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Nathaniel Weyl

John Simkin

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Nathaniel Weyl was born in New York City on 20th July, 1910. His father, Walter Weyl, was an editor of the New Republic. As a student at Columbia, Weyl became one of the youth leaders of the Socialist Party.

Weyl received his Bachelor of Science Degree from Columbia College in 1931 and did postgraduate work at the London School of Economics. After his return to the United States he joined the Communist Party. In 1933, he obtained a medium level policy job in a New Deal agency. Weyl later recalled that he was "sucked into a so-called nuclear cell of government officials supposedly destined to rise rapidly, I found secret membership in this cell while a US official duplicitous, and resolved my personal problem by resigning from government." Weyl was later to claim that this cell included Alger Hiss.

In 1939 Weyl left the Communist Party. This was mainly as a result of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin signing the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Weyl now accepted the post as head of the Latin American research unit at the Federal Reserve Board. Later he moved to the Board of Economic Warfare. He also spent two years in the US Army during the Second World War.

After the war Weyl worked as a journalist. In 1961 he published the best-selling Red Star Over Cuba. Weyl also helped John Martino write I Was Castro's Prisoner (1963). He also worked for a while with the former United States diplomat, William Pawley, with his autobiography.

In an article published in January, 1964, John Martino claimed in had important information about the death of John F. Kennedy. Martino argued that in 1963 Fidel Castro had discovered an American plot to overthrow his government. It was therefore decided to retaliate by organizing the assassination of Kennedy. In his book Someone Would Have Talked (2003), Larry Hancock wrote: "In 1964... both he (John Martino) and Nathaniel Weyl actively promoted the story that Oswald had been in Cuba beforehand and that he had been in contact with Cuban intelligence and Castro himself. Their story described Castro's motivation as revenge for continuing attempts on Castro's life by the United States government."

Shortly before his death in 1975 John Martino confessed to a Miami Newsday reporter, John Cummings, that he had been guilty of spreading false stories implicating Lee Harvey Oswald in the assassination. Cummings added: "He told me he'd been part of the assassination of Kennedy. He wasn't in Dallas pulling a trigger, but he was involved. He implied that his role was delivering money, facilitating things.... He asked me not to write it while he was alive."

Weyl is the author of books and articles "relating to communism, especially in Latin America; espionage and internal security in the United States; and racial, ethnic and class analyses of political and intellectual elites" Books by Weyl

include The Jew in American Politics (1968), Traitors' End; the Rise and Fall of the Communist Movement in Southern Africa (1970), American Statesmen on Slavery and the Negro (1971), Creative Elite in America (1979), Karl Marx, Racist (1979), Encounters With Communism (1981) and Geography of American Achievement (1990).

Nathaniel Weyl died at his home in Ojai, California on 13th April, 2005.


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Here are some emails that Nathaniel Weyl sent to me in reply to my questions:

Yes, I collaborated with John Martino on his autobiography, specifically having him send or give me tapes, and then organizing them in a more coherent structure. I would discuss anything with him that struck me as improbable, but the book was his story of his prison experiences. You will find a brief account of how I got involved in this in my brief political autobiography (Encounters with Communism)

I worked with William Pawley for several months on his autobiography, but the collaboration didn't work out. I understand that he turned over the task to someone else and that a published book emerged, but I haven't seen it.

Re the Martino "confession". I first ran across it about a year ago when checking a few items on the Internet for my Encounters with Communism book. Hadn't seen it earlier because I had long since lost interest in Cuba. While John Martino and I had had a pleasant and friendly collaboration, the relationship more or less ended when he used the John Birch Society to popularize his book despite my advice to the contrary.

My first impression of the confession is that it was fictitious. My impression was that John Martino had played a small role in political events and had a psychological need to magnify it and that he invented conspiracies. If he had any advance knowledge of the impending assassination of President Kennedy he of course did not share it with me. (5th May, 2004)

I agreed to work with Bill Pawley on his book in 1964 or later. I would not call myself a ghost writer or right wing, depending on how the latter term is defined. Nor was Pawley an aviator. FDR gave him the sub rosa task of creating the Flying Tiger organization in the months prior to Pearl Harbor. He was also close to Harry Truman and pushed Ike to seek the presidency. I can't comment on what Martino may have said or believed. I thought at the time that the JFK assassination probably had Soviet or Castro links. As for Oswald, not too long after the assassination a Special Agent phoned me, said he understood I had claimed Oswald had tried to infiltrate a Cuban anti-Castro group in Florida, but had been kicked out and roughed up, and asked whether he could come up to our place and talk to me. I said that my source was a reporter on the Sun Sentinel, named him, and suggested that the Bureau might prefer to go directly to that source, which I suppose they did.

