FIFTY YEARS OF POLITICAL ASSASSINATIONSl
Some Americans became much perturbed over the subject of political assassinations early in 1976. The principal cause was the vast publicity given to the efforts of the U. S. Senate Intelligence Committee headed by Frank Church (D.-Idaho) which had been investigating the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The public was treated to Sen. Church's tremulous and breathless expostulations on radio and television, the latter accompanied by nervous finger exercises, mainly over the possibility that the deep cover activities of the U.S.A.'s massively-financed and globally-dispersed super-spy agency during the thousand days of President John F. Kennedy's administration involved attempts to assassinate Soviet Russia's political harlequin diversion in the Western Hemisphere, Fidel Castro of Cuba. At this stage Sen. Church showed little accompanying concern over the assassination of Pres. Kennedy himself; the presumption may have been that the entire story was in the record with respect to the latter.
But the more his committee dug into the subject, the more they began to see that the two questions were part of the same thing. A subcommittee of this Intelligence Committee eventually got around to releasing a report which firmly involved Castro in the intrigues which led to Pres. Kennedy's shooting, and that the latter had engaged in various plots to do away with Castro, probably with the assistance of underworld figures whose grip in Cuba had been substantial until they had been swept out by Castro. The mysterious murders of two Mafia figures known to be involved in some stages of these assassination schemes which became aborted in Cuba also contributed to a decision to re-open the entire question of the Kennedy case, thus undermining the official Warren Commission Report which many thought would be the last word on the subject after it had pinned the killing down as the work of a single person of unknown motivation.
To round things out, at about the same time as Sen. Church's earliest demonstrations of concern, former governor of California Ronald Reagan in one of his radio spots charged that Adolf Hitler introduced political assassination to the world scene. Whatever the quality of Mr. Reagan's performance, it primarily indicated that those preparing his material had little knowledge of or use for history, even that of recent times. The record shows that the Hitler regime engaged in no assassination enterprise at all, but was itself the object of a number both before and during World War II, including the botched attempt on Hitler himself, on July 20, 1944.
What ex-Gov. Reagan's researchers might have done for him, in view of his pedigree as a "conservative," was to have provided him with chapter and verse on the scores of assassinations carried out by various agencies of Communist Russia, the state which long ago brought political assassination to the level of a science. Included in this has been the repeated charges of contriving of sensational "suicides," usually involving falls from windows of high buildings or alleged self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Another ploy has been kidnappings and the subsequent permanent disappearance of the victims, a somewhat less sensational but just as effective means of removing obstreperous or "non-cooperative" anti-Communist public figures of one sort or another, including defectors.
Leftist "anti-fascists" of all stripes, especially Soviet fellow travelers, for several decades managed to make much political hay out of two political assassinations which they charged to their hated adversaries, Hitler and Benito Mussolini. In neither case does the evidence support them, but their fanciful yams have long been entrenched nevertheless. The first involves the kidnapping and subsequent death of Giacomo Matteotti in Rome, June 10, 1924. Matteotti, a Socialist member of the Chamber of Deputies, known as a sympathizer with Italy's enemies in World War One, was also a wealthy landowner, not a proletarian toiler, as his political affiliations suggested.
