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- Transcriber's Note: Inconsistent hyphenation in the original document has been preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. For a complete list, please see the end of this document. -
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The Book and the Author John L. Spivak comes closer to the popular conception of the ace journalist than any other living writer. Combining the instinct of a detective with the resourcefulness of a reporter, and gifted with a hard-hitting, breezy style, he has time and again "scooped the world," "gotten the story" despite powerful opposition and personal danger that might well have daunted less hardy souls. But there is an important difference that sets Spivak apart from most other gentlemen of the press. For several years he has devoted his bright and sharp pen solely to uncovering evidence of fascist activities in the United States evidence that is credited with having set off several official investigations exposing un-American, foreign-dominated propaganda. SECRET ARMIES climaxes Spivak's exposures. His sensational inside story of Hitler's far-flung, under-cover poison campaign in the Americas would seem scarcely credible, were it not so thoroughly documented with original letters and records, citing chapter and verse, naming names, dates and places. His unanswerable, uncontradicted facts should go far toward jolting many of us out of our false sense of security.
Books by John L. Spivak
THE DEVIL'S BRIGADE
AMERICA FACES THE BARRICADES
EUROPE UNDER THE TERROR
The New Technique of Nazi Warfare
JOHN L. SPIVAK
MODERN AGE BOOKS, INC. 432 FOURTH AVENUE NEW YORK
COPYRIGHT 1939 BY JOHN L. SPIVAK PUBLISHED BY MODERN AGE BOOKS, INC. 432 Fourth Avenue New York City
All rights in this book are reserved, and it may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the holder of these rights. For information address the publishers.
First Printing, February 1939 Second Printing, March 1939
Printed in the United States of America
I Czechoslovakia—Before the Carving 9
II England's Cliveden Set 17
III France's Secret Fascist Army 31
IV Dynamite Under Mexico 43
V Surrounding the Panama Canal 56
VI Secret Agents Arrive in America 73
VII Nazi Spies and American "Patriots" 84
VIII Henry Ford and Secret Nazi Activities 102
IX Nazi Agents in American Universities 118
X Underground Armies in America 130
XI The Dies Committee Suppresses Evidence 137
XII Conclusion 155
Application in the Secret Order of '76 by Sidney Brooks 77
Letter from Harry A. Jung 82
Anti-Semitic handbill 85
Letter from Peter V. Armstrong 89
Letter to Peter V. Armstrong 90
Account card of Reverend Gerald B. Winrod 104
Sample of "Capitol News & Feature Service" 106
Letter from Wessington Springs Independent 107
Letter from General Rodriguez 111
Letter from General Rodriguez 113
Letter from Henry Allen 115
Anti-Semitic sticker and German titlepage of book by Henry Ford 117
Letter from Olov E. Tietzow 125
Judgment showing conviction of E.F. Sullivan 138-139
Letter from Carl G. Orgell 151
Letter from G. Moshack 153
Letter from E.A. Vennekohl 154
The material in this small volume just barely scratches the surface of a problem which is becoming increasingly grave: the activities of Nazi agents in the United States, Mexico, and Central America. During the past five years I have observed some of them, watching the original, crudely organized and directed propaganda machine develop, grow and leave an influence far wider than most people seem to realize. What at first appeared to be merely a distasteful attempt by Nazi Government officials at direct interference in the affairs of the American people and their Government, has now assumed the more sinister aspect of also seeking American naval and military secrets.
Further studies in Central America, Mexico and the Panama Canal Zone disclosed an espionage network directed by the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo axis and operating against the peace and security of the United States. A scrutiny of the Nazi Fifth Column in a few European countries, especially in Czechoslovakia just before that Republic was turned over to Germany's mercy by the Munich "peace" and in France where Nazi and Italian agents built an amazing secret underground army, has made the fascist activities in the Western Hemisphere somewhat clearer to me.
I have included one chapter detailing events which cannot, so far as I have been able to discover, be traced directly to Nazi espionage; but it shows the influence of Nazi ideology upon England's now notorious "Cliveden set," which maneuvered the betrayal of Austria, sacrificed Czechoslovakia and is working in devious ways to strengthen Hitler in Europe. The "Cliveden set" has already had so profound an effect upon the growth and influence of fascism throughout the world, that I thought it advisable to include it.
The sources for most of the material, by its very nature, naturally cannot be revealed. Those conversations which I quote directly came from people who were present when they occurred or, as in the case of the Cagoulards in France, from official records. In the chapter on Czechoslovakia I quote a conversation between a Nazi spy and his chief. The details came to me from a source which in the past I had found accurate. Subsequently, the spy was arrested by Czech secret police, and his confession substantiated the conversation as I have given it.
Much of the material in this volume has been published in various periodicals from time to time, but so many Americans feel that concern over Nazi penetration in this country is exaggerated, that I hope even this brief and incomplete picture will serve to impress the reader, as it has impressed me, with the gravity of the situation.
 When the Spanish Insurgents were investing Madrid early in November, 1936, newspaper correspondents asked Insurgent General Emilio Mola which of his four columns would take the city. Mola replied enigmatically: "The Fifth Column." He referred to the fascist sympathizers within Madrid—those attempting to abet the defeat of the Spanish Government by means of spying, sabotage and terrorism. The term "Fifth Column" is today widely used to describe the various fascist and Nazi organizations operating within the borders of non-fascist nations.
Czechoslovakia—Before The Carving
It is pretty generally admitted now that the Munich "peace" gave Germany industrial and military areas essential to further aggressions. Instead of helping to put a troubled Europe on the road to lasting peace, Munich strengthened the totalitarian powers, especially Germany, and a strengthened Germany inevitably means increased activities of the Nazis' Fifth Column which is, in all quarters of the globe, actively preparing the ground for Hitler's greater plans.
If we can divine the future by the past, the Fifth Column, that shadowy group of secret agents now entrenched in every important country throughout the world, is an omen of what is to come. Before Germany marched into Austria, that unhappy country witnessed a large influx of Fifth Column members. In Czechoslovakia, especially in those months before the Republic's heart was handed to Hitler on a platter, there was a tremendous increase in the numbers and activities of agents sent into the Central European country.
During my stay there in the brief period immediately preceding the "peace," I learned a little about the operations of the Gestapo's secret agents in Czechoslovakia. Their numbers are vast and those few of whom I learned, are infinitesimal to the actual numbers at work then and now, not only in Czechoslovakia but in other countries. What I learned of those few, however, shows how the Gestapo, the Nazi secret service, operates in its ruthless drive.
For years Hitler had laid plans to fight, if he had to, for Czechoslovakia, whose natural mountain barriers and man-made defensive line of steel and concrete stood in the way of his announced drive to the Ukrainian wheat fields. In preparation for the day when he might have to fight for its control, he sent into the Republic a host of spies, provocateurs, propagandists and saboteurs to establish themselves, make contacts, carry on propaganda and build a machine which would be invaluable in time of war.
In a few instances I learned the details of the Nazis' inexorable determination and their inhuman indifference to the lives of even their own agents.
Arno Oertel, alias Harald Half, was a thin, white-faced spy trained in two Gestapo schools for Fifth Column work. Oertel was given a German passport by Richter, the Gestapo district chief at Bischofswerda on what was then the Czechoslovak-German frontier.
"You will proceed to Prague," Richter instructed him, "and lose yourself in the city. As soon as it is safe, go to Langenau near Boehmisch-Leipa and report to Frau Anna Suchy. She will give you further instructions."
Oertel nodded. It was his first important espionage job—assigned to him after the twenty-five-year-old secret agent had finished his intensive course in the special Gestapo training school in Zossen (Brandenburg), one of the many schools established by the Nazi secret service to train agents for various activities.
After his graduation Oertel had been given minor practical training in politically disruptive work in anti-fascist organizations across the Czech border where he had posed as a German emigre. There he had shown such aptitude that his Gestapo chief at sector headquarters in Dresden, Herr Geissler, sent him to Czechoslovakia on a special mission.
Oertel hesitated. "Naturally I'll take all possible precautions but—accidents may happen."
Richter nodded. "If you are caught and arrested, demand to see the German Consul immediately," he said. "If you are in a bad predicament, we'll request your extradition on a criminal charge—burglary with arms, attempted murder—some non-political crime. We've got a treaty with Czechoslovakia to extradite Germans accused of criminal acts but—" The Gestapo chief opened the top drawer of his desk and took a small capsule from a box. "If you find yourself in an utterly hopeless situation, swallow this."
He handed the pellet to the nervous young man.
"Cyanide," Richter said. "Tie it up in a knot in your handkerchief. It will not be taken from you if you are arrested. There is always an opportunity while being searched to take it."
Oertel tied the pellet in a corner of his handkerchief and placed it in his breast pocket.
"You are to make two reports," Richter continued. "One for Frau Suchy, the other for the contact in Prague. She'll get you in touch with him."
Anna Suchy, when Oertel reported to her, gave him specific orders: "On August 16 , at five o'clock in the afternoon, you will sit on a bench near the fountain in Karlsplatz in Prague. A man dressed in a gray suit, gray hat, with a blue handkerchief showing from the breast pocket of his coat, will ask you for a light for his cigarette. Give him the light and accept a cigarette from the gentleman. He will give you detailed instructions on what to do and how to meet the Prague contact to whom in turn you will report."
At the appointed hour Oertel sat on a bench staring at the fountain, watching men and women strolling and chatting cheerfully on the way to meet friends for late afternoon coffee. Occasionally he looked at the afternoon papers lying on the bench beside him. He felt that he was being watched but he saw no one in a gray suit with a blue handkerchief. He wiped his forehead with his handkerchief, partly because of the heat, partly because of nervousness. As he held the handkerchief he could feel the tightly bound capsule.
