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tv   Charles Gallagher Nazis of Copley Square  CSPAN  February 6, 2022 10:00pm-11:01pm EST

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all the modern doctors are saying and that knowing lucy she'll still dress up as queen charlotte, but but nonetheless that's that's very fetching i find. vegetable. thank yo my name is gavin, please and i am the director of programs exhibitions and community partnerships for the massachusetts historical society. our program this evening. we'll look at the just published book the nazis of copley square in this book professor gallagher provides a crucial missing chapter in the history of the american far-right by looking at the christian front the supporters the christian front imagine themselves as crusaders fighting for the spiritual purification of the nation under
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assault from godless communism. the front's anti-semitism was inspired by sunday sermons and lay leaders. openly espousing fascism and nazi beliefs. the book is a tale of religion perverted to violent ends and shockingly relevant with the far right ideologies of today. our speaker this evening is professor charles gallagher who teaches at boston college prior to arriving at bc. he was at the geneva school of diplomacy and international relations where he was a visiting fellow and before that he taught in the history. up and at the college of the holy cross in worcester. he has published a number of books including vatican secret diplomacy joseph p hurley and pope pius the 12th, which won the john gilmary shay prize from the american catholic historical association his interest include american catholicism people diplomacy international relations the holocaust and intelligence history. before we begin the program i'd like to extend a special.
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welcome to anyone who might be joining an mhs program for the first time if you're not feeling familiar with the massachusetts historical society where the oldest historical society in america and have been collecting preserving publishing and sharing our history since 1791. we hold an amazing collection of close to 14 million manuscript pages, including the papers of three of the first six us presidents because of the support of our donors we can offer programs like this evenings for free and keep our library open to the public. we hope you'll return to future events and if you enjoy our program we hope consider supporting our work by becoming a member. so without further i do please join me in welcoming professor gallagher. a good evening everyone. i'm wondering if i can be heard. okay and and seen all right. okay, and i'm wondering if i should go ahead and share my screen.
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to run some slides okay. so let me we do that. okay everybody. thank you so much for for dealing with with our wonderful opportunity here on on zoom my name is charles gallagher, i'm in the history department at boston college is gavin said first i'd like to thank olivia saya who helped with attack on this and also gavin for inviting me to give this talk about my new book. the nazis of copley square i think i'd like to start today by. talking about this intersection
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of religion it's an intersection of religion with. in many ways paramilitarism and a mangled vision of theology that emerges on the east coast. in the mid to late 1930s and what i in my research uncovered is a rather fascinating story. that included not only priests and bishops, but also theologians and spies all of this centered on a group of catholics who roamed from brooklyn to south boston and so i want to begin by. just creating the story of the nazis of copley square is something that is beginning far
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far away from copley square the the movement began in great britain by and large and it was the brainchild of recently converted catholic in 1933 arnold lund who was the son of a methodist minister of prominent methodist minister in britain? converted to roman catholicism and soon after he began to write. journalistic article articles for catholic periodicals in britain and he became concerned about what he viewed as global communism's persecution of roman catholicism. and what emerged is something i see and i call.
