tv Steven Ross Hitler in Los Angeles CSPAN December 16, 2017 11:01am-12:01pm EST
favorite offers-- authors. she will be with us. ron simon who often does wonderful films will be with us and i will moderate. i don't know who is going to be doing most of the talking that tonight, but you ought to come to find out, so thank you again and good night. .. you can watch any program you see here online.
[indiscernible] think you all for being here welcome to the oldest independent bookstore in los angeles. we are pleased to be shared our facility with the los angeles review of books one of its board members john weiner is going to be an enter lock a tour i thought i would tell you this a little bit about who our guests are tonight john who i know is famous for many things he does a book on
the 1960s to a publisher i think that's true. he is most famous if anybody needs to know anything about john lennon or the fbi he is your go to person. he spent a decade litigating to get access to this information he is a writer and commentator and a man about town. and a friend of mine. he is going to be talking to a friend of his who is a professor at usc i would say of the two of them that these are serious historians who are not serious about themselves. the work that stephen will be reading or talking about tonight. and perhaps reading from.
is a really amazing captivating story that you can't believe. it combines the idea of collusion with foreign powers the involvement of entertainment moguls doing the right thing and what was hardest to meet to accept lawyers who are not concerned about their billable hour rates. if you have an opportunity at the end of this evening i hope you will buy and read the book. my advice would be to not started after i dodgers world series game if you intend to sleep at all because the book is captivating and you will love it. with that let me turned over to our friends and have them let the games begin. and have them let the games
begin. john and his wife judy introduced me and my wife on a blind date. more important than any book publication. thank you for inviting me. i think we better this is a map of nazi and fascist loft. there is an awful lot of swastikas on this map. as i was writing this and discovering how many different fascist and different outlets in the sea.
it's an unbelievable photographer and cartographer. and so the two of us work together this is all you need to know about what it meant to be a in la from 1933 working downtown and this is who you are surrounded by. you can see the ledger the swastikas and everything in red is either and the main group was the silver shirts that were started by william dudley william dudley he had been a very successful screenwriter in hollywood who hated jews. despite making a good living and on january 30 when hitler became rice chancellor he said
if a painter can become the chancellor of germany and have his brownshirts than we in america can have our silver shirts. and tomorrow i am going to a launch the launch the silver shirts. of america so ileana lewis was surrounded by the metropolitan post and the largest one in the united states just a few blocks away and i have it up. but it was another silver shirt. then you have the odd fascists the whites guard meant the american warriors in the nationalist party i have easily six to eight more here but it would have a crowded the map too much. here's what you need to know. and then we can move on. at charlottesville they were chanting the jews well not replace us. downtown la this is just a few
weeks ago from 1933 until pearl harbor virtually every week if not every two weeks we had decided about that one. this is a map of homegrown local american nazis they have a lot of sites. how many people are we talking about is this just a few nutballs were married in their basements what is the extent of this. the deutsche house here. and the nazis in la they went through two iterations. they began they sent over a german captain in march 1933 to start a nazi organization. in los angeles.
in july 26, 1933 they held their first open meeting at the all title berg which is now like in america's best homes in or something like this. just east or just west of downtown. i eventually by 1936 they would become the german american group. you have meetings that could attract up to a thousand people but i would not say they were all committed nazis. my guess is if you are looking at who in la you probably had about three to 400. going to regular meetings and then the silver shirts collectively you also had they claim to have thousands. you probably had five or 600 at their peak in la. but all you need to know you look at charlottes they'll and orlando you look at las
vegas. all you need is one crazy person. when you had three or four or six or 8,000 you can have a lot of single crazy people. i have heard that there was a boon in america. i didn't really know at about hitler himself being interested in los angeles and sending these emissaries to los angeles. why was he interested in los angeles. there were two reasons. the first and the most important is that hitler and his administer of enlightenment and propaganda they both loved watching movies. apparently hitler liked to watch a movie every name for he went to bed. like walt disney films.
they did. he also felt had hollywood and great britain not launched such a successful propaganda campaign during world war i against the german government that they could have gotten a lot more public support. and hitler was determined that those jews in hollywood or not going to smear nazi germany or him. so in june 1933. he sent george kissling who have been a council in new york city to los angeles with one job only. and that's a stop hollywood for making any film that attacked germany or hitler. of course hollywood refused to go along with that.
