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John Jay McCloy and Fascism

John Simkin

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John Jay McCloy was born in Philadelphia, on 31st March, 1895. He graduated from Amherst College in 1919, and Harvard Law School in 1921. McCloy joined the leading law firm, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. George Wickersham was a former attorney general and Henry W. Taft was the brother of President William Howard Taft.

In 1924 McCloy joined Cravath, Henderson & de Gersdorff. The three senior partners were Paul Cravath, Hoyt Moore and Carl de Gersdorff. During this period he became friendly with W. Averell Harriman and Robert A. Lovett. In 1927 McCloy was sent to establish an office in Milan. Over the next few years he traveled throughout Italy, France and Germany on business. According to Anton Chaitkin (George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography) McCloy worked as an advisor to the fascist government of Benito Mussolini.

McCloy developed the view that German Reparations as a result of the First World War were both unwise and unfair. According to McCloy: "Practically every merchant bank and Wall Street firm, from J. P. Morgan and Brown Brothers on down, was over there (Germany) picking up loans. We were all very European in our outlook, and our goal was to see it rebuilt." McCloy argued that if this did not happen, Germany would be taken over by the communists, who were getting support from the Soviet Union.

In his dealings with Germany, McCloy worked closely with Paul M. Warburg, the founder of M. M. Warburg in Hamburg, who argued that the "United States should throw open its doors to European imports and pay for them with the gold the Allies had used to pay for U.S. war material". Warburg argued that this strategy would result in New York becoming the world's financial and commercial centre.

In July, 1929, McCloy became a partner in the Cravath, Henderson & de Gersdorff law firm. He was rewarded with a salary of $15,000. This was a time when fewer than 6% of Americans earned more than $3,000 a year. McCloy did not put his money into stocks and shares and was unaffected by the 1929 Wall Street Crash.

McCloy's brother-in-law, Lewis W. Douglas, was a member of the Democratic Party and in March, 1933, he was appointed Director of the Budget by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, Douglas became convinced that the New Deal had been infiltrated by communists. Douglas told McCloy that "He (Roosevelt) is surrounded with the young Harvard Law School group, all of whom are communists."

Douglas also believed that the New Deal was part of a Jewish conspiracy to destroy the capitalist system. He talked about the "Hebraic influence" and claimed that "most of the bad things which it (the administration) has done can be traced to it. as a race they seem to lack the quality of facing an issue squarely." As a result of his beliefs, Douglas resigned from the government in August, 1934.

According to his biographer, Kai Bird (The Chairman: John J. McCloy: The Making of the American Establishment), McCloy shared these views: "He (McCloy) was a man of his times and class. And in Wall Street during the 1930s, few men challenged the notion that, as a rule, Jews were socially pushy and arrogant, particularly when placed in positions of power and influence."

McCloy continued to specialize in German cases and in 1936 Mccloy traveled to Berlin where he had a meeting with Rudolf Hess. This was followed by McCloy sharing a box with with Adolf Hitler and Herman Goering at the Berlin Olympics. McCloy's law firm also represented I.G. Farben and its affiliates during this period.

In 1941 Henry L. Stimson selected McCloy to become assistant secretary of war. In this role he was involved in the decision to pass the Lend-Lease Act and the internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans. He was later criticized for opposing the plan to bomb the railroads leading to Auschwitz.

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John McCloy was president of the World Bank (1947-49) before replacing Lucius Clay, as High Commissioner for Germany. Soon after taking office McCloy became embroiled in the infamous case of Klaus Barbie, the man who had been Gestapo chief in Lyon during the war.

On 7th June 1943, Barbie had captured René Hardy, a member of the French Resistance who had successfully carried out several acts of sabotage against the Germans. Barbie eventually obtained enough information to arrest three of the most important leaders of the French Resistance, Jean Moulin, Pierre Brossolette and Charles Delestraint. Moulin and Brossolette both died while being tortured and Delestraint was sent to Dachau where he was killed near the end of the war.