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ecumenical anti-communism and basically what one wanted to do was to heal the rift of the reformation of the protestant reformation. by bringing the roman catholic church and the many protestant denominations he into into alignment positioning them as anti-communists as the as the great as a great christian force against anti-communism and by this kind of breed an ecumenical movement grounded in a shared almost fear of global anti-common of global communism. and so he and his father did that his father was very active in the protestant movement faith in order in the early 20th century arnold himself had gone
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to many ecumenical conferences throughout europe particularly in switzerland where he enjoyed skiing and one as well as kind of providing the intellectual basis for this christian front idea is also considered by many to be the father of slalom skiing of all things. and he was a champion skier and became a self-style theologian and a catholic apologist and during the mid 1930s. he became firstly committed to this idea that all christians could come together and become anti-communists together grounded in christ. and his his application of a christian front was the diametric term that the seventh communist international had adopted in 1934 where they
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created the popular front movement whereby communism would ostensibly drop its revolutionary character and try to head towards more democratic ostensible position. and so this is what this is. what lund did he tried to bring catholics and protestants together particularly during the period of the spanish civil war and this idea became grounded in britain. he and his cohort moved that discussion to rome and to the halls of the interior of the vatican where many prominent vatican diplomats became to came to understand it and took it up including eugenio pacelli the cardinal secretary of state who would go on to be the controversial. pope during world war ii he was alerted to this idea of
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ecumenical anti-communism grounded in the notion of a christian front and by 1938 bocelli in a speech in budapest in budapest. more or less endorsed this idea of ones. and made it and made it public at the same time in the united states. we have father charles coughlin who at that time was probably the most well-known. radio personality of the day or one of them he had about 30 million listeners on the radio every day. and he took up that cause and he twisted the idea of lungs and pacelli's idea of a christian front he coughlin decided that he was going to drop any kind of ecumenical overtones to it and he inserted a high level of
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paramilitarism. basically coughlin coughlin believed that global communism could not be fought simply at the spiritual level that there had to be a level of paramilitarism in place in order to stop what he says persecutions of catholics in spain and and mexico and so basically while one's ideas are aggressive they're not militaristic yet coughlin changes all that coughlin takes this from britain. to budapest to rome when it lands in the united states and coughlin gets a hold of the christian front idea. i argue. it's he who paramilitarizes the christian front. so in the book, what i try to do is i i what i've seen is that most historians who who look at this and have looked at this topic. i viewed it from the position of political history, and i think i think you miss a great deal if
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you do that. i believe that. these folks are grounded in theological commitments that need to be unwrapped and understood and only when you unwrap those theological commitments. can you understand why they end up paramilitarizing? and so what i see and write about in the book, is that these catholics who cogle is talking to are imbued with kind of ordinary concepts of catholic theology that permeate the zeitgeist of the day for catholics and two of those theologies are what i what are known as mystical body of christ theology, which is based in. saint paul's reading of scriptures where where all baptized christians are a part of the body of christ mystical body of christ and what i see this doing is i see that sort of
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theology as breaking down national borders and barriers and creating a theology that gives a connectivity globally to the catholic population in particular and so if calf the catholic institutions in spain or in mexico are being persecuted that has real impact through mystical body of christology in boston or in somerville or in the bronx for these catholics the other piece that's coming into play here is catholic action. and catholic action was a social uplift movement started by pope pius the 11th in 1922, and it was meant to bring lay people that's non-ordained catholics. people who go to church regularly and sit in the pews to bring them to work with priests and bishops under the guidance of the pope to do social uplift in the way that they are directed by their particularly
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priests bishops and clerical leaders. so these are all legitimate theologies. they're all well known theology. they're not well known today. they've dropped out of the parlance today very few people know or understand them today, but they were legitimate at the time during the 1930s and dominant. i would say during the 1940s and what i argue in the book, is that through the interplay of these two theologies these aggressive paramilitarized catholics are going to be able to give moral permission to their taking up of arms against godless communism. so that's what these are the issues. i'm i'm looking at in the book the foremost engine for this moral ability to choose this way is anti-semitism among catholics which sadly and i say that because i'm in ordained roman catholic priest. i'm a member of the society of
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jesus known as the jesuits the order that founded boston college where i teach so um in the night up until 1965 anti-semitism was baked in to the theology of roman catholicism both scripturally and in in in some ways just constitutionally because of the way of interpretation of the church at that time. and so and and so the anti-semitism allows them to slide over and to be a more influenced by nazi anti-semitism albeit racial anti-semitism. and then secondly, i i think this this group is really interesting to look at because it's a it's a movement of ordinary catholics. it's a movement of working class. ordinary catholics working class
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catholics in new york and boston and it's really hard to get documents on the quota quote lived religion of how these folks were operating at the time, but as i've uncovered about five different intelligence agencies for around the globe, we're writing notes and taking interviews as many times clandestinely with with members of these organizations so that you get to feel the real mind and those those documents about i would say i use largely fbi documents and i was able to get three big files released to the which we're about 4,200 pages altogether of conversations with christian front members and reports on them. so it's really interesting you get this ground level working class catholic view and then secondly or thirdly i should say the context for this anti them
