The date of September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, is remembered as the date the war started. But little is remembered about the date Russia also moved into Poland, on September 16,1939. The nation of Poland was now divided between these two war-time allies.
It is interesting to notice what the responses of the major allied nations were to these two dates. When Germany entered the western portion of Poland, Britain and France declared war on Germany. But when Russia moved into eastern Poland, there was no war declaration by either nation.
The Soviets caused one of the tragic events of history after they occupied their portion of Poland. They captured approximately 10,000 Polish officers and brutally murdered them, most of them meeting their death in Katyn Forest near the Russian town of Smolensk. The traditional story about their deaths was that the officers had been killed by the German army, but now the evidence is clear that the Russians committed this crime. The other victims were taken aboard a barge which was towed out to sea and then sunk.
Even with all of these efforts of the American businessman to construct the German war machine with the full knowledge and approval of President Roosevelt, he kept repeating that the nation would continue its “neutral” position: it would remain out of the war. On September 1, 1939, when the war started, he was asked by a reporter whether America would stay out of the war and Roosevelt replied: “… I believe we can, and every effort will be made by the Administration to do so.”
Roosevelt responded by appointing George Marshall, a CFR member, as Chief of Staff of the Army over General Douglas MacArthur, not a member of the CFR, and other senior officers.
Others did not believe Roosevelt’s claim that America would remain neutral. On September 12, 1939, Hans Thomson, the German charge d’affaires in Washington, cabled the German government: “… if defeat should threaten the Allies (Great Britain and France), Roosevelt is determined to go to war against Germany, even in the face of the resistance of his own country.”
But Germany’s war efforts were still dependent on oil resources, and it came from a variety of sources, some external to the German border. Before Rumania was invaded by the Germans, it was selling oil to Germany. Life magazine of February 19, 1940, has a picture of Rumanian oil being loaded into oil tank cars. The picture has a caption under it which reads, in part: “Oil for Germany moves in these tank cars of American Essolube and British Shell out of Creditui Minier yards near Ploesti (Rumania.) Notice that cars are marked for German-American Oil Co. and German Railways, consigned to Hamburg and Wuppertal in Germany. They were sent from Germany to speed up Rumanian oil shipments.” This picture was taken after Germany had invaded Austria and Poland, yet American and British oil companies are transporting oil for the German government, (the tank cars in the picture are dearly marked “Essolube,” and “Shell”).
And other sources supplied oil as well. When the German air force ran short of fuel, this was generously supplied from the great refinery belonging to the Standard Oil Company situated on the island of Aruba via Spanish tankers. This occurred during the war itself, yet these tankers were not sunk by American submarines.
Even with the purchases of oil from non-German sources, the major supplier of oil was still the cartel. The I.G. Farben-Standard Oil cooperation for production of synthetic oil from coal gave the I.G. Farben cartel a monopoly of German gasoline production during World War II. Just under one half of German high octane gasoline in 1945 was produced directly by I.G. Farben, and most of the balance by its affiliated companies.
But as the war in Europe continued, America’s leaders were attempting to get America involved, even though the American people didn’t want to become part of it Roosevelt, the presidential candidate, was promising the American people that the Roosevelt administration would remain neutral should he be re-elected. Others knew better. One, for instance, was General Hugh Johnson, who said: “I know of no well informed Washington observer who isn’t convinced that, if Mr. Roosevelt is elected (in 1940), he will drag us into war at the first opportunity, and that, if none presents itself, he will make one.”
Roosevelt had two opportunities to involve America in World War II: Japan was at war with China, and Germany was at war with Great Britain, France and other countries. Both war zones presented plenty of opportunities to involve the American government in the war, and Roosevelt was quick to seize upon the opportunities presented.
His first opportunity came from the war in the Pacific. It was in August, 1940, that the United States broke the Japanese “purple” war-time code. This gave the American government the ability to read and understand all of their recoverable war-time messages. Machines were manufactured to de-code Japan’s messages, and they were sent all over the world, but none was sent to Pearl Harbor.
Roosevelt’s public efforts to involve America, while ostensibly remaining neutral, started in August, 1940, when the National Guard was voted into Federal service for one year. This was followed in September by the Selective Service Act, also for one year’s duration.