Luigi Villari points out in his Italian Foreign Policy Under Mussolini (New York: Devin-Adair, 1956), that Matteotti's abduction was carried out by persons unconnected with the Mussolini government, on their own initiative, and that Matteotti died of a tubercular hemorrhage while struggling with his kidnappers. So he was not a victim of an assassination in any proper sense. What the left accounts neglect to point out is that the persons involved were tried and most of them convicted and jailed. One of them, Amerigo Dumini, was tried a second time in 1947 by an "anti-fascist" court and again sentenced, a new term of 30 years in jail, for the same offense. (New York Times, April 5, 1947, p. 6.)2
The other universally exploited incident of this kind was the shooting of the Austrian Chancellor, Engelbert Dollfuss, in Vienna on July 25, 1934. Those involved were demonstrably members of the Austrian National Socialist movement, but charges were made immediately that they had acted at the urging of their German neighbors in Berlin. Not only was it never established that the Hitler regime had anything to do with this incident, but the action was officially deplored and any relation with those involved was disavowed. It was a little humorous to watch leftists of all persuasions bellowing in dismay over this case (Dollfuss' family was vacationing with Mussolini in Italy when the former was shot), when a few weeks earlier they had been denouncing Dollfuss as immeasurably worse than Hitler, especially after he had destroyed the Austrian Socialist movement in February, 1934. It was at this time that Dollfuss had units of the Austrian artillery shell and destroy the elaborate Socialist housing complex in Vienna, the Karl Marx Hof. Even the ponderous establishment tome An Encyclopedia of World History, admits that the shooting of Dollfuss was "probably accidental" (1948 ed., p. 1007.)3
Two other sensational assassinations in 1934, that of King Alexander of Yugoslavia (and his host, the French Foreign Minister, Jean Louis Barthou), in Marseilles October 9, and of Sergei Mironovich Kirov,4 member of the Russian Politburo, in Moscow on December 1, had far different motivations. That of Alexander was blamed on dissident Macedonian and Croatian revolutionaries in his own country, though it was obvious that Yugoslavia was moving toward the German orbit and away from that of France in earlier months of that year. The shooting of Kirov, considered second only to Leon Trotsky as a Communist orator, and a ferocious Red boss, is still a mystery, though Stalin's part has grown increasingly large in this. One should read especially the chapter on it in Hugo Dewar's valuable book, Assassins at Large (London: Wingate, 1951). There are few sources as comprehensive on Stalinist assassination adventures around the world up to the time of publication as Dewar's book. The indispensable continuation of Dewar is John Barron's KGB: The Secret Work of Soviet Secret Agents (New York: Bantam Books, 1974.)
The case against the Nazis as the innovators of political assassination is built speciously around sensational political killings in the turbulent post-World War One years of 1919-1922 in Germany. But the evidence is not to be found, and the NSDAP, barely in existence at the time, can be implicated by only the most fanciful fabrications. The assassination of the socialist revolutionary Kurt Eisner on February 21, 1919 was by the hand of elements seeking to restore the monarchy in Germany. Those of the Weimar politician Matthias Erzberger (August 29, 1921) and Walter Rathenau (June 24, 1922) are commonly credited to "reactionary nationalists," but the latter were a numerous and diverse lot in those wildly disturbed years of disorder and upheaval, when Germany was putting up with the preposterous terms of the Versailles settlement, and with the Russian Bolshevism of Lenin and Trotsky peering across from the eastern Polish frontier. And in view of Rathenau's prominent part in the prosecuting of the war on the part of the Kaiser's government, he hardly could be identified with the Left. Those who cite these cases manage to overlook the assassination of the Bolshevik Spartacist leaders Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht by their "Majority Socialist" adversaries on January 15, 1919; no "reactionary nationalists" were involved here.
In the era of Nazi ascendency in Europe, they were the victims of a number of assassinations. Those of the German physicist and political activist, Wilhelm GustIoff, in Davos, Switzerland on February 4, 1936 and the diplomatic functionary, Ernst vom Rath, in Paris on November 7, 1938 touched off international uproars. GustIoff s assassin, one David Frankfurter,5 considered his act a ceremonial protest against Nazi Jewish policy (it is revealing to note the admission of the Israeli writer Israel Shahak, reprinted in the Link [spring issue, 1975, p. S-4] that the HitIerite Nuremberg Laws were "infinitely more moderate than the 'Gentile' regulations in Talmudic Law"), while vom Bath's assassin, a Polish Jew named Herschel Grynszpan, asserted that his attentat was motivated by resentment over his parents being deported back to Poland by the German authorities. The logic of this suggests that Poland was far less hospitable to Jews late in 1938 than was Hitler Germany.)
By far the most sensational was the wartime fatal attack on General Reinhard Heydrich in a suburb of Prague, Czechoslovakia by two Czech "specialists" who had been parachute-dropped from a British airplane to achieve this end.
A recent book by a defected Czech leftist now in the U.S., one Jan Wiener, The Assassination of Heydrich (New York: Grossman, 1969), reveals some key aspects which have drawn no previous attention. Heydrich, the administrator of German-occupied Bohemia and Moravia (Slovakia had split off and formed an independent though short-lived separate state), had been christened in British and Czech emigre political and propaganda circles as "The Hangman," but his killing was not retaliation for his stem and severe rule. And far from being a permanent "oppressor," Heydrich was scheduled to be transferred from Prague on May 27, 1942 to a new assignment in France.
