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tv   Steven Ross Hitler in Los Angeles  CSPAN  December 10, 2017 3:15pm-4:16pm EST

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together to do incredible things for go there are stories about what others have done with the social media out. it is not really new. it is these delivery platforms for al and that is social media every ready on the block. so of course, it is amplified with how far that you reach. [inaudible conversations]
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>> welcome to the oldest independent bookstore in los angeles. we are pleased to be share enorm -- our facility with losses angeles review of books read - - board members to be the interlocutory this evening and i thought i would tell you about our guest tonight. john who is famous for many teams is a professor at uc irvine he has of book of the '60s and is most famous if
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you know john lennon or the fbi he is the of go to spending a decade with access to this information and a writer and commentator and a friend of mine and talking to a friend of his comment steven ross a professor at usc and with said two of them day are serious historians that the work as stephen will be reading from is day really amazing captivating story with the idea of collision of foreign powers with the involvement of entertainment
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moguls doing the right thing. and what was hardest for me to except during the daytime though lawyers who are not concerned about the of billable hour rates. if you have an opportunity i hope you will buy and read if you intend to sleep because the book is captivating. so with that let me turn it over to our friends and let the games begin. >> to introduce me and my wife on a blind date more important than any publication. [laughter]
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>> thank you for inviting me to do this conversation. and start with the math. with the papers at the end of the book is the most striking this is a map of the 30's and '40's but this is the book in a nutshell. there is a lot of swastikas. >> but the plaintiff is as i was writing this how many fascist and not the outlets there were in the city then i convinced my colleague as an unbelievable photographer and cartographer as they go together to say this is all you need to know what it
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meant to be a jew is in l.a. 1933 led say 1941 december working downtown you can see the ledger the swastika in red is nazi or the letter aff for the fascist. the main fascist group actually was a very successful screenwriter who hated jews and left the movie industry despite making a good living and don january 30th when himmler became reich chancellor to say that the painter can become the of vice chancellor of germany if mussolini can have the black shirts then we in america can have our silver shirts
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and tomorrow i will want to the silver shirts so lewis was surrounded by the metropolitan post the largest in the united states just the few blocks away and then you have these odd fascist the kkk, california homesteaders, the american warriors, the american nationalist party but it would have crowded the math to much. here is what you need to know. at charlottesville they were chanting the jews will not replace us. >> this was just a few weeks ago downtown 1933 somebody was chanting death to jews'.
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this is day map of homegrown local nazis how many people are we talking about? just the of the few netballs in the basement? what is the extent?. >> the deutsche house the nazis did la went through two iterations as they sent over a german captain march 1933 to start the nazi organization in los angeles. and in july 261933 they held the first open meeting which is now something like this. just west of downtown and
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then eventually by 1936 you had meetings attracting up to 1,000 people but not all committed not these. and then you have freer 400 people go into regular meetings than the silver shirts collectively they you probably had five or 600 at the peak in losses angeles but all that you need to know what negative charlottesville or orlando or las vegas you just need one crazy person. then you have a lot missing go crazy people.
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>> i knew there was an american first organization but i didn't really know very much about hitler himself to be interested in los angeles to said the emissaries to los angeles. and there were two reasons. that hitler and the minister of the enlightenment and propaganda that shows where the ph.d. can get you they both love watching movies. particularly like walt disney films they shared a similar political worldview. [laughter] and he also felt that a hollywood in great britain
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didn't launch such a of successful propaganda campaign they have got a lot more public support. but to send george you was a counselor in new york city to a thing angeles with one job. stop hollywood from making any film that attacked germany or hitler. >> hollywood refused to go along. >> his weapon was article 15 from the german import law of 1932 if any studio was to make a film to denigrate germany then they would have
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all the films and the finesse studios did that then the whole country could have their films banned in germany. that was one hammer that he is dead within one year hollywood past the production code under pressure if find this hard to believe the hollywood was accused of sexual impropriety in the '30's and there were people whose said wait. we need to clean up hollywood. and to go with federal censorship, to be in the first-run movie theater where studios made 80 percent of their profits you had to get the production code seal they would not give that to any movie that denigrated so he
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had his job made easier it was censored by catholics for protestant children. only in america. >> that is a wonderful thing. >> so to stop those anti-nazi films. and to make them after they conquered europe that this second reason is less about hollywood than smuggling and money or spies or secret orders and propaganda because the york, even though it was closer the ports were closely guarded because the mayor will guardia i don't know if you know, he was half jewish.