his weapon was article 15 from the german import law law of 1932. which stated that if any studio in any country was to make a film that in any way denigrated germany that that studio would have all of its films b and in germany and if enough studios did that the whole country would have all of their films banned in germany. that was one hammer he used and within a year hollywood pastor production code administration under a lot of pressure hollywood was accused of sexual impropriety back in the 30s and accused of making horrible movies. and there were people who said wait a minute. we need to clean up hollywood. and wanting one thing the industry has always done. they have and acted self an active self censorship laws. the production code administration in 1934.
that also have a clause. there would not give the seal to any movie that denigrated a foreign nation or its leader. so they have the job made easier by hollywood as well. it was censored by catholics. making films for protestant children. only in america. hitler by stopping they thought it would keep american public opinion neutral. and they wanted american public opinion neutral until after they have conquered europe. the second reason they were interested in la was less about hollywood and more about
smuggling and money, spies in secret orders and propaganda because in new york even though it was closer they were very closely guarded because the member -- the mayor of new york he was half jewish. if he was a reformed he would've been fully jewish. he also identified as a jewish as well as catholic. those ports were carefully guarded. they decided that it was too hard to send things through and they knew in los angeles and the port of la and down in san pedro you could get anything it through because nobody was a monitoring aunt. you also have a city where the police, the sheriff's department had many people who are both were both sympathetic if not members of the end of the clan.
especially the clan. and so despise his reports i use talk about driving down to the docks with hermann's friend who is the have of the bandh here and watching him receive secret sealed orders from the captain of the vessel or from a gestapo office. hitler have a gestapo office. so hitler and the nazi government. because of the movie industry. your local la homegrown nazis were also very interested in the movie industry. which ones are we talking about here. we are talking about the ones who have a plot to kill i can at least track myself.
by the 1930s one of the questions i always get asked is how much we don't know about the story. my cohort we were all concerned with looking at radicalism in the 30s and 40s. we were all concerned with exploring companies communist activity. and ignored conservative i am guilty also. and so no one was really looking at very deep into what was going on it was only discovered accidentally when i was writing about robinson. it is about fascist and
nazis. they're like over 200 boxes of the spiral imports. that was too much to look at for what would have been a page in a book. when i finished the last book i said i'm going to go back and take a look. that's when i discovered in the story. and one of the things that went on is it wasn't just the nazis who wanted to kill them it was americans. the silver shirts and all these other groups that got all of the other names were overwhelmingly american. they wanted to show their american brethren that they could be good americans also. in general the fascists were operating on their own. they came up with two plots in 1935 early 36 which was going to hang 20 hollywood figures from la.
if you hung these prominent people he would have mass killings of jews. leon lewis and the hero of my story had spies inside of their organization and they did not know who it was. and they knew that if they committed murder they were going to get arrested for murder and they were not going to do that until they figured out who the spy was. that postponement became permanent. a year later another fascist came into town. at one point he was 6 feet eight and the brother of victor mclaughlin who won an oscar in 1936 for his role in the informer. and he head at one point been the world jujitsu champion he
was taught how to murder with that the hand-to-hand combat. this guy may have been nuts but he was a killer. and he had been in the army i captain in the british army and he have an even more frightening plot which he was in a blowup the homes of 24 hollywood movie stars and producers. from louis b mayer down to two christians who he said it was too friendly to the jews. they were going to blow up their homes. there were to get 24 assassins working with them they were going to blow up their homes they were also preparing they had secured about in long beach harbor that when any jews tried to flee by boat they were going to destroy the boats as they were trained to leave the harbor as well.
and that plot was only foiled because there was for plotters and that was it. and one of the for plotters i think we now had to switch to the spy's story our hero and his spy these guys were quite different. he never expected he would be a spy master. he was born in a small town in wisconsin in the late 1880s. and decided he was going to dedicate himself to healing the world and so he took a job with this new organization that had just started and he was their founding there founding executive secretary. it was a three-man operation.
one of his responsibilities was also to monitor hollywood films so even as 1917 he was working with these. it was so intense in europe to create an international division and so like any good person you suggest something and you get to be the international had as well as the national head. he moved to la in 1930 or 1931. just thought he was going be a lawyer. and lead a comfortable life. he watched them split nationally into two groups.