But the key to America’s early involvement occurred on September 28, 1940, when Japan, Germany and Italy signed the Tripartite Treaty. This treaty required that any of the three nations had to respond by declaring war should any one of the other three be attacked by any of the Allied nations. This meant that should Japan attack the United States, and the United States responded by declaring war against Japan, it would automatically be at war with the other two nations, Germany and Italy.
Roosevelt now knew that war with Japan meant war with Germany. His problem was solved.
He had made secret commitments to Winston Churchill and the English government to become involved in the war against Germany and he knew that the only way he could fulfill his secret commitments to Churchill to get us into the war, without openly dishonoring his pledges to the American people to keep us out, was by provoking Germany or Japan to attack.
Roosevelt moved towards the Pacific theater first, knowing that, if he could provoke Japan to attack America first, America would automatically be at war with Germany as well. He also knew that, should Germany attack America, Japan would have to declare war on America. So Roosevelt attempted to get either nation to attack the United States first. Japan was to get the first opportunity.
In October, 1940, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox sent for Admiral J.O. Richardson, Commander-in-Chief of the American fleet in the Pacific. Knox advised him that the President wanted him to establish a patrol of the Pacific, a wall of American naval vessels stretched across the western Pacific in such a way as to make it impossible for Japan to reach any of her sources of supply; a blockade of Japan to prevent by force her use of any part of the Pacific Ocean. Richardson protested vigorously. He said that would be an act of war, and besides, we would lose our navy. Of course Roosevelt had to abandon it.
This scene in history poses two rather interesting questions:
- Why did Roosevelt, the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces, including the Navy, not directly order Admiral Richardson to do as he wished? Why did he choose to use his Secretary of the Navy to almost politely ask him to create the naval patrol?Is it possible that Roosevelt did not choose to use his supreme power because he knew that this was indeed an act of war and that he did not want to be identified as the originator of the plan. If Richardson had agreed to Knox’s proposal, and Japan had attacked an American naval vessel, Roosevelt could have directly blamed the admiral for allowing the vessel to get into the position of being fired upon by the Japanese Navy in the first place.
Roosevelt wanted a scapegoat and Richardson refused.
- Why did Roosevelt not replace the admiral with someone who would do exactly as he wished?It is possible that Roosevelt realized that Richardson now knew about the plan, and since he did not approve, he would be in a position to clearly identify Roosevelt as the source of the idea should the second admiral agree to it.
Roosevelt did not want to jeopardize his carefully constructed image as a “dove” in the question of whether or not America should become involved in the war.
It is important to remember that, in November, 1940, just after this incident, candidate Roosevelt told the American people: “I say to you fathers and mothers, and I will say it again and again and again, your boys will not be sent into foreign wars.”
Richardson later appraised his situation at Pearl Harbor and felt that his position was extremely precarious. He visited Roosevelt twice during 1940 to recommend that the fleet be withdrawn to the west coast of America, because:
- His ships were inadequately manned for war;
- The Hawaiian area was too exposed for Fleet training; and
- The Fleet defenses against both air and submarine attacks were far below the required standards of strength.
That meant that the American government had done nothing to shore up the defenses of Pearl Harbor against an offshore attack since the naval manuevers of 1932 discovered just how vulnerable the island was.
Richardson’s reluctance to provide Roosevelt’s incident for the United States to enter the war, and his concern about the status of the Fleet, led to his being unexpectedly relieved of the Fleet command in January, 1941.
The American Ambassador to Tokyo, Joseph C. Grew, was one of the first to officially discover that Pearl Harbor was the intended target of the Japanese attack, as he corresponded with President Roosevelt’s State Department on January 27, 1941: “The Peruvian minister has informed a member of my staff that he had heard from many sources, including a Japanese source, that, in the event of trouble breaking out between the United States and Japan, the Japanese intended to make a surprise attack against Pearl Harbor….”
In March 1941, President Roosevelt was still hoping for an incident involving the United States and Germany, according to Harold Ickes, Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Interior. He reported: “At dinner on March 24, he [Roosevelt] remarked that ‘things are coming to a head; Germany will be making a blunder soon.’ There could be no doubt of the President’s scarcely concealed desire that there might be an incident which would justify our declaring a state of war against Germany….”