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if reformed he would be fully jewish because of his mother was jewish and from other italian but he identified with the jewish as will as catholic he major the ports were carefully guarded. they would refer to new york as a jew york so they knew him every port of was the angeles through san pedro you to get anything through because nobody was monitoring also a city with the police and sheriff's department had many people especially the klan with those reports to talk about driving down to the docks
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and two-seat secret sealed orders were from the of gestapo officer so the nazi government of germany was interested because of the movie industry. your local homegrown nazis grosso very interested in the movie industry. >> right. like a plot to kill jewish hollywood. >> there are so many. i lose track myself. by the 1930's and i am guilty of this one of the questions is why don't we know this story? i say because my cohort were
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looking a radicalism in the '30's and 40's. we were all concede -- concerned but ignored the conservative pan with a fascist for the right wing. >> i'm guilty. >> i am also. nobody else will looking deep'' was going on but i only discover this accidentally when i was writing about edward g. robinson receiving from cal state northridge that was about the fascist and a the nazis but that was too much from the page in the book but when i finished i said i will go back and take a look and that is what i discovered the story it was
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in just a the nazis it was americans so all these other groups they were overwhelmingly american the nazis had their own silver shirt post to show they to be good americans. they were operating on their own coming up with two plots one in 1935 or early 36 which would haying 20 hollywood and political figures including the district attorney and others but then to go zeroth american to have mass killings of jews with that never happened because the plotters realized that the
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spy master had spies inside their organizations in tibet know who was zero or they would be arrested in a wooden i do that so they postponed it and then i became permanent. but one year later another fascist came into town now 1.six what 8 inches the brother of his brother who won the oscar in the in former and leopold was of jujitsu you champion top draw hand-to-hand combat and scotland yard. so he may have been nuts but he was the killer in was in the army holding capt. and
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even more frightening plot which was to blow up the homes of 24 hollywood movie stars and producers down to the two christians that said he was too friendly to the job -- to the jews. charlie chaplin and james cagney the live below the homes -- to blow up the homes and also preparing in long beach harbor that when any jews tried to flee they would destroy the boat as they tried to leave the harbor as well. that a plot was only foiled because there were four and that was it one of the four was the best spy. >> now we have to switch to best buy story.
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so they were quite different >> leon the was never expected he would be a spy master. born in a small town in wisconsin. graduated 1913 and decided dedicating himself to heal the world. with this anti-defamation league was the founding secretary with a 3 million operation and one of the responsibilities is to monitor fell month for anti-semitism so he was working with these mohels work rising to capt. and
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came back and went back to work to convince them that anti-semitism was so intense they needed to create an international division. so to just something you to be the international as well as the national head. he stayed coming in 1930 / 31 and thought he would fill his hours a and lead a comfortable life cut watching this committee is split nationally in to the committee to basically argue that starts the international boycott of every product and to not just jews but now also all minorities and they figured this would pressure him with the german economy.
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the other group the american jewish congress argued hiller would double down and was crazy enough if you tried to pressure him he would go more ballistic and therefore they recommended going through intermediaries so while they kept talking talking, after the nazis had there first zero bin meeting in june or july, and they said lee will save the country from the communist and jews and went down to those of you who drive towards downtown on the 10. right before that on your right it was built by the
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county supervisors to help veterans groups he was a member of the disabled veterans egad three kristiansand one jew in their wives to join every nazi and fascist group undercover to rise to positions of power then sent to do the reports of what he scared the because even after pearl harbor rene alleged about that weber confused with anti-semitism and in fact, they tell them her -- that went up that pearl harbor. >> want to interrupt and underline the spies that he recruited were not jewish except for one. they were christians
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reporting on anti-semitism in moscow angeles that is one of the fascinating a hardening parts of your book. >> so that was started to investigate the '90s and the fascist and to be hijacked by those anti-communist who turned that into a red scare purge. but they all knew they were working for do. they didn't they think it was a jewish operation? know. they knew the nazis and the fascist said they would kill jewish americans they would
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kill catholic americans and they were going to kill black americans. and basically they said if you anything left on the negative is an adjective and for any group that kills fellow americans and with black american they are all americans we are not allowing a foreign power to come in to kill other americans for go only one jewish spy within a few informer's said they were working piecemeal. >>.
