somme, President Woodrow Wilson won his re-election based in part upon the success of a slogan that reminded voters “He Kept Us Out of War.”2 While the American military did ultimately enter the First World War, the U.S. Senate’s subsequent rejection of the Versailles Treaty, and its refusal to ratify the League of Nations covenant, reminded onlookers that more than simply the Atlantic Ocean separated the two continents.3

  • 4 Steven Wall, “Neutrality and Responsibility,” Journal of Philosophy 98 (2001), 390;James Dunnigan, (...)
  • 5 Benjamin D. Rhodes, United States Foreign Policy in the Interwar Period, 1918-1941: The Golden Age (...)
  • 6 Nick Smart, British Strategy and Politics During the Phony War: Before the Balloon Went Up, Westpor (...)

2As Europeans stood at the precipice of a Second World War, isolationism remained deeply embedded in the American psyche. Most people in the U.S. had little knowledge of, and less interest in, tensions brewing in such remote locations as the Sudetenland or Danzig. Members of Congress heeded these sentiments. During the 1930s, legislators passed a series of Neutrality Acts that restricted American globalism.4 Prominent citizens such as the pilot-icon Charles Lindbergh lauded such decisions. His “America First” organization attracted millions of followers across the country.5 The general public, as well as elected officials, had various opportunities to learn about the global fascist danger. However, the popular “Fortress America” concept reassured most onlookers that such developments posed little threat to the United States. Following the outbreak of fighting in September 1939, these opinions only hardened. Despite the rapid Nazi advances across the continent, many commentators asked rhetorically what role the U.S. might hope to play in Europe’s so-called “phony war.”6

3Only two years later, however, this mentality had largely receded. American military forces joined those from the United Kingdom and Soviet Union in an alliance against the Axis Powers. This stark change in thinking and behavior traced its most immediate roots to the Japanese empire’s attacks against American naval forces stationed at Pearl Harbor, as well as Adolf Hitler’s subsequent declaration of war against the United States. However, even before the infamous events of December 1941, there is evidence that a larger shift in attitudes was unfolding. As early as the Nazi Party’s rise to power, a contest brewed in the U.S. between isolationists who wished to ignore this development and interventionists who saw leveling opposition to Nazism as an opportunity to strengthen the American national character.

  • 7 Steven Watts, The People’s Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century, New York: Knopf, 2005, 505; (...)
  • 8 Ronald Kessler, The Sins of The Father: Joseph P. Kennedy and The Dynasty He Founded, New York: War (...)
  • 9 For a photo of Charles Lindbergh and Hermann Goering enjoying a laugh, see Susan Hertog, Anne Morro (...)
  • 10 For photos of Henry Ford accepting his medal, see Kees van der Pijl, The Making of an Atlantic Ruli (...)

4This story is not very well known. To date, historians have generally focused their attention only on those who saw little to fear from the new German regime.7During the mid-1930s and early 1940s, Ambassador Joe Kennedy lauded Hitler’s government;8 CharlesLindbergh established a residency in the Third Reich;9 and Henry Ford visitedBerlin to accept a medal from Nazi representatives.10Although striking, these expressions of support caused each man irreparable damage. The interwar decades saw American social attitudes changing. RejectingNazism – and, specifically, its hostility to religious freedoms – became part of a much larger reconfiguration of mainstream views. For many members of the Protestant elite, repudiating Hitlerism became a useful exercise for differentiating between the democratic and fascist visions for humankind.

  • 11 Marc Dollinger, Quest for Inclusion: Jews and Liberalism in Modern America, Princeton: Princeton Un (...)

5Evidence that Americans, both in and outside the government, opposed Nazi hostility toward ethno-religious minorities appeared in periodicals, political statements, plays, motion pictures, novels, privatecorrespondences, and government publications. Although negativesentiments toward ethnic, racial, and religious minorities undoubtedly persisted for many citizens in the U.S., there is a larger tale to tell involving the ways that people of varying stripes and creeds saw in their denunciations of Nazi intolerance a tool forpromoting a more culturally inclusive worldview.11This liberalizingimpulse took on an additional momentum during the early 1940s, with the nation’s entry intowar, and the subsequent movement that emerged ultimately outstripped all efforts that precededit. Once we free ourselves of a monolithic vision of the 1930s and early 1940s as a period in which pervasive hostilitytoward minorities reigned unchecked, we can explore the people and episodes that helped to ensure that the U.S. lived up to the lofty goals its founders and inheritors claimed to cherish.

Part One: “Four Freedoms” For All

6Perhaps, the clearest example of this process unfolding involved President Franklin Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” proclamation. Issued in January 1941, eleven months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the remarks constituted the closing portion of his annual State of the Union address to Congress. The declaration was a sweeping piece of rhetoric in which the president took direct aim at the isolationist camp. Standing with the aid of heavy iron braces strapped to his polio-stricken legs, Roosevelt thundered

  • 12 As quoted in David Kennedy, Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945(...)

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way. The third is a freedom from want…the fourth is a freedom from fear…This is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere.12

With these words Franklin Roosevelt committed the U.S. to upholding democratic values globally. His proclamation indicated that the U.S. would no longer shirk from international diplomacy, and further suggested that Roosevelt interpreted tackling this challenge as part and parcel of his unprecedented third term as the American president.

  • 13 Thomas Fleming, The New Dealers’ War: FDR And The War Within World War II, New York: Basic Books, 2 (...)
  • 14 Julian Zelizer, Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National SecurityFrom World War II to the W (...)
  • 15 McDougall, Promised, 151; Lloyd Gardner, “The Atlantic Charter: Idea and Reality, 1942-1945,” inDou (...)

7Members of Congress took immediate note. Only two months after the speech, majorities coalesced among legislators in both chambers to abandon the country’s established neutrality course.  Lawmakers soon passed legislation that allowed Britain to freely call upon American resources in the fight against totalitarianism.13 Such acts were unparalelled in the annals of American foreign policy, but keen political observers might well have predicted the development. Indeed, in the months prior to outlining his “Four Freedoms,” Roosevelt signaled his intentions clearly. For example, in September 1940, he signed into law the Selective Training and Service Act that established the first peacetime draft in U.S. history. That December, Roosevelt delivered his so-called arsenal of democracy speech in which he delineated ways the U.S. could use its economic strength to defeat totalitarianism.14 These were not sporadic endeavors. Following his “Four Freedoms” proclamation, the president sustained a high profile public relations campaign in support of his rhetoric capped by the signing of the Atlantic Charter with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.15

  • 16 Stuart Murray & James McCabe, Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms: Images That Inspire a Nation,Stockbr (...)
  • 17 Maureen Hart Hennessey & Anne Knutson, Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People, New York: (...)

8Such activites contained a clear educative value. Both the Atlantic Charter and “Four Freedoms” vision helped to ground public discussions about what type of image the U.S. hoped to strike. The noted American artist Norman Rockwell depicted the latter category’s themes visually in a series of identically entitled portraits. In March 1943, the popular American periodical Saturday Evening Post reproduced the prints on its front covers.16 Pictures of Roosevelt’s ideas soon hung on walls, often alongside the president’s visage, in tens of millions of homes across the United States. That same year, Rockwell agreed to lend his paintings for inclusion in a government war loan drive that visited sixteen American cities.17 This layering of support indicates that Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” represented more than a well-crafted piece of political oratory. During the early 1940s, the sentiments were cornerstone themes in everyday discussions between ordinary citizens as well as elected officials.

  • 18 Stephen Vaughn, Holding Fast the Inner Lines: Democracy, Nationalism, and the Committee on Public I (...)
  • 19 Elmer Comwell, “Wilson, Creel, and the Presidency,” Public Opinion Quarterly 23 (1959), 189-202.
  • 20 Leslie Midkiff DeBauche, Reel Patriotism: The Movies and World War One, Madison: University of Wisc (...)