Precisely at five he noticed a man in a gray suit with a gray hat and a blue handkerchief in the breast pocket of his coat, strolling toward him. As the man approached he took out a package of cigarettes, selected one and searched his pockets for a light. Stopping before Oertel, he doffed his hat and smilingly asked for a light. Oertel produced his lighter and the other in turn offered him a cigarette. He sat down on the bench.
"Report once a week," he said abruptly, puffing at his cigarette and staring at two children playing in the sunshine which flooded Karlsplatz. He stretched his feet like a man relaxing after a hard day's work. "Deliver reports to Frau Suchy personally. One week she will come to Prague, the next you go to her. Deliver a copy of your report to the English missionary, Vicar Robert Smith, who lives at 31 Karlsplatz."
Smith, to whom the unidentified man in the gray suit told Oertel to report, was a minister of the Church of Scotland in Prague, a British subject with influential connections not only with English-speaking people but with Czech government officials. Besides his ministerial work, the Reverend Smith led an amateur orchestra group giving free concerts for German emigres. On his clerical recommendation, he got German "emigre" women into England as house servants for British government officials and army officers.
The far-flung Gestapo network in Czechoslovakia concentrated much of its activities along the former German-Czech border. In Prague, even today when Germany has achieved what she said was all she wanted in Europe, the network reaches into all branches of the Government, the military forces and emigre anti-fascist groups. The country, before it was cut to pieces and even now, is honeycombed with Gestapo agents sent from Germany with false passports or smuggled across the border.
Often the Gestapo uses Czech citizens whose relatives are in Germany and upon whom pressure is put. The work of these agents consists not only of ferreting out military information regarding Czech defense measures and establishing contacts with Czech citizens for permanent espionage, but of the equally important assignment of disrupting anti-fascist groups—of creating opposition within organizations having large memberships in order to split and disintegrate them. Agents also make reports on public opinion and attitudes, and record carefully the names and addresses of those engaged in anti-fascist work. A similar procedure was followed in Austria before that country was invaded, and it enabled the Nazis to make wholesale arrests immediately upon entering the country.
Prague, with a German population of sixty thousand is still the headquarters for the astonishing espionage and propaganda machine which the Gestapo built throughout the country. Before Czechoslovakia was cut up, most of the espionage reports crossed the frontier into Germany through Tetschen-Bodenbach. The propaganda and espionage center of the Henlein group was in the headquarters of the Sudeten Deutsche Partei at 4 Hybernska St. A secondary headquarters, in the Deutscher Hilfsverein at 7 Nekazanka St., was directed by Emil Wallner, who was ostensibly representing the Leipzig Fair but was actually the chief of the Gestapo machine in Prague. His assistant, Hermann Dorn, living in Hanspaulka-Dejvice, masqueraded as the representative of the Muenchner Illustrierte Zeitung.
Some aspects of the Nazi espionage and propaganda machine in Czechoslovakia hold especial interest for American immigration authorities since into the United States, too, comes a steady flow of the shadowy members of the Nazis' Fifth Column. It is well to know that the letters and numbers at the top of passports inform German diplomatic representatives the world over that the bearer usually is a Gestapo agent. Whenever American immigration authorities find German passports with letters and numbers at the top, they may be reasonably sure that the bearer is an agent. These numbers are placed on passports by Gestapo headquarters in Berlin or Dresden. The agent's photograph and a sample of his (or her) handwriting is sent via the diplomatic pouch to the Nazi Embassy, Legation, Consulate or German Bund in the country or city to which the agent is assigned. When the agent reports in a foreign city, the resident Gestapo chief, in order to identify him, checks the passport's top number with the picture and the handwriting received by diplomatic pouch.
Rudolf Walter Voigt, alias Walter Clas, alias Heinz Leonhard, alias Herbert Frank—names which he used throughout Europe in his espionage work will serve as an illustration. Voigt was sent to Prague on a delicate mission. His job was to discover how Czechs got to Spain to fight in the International Brigade, a mystery in Berlin since such Czechs had to cross Italy, Germany or other fascist countries which cooperate with the Gestapo.
Voigt was given passport No. 1,128,236 made out in the name of Walter Clas, and bearing at the top of the passport the letters and numbers 1A1444. He was instructed, by Leader Wilhelm May of Dresden, to report to the Henlein Party headquarters upon his arrival in Prague. Clas, alias Voigt, arrived October 23, 1937, reported at the Sudeten Party headquarters and saw a man whom I was unable to identify. He was instructed to report again four days later, since information about the agent had not yet arrived.
Voigt was trained in the Gestapo espionage schools in Potsdam and Calmuth-Remagen. He operates directly under Wilhelm May whose headquarters are in Dresden. May is in charge of Gestapo work over Sector No. 2. Preceding the granting to Hitler of the Sudeten areas in Czechoslovakia, the entire Czech border espionage and terrorist activity was divided into sectors. At this writing the same sector divisions still exist, operating now across the new frontiers. Sector No. 1 embraces Silesia with headquarters at Breslau; No. 2, Saxony, with headquarters at Dresden; and No. 3, Bavaria, with headquarters at Munich. After the annexation of Austria, Sector No. 4 was added, commanded by Gestapo Chief Scheffler whose headquarters are in Berlin with a branch in Vienna. Sector No. 4 also directs Standarte II which stands ready to provide incidents to justify German invasion "because the situation has got out of control of the local authorities."
Another way in which immigration authorities, especially in countries surrounding Germany, can detect Gestapo agents is by the position of stamps on the German passport. Stamps are placed, in accordance with German law, directly under the spot provided for them on the passport on the front page, upper right hand corner. Whenever the stamps are on the cover facing the passport title page, it is a sign to Gestapo representatives and Consulates that the bearer is an agent who crossed the border hurriedly without time to get the regular numbers and letters from Gestapo headquarters. The agent is given this means of temporary identification by the border Gestapo chief.
Also, whenever immigration authorities find a German passport issued to the bearer for less than five years and then extended to the regulation five-year period, they may be certain that the bearer is a new Gestapo agent who is being tested by controlled movements in a foreign country. For his first Gestapo mission in Holland, for instance, Voigt was given a passport August 15, 1936, good for only fourteen days. His chief was not sure whether or not Voigt had agreed to become an agent just to get a passport and money to escape the country; so his passport period was limited.
When the fourteen-day period expired, Voigt would have to report to the Nazi Consulate for a renewal. In this particular instance, the passport was marked "Non-renewable Except by Special Permission of the Chief of Dresden Police." When Voigt performed his Holland mission successfully, he was given the usual five-year passport.
Any German whose passport shows a given limited time, which has been subsequently extended, gives proof that he has been tested and found satisfactory by the Gestapo.
 Frau Suchy was one of the most active members of Konrad Henlein's Deutscher Volksbund, a propaganda and espionage organization masquerading as a "cultural" body in the Sudeten area. She is today a leading official in the new German Sudetenland.
 The Rev. Smith returned to England when he learned that the Czechoslovakian secret police were watching him. At the present writing he had not returned to his church in Prague.
England's Cliveden Set
The work of foreign agents does not necessarily involve the securing of military and naval secrets. Information of all kinds is important to an aggressor planning an invasion or estimating a potential enemy's strength and morale; and often a diplomatic secret is worth far more than the choicest blueprint of a carefully guarded military device.
There are persons whom money, social position, political promises or glory cannot interest in following a policy of benefit to a foreign power. In such instances, however, protection of class interests sometimes drives them to acts which can scarcely be distinguished from those of paid foreign agents. This is especially true of those whose financial interests are on an international scale and who consequently think internationally.
Such class interests were involved in the betrayal of Austria to the Nazis only a few months before aggressor nations were invited to cut themselves a slice of Czechoslovakia; and it will probably never be known just how much the Nazis' Fifth Column, working in dinner jackets and evening gowns, influenced the powerful personages involved to chart a course which sacrificed a nation and a people and which foretold the Munich "peace" pact.
The story begins when Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of England, accepted an invitation to spend the week-end of March 26-27, 1938, at Cliveden, Lord and Lady Astor's country estate at Taplow, Buckinghamshire, in the beautiful Thames Valley. When the Prime Minister and his wife arrived at the huge Georgian house rising out of a fairyland of gardens and forests with the placid river for a background, the other guests who had already arrived and their hosts were under the horseshoe stone staircase to receive them.
The small but carefully selected group of guests had been invited "to play charades" over the week-end—a game in which the participants form opposing sides and act a certain part while the opponents try to guess what they are portraying. Every man invited held a strategic position in the British government, and it was during this "charades party" week-end that they secretly charted a course of British policy which will affect not only the fate of the British Empire but the course of world events and the lives of countless millions of people for years to come.
This course, which indirectly menaces the peace and security of the United States, deliberately launched England on a series of maneuvers which made Hitler stronger and will inevitably lead Great Britain on the road to fascism. The British Parliament and the British people do not know of these decisions, some of which the Chamberlain government has already carried out.
And without a knowledge of what happened during the talks in those historic two days and what preceded them, the world can only puzzle over an almost incomprehensible British foreign policy.
Present at this week-end gathering, besides the Astors and the Prime Minister and his wife, were the following:
Sir Thomas Inskip, Minister for Defense.
Sir Alexander Cadogan, who replaced Sir Robert Vansittart as adviser to the British Cabinet and who acts in a supervisory capacity over the extraordinarily powerful British Intelligence Service.
Geoffrey Dawson, editor of the London Times.
Lord Lothian, Governor of the National Bank of Scotland, a determined advocate of refusing arms to the Spanish democratic government while Hitler and Mussolini supplied Franco with them.