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>> the murder plots are shocking. but the most is the response that lewis got when he touched disinformation to the chief of police of los angeles. >> within a few weeks literally of this operation the spies come back to say we have uncovered a horrible plot. a german emigre forced to flee germany in the twenties because he shot to death several communist and then drawing the own blueprints of the entire national guard armory where all the ammunition was held to
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illegally buying weapons from corrupt marines. drilling getting ready to take over the armory there than to ask lewis is spies the officers to tell them that my idea to have a combination of not seized in all three cities with the silver shirts and they all had storm troopers. onto the land to takeover those arteries in three cities in a thing that told
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them otherwise shot on the spot. would they? i can tell you san diego was getting ready for it because eventually louis contacted naval intelligence. and leon louis stars to tell them about this and two minutes into my talk to say you don't get never grow only doing what he has to do because the jews have ruined the economy and the real danger in america but it is then boiled heights where the communist guards -- every communist was a jew
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and every jew was a communist as far as he was concerned. he would not do anything ben lewis went to the sheriff, told them the same thing with the sheriff's department with quite a few knotty supporters one of the sheriff's kaftans was say not the working world -- with mclaughlin. they went to the fbi this said we cannot do anything unless ordered from washington the j. edgar hoover did not order his bureau to investigate the head of l.a. and the entire western region and the number two nazi in america they did not order him to be put under surveillance until the middle of november 1941
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and then three weeks later. >> we need to open for questions one thing a like to ask about is the police chief and the share of santa the fbi refused to do anything there are a few good guys. >> yes. the biggest - - commanders zacharias was the goodest. he became the head of naval intelligence on the west coast looking over the information that lewis was sending him and shot his everything he sent him turned out to be true so he was the closest ally in the fight and the indirect ally he had the associate
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spymaster who had begun spine with his uncle who was ostia's -- austrian born and berlin raised and living in germany during world war one captured and sent to what camp then went back as the scots -- despite to the u.s. army then he and his nephew started to spy on their own so much so that the editor found out about it and said i want you to talk to our publisher who is the head of the entire national guard this very shy a jew with a heavy accent and bottleneck
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glasses was scared to death talk to the publisher he said this is true i guess in a piece of paper go to this hotel in chicago with every tells you to do you do and now i am ordering u.s. head of the national guard to worry about the newspaper assignments and he goes to the bismarck hotel and tells the colonel everything they had been doing in the colonel says you have no trading. i will turn you over to my elites forces for counter espionage. but that curdled did okay for himself his name was george marshall who became head of the army and army intelligence and secretary
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of state marshall. and his own goal julius klein and to go through the george c. marshall papers and then to rise of to be the highest ranking jew as the brigadier general by the end of the war. >>. >> parents were both survivors. and when that was shut down by the nazis shipped off to dachau my mother was in the ghetto and then sent to
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auschwitz and after three days they would go to a work camp to tell them we will give you a shower then said due to the work camp my mom said we knew what the shah were meant for, among ashley show were meant we knew this is what life was going to be like that i wanted a shower. she volunteered and said the fact that all these women stand and make it had been one another with our last breath men and thus had a heart attack when water came out and not gas then she was sent to auschwitz meant to make munitions camp for the rest of the war and my parents met in munich after the war and came to america and the opening of my prologue is about listening
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to my mother every single might throw my childhood tell me her nightmares of the gestapo coming to our home taking her away or my sister and i. we're very typical second generation children suffering from the neuroses of second-generation children with a second generation firstborn boy. thank you for talking about it tonight. you have then a fantastic job of archival research. >> but let me just say that it with the questions rather than statements.
