Subversion of Roosevelt's Administration

 

Throughout the Second World War, thus far the most bloody conflict in human history, President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt spent long periods away from Washington. In 1921, Roosevelt was diagnosed with infantile paralysis known as polio. At that time polio had no known cure and often resulted in full or partial paralysis. In order to move around, Roosevelt used a special wheelchair he designed himself. It was made of a dining chair with legs replaced with bicycle-like wheels. Somehow Roosevelt managed to conceal his disability from the American public and the wider international community. However, as the war progressed, his health kept deteriorating. Instead of running government affairs in Washington, he was frequently at his home in Hyde Park, in New York, at Bernard Baruch's estate in South Carolina, or his retreat at Warm Springs, Georgia, hoping that mineral rich water could treat his paralysis. President Roosevelt's disability not only impacted his mental fitness but also made him completely dependent upon his nearest advisors and caretakers. Most influential among them was Harry Hopkins, an ardent supporter of the Soviet regime in Russia.

A son of harness maker, which he kept reminding himself and others throughout his life, Harry Hopkins graduated from Grinnell College, in the agricultural state of Iowa. His favourite teachers at Grinnell, professor Jesse Macy and Dr. Edward A. Steiner, were interested in socialism. Jesse Macy, a Quaker farmer by birth was one of the first converts to the Darwinian theory and he believed it “his duty to use every endeavour towards the attainment of a more righteous order in the state and in society, regardless of the prospect of success”.278 Jesse Macy had contacts with London Economic Club and Fabian Society which advocated socialism in Britain and sympathized with the Soviet regime in Russia. Another teacher at Grinnell College, Dr. Edward A. Steiner, was a Jew who initiated Harry Hopkins into social science. Born in Czechoslovakia, Steiner graduated from Heidelberg University in Germany then emigrated to the United States and later went to Russia where he stayed with famous writer Leo Tolstoy, a fervent Christian and pacifist, gathering material for his book on “Tolstoy, the Man”. Steiner was a converted Christian and at Grinnell held chair of “Applied Christianity” which propagated creation of the kingdom of God on earth through social reform.279 Upon Hopkins' graduation, Dr. Steiner arranged him a job as social worker in New York City, where he became member of the Democratic Party. Harry Hopkins met Franklin D. Roosevelt for the first time during the campaign of 1928 when Alfred Smith was running for President and Roosevelt for Governor of New York. Hopkins was attracted by Roosevelt's social philosophy and Roosevelt's circle, including his wife, Eleonor paid attention to Hopkins. In 1931, Roosevelt appointed Hopkins as the executive director of the New York State Temporary Emergency Relief Administration (TERA), which job was to help tackle unemployment that arose from the stock market crash. This gave Hopkins a taste of public life and the practice of expenditure of millions of dollars. When in 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the general elections, Hopkins was employed to implement his various social welfare programs steadily becoming not only Roosevelt's relief administrator but also his confidant and closest advisor.

By 1939, communists and believers in new “social order” were present in federal government and various American organizations covering almost every aspect of human activity.280 Soviet espionage networks in America were run by the Fourth Department (Military Intelligence, later named the GRU) rather than by the NKVD. Its main operations were run by an illegal residency established in 1934 under the former Berlin resident, Boris Bazarov (codename “Nord”) with Iskhak Abdulovich Akhmerov (codename “Young”), a Soviet Tatar, acting as his deputy. Akhmerov was engaged in a passionate love affair with his personal assistant, Helen Lowry, the cousin of the American Communist Party leader, Earl Browder. In 1938, after Bazarov was recalled to Moscow and shot, Akhmerov controlled most political intelligence operations in the United States. His most productive spy ring within Roosevelt's administration was a group of Communists run by Nathan Gregory Silvermaster, a Jew from Odessa, who worked as an economist with the U.S. War Production Board. “Greg” Silvermaster suffered from bronchial asthma and believed that his “time is strictly limited” and when he dies he wants to feel that at least he have had “some part in building a decent life for those who come after me”.281 The SILVERMASTER GROUP spanned the U.S. Treasury Department, the Army Air Force and the White House. The group included: Nathan Gregory Silvermaster (U.S. Treasury Department, War Production Board), Harry Dexter White (Treasury Department), Helen Silvermaster (Gregory's wife), Solomon Adler (Treasury Department), Norman Bursler (Justice Department), Frank Coe (Division of Monetary Research, Treasury Department), Lauchlin Currie (White House adviser), Bela Gold (U.S. Department of Agriculture), Sonia Gold (Division of Monetary Research, Treasury Department), Irving Kaplan (Division of Monetary Research, Treasury Department, War Production Board), William “Lud” Ullman (Division of Monetary Research in Treasury Department). All but three of the conspirators were Jewish. To limit the security risks, Akhmerov placed two cut-outs between himself and the Silvermaster group. The first was a courier Elizabeth Bentley (codename “Mirna”) who in 1930s broke her links with American Communist Party (CPUSA) and started to work for NKVD. She did not report to Akhmerov directly but to another Soviet illegal in his residency, Jacob Golos, whom she knew as “Timmy”.282 Silvermaster and Ulman would photograph massive amounts of classified information and pass it to Elizabeth Bentley who would then pass it to Golos.283