The discovery of this information led to the hastening of the assassination plot (pro- Red Czech politics required the murder of Heydrich in Czechoslovakia) but its achievement was badly bungled that same day, under ludicrous circumstances which nearly killed one of the two assassins as well. Heydrich died of wounds June 4,6 which led to fierce repressions, all of which were endured by home front Czechs in behalf of the political visions of the emigre politicians in London headed by Eduard Benes. Wiener declares that the pitifully small Czech "underground" were opposed to this stunt, but were overruled by Benes, safe in London, who dreamed of building his reputation as an uncompromising enemy of the Germans with his desired protector, Stalin, by this lethal ceremonial gesture.
That the British were willing to participate so earnestly and fully with this and many other capers undertaken by leftist "resistance" and "underground" movements in at least 11 other countries in World War Two has aroused much commentary in the last 30 years. Another sensational assassination directly traceable to British propaganda beamed to an "underground" was the repeated exhortation on British radio to Italian Communists to assassinate Giovanni Gentile, an impressive intellectual figure who persistently refused to desert the Mussolini regime. On April 15, 1944 the murder of this famed scholar and philosopher was carried out.
A dozen years later there were many wry faces in Italy upon hearing the expressions of horror on the BBC because of the urging by Cairo radio of the assassination of King Hussein of Jordan. But by this time there were emphatic critics in England of the whole policy of encouraging "resistance movements" in World War Two. Captain B. H. Liddell Hart was especially eloquent in pointing out the unwisdom of the wholesale airdrop of vast quantities of automatic weapons, ammunition and explosives on the Continent, 1940-45, which contributed substantially to the dangerous political dislocations of the five years after the war, as well as vicious situations internally during the war.
Probably the World War II era should not be departed before noting still another assassination, that of Admiral Jean Darlan in Algiers on December 24, 1942. This sordid act, wiping out the Vichy government head of French North Africa (Darlan was also commander in chief of the French Fleet), and clearing the way ultimately for the political ascendancy of Charles de Gaulle, has to this day remained a murky and extremely unsatisfactorily explained affair. Apologists for the 'liberators' cast sly, venomous accusations at Darlan (who was collaborating with them), hastily wipe their hands in innocence when questioned as to whether they might have had a hand in it, look on what followed as simple, sheer good luck, and try to sell the notion that Darlan was killed by an agent of a political cult which sought to restore the monarchy in France! Some idea of the tangled prose and devious diversion weaving an impenetrable cloak over the case are the books by the wartime OSS agents Langer (see note 3), and Peter Tompkins, Our Vichy Gamble (1947), and The Murder of Admiral Darlan (1965).
The dark shadow over the Darlan affair grows as one examines the ramifications of the pro-de Gaulle elements in England and North Africa in that time. A quarter of a century ago the French naval officer, Admiral Jules Docteur, in his book Darlan, Amiral de La Flotte: La grande Enigme de La Guerre (Paris: Editions de la Couronne, 1949), pointed out that the Gaullist courier, d'Astier, who arrived in Algiers from London a few days before Darlan's killing, bore a safe conduct pass signed by Gen. Eisenhower, and carried with him $38,000 in US dollars. This money was presumably intended to support Gaullist propaganda in North Africa. De Gaulle (whom the British confined to London) and d'Astier were persona non grata to Darlan, of course. Though de Gaulle was not permitted to come to Algiers, his supporters among the 'Allies' permitted his agents and spies to come, and to enjoy much leeway.
The shooting of Darlan the afternoon of the day d'Astier was ordered to return to London, and many other details, offer numerous curious interrelations. The one time CIA man, R. Harris Smith, in his book OSS: The Secret History of America's First Central Intelligence Agency (Univ. of California Press, 1972), describes the frantic hiding of Caullists allover Algeria by OSS agents after Darlan's death.7 On another level, the suspicion that Gen. Eisenhower was far more deeply involved in this than the record so far discloses simply will not go away. Neither will the tenacious belief that the American money' brought to Algiers by d'Astier, under the protecting cloak of Eisenhower's safe conduct pass, was intended to pay Darlan's assassins.
The recent assassination of King Feisal of Saudi Arabia and the employment of this kind of political solution in the Arabic world is no grounds for any feeling of superiority among their Zionist adversary. One need only recall the assassinations of Lord Moyne (Walter Edward Guinness), British Resident Minister in the Middle East, in Cairo on November 6, 1944, and of Folke Bernadotte, the UN mediator from Sweden, in Jerusalem on September 17, 1948, both at the hands of the desperado Zionist Stem Gang, and the April 10, 1973 assassination of three Palestinian refugee leaders in Beirut by Israeli "commandos."