they start an international boycott. not just jews. this would pressure him because it would hurt the german economy. the other group the american jewish congress they argued led by judge proskauer that hitler would double down if you got in his face. and he was crazy enough. if you tried to pressure him. he would go even more ballistic. they recommended going through intermediaries they kept talking. and they kept talking more. at that meeting we are going to save the country from communists and jews.
those of you who drive to the downtown. is that familiar to many of you it was built by the county supervisor. he was a member yet for veterans to agree to join every nazi group in la undercover and try to rise up to position of power and influence into send him daily reports of what he have discovered. and lewis rant that spy operation from august 1933 to the end of world war ii because even after pearl harbor when they rounded up the nazis and fascists he knew that they were fused.
it went up after pearl harbor. i want to underline the fact that the spies that he recruited were not jewish except for one. these were christians who were reporting on anti- semitism in los angeles. as one of the fascinating and heartening parts of your book. they were reporting on un-american activities. in the first house was actually started by samuel dickstein. and it was starting to investigate nazis in america. it got hijacked by anti-communist to turn into a red scare purge innocents. the other thing about lewis and the veterans is they all knew that they were working for a train to -- jew.
what they knew is that nazis in the fascists said they were going to kill jewish americans. and catholic americans. they basically said when you look at those hyphenated things everything on the left of the-is an adjective. and the noun is american and we don't give truck for any group that is going to kill fellow americans because of their religion or their race. whether they are jewish american catholic jewish-american catholic american black american pair all americans. and we have fought to save our country. we are not allowing a foreign power to come in and kill other americans.
that was it. it really only one jewish spy. hit a few informers who helped him. they were working piecemeal. there is a lot of shocking things here. the extent of nazi presence in los angeles the murder plots are shocking. to me though. the most shocking thing is none of these the response that leon lewis got when he took his information within a few weeks literally just a few weeks of this operation. we have uncovered a horrible plot. a german immigrated. he had shot to death several communists.
have gone to san francisco. and have come down to la after he had drawn his own blueprints of the entire national guard armory with where all of the weapons and ammunition's were held he was working the silver shirts in san diego and were buying weapons from corrupt marines who got a hold of some of the marine navy surplus selling it to them. they were drilling in san diego getting ready to take over the armory there. and then he ask lewis spies they were in a high place. to get to the blueprints in the armory. and to tell them that on the same day we are going to have a combination of nazis in all three cities and not the vessels that are aborted. they were to, to join with
these people to take over. any officer or's shoulder that agreed to join a would change sides. eventually they contacted naval intelligence. his first stop was to james to gun davis have of the los angeles police and they start telling them about this. he writes a memo afterwards two minutes into my talk davis stopped me and said you don't get it. hitler is doing the right thing and germany. he's only doing what he has to do because the jews are totally around his economy.
in the real enemy and the real danger in america is not the nazis and fascists here. they are in boyle heights. where all of those communists are. as far as he was concerned every communist was a and every was a communist. he wasn't in the do anything. they then went to the sheriff and told him the same thing. the sheriff's department and the police department at this point have quite a few nazi supporters one of the sheriff's captains was a nazi working with mcglocklin. we can do anything unless were ordered from washington the bureau to investigate the have
of the entire western region of the german-american bond. hoover did not order you to put under surveillance. we need to open this up to questions and just a minute. but one other thing that i would like to ask about. we have the police chief and the sheriff and the fbi refused to do anything about this. there are a few good guys that are in your story. a rare animal which is a which graduated in annapolis. with the west coast. they have looked over the
information. everything they sent them turned out to be true. he was the closest ally in the fight. and then an indirect ally he have an associates spymaster. he have began spine with his uncle who was living in chicago his uncle julius klein was chicago board. he was living in germany during world war i. he and his nephew started spying on their own as nazis in chicago. so much so that bruce who is looking for that newspapers. i want you to go talk to our
publisher. who is the have of the entire illinois national guard. and imagine this by foot for 5-foot five vietnamese very shy jew in a very heavy accent goes into talk to the publishers he gives him a piece of paper. and he said i want you to go to this hotel were to meet with the military man. whatever you tell him to do you do. he goes into the bismarck hotel and he tells them everything that he and his uncle had been doing. in the colonel said colonel said you guys are amazing. but you know training. i will turn you over to some of my elite forces who are going to train you counter
my father have been and that warsaw ghetto. when that was shot down he was shipped off. and after three days they ask for volunteers to go to work camp we will give you a shower and then send you to the work camp. we knew what the shower meant. everybody knew what that was. after three days if this is what life was going to be like i wanted a shower. she volunteered and she said the fact that all of these women we are standing naked hugging one another with the last breath. when none of them have a heart attack when it came out.