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allowing these folks to paramilitarize. i believe are kind of these two concepts. the first is judeo bolshevism. the fact that that catholics believed undercoaglan catholics believed in coughlin promoted that communism was a creation of secular judaism and in other words that that marx marx's judaism and jewish connections to the first to the to the to the leninist october revolution were so dominant that that coughlin makes clear to his flock that that communism and judaism are intertwined and they were both present at the creation of secular of communism itself, and then secondly the deicide is the concept of the death of christ on the cross and that not the roman empire had
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anything to do with this but that -- themselves were the foremost mechanism by which jesus ended up dying on the cross in the crucifixion. and so these are combinations of deeply held religious beliefs and secular politics very interesting move. i mentioned these folks paramilitarized in 1940. there was a case where the christian front was charged with sedition and january of 1940. that's the violent overthrow of the us government and so they were put on trial in the spring of 1940 and that trial was set in motion. just some images here of who they are and this this last image here is of them at target practice and narrowsburg, new york. i think i may have to move this
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they're they're at target practice there and they're using military grade rifles. they're using lee and field rifles, which they've purchased through the national rifle association at this time. this is something i discovered in my research at this time if you were a member of the national rifle association, you could through the us department of war. send your nra membership card to them and if you would like you could purchase a lee enfield breech-loading military standard rifle and have the war department send it to you in the mail. for the princely sum of $7 and 50 cents. they would send it to the local armory for you to pick up or the armory could actually mail that with an extra dollar and 35 cents mail that to your doorstep so you could you were actually these folks were actually ordering their military grade weaponry. the enfield rifle is a really
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excellent rifle. it's not a semi-automatic. it's a it's a it's a breech-loading rifle, but you can get off about you know, 20 30 rounds per minute with that and it starts shoots a 30-06 bullet, which is almost three inches long and it's a quite an effective firearm and again, it's used basically for purposes of war it was mean the main battlefield weapon of world war one, so that's how they were caching weapons. you could also buy through the nra you could purchase you could purchase a leftover military and military paraphernalia and and some bomb making materials. so this is what's happening to them. this is a this is a headline from the boston globe from january of 1940 and it's
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recounting the arrest again. this is something that had always struck me as rather an acronistic to the way i was brought up as a catholic. we have these catholic men trying to overthrow the government being charged with sedition. and so and so that always kind of stuck in the back of my mind that i thought rather than being an anomaly in the trajectory of american catholic history that this story might be able to tell us something more about another side of what's going on in american catholicism. sorry about that. graphic. this is the leader of that was the the new york group was. was put on trial and shut down in the spring of 1940 the new york group based mainly in brooklyn. they were not.
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they were not convicted that prosecution fizzled for a number of complex reasons reasons, which i get into in the book mainly because the both the the prosecution and the state didn't want religion to come into the courtroom. and they and so consequently this group that's called the christian front that's being charged with sedition neither. neither the state nor the the bar nor the prosecution wanted it to be about religion. and and so they they ended up having a very good legal advice i think and and we're able to were able to get that that case dissolved or nolo prost as they say. the main research question that i had that brought me to this book was i knew all about the new york front and that case and i knew that the fbi had shut them down in the spring of 1940, but then as i kind of poked around in the archives, i kept finding that there was this
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group in boston that stayed above water and kept alive until 1942 and so my question was how did that happen and the first piece of answering that puzzle is that in boston, there was a very charismatic young catholic x seminarian a former franciscan seminarian who came on the scene and was an excellent organizer a very charismatic figure well-versed in in public speaking and well-versed in catholic theology a very devout practicing catholic and he took up the idea of the christian front and moved it to boston and because of his organizational skills is charism and his speaking ability. he kept the group operating to the point where even after the christian front case the sedition case goes on and in new york. there are about 30,000 members of the christian front in new england by early 1941 due to the
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work of man francis p moran from from south boston and later from dorchester how does moran keep up and keep going? he's always looking for a helping hand and he's always looking for financial. assistance he is rebuffed by the archdiocese of boston. he tries to get an affiliation with cardinal o'connell and the official institutional church of boston, but he's rebuffed by the cardinal and his advisors and this is a big blow to him and he doesn't know how he's going to keep going if he doesn't have that institutional support. at the same time he begins looking for support. the nazis end up sending under diplomatic cover and ss officer
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to boston to do work as the console undercover work as the console long story short. a hitler nemesis was living in boston at the time heinrich bruning. was teaching in the political science department at harvard bruning was the last real chancellor the one that served the longest period before hitler and so and so bruning had had substantial interactions with hitler and became became really and an enemy of hitler's and was living in boston and after crystal knocked in november of 1938 the night of broken glass against the -- in germany burning broke his silence and began making public speeches, and it was at that time that this german consul who was a very high ranking ss officer was sent to boston in order to put the clamps on.