Tom Jones, adviser to former Premier Baldwin.
The Right Honorable E.A. Fitzroy, Speaker of the House of Commons.
The Baroness Mary Ravensdale, sister-in-law of Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of the British fascist movement.
To understand the amazing game played by the Cliveden house guests, in which nations and peoples have already been shuffled about as pawns, one must remember that powerful German industrialists and financiers like the Krupps and the Thyssens supported Hitler primarily in order to crush the German trade-union and political movements which were in the late 1920's threatening their wealth and power.
The Astors are part of the same family in the United States. Lady Nancy Astor, born in Virginia, married into one of the richest families in England. Her interests and the interests of Viscount Astor, her husband, stretch into banking, railroads, life insurance and journalism. Half a dozen members of the family are in Parliament: Lady Astor, her husband, their son, in the House of Commons; and two relatives in the House of Lords. The Astor family controls two of the most powerful and influential newspapers in the world, the London Times and the London Observer. In the past these papers, whose influence cannot be exaggerated, have been strong enough to make and break Prime Ministers.
Cliveden House, ruled by the intensely energetic and ambitious American-born woman, had already left its mark upon current history following other week-end parties. Lady Astor and her coterie had been playing a more or less minor role in the affairs of the largest empire in the world, but decisions recently reached at her week-end parties have already changed the map of Europe, after almost incredible intrigues, betrayals and double-crossings, carried through with the ruthlessness of a conquering Caesar and the boundless ambitions of a Napoleon.
The week-ends at Cliveden House which culminated in the historic one of March 26-27, began in the fall of 1937. Lady Astor had been having teas with Lady Ravensdale and had entertained von Ribbentrop, Nazi Ambassador to Great Britain, at her town house. Gradually the Astor-controlled London Times assumed a pro-Nazi bias on its very influential editorial page. When the Times wants to launch a campaign, its custom is to run a series of letters in its famous correspondence columns and then an editorial advocating the policy decided upon. During October, 1937, the Times sprouted letters regarding Hitler's claims for the return of the colonies taken from Germany after the war.
Rather than have Germany attack her, England preferred to see Hitler turn his eyes to the fertile Ukrainian wheat fields of the Soviet Union. It meant war, but that war seemed inevitable. If Russia won, England and her economic royalists would be faced with "the menace of communism." But if Germany won, she would expand eastward and, exhausted by the war, would be in no condition to make demands upon England. The part Great Britain's economic royalists had to play, then, was to strengthen Germany in her preparations for the coming war with Russia and at the same time prepare herself to fight if her calculations went wrong.
Cabinet ministers Lord Hailsham (sugar and insurance interests), Lord Swinton (railroads, power, with subsidiaries in Germany, Italy, etc.), Sir Samuel Hoare (real estate, insurance, etc.), were felt out and thought it was a good idea. Chamberlain himself had a hefty interest (around twelve thousand shares) in Imperial Chemical Industries, affiliated with I.G. Farbenindustrie, the German dye trust which is very actively supplying Hitler with war materials. The difficulty was Anthony Eden, British Foreign Minister, who was opposed to fascist aggressions because he feared they would eventually threaten the British Empire. Eden would certainly not approve of strengthening fascist countries and encouraging them to still greater aggressions.
At one of the carefully selected little parties the Astors invited Eden. In the small drawing room banked with flowers the idea was broached about sending an emissary to talk the matter over with Hitler—some genial, inoffensive person like Lord Halifax (huge land interests) for instance. Eden understood why the Times had suddenly raised the issue of the lost German colonies to an extent greater even than Hitler himself, and Eden emphatically expressed his disapproval. Such a step, he insisted, would encourage both Germany and Italy to further aggressions which would ultimately wreck the British Empire.
Nevertheless, the cabinet ministers who had been consulted brought pressure upon Chamberlain and while the Foreign Secretary was in Brussels on a state matter, the Prime Minister announced that Halifax would visit the Fuehrer. Eden was furious and after a stormy session tendered his resignation. At that period, however, Eden's resignation might have thrown England into a turmoil—so Chamberlain mollified him. Public sympathy was with Eden and before he was eased out, the country had to be prepared for it.
In the quiet and subdued atmosphere of the diplomats' drawing rooms in London they tell, with many a chuckle, how Lord Halifax, his bowler firmly on his head, was sent to Berlin and Berchtesgaden in mid-November, 1937, with instructions not to get into any arguments. Lord Halifax, in the mellow judgment of his close friends, is one of the most amiable and charming of the British peers, earnest, well meaning and—not particularly bright.
In Berlin Halifax met Goering, attired for the occasion in a new and bewilderingly gaudy uniform. In the course of their conversation Goering, resting his hands on his enormous paunch, said:
"The world cannot stand still. World conditions cannot be frozen just as they are forever. The world is subject to change."
"Of course not," Lord Halifax agreed amiably. "It's absurd to think that anything can be frozen and no changes made."
"Germany cannot stand still," Goering continued. "Germany must expand. She must have Austria, Czechoslovakia and other countries—she must have oil—"
Now this was a point for argument but the Messenger Extraordinary had been instructed not to get into any arguments; so he nodded and in his best pacifying tone murmured, "Naturally. No one expects Germany to stand still if she must expand."
After Austria was invaded and Halifax was asked by his close friends what he had cooked up over there, he told the above story, expressing the fear that his conversation was probably misunderstood by Goering, the latter taking his amiability to mean that Great Britain approved Germany's plans to swallow Austria. The French Intelligence Service, however, has a different version, most of it collected during February, 1938, which, in the light of subsequent events, seems far more accurate.
Lord Halifax, these secret-service reports state, pledged England to a hands-off policy on Hitler's ambitions in Central Europe if Germany would not raise the question of the return of the colonies for six years. Within that period England estimated that Hitler would have expanded, strengthened his war machine and fought the Soviet Union to a victorious conclusion.
Late in January 1938, Lord and Lady Astor invited some guests for a week-end at Cliveden. The Prime Minister of England came and so did Lord Halifax, Lord Lothian, Tom Jones and J.L. Garvin, editor of the Astor-controlled London Observer. When Chamberlain returned to London, he asked Eden to open negotiations with Italy to secure a promise to stop killing British sailors and sinking British merchant vessels in the Mediterranean. During this time the British Foreign Office was issuing statements that Mussolini was "cooperating" in the hunt for the "unidentified" pirates.
British opinion, roused by the sinking of English ships, might hamper deals with the fascist leaders if such attacks were not ended. In return for the cessation of the piratical attacks, Chamberlain was ready to offer recognition of Abyssinia and even loans to Italy to develop her captured territory. It was paying tribute to a pirate chieftain, but Chamberlain was ready to do it to quiet opposition at home to the sinking of British vessels and to give him time in which to develop his policy.
Eden, who had fought for sanctions against the aggressor when Abyssinia was invaded, obeyed orders but insisted that Italy must first get her soldiers out of Spain. He did not want Mussolini to get a stranglehold upon Gibraltar, one of the strategic life lines of the British Empire. Mussolini refused and told the British Ambassador in Rome that he and Great Britain would never to able to get together because Eden insisted on the withdrawal of Italian troops from Spain, and that it might help if a different Foreign Secretary were appointed. Hitler, working closely with Mussolini in the Rome-Berlin axis, also began to press for a different Foreign Secretary but went Mussolini one better. Von Ribbentrop informed Chamberlain that Der Fuehrer was displeased with the English press attacks upon him, Nazis and Nazi aggressions. Der Fuehrer wanted that stopped.
The Foreign Office of the once proud and still biggest empire in the world promptly sent notes to the newspapers in Fleet Street requesting that stories about Nazis and Hitler be toned down "to aid the government," and most of the once proud and independent British newspapers established a "voluntary censorship" at what amounted to an order from Hitler relayed through England's Foreign Office. The explanation the newspapers gave to their staffs was that the world situation was too critical to refuse the government's request and, besides that refusal would probably mean losing routine Foreign Office and other government department news sources. The more than average British citizen doesn't know even today how his government and "independent" press took orders from Hitler.
In the latter part of January, 1938, the French Intelligence Service, still not knowing of the secret deal Halifax had made, learned that Hitler intended to invade Austria late in February and that simultaneously both Italy and Germany, instead of withdrawing troops as they had said they would, planned to intensify their offensive in Spain. When the French Intelligence learned of it, M. Delbos, then French Foreign Minister, and Eden were in Geneva attending a meeting of the Council of the League. Delbos excitedly informed Eden who, never dreaming that Great Britain had not only agreed to sacrifice Austria and betray France but was also double-crossing her own Foreign Minister, telephoned Chamberlain from Geneva.
The Prime Minister listened attentively, thanked him dryly, hung up, and promptly telephoned Sir Eric Phipps, British Ambassador to France. Sir Eric was instructed to get hold of M. Chautemps, the French Premier at the time, and ask that Chautemps instruct Delbos to stop frightening the British Foreign Secretary. But all during February the French Intelligence kept getting more information about the planned invasion of Austria and the proposed intensified offensive in Spain, and relayed it to England with insistent suggestions for joint precautions. Eden in turn relayed it to Chamberlain who always thanked him.
The date set for the invasion was approaching but Eden was still in office and Hitler began to fear that perhaps "perfidious Albion" with all her overtures of friendship might really be double-crossing Germany. If England could send a special emissary to offer to sell out Austria and double-cross her ally France, she might be quite capable of tricking Germany. Simultaneously the Gestapo stumbled upon information that the British Intelligence had reached into the top ranks of the German Army and was working with high officers. Hitler, not knowing how far the British Intelligence had penetrated, shook up his cabinet, made Ribbentrop Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and prepared for war in the event that England was leading him into a trap.