9The supple manner in which Roosevelt’s global mentality steered the American public consciousness points to a larger truth. The president and his aides placed a great deal of emphasis on connecting citizens intellectually to the war effort. Such cognizance reflected an inherited knowledge gleaned during the First World War. Shortly after the U.S. entered that conflict, President Woodrow Wilson devised the Committee on Public Information to promote details of the struggle domestically.18 However, following nearly three years of much-ballyhooed neutrality, the agency’s leaders faced challenges connecting an unenlightened public to the fight. Director George Creel, a successful journalist from the American muckraker school, unwound a massive advertising campaign that sanctioned the military effort much as one might endorse consumer products.19 The Committee on Public Information housed a staff of journalists that penned positivist newspaper stories. Government writers devised “loyalty leaflets” and its artists created patriotic-minded posters and buttons. Working with privately owned motion pictures studios, the Committee’s Division of Films also produced sensationalist feature films with such titles as The Kaiser: Beast of Berlin (1918), Wolves of Kultur, (1918), The Hun Within (1918), and To Hell With the Kaiser (1918).20

  • 21 George Creel, How We Advertised America: The First Telling of the Amazing Story of the Committee on (...)
  • 22 DeBauche, Reel,165.
  • 23 Vaughn, Holding, 70.

10In his 1920 memoir How We Advertised America, Director Creel stated, “Our effort was educational and informative […] We had such confidence in our case as to feel that no other technique was needed than the straightforward presentation of the facts.”21 Not all onlookers, however, endorsed Creel’s sanguine analysis. These observers argued that many of the artifacts produced under Creel’s auspices constituted little more than unrefined propaganda designed to dehumanize the enemy. Indeed, depicting Germans as barbarian “Huns” or large monkeys who savaged women was a stock feature in the Committee’s poster art.22 Alternatively, the images used to represent American and Allied figures included such heroic icons as Revolutionary War Minutemen, Abraham Lincoln, and Joan of Arc. The disparity between the manner in which officials illustrated agents of the Allied and Central powers helped to harden American attitudes against the Kaiserreich. The Committee’s decision to publicize shocking– but untrue– reports of German atrocities perpetrated against Polish and Belgian civilians constituted a basic facet of what one scholar has termed the agency’s “literature of fear” method.23

  • 24 James R. Mock & Cedric Larson, Words That Won The War: The Story of the Committee On Public Informa (...)
  • 25 Thomas Hollihan, “Propagandizing in the Interest of War: A Rhetorical Study of the Committee on Pub (...)
  • 26 As quoted in Vaughn, Holding, 333.

11Commentators also lamented the “voluntary censorship” that Creel’s organization used to govern the behavior of private news outlets.24 Ostensibly concerned with the publication of false and damaging information, officials at the Committee on Public Information played a pivotal role in helping to ensure the congressional passage of the Espionage and Sedition Acts. These pieces of legislation had a particularly devastating impact on Socialist newspapers such as Appeal to Reason and The Masses. In order to keep their presses rolling, editors at the former periodical felt compelled to reverse their opposition to war. The Masses ceased operation entirely. Such developments indicate that while the Committee on Public Information may not have been a censor in the strictest sense, the agency engaged in censorship of a serious sort.25 In fact, by 1918, Creel and his staff had developed such a high regard for restricting free speech that they privately discussed possible levers by which to suppress criticism uttered by senators speaking on the floor of Congress.26

Part Two: The “Four Freedoms” and the American Effort to Condemn Nazi Crimes Against Humanity

  • 27 Allan Winkler, The Politics of Propaganda: The Office of War Information, 1942-1945, New Haven: Yal (...)
  • 28 Keith Kane, “The O.F.F.,” Public Opinion Quarterly 6 (1942): 204-220.
  • 29 As quoted in Richard Steele, “American Popular Opinion and the War Against Germany: The Issue of Ne (...)

12The troubling legacy born of the Committee on Public Information was one that Franklin Roosevelt and his aides hoped to circumvent. During 1941, the president charged several organizations with the task of crafting a public discourse about American aims in the Second World War. These included the Office of the Coordinator of Information, the Office of Government Reports, the Division of Information, and the Office of Facts and Figures.27 The latter agency proved to be of particular note. Its director, Pulitzer-prize-winning poet and Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish, held a proactive leadership view about the role that information agencies could play in the struggle against fascism.28 This was indeed a pressing task. More than six months after the United States hadentered the Second World War, 52 percent of the public admitted they did not have a clear ideawhat the war was about. “I can see why we are fighting the Japanese,” one respondent told aGallup pollster in August 1942, “but I cannot see why we are fighting the Germans…Isuppose we are fighting for democracy.”29

  • 30 Benjamin Alpers, Dictators, Democracy and American Public Culture: Envisioning the Totalitarian Ene (...)

13Americans during the late 1930s and early 1940s still had to learnwhat, if anything, they might have to fear from totalitarianism.30 One way that MacLeish and his staff thought to highlight the threat lay in an exposition of President Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” proclamation. Specifically, he reasoned that presenting examples of Nazi hatred toward private religion would educate citizens in a powerful way about the nature of the enemy. The freedom of unfettered worship constituted President Roosevelt’s second guarantee, and hammering away at Nazi blasphemy, while simultaneously crediting American reverence, differentiated the worldviews promulgated by the leaders of fascist and democratic countries.

  • 31 November 14, 1935, “Luce,” box 8, Archibald MacLeish Papers, 1907-1981, Library of Congress, Washin (...)
  • 32 Editors of Fortune, Jews in America, New York: Random House, 1936, 9-11.

14This topic was familiar to Director MacLeish. In 1935, while serving as Fortune Magazine editor, he supported the idea of using the periodical to raise domestic awareness of Nazi anti-Jewish scapegoating. In a series of private memoranda written to his publisher, Henry Luce Jr., MacLeish argued,“there is anti-Semitic talk around the country. The activities of Mr. Hitler in Germany have had their effect here […] we would be well advised dragging the whole issue into the light of day for all to see.”31 Such arguments prevailed. In addition to publishing a magazine story decrying Nazi bigotry, the next year MacLeish and other Fortune editors published a one-hundred-page book entitled Jews in America. “The unbelievable record of Nazi barbarities,” the publication begins, “concerns non-Jews as well as Jews […] Any nation that permits a minority to live in fear is a nation which invites disaster […] Any man who loathes Fascism will fear anti-Semitism and also the various conditions which encourage it.”32

  • 33 “O.W.I.,” box 53, Archibald MacLeish Papers, 1907-1981, Library of Congress, Washington D.C.
  • 34 Robert Abzug, America Views the Holocaust, 1933-1945, New York: Bedford St. Martin’s, 1999, 45, 126 (...)
  • 35 Information Control and Propaganda: Records of the Office of War Information, Part I: “The Director (...)

15Building on this legacy, in early 1942, MacLeish’s Office of Facts and Figures tackled the issue of Nazi intolerance toward Jews. They published and distributed a sixteen-page propaganda brochure entitled Divide and Conquer: What Hitler Wants You To Think, which squarely explained how Nazi hostility toward religion violated the democratic values laid out in Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” guarantee. “Hitler hopes to destroy unity in America. Both physicallyand mentally,” readers learned, “all his tricks are now being directed against us.” Taking square aim at the issue of German intolerance toward Judaism, citizens read, “The Jews in Warsawhave been packed into a ghetto.” “Nazi guards,” the prose continued, “patrol an eight foot walltopped by broken glass and barbed wire.”33American newspapers had previously published articles depicting the Warsaw Ghetto. Reports of Nazi violence toward Jews were common and mainstream in the media.34 With 2.5 million copies printed and distributed by the U.S. government, however, Divide and Conquer indicates a much deeper layering of the public discourse.35 Moreover, as the leader of a federal information agency, MacLeish’s outfit had laid the groundwork for using taxpayer funds to decry the Nazi intolerance of private religious worship.

  • 36 “O.W.I.,” box 53, Archibald MacLeish Papers, 1907-1981, Library of Congress, Washington D.C.
  • 37 Michael Burleigh & Wolfgang Wippermann, The Racial State: Germany, 1933-1945, Cambridge: Cambridge (...)
  • 38 Divide and Conquer:What Hitler Wants You To Think, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Offic (...)