Roosevelt and Churchill had conspired together to incite an incident to allow America’s entry into the war. According to Churchill, The President had said that he would wage war but not declare it, and that he would become more and more provocative. If the Germans did not like it, they could attack American forces.
The United States Navy was taking over the convoy route to Iceland.
The President’s orders to these escorts were to attack any U-boat which showed itself, even if it were two or three hundred miles away from the convoy….
Everything was to be done to force “an incident”.
Hitler would be faced with the dilemma of either attacking the convoys and dashing with the United States Navy or holding off, thus “giving us victory in the Battle of the Atlantic. It might suit us in six or eight weeks to provoke Hitler by taunting him with this difficult choice.”
But Hitler was attempting to avoid a confrontation with the United States. He had told his naval commanders at the end of July  to avoid incidents with the United States while the Eastern campaign [the war against Russia] was still in progress …. A month later these orders were still in force.
Churchill even wrote to Roosevelt after the German ship the Bismarck sank the British ship the Hood, recommending in April, 1941: “… that an American warship should find the Prinz Eugen (the escort to the Bismarck) then draw her fire, ‘thus providing the incident for which the United States would be so thankful,’ i.e., bring her into the war.”
With this action, the pressure to get the United States involved in the war really accelerated. Roosevelt, on June 24, 1941, told the American people: “Of course we are going to give all the aid that we possibly can to Russia.”
And an American program of Lend-Lease began, supplying Russia enormous quantities of war materials, all on credit.
So with Hitler pre-occupied with the war against Russia and refusing to involve himself with the Americans on the open sea, Roosevelt had to turn his attentions back to Japan for the incident he needed.
The next step was to assist other countries, the English and the Dutch, to embargo oil shipments to Japan in an attempt to force them into an incident that would enable the United States to enter the war.
Japan, as a relatively small island, and with no oil industry to speak of, had to look elsewhere for its oil, and this was the reason for the proposed embargo. It was thought that this action would provoke Japan into an incident. Ex-President Herbert Hoover also saw the manipulations leading to war and he warned the United States in August, 1941: “The American people should insistently demand that Congress put a stop to step-by-step projection of the United States into undeclared war… .”
But the Congress wasn’t listening.
President Roosevelt wasn’t listening either to the charges of Congressman Martin Dies, Chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. By August of 1941, the Dies committee had assembled a large amount of evidence which more than confirmed the suspicions which we had entertained on the basis of surface appearances: It was clear that the Japanese were preparing to invade Pearl Harbor and that they were in possession of vital military information.
This information was made available to the Roosevelt administration by Congressman Dies personally. But this was the second time that Dies had appealed to Roosevelt about his knowledge of Japan’s intention to attack Pearl Harbor. Early in 1941 the Dies Committee came into possession of a strategic map which gave clear proof of the intentions of the Japanese to make an assault on Pearl Harbor. The strategic map was prepared by the Japanese Imperial Military Intelligence Department.
Dies telephoned Secretary of State Cordell Hull who talked to President Roosevelt.
Congressman Dies was told not to release the document to the public, and the Roosevelt administration did nothing. (In April, 1964, when Dies told the American public of these revelations, he added this comment: “If anyone questions the veracity and accuracy of these statements, I will be glad to furnish him with conclusive proof.”)
It was also in August, 1941, when the new product of the I.G. Farben cartel was tested on humans for the first time. The product was called Zyklon B and it was to be used on the Jews and others at the concentration camps.
In the Pacific Theater, Japan’s war messages, being read in Washington, started asking their spy in Pearl Harbor to report ship movements, and, later, the exact nature and location of the ships in the harbor.
Japan’s request for more information on what was happening at Pearl Harbor was followed on October 16, 1941, by the resignation of the Prince’s cabinet in Japan. These resignations were followed by the military administration of General Tojo and his cabinet. All of this activity was recognized by the American government as a decided step toward war, but still nothing was done to alert Pearl Harbor.
It was on this day that Henry Stimson, Roosevelt’s Secretary of War, wrote the following in his diary: “… and so we face the delicate question of the diplomatic fencing to be done so as to be sure that Japan be put into the wrong and to make the first bad move.”