There are records in the British Foreign Office which show that Hitler, before invading Austria, tested England to be sure he wasn't being led into a trap. Von Ribbentrop informed Eden and Chamberlain that Hitler intended to summon Schuschnigg, the Austrian Chancellor, and demand that Austria rearrange her cabinet, take in Dr. Seyss-Inquart and release imprisoned Nazis. Hitler knew that Schuschnigg would immediately rush to England and France for aid. If they turned Austria down it was safe to proceed with the invasion.
The British Foreign Office records show that Schuschnigg did rush to England and France for support, that France was ready to give it, but that England refused, thereby forcing France to keep out of it.
While these frantic maneuvers were going on, the Astor-controlled Times and Observer, the Nazi and the Italian press simultaneously started a campaign against Eden. The date set for the sacrifice of Austria was approaching and Eden had to go or it might fail. The public, however, was with Eden; so another kind of attack was launched. Stories began to appear about the Foreign Secretary's health. There were sighs, long faces, sad regrets, but Eden stuck to his post in the hope that he could do something. On February 19, Hitler, tired of waiting, bluntly demanded that he be removed, and with the newspaper campaign in full swing, Chamberlain "in response to public opinion" removed him the very next day.
The amiable Lord Halifax was appointed Foreign Secretary. Pro-fascists like A.L. Lennon-Boyd, stanch supporter of Franco and admirer of Hitler and Mussolini, were given ministerial posts.
The Austrian invasion was delayed for three weeks because of the difficulty in getting Eden out. When the news flashed to a startled world that Nazi troops were thundering into a country whose independence Hitler had promised to respect, M. Corbin, the still unsuspecting French Ambassador, rushed to the Foreign Office to arrange for swift joint action. This was at four o'clock in the afternoon of March 11, 1938. Instead of receiving him immediately, Lord Halifax kept him waiting until nine o'clock in the evening. By that time Austria was Nazi territory. There was nothing to do but protest; so Lord Halifax, with a straight face, joined France in a "strong protest." It was not until a week after Austria had been absorbed that the French Intelligence Service learned the details of the Halifax deal and finally understood why England had side-stepped the pleas for joint action and why the French Ambassador had been kept cooling his heels until the occupation of Austria was completed.
From Austria Hitler got more men for his army, large deposits of magnesite, timber forests and enormous water-power resources for electricity. From Czechoslovakia, if he could get it, Hitler would have the Skoda armament works, one of the biggest in the world, factories in the Sudeten area, be next door to Hungarian wheat and Rumanian oil, dominate the Balkans, destroy potential Russian air and troop bases in Central Europe, and place Nazi troops within a few miles of the Soviet border and the Ukrainian wheat fields he has eyed so long.
Five days after Austria was invaded, on March 16, at 3:30 in the afternoon, Lord Halifax personally summoned the Czechoslovakian Minister. At four o'clock the Minister came out of the conference with a dazed and bewildered air. Lord Halifax had made some "suggestions." Revealing complete ignorance of what had happened and was happening in Czechoslovakian politics, Halifax was nevertheless laying down the law.
It was obvious that the British Foreign Secretary was getting orders from someone else, for Halifax suggested that the Central European Republic try to conciliate Germany (which it had been doing for months) and that a German be taken into the cabinet (there were already three in it). On March 22 there was another meeting at which the Minister learned that Halifax wanted the Czech Government to take a Nazi into the cabinet—as Austria took Dr. Seyss-Inquart at Hitler's orders.
This pressure from England for Czechoslovakian Nazis to be given more power in the government was virtually telling the beleaguered little democracy to fashion a strong rope and hang itself. Subsequent events showed that Chamberlain personally supplied the rope.
Then came the historic week-end of March 26-27, 1938.
The walls of the small drawing room at Cliveden House are lined with shelves filled with books. The laughing and chatting guests had gathered there after a delightful dinner. For the Prime Minister of England to go through all sorts of contortions in a game of charades might prove a trifle undignified; so the hostess suggested that they play "musical chairs."
Everyone thought it was a splendid idea and men servants in their impressive blue liveries arranged the chairs in the required order, carefully spacing the distances between them. One of the laughing and bejeweled women took her place at the piano. In "musical chairs" there is one person more than the number of chairs. When the music starts the players march around the chairs. The moment the music stops everyone dives for the nearest chair leaving the extra person standing and subject to the hilarious jibes of the other players and those rooting from the bleachers. It's one of the ways statesmen relax.
The music started and the dour Prime Minister of the greatest empire in the world, the Minister in charge of the Empire's defense measures, the editor of England's most powerful newspaper, the Right Honorable Speaker of the House of Commons, the sister-in-law of England's leading fascist and several others started marching while the piano tinkled its challenging tune. The Prime Minister, perhaps because he is essentially conservative, marched cautiously and stepped quickly between the spaces while Lady Astor eyed him shrewdly and the others suppressed giggles. The Prime Minister tried to maintain at least the dignity of his banking background but managed "to look only a little porky" as one expressed it afterward. Suddenly the music stopped. Everyone lunged for the nearest chair. The Prime Minister managed to get one and plopped into it heavily.
After half an hour or so some of the strategic rulers of Great Britain got a little winded and quit. A conversation started on foreign affairs and most of the wives retired to another room. When the discussion was ended the little Cliveden house party had come to six major decisions which will change the face of the world if successfully carried through.
Those decisions (maneuvers to put some of them into effect have already begun) are:
1. To inform France that England will go to her aid if she is attacked, unless the attack results from a treaty obligation with another power.
2. To introduce peace time conscription in England.
3. To appoint three ministers to coordinate industrial defense (conscription in peace time); supervise military conscription; and, coordinate the "political education of the people" (propaganda).
4. To reach an agreement with Italy to preserve the legitimate interest of both countries in the Mediterranean.
5. To discuss mutual problems with Germany.
6. To express the hope to Germany that her methods of self-assertion be such as will not hinder mutual discussions by arousing British public opinion against her.
The two most important decisions in this plan are the one for the conscription of labor in peace time and the effort to force France to break the Franco-Soviet pact by choosing between England and Russia.
Consider conscription first and the motives behind it:
When any country whose workers are strongly organized starts veering towards fascism, it must either win over the trade-unions in one way or another or destroy them, for rebellious labor can prevent fascism by means of the general strike. British labor is known to hate fascism since it has learned that fascism destroys, among other things, the value of the trade-unions and all that they have gained after many years of struggle. Any veering by England toward fascism and fascist alliances spells trouble with the trade-unions; hence, the decision "to coordinate the political education of the people." This move is particularly necessary since some trade-union leaders, especially in the important armament industry, have already stated publicly that unless the workers were given assurances that the arms labor was manufacturing would be used in defense of democracy and not to destroy it, they would not cooperate.
Hence "the education of the people" and the conscription of labor in peace time which would ultimately lead to government control over the unions. With some variations it is the same procedure followed by Hitler in getting control of the once extremely powerful German trade-unions.
A few days after this historic week-end, the Times came out for "national organization" and the wisdom of "national registration." National registration, as the history of fascist countries has shown, is the first step in the conscription of labor. With this opening gun having been fired, it is a safe prophecy that if the Chamberlain government remains in office British labor will witness one of the most determined attacks ever made upon it in its history. All indications point to the ground being laid and it may result in splitting the trade-union movement, for some of the leaders are willing to go with the government while others have already indicated that they will refuse unless they know that it's for democracy and not for fascism.
The second important decision is to exert pressure upon France to break her pact with the Soviet Union—something Hitler has been unsuccessfully trying to accomplish for a long time. At the moment it appears that Great Britain will succeed just as she has already succeeded in breaking the Czechoslovakian-Soviet pact—another rupture Hitler was determined upon.
England has a reputation for shrewd diplomacy. In the past she has used nations and peoples, played one against the other, betrayed, sacrificed, double-crossed in the march of her empire. Since the Cliveden week-end, however, with its resultant intrigues, England has, to all appearances, finally double-crossed herself.
Those who guide her destiny and the destinies of her millions of subjects have apparently come to the conclusion that democracy, as England has known it, cannot survive and that it is a choice between fascism and communism. Under communism, the ruling class to which the Cliveden week-end guests belong, stand to lose their wealth and power. It is the fatuous hope of the economic royalists that under fascism they will still sit on top of the roost, and so the Cliveden week-enders move toward fascism.
Hitler's Fifth Column finds strange allies.
France's Secret Fascist Army
Neither Hitler nor Mussolini could have foreseen the development of a Cliveden set or England's willingness to weaken her own position as the dominant European power by sacrificing Austria and a good portion of Czechoslovakia. The totalitarian powers proceeded on the assumption that when the struggle for control of central Europe, the Balkans and the Mediterranean came they would have to fight.
The Rome-Berlin axis reasoned logically that if, when the expected war broke out, France could be disrupted by a widespread internal rebellion, not only would she be weakened on the battlefield but fascism might even be victorious in the Republic. In preparation for this, the axis sent into France secret agents plentifully supplied with money and arms, and almost succeeded in one of the most amazing plots in history.
The opening scene of events which led directly to the discovery of how far the foreign secret agents had progressed took place in the Restaurant Drouant on the Place Gaillon which is frequented by leaders of Paris' financial, industrial and cultural life.
Precisely at noon, on September 10, 1937, Jacqueline Blondet, an eighteen-year-old stenographer with marcelled hair, sparkling eyes, and heavily rouged lips, passed through the rotating doors of the famous restaurant and turned right as she had been instructed. She had never been in so luxurious a place before—dining rooms done in gray or brown marble with furniture to match. Two steps lead from the gray to the brown room and Mlle. Blondet, not noticing them in her excitement, slipped and would have fallen had not the old wine steward who looks like Charles Dickens, caught and steadied her.