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speaking to the microphone. >> someone in the front? another microphone?. >> this is taped for c-span on booktv if you have a question coming to the microphone. >> i have of question the contrary thanks for doing this. family is made better listening to brilliant people telling interesting stories so thank you very much speaking of stories a few of those positive anecdotes' so could you talk
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about the mixed motives and how they got started? and the second part is could you also discussed the importance of leadership and the thwarting of the nazis in los angeles that could have occurred would that have been a spontaneous type of operation?. >> know. it would not take unique leadership by am convinced you absolutely need leadership the matter how democratic your organization is it needs to be somebody with occupy wall street fell
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apart to be is democratic issue could be with no leaders but there has to be. i'm sorry. as a reluctant leader he never wanted to be one but he was and did it for all those years. now i forgot the first part of a question. there is a book amount in 2013 that my friends and i agree this man had been one of the ph.d. students he never would have published the dissertation. it is purely logical dissertation writing in from the point of view knowing no holocaust happened why didn't they do more to stop it? because they stayed in business with the nazis they were collaborators.
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and also got the mogul's totally wrong first of all, hollywood first and foremost, in the money-making business not conscious raising business so the first question they ask me that really baptistery offices don't you think they were guilty of collaboration? i will deal with that with the dow chemical's guilty was ford guilty? u.s. steel guilty? all these people were supplying the german war machine with machinery. >> and then to start with collaborators but also
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representing corporations but they did not like it. lewis never expected to be a spy master. did not mean to be a vigilante organization. i do feel a little uncomfortable should restart a spy ring? it is a very dangerous thing to recommend because three of the spies died under suspicious circumstances and i am convinced to read of the three were killed. once there was no help from a government agency he gave up his law practice and was out of money running this out of his own pocket and finally turned to three
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friends when the the five most powerful people in the republican party who went behind the closed doors in the smoke-filled room to decide the republican candidate second was his good friend the number two man leon said i am running out of money we have to pay the spies a small stipend because most of them they were following the same strategy as the twenties heller recruited the brownshirts the world for one veterans bring grief for cutting the benefits as soon
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as roosevelt came into office where they cut the benefits from $8,100 a month they thought they can get those that is with the foreign nation telling them what to do anyway, and they run at of money and lewis turns to them to say you have to help so in turn silberman was the most powerful person in hollywood when he told those 40 mobil's the studio heads those major producers producers, showed up at the country club on march march 15, 1934 for a secret
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meeting and they have no idea why they are there but they know when he says you go, then you go walk into a private room then all 40 have to issues of the silver sure magazine filled with the most violent anti-semitic articles particularly going after the mobil's draw is with the big hooked nose and and the locals salivating over christian women. you can only imagine their eyes going up but what really shocks them as he says this is only the tip of the iceberg you know, that the nazis and fascists have invaded your studios and you are not aware of it? his spies had reported that the personnel that was seedier 90% were the electricians
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the grips with the carpenters that many were members of the silver shirts firing all the jewish employees than it had gotten to a point where paramount was 100 percent arian, columbia studios, gm and said this is going on in your studios none if you are aware of this. let me tell you something else they are plotting to kill you. by the end of the evening he walked out with the equivalent of today's dollars with 400 ground -- grand they underwrote the entire operation with no doubts about 1.leon louis had the espy's penetrated so deeply to recruit a former
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secretary who was now a agreed that planted a tape recorder in the office of herman and he brought together a dozen roles to play them the tape recording of a plot to murder them. and as joseph reported in his memoir that was unpublished what took them back more than anything else is that the nazis were talking about murdering them just like going to was sunday picnic. no emotion you bring this you do that then they will be dead. so in fact, the only time in several thousand years the jews kept an important secret. it never got out and have never come across the mention of a spy ring or of the jews finding it.