16Divide and Conquer also discussed persecutions leveled against non-Jews. “Poland’s Catholic Church,” the narrative informed,“has been practically wiped out. Six hundred churches, four hundred chapels, and twohundred convents have been destroyed or closed.”36 The emphasis that American officials placed on demonstrating such practices ecumenically indicated they concluded that indicating the ways Hitlerism threatened Jews and Christians alike could produce a more significant propaganda gain. Although scholars now rightly argue that Nazism was rooted in a racial, rather than religious, fear of so-called Jewish genes,37 this nuance may not have been apparent to observers during the early 1940s. Rather, the basic point upon which Director MacLeish and his staff focused involved raising concern about the threats that Nazism posed to core civic values. “We have seen,” the closing section of Divide and Conquer read, “how Hitler’s strategy was tocreate internal distress in every nation he planned to attack.” “Our job as Americans,” this U.S. government pamphlet advised, “is one of individual awareness to avoid falling intoHitler’s trap.”38

  • 39 For the full mandate, see U.S. Cong. Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, Hearings on t (...)
  • 40 Gerd Horton, Radio Goes to War: The Cultural Politics of Propaganda During World War Two, Berkeley: (...)
  • 41 Clayton Laurie, The Propaganda Warriors: America’s Crusade against Nazi Germany, Topeka: University (...)

17The Office of Facts and Figures was not, however, a main ingredient in President Roosevelt’s “alphabet soup” administration. By mid-1942, the small grouping had been amalgamated into a larger bureaucracy called the Office of War Information. In his Executive Order creating the latter outfit, the president empowered this new agency to “coordinate an informed and intelligent understanding at home and abroad of the war effort, government policies, combat activities, and general war aims.”39 The Office of War Information was an expansive grouping with offices in Washington, D.C., London, New York, and San Francisco. Its directors possessed access to various media including radio, film, and printing presses that helped to ensure its visibility both domestically and overseas.40 The Office of War Information operated until 1945, and was the final information agency that President Roosevelt created to craft a public discourse explaining American war aims.41

  • 42 For Elmer Davis, see David Culbert, News for the Everyman: Radio and Foreign Affairs in Thirties Am (...)

18The president’s choice to run the bureau was the noted foreign correspondent Elmer Davis. Davis possessed no previous governmental experience, but he was knowledgeable about European affairs and had covered Henry Ford’s “goodwill journey” in 1916. Following World War I, he reported on the Paris Peace Conference. During the 1920s and 1930s, he had worked for the New York Times as both a writer and editor. Once the Second World War began, Davis appeared on the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. Seven days a week, at shortly before 9 p.m., Davis told listeners about events in Europe. Citizens reportedly enjoyed his droll wit and “Hoosier” perspective.42

  • 43 For Robert Sherwood and American propaganda efforts, see Michael Denning, The Cultural Front: The L (...)
  • 44 Michael Grey, New Deal Medicine: The Rural Health Programs of the Farm Security Administration,Balt (...)

19The new director surrounded himself with capable and experienced administrators. Archibald MacLeish served briefly as an assistant director, and Pulitzer-winning playwright and presidential speechwriter Robert Sherwood ran the Overseas Branch.43  The Office of War Information also incorporated hundreds of artists, writers, photographers, and editors from the Works Projects and Farm Security Administrations.44 This array of talent indicated that the Office of War Information possessed a clear ability to sculpt an audiovisual message, and to share this vision with the American public.

  • 45 Joseph Bendersky, The Jewish Threat: Anti-Semitic Politics of the U.S. Army, New York: Basic Books, (...)

20During the years 1942-1943, the Office of War Information published many dozens of brochures with distribution levels that reached into the tens of millions. Officials betrayed a particular commitment to publicizing stories rooted in socio-cultural themes such as race, creed, and gender. Some of the topics that agency officials examined included War Jobs for Women (1943), Nazi War Against the Catholic Church (1942), Negroes and the War (1943) and of course The Four Freedoms (1942). Through its brochures, the Office of War Information unwound a vision for humankind that contrasted starkly with images of fascist atomization. There were, however, subtler aspects to these publications: Americans, too, maintained a legacy of human inequalities born of ethno-racial and religious hatreds.45 By focusing light on the enemy’s racism, administrators attempted to hammer away at a larger point that the United States was struggling to inaugurate a new epoch in human history in which all forms of intolerance were taboo.

  • 46 Vernon McKenzie, “Atrocities in World War II - What Can We Believe?” Journalism Quarterly 19 (1942) (...)
  • 47 E. Thomas Wood & Stanislaw Jankowski, Karski: How One Man Tried to Stop the Holocaust,New York: Wil (...)
  • 48 National Opinion Research Center, Germany and the Post-War World, Boulder: University of Denver, 19 (...)

21Various reasons have contributed to scholars overlooking the Office’s role in sculpting this pluralist argument, particularly as it relates to the publicizing of stories about Nazi crimes against Jews. For many Americans, including Jewish Americans, the legacy of false reports purporting to document German atrocities during the First World War increased levels of skepticism.46 Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, for example, dismissed as incredible the reports of a systematic destruction. In early 1942, he informed Jan Karski, a Polish eyewitness to the killings, that he could “not believe” the stories told to him.47 Two years later, this pathology had not receded. Pollsters for the National Opinion Research Council found that more than twenty-five percent of American respondents dismissed as false the reports of anti-Jewish atrocities, and that those that did believe atrocities had taken place nevertheless concluded that Nazi henchmen had murdered less than one hundred thousand Jews.48

  • 49 Richard Breitman, Officials Secrets: What The Nazis Planned, What The British and Americans Knew, N (...)
  • 50 Walter Laqueur, The Terrible Secret: Suppression of the Truth About Hitler’s Final Solution, 2nd ed (...)

22This consistent turning away from the truth has led many postwar observers to conclude that the American government and its citizens participated in a larger “abandonment” of European Jewry. Such claims indeed constitute the basis of many dozens of monographs and academic articles published in the field of Holocaust Studies. Arguing that American leaders knew about, but elected to downplay, the reports of Nazi crimes has cemented the manner in which later generations of historians frame inquiries.49 A case in point is the oft-noted “Riegner Cable.” In August 1942, this World Jewish Congress communiqué to the State Department outlined in detail the ongoing German program of murder; its authors requested that American officials share news of the report with Jewish American leaders. Instead of disseminating the information, however, diplomats suppressed the message after determining that its contents were “unbelievable.”50

  • 51 Robert Rosen, Saving the Jews: FDR and the Holocaust, New York: Thunder’s Mouth, 2006, 463-468; Dav (...)
  • 52 “Roosevelt Moves on Behalf of Jews,” Washington Post, January 23, 1944. See also Wyman & Medoff, Ra (...)

23While it is true that refugee experts such as Wallace Murray and BreckinridgeLong Jr. cared little about the Jewish pleas for help, others did express concern.51 A need exists to widen the locus of investigation beyond a review of the utterances and activities of men who exhibited professional incompetence and personal shortcomings. As early as March 1933, congressmen, Jewish and non-Jewish, publicly condemned the Nazis’ persecutions. Such concerns remained a part of congressional discourse until the war’s close. Interest groups also raised levels of awareness. They lobbied, conducted media campaigns, and brought discussion of the Jewish genocide into elite circles. Such efforts ultimately provoked policy changes in the way that the U.S. government addressed the issue. In January 1944, President Roosevelt created the War Refugee Board. This agency rebutted claims that the Jews were a friendless people. Its officials helped save several hundred thousand Jewish lives. Scholars may continue to lament the many roads not taken, but the Board’s operations demonstrated tangible aspects of Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” promise.52

  • 53 For the Committee of War Information, see “Subject File,” “OWI,” box 52, Archibald MacLeish Papers, (...)
  • 54 See esp. John Dower, War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War,New York: Pantheon, 1986, (...)
  • 55 “O.W.I.,” box 52, MacLeish Papers.

24Even before President Roosevelt took this step, policymakers had discussed the need to publicize acts of fascist violence. Working with Robert Kitner, an executive of the National Broadcasting Company, and political figures such as Milton Eisenhower, Adlai Stevenson, Nelson Rockefeller, and Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy, Archibald MacLeish chaired a group called the “Committee on War Information.” On April 30, 1942, in response to a question about the “handling of atrocity material,” MacLeish suggested first the need for a written statement covering what existed. Two weeks later, these men again met to “develop a policy for the disclosure of atrocity information.”53 They agreed that such releases should occur with “the specific purpose of giving the public an accurate idea of the enemy.”54 Attached to this agenda is an eight-page discussion of how best to present the evidence after “absolutely irrefutable and horrible reports come in.” “Photographs, movies, posters, speeches, governmental and eyewitness testimony” were possible methods listed. “It would be wise to have a policy [on atrocities] ready.” “If we do not prepare,” members of the Committee on War Information determined, “any number of unfortunate things may happen.”55

  • 56 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1, reel 12: 0754.
  • 57 Idem.
  • 58 Idem.