The two men with whom she was lunching were at a table at the far corner of the deserted room. The one who had invited her, Francois Metenier, a well-known French engineer and industrialist, powerfully built, with sharp eyes, dark hair, and a suave self-assured manner, rose at her approach, smiling at her embarrassment. The other man, considerably younger, was M. Locuty, a stocky, bushy haired man with square jaws and heavy tortoise-shell eyeglasses. He was an engineer at the huge Michelin Tire Works at Clermont-Ferrand where Metenier was an important official. The industrialist introduced the girl merely as "my friend" without mentioning her name.
With the exception of two couples having a late breakfast in the gray marble room, which they could see from their table, the three were alone.
"Shall we have a bottle of Bordeaux?" asked Metenier. "I ordered lunch by 'phone but I thought I would await your presence on the wine."
"Oh, anything you order," said Locuty with an effort at casualness.
"Yes, you order the wine," said the stenographer.
"Garcon, a bottle of St. Julien, Chateau Leoville-Poyferre 1870."
The ghost of Charles Dickens, who had been hovering nearby, bowed and smiled with appreciation of the guest's knowledge of a rare fine wine and personally rushed off to the cellars for the Bordeaux.
When the early lunch was over and the brandy had been set before them, Metenier studied his glass thoughtfully and glanced at the two portly men who had entered the brown dining room and sat some tables away. From the snatches of conversation the three gathered that one was a literary critic and the other a publisher. They were discussing a thrilling detective story just published which the critic insisted was too fantastic.
Metenier said to Locuty:
"You will have to make two bombs. I will take you to a very important man in our organization, a power in France. He will personally give you the material and show you how to make them. Then I will take you to the places where you will leave them. I do not want them to see me."
In low tones, they discussed the bombing of two places. Metenier, a pillar of the church, highly respected in his community and well-known throughout France, cautioned them as they left.
Why the vivacious blond stenographer was permitted to sit in on this conversation, Locuty did not know, unless it was to tempt him, for, as she bade him good-by, she squeezed his hand significantly and said she wanted to see him again.
Metenier drove Locuty to an office building where he introduced him to a man he called "Leon"—actually Alfred Macon, concierge of a building which Metenier and others used as headquarters for their activities. Within a few moments the door of an adjacent room opened and Jean Adolphe Moreau de la Meuse, aristocrat and leading French industrialist, came in. He had a monocle in his right eye which he kept adjusting nervously. His face was deeply marked and lined with heavy bluish pouches under the eyes. With a swift glance he sized up Locuty as Metenier rose.
"This is the gentleman whom I mentioned," he said.
"He understands his mission?" De la Meuse asked.
"Yes," said Locuty. "You will teach me how to make them?"
De la Meuse nodded. "It will be a time bomb which must be set for ten o'clock tomorrow night. There will be nobody in the building at that time, so no one will be hurt."
An hour later Locuty, who had made both bombs and set the timing devices, wrapped them into two neat packages. Metenier took him to the General Confederation of French Employers' Building in the Rue de Presbourg. In accordance with instructions he left one of the packages with the concierge, after which Metenier took him to the Ironmasters' Association headquarters on the Rue Boissiere, where Locuty left the second package.
On the evening of September 11, the General Confederation of French Employers was scheduled to hold a meeting in their building. This meeting was postponed; and, as De la Meuse had assured the Michelin engineer, the concierges and their wives, contrary to custom, were not in their buildings that evening.
At ten o'clock, both bombs exploded. The plans had gone off as arranged except for an accident, the investigation of which made public the whole amazing conspiracy. Two French gendarmes standing near one of the buildings were killed.
Immediately after the bombs exploded, the Employers' Confederation and the Ironmasters' Association issued statements charging the Communists and the Popular Front with being responsible for the outrages and accusing them of planning a reign of terror to seize control of France. The accusations left a profound effect upon the French people despite the Communists' assertions that they never countenance terrorism. The Surete Nationale, the French Scotland Yard, opened an intensive investigation which was spurred on by the deaths of the unfortunate gendarmes. It was not long before the French people heard of the almost incredibly fantastic plot to destroy the Popular Front and establish fascism in France—a plot directed by leading French industrialists and high army officers cooperating with secret agents of the German and Italian Governments.
The ramifications of the plot are so packed with dynamite in the national and international arena that the French government, under pressure from England as well as from some of its own industrialists, government officials and army officers, has clamped the lid down on further disclosures lest continued publicity seriously affect the delicate balance of international relations.
It was obvious from what the police uncovered that it had taken several years to organize the gigantic conspiracy. Within the teeming city of Paris itself, steel and concrete fortresses had been secretly built. Other cities throughout France were similarly ringed in strategic places. Every one of these secret fortresses was stocked with arms and munitions, and throughout the country, once the confessions began, the police found thousands upon thousands of rifles and pistols, millions of cartridges, hundreds of machine guns and sub-machine guns. The fortresses themselves were fitted with secret radio and telephone stations for communication among themselves. Code books and evidence of arms-running from Germany and Italy were found. A vast espionage network and a series of murders were traced to this secret organization whose official name is the "Secret Committee for Revolutionary Action." At their meetings they wore hoods to conceal their identity from one another, like the Black Legion in the United States, and the press promptly named them the "Cagoulards" ("Hooded Ones").
Just how many members the Cagoulards actually have is unknown except to its Supreme Council and probably to the German and Italian Intelligence Divisions. Lists of names totaling eighteen thousand men were turned up by the Surete Nationale, and the hundreds of steel and concrete fortresses and the arms found in them point to a membership of at least 100,000. The way the fortresses were built and their strategic locations (blowing down the walls of the buildings where the fortresses were hidden would have given them command of streets, squares and government buildings) indicate supervision by high military officials.
When contractors buy enormous quantities of cement for dugouts, when butchers' and bakers' lorries rattle over ancient cobblestones with enormous loads of arms smuggled across German and Italian borders, when thousands of people are drilled and trained in pistol, rifle and machine-gun practice, it is impossible that the competent French Intelligence Service and the Surete Nationale should not get wind of it.
As far back as September, 1936, the Surete Nationale knew that some leading French industrialists with the cooperation of the German and Italian Governments were building a military fascist organization within France. Nevertheless it quietly permitted fortresses to be built and stocked with munitions. The General Staff of the French Army, from reports of Intelligence men in Germany and Italy, knew that those countries were smuggling arms into France, but they permitted it to go on. The General Staff knew that some eight hundred concrete fortresses were being built under the supervision of M. Anceaux, a building contractor of Dieppe, and that skilled members of the Secret Committee for Revolutionary Action had been recruited for the building and sworn to secrecy under penalty of death. They knew that these fortresses were equipped with sending and receiving radios, knew that some were within the shadow of military centers, knew that the Cagoulards had a far-flung espionage system. But the French General Staff made no effort to stop it.
The Popular Front Government was in power at the time, and heads of the Supreme War Council apparently preferred a fascist France to a democratic one. In fact, officers and reserve officers of the French Army cooperated with secret agents of their traditional enemy, Germany, to build up this formidable secret army.
The investigating authorities, stunned by their discoveries and the high officials and individuals to whom their investigations led, either did not dare go further with it, or, if they did, suppressed the information. Some of it, however, came out.
At the top of the Cagoulards is a Supreme War Council or General Staff whose members have not been disclosed. Working with them are several other organizations, all with innocent names, as for example the "Society of Studies for French Regeneration." The Cagoulards' activities are divided into broad general lines, each directed by an individual in complete command and embracing:
Buying war materials within France and smuggling war materials into the country from Germany, Italy and Insurgent Spain, along with the simultaneous weaving of an espionage network under Nazi and fascist direction and leadership.
Building concrete fortresses at strategic centers and storing smuggled arms in them.
Military training of secretly organized troops.
Getting the money to carry on these extensive activities.
Extreme care was, and still is, taken to conceal the identities of the ordinary members and especially the leaders. For instance, one of the leaders known to his subordinates as "Fontaine" is in reality Georges Cachier, director of a large company in Paris and chief of the Cagoulards' "Third Bureau," which is in charge of military movements. Cachier is an Officer of the French Legion of Honor and a reserve Lieutenant-Colonel in the French Army.
The Cagoulards are still very active. Members are being recruited with leaders pointing out to the fearful ones that there is nothing to worry about—almost all of those arrested in the early days of the investigation are free, out on bail or kept in a "gentleman's confinement" where they can do virtually as they please. "Our power is great," new members are told.
As is customary in secret terrorist societies, the members are sworn to silence with death as the penalty for indiscretion. The penalty when it is employed is usually administered in American gangster fashion. Each member is allotted to a "cell," the basic unit of the military organization, and assigned to a secretly fortified post for training. One of these posts discovered by the Surete Nationale was in an old boarding house run by two ancient spinsters with equally ancient guests who spent their time in rockers, knitting and reading and not dreaming that underneath the porch on which they sat so tranquilly was a fortress with enough explosives to blow the whole street to smithereens. Into this particular fortification, the cell members would steal one by one after the old maids had retired, entering by a concealed door three feet thick and electrically operated.
There are two different kinds of cells in the Cagoulards, "heavy" and "light" ones. They differ in the number of men and the quantity of armaments assigned to them. The "light" cell has eight men equipped with army rifles, automatics, hand grenades, and one sub-machine gun; the "heavy" one has twelve men similarly armed but with a machine gun instead of a sub-machine gun. Three cells form a unit, three units a battalion, three battalions a regiment, two regiments a brigade and two brigades a division of two thousand men. The battalions (one hundred and fifty men) are subdivided into squads of fifty to sixty men with ten to twelve cars at their disposal for quick movement throughout the city. These automobile squads are given intensive training.
