• M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein, Stalin’s Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government, Threshold Editions, 2012, 294 pages, $26.00.
RALEIGH — The introduction of this timely and important book proclaims “The Greatest Story Never Told,” and that is no exaggeration. Indeed, Stalin’s American Government also would have been on target because his agents achieved massive penetration of the U.S. government and society during the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt. Once in place, the Stalinist agents wielded huge influence that damaged the United States and left casualties in the millions.
One reason Stalin’s agents were able to achieve such success is because FDR, whose disabilities long had been concealed from the public, was declining into decrepitude at a time when adulation of Stalin and his Communist regime was at its peak. In this account, FDR is surprised by policy positions to which he already had agreed.
It also will come as news to many that, at Yalta, FDR’s concession to Saudi Arabia’s King Ibn Saud “was to give him the 6 million Jews in the United States.” This was edited out of the official record, but survives in the Roosevelt library and the papers of Secretary of State Edward Stettinius. The authors helpfully show it here and note that the president’s statement suggests “a lack of judgment, mental balance, or just plain common sense.” The book makes a strong case that that FDR’s posture toward Stalin, to say the least, also lacked judgment and common sense.
U.S. policy was to give Stalin, a totalitarian dictator, everything he wanted without asking anything in return. A key architect of that policy, FDR’s most powerful advisor, was Harry Hopkins, a social worker and Socialist Party alum who excelled at giving away other people’s money. For most of his time in Washington, Hopkins held no Cabinet post though he resided at the White House for three years, giving Stalin the inside track.
The authors — journalists and Cold War-era experts Stan Evans and Herb Romerstein — show how Hopkins, Moscow’s “principal agent” during the war, made sure Stalin got U.S. documents about the American nuclear program, and even a shipment of Uranium-235. Hopkins further wanted Stalin to keep all the Polish territory he grabbed under the Nazi-Soviet Pact, when then-allies Hitler and Stalin invaded Poland in 1939. Hopkins also blocked aid to Polish anti-Nazi fighters and backed Stalin on every demand.
“To read statements about these matters by Hopkins, FDR, and some historians of the era,” say the authors, “is to enter a mental world where reality counts for little and delusion is set forth as self-evident wisdom.” The authors also find it odd that FDR should single out Alger Hiss, a mid-level State Department employee, as someone who should go to the Yalta conference. Stalin’s Secret Agents shows how Hiss served his Soviet bosses well.
By World War II, Stalin had murdered millions within the USSR, and he wanted to execute 50,000 Germans after that nation surrendered. U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau wanted to help Stalin in that cause. The authors find it strange that the Treasury Department should be involved in such a move, perhaps explained by the reality that three key Treasury advisers were Soviet secret agents. So Stalin’s influence was pervasive indeed, and giving him what he wanted had deadly consequences.
Stalin’s Secret Agents shows how the western Allies acted as Stalin’s enablers by handing over refugees and captives in Operation Keelhaul. “Horrendous scenes ensued as British and American soldiers bludgeoned helpless prisoners, herding them into boxcars and forcing them onto ships that would take them to their fate in Russia.” Behind this atrocity the authors see the hand of Hiss and other agents, whose influence extended to personnel decisions.
Russia expert Charles Bohlen said the Soviets themselves took part in the campaign against Robert Kelley, a State Department scholar and expert on the Russian Revolution. Kelley’s East European Division was eliminated during a “reorganization” of State and he was packed off to Turkey. Kelley’s ally Loy Henderson, another Soviet expert, was transferred to Iraq. Assistant Secretary of State Adolfe Berle also ran afoul of the Hiss group and was sent to Brazil, “and that ended my diplomatic career,” Berle said.
But the influence of Stalin’s supporters did not end with government.
The cast includes media figures such as I.F. Stone, author of a book charging that South Korea invaded the North, a typical inversion of reality. Edgar Snow, who wrote for the Saturday Evening Post, accepted Communist Party edits on Red Star Over China, “an unabashed commercial on behalf of the Communist Mao Zedong and his Yenan comrades,” Evans and Romerstein say. And when the conflict swung to Asia, Stalin’s network continued to conceal facts and was even able to rig a grand jury to prevent agents from exposure.
Plenty more here for everyone, including Alan Cranston of the Office of War Information — a future Democratic U.S. senator from California — cracking down on radio broadcasts he deemed adverse to Moscow. But this account is only “part of the Cold War story,” say the authors. A historical blackout still exists “in too many places,” and the information the authors were able to set forth is “fragmentary and episodic.” On the other hand, “there is much more out there still to be tracked down by researchers of the future.”
Evans, author of Blacklisted by History,, is getting into his emeritus years. Romerstein, expert on Communism and author of The KGB Against the Main Enemy, passed away in May. So those new researchers need to pick up the torch from these veterans. Left-wing revisionism is surging, and as George Orwell put it, those who control the past control the future.
Lloyd Billingsley is author of Hollywood Party: How Communism Seduced the American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s, soon to be reissued in paperback.