The Smear Terror - John T. Flynn

II. Mata Hari and the Colonel

At West 46th Street and Broadway, in the heart of the night-life district of New York City, is an office which houses one of the strangest of these private gestapos. As you enter, an atmosphere of mystery confronts you. The receptionist peers at you through a hole in the wall. There are doors leading into other sections of the plant. They are locked and employees, as they enter, must clear through the receptionist who admits them to their own offices by pushing a button.

This is the office of the Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi league to Champion Human Rights. When formed in 1933 by the late Samuel Untermyer it was a respectable organization. Such men as former Ambassador James W. Gerard, Oswald Garrison Villard, George Gordon Battle, John Haynes Holmes and others were its directors. Mr. Untermyer believed that by an American boycott of German goods Hitler could be so seriously crippled that he might be induced to end his persecution of the Jews. The Anti-Nazi League was created to promote this boycott. The movement was conceived in a humane cause by men whose good faith could not be questioned.

Slapstick Patriots

However, the moment came when this League fell into different hands and was directed to other purposes. It acquired a new chairman and a new chief investigator and assistant investigator who, if their own stories are to be credited, might well be cast for roles in a slapstick movie spy comedy.

The chief investigator was Colonel Richard Rollins, A.R., Syracuse University. But alas, he was neither a Colonel, a Richard, a Rollins or an A.R. from Syracuse. He was just plain Isidore Rothberg with a yen for opening other people's mail, rifling their desks, offices and safes and he operated without any shadow of law as the snooper for a private gestapo. This, however, was after Mr. Untermyer and most of the original directors of the League had resigned. The names on the letterhead now belong mostly to utterly unknown people.

In 1934, Congressman Sam Dickstein was chairman of the House Immigration Committee. He decided to investigate anti-Semitic influences and introduced Mr. Isidore Rothberg to Washington society. He explained to Rothberg that he could not make him an official investigator and that he must operate as an "unofficial" deputy. Thus equipped and with no legal authority, Mr. Rothberg proceeded, as he boasts, to board a German liner in port, to pry open lockers, search desks and carry away such material as suited his purpose.

His next escapade was to join an insignificant outfit run by a man named Royal Scott Gulden. Thus inside Gulden's office he used his position to get information on Gulden for Dickstein. Gulden had a secretary—"a beautiful blonde"—named Miss Dorothy Waring. Very soon Rothberg learned she was working for another private gestapo outfit and was planted in Gulden's office as his secretary:

I know nothing of Gulden. But he must have been a man of monumental gullibility. He had two employees—one, working actually for Sam Dickstein and one working for another private spy group. This precious pair were enjoying a spy's paradise in Gulden's records. Finally Rothberg decided to stage an all-out raid on Gulden's files. Gulden's beautiful secretary, Miss Waring, acted as scout for Rothberg, while he entered desks, cabinets, safe and carried away whatever interested him, had it photostated and returned in time to escape detection.

He made six such hauls. On the last he was still away front Gulden's office when Gulden returned. Miss Waring quickly phoned Rothberg a warning. Gulden discovered the theft and yelled through his phone for the police. They swarmed into the office awaiting Rothberg's return. But he never came back. This is related to give the reader some idea of the kind of people who inhabit the kingdom of Smear.

Spy Circus Ends

Some time later Dickstein, through John McCormack, later majority leader of the House, got a special committee appointed to investigate subversive activities. McCormack left the job to Dickstein who put on a hilarious show. Rothberg went to work for that committee as an investigator. He wrote a book and told the epic story. He describes how he had given his name as Richard Rollins, A.B., Syracuse—a falsehood—and how he thus became "the first the government had ever appointed to fight Nazism and the new kind of native and alien spy." This must have been news to Mr. J. Edgar Hoover, but these easily checked mendacities will give the reader another sidelight on the character of Mr. Rollins.

With Dickstein as ringmaster, this committee was turned into such a circus that it was discontinued and the Dies Committee named in its place.

Then Rothberg went to the Anti-Nazi League as its Chief Investigator. By this time it was no longer interested in fighting Hitler. It was interested in fighting in America those who opposed the foreign policies of the Roosevelt administration and this it did by smearing them.