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on bruning everybody thought that he no one knew this at the time that press reported that that this man herbert shoals had made some sort of diplomatic faux pas and was being sent to to boston to be put out to pasture. but he instead was sent to boston to turn the screws on on brooding and to also set up a number of spy rings. his pedigree is impeccable. he worked both in the brown house in munich for rudolph hess. who was then deputy fewer he was recruited from the sturm opthylung the brown shirts in the late 1920s into the ss personally by heinrich himmer himmler the architect of the holocaust and by 1934. he had he had risen through the ranks of the of the ss the hitler blackguard and had been assigned.
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to foreign policy or to foreign assignments as a diplomat mainly because he of his excellent language skills and his and and his strict ideology. he was a died in the wool nazi ideologically and and well known to hitler and and liked by by himmler and so he was kind of an american the american spymaster for the nazis interestingly enough. no scholar has before this book has written anything about him and so i can tell you he was you it was quite energetic in his espionage efforts and one was to recruit one of those efforts was to recruit francis moran into to and his christian front organization to take direction from him as as consul. here is a photograph of him sitting in the consulate in july
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of 1941. he's reading a reading the newspaper story telling him about his own expulsion from the united states, and that wouldn't keep him down. he himmler immediately sent him after he was expelled in july of 1941 himler sent him to budapest where admiral horty who was the region of hungary was getting some what ambiguous about his stance on on jewish deportations. and so you can see how much of a heavy he was they sent shoals to kind of again turn the screws on horty and then by the end of the war he ends up in italy as the aid to camp to the highest ranking waffen ss officer carl wolf. this is the consulate the german consulate in beacon hill, that's
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about two blocks from the state house. that's in the spring of 1940. and the that flag was put out after hitler's birthday of that year. and as far as we can tell flew in that in that way until until scholl's was was expelled. it's quite chilling image frankly. so then what happens here? moran moves from strength to strength during the summer of 1940 and into the fall of 1941. membership ticks upward his speeches increase his pro-nazism in his public events increases and he becomes quite widely covered in the press in new
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england and nationally, but no one can kind of pin down why his ascendancy is so quick and that his pro-nazism is is so vocal except for um british intelligence, which is operating operating out of an office called british passport control in new york city located in the building and british intelligence mi6 otherwise known as british security corporation cooperative coordination. i should say british security coordination. they are monitoring a lot of the radio broadcasting coming out of the of the us and they pick up a radio program in june in the summer of 1940 made by a jesuit. priest connected to boston college, which he gives an hour-long broadcast of this is reverend michael j a hearne who was known regionally chronically
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yet the same kind of radio show as father coughlin and he was as well listened to as father coughlin in a regional way and he gave an hour speech about how catholics on the east coast because his his network went from maine all the way to southern connecticut how catholics on the east coast could more morally permit themselves to join the christian front. well, this was a boon to moran. it was a boon to nazi intelligence and it was picked up by british intelligence and they finally decided that british intelligence themselves decided that they had to do something to step in because they after a hearns address the christian front membership exploded and and stevenson and mi6 decided they needed to look into who moran was and they created an effort a clandestine effort to try to shut down the christian front in boston and
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they recruited an agent here in boston to try to do that. they're recruited them that agent through a cutout which i'll talk about shortly. this is a woman who they recruited they were they were insistent that they had to they had to create kind of like a neighborhood a neighborhood activist organization and they called it the irish american defense association. and at first the british had a hard time trying to find someone to take up this job. frankly. nobody wanted to do it. anybody who was a catholic of any prominence and anti-christian front felt that they didn't want to meet with the pushback that moran could offer so they recruited this this young woman who was a liberal catholic activist. she had been a influenced by kind of socialist politics in boston at the time and she took up the task and the cutout now
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that's a representative of british intelligence who is recruiting this person in this case sweeney to run the organization that that's an american who's actually working for british intelligence. we don't know who they are. it's kind of murky. i have a hunch, but i we don't know exactly who they are, but they convinced sweeney that she should run this new kind of more or less neighborhood organization activ. organization to take on the the christian front and because sweeney believes and this is decades prior to it becoming official but to our ears down so strange because it's it's it's it's so it's so obvious that sweeney believes that anti-semitism on the part of catholics is sinful is an offense against god and so that's why she takes up this role and she works unwittingly to run this organization, which is really a front organization of british intelligence. how do we know that these are