Members are not required to pay dues, for enough money comes in from industrialists and the German and Italian Governments to eliminate the need of collecting money from members for operating expenses. Every effort is made to function without written communications. No membership cards are issued. Notices of meetings, drill and rifle practice are issued verbally, and so far as the mass membership is concerned, nothing in writing is placed in their hands.
A twenty-page handbook with instructions on street fighting was issued to group commanders and, lest a copy fall into wrong hands and betray the organization, it was boldly entitled: Secret Rules of the Communist Party. The instructions are specific and are based upon the insurrectionary tactics issued to the Nazi Storm Troopers. They fall into six sections: General Remarks; Group Fighting; Section Fighting; Choice of Terrain; Commissariat; and Policing Groups.
One or two excerpts from these instructions for street fighting follow:
"The particular force for street fighting is infantry, provided with automatic weapons and hand grenades. Members of the detachments should be instructed that automatic weapons must always be used in preference. Essential arms are: sub-machine guns, rifles including hunting rifles, hand grenades, revolvers, petards." (Petards are small bombs used for blowing in doors.)
With regard to "mopping up" in houses, the instructions state:
"If the door is barricaded, it must be opened with tools or explosives. If it is a heavy door, break it in by driving a lorry at it. Clean up basements and cellars by throwing bombs down through the air holes or other openings after your men have got into the house. Only after these have exploded should the cellar doors be forced. Then, when ascending the stairs, keep close to the walls while one of your men keeps firing straight up the shaft. Mop up as you go down floor by floor. If necessary, pierce holes in the ceilings and mop up by throwing down hand grenades."
The chief of the Cagoulards' espionage system is Dr. Jean Marie Martin, a bushy-haired stocky man with dark, somber eyes. Dr. Martin usually travels with several false passports and with the utmost secrecy. At the moment he is in Genoa where he went to meet Commendatore Boccalaro, Mussolini's personal representative in charge of smuggling arms into foreign countries.
The preparations by the Rome-Berlin axis point to plans for a fight to a finish between fascist and non-fascist countries. A feeble or disrupted democracy will obviously strengthen the fascist powers in any coming struggle with anti-fascist powers. Germany and Italy, faced on their own borders with a democratic France allied with the Soviet Union in a military defense pact, would face a powerful enemy in the event of war. But if France were torn by a bloody civil war, she would be virtually unable even to defend her borders. Consequently, it is essential for Germany and Italy to weaken and if possible destroy France's democracy.
France and Germany have been traditional enemies in their struggle for land containing raw materials needed by their industries to compete in the world markets. But the growth of the French labor movement and the power of the Popular Front which threatened the control and the profits of French industrialists and financiers, made them find more in common with fascist and Nazi industrialists than with French workers who menaced their economic and political control. The result was that leading French industrialists were willing to cooperate with Nazi and fascist agents to destroy the Popular Front and establish fascism in France. About half of the 200,000,000 francs, which it is estimated the fortresses and arms cost, was contributed by French industrialists. The other half came from the German and Italian Governments.
Germany and Italy sent swarms of secret agents into France to supervise the building of the underground military machine and to carry on intensive espionage with the assistance of the French Army and Government officials who were members of the Hooded Ones. The espionage service was organized by Baron de Potters, an old international spy who travels with two or more passports under the names of Farmer and Meihert. De Potters gets his funds from the Nazis' strongly guarded "Bureau III B," established in Berne, Switzerland at 21 Gewerbestrasse. "Bureau III B" is the official name of this branch of the Gestapo. At the head of it is Boris Toedli whose activities include not only espionage but underground diplomatic intrigue and propaganda. He works directly under Drs. Rosenberg and Goebbels. Toedli supplies not only the Baron but other espionage directors with money and there is plenty of it at his disposal for quick emergency uses. The money is deposited in the Societe des Banques Suisses, account No. 60941.
The head of the Italian espionage system directing the work in France and cooperating closely with the Nazis is Commendatore Boccalaro, head of the Italian Government's Arsenal in Genoa. One of his specialties is the smuggling of arms into foreign countries.
Boccalaro's history shows that the not so fine Italian hand is interfering in the internal affairs of foreign governments. As far back as 1928, he secretly supplied carloads of arms from the Genoa Arsenal to Hungary, and in 1936 he supplied Yugoslavian terrorists with war materials in efforts to get those countries under Mussolini's sphere of influence. Boccalaro, too, seems to have had reasons to suppress information in at least one case where the death penalty was inflicted upon a member of the Cagoulards.
Among the Hooded Ones who have been found with bullets or knives in them was an arms runner named Adolphe-Augustin Juif, who tried to charge the secret organization a little more than he should for smuggling guns and munitions into France. When the organization threatened him, he advised it not to resort to threats because he knew a little too much.
On February 8, 1937, his bullet-riddled body was found in San Remo, Italy. When Juif's wife, not hearing from him, sought information about his whereabouts, she wrote to Boccalaro, since she knew he was working with the Genoa director. The Italian papers had announced the finding of his body; nevertheless, on March 3, Boccalaro wrote to the murdered man's widow:
"Your husband, my dear friend, is carrying on a special and delicate mission (perhaps in Spain or Germany) and has special reasons of a delicate nature not to inform even his own family where he is at the present moment."
Among the men whom Juif met before he was murdered was Eugene Deloncle, director of the Maritime and River Transport Mortgage Company and one of the most important industrialists in France. Deloncle, a high official in the Cagoulards, used the name of "Grosset" in his conspiratorial activities. The other man whom the murdered Juif met is General Edouard Arthur Du-seigneur, former Air Force chief and Military Adviser to the French Air Ministry. The General is one of the military heads of the Cagoulards and frequently met with Baron de Potters.
The Surete Nationale, the French Intelligence Service, and the examining magistrate have documentary evidence that Germany and Italy were and are deliberately conspiring to throw France, as they did Spain, into a civil war. Publication of these documents would have far-reaching effects, internally and externally. Great Britain, however, planning to establish a four-cornered pact between England, France, Germany and Italy, brought pressure to bear upon France to suppress further disclosures about the Cagoulards. To England's pressure was added that of leading French industrialists, financiers, government and army officials. Gradually, news about the Cagoulards is dying out. The real heads of the Hooded Ones either have not been named or, if arrested in the early days of the investigation, have been released on bail. And recruiting for the underground army is still going on.
Dynamite Under Mexico
Most people in the UNITED STATES feel secure from European or Asiatic aggression since wide oceans apparently separate us from the conquering ambitions of a Fuehrer or a Son of the Sun. However, despite our desire to be left in peace, the Rome-Berlin axis, which Japan joined, has cast longing eyes upon the Western Hemisphere. The Monroe Doctrine is of value only so long as aggressor nations feel we are too strong for them to violate it; recent history has shown what pieces of paper are worth.
In the process of trying to get a foothold in the Americas, the Nazis have sent agents into all of the countries, but because most of the Central and South American republics are still resentful of past acts by the "Colossus of the North," they offer the most fertile fields.
The two spots on the Western Hemisphere most vital to the United States are the Panama Canal Zone and Mexico—the Zone because it is our trade and naval life line between the oceans and Mexico because potential enemies could find in it perfect military and naval bases.
Let us see what the totalitarian powers are doing in Mexico:
On June 30, 1937, the S.S. "Panuco" of the New York and Cuba Mail Steamship Co. steamed into Tampico, Mexico, from New York with a mysterious cargo consigned to one Armeria Estrada. As soon as she docked, the cargo was quickly transferred to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad freight car No. 45169, which was awaiting it. A gentleman known around the freight yards as A.M. Cabezut, arranged for the car to leave immediately for the state of San Luis Potosi in the heart of Mexico.
There was no record on the bill of lading to show that the shipper was the Winchester Repeating Arms Company of New Haven, Conn., and that the cargo, ordered on January 23 and February 23, 1937, by an Italian named Benito Estrada, was a large quantity of rifles, pistols and one hundred and forty cases of cartridges for various caliber guns.
When the car arrived in San Luis Potosi, it was met by an elderly, mustached German named Baron Ernst von Merck, who took the shipment to General Saturnino Cedillo, former governor of the state and a well-known advocate of fascism. One week later the elderly German met a carload shipment of "farm implements." When it was unloaded in San Luis Potosi, the farm implements turned out to be dynamite.
Von Merck, who has been Cedillo's right-hand man, was during the World War a German spy stationed in Brussels. A member of Cedillo's staff he traveled constantly between San Luis Potosi, where the arms were cached, and the Nazi Legation in Mexico City.
On December 21, 1937, Baron von Merck flew to Guatemala—the same day that a cargo of arms from Germany was to be landed off the wild jungle coast of Campeche in Southern Mexico.
Guatemala, just south of Mexico, is the most thoroughly organized fascist country in Central or South America. Its chief industries, coffee and bananas, are virtually controlled by Germans, whose enormous plantations overlap into the state of Chiapas, Mexico. But President Jorge Ubico, who is not much of an Aryan, prefers Mussolini's brand of fascism because the Nazi theory of Nordic supremacy does not strike a sympathetic chord in the President's heart. As a result, the Italian Minister to Guatemala is Ubico's adviser on almost all matters of state.
Guiseppe Sotanis, a mysterious Italian officer who sits in the Gran Hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica, collecting stamps and studying his immaculate fingernails, arranges for shipments of Italian arms into Guatemala. A few months ago Sotanis, the Italian minister to Guatemala, and Ubico met in Guatemala City. Shortly thereafter the Italian arms manufacturing company, Bredda, sent Ubico two hundred eighty portable machine guns, sixty anti-aircraft machine guns and seventy small caliber cannon.