Some time later Miss Dorothy Waring became the assistant chief investigator. She was, you will remember, the "beautiful blonde" who was as hired as secretary by Gulden while she was acting as a plant in his office on another payroll. She was born in Alabama as Dorothy Kahn, She moved to New York when a child, later married Siegfried A. Wurzherger from whom she was divorced in 1934, when she assumed the name of Dorothy Waring.

The following simple facts about this glamorous snooper are taken from an article she wrote in the magazine True Confessions, which she called "The Life and Loves of a Woman Spy", by Dorothy Waring, U.S. Secret Agent 89. It begins with this inviting paragraph;

"They call me America's Mata Hari. I risked my right to love, my peace of mind, my chance for happiness for country. To my superiors in the United States Government I was known only as Agent No. 89. It was I who have been responsible for uncovering much of the deadly, loathsome Nazi underground work in America."

Miss Waring begins with an account of her life in Alabama, "where our family reflected our established position in Southern life." At 18, she says, she married Allen Mueller—a pure myth—but by 1933 they parted.

Next she tells how she became the secret agent of the United States government. She admits she cannot describe her feelings as she was sworn in as Agent 89 by the "Chief of the Undercover Department of the Government." He was, she says, the gallant Fritz Von F. I need hardly say there was no such department and no such official and in a subsequent application for a job she admitted she never worked for the government.

Under the gallant Fritz she worked in the underground passages of the Bundists and Silver Shirts. She tells how she went to dinner beautifully gowned, "sometimes wearing the diamond given her by Buddha Baron Von Stein." She had to associate with the lecherous Bundists, some of them inevitably pawing her, an ordeal she submitted to for the sake of her country.

Of course the gallant Fritz fell in love with her. He begged for her hand. She would not yield. What would become of her country? There was a beautiful apartment, champagne, trips to swanky night clubs with the gallant Fritz. In the end her work was done, America was saved for the moment. She was free, free yes, of everything except the gallant Fritz. He demanded her body. He pictured their flight to those fairy-like palaces on the Continent he loved so well. One day he seized her in the hall and kissed her. She returned the smack. She looked up. And there stood the Baron D., another suitor. He spoke to her. They became friends. You know the rest. He must have the woman, he said, who could kiss like that.

She wanted to get away from it all—Bundists and agents competing for her body. To escape she decided to do something big. And she did. She wrote the life of the American Defender. And who was that? Washington? Lincoln? Roosevelt? No. It was Sam Dickstein. In case you do not know the Great Defender, Sam was a New York Fast Side congressman already mentioned here.

All this grotesque farrago of technicolored nonsense is soberly offered by her to magazine readers as truth. And at the end she describes herself standing in her "New York home where she lives graciously as the Baroness D. . . "

The gallant Captain Fritz is, of course, a pure fiction. As for the Baron D., he is a Hungarian named Stephen Kelen D Oxylion, a recent refugee. He is not a citizen and had been desperately resisting deportation. He was jobless when he won the beautiful Mati Hari. He applied for home relief. On Nov, 15, 1940 she complained of the suspension of home relief to the "baron" but without success. The order of deportation still stood against him as of December, 1946.

The first chairman of the Anti-Nazi League, Samuel Untermeyer, disgusted, withdrew long ago, as I have said. The second chairman, Dr. Nelson P. Mead, then acting President of City College, also withdrew in 1941. In his letter of resignation he wrote:

"I still believe in the American principles of tolerance and freedom of opinion. Under the circumstances, I feel I must resign as chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League and request you to remove my name from the League's stationery and literature"

The present chairman is Professor James H. Sheldon. He was for a brief period an assistant professor in a Boston college and the title of "professor" has been carefully exploited to lend some prestige to the League. All but three of the original directors have severed their connections. Since 1934 the league has had approximately 112 persons on its directorate, 71 of whom have withdrawn. The directorate now is composed; save for a few exceptions, of unknown persons.