And Americans in particular have no grounds for any feigned horror and sentiments of disdain. After all, since 1865, more USA heads of state have been assassinated than of any other country, in the persons of Abraham Lincoln (1865), James A. Garfield (1882), William McKinley (1901) and John F. Kennedy (1963). There are also on the record the attempted assassination of Franklin D. Roosevelt in Miami, Florida on February 15, 1933 and in Washington the famous Blair House shoot-out of November 1, 1950 when Puerto Rican nationalists sought to assassinate Harry S. Truman, in which fracas two others were killed and three wounded, Mr. Truman being elsewhere at the time. In addition there are the nearly successful assassinations of presidential candidates while campaigning:
Theodore Roosevelt, shot and wounded October 14, 1912 in Milwaukee, and the celebrated attempt on the life of George Wallace in 1972. (During several years' residence near Chicago this writer heard it asserted several times that the victim of the assassin's bullet in the Miami attentat, Mayor Anton Cermak of Chicago, Illinois, and not FOR, was the intended target in the first place.) .
The most far-reaching political assassination in the United States in the twentieth century which did not involve a head of state was the shooting of Louisiana's flamboyant Senator Huey P. Long on September 8, 1935 in the State House in Baton Rouge by a Dr. Carl A. Weiss. Long, emerging as a national force at this moment and conceded to be a formidable candidate for the presidency in the upcoming 1936 election, was personally eliminated, but there were profound consequences of this event as well. The strong populist tendencies which he spoke for were blunted by his murder and have never recovered nor found another figure to articulate them as did Huey Long.
Probably the most dramatic assassinations in this century have been those of Mussolini by Italian Communists, on April 28 or 29, 1945, of Trotsky, in Mexico City by an agent of the Soviet GPU (known variously across the years as the NKVD, MVD and KGB) on August 20, 1940, and of Mohandas K. "Mahatma" Gandhi, at the hands of a lone gunman, in New Delhi on January 30, 1948. Mussolini appears to have been shot in the back by a four-man Communist gunman squad somewhere near Dongo in northern Italy and his body carried to the ritual spot which Communist folklore celebrates as the death scene. The precise details of this still evade us (essential to an understanding of this matter is Chapter III of the book by F. J. P. Veale, War Crimes Discreetly Veiled [New York: Devin-Adair, 1959], "The Murder of Mussolini"), but the particulars attending Trotsky's killing are long established, undoubtedly the carrying out of a death sentence in absentia pronounced upon him at the 1938 Moscow purge trials. Usually overlooked in this narrative is the bungled attempt upon Trotsky's life, independently planned by the Mexican Communist Party earlier in the same year, on May 24, during which Trotsky's guard and secretary, one Robert Shelton Harte, was murdered. But among the survivors of Trotsky's massacre of millions in Russia between 1917 and 1927, there were few mixed emotions upon learning of his demise. The sensation aroused by the murder of Gandhi, at the height of his successful campaign against British imperialism, washed back and fourth across the world for years. No one ever did a convincing job of explaining the motivation of his assailant.
GPU assassinations of Red defectors and adversaries in the USA have long been documented, the most memorable being those of Walter Krivitsky (Samuel or "Schmelka" Ginsberg) February 10, 1941 in Washington, D.C. found shot in a hotel room under circumstances which suggested "suicide," and the gunning down on a New York street comer of Carlo Tresca on January 11, 1943. Tresca, an implacable anti-Stalinist leftist, had been a tireless and voluble student of various GPU-implicated kidnappings and "suicides" and was reputedly high on the list of Stalinist planned "hits."8 Space restrains extended examination of all the victims of this world-wide Communist assassination and kidnap-murder apparat, though it might be appropriate before moving on to other things to mention briefly the exploits of the KGB agent Bogdan Stashinsky, the assassin in Munich, West Germany of the leading Ukrainian nationalist emigres, Dr. Lev Rebet, on October 12, 1957, and Stefan Bandera, on October 15, 1959. The subject is examined in meticulous detail by Karl Anders in his book Murder to Order (London: Ampersand Books, 1965).9
In any case, researchers for Sen. Church and ex-Gov. Reagan might have done some home work for their bosses while the former emoted about the CIA plots to do in Castro, and the latter laid it all at the doorstep of Hitler. While they are at it they might bring about a full scale review of the situation under which Pres. Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam was assassinated on November 1, 1963, which adds still another complication to the Castro-Kennedy mutual assassination picture of that same month. That large numbers have not been satisfied with what they have been told about the circumstances attending the demise of either Diem or Kennedy is not to be taken as some special obstreperousness, however. Abraham Lincoln was shot over 110 years ago, and there are at least half a dozen separate conspiracy theories about that event, each with their own supporting literature.