On the eve of the Second World War a leftists journalist and member of CPUSA, Whittaker Chambers, who worked in the mid-1930s as a courier of the Fourth Department linking Soviet intelligence with the Communists in the federal workforce, broke with communism after the disappearance of his friend and fellow spy, Juliet Poyntz, in Moscow. On September 2, 1939, the day before Germany's invasion on Poland, he passed the list of Soviet spies who held federal jobs to Adolf Berle, Assistant Secretary of State and President Roosevelt's advisor on internal security. Immediately afterwards Berle draw up a memorandum for President Roosevelt which included the names of suspected Soviet spies within federal government. The list included: John Abt (Department of Justice), Alger Hiss (State Department), Donald Hiss (Labor Department), Solomon Adler (Treasury Department), Lauchlin Currie (White House), Philip Reno (Social Security), among many others.284 President Roosevelt did nothing about the report. When Congressman Martin Dies, Chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, insisted on rooting the communists out of the Administration, he was summoned to the White House where Roosevelt in fury told him, “several of the best friends I've got are Communists. You're all wrong about this thing...”285 Most prominent of these friends, Harry Hopkins, Roosevelt's personal assistance, actually resided at the White House. During the early stages of the war, he worked as Secretary of Commerce and was Roosevelt's personal envoy to Britain. He was also a member of the War Production Board. Despite having no required competences, Hopkins attended major Allied conferences taking part in discussions on war strategies and sometimes used Akhmerov as a back channel to Moscow.286 Due to Hopkins' influence on Roosevelt and American policy Winston Churchill called him “Lord, Root of the Matter”. Some Americans like U.S. ambassador to Britain Joseph Kennedy criticised the entourage of the President. Joseph Kennedy told German ambassador, Herbert von Dirksen, that Roosevelt was the victim of “Jewish influence” and told a British reporter near the end of 1939, that “The Democratic [party] policy of the United States is a Jewish production."287 Unsurprisingly, Joseph Kennedy was recalled from London in 1940 and after Roosevelt's re-election, he submitted his resignation as ambassador.

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278 Robert E. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins. An Intimate History (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1948), p. 17 »

279 David R. Roll, The Hopkins Touch. Harry Hopkins and the Forging of An Alliance to Defeat Hitler (OUP USA, 2015), p. 14 »

280 See: Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, Fridrikh Igorevich Firsov, The Secret World of American Communism (New Haven, London: Yale University Press, 1995) »

281 Andrew and Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive, p. 110 »

282 Ibid., p. 110 »

283 Steil, The Battle of Bretton Woods, p. 295 »

284 M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein, Stalin's secret agents: the subversion of Roosevelt's government (London, New York: Threshold Editions, 2012), pp. 79-80 »

285 U.S. New and World Report (August 20, 1954), p. 59 »

286 Andrew and Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive: The Sword and The Shield, p. 111 »

287 Edward Renehan, Jr., “Kennedy and the Jews”, History News Network, 29 April 2002 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/697 »