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some images that other document documents from the uk that i was able to get declassified this is from special operations executive america files special operations, executive soe was a subversive warfare unit. that was that was and established by winston churchill shortly after world war ii started in september of 1939 and when i went and got these files released from the british national archives. you have francis sweeney's, you know, francis sweeney's signature original letters from francis sweeney on the letterhead writing to writing writing to some of her handlers in british intelligence right there in these in these secret files and so i'm able to i was able to marry documents from from d classified secret archives in the uk for british intelligence and and documents that were in boston archives and mary those documents and find out how this operation was
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proceeding and moving forward is rather fascinating kind of kind of jaw-dropping revelations. so this is what the this is what the british decided to do. they decided to go around the fbi because what they were doing was entirely illegal some some say that it's the first time that the british returned to boston since 1776, but we'll let that go so they moved in. oh in their offices were in the little building right downtown off of off of the public gardens one of the most beautiful and uh residences in boston, and so they decided to obviate the fbi who didn't know anything about their work obviate the white house and to target the local police commissioner and the attorney and the attorneys, attorney general of massachusetts to try to push them to suppress the christian front and so they did that. they used sweeney. they they orchestrated the
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sweeney organization the irish american defense association to to pressure the boston police department and the massachusetts attorney general to take the christian front seriously to try to find some criminal reason to to get them suppressed and get get and arrested what they did was they moved in and they and they confiscated leaflet propaganda and book propaganda that. moran was selling at his christian front meetings at hibernian hall and what had happened was these books that moran was selling were published by publishing firm that was supported by nazi germany, but the publisher had been recently indicted for violating the espionage act, but hadn't been convicted for that. and so the police commissioner
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joseph timulty went in seized all of moran's books took them in and impounded them and then decided that he could remove marant detained moran but not arresting because he really because of the first amendment protections. he didn't have anything to arrest moran on but this was kind of coast to coast news when it happened in january of 1942 this completely upset fbi director hoover who by this time was trying to look more closely at moran and with miranda being taken off the scene by the local police. this was this upset hoover immensely because he could longer he could no longer treat moran as a and and prosecutive for any moves he would make publicly and it took him off the scene. finally what emerged from i
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should say before closing? what emerged from that? british operation where moran is detained by the boston police. so he's publicly put out of commission and he publicly says he's going to disband. the christian front what happens are two things the christian front goes underground and stays active underground in a in a cell network until 1945 really until the summer of 1945. and the second thing that happens is that once moran is taken out of the boston scene all of his radically anti-semitized christian front members kind of devolve into an atomized gang situation and in the fall of 1943, you have a months of of catholic on jewish
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violence described in the press oftentimes as riots when it is described in the press because the jewish community in boston did didn't want the press to cover a lot of the violence that was going on for reasons get into in the book. so so there's the there are these massive riots in the in the fall of 1943 that another historian stephen moorewood has written about these but i would say that while many historians looked at it as a spontaneous set of riots. i would see it as the as the blowback the the deleterious effect of a well-run british intelligence operation. illegally run on american soil and and so what happens then as well, is that a third thing happens timothy can't arrest moran because the first amendment protections he hasn't broken any law, but there's another there's another person
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who's interested this guy jay franklin carter. who's the personal intelligence chief? for president roosevelt. he's interested in getting moran arrested. so he writes to moran's congressman john w mccormick. who's the the house majority leader at the time telling mccormick that one of his constituents could actually inspire people to to assassinate the president. and so there's this heated exchange about basically carter working for president roosevelt trying to get francis moran throne in jail arrested and convicted and so one of my questions was why is this carter a fellow putting so much energy into trying to get moran arrested and what i found was because since i was 15, i subscribed to this journal called the international journal of intelligence and counterintelligence. i was i grew up in bingham to
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new york and it got kind of boring there. so when you found a journal with this title that became kind of my monthly excitement and so one of the one of the articles that was published in 2010 fairly convincingly argues that john franklin carter was a member of russian gru, that's soviet military intelligence. and so so now you had the the british in south boston you had the nazi's in south boston, and now i'm arguing you have shades of the russians in south boston as well all centered on this group. and finally, how what happens to herbert shoals herbert shoals ends up in he's arrested by counter us army counterintelligence core in