But President Ubico is not hopelessly addicted to one brand of fascism. Nazi ships make no attempt to conceal their landing of arms and munitions at Puerto Barrios. From there they are transported by car, river and horse into the dense chicle forests in the mountain regions, then across the Guatemalan border into Chiapas and Campeche.
During March, 1938, mysterious activities took place in the heart of the chicle forests in Campeche. The region is a dense jungle inhabited by primitive Indian tribes. There is little reason for anyone to build an airport in this territory, much of which has not even been explored. But if the Mexican Government will instruct its air squadron to go to Campeche and fly forty miles north of the Rio Hondo and a little west of Quintana Roo border, they will find a completed airport in the heart of the chicle jungle; and if they will fly a little due west of the small villages of La Tuxpena and Esperanza in Campeche, they will find two more secret airports.
The Mexican Government knows that arms are being smuggled in through its own ports, across the Guatemalan border, and across the wide, sparsely inhabited two-thousand-mile stretch of American border. Both American and Mexican border patrols have been increased, but it is almost impossible to watch the entire region between Southern California and Brownsville. Few contraband runners are caught, apparently because neither the American nor Mexican Governments seem to know the routes followed or who the leading smugglers are.
On February 12, 1938, Jose Rebey and his brother Pablo, who live in the Altar district of Sonora and know every foot of the desert, drove to Tucson, Arizona, where they met two unidentified Americans. On February 16, 1938, Jose Rebey and Francisco Cuen, old and close friends of Gov. Roman Yocupicio, drove a Buick to the sandy, deserted wastes near Sonoyta, just south of the American border where one of the two unidentified Americans delivered a carload of cases securely covered with sheet metal. As soon as the cases were transferred into Rebey's car, he turned back on Sonora's flat, dusty roads, passing Caborca, La Cienega, and turning on the sun-dried rutted road to Ures, which lies parched and dry in the semi-tropical sun.
Ures is the central cache for arms smuggled into Sonora by Yocupicio, and the Rebey brothers and Cuen are among the chief contraband runners. The load they carried that day consisted of Thompson guns and cartridges, and the route followed is the one they generally use. A secondary route used by one of Cuen's chief aids, a police delegate from the El Tiro mine, lies over the roads to Ures by way of Altar.
If in time of war it becomes necessary for guard or patrol work to deflect any troops from the army, or ships from the navy, it is of advantage to the enemy. If a coming war found the United States lined up with the democratic as against the fascist powers and serious uprisings broke out in Mexico, it would require several U.S. regiments to patrol the border and a number of U.S. ships to watch the thousands of miles of coast line to prevent arms running to American countries sympathetic to the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo axis.
The three fascist powers that have cast longing eyes upon Central and South America have apparently divided their activities in the Americas, with Japan concentrating on the coast lines and the Panama Canal, Germany on the large Central and South American countries and Italy upon the small ones.
In Mexico, Nazi agents work directly with Mexican fascist groups, and have undertaken to carry the brunt of spreading anti-democratic propaganda to turn popular sentiment against the "Colossus of the North," and to develop a receptive attitude toward the totalitarian form of government.
Italy concentrates on espionage, with particular attention to Mexican aid to Loyalist Spain. It was the Italian espionage network in Mexico which learned the course of the ill-fated "Mar Cantabrico" which left New York and Vera Cruz with a cargo of arms for the Loyalists and was intercepted and sunk by an Insurgent cruiser.
Though Germany, even more than Italy, is utilizing her propaganda machine in the Americas' markets, the Japanese are not troubling about that just yet. Their commercial missions seem to be much less interested in establishing business connections than in taking photographs. The chief commercial activity all three countries are intensely interested in is getting concessions from Mexico for iron, manganese and oil—materials essential for war. President Lazaro Cardenas, however, has stated his dislike of fascism on several occasions. Since Germany, Japan and Italy must obtain these products wherever they can get them, it would be to their advantage if a government more friendly to fascism were in power. But, should that prove impossible, the existence of a strong, fascist movement would have, in time of war, tremendous potentialities for sabotage.
Hence, Mexico is today being battered by pro-fascist propaganda broadcasts from Germany on special short-wave beams, and Nazi and fascist agents surreptitiously meet with discontented generals to weave a network throughout the country.
The radio propaganda is devoted chiefly to selling the wonders of totalitarian government, and to the dissemination of subtle, indirect comments calculated to turn popular feeling against the United States. In addition to regular broadcasts, material printed in Spanish and in German by the Fichte Bund with headquarters in Hamburg, Germany, is smuggled into Mexico in commercial shipments. A Nazi bund to direct this propaganda was organized secretly because of the government's unfriendly attitude toward fascism. The bund operates as the Deutsche Volksgemeinschaft and its propaganda center functions under the name of the "United German Charities." This organization, on the top floor of the building at 80 Uruguay Street, Mexico City, is actually the "Brown House," in direct contact with Nazi propaganda headquarters in Hamburg.
Some of the propaganda distributed in Mexico is smuggled off Nazi ships docking in Los Angeles, and is transported across the American border by agents working under Hermann Schwinn, director of Nazi activities for the West Coast of the United States. The propaganda sent by Schwinn across the American border is chiefly for distribution around Guaymas, where a special effort is being made to win the sympathy of the people. Meanwhile Yocupicio caches arms in Ures and the bland Japanese continue charting the harbors and coast lines.
The Nazis began to build fascism in Mexico right after Hitler got into power. In 1933 Schwinn called a meeting in Mexicali of several Nazi agents operating out of Los Angeles, including General Rodriguez, and several members of a veterans organization. It was at this meeting that the Mexican Gold shirts were organized. Under the direction of Rodriguez and his right-hand men (Antonio F. Escobar was one of them), the fascist organization drilled and paraded, but little official attention was paid to them. Five years ago few people realized the intensity and possibilities of Nazi propaganda and organization. The only ones in Mexico who watched the growth of the fascist military body were the trade-unionists and the Communists. They remembered what happened in Italy and Germany when the Black Shirts and the Brown Shirts were permitted to grow strong.
On November 20, 1935, Rodriguez and his organization staged a military demonstration in Mexico City, and marched upon the President's palace. Trade-unionists, liberals and Communists barred their way. When the pitched battle was over, five Gold Shirts were dead, some sixty persons wounded, and Rodriguez himself had been stabbed by a woman worker, on her lips the furious cry, "Down with fascism!"
When the Gold Shirt leader was discharged from the hospital, he found that his organization had been made illegal, and he himself exiled. Rodriguez went to El Paso, Texas, and immediately, working through Escobar, set about establishing the "Confederation of the Middle Class" to take over now the illegal Gold Shirt work and consolidate the various Mexican fascist groups. Its headquarters was established at 40 Passo de la Reforma.
Rodriguez kept in touch with Schwinn through Henry Allen, a native American of San Diego, who acts as liaison man. It was Allen, on orders from Schwinn, who last year secretly met in Guaymas Ramon F. Iturbe, a member of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies. Iturbe is in constant touch with the fascist groups in Mexico City.
The Gold Shirts smuggled arms into Mexico along the border between Laredo and Brownsville, and cached them in Monterrey. On January 31, 1938, Gold Shirts attempted to attack Matamoros, near Brownsville. A Mexican policeman was killed and another wounded in the fighting. Two days later Gold Shirts surrounded Reynosa, some distance west of Matamoros, but met peasants armed with rifles, pistols and knives. The fascists withdrew and Rodriguez vanished, only to appear in San Diego, California, on February 19, 1938 for a secret meeting with Plutarco Elias Calles, the former President of Mexico. After a three-hour conference Rodriguez went to Los Angeles, met Schwinn, and proceeded to Mission, Texas, where he established new headquarters.
A few days after these conferences, he sent two men into Mexico under forged passports to discuss closer cooperation among the fascist leaders. The men sent into Mexico were an American named Mario Baldwin, one of Rodriguez's chief assistants, and a Mexican named Sanchez Yanez. They established headquarters at 31 Jose Joaquin Herrera, apartment 1-T, and met for their secret conferences in Jesus de Avila's tailor shop at 22 Isabel la Catolico.
In the latter part of June, 1935, an amiable bar fly arrived in Mexico City from Berlin as civilian attache to the German Legation. A civilian attache is the lowest grade in the diplomatic ranks and the salary is just about enough to keep him going. Nevertheless, Dr. Heinrich Northe, at that time not quite thirty, and not especially well-to-do, established a somewhat luxurious place at 64 Tokyo St. and bought a private airplane for "pleasure jaunts" about Mexico. Northe is seldom at the Nazi Legation. He is more apt to be found in Sonora, where Yocupicio is storing arms and where the Japanese fishing fleet is active, or in Acapulco, whose harbor fascinates the Japanese. He used to make frequent visits to Cedillo just before the General started his rebellion. On March 4, 1938, Northe took off "for a vacation" in the Panama Canal Zone. He stopped off in Guatemala on the way down.
The persistently vacationing commercial attache, before coming to Mexico, was part of the Gestapo network in Moscow and Bulgaria. Immediately after the Nazis got control of Germany, Northe went into the German "diplomatic service," and was one of the first secret agents sent to the German Embassy in Moscow. The Russian secret service apparently watched him a little too closely, for he was shifted to Sofia, Bulgaria, where he bought a private plane and flew wherever he wished. In 1935, when the signers of the "anti-Communist pact" decided to concentrate upon Mexico, Northe was transferred to Mexico City.