As Allied troops approached Lyons in September 1944, Barbie destroyed Gestapo records and killed hundreds of Frenchmen who had first-hand knowledge of his brutal interrogation methods. This included twenty double-agents who had been supplying his with information about the French Resistance.

Barbie fled back to Nazi Germany where he had been recruited by the United States Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC). Barbie impressed his American handlers by infiltrating the Bavarian branch of the Communist Party. According to the CIC Barbie's "value as an informant infinitely outweighs any use he may have in prison."

René Hardy was tried for treason in 1950. Both the prosecution and the defence teams wanted Barbie to testify. At this time McCloy was concerned about the growth of communism in Bavaria and valued the role played by Barbie in this struggle. Therefore he decided to reject the requests being made by the French authorities to hand over Barbie. During the trial, Hardy's defence lawyer exposed what was happening by announcing in court that it was "scandalous that the U.S. military authorities in Germany were protecting Barbie from extradition for security reasons."

Barbie was in fact in hiding in a CIC safe house in the American zone in Germany. McCloy denied any knowledge of where Barbie was and instead announced that the case was under investigation. McCloy was informed by CIC that: "This entire Hardy-Barbie affair is being pushed as a political issue by left-wing elements in France. No strong effort has been made by the French to obtain Barbie because of the political embarrassment his testimony might cause certain high French officials." In other words, Barbie had information that would show how prominent French politicians who during the war had collaborated with the Gestapo. The American government also were worried about what Barbie might say about his involvement with the CIC in Germany.

On 8th May, 1950, René Hardy was acquitted. As Kai Bird pointed out (The Chairman: John J. McCloy: The Making of the American Establishment): " The enraged French public blamed the Americans for not allowing Barbie, the star witness against Hardy, to be extradited from Germany. By the end of May, under pressure from French resistance veterans, the French government had once again requested Barbie's apprehension."

McCloy was now in a difficult position. He was reluctant to admit that the CIC was employing an accused war criminal. In fact, it was more serious than that. According to one CIC document, Barbie had "personally directed CIC's counterintelligence operations aimed at infiltrating French intelligence." CIC told McCloy that "a complete disclosure by Barbie to the French of his activities on behalf of CIC would... furnish the French with evidence that we had been directing intelligence operations against them."

Throughout the summer and autumn of 1950 McCloy told the French that "continuous efforts to locate Barbie are being made". In reality, no search of any kind was conducted as they knew where he was living. In fact, he continued to draw a CIC salary during this period. In March, 1951, Barbie was smuggled out of Germany and given a new life in Bolivia.


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In 1950 John McCloy began receiving communications from people in Germany calling on him to release Nazis from prison. This pressure came from senior figures in the new West German government. Two figures they were especially concerned about were German industrialists, Alfried Krupp and Friedrich Flick, who had both been convicted of serious war crimes at Nuremberg.

Alfried Krupp and his father Gustav Krupp ran Friedrich Krupp AG, Germany's largest armaments company. Krupp and his father were initially hostile to the Nazi Party. However, in 1930 they were persuaded by Hjalmar Schacht that Adolf Hitler would destroy the trade unions and the political left in Germany. Schacht also pointed out that a Hitler government would considerably increase expenditure on armaments. In 1933 Krupp joined the Schutzstaffel (SS).

During the Second World War Krupp ensured that a continuous supply of his firm's tanks, munitions and armaments reached the German Army. He was also responsible for moving factories from occupied countries back to Germany where they were rebuilt by the Krupp company.

Krupp also built factories in German occupied countries and used the labour of over 100,000 inmates of concentration camps. This included a fuse factory inside Auschwitz. Inmates were also moved to Silesia to build a howitzer factory. It is estimated that around 70,000 of those working for Krupp died as a result of the methods employed by the guards of the camps.