And there are other" suicides," the explanations of which usually arouse far more suspicion than they allay. A rash of them swept through the ranks of the Roosevelt administration in the first few years following the end of World War II; those of Harry Dexter White, Stephen Duggan and ex-Ambassador to England John G. Winant excited much curiosity. Especially mysterious are those of James Forrestal, the USA's first Secretary of Defense, on May 22, 1949, after a fall from an upper floor of a Washington hospital (why was a man of Mr. Forrestal's eminence, diagnosed as a deeply depressed case, not lodged in a ground floor room?), and Danish UN diplomat Paul Bang-Jensen, profoundly interested in the fate of Hungarian refugees from the ferocious Soviet repression of their 1956 uprising, found dead of gunshot with the gun in his hand and suicide note in his pocket, in a New York City park on Thanksgiving Day of 1959.10
These and other cases have generated considerable literature and speculation, all helping to intensify ruminations about modem techniques for disposing of obnoxious political personalities, while avoiding the unpleasantries attending the age-old forthright assassination route.11 Even children of 12 after a season of television-watching of crime show thrillers can relate the many ways suicide by falls or apparently self-inflicted gunfire can be faked. But it is only on TV that they are exposed. [The most sensational "suicide" in the Communist world was that of Czech Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk by a fall from his second story office window in Prague March 10, 1948, shortly after the Reds had captured the government, thus bringing to a predictable end a decade of cuddling to Stalin on the part of Eduard Benes and the coalition-with-the-Communists Czech liberals. Czech Red spokesmen announced this event (the New York Times told its readers Masaryk had died in "a leap from his apartment window") but Masaryk's friends around the world quickly branded it an assassination, which brought to the mind of the historically inclined the famous Defenestration of Prague of May 23, 1618.]
The totalitarian left-liberal ideologues who have set the tone for what it is 'respectable' to think in this land for over 40 years may succeed in turning the CIA people into Sunday-School masters, and the agency itself into an engine which only unseats 'right wing reactionary' regimes such as that of the recently assassinated Rafael Trujillo of San Domingo, but not Communist terrorist regimes such as those of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala and Salvador Allende in Chile. But if these double-standard moralists expect assassination to disappear as an operational device in world statecraft, they are also on the verge of hallucinating the vision of the French socialist seer Charles Fourier, of seeing the oceans turn into lemonade.
1A slightly condensed version of this essay was originally published in the Winter, 1975 issue of the American Mercury. It is reproduced here with minor editorial changes and addition of selected documentation.
2One stood a far better chance of decent treatment in an Italian court in the Mussolini days than in most of the other countries in Europe. One of Mussolini's most implacable enemies, Gaetano Salvemini, was acquitted of charges in Florence in 1925 and allowed to leave the country by his own choice. The Mussolini regime also permitted to flourish unhampered in Italy throughout the whole era the likes of Benedetto Croce and Bernard Berenson, as did Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso under the Germans in Paris during World War Two. One can imagine how long Ezra Pound would have survived in Moscow in any of those years.
3This work was edited and compiled by William L. Langer, Coolidge Professor of History at Harvard. Langer was also co-author of the two most elaborate book-length apologies for Roosevelt's pro-war maneuverings between 1937-41, both published under the auspices of the Council on Foreign Relations, as is stated on their title pages. During the war he was Chief of the Research and Analysis Branch of the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS, the direct ancestor of the CIA; Langer also served as the prestigious Assistant Director of the CIA after it was created.
4The contrast between the liberal-loved Stalin regime and that of the execrated Mussolini when it came to assassinations is revealing. When Kirov was killed, Stalin ordered a general roundup which led to the shooting of hundreds, But when one Giovanni Corvi murdered the Fascist member of the Chamber of Deputies Armando Casalini, on September 12, 1924, Mussolini forbade any reprisals upon his party's political enemies. Mussolini frequently pardoned such persons, and allowed them to emigrate; in the Soviet Union, such results were unknown under Stalin; opponents were either killed or sent to slave labor camps. On the three attempts on Mussolini s life in 1926, see the examination of this in the essay "The Death and Life of the Mafia." On Mussolini and the Casalini killing, see New York Times, September 13, 1924, p. 17; September 14, 1924, p. 14.