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1945. he escapes their clutches. in 1946 through the good offices of cardinal fasanti of turin who wrote him a very lovely letter of letter a character reference and he escapes briefly to buenos aires to have us six month affair with the a former wife of the italian fashion designer oleg cassini. actually, she was a nazi sympathizer. they went to buenos aires that lasted for about six months until she broke up with him. then he moved to bolivia started investing in copper. mine's and then was able to move back to germany in the late 50s and petitioned the german german republic the federal republic to give him his pension as a german
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diplomat and he purchased a villa on the shores of lake starnberg a very affluenter address outside of munich and lived in avila until his death in 1985 more or less escaping the clutches of any clear justice. i'll end with this piece that's from a letter written about francis sweeney by her fiancee francis sweeney died suddenly in 1944 of a heart attack while she was walking down the street. and in in this piece her boyfriend writes. it just doesn't seem right that one who could see so much evil around her and spared neither time nor courage to fight. it was so suddenly taken away. and for those of us who are left behind. her deeds should be a challenge to carry on the good work that she started a very touching
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rememberance for francis sweeney indeed in the context of this. of this a emergence this violent group who used theology a mangled form of theology to undertake violence and espionage against their nation? and so for with that i will i will conclude. and then if gavin can let me know what he would like me to do next. so be happy. yeah. well, thank you very much. it's a really fascinating story and i think a very enlightening look i think probably for the rest of the time we can stop sharing your screen and then i will let you know some of the questions that we've gotten from the alex and we actually have a pretty good number of them. so i don't think it will be able to get to all of them, but there's there's certainly a few and i'll try to group a couple that are kind of together
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somewhat similar, but david said beyond their shared anti-semitism where there are connections between the 1930 catholic front and the 1950 finianism. so interestingly enough he's what this question refers to is a jesuit priest named feeney who by the 1950s was giving anti-semitic soap speeches on boston common leonard feeney and leonard feeney also gained national coast to coast attention because of this. leonard the only connection here is that leonard feeney's father was an informant for the fbi? on the christian front which is kind of wild to because his son the priest becomes another father cobblin in a way or a junior father poglin, but in
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1940 feeney's own father is reporting to the fbi in boston about his experiences at christian front meetings and the fbi develops that lead and they develop him as kind of a primary informant and so it's unclear whether feeney the anti-semitic priests ever knew that his father wasn't informant for the fbi the fbi that shut down the christian front in new york and and tried its best haltingly to to to work against the christian front in boston it's amazing that connections that we find history gives you a little bit of a better perspective, i guess so two people talk to australia, luna and diane ask what happened to moran? so what what happened to moran is that?
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by 1946 he had to seed the public control of the front. to a priest no one's ever heard of a new york priest named edward lodge curran and really between 1944 and 1946 this father curran. who was a new york. priest would make trips to boston and he became the public face of the christian front. and what happened there. is that moran's notar moran fell out of out of notice. also, um the fbi was able to put an informant inside the cell structure of the christian front and and monitor moran that way and and that led to him kind of becoming more tempered in his public and his public statement. so he became he kind of retires to private citizenship. he tries to get jobs in various
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factories and businesses, but no one will hire him by 1947. he's driving a cab in south boston and by the 1950s, he's become in fact a reference librarian. what in fact a very high level reference librarian at the boston public library. he was a very bookish guy. he considered himself a working class intellectual and so he runs the he runs the reference and and the circulation desk for time at the boston. library until his death in the early 70s. well, yeah figure that actually doesn't connect to two other questions that came in ron and anonymous attendee essentially both at both asked about the copley square reference in the title. yes, so i should i should have been more for afraid about that. the christian front headquarters was a sweet in the copley square
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hotel. and that's where he had his headquarters and fact, i know the room number exactly. i'm not going to give it out. but but some you know in essence kind of bought and paid for by the nazis and and the cops wear hotel at the time was a you know, it's still as today a kind of a revered hotel but back in the day, it's where i think babe ruth lived there when he was playing for the red sox. it was a has a beautiful architecture and bright right next right and probably square and and that's where the headquarters were for the christian front. okay, joe wrote. thank you for their talk. are there any broad lessons you draw from your study of the christian front about the ties between politics and religion in between catholicism and politics more broadly the broad question. yeah, it is a it is a broad question, but i think it's a good question.