25Administrators at the Office of War Information took this warning to heart. In July 1942, only a month after the agency’s founding, George Barnes, Director Davis’s assistant, authored an internal memorandum on the topic. “Is there any facility,” the message began, “for checking the authenticity and accuracy of reported atrocities?” Citing a concern that there would certainly be “an increasing number of inquiries,” the document closed with the statement, “we should be prepared to answer them with some authority.”56 Ten days later, Director Davis received a related letter. The message informed him that presidential advisor Adolf Berle had developed a prospective White House statement on the topic of “civilian atrocities.” The document also contained a description of a new category termed “crimes against humanity.”57 This construct connected the United States directly with a defense of European Jewry. The category’s intellectual roots held that the Nazi actions, steeped in hatred toward ethno-religious minorities, were incompatible with democratic values. As the memo’s author observed: “those perpetrating these atrocities must know that they cannot absolve themselves. The crimes are being recorded in all countries with great care.”58

  • 59 “Davis,” box 6, MacLeish Papers.
  • 60 Laurie, Propaganda, 63; Holly Shulman, The Voice of America: Propaganda and Democracy, 1941-1945, M (...)
  • 61 FDR welcomed tensions within his bureaucracy and staff. See Matthew Dickinson, Bitter Harvest: FDR, (...)

26Of course, the Office of War Information exerted modest authority. Its mid-level bureaucratic apparatus was insufficient for directly combating the genocide. The new organization also experienced intra-agency fractures, which hastened Archibald MacLeish’s departure. In his resignation letter to Elmer Davis, the poet noted a “confusion” that resulted from overlapping jurisdictions.59 Indeed, the agency was but one of several organizations involved with the collection and dissemination of war information. On the same day that President Roosevelt had authorized Davis’s bureau, he also created an “Office of Strategic Services.” The main distinction between the two resided in their staffs: Elmer Davis ran a civilian organization manned by literary talents while the Office of Strategic Services was a military unit, commanded by Col. William “Wild Bill” Donovan.60 A New York lawyer and friend of the president, Donovan had prior experience of information gathering and propaganda. He was a forceful figure who staked out a broad vision. Perhaps not surprisingly, frictions emerged between the new organizations over the best way to fulfill their similar mandates.61

  • 62 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1, Davis to Roosevelt, January 1, 1943; reel 4: 0112.
  • 63 Idem. See also Allison Gilmore, You Can’t Fight Tanks with Bayonets: Psychological Warfare against (...)

27“The confusion as to the respective jurisdiction and functions of this Office and the Office of Strategic Services requires clarification,” Elmer Davis informed President Roosevelt via a letter dated New Year’s Day 1943.62 The dispute centered on what was termed “white” versus “black” propaganda. The former category was a passive, reactive approach that used factual stories to enlighten citizens about the enemy. Davis favored this method, and his staff had produced numerous pieces of “white” propaganda during late 1942. The Office of Strategic Services, however, preferred “black” propaganda, an offensive, proactive concept designed to penetrate enemy populations. These types of activities, what Davis characterized in his letter to the president as “psychological and secret,” included dropping fictional leaflets, airing false news reports and otherwise engaging in the spread of demoralizing information.63

  • 64 Information Control and Propaganda: Records of the Office of War Information, Part 2: Office of Pol (...)
  • 65 Ibid., reel 11: 0114.
  • 66 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1, Davis to Donovan, June 6, 1944, reel 4: 0893.

28The impasse proved no trifling matter. Nine months later, Robert Sherwood sent Davis a cable reporting “Donovan’s demands for participation in propaganda planning.”64  In October 1943, Davis again learned from his overseas chief “OSS is attempting to have its mandate for black propaganda reinterpreted.”65 As late as June 6, 1944, the day that American forces landed in France, the propaganda chiefs continued to hash over their respective powers. “The Office of War Information is solely responsible for the dissemination of American propaganda,” Davis informed his counterpart via letter. “The Office of Strategic Services,” he continued, “is responsible for the dissemination of propaganda which originates within enemy or enemy occupied territory.”66

29For those officials interested in raising levels of awareness about the Nazi persecution of European Jewry, however, these bureaucratic struggles produced an unexpected dividend. Indeed, publicizing the ever-escalating number of atrocity reports helped to bolster the white propaganda approach. In January 1943, Robert Sherwood’s overseas branch explained how the process might work. His staffers argued

  • 67 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 2, reel 13: 0365.

We should coldly and factually establish Hitler’s plan to exterminate the Jews in Europe. We should make a point in news and talks of telling people the fullest facts. Anti-Semitism has been a potent weapon of Nazi political warfare and the time has now come to use it against them.67

  • 68 Jeffrey Demsky, “American Policy Responses to the Holocaust,” in Encyclopedia of United States Poli (...)
  • 69 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1, reel 8: 0049.

30Just two months later, the Office of War Information incorporated this tactic into a brochure entitled Tale of a City. This twenty-three-page story depicted through words, statistics, and illustrations the German tyranny ongoing in Warsaw, Poland. The publication was not an ephemeral effort. It represented for Americans tales of Nazi brutality earlier reported in such government publications as Divide and Conquer (1941) and Nazi War Against The Catholic Church (1942).  Moreover, Tale of a City (1943) appeared only three months after President Roosevelt’s public acknowledgement that the Nazis were now carrying into effect Hitler’s “oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe.”68 With a distribution of just under 2 million copies, Tale of a City was the Office’s second-largest domestic release of white propaganda.69Its publicationwas another tangible example that information agencies continued to see a propaganda value in publicizing Nazi crimes. Its implicit message, first outlined in Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” declaration, was that the United States joined the struggle to defeat such acts of barbarity.

  • 70 Ibid., reel 9: 0143.
  • 71 Ibid., reel 9: 1053-1055.
  • 72 “Subject File,” “OWI,” box 53, MacLeish Papers. MacLeish’s private papers contain a comic book enti (...)

31Tale of a City began with an inscription from the president stating, “Punishment shall be meted out to those responsible for the organized murders and commission of atrocities which have violated every tenet of the Christian faith.”70 Readers met with frank discussion of alarming topics such as Aryan “race laws” and Gestapo death squads.71 Following the tactic first outlined in Divide and Conquer (1941), Office of War Information writers portrayed German intolerance broadly. The Tale of a City noted injustice against Catholics, Protestants, Slavs, women, and the working class. Tale also bore a clear similarity in its title and tone to Archibald MacLeish’s radio play about fascist social atomization in Spain, Fall of a City (1937). In fact, the poet had begun writing Tale of a City while heading the Office of Facts and Figures.72 What separates the two stories, however, is that Tale conveyed explicit — and factually based — images of Nazi violence. This evolution in style suggests that as American information officers gained deeper knowledge about the exact manner in which fascism attacked democratic values, they saw fit to capitalize on the possible propaganda value associated with such stories.

  • 73 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1, reel 9: 0148.
  • 74 Ibid., pt. 1, reel 9: 0158. These lines also appear verbatim in the Office of Facts and Figures bro (...)

32“In Poland,” Tale explained, “the Germans periodically create artificial food shortages as a weapon to demoralize the population […] Milk cans are wastefully punctured and eggs smashed.” Americans learned that the Polish Jews were being “deprived of the necessary fats and vitamins,” with the result that “Warsaw today is dying out.”73 Although agency writers noted Nazi violence broadly, Tale of a City (1943) paid particular attention to Jewish welfare. “Polish Jews were given three to six hours to pack and get into the ghetto.” The publication described the zone as a “dismal section of one hundred blocks in the northern part of Warsaw, surrounded by an eight foot wall topped by broken glass.” “No one could enter or leave without a pass; no streetcars run between the Ghetto and other parts of the city.”74

  • 75 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1, reel 9: 0159.
  • 76 Idem.