In 1943 Adolf Hitler appointed Alfried Krupp as Minister of the War Economy. Later that year the SS gave him permission to employ 45,000 Russian civilians as forced labour in his steel factories as well as 120,000 prisoners of war in his coalmines.

Arrested by the Canadian Army in 1945 Alfried Krupp was tried as a war criminal at Nuremberg. He was accused of plundering occupied territories and being responsible for the barbaric treatment of prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates. Documents showed that Krupp initiated the request for slave labour and signed detailed contracts with the SS, giving them responsibility for inflicting punishment on the workers.

Krupp was eventually found guilty of being a major war criminal and sentenced to twelve years in prison and had all his wealth and property confiscated. Convicted and imprisoned with him were nine members of the Friedrich Krupp AG board of directors. However, Gustav Krupp, the former head of the company, was considered too old to stand trial and was released from custody.

By 1950 the United States was involved in fighting the Cold War. In June of that year, North Korean troops invaded South Korea. It was believed that German steel was needed for armaments for the Korean War and in October, McCloy lifted the 11 million ton limitation on German steel production. McCloy also began pardoning German industrialists who had been convicted at Nuremberg. This included Fritz Ter Meer, the senior executive of I. G. Farben, the company that produced Zyklon B poison for the gas chambers. He was also Hitler's Commissioner of for Armament and War Production for the chemical industry during the war.

McCloy was also concerned about the increasing power of the left-wing, anti-rearmament, Social Democratic Party (SDP). The popularity of the conservative government led by Konrad Adenauer was in decline and a public opinion poll in 1950 showed it only had 24% of the vote, while support for the SDP had risen to 40%. On 5th December, 1950, Adenauer wrote McCloy a letter urging clemency for Krupp. Hermann Abs, one of Hitler's personal bankers, who surprisingly was never tried as a war criminal at Nuremberg, also began campaigning for the release of German industrialists in prison.

In January, 1951, McCloy announced that Alfried Krupp and eight members of his board of directors who had been convicted with him, were to be released. His property, valued at around 45 million, and his numerous companies were also restored to him.

Others that McCloy decided to free included Friedrich Flick, one of the main financial supporters of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). During the Second World War Flick became extremely wealthy by using 48,000 slave labourers from SS concentration camps in his various industrial enterprises. It is estimated that 80 per cent of these workers died as a result of the way they were treated during the war. His property was restored to him and like Krupp became one of the richest men in Germany.

McCloy's decision was very controversial. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote to McCloy to ask: "Why are we freeing so many Nazis? The Washington Post published a Herb Block cartoon depicting a smiling McCloy opening Krupp's cell door, while in the background Joseph Stalin is shown taking a photograph of the event. Telford Taylor, who took part in the prosecution of the Nazi war criminals wrote: "Wittingly or not, Mr. McCloy has dealt a blow to the principles of international law and concepts of humanity for which we fought the war."

Rumours began circulating that McCloy had been bribed by the Krupp's American lawyer, Earl J. Carroll. According to one magazine: "The terms of Carroll's employment were simple. He was to get Krupp out of prison and get his property restored. The fee was to be 5 per cent of everything he could recover. Carroll got Krupp out and his fortune returned, receiving for his five-year job a fee of, roughly, $25 million."

McCloy rejected these claims and told the journalist, William Manchester: "There's not a goddamn word of truth in the charge that Krupp's release was inspired by the outbreak of the Korean War. No lawyer told me what to do, and it wasn't political. It was a matter of my conscience."

Within a few years of his release Alfried Krupp was one of Germany's richest men and his company was the 12th largest corporation in the world.

By 1955 Friedrich Flick owned over 100 companies with an annual turnover of two billion dollars. Flick was reported to be the richest man in Germany and the fifth-richest man in the world. However, he refused to pay any compensation to the families of the people who had died making him wealthy.

Friedrich Flick died at Konstanz on 20th July, 1972. He left over a billion dollars to his playboy son but nothing to the families of the 48,000 people who had died while slave labourers during the Second World War.