One of Northe's chief aids is a German adventurer who was a spy during the World War. When the War ended, Hans Heinrich von Holleuffer, of 36 Danubio St., Mexico City, worked hard at earning a dishonest penny in Republican Germany. When the law got after him, he skipped to Mexico, where, without even pausing for breath, he went to work on his fellow countrymen in the New World. Berlin asked for his arrest and extradition and von Holleuffer fled to Guatemala. That was in 1926. He came back to Mexico in 1931 under the name of Hans Helbing.
When Hitler got into power von Holleuffer's brother-in-law became a high official in the Gestapo. Since there was no danger of the Nazis extraditing him on charges of fraud and forgery, Hans Helbing became Hans Heinrich von Holleuffer again and, without any visible means of support, established a swanky residence at the above address, got an expensive automobile, a chauffeur, and some very good-looking maids. Since he has not defrauded anyone lately, the German colony in Mexico still wonders how he does it.
He does it by being in charge of arms smuggling from Germany to Mexican fascists. During the latter part of December, 1937, he directed the unloading of one of the heaviest cargoes of arms yet shipped into Mexico. Northe had informed von Holleuffer that a German vessel whose name even Northe had not yet been given, would be ready to land a cargo of guns, munitions and mountain artillery somewhere along the wild and deserted coast of Campeche where there are miles of shore with not even an Indian around. Von Holleuffer was instructed to arrange for unloading the cargo and having it removed into the interior.
On December 19, 1937, von Holleuffer arranged a meeting in Mexico City with Julio Rosenberg of 13 San Juan de Letran and Curt Kaiser at 34 Bolivar, the latter's home. He offered them fifty thousand pesos to take the contraband off the boat and transport it through the chicle jungles to the destination he would give them.
Shortly after the Japanese-Nazi pact was signed, the Japanese Government arranged with the somewhat naive Mexican Government for Japanese fishing experts to conduct "scientific explorations" along Mexico's Pacific Coast in return for teaching Mexicans how to catch fish scientifically. The agreement provided that two Japanese, J. Yamashito and Y. Matsui, be employed by the Mexican Government for the exploratory work.
Matsui arrived in Mexico in 1936 and immediately became interested in the fish situation at Acapulco, which from a naval standpoint has the best harbor on the entire long stretch of Mexico's Pacific coast line. In February, 1938, he decided that it was important to the west-coast shrimp-fishing studies for him to do some exploratory work along the northeast part of the Mexican coast, near the American border, and there he went.
Immediately after the agreement was signed, three magnificent fishing boats, the "Minatu Maru," the "Minowa Maru" and the "Saro Maru," which had been hovering out on the Pacific while the negotiations were going on, appeared in Guaymas. Their captains reported to the Nippon Suisan Kaisha, a fishing company with headquarters in Guaymas. Eighty per cent of this company's stock is owned by the Japanese Government.
Each ship is equipped with large fish bins which can easily be turned into munition carriers, each has powerful short-wave sending and receiving sets; and each has extraordinarily long cruising powers ranging from three to six thousand miles. These boats do not do much fishing. They confine themselves to "exploring," which includes the taking of soundings of harbors, especially Magdalena Bay. Apparently the explorers want to know how deep the fish can swim and whether there are any rocks or ledges in their way.
That Germany, Japan and Italy are not working toward peaceful ends in Mexico is slowly dawning upon the Mexican Government. Influential government and trade-union leaders have repeatedly shown their dislike of Nazism and fascism and have urged propaganda against them.
On the morning of October 5, 1937, Freiherr Riedt von Collenberg, Nazi minister to Mexico, telephoned the Japanese and Italian ministers to suggest a joint meeting to discuss steps to counteract the attacks on fascism and their countries. The Japanese minister, Sacchiro Koshda, suave and skilled in such matters, thought it would not be wise to meet in any of the legations. The Italian minister suggested the offices of the Italian Union on San Cosne Avenue.
At half past one in the afternoon of October 7, the ministers arrived, each in a taxi instead of the legation car which carries a conspicuous diplomatic license plate. At this secret meeting which lasted until after four, they concluded that it would be unwise for them personally to take any steps to counteract the anti-fascist activities—that it would be wiser to work indirectly through fascist organizations like the Confederation of the Middle Class and its associated bodies. A few days earlier each minister had received a letter from several organizations allied with the Confederation of the Middle Class. It was an offer to help the Berlin-Tokyo-Rome combination. A free translation of the passage which the ministers discussed (from the letter received by the Japanese minister which I now have) follows:
"We, exactly like the representatives of the three powers, love our Fatherland and are disposed to any sacrifice to prevent the intervention of these elements [Jews and Communists] in our politics, in which, unfortunately, they have begun to have great influence. And we will employ, and are employing, all legal methods of struggle to make an end of them."
The phrase "legal methods" is frequently employed by those who suggest illegal activity. The German Minister knew that the Union Nacionalista Mexicana, one of the signers of the letter, was run by Escobar, and that Carmen Calero, 12 Place de la Concepcion, Mexico City, an elderly woman physician active in many fascist organizations, was a member of the Partido Anti-reelectionista Accion, another of the signers.
One month later the various fascist groups got enough money to launch an intensive pro-fascist drive under the usual guise of fighting Communism. Jose Luis Noriega, Secretary of the Nationalist Youth of Mexico, which also signed the letters to the ministers, left for the United States to organize an anti-Cardenas drive. At the same time, Carmen Calero left on a mysterious mission to Puebla on November 12, 1937, with a letter from Escobar to J. Trinidad Mata, publisher of the local paper Avance. She carried still another letter addressed to their "distinguished comrades," without mentioning names, and signed by both Escobar and Ovidio Pedrero Valenzuela, President of the Accion Civica Nacionalista. The "distinguished comrades" to whom she presented the letter were the Nazi honorary consul in Puebla, Carl Petersen, Avenida 2, Oriente 15, and a Japanese agent named L. Yuzinratsa with whom the consul has been in repeated conferences.
Six weeks after the secret meeting of the Japanese, German and Italian ministers, and one week after she went to Puebla, Dr. Carmen Calero got twenty-two kilos of dynamite and stored it in a house at 39 Juan de la Mateos, in Mexico City. She, her sister, Colonel Valenzuela, and four others, met at her home and laid plans to assassinate President Cardenas by blowing up his train when he left on a proposed trip to Sonora.
On November 18, 1937, the secret police made a series of simultaneous raids upon Dr. Calero's and Valenzuela's homes and the house where the dynamite was cached. They arrested everyone in the houses. But once the arrests had been made, the Mexican Government found itself in a quandary. To bring the prisoners to trial would involve foreign governments and create an international scandal; so Cardenas personally ordered the secret police to release them.
The arrests, however, scared the wits out of the ministers, and their horror was not lessened when they discovered that the letters from the fascist organizations had vanished from their files. They wouldn't even answer the telephone when one of the released fascist leaders called. It was then that the Mexican fascists decided to send a special messenger to Francisco Franco in Spain (November 30, 1937) with the request that Franco intercede to get money from Hitler to help overthrow Cardenas, since the Nazi minister was too scared to cooperate. The special messenger was Fernando Ostos Mora. He never got there.
 In May, 1938, Cedillo launched an abortive rebellion and is now being hunted by the Mexican government.
 After Cedillo's defeat von Merck fled to New York and went to Germany.
Surrounding the Panama Canal
There is a little shirt shop in Colon, Panama, on Calle 10a between Avenida Herrera and Avenida Amador Guerrero, whose red and black painted shingle announces that Lola Osawa is the proprietor.
Across the street from her shirt shop, where the red light district begins, is a bar frequented by natives, soldiers and sailors. Tourists seldom go there, for it is a bit off the beaten track. In front of the bar is a West Indian boy with a tripod and camera with a telescopic lens. He never photographs natives, and wandering tourists pass him by, but he is there every day from eight in the morning until dark. His job is to photograph everyone who shows an undue interest in the little shirt shop and particularly anyone who enters or leaves it. Usually he snaps your picture from across the street, but if he misses you he darts across and waits to take another shot when you come out.
I saw him take my picture when I entered the store. It was almost high noon and Lola was not yet up. The business upon which she and her husband are supposed to depend for a living was in the hands of two giggling young Panamanian girls who sat idly at two ancient Singer sewing machines.
"You got shirts?" I asked.
Without troubling to rise and wait on me, they pointed to a glass case stretched across the room and barring quick entrance to the shop proper. I examined the assortment in the case, counting a total of twenty-eight shirts.
"I don't especially like these," I said. "Got any others?"
"No more," one of them giggled.
"Upstairs," the other said, motioning with her thumb to the ceiling.
"Looks like you're doing a rushing business, eh?" They looked puzzled and I explained: "Busy, eh?"
"Busy? No. No busy."
There is little work for them and neither Lola nor they care a whoop whether or not you buy any of the shop's stock of twenty-eight shirts. Lola herself pays little attention to the business from which she obviously cannot earn enough to pay the rent, let alone keep herself and her husband, pay two girls and a lookout.
The little shirt shop is a cubbyhole about nine feet square, its wooden walls painted a pale, washed-out blue. A deck which cuts the store's height in half, forms a little balcony which is covered by a green and yellow print curtain stretched across it. To the right, casually covered by another print curtain, is a red painted ladder by which the deck is reached. On the deck, at the extreme left, where it is not perceptible from the street or the shop, is another tiny ladder which reaches to the ceiling.
If you stand on the ladder and press against the ceiling directly over it, a well-oiled trap door will open soundlessly and lead you into Lola's bedroom above the shop. In front of the window with the blue curtain is a worn bed, the hard mattress neatly covered with a counterpane. At the head of the mattress is a mended tear. It is in this mattress that Lola hides photographs of extraordinary military and naval importance. I saw four of them.