As for your queries: (1) No. I think Oswald may have tried to get Cuban support when he went to Mexico, but doubt the Cuban government would have used that flaky a character. (2) John Martino didn't give me any Cuban names nor did he suggest that he was working with the CIA; in fact my recollection is that he distrusted the CIA. He did say that the United States government was turning over the job of killing Castro to the Mafia and that the latter as professionals wouldn't botch the job. (3) Never heard of David Morales. (10th May, 2004)

I had no relationship with JFK. I had a brief, uneventful meeting with him once when he was a Senator. Senator Smathers, who knew him fairly well since they had gone on double dates when both were in Congress, tried without success to get him, when he was President, to read my book on Cuba. Probably in 1962, a friend, who had been one of the top people in Cuban Intelligence, introduced me to a gorgeous heiress with whom he was having an affair. She was, or had recently been, one of JFK's women. Both the lady and my friend, Manolo, wanted me to meet JFK and talk to him about changing his policies toward Cuba. I was less than enthusiastic. I thought backdoor approaches to a President through his women a poor idea. If she made the attempt, it failed...

My father, Walter Weyl, died when I was 9. He was an editor of the New Republic, minor adviser to Theodore Roosevelt, more or less of a socialist, increasingly radicalized by the senseless slaughter of WW1 and the vengeful peace of Versailles. As a student at Columbia, I became one of the youth leaders of the Socialist Party. After a year at the London School of Economics, returned to USA and shifted to the Communist Party. In 1933, given a medium level policy job in a New Deal agency. Sucked into a so-called nuclear cell of government officials supposedly destined to rise rapidly, I found secret membership in this cell while a US official duplicitous, and resolved my personal problem by resigning from government. (The cell at the time I left it merely read propaganda and talked; later its members would be drawn into espionage and one of them, Alger Hiss, would go to prison for perjury). Years of newspaper reporting and writing, mainly in Latin America, followed. In 1939, Hitler and Stalin signed a pact that would precipitate World War 2. I left the CPUSA and rejoined the US Government to head Latin American research for Federal Reserve Board, later to serve in Board of Economic Warfare, then 2 years in a combat infantry division, then work on US grants and loans to the postwar world. Resigned from government for a second time around 1947 because the questionnaires in the Truman loyalty program would have unearthed my red past and forced me to engage in the distasteful task of testifying against former CP associates.

From 1947 on I wrote books and articles and earned a living from investments. I shifted from the Democratic to the Republican Party. My interest in Cuba made me write a book, Red Star Over Cuba, which blamed Castro's rise to power in part on covert State Department support of his cause, engineered by a clique of officials whose loyalties seemed questionable. Since the book sold about a quarter of a million copies, including Spanish, Portuguese and German language editions, it brought me into the world of Cuban anti-Castro exiles.

My attitude toward JFK was largely shaped by his Latin American policies and was highly critical. I agreed with my Cuban friends that the US Government had a moral obligation toward the force of Cuban volunteers that invaded Cuba and sought to liberate the island, that it had pledged them military support. JFK's last minute decision to abort the planned air strike that the small invading force needed for survival and/or orderly withdrawal and to leave people we had sent into battle stranded was dishonorable and unworthy of the United States. After the debacle of the invasion, which we now know would probably have failed anyhow, JFK's people advanced the slogan "Fidelismo without Fidel", in short an endorsement of the dictator's domestic policies. At the same time, the White House was pushing its Alliance for Progress, which sought to impose some US social measures on Latin countries which did not want them, and which helped cause a massive flight of domestic capital from the area and encouraged left-wing upheavals in Argentina, Brazil and Chile. I felt that Kennedy was a great charmer and master of rhetoric, but that unsound ideas proliferated like rabbits in the brains of those people who made policy decisions on Latin America for him. The tragedy of his assassination made such negative judgments seem petty and trivial. (15th July, 2004)

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