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I have been unable to uncover details of McCloy receiving money from Krupp's American lawyer, Earl J. Carroll. However, I have discovered that in 1975 McCloy established the McCloy Fund. The main purpose of this organization was to promote German-American relations. The initial funding came from German industrialists. In 1982, the chairman of the Krupp Foundation, Berthold Beitz, gave the McCloy Fund a $2 million grant.

Three years later, the president of Germany, Richard von Weizsacker, conferred honorary German citizenship on McCloy. He praised McCloy’s “human decency in helping the beaten enemy to recover” and his efforts to build “one of the free and prosperous countries in the world.”

Weizsacker had good reason to be thankful to McCloy. His father was Ernst von Weizsacker, a leading official in Adolf Hitler’s government. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity at Nuremberg and sentenced to seven years. Yes, you guessed it, McCloy was the one who arranged for him to be released along with Krupp and Frick and the other Nazis in 1950.

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Another incident during the Second World War raised questions about McCloy's racism. In 1941 Henry L. Stimson selected McCloy to become assistant secretary of war. In 1942 General George C. Marshall sent McCloy to "check out" a new officer working in the War Plans Division. His name was Dwight D. Eisenhower. McCloy later recalled: "So I went down to meet this man; I don't think I ever told him that I had been sent to spy on him." It was the beginning of a long friendship.

In December, 1941, Stimson put McCloy in charge of dealing with what he called the "West Coast security problem". This had been brought to Stimson's attention by Congressman Leland M. Ford of Los Angeles who had called for "all Japanese, whether citizens or not, be placed in inland concentration camps". McCloy held a meeting with J. Edgar Hoover and Attorney General Francis Biddle on 1st February, 1942 about this issue. Biddle argued that the Justice Department would have nothing to do with any interference with citizens, "whether they are Japanese or not". McCloy replied, "the Constitution is just a scrap of paper to me."

McCloy also got support from Earl Warren, the Attorney General of the State of California. He argued that all Japanese-Americans should be interned. However, Henry L. Stimson, like Francis Biddle, had his doubts about the wisdom of taking this action. However, on 19th February, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the construction of relocation camps for Japanese Americans being moved from their homes.

Over the next few months ten permanent camps were constructed to house more than 110,000 Japanese Americans that had been removed from security areas. These people were deprived of their homes, their jobs and their constitutional and legal rights. Earl Warren later confessed: "I have since deeply regretted the removal order and my own testimony advocating it, because it was not in keeping with our American concept of freedom and the rights of citizens. Whenever I thought of the innocent little children who were torn from home, school friends and congenial surroundings, I was conscience-stricken."

The American Civil Liberties Union called the internment of Japanese-Americans as the "greatest deprivation of civil liberties by government in this country since slavery." As Kai Bird (The Chairman: John J. McCloy: The Making of the American Establishment) has pointed out: "More than any individual, McCloy was responsible for the decision, since the president had delegated the matter to him through Stimson... Why, then, did McCloy become an advocate of mass evacuation? One answer is simple racism."

In July 1942 Mitsuye Endo, a Nisei, petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus on the grounds that detention in a relocation camp was unlawful. In December 1944 the Supreme Court ruled in her favour and over the next few weeks the Japanese Americans in the camps returned to their homes in California.

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On 9th April 1944, Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, managed to escape from Auschwitz. The two men spent eleven days walking and hiding before they got back to Slovakia. Vrba and Wetzler made contact with the local Jewish Council. They provided details of the Holocaust that was taking place in Eastern Europe. They also gave an estimate of the number of Jews killed in Auschwitz between June 1942 and April 1944: about 1.75 million.

On 29th June, 1944, the 32-page Vrba-Wetzler Report was sent to John McCloy. Attached to it was a note requesting the bombing of vital sections of the rail lines that transported the Jews to Auschwitz. McCloy investigated the request and then told his personal aide, Colonel Al Gerhardt, to "kill" the matter.