33Tale also provided specific data about Jewish death rates. At “eighty-three deaths per thousand men,” the U.S. government reported to its citizens, the life expectancy for Jews living in the Warsaw Ghetto was “sixty percent less” than it was for occupants residing in other modern cities.75 Agency writers also took conspicuous care to quote directly from President Roosevelt’s earlier condemnations. “In Poland,” citizens read, “German authorities are now carrying into effect Hitler’s oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe.” The ghettos established by the Nazi invaders were “systematically emptying.” “None of those taken away is ever heard from again.”76 Since the 1930s, Americans might have known that the German government terrorized its religious minorities. The Tale broadened this lore by explaining that in Nazi-conquered lands — a fate that could befall the U.S. if the nation’s war effort failed — ethno-religious groups faced deliberate extermination.

  • 77 New York Times, “Tyranny,” February 14, 1943.

34The New York Times discussed the brochure. Public media reporting represented an additional layer of discourse through which citizens could have inferred the relationship between the military fight and the struggle against ethno-religious persecution. “Warsaw is being subjected to a deliberate Nazi pattern of death, disease, starvation and the wholesale elimination of population,” the story began. Crediting the Office of War Information as its source, the Times piece continued, “all religion is persecuted: large numbers of prominent priests are in concentration camps or have been tortured or put to death.”In its conclusion, the article presented American citizens with yet another opportunity to read President Roosevelt’s December 1942 condemnation: “German officials are now carrying into effect Hitler’s oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people of Europe.”77

  • 78 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1, Perry to Davis March 19, 1943, reel 9: 0172.

35Director Davis received a number of letters about Tale of a City from private citizens. One of the most significant came from Stuart Perry of Adrian, Michigan. On March 19, 1943, Perry stated that he was “perfectly delighted” with the Office’s brochure. He noted, “the subject matter is exactly the kind that I want to see widely broadcast.”78 As the editor of his town’s newspaper, Perry informed Davis that he was planning to reproduce immediately Tale of a City without any content or stylistic changes. Stuart Perry was not an epic figure, but his letter validates the Office’s ability to shape the public discourse. In addition to the millions of copies otherwise distributed, the citizens of Adrian, Michigan, possessed an additional medium through which to learn about the American fight against bigotry.

  • 79 Ibid., Davis to Perry, March 27, 1943, reel 9: 0173.
  • 80 Ibid., Hill to Davis, April 28, 1943, reel 9: 0182.
  • 81 Ibid., Malinowski to Davis, June 3, 1943, reel 9: 0189.

36“I am very glad to know that you liked Tale of a City,” Director Davis wrote in reply. “It has as wide a distribution as our budget could permit, and the reception has been quite gratifying.”79  Davis received additional plaudits from within the academy. “You are to be congratulated on the excellence of your pamphlet Tale of A City,” wrote Dr. Douglas Hill at Duke University. The professor’s closing, perhaps obliquely noting the document’s educative purpose, characterized the effort as “one of the best of its kind.”80  The most compelling reaction came from an organization called “American Friends of Polish Democracy.” The group’s representative termed the Tale of a City a “wonderful contribution to the Polish-Allied cause.”81 This private association asked permission to reprint the publication in its newsletter. This again shows a layering in the public discourse, brought about directly by the Office of War Information brochure, which in turn reflected a larger decision by American information officers to disseminate war stories that covered more than military matters.

  • 82 Ibid., Davis to Lodge Jr., April 2, 1943, reel 9: 0178.

37Tale of a City also attracted congressional attention. In an April 1943 letter to Senator Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., Director Davis explained the importance of publicizing atrocity information. “All available evidence points to the fact that most Americans still have little accurate conception of what domination by the Nazis means,” he informed the Massachusetts senator. “Tale of a City illustrates from a concrete example what happens under Nazi occupation.” The letter closed by relaying that “the pamphlet has been widely reprinted by a great many newspapers throughout the country.”82

  • 83 Ibid., Lambert to Davis, April 15, 1943, reel 9: 0177.
  • 84 Ibid., Downey to Davis, April 29, 1943, reel 9: 0183.

38However, not all the feedback discussing Tale of a City was supportive. Some citizens disputed the pamphlet’s accuracy; others resented the federal government’s effort to frame the war as a defense of minority rights. Such disapproving replies complement rather than mitigate the previous expressions of praise: the meaningful point is that the Office of War Information — and, specifically the decision to join socio-cultural issues into discussion of the war — had provoked a credible public conversation. A. B. Lambert from St. Louis, Missouri, wrote on April 15, 1943. He expressed his opinion that “the publication was uncalled for and out of line with the Office of War Information’s bureaucratic purpose.” Lambert rejected the pamphlet as “an emotional appeal with certain social inferences.”83 Similar sentiments arrived from Mrs. Fritz Downey in Kansas City, Missouri. She disliked “the propaganda pamphlet Tale of a City”, questioned the agency’s decision to “use public funds for such a purpose” and closed her letter by asking the Office to “try and limit the amount of resources directed to such stories.”84

Part Three: The Political Backlash Against American Information Agencies

39To its supporters, the Office of War Information played a vital role in expanding the public flow of knowledge. Detractors claimed, however, the bureau, like other “New Deal” creations, used public funds to trumpet a partisan vision. By spring 1943, some in Congress charged Director Davis and his staff with toadyism. These lawmakers began a campain to curtail the Office’s operations. Such efforts were not entirely provoked by the agency’s actions, but rather betrayed a larger, ongoing process. Since the mid-1930s, Republican lawmakers in Congress had sought out issues through which they could criticize Roosevelt. Attacks now directed at the Office of War Information mirrored a familiar Republican Party complaint about the ways in which executive branch agencies spent congressional allocations.

  • 85 Joseph Goebbels recorded a similar observation. See Elke Frohlich (ed.), Die Tagebücher von Joseph (...)
  • 86 “O.W.I. Chief Places Ban on Politics,” Washington Post, March 18, 1943.

40Concerns centered on the agency’s unusual bureaucratic structure: its motion picture, radio, and publications divisions. Some claimed that the Office of War Information was the American counterpart to the Nazi’s Reich Propaganda Ministry.85 Such criticism quickly took its toll. “O.W.I. can be no more concerned with politics than the Army or the Navy,” Director Davis stated in a March 1943 Washington Post story. “The Office’s job is not to make policy but to help people understand what it is and why.”86 However, the longstanding agency decision to use public monies to publicize stories with clear socio-cultural and political undertones could not be immediately halted. And it proved a serious liability. Shortly after Tale of a City (1943) appeared, two additional brochures provoked public and congressional ire. The Life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1943) outraged Republican lawmakers who asked why a bureaucratic agency used its legislative appropriation to extol the chief executive. A more ambitious effort, Negroes and the War (1943), proved far costlier. Legislators from both chambers of Congress now openly chafed at the Office’s efforts to conflate the noblest aspect of Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” rhetoric with what many saw as a partisan agenda boosted by the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.

  • 87 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1, Taber to Davis, March 1, 1943, reel 12: 0357. See also, “Taber Attacks (...)
  • 88 Ibid., Davis to Taber, March 4, 1943, reel 12: 0364-65.

41Representative John Taber (R-NY), the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, was particularly critical. In a letter to Elmer Davis, he expressed his view that in the Life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1943) the agency had far exceeded its mandate to “coordinate an intelligent understanding of the war effort.” The legislator peppered the director with numerous questions related to the topic’s selection, its distribution levels, and costs.87 Davis replied quickly, if coyly, to the inquiry. He explained that the Office’s overseas division, run by Robert Sherwood, was responsible for the Franklin brochure. The publication had no domestic distribution; only American troops stationed in Europe had received the material. The director reported the existence of five hundred thousand copies, printed at a cost of almost $14,000. “I cannot see any political propaganda in the booklet,” he earnestly observed. “It has been a practice in America since 1776 to identify the president as a symbol for the entire nation.” His closing betrayed a whimsical combination of conciliation and candor. “If you would like further elucidation as to what we are trying to do,” he wrote, “I would be very happy if you would come down and lunch with me some day next week.” “It is true that we are coming up before Congress to ask for next year’s appropriation, but I assure you that this invitation [to lunch] is not in any sense an endeavor to divert or neutralize your criticisms.”88

  • 89 Ibid., pt. 1, Taber to Davis, March 11, 1943, reel 12: 0361.
  • 90 Ibid., pt. 1, Taber to Davis, March 11, 1943, reel 12: 0363. See also Shulman, Voice, 13-14; Larson (...)