and they have listened to that mother every single night about the gestapo's coming to our home. or taking her weight or my sister and i. suffering from the neuroses of second-generation children. especially if you're a second-generation firstborn boy thank you for this book and thank you for talking about it tonight. it is an incredible story and you have done a fantastic job of search as well as storytelling.
let me just say that the questions our goal here is to have the questions be actually questions rather than statements. care is the microphone. with someone in the front who would like to go first. here is our microphone. this is being taped for c-span. let me begin contrary to what john has just instructed. by thinking you for this. at that was wonderful.
thank you very much. speaking of stories your book provides some of the few positive antidotes about the movie moguls. i wonder if you could talk a little bit about their mixed motives in assisting how it started and where it went. in the second part of my overlong question here is could you also discuss the importance of leadership and whether you think this could have the thwarting of the nazis in los angeles could have occurred without a man to take the lead.
to answer the second question first know it would not take that. you need leadership. no matter how democratic your organization is. it wanted to be as democratic as you could be with no leaders. he did it for all those years. part of this is a very bad book that came out in 2013. my friends and i agree that if this man have been one of the phd students he would've never published that.
because they stayed in business is in a historical point of view. hollywood is first and foremost in the moneymaking business not the consciousness raising business. i got interviewed by the new york times and the first question they ask me which really pissed me off was don't you think the moguls were guilty of collaboration. when i start by you start by asking me. was ibm guilty of collaboration. was u.s. steel guilty of collaboration. all of these people were
supplying them with missing -- machinery. i think it is a anti-semitic attack to its start it start with the jews as collaborators. they were representing corporation for good or bad. he never expected to be a spymaster. as a one of those things that i feel a little bit uncomfortable about. what should we do. should we start aspiring like leon lewis. and he gets a very dangerous thing to recommend. three of them died under very suspicious circumstances. at least two of the three were killed. once he realized there was no help from every -- any
government agency you could get someone to listen to you later on but that took years. he have basically given up his law practice and was out of money. he was running this out of his own pocket. and finally he turned to three friends who was the most powerful entertainment attorney in the united states he went behind the cold -- closed doors. the second person he went to was his good friend irving fall fallbrook. in the third person was rabbi magnan head of the most powerful temple in los angeles. i am running out of money. we will have to stop this. we are paying our spies a small stipend because most of
them the nazis wanted them because they were following the same strategy as hitler did in the 20s. he recruited the brown shirts and world war i veterans who are angry with the german never meant for cutting their benefits. as soon as roosevelt came into office in march 1933. they cut the benefits from $8,200 per month. they thought they could get them there. they did not realize they were even more angry with a foreign nation coming in and telling them what to do. he made him look like a piker.