Conspicuous in the affairs of this strange organization is a most mysterious figure—a Belgian refugee named Isidore Lipschutz. Lipschutz is a diamond trader from Antwerp who pulled into these parts in May, 1938, then left in October, only to return once more in April, 1939 as the war clouds lowered over Europe. He maintains offices at 630 Fifth Avenue. But how much he is in the diamond business and how much in the business of stirring the murky waters of alien propaganda is difficult to determine. He certainly came here with a huge bankroll. And he began with little delay to take an active part in the affairs of the Anti-Nazi League. While in 1943 he was billed as Vice-President and Treasurer, actually Lipschutz might almost he said to be the League. Mr. Phineas J. Biron, who writes a column in the Chicago Jewish Sentinel called "Strictly Confidential" wrote June 3, 1913:

"Isidore Lipschutz, the diamond man from Belgium, is doing a gigantic job for the Anti-Nazi League; having turned his vast business organization into what is virtually an adjunct of the League."

This man is not even a citizen. He applied for citizenship in August, 1944, but has not yet been admitted. The Immigration Office has been investigating Lipschutz for two years, has a record of material on him a foot thick and still withholds citizenship while another department of the government investigates him. Meantime he directs and helps finance this Anti-Nazi League which specializes in defaming and traducing American citizens who do not agree with his views on American politics.

There is a Women's Division. It is headed not by some well-known American woman but by Mrs. Irene Harand, a refugee from Austria, who has been industrious in some European movements in which the League says she has over 80,000 members. She got here in 1938 and became a citizen only three years ago.

It is this strange collection of recent alien refugees, aided first by "Colonel" Richard Rollins and now by the fictitious Mata Hari who have performed deeds of intimidation upon whole sections of the American people.

Ostensibly this outfit is devoted to hunting down what they call "subversive" elements and influences in the United States. But strangely they never get around to the Communist subversives.

Their technique is the established one—smearing American citizens by associating their names with the names of known or suspected fascist propagandists.

The question is, in whose interest are the victims to be discredited? The answer is not always simple. In the case of this Anti-Nazi League, certainly it was operating in 1936 and since in the interest of the New Deal administration. "Colonel" Rollins, in a book "I Find Treason" boasts of his achievements in this field. In 1936, he writes, "a group of Washington officials approached me with an offer of a job—investigator of un-American activities during the national campaign for the New York State Democratic Committee."

This was in May. He describes how he had set up his investigating office the previous February. He says "the board granted my request to devote part of my time to investigations for the politicos and I began operating out of Democratic headquarters in the Commodore Hotel." Immediately thereafter Miss Dorothy Kahn ("Mata Hari") joined him in Democratic headquarters where she worked as "director of the German Division" from June to December, 1936.

Rollins then admits that it was his business to "pin something on the G.O.P." His business was to smear Republicans as anti-semitic. It was to stir up the Jewish citizens against their fellow citizens who opposed the New Deal. He gives an illustration of how he did it. He used the names of Fritz Kuhn, Griebl, and other Bundists to smear the Republicans. The "big story" broke October 30, 1936 on the eve of the election, palmed off on the World-Telegram under a large headline, as follows:

Anti-Semitic Radio Speeches by Griebl, others, Sponsored by G.O.P.

The Republican Party had been sponsoring radio broadcasts by American Nazis to win votes, it was disclosed today. One of the recent speakers was Dr. Ignatz Griebl, a national Nazi leader and pronounced anti-semite.

Immediately after the election. Clarence Low, the treasurer of the Democratic State Committee and also a member of the Executive Committee of the Anti-Nazi League, asked Rollins to stay on after the election. He asked him to put together a permanent exhibit of his work and to take it around the country. Low said the League would sponsor the tour to pour out this anti-semitic smear on the Republican party. This was done.

There is much to this story of the League. During the war it fished in the troubled waters of refugee politics in this country. Enough is known about this subject alone to justify a congressional investigation. One investigation was already well on its way to the truth about these strange matters when it was strangled by methods which themselves cry, aloud for investigation. Now the League has set up as the champion of the negro in the South. It pursues the Ku Klux Klan of evil memory. The war criminals are dead or in jail. Hitler is gone These terrors can no longer be invoked to frighten our unfortunate foreign populations and induce contributions.

The Bund has vanished. Fritz Kuhn has been deported. Polley and Viereck are m jail. Something like the Ku Klux Klan must be found to justify the existence of this private gestapo. Meantime Congress must deal with the question of whether these private terror organizations shall be permitted to usurp the police functions of the State.