5Frankfurter was convicted and jailed for Gustloff s murder, and 'repatriated' after World War Two; he was walking the streets of an Israeli city in 1976. He was the subject of a Swiss film in 1975 which was titled Confrontation, directed by Rolf Lyssy, in German language with English subtitles, in black and white, lasting 115 minutes. The picture dwelled on his personal motivations, including his mother's death, his "sense of failure before his father," and "suicidal tendencies," along with an alleged 'incurable' bone disease. (Review of film in New Yorker Films, undated brochure , p. 4.) It was strange that his 'incurable' disease got no worse in 40 years, and that he suffered from no additional sucide attempts in that span of time.
Grynszpan's murder of vom Rath resulted in a series of reactions against Jews in Germany, which included the destruction of considerable property and assaults on individuals. His trial was postponed in France until the war broke out ten months later, and was still pending when the German invasion of France took place in June, 1940. Transferred to a succession of French prisons thereafter, he was eventually turned over to German authorities on July 18, 1940. (According to German law, a 'stateless' person could not be tried for a political crime committed outside Germany, in which category Grynszpan was listed.)
In the book Crystal Night by Rita Thalmann and Emmanuel Feinermann (first published in France under the title La Nuit de Crystal in 1972, and in an English translation by Gilles Crernonesi in 1974 in New York by Coward, McCann & Geoghegan), Grynszpan is described as receiving "a relatively mild interrogation by the Gestapo" in Berlin before being sent to the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen, where the authors say he was given "preferential treatment" prior to transfer to the Moabit prison in Berlin to await trial. His trial never took place, though prepared all 1941 and set for separate dates in February and May, 1942.
What happened to Grynszpan is not certain. Members of his family and some sympathizers assert he was put to death by the Germans, while others have maintained that he survived the war, assumed a false identity and either disappeared into the shambles of postwar Europe or emigrated, both routes taken by a substantial contingent of people subsequently listed as 'executed' or perished as a result of various circumstances.
6Shortly after this was first published, correspondents complained that this account of the Heydrich affair was erroneous, and probably was the result of misleading by conspiratorial intent. This interpretation came from readers of the monthly Double Eagle, published since January, 1975 in New York City by Michal Goleniewski, the defected Polish KGB agent who from 1961 on was instrumental in exposing the cover of a number of KGB spies who had long penetrated the intelligence systems in various Western countries, especially England. Goleniewski, a belated claimant to the real identity of the Romanov Prince Aleksei, supposedly murdered along with the rest of the Russian ruling family in Siberia on the night of July 16, 1918, by the revolutionary Bolsheviki, maintains that Heydrich was not assassinated at all but squirreled out of Europe in the spring of 1942 by agents of Hitler's regime, with the collusion of Stalin and Churchill, and that the account which is now part of conventional history is a hoax. Goleniewski further maintains, and has reiterated it many times, that Heydrich ultimately was given a cover existence in the U. S. and is really the journalist and writer, Guy Richards, the last city editor of the now defunct New York Journal-American.
This is not the place to examine all the ramifications of the Goleniewsio-Aleksei case, on which there is already a prodigious literature and which has several different aspects. A substantial volume of writing has accumulated which seriously doubts the standard Communist narrative concerning the extermination of the Russian ruling family, and it grows larger every year, increasing in complexity and contradiction as well. The recent book by the British journalists Anthony Summers and Tom Mangold, The File on the Tsar (New York: Harper & Row, 1976) is just the latest in a string of works which challenges the established account of the fate of the Russian ruling house. The books by the previously mentioned Guy Richards, Imperial Agent; The Goleniewski-Romanov Case (New York: Devin-Adair, 1966), The Hunt For the Czar (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1971), and The Rescue of the Romanovs (Old Greenwich, Conn.: Devin-Adair, 1975), are part of this burgeoning critical literature. A useful examination of some aspects of the Goleniewski-Aleksei problem is found in William J. Gill. The Ordeal of Otto Otepka (New Rochelle, N. Y.: Arlington House, 1969), Chapter 18, "The Defector." A vast periodical literature of varying merit has long accumulated as well. A succinct and useful summary of the issues involved is that by Wayne C. Lutton, "Was the Russian Imperial Family Assassinated?" Journal of the American Christian College, Vol. I, No.5 (June, 1976), pp. 1, 4. (A disturbing factor to some is that Goleniewski is not even mentioned in John Barron's exhaustive KGB: The Secret Work of Soviet Secret Agents [New York: Bantam Books, 1974]).