42Congressman Taber was not, however, interested in dining with Director Davis. One week later, he sent the agency a scathing, three-page letter detailing what he believed to be grave errors of judgment. In reference to the Franklin publication, he chastised the agency’s overt politicization: “We are now engaged in a war against those enemies who embrace the public deification of one man as the leader of a country.” “That you are copying one of the most hideous elements of Nazism and fascism,” he continued, “is a startling thing.”89  Snidely dismissing Davis’s claim that the publication was an overseas endeavor, Taber noted, “I will accept that your right hand does not know what your left hand is up to.” In closing, he further disparaged the Office’s movie and radio programs as “subtle propaganda and drivel distributed under the name and at the expense of the Office as official matter.”90

  • 91 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1, reel 8:0049.

43This outrage captured the backlash forming against Davis’s activist agency, and specifically the effort use collectivist ideas such as the “Four Freedoms” to frame war discussions. Tale of a City had resulted in relatively few problems, and perhaps The Life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt was innocuous. Nothing, however, insulated the Office of War Information following Negroes and the War. Also appearing in spring 1943, with 2.5 million copies printed, this sixty-nine-page tome was the Office’s largest publication.91 Its sweeping scope and massive distribution demonstrated the agency’s commitment to using taxpayer funds to sculpt a new discourse of racial tolerance and cooperation. However, the brochure/book provoked citizens living in the southern United States, who rejected its overt efforts at social engineering.

  • 92 Ibid., Bankhead to Davis, March 18, 1943, reel 9: 0194.
  • 93 Ibid., Davis to Bankhead, March 26, 1943, reel 9: 0195. Negroes cost $85,000. See Ibid., pt. 1, ree (...)

44On March 18, 1943, at the same time that Elmer Davis worked at placating Congressman Taber, Senator John Bankhead (D-AL) also contacted the embattled agency. The powerful legislator registered concern with the Negroes publication, and he requested the documents’ overall costs and distribution levels.92 The senator explained that he only first became aware of the matter after a constituent received the conspicuously sized mailing unsolicited. The citizen was reportedly alarmed that the federal government took such an extensive use of public resources to address this particular issue. Davis replied to Senator Bankhead within a week, the rapidity of his response reflecting his awareness that the Office had succeeded in provoking a controversial public debate. His letter began by providing several basic facts about Negroes: “A total number of two-and-one-half million pamphlets were printed at an estimated cost of seventy-two thousand dollars.” He explained that distribution occurred primarily through “Negro organizations,” although “public libraries” also received some copies.93 The decision to bind a domestic racial issue to the larger military effort was not capricious, nor was it incongruent with past agency behaviors. Earlier that month the Office’s second-largest domestic publication had called for a defense of Europe’s Jews; now its largest project lauded African Americans.

  • 94 Ibid., pt. 1., Hach to Byrd, April 19, 1943, reel 9: 0203.
  • 95 Ibid., pt. 1, Davis to Byrd, June 30, 1943, reel 9: 0207.

45As was the case with Tale of a City, the negative feedback nevertheless hinted at the Office’s success in provoking public discourse. C. H. Hach of Richmond, Virginia, recognized, but did not agree with the Office’s tactic. He sent a disapproving letter via the offices of Senator Harry Byrd (D-VA). “How does this publication help the war effort?” The letter closed with the statement that “this mawkish, glorifying hand-out, bearing the Government Printing Office label, is a real waste of public money.”94 Director Davis attempted to explain his agency’s actions. “The Office feels that its responsibility to convey information about the war,” he wrote, “includes providing information of particular interest to minority groups […] the pamphlet was written specifically to counteract enemy propaganda designed to foment racial discord in this country.”95

  • 96 “Literary File,” “Sinai Temple,” box 47, MacLeish Papers.

46During 1941-1945, this pluralist course of thought permeated various federal information agencies. It remained a core idea among many leading Americans. Archibald MacLeish, for example, continued to hammer away at the idea. In a November 1943 speech delivered before Chicago’s Sinai Temple Forum, he explained, “the field of battle today is men’s minds and opinions.” America’s objective in the Second World War, he opined, “involved the expansion of human freedoms.”Still tacking close course to President Roosevelt’s template, MacLeish shared with audience members the basic belief that “civil liberties were the collective rewards for all who rejected tyranny and intolerance.”96 The “Four Freedoms” were not simply for Americans. Rather, as the president had earlier indicated in his address to Congress, they represented a blueprint of the kinds of democratic liberties available for all humankind.

Conclusion

47The March 1933 Nazi takeover in Germany revealed a wide-ranging hostility toward Jews, Catholics, Quakers, Freemasons, and labor organizations. The expression of such antipathies lent credibility to the emerging public claim that all Americans — and, indeed, all freedom-loving people — had something to fear from the spread of such a regime. Admittedly, this assertion was by no means prevalent during the 1930s. Americans were still figuring out who Adolf Hitler was and determining what, if anything, his beliefs meant to their lives. Indeed, some citizens embraced his intolerant views, and participated in violence against Jews. However, many other millions began to recognize that bigotry posed a threat to the nation. These people planted a seed argument that persisted into the next decade: contempt for civil liberties, whether in Berlin or Boston, was itself contemptible. Just as they still do now, six decades later, a significant portion of the general public at the time identified the victory over Nazi prejudice as the war’s most significant accomplishment.

48In the ideological contests of the Second World War, the American “Four Freedoms” contrasted favorably with the German “Final Solution.” The decision by various federal information agencies to frame the fighting as part of a larger global struggle for core democratic values proved controversial. However, if the federal government failed during the First World War to capture the public’s imagination, agencies such as the Office of War Information produced a far more ambitious effort. Its administrators and staff outlined a new image for Americans, one that welcomed a diversity of minority issues into the mainstream. During 1944-1945, the level of public opposition toward Nazi intolerance remained apparent. Citizen organizations, particularly interest groups, took advantage of the issue’s exposure and appeal. A more thoughtful and dynamic discourse emerged, one that introduced scores of additional people to the effort. The momentum generated by this activity would lead to an institutionalization of American opposition to Nazism, ultimately dwarfing all forms of public resistance that had preceded it.

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Notes

1 Richard Owens, The Neutrality Imperative, Lanham, Md: University Press of America, 2009, 60; Walter A. McDougall, Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997, 44-48; Matthew Spaulding & Patrick Garrity, A Sacred Union Of Citizens: George Washington’s Farewell Address And The American Character, Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996, 3-10; Edward Pessen, “George Washington’s Farewell Address, the Cold War, and the Timeless National Interest,” Journal of the Early Republic 7 (1987),  2.

2 G. J. Meyer, A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914-1918, New York: Delacorte Press, 2006, 474; David Stevenson, Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy, New York: Basic Books, 2004, 255; William Leary Jr., “Woodrow Wilson, Irish Americans, and the Election of 1916,” Journal of American History 54 (1967), 71.

3 David A. Andelman, A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and The Price We Pay Today, Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley, 2008, 285-286; William Widenor, Henry Cabot Lodge and the Search for an American Foreign Policy, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1980, 308-309; James Hewes, “Henry Cabot Lodge and the League of Nations,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 114 (1970), 245; John Duff, “The Versailles Treaty and Irish Americans,” Journal of American History 55 (1968), 586.

4 Steven Wall, “Neutrality and Responsibility,” Journal of Philosophy 98 (2001), 390;James Dunnigan, Dirty Little Secrets of World War II: Military Information No One Told You About The Greatest Most Terrible War In History, New York: William Morrow, 1994, 14-16; Guerra Everett, “The Neutrality Act of 1939,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 211 (1940), 95.