Stimson was to repeat this concern that faced the Roosevelt administration when he testified before one of the Committees investigating Pearl Harbor. There he was quoted as saying: “The question was how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.”
The Japanese would still not respond with the incident to provoke the United States into retaliating, but America was convinced that it would happen ultimately. For instance, Secretary of State Cordell Hull told Roosevelt on November 7, 1941, that he foresaw “every possibility of an early war with Japan.”
Japan continued its efforts towards staying out of a war with the United States and had its Ambassador in Washington continue his efforts towards securing a no-war treaty with the Secretary of State. On November 22, 1941, they wired their Ambassador: “Do your best, spare no efforts and try to bring about the solution we desire.”
But even though Japan was attempting to avoid war with the United States, the Japanese were being encouraged by an unlikely source to strike out at the United States. On May 17, 1951, the New York Daily News featured an article by its Washington correspondent, John O’Donnell, concerning various old Far Eastern intelligence reports which were being closely guarded in Washington. Among those documents were the 32,000 word confession of Soviet spy Richard Sorge.
Mr. Sorge was a Russian spy who had infiltrated the German embassy in Japan and worked hard to convince Japanese officials that Japan should not attack Russia, but move south, at the risk of war with the United States.
When Sorge informed the Kremlin [in Russia] in October, 1941, that the Japanese intended to attack Pearl Harbor within 60 days, he received thanks for his report and the notice that Washington and in person, Roosevelt, Marshall, Admiral Stark, had been advised of the Japanese intentions.
On November 25,1941, the day that the Japanese fleet sailed for Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt convened a meeting of the various Cabinet officers: Secretaries Stimson, Knox, Marshall and Admiral Harold R. Stark, Chief of Naval Operations. According to Stimson’s testimony: “The President brought up the event that we were likely to be attacked perhaps [as soon as] next Monday, for the Japanese are notorious for making an attack without warning. In spite of the risk involved, however, in letting the Japanese fire the first shot, we realized that in order to have the full support of the American people, it was desirable to make sure that the Japanese be the ones to do this so that there should remain no doubt in anyone’s mind as to who were the aggressors.”
On November 26, 1941, the Japanese Embassy in Washington sent the following message to Tokyo: “Hull said… I am sorry to tell you that we cannot agree to it [Japan’s treaty Proposal].”
The British Intelligence Service, which had men inside the Japanese diplomatic agencies in the United States, took the November 26th telegram to Tokyo as meaning that the “Japanese negotiations off. Services expect action within two weeks.”
And Roosevelt and the Department of the Army also knew this, as “… a very important American Army Intelligence officer, in service in the Far East during 1941… had gained knowledge of the Yamamoto plan to send a task force to attack Pearl Harbor and sent three separate messages to Washington revealing this information, and at least two of these reached the Army files well before the attack on Pearl Harbor.”
Finally, in desperation, the Japanese government sent a message to their Washington embassy on December 6, 1941, in essence breaking off all negotiations with the American government After the message was intercepted by the American government, de-coded and given to Roosevelt, he is quoted as saying: “This means war.”
Roosevelt now knew that Japan planned on attacking the United States, but still he did nothing about warning the American forces at Pearl Harbor.
And on December 7,1941, Japan launched a “surprise attack.”
The American forces were not prepared for the attack. And the attacking Japanese forces had orders from Japan to return to Japan should they detect any evidence that the Americans had been alerted.
As their air force attacked Pearl Harbor, they reported that the American planes were having difficulty in getting off the ground.
This was because the American planes had been grouped in circles, with their propellers all facing inward as the result of an order by President Roosevelt. It was reported that Roosevelt had ordered the planes grouped in this fashion because he feared “acts of sabotage” against the planes and he was acting to protect them.
Since airplanes do not have a “reverse gear” the grouping of the planes in this manner made it extremely difficult for them to rapidly get out of the circle and into the air. One critic of the circling of these airplanes, Harry Elmer Barnes, has written: “Bunching the planes in a circle, wing to wing, would [make them] helpless in the event of a surprise air attack.”
Another strange circumstance was the make-up of the fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack. The Pacific Fleet consisted of nine battleships and three aircraft carriers along with a host of smaller ships.
During the attack, the Japanese sank or seriously damaged eight battleships but no aircraft carriers.