However, sensational assertions concerning historical events require more evidence than charges from a single quarter; testis unus, testis nullus. If the assassination of Heydrich was faked and involved the joint conspiratorial machinations of Hitler, Stalin and Churchill, as well as the elaborate fabrications which were necessary to fool many hundreds of thousands of people in Czechoslovakia and elsewhere at the time and ever since, it would seem that a second witness should be available somewhere to support a sensational allegation of this magnitude.
Vociferous testimonials in behalf of Goleniewski from some sectors of the American Right and an apologetic and exculpatory literature concerning his relation to international espionage revelations and his claims to be the inheritor of the Romanov title and riches have drawn most of the attention in the past. This third aspect, his charges concerning history, is quite another, and they pose a serious problem for his supporters. Sooner or later his charges re Heydrich, and several others, must be faced, and some effort made to verify his credibility. These include the repeated assertion that the former Member of Parliament Peter Bessell is really Stalin's GPU-NKVD-MVD-KGB Chief, General Nicholai Yezhov, whom no one can account for since 1939 (there seems to be much mystery concerning the fate of Yezhov, one of the three most important figures in the Stalinist purges of 1936-1938; Hugo Dewar, in Assassins at Large [London: Wingate, 1951], speaks of him 'disappearing' from the scene in December, 1938; Bertram D. Wolfe, in his Communist Totalitarianism [Boston: Beacon Press, 1956], also speaks of Yezhov 'disappearing,' in 1939, which latter year is given by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, in his The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956 [New York: Harper and Row, 1975] as Yezhov's death date); that the late Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut was really Stalin's son, Jacub, falsely identified as put to death in the German concentration camp at Dachau in 1945, and that Hitler himself was really the mysteriously disappeared English killer of the 1880s, Jack the Ripper. Attending these charges are thinly veiled suggestions that Jay Sourwine, the recently retired former chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Internal Security Sub-committee, is really the former Number Two man in the Hitler regime, Martin Bormann. After two years of reading such sensational charges, however, there are some who suspect that they have been involved in a complicated Polish joke.
70ne emerges from Smith's book with few sentiments of sympathy or respect for the OSS, despite the enthusiasm of the author. It has a hilarious side as one contemplates the miscues, bungles and contrived bravado of this strange assortment of amateur spies. And one may be impressed by the elite economic and social credentials of most of its key membership, and the high public and private posts to which they adhered in the decades following the end of the war. But the story has its dark side. One of the least palatable aspects of the account is Smith's long and labored efforts to apologize for and exculpate the top management for recruiting and using extensively a veritable regiment of Stalinists, and for engaging in a lengthy series of dubious capers all over Europe and Asia which almost imperceptibly disturbed the enemy but contributed almost unerringly in every case to the advancement of Stalinist or Maoist Communism.
There is considerable suspicion that the tale of the exploits of the OSS in World War Two is liberally larded with fiction, and that the spectacular promotion of the organization in the press was deliberately undertaken to help build up a favorable political climate prior to its remodeling into a permanent institution, the Central Intelligence Agency. One can come to hardly any other conclusion after studying just the short tidbit of the interview in 1971 between one of the OSS key figures, Thomas Braden, and the journalist Robert Sherrill, reproduced in the latter's book Why They Call It Politics: A Guide to America's Government (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972), pp. 253-254.
8The famed gangster Charles "Lucky" Luciano subscribed to the theory that Tresca was murdered by New York Mafia gunmen taking orders from his adversary, the Mafia chief Vito Genovese, then living in Italy, as a gesture of fealty to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, who allegedly abominated Tresca. Though this interpretation is also favored by other writers on the Mafia who prefer Luciano to Genovese, it falters and wobbles noticeably when examined against some facts. It is most unlikely Mussolini felt as strongly about Tresca and his paper II Martello as Luciano and others maintain; this aspect appears to be mainly a fabrication. Mussolini had far more pressing things on his mind in early 1943 than the writings of a little-read journalist in an Italian language anarchist newspaper published 4,000 miles away; he was being beaten badly in the campaigns in North Africa, Sicily was about to be invaded, and he was surrounded by people plotting his overthrow.