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>> how big was of a kkk?. >> they were slowing down. . . two key spies was charles slocumb, who had been a major leader of the klu klux klan in long beach until he had change of heart. he still was an anti-communist but could knocker abide the hating of jews, of catholics, of other groups because he felt they were still americans.
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he was disgusted what the klan was doing. this was a truly heroic man because he never told anybody, through the 1940s, until the end of the war, he told no one that he had been part of the undercover operation, and so his friends apparently were perplexed, didn't understand how could this good, wholesome, american guy, be not only a member of the klan but he rose up -- never quit the klan. he pretended to keep' -- in fact he was the recruiting officer nor southern california klan and rose up to leadership positions in a number of smaller fascist groups and worked very closely with the silver shirts with the head of the silver shirts for los angeles, kenneth alexander. they were part of the second plot to kill the 24 hollywood figure us. so, here is a true hero, man who
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was hated by his friends for most of his life, until he finally revealed after the war what he had really been doing. even then, it never got publicized. these people, leon lewis, joe roos, roos, chuck slocum, went to their death, never telling their stories to anyone publicly. it was a need to know basis, and leon lewis, and joe roos, never told anyone because they were afraid -- this is how scared they were. joe roos lived until his early 90s, and worked at -- forked for usc in a public relations firm, and gave a preparation to -- in the 80s and i watched the testimony and at one point the interview says to him, mr. roos, what happened to your
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spy, neil ness, and joe roos literally jumped out of his seat, freaked out, and said, how do you know that name? where did you hear that? and was so upset. the woman said, well, he testified in 1939. forgot that. interview joe roos' son who said his father never told him anything about what he and leon lewis were doing help said the only thing his father ever told him, remember one day when you war by, i came home and told you i tripped in front of the house and by face was all bruised. he said, yeah, you bloke your glasses, actuallies was jumped by two nazis and were beating me but a car came by and slowed down and that's, what's going on here? and they ran away. leon lewis never told his factually, joe roos never told his family and slocum never told
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his family until after the war. [inaudible question] -- >> a hair-brained scheme to start a revolution? -- [inaudible question] >> the question was, in taking over the armories in san francisco, l.a., and san diego, was this a hair-brained scheme or ordered by germany. germany wasn't ordering any of these plots because, as i discovered, germany -- hitler wanted to keep america neutral, and he knew that if there were are these crazy plots and americans were killed, kit be traced back to nazi, american public opinion would turn. so he then started sending -- my guess dish know this for sure, didn't start sending gestapo
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agents, who were checking out airplane facilities for sabotage, until roughly 1940. so, these were all plots started by local -- well, german émigres, the main germon nazis, and by american fascists who absolutely believed america was so anti-semitic that so many american hated jews, that if somebody had the courage to start killing jews in a major city, and if you did it in three cities simultaneously, this would encourage and give the backbone to all those other anti-semitismities out there who were to afraid and they believed -- it's in at the spy reports. they believed it would set up a pilgrims throughout the entire united states and that at the very least, if jews weren't all killed, they would be forced to plea america. that's a little fantastic, but they were prepared to do it.