5 Benjamin D. Rhodes, United States Foreign Policy in the Interwar Period, 1918-1941: The Golden Age of American Diplomatic and Military Complacency, Westport, CT.: Praeger, 2001, 133-135; A. Scott Berg, Lindbergh, New York: Berkley Books, 1998, 417-423; Wayne S. Cole, Charles A. Lindbergh and The Battle Against American Intervention in World War II, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974, 19, 117; Wayne S. Cole, “America First and the South, 1940-1941,” Journal of Southern History 22 (1956), 37.

6 Nick Smart, British Strategy and Politics During the Phony War: Before the Balloon Went Up, Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003, 165-166; Kirsten Powell, “‘La Drôle de guerre’: Picasso’s ‘Femme nue se coiffant’ and the ‘Phony War’ in France,” The Burlington Magazine 1117 (1996), 235; Tom Shachtman, The Phony War, 1939-1940, New York: Harper and Row, 1982, 81.

7 Steven Watts, The People’s Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century, New York: Knopf, 2005, 505; Ronald Carpenter, Father Charles Coughlin: Surrogate Spokesman for the Disaffected, Westport, CT.: Greenwood, 1998, 27-37; Alan Brinkley, Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin and the Great Depression, New York: Knopf, 1982, 266.

8 Ronald Kessler, The Sins of The Father: Joseph P. Kennedy and The Dynasty He Founded, New York: Warner Books, 1996, 92-93, 163-165;Neal Gabler, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood,New York: Crown, 1988, 344.

9 For a photo of Charles Lindbergh and Hermann Goering enjoying a laugh, see Susan Hertog, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, New York: Nan Talese, 1999, 321; Shachtman, Phony, 81.

10 For photos of Henry Ford accepting his medal, see Kees van der Pijl, The Making of an Atlantic Ruling Class, New York: Verso, 1984, 221; Neil Baldwin, Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate, New York: Public Affairs, 2001, 103, 173.

11 Marc Dollinger, Quest for Inclusion: Jews and Liberalism in Modern America, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000, 48; Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999, 188; Deborah Dash Moore, “Jewish GIs and the Creation of the Judeo-Christian Tradition,” Religion and American Culture 8 (1998), 31-53; Stuart Svonkin, Jews Against Prejudice: American Jews and the Fight for Civil Liberties, New York: Columbia University Press, 1997, 15; Walter Jackson, Gunnar Myrdal and America’s Conscience: Social Engineering and Radical Liberalism, 1938-1987, Chapel Hill: University of  North Carolina Press, 1990, 126; Stephen J. Whitfield, American Space, Jewish Time,Hamden: Archon Books, 1988, 93-94.

12 As quoted in David Kennedy, Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, 468-470.

13 Thomas Fleming, The New Dealers’ War: FDR And The War Within World War II, New York: Basic Books, 2001, 81-82.

14 Julian Zelizer, Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National SecurityFrom World War II to the War on Terrorism, New York: Basic Books, 2009, 49.

15 McDougall, Promised, 151; Lloyd Gardner, “The Atlantic Charter: Idea and Reality, 1942-1945,” inDouglas Brinkley & David R. Facey-Crowther (eds.), The Atlantic Charter, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, 74; Barton J. Bernstein, “The Uneasy Alliance: Roosevelt, Churchill, and the Atomic Bomb, 1940-1945,” Western Political Quarterly 29 (1976), 205; Miriam S. Farley, “A Pacific Charter,” Far Eastern Survey 12 (1943), 242.  

16 Stuart Murray & James McCabe, Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms: Images That Inspire a Nation,Stockbridge, Mass.: Berkshire House, 1993, 125.

17 Maureen Hart Hennessey & Anne Knutson, Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People, New York: Harry Abrams, 1999, 40.

18 Stephen Vaughn, Holding Fast the Inner Lines: Democracy, Nationalism, and the Committee on Public Information, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980, 23.

19 Elmer Comwell, “Wilson, Creel, and the Presidency,” Public Opinion Quarterly 23 (1959), 189-202.

20 Leslie Midkiff DeBauche, Reel Patriotism: The Movies and World War One, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1997, 36-43, 134-136; Larry Wayne Ward, The Motion Picture Goes to War: The U.S. Government Film Effort During World War One, Ann Arbor: MI: UMI Research Press, 1985, 19-26.

21 George Creel, How We Advertised America: The First Telling of the Amazing Story of the Committee on The Public Information That Carried the Gospel of Americanism To Every Corner of the Globe, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1920, 2-3.

22 DeBauche, Reel,165.

23 Vaughn, Holding, 70.

24 James R. Mock & Cedric Larson, Words That Won The War: The Story of the Committee On Public Information, 1917-1919, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1939, 20.

25 Thomas Hollihan, “Propagandizing in the Interest of War: A Rhetorical Study of the Committee on Public Information,” The Southern Speech Communication Journal 49 (1984), 244.

26 As quoted in Vaughn, Holding, 333.

27 Allan Winkler, The Politics of Propaganda: The Office of War Information, 1942-1945, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978, 8-31.

28 Keith Kane, “The O.F.F.,” Public Opinion Quarterly 6 (1942): 204-220.

29 As quoted in Richard Steele, “American Popular Opinion and the War Against Germany: The Issue of Negotiated Peace, 1942,” Journal of American History 65 (1978), 708.

30 Benjamin Alpers, Dictators, Democracy and American Public Culture: Envisioning the Totalitarian Enemy, 1920s-1950s, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003, 74; Steven Casey, Cautious Crusade: Franklin D. Roosevelt, American Public Opinion, and the War against Nazi Germany, New York: Oxford University Press, 2001, 25-39.

31 November 14, 1935, “Luce,” box 8, Archibald MacLeish Papers, 1907-1981, Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

32 Editors of Fortune, Jews in America, New York: Random House, 1936, 9-11.

33 “O.W.I.,” box 53, Archibald MacLeish Papers, 1907-1981, Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

34 Robert Abzug, America Views the Holocaust, 1933-1945, New York: Bedford St. Martin’s, 1999, 45, 126.  

35 Information Control and Propaganda: Records of the Office of War Information, Part I: “The Director’s Central Files, 1942-1945,” ed. David Culbert, Frederick, Md.: University Publications of America, 1986, reel 8: 0049. Hereafter cited as Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1.

36 “O.W.I.,” box 53, Archibald MacLeish Papers, 1907-1981, Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

37 Michael Burleigh & Wolfgang Wippermann, The Racial State: Germany, 1933-1945, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991, 64.

38 Divide and Conquer:What Hitler Wants You To Think, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1942, 11.

39 For the full mandate, see U.S. Cong. Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, Hearings on the National War Agencies Appropriations Bill for 1944 78 (H), 1st sess., Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1943, 829.

40 Gerd Horton, Radio Goes to War: The Cultural Politics of Propaganda During World War Two, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002, 44-45; Barbara Savage, Broadcasting Freedom: Radio, War and the Politics of Race, 1938-1948, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999, 51; K. R. M. Short, (ed.), Film and Radio Propaganda in World War II, Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1983; Cedric Larson, “The Domestic Picture Work of the Office of War Information,” Hollywood Quarterly 3 (1948), 434-443; Arch Mercey, “Social Uses of the Motion Picture,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 250 (1947), 98-104.

41 Clayton Laurie, The Propaganda Warriors: America’s Crusade against Nazi Germany, Topeka: University Press of Kansas, 1998, 83; Sydney Weinberg, “What to Tell America: The Writers’ Quarrel in the Office of War Information,” Journal of American History 55 (1968), 73-89; A. H. Feller, “O.W.I. on the Homefront,” Public Opinion Quarterly 7 (1943), 55-65; Jerome Bruner, “O.W.I. and the American Public,” Public Opinion Quarterly 7 (1943), 125-133.

42 For Elmer Davis, see David Culbert, News for the Everyman: Radio and Foreign Affairs in Thirties America, Westport, Ct.: Greenwood, 1976, 125-151. See also Elmer Davis, “Report to the President: The Office of War Information, 13 June 1942-15 September 1945,” Journalism Monographs 7 (1968), 16-18.

43 For Robert Sherwood and American propaganda efforts, see Michael Denning, The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century, New York: Verso, 1996, 78-82; Illka Joki & Roger Sell, “Robert E. Sherwood and the Finnish Winter War: Drama, Propaganda and Context Fifty Years Ago,” American Studies in Scandinavia 21 (1989), 51-69; R. Braid Shuman, Robert Sherwood,New York: Twayne, 1964, 17.