The American government had reasoned that the aircraft carriers would have an extremely important role to play in the type of war they felt would be waged in the Pacific theater. So all of the aircraft carriers were moved out of Pearl Harbor and all of the less valuable battleships were left behind. The battleships were expendable because most of them had been constructed prior to or during World War I, which meant that they were old and obsolete.
Along with the aircraft carriers, Roosevelt’s government also withdrew the smaller, more mobile ships that they knew could be more efficiently utilized in a sea war. On November 28th, Admiral William F. Halsey was sent to Wake Island with the carrier Enterprise, three heavy destroyers and nine destroyers. On December 5th, Admiral John E. Newton was sent to Midway with the carrier Lexington, three heavy cruisers and five destroyers. The carrier Saratoga had been sent to the Pacific Coast.
Admiral Husband Kimmel, the commander of the naval forces at Pearl Harbor, clearly places the blame for Pearl Harbor’s unpreparedness on President Roosevelt. He has written: “We were unready at Pearl Harbor because President Roosevelt’s plans required that no word be sent to alert the fleet in Hawaii.”
The Rt Hon. Oliver Lyttleton, a member of Churchill’s war cabinet, declared in an address to the American Chamber of Commerce in London on June 24, 1944: “America provoked [the Japanese] to such an extent that the Japanese were forced to attack Pearl Harbor. It is a travesty of history to say that America was forced into the war.”
The Council on Foreign Relations published an article in its publication called Foreign Affairs in January, 1974, that agreed with Lyttleton. The article stated that “Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor actually thrust the United States into World War II, but the Roosevelt administration decided a year and a half earlier to risk war in order to prevent the totalitarian domination of all Europe.”
So on December 8, 1941, President Roosevelt asked the Congress to declare war on Japan, stating that December 7, 1941 would go down in history as a “day of infamy.”
So when Roosevelt addressed the nation through his speech in Congress, he lied when he said: “We don’t like it and we didn’t want to get in it, but we are in it and we’re going to fight it with everything we’ve got.”
So Roosevelt asked for, and received, a Declaration of War against Japan. Germany followed on December 11th with a Declaration of War against the United States. This action was in accordance with the terms of the Tripartite Treaty signed earlier by Germany, Italy and Japan.
Roosevelt’s activities in the planning of Pearl Harbor had a costly price. The final toll was 2,341 U.S. servicemen dead and 1,143 wounded; eighteen ships including the eight battleships were sunk or heavily damaged; more than two hundred Army Air Corps and Navy planes were destroyed or unusable; and sixty-eight civilians were killed.
For his supposed unpreparedness at Pearl Harbor, Admiral Kimmel was relieved of his command, and he retired on January 7, 1942.
After the war was over. Congress looked into the reasons for the lack of preparation at Pearl Harbor. Their conclusions are most revealing:
- The attack was unprovoked by America;
- There was no evidence that the President, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, Secretary of Navy, provoked the attack;
- The American government made every effort to avoid the war with Japan;
- The attack was caused by the Army’s and Navy’s failure to detect hostile forces; and
- The errors made were errors of judgment and not derelictions of duty.
The last conclusion was apparently intended to relieve the commanders of the armed forces from responsibility so that they could not be court-martialed. Admiral Kimmel and General Walter C. Short, the commander of the armed forces at Pearl Harbor, continuously pleaded for a court martial to clear their reputations, but they were never granted.
Admiral Robert Theobold, the Commander of all destroyers at Pearl Harbor, wrote a book entitled The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor, in which he detailed his conclusions about the “surprise attack.” He wrote:
- President Roosevelt forced Japan to war and enticed them to initiate hostilities by holding the Pacific fleet in Hawaiian waters as an invitation to that attack;
- The plans to use Pearl Harbor as the bait started in June, 1940;
- War with Japan meant war with Germany; and
- Roosevelt, Marshall and Stark knew about Pearl Harbor 21 hours before the attack.
But in spite of all of this evidence that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was known by Roosevelt and his top advisors well in advance of that actual event, there are those who still hold to the position that the government, and Roosevelt specifically, knew nothing about it.
So America now had a two-front war against Japan in the Pacific and against Germany in Europe.
Just as planned!