McCoy received several requests to take military action against the death camps. He always sent the following letter: "The War Department is of the opinion that the suggested air operation is impracticable. It could be executed only by the diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations and would in any case be of such very doubtful efficacy that it would not amount to a practical project."

This was untrue. Long-range American bombers stationed in Italy had been flying over Auschwitz and the neighbouring I. G. Farben petrochemical plant since April, 1944. The American Air Force were also bombing Germany's synthetic-fuels plants to regions very close to the death camps. In fact, in August 1944, the Monowitz camp, part of the Auschwitz complex, was bombed by accident.

Benjamin Akzin, one of McCloy's aides, disagreed with McCloy's decision. He pointed out that if the transport links and the death camps were bombed, it would force the Germans to spend considerable time and resources to reconstruct the gas chambers. Akzin added that it was not only an important military target but a "matter of principle".

In August, 1944, Leon Kubowitzki, an official with the World Jewish Congress in New York, passed on an appeal from Ernest Frischer, a member of the Czech government-in-exile, to take military action against the concentration camps. McCloy rejected the idea as it would require "diversion of considerable air support" and "even if practicable, might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans."

Nahum Goldman, president of the World Jewish Congress, also had a meeting with McCloy. Goldman was later to say: "McCloy indicated to me that, although the Americans were reluctant about my proposal, they might agree to it, though any decision as to the targets of bombardments in Europe was in the hands of the British". Once again, this was untrue. In fact, Winston Churchill had already ordered the bombing of Auschwitz. However, Archibald Sinclair, the British Secretary of State for Air, pointed out that "the distance of Silesia (where Auschwitz was located) from our bases entirely rules out our doing anything of the kind."

In November, 1944, John Pehle, the executive director of the War Refugee Board, wrote to McCloy to change his mind on this issue. This time he enclosed a recent New York Times article on the British bombing of a German prison camp in France where a hundred French resistance fighters condemned to death had escaped in the aftermath of the bombing." After consulting with Lieutenant General John Hull, the chief of Operations Division of the War Department, McCloy replied that "the results obtained would not justify the high losses likely to result from such a mission."

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In March 1950, John McCloy was given the task of appointing a new head of the West German Secret Service. After discussing the matter with Frank Wisner of the CIA, McCloy decided on Reinhard Gehlen, the Nazi war criminal. This resulted in protests from the Soviet Union government who wanted to try Gehlen for war crimes.

During the Second World War Gehlen served Adolf Hitler as head of military intelligence for the Eastern Front. It was in this post he had created a right-wing group made up of anti-Soviet Ukrainians and other Slavic nationalists into small armies and guerrilla units to fight the Soviets. The group carried out some of the most extreme atrocities that took place during the war. Gehlen was also responsible for a brutal interrogation program of Soviet prisoners of war.

On May 22, 1945, Major General Gehlen surrendered to the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) in Bavaria. In August he was interrogated by Office of Strategic Services (OSS) officers headed by Frank Wisner. According to one source, Gehlen was able to identify several OSS officers who were secret members of the American Communist Party.

It was decided to use Gehlen to collect intelligence on the Soviet Union from a network of anti-communist informants in Eastern Europe. This group became known as the Gehlen Organization. In 1949 Gehlen signed a contract with the CIA, reportedly for a sum of $5 million a year, which allowed him to expand his activities into political, economic, and technological espionage.

Gehlen recruited large numbers of former members of the SS and the Gestapo. This included Franz Six, who had led Einsatzguppen mobile killing squads on the Eastern Front. The Gehlen Organization was also used to help Nazi war criminals escape to South America. This included Klaus Barbie who was smuggled out of Germany in March, 1951 and given a new life in Bolivia. It has been alleged that in some cases the CIA helped Gehlen to get these men to safety.

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