eyes going up. but what really shocks them he starts off by saying to them this is only the tip of the iceberg. do you know that nazis and fascists have invaded your studios and you are unaware of it. his spies have reported that below the line personnel which are 80 to 90% of the employees in the studios these are the craft workers the electricians and the lighting people and carpenters et cetera. that the foreman and every one of the studios many of them were members of the silver shirts silver shirts and they were firing all of the jewish employees. i have gone to a point where paramount was hundred% aryan. he sang this this is going on in your studios and none of you are aware of this. let me tell you something else. these same people are planning to kill you. by the end of the evening he walked out in the equivalent of today's dollars which is like 400 grant and the moguls for the rest of their operation they underwrote the
entire operation and they have no doubt that they ever had doubts after a one point leon lewis have his spies penetrated so deeply that one of them. a former secretary who is now angry who planted a tape recorder in herman shubin's office. and at one point he brought together a dozen of the moguls. this was the hanging plot. unpublished memoir. the nazis were talking about murdering them as though they were talking about going to a sunday pickup -- picnic. and then they will all be dead. it may be the only time in several thousand years that jews kept an important
secret. and never got out. was it that you are shy to walk appear. the kkk was slowing down. in 1922 they did a major raid and they discovered there was something like a hundred 20 people in the sheriffs department that belonged to the clan. it was still very active particularly in long beach and in fact john was alluding before one of the two key spies was charles spoke of
been a major leader in long beach until he have a change of heart. he still was an anti-communist but he could no longer up i'd the hating of jews and catholics. and other groups because he felt they were still americans. he was disgusted with the clan and what they were 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 this undercover operation. they were part plaques. perplexed. they didn't understand. how could this good wholesome american guy be not only a member of the clan but he rose up. he never quit it. in a number of the smaller
fascist groups. and he worked very closely with that silver shirts in the have of the silver shirts for los angeles. they were part of the second plot to kill the 24 hollywood figures. here is a true hero. a man who is hated by his friends for most of his life. and never got publicized. these people they went to their death. never telling their stories to anyone publicly. it was a need to know basis. and leon lewis they were afraid.
and it worked for u.s. e. and he gave the testimony to the foundation. at one point the interviewer said to them. what happened to your spy. and he literally jumped out of his seat. freaked out. where did you hear that. he had forgotten it. his father never told him anything do you remember one day when you are home. my face was all bruised.
actually i got jumped by two nazis. a car came by and slowed down. and said what's going down here. and they ran away. leon lewis never told his family. i don't think he told his family until after the war. is that like a harebrained scheme to start a revolution. is there some control from the lights of germany. the question was in taking over the armories in san francisco la was it a harebrained scheme or was it being ordered by germany. germany was the ordering of any of these plots because as i discovered hitler wanted to
keep america neutral. and he now that if there were the crazy plots. i it could be traced back to nazis american public opinion return. he didn't stop sending them. they were checking out airplane facilities for sabotage until roughly 1940. these were all plots started by a local immigrates over the main german nazis and by american fascists who absolutely believed that america was so anti-semitic that so many americans hated jews that if somebody have the courage to start killing jews in a major city and if he you did in three cities simultaneously this would encourage and give the backbone to all of those other anti-semites out there who are
too afraid and they believed they wrote this. it would set off things throughout the entire united states. at the very least. but they were now killed they would be forced to flee america. that is a little fantastic but they were prepared to do it. [indiscernible] the question is do i draw any parallels between then and now. i'm a historian but i had drawn parallels. i've written a few opt ads in the last few weeks. i won in the la times from a few weeks ago. that is where it seems to be appropriate to draw the parallel in the main parallel i would draw is we are facing
the same question that our forebears from the 30s and 40s in la faced what do you do when hate groups move from the margins to the mainstream what you do. there are no good right -- white supremacist. there are no good hatemongers. all of these people are filled with hate. i don't have an answer but the answer is what leon lewis showed us is the need to be vigilant. and what is amazing to me is that he used the most powerful weapon that we command which is our brain. he foiled all of these plots without ever find -- firing a gun. none of his spies ever fired a
weapon. they referred to him as the most dangerous in los angeles. all of these groups. they have penetrated the organization. with 2027 west seventh street. there would be days where the bond or one of the silver shirts would send over some need to stand across the street. watching the entrance because they wanted to see leon lewis
consistently outsmarted him. but the message i think if he was here today is you have to say no to hate. when you hear hate and its speech. that speech. not all of us will go undercover heroism is not of a massive scale. we don't talk that way. we hear the demonstration. i hate group. go and show your opposition. we are prepared to engage in violence. then you are no better than them.
the american born wife had been waiting for him patiently i went to argentina. after year she have enough of life in argentina and came back without him to florida and he followed a little while later and decided he would rather live with his wife and fellow nazis. the irony is they died in 1973 in dade county florida. it is surrounded by my parents and all of the survivors of the most heavily survivor county. seem see mike thank you for your diligence and your time. thank you for doing this.
virtual reality the former cbs news anchor. on the founding principles. and what needs to be an american. stephen strang and former trump campaign manager discussed the 2016 presidential election. >> this was the final home of civil war general and president ulysses s. grant. and this is the place where ulysses grant penned his memoirs in 1885. he was dying of