This theory also ignores that Tresca wrote as heatedly, if not more so, against the Communists as he did against the Fascists. It is still more plausible that the original suspicion that Tresca was a MVD (KGB) casualty is correct. As a consequence of the political realities of 1943 which found the official pro-Stalinism of the American government reaching a crescendo, and with pro-Stalinist activists swarming in New York as a result of this beaming encouragement, there were probably several people loyal to the Workers' Fatherland who would have eagerly undertaken the murder of Tresca in its behalf; an anti-Communist line in 1943 was a dangerous position for anyone in the United States. The hostility toward Italian Fascism in other Italian language anarchist papers here such as Aldo Felicani's Controcorrente in Boston or the New York L'Adunata dei Refrattari went beyond that expressed by Tresca. Nothing happened to them.
This theory also contradicts the boasting of Luciano and others about the total absence of spies and traitors to the U.S. among the Mafia, their wholehearted hatred of Mussolini and their fierce support of the American war effort, their military service and their unqualified cooperation with requests from the Navy, Army and OSS for assistance in planning the Sicilian invasion.
If Mussolini was interested in silencing an exiled Italian in America, it surely would have been someone of the likes of Gaetano Salvemini or Carlo Sforza, not Tresca. The latter had no influence among the dominant policy-making liberal and collectivist Left in the U.S.A., while Salvemini, who had fled Italy and arrived here early in 1927, was popular among this element, and his violent diatribes against Mussolini were frequently published in their nationally circulated papers. In the case of Sforza, there were elements in the Roosevelt regime who felt he should be groomed as a future political figure in Italy after Mussolini's destruction. On Luciano's view of Tresca, see Martin A. Gosch and Richard Hammer, The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano (New York: Dell, 1976), p. 285. Salvemini was acquitted in a trial in Florence on July 13, 1925; he eventually came to the United States and arrived here January 5, 1927. New York Times, July 14, 1925, p. 3; January 6, 1927, p. 17. See in particular the book he wrote with George La Piana, What To Do With Italy (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1943.)
9Valuable additional material on the Communist assassination apparat was obtained by an examination of the murders of Rebet and Bandera by Stashinsky. Anders maintains that these killings spurred the CIA to investigate 150 other deaths of politicians which appeared as did the two mentioned above to be of natural causes, but which might also have been caused by the same methods used against them, namely, hydrocyanic gas fired by a gas pistol. Also useful in an examination of this matter is Hermann Raschhofer, Political Assassination: The Legal Background of the Oberlander and Stashinsky Cases (Translated from the German by Ernst Schlosser. Tubingen: Fritz Schlichtenmayer, 1964.)
10One of the least convincing explanations of Forrestal's death is that of Arnold A. Rogow, James Forrestal: A Study of Personality, Politics and Policy (New York: Macmillan, 1963). On Bang-Jensen see DeWitt Copp and Marshall Peck, Betrayal at the UN: The Story of Paul Bang-Jensen (New York: Devin-Adair, 1961.)
11The planting of bombs on airplanes or the tampering with them so as to cause their failure and destruction has occurred often enough to inure people to the otherwise repelling idea that one would bring about the death of many innocent people in order to insure that of one of the passengers for a special reason. In domestic circumstances, collection of insurance benefits has been the motive or incentive. That a similar tactic might be employed for political assassination purposes is still a little exotic for most official minds. But the possibility opens up a field of research into mysterious airplane crashes involving persons of note, a parallel to unexplained 'suicides.' One of the first to investigate this is David Irving, in his book Accident: The Death of General Sikorski (London: William Kimber, 1968.) Wladislaw Sikorski, premier of the Polish Government in Exile in London, was killed in the crash of a plane leaving Gibraltar for London on July 4, 1943. Irving maintained that his original book was far stronger in its positions than what finally appeared in print. It is likely that the stage play Soldiers by Rolf Hochhuth came closer to Irving's assertions on how and why Sikorski died. There is a good summary of this matter by Robert Fulford, "The Sikorski Story: A Suppressed Account," Toronto Daily Star, February 29, 1968.
Irving's account of Gen. Sikorski aroused commentary from people recalling the crash of the airliner carrying Senator Ernest Lundeen of Minnesota which killed all on board a few miles from Washington on August 31, 1940, which the Associated Press called at the time "the worst air disaster in the history of the United States." Colorado Springs Evening Telegraph, September I, 1940, p.1. There was much rumination over this event at the time (Sen. Lundeen was an especially prickly opponent of the Roosevelt administration's foreign policy in those panicky days) and an air of mystery has hung over the affair ever since.