44 Michael Grey, New Deal Medicine: The Rural Health Programs of the Farm Security Administration,Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999, 132; Nicholas Nathanson,  The Black Image in the New Deal: The Politics of FSA Photography, Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992, 4-9; Monty Noam Penkower, The Federal Writers’ Project: A Study in the Government Patronage of the Arts, Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1977, 9, 17; Jerry Mangione, The Dream and the Deal: The Federal Writers’ Project, 1935-1943, New York: Avon, 1972, 373.

45 Joseph Bendersky, The Jewish Threat: Anti-Semitic Politics of the U.S. Army, New York: Basic Books, 2000, 445.

46 Vernon McKenzie, “Atrocities in World War II - What Can We Believe?” Journalism Quarterly 19 (1942), 268-276.

47 E. Thomas Wood & Stanislaw Jankowski, Karski: How One Man Tried to Stop the Holocaust,New York: Wiley, 1994, 117-19; Maciej Kozlowski, “An Interview with Jan Karski: The Mission That Failed,” Dissent 34 (1987): 332.

48 National Opinion Research Center, Germany and the Post-War World, Boulder: University of Denver, 1945, 12.

49 Richard Breitman, Officials Secrets: What The Nazis Planned, What The British and Americans Knew, New York: Hill and Wang, 1998, 110-137.

50 Walter Laqueur, The Terrible Secret: Suppression of the Truth About Hitler’s Final Solution, 2nd ed. New York: Henry Holt, 1998,82-83; William Rubenstein, The Myth of Rescue: Why The Democracies Could Not Have Saved More Jews from the Nazis, New York: Routledge, 1997, 86.

51 Robert Rosen, Saving the Jews: FDR and the Holocaust, New York: Thunder’s Mouth, 2006, 463-468; David Wyman & Rafael Medoff, A Race against Death: Peter Bergson, America and the Holocaust, New York: Free Press, 2002, 162-163; Sarah Peck, “The Campaign for an American Response to the Nazi Holocaust, 1943-1945,” Journal of Contemporary History 15 (1980), 386. See also Archibald MacLeish to Abraham Kalmanowitz, February 9, 1945, in Sybil Milton and Henry Friedlander (eds.), Archives of the Holocaust: An International Collection of Selected Documents, New York: Garland, 1991, 18: 121.

52 “Roosevelt Moves on Behalf of Jews,” Washington Post, January 23, 1944. See also Wyman & Medoff, Race, 158.  

53 For the Committee of War Information, see “Subject File,” “OWI,” box 52, Archibald MacLeish Papers, 1907-1981, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. See also Richard Breitman & Alan Kraut, American Refugee Policy and European Jewry, 1933-1945,Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987, 172.

54 See esp. John Dower, War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War,New York: Pantheon, 1986, 77, 147.

55 “O.W.I.,” box 52, MacLeish Papers.

56 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1, reel 12: 0754.

57 Idem.

58 Idem.

59 “Davis,” box 6, MacLeish Papers.

60 Laurie, Propaganda, 63; Holly Shulman, The Voice of America: Propaganda and Democracy, 1941-1945, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990,32.

61 FDR welcomed tensions within his bureaucracy and staff. See Matthew Dickinson, Bitter Harvest: FDR, Presidential Power and the Growth of the Presidential Branch, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997, 19-25.

62 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1, Davis to Roosevelt, January 1, 1943; reel 4: 0112.

63 Idem. See also Allison Gilmore, You Can’t Fight Tanks with Bayonets: Psychological Warfare against the Japanese Army in the Southwest Pacific, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998, 148-149.

64 Information Control and Propaganda: Records of the Office of War Information, Part 2: Office of Policy Coordination Series A: Propaganda and Policy Directives for Overseas Programs, 1942-1945, ed. David Culbert, Frederick, Md.: University Publications of America, 1986, reel 11: 0342. Hereafter cited as Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 2.

65 Ibid., reel 11: 0114.

66 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1, Davis to Donovan, June 6, 1944, reel 4: 0893.

67 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 2, reel 13: 0365.

68 Jeffrey Demsky, “American Policy Responses to the Holocaust,” in Encyclopedia of United States Political History: Vol. 5, 1921-1945, ed. Robert H. Zieger, Washington D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2008.

69 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1, reel 8: 0049.

70 Ibid., reel 9: 0143.

71 Ibid., reel 9: 1053-1055.

72 “Subject File,” “OWI,” box 53, MacLeish Papers. MacLeish’s private papers contain a comic book entitled There Are No Master Races! Published in 1944, the short work dispels Nazi racial claims about differences in human blood. Its closing features a depiction of Abraham Lincoln uttering the phrase “our nation is dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” See “Correspondences,” “Starr,” box 20, MacLeish Papers.

73 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1, reel 9: 0148.

74 Ibid., pt. 1, reel 9: 0158. These lines also appear verbatim in the Office of Facts and Figures brochure Divide and Conquer (1942) mentioned above.

75 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1, reel 9: 0159.

76 Idem.

77 New York Times, “Tyranny,” February 14, 1943.

78 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1, Perry to Davis March 19, 1943, reel 9: 0172.

79 Ibid., Davis to Perry, March 27, 1943, reel 9: 0173.

80 Ibid., Hill to Davis, April 28, 1943, reel 9: 0182.

81 Ibid., Malinowski to Davis, June 3, 1943, reel 9: 0189.

82 Ibid., Davis to Lodge Jr., April 2, 1943, reel 9: 0178.

83 Ibid., Lambert to Davis, April 15, 1943, reel 9: 0177.

84 Ibid., Downey to Davis, April 29, 1943, reel 9: 0183.

85 Joseph Goebbels recorded a similar observation. See Elke Frohlich (ed.), Die Tagebücher von Joseph Goebbels, New York: Saur, 1987, pt. 2, (April-June 1943), 8: 214.

86 “O.W.I. Chief Places Ban on Politics,” Washington Post, March 18, 1943.

87 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1, Taber to Davis, March 1, 1943, reel 12: 0357. See also, “Taber Attacks O.W.I.,” Washington Post, March 5, 1943.

88 Ibid., Davis to Taber, March 4, 1943, reel 12: 0364-65.

89 Ibid., pt. 1, Taber to Davis, March 11, 1943, reel 12: 0361.

90 Ibid., pt. 1, Taber to Davis, March 11, 1943, reel 12: 0363. See also Shulman, Voice, 13-14; Larson, “Domestic,” 434; Barnes, “Fighting,” 35-38.

91 Records, ed. Culbert, pt. 1, reel 8:0049.

92 Ibid., Bankhead to Davis, March 18, 1943, reel 9: 0194.

93 Ibid., Davis to Bankhead, March 26, 1943, reel 9: 0195. Negroes cost $85,000. See Ibid., pt. 1, reel 8: 0434.

94 Ibid., pt. 1., Hach to Byrd, April 19, 1943, reel 9: 0203.

95 Ibid., pt. 1, Davis to Byrd, June 30, 1943, reel 9: 0207.

96 “Literary File,” “Sinai Temple,” box 47, MacLeish Papers.

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Jeffrey Demsky, « Four Freedoms, For All: American Information Agencies and the Effort to Publicize Nazi Crimes against Humanity », Revue LISA/LISA e-journal, Vol. X – n° 1 | -1, 97-125.

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Jeffrey Demsky, « Four Freedoms, For All: American Information Agencies and the Effort to Publicize Nazi Crimes against Humanity », Revue LISA/LISA e-journal [En ligne], Vol. X – n° 1 | 2012, mis en ligne le 13 mars 2012, consulté le 22 juillet 2014. URL : http://lisa.revues.org/4869 ; DOI : 10.4000/lisa.4869

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Jeffrey Demsky

Jeffrey Demsky is a historian of politics and culture. He works as an instructorat San Bernardino Valley College in the United States. Demsky’s primary research interests look at anti-Semitism in rhetoric and imagery. He has authored the entry covering American reactions to the Holocaust, publishedin the Encyclopedia of U.S. Political History. For their assistance and encouragement the author wishes to thank Stephen J. Whitfield and the anonymous reviewers of an earlier version of this article.

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