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[inaudible question] >> worked up the crystal -- [inaudible question] >> question. [inaudible question] >> the question do is i draw any parallels between my book then and what's going on now? no because i'm a historian, but i have drawn parallels -- written a few op-eds in the last few weeks. one in "the los angeles times" from few weeks ago and one last week in the "washington post." that's writ seems to me appropriate to draw the parallel. and the main parallel i would draw is that we are facing the same questions that our forebearers from the '30s and '40s in l.a. faced, which is what do you do when hate groups move from the margins to the mainstream, and when government authorities seem either come place santa -- come place santa
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orcome miss sit. you say there aren't good people on both sides. i'm sorry, there nor good nazis. there are no good white supremacists. there are no good silver shirts. there are no good hatemongers. all this people are filled with hate. i don't have the -- an answer but the answer is what leon lewis showed us, i the need to be vigilant and what is amazing to me is leon lewis used the most powerful weapon that we command, which is our brain. he foiled all these plots without ever firing a gun. none of his spies ever fired a weapon. some of them carried guns because they had been threatened by nazis, because the nazis referred to leeon lewis as the most dangerous ju in los angeles because they new all these
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groups, they knew that leon lewis had penetrated their organization, and in fact, i just did something with "take 2" this morning, and we shot it right outside leon lewis' office at 727 west seventh street, and i pointed out to him that there would be days where either the bundt or a silver shirt would send over somebody to stand across the street. watching the entrance to leon lewis' office because they wanted to see if anyone they new went in there, because if they could identify somebody they knew, they would know who the spy was. but they were never able to do it. leon lewis consistently outsmarted them. but the message if he was here today is, you have to say no to hate. when you hear hate speech -- not all of us are going undercover or do these heroic things-but
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heroism isn't of a massive scale. heroism can just be you hear somebody say have itful things and you turn to them and say, i that's not okay. we don't talk that way. hear of a demonstration by hate group, good to the demonstration but don't go prepared for violence. this where is i don't support antifa. if you go prepared to engage any violence, you just demean your own cause and people say, you're no better than them. it's vice-president lidge lance and taking position, even things like taking a knee as a football game, which people are mocking. it's not about the flag. that's a distraction by donald trump. it's about the lack of democracy in america. or for those of you watching the world series, having a baseball player, for those not following it, i should say, open houston team, who after he hit a home
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run an maeda went back into the dugout and made a gesture, raising his i'd like this, which the fans in houston began to do, and the baseball commissioner, rather than having the guts to suspend him right now, suspend him next year for five games. that's not okay. when you hear that principle dis, you speak up. that's the lesson, you speak up. >> would you come up here to the mic? come on up. >> the local fascist leaders, nazis, either -- i assume they were arrested and then after the war, they disappeared. did they try to -- >> that's a good question. the two leaders, herman, the
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head nazi in l.a., number two nazi in america, and his number one guy, hans were arrest on december 8, 1941, and imprisoned. neither of them saw the light of day until hans dish couldn't get his -- i don't know exactly when he was tossed out of the country but it was around 1946, and he was sent back to germany. herman was kept in jail until 1947, when he agreed to join this buddies in argentina. his american wife, american-born wife, had been waiting for him patiently, went to argentina, but after a year, she had enough of life in art -- in argentina and came back without him to florida, and he followed a little while later, decided he would rather live with his wife than fellow nazis.
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but the irony is, herman died in 1973, in dade county, florida, surrounded by my parents and all the survivors in the most heavily survivor county i believe in the united states. think one of the great ironies of life. [inaudible question] [applause] >> thank you all for coming tonight. [inaudible conversations] here's a look at some authors recently featured on booktv's "after words," the
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weekly off authorize interview program. jeannette conant talked about her grandfather, james bryant conant. christopher bedford explored the leadership skills of president trump. in the coming weeks on "after words," christopher scalena, son of the late supreme court justice antonin scalia will shear selections from his father's species. retired astronaut scott kelly will discuss which is year aboard the international space station, and this weekend, gold star father khan will recall his item the united states and offer his thoughts on what means to be an american. >> i am a student of world constitutions. i that brought me to the declaration of independence was comparative study of world
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constitution. i studied the con constitution but no other constitution in the world -- and implore america to read one more time the first five words of the first amendment, and they tell the whole story where these dignities, human dignities inshrined in the constitution is congress shall make no law. five words. they speak so clearly about the nation's, about the forefathers emphasis on some human dignities, i call them. freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly. these are the golden nuggets of our bill of rights, and it is that implore that no other
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constitution has -- most constitutions have parliament will have this right, parliament can do this, parliament is authorized to do this. national assembly can do this. no other constitution says, congress shall make no laws. so, sacred. so sacred by the five words. rights that are listed. >> "after words" airs every saturday at 10:00 p.m. eastern and sunday at 9:00 p.m., eastern and pacific. >> joining us now on our booktv set, the center of the festival, author, national book award finalist, edwidge danticat is joining us, your most recent book "the art of death," what is the art of series? >> guest: the art of series is a series


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