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i think what it says to me is that and not just in in reference to catholicism but in reference to religion the folks on the fringe need to be taken seriously in a way the christian front expanded in the us because no one took them seriously. and they were able to paramilitarize and engage and and plan terroristic activity. and and this is the the contribution of the book for 75 years. most historians thought these people were crackpots. when i got the fbi file released, it was 2,500 pages long and what they were doing was chilling. i mean what they were doing was jaw droppingly, uh chilling and i put in the book.
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and so they were dismissed from top to bottom in their own church and from outsiders looking in as crackpots as fringe crazies who will never who would never amount to anything what this book shows is that is that if you keep dismissing them and not i'm not saying we need to try to understand them in a in a way that would glorify them. but but we need to figure out who they are and what they're grievance claims are because it's those grievance claims that can lead to real serious ramifications and and let it allow them to metastasize in in society and and do do harm both to people and to our democracy i think. right. thank you. philomena asked how do the church hierarchy in general respond to this christian nationalism. you said until 1965 anti-semitism was quote baked into catholic theology. right? this also commonly held held
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among priests lay people etc was there much pushback against anti-semitism. yeah, so, um if you get a chance to read the book you will see how have deeply pervasive and deeply grotesque. the anti-semitism was among many catholics during the period this issue of the dsi permeated catholic scriptural exegesis. meaning how catholics read the bible and had it interpreted. um, it was a part of mask like sermons and good good friday the perfidious --. this is a period before the reforms. and so and so -- -- were were viewed not only as as other. and distant but as inimical. to to roman catholicism and as as those who were the the
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ultimate mechanism for for placing christ in his passion on the cross. and so this this was this was deeply held there there is you know interestingly enough john connolly the historian wrote a book and about 10 years ago now called from enemy to brother where he examines the ecumenical movement how there was this movement away from this pernicious anti-semitism the casey leaves out. it's because it's spencer a lot in america the casey leaves out as the christian front case. and so too there was another book written on the history of catholics in the fbi. the other case that's left out is the is that book leads out to christian front? and so and so yes, unfortunately, this is the sad case but also it's a warning. i mean, i think i've written this book as a warning about how deeply grotesque the these principles can become if they're
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not if they're not viewed in a in a way that will lead to change. thank you. so ed ask was there any relationship between the christian front and the american first lindenberg movement? lindenberg. yeah, it's it's an obvious connection to make the answer to that is no, no captive tissue between the america first organization and no connective tissue between the ira either. that's a common question people have the reason for that is because father quaglin is a megalomaniac and his movement is all about himself and he is going to be the inspirational kind of headmaster of this of this organization. and so he doesn't allow any interlopers to to move in on his turf this christian front situation is is his own of his own inspiration.
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so there is a question that are a church authorists authorities displeased with your relevations about the church's role during this period i think that's kind of obviously you are a member of church. okay. yeah, so a couple of elements to that. i was trained as a historian before i became a priest so i was trained. i did my phd way before i ever entered religious life. so i was trained in a way to be a secular historian judicious objective or at least trying to be as objective as one possibly can but the second thing that i'd like people to know about this book is that this book is not about the institutional church. it's about rogue catholic priests. it's about rogue lake catholics. it's about catholics who were numerous and were a wedge within
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the church that didn't have the official approval of the institution itself of popes of bishops. now there could have there were bishops certainly bishops that sympathized with the christian front particularly in new york. in fact you had christian front bishops. but but as an interesting thing is this is this is not about the hierarchy that that we know it is about kind of ordinary catholics and it's about rogue priests who inform them and it's about rogue bishops. it's a it's a very, you know in that might be upsetting to the to to the hierarchy here, but the thing this is why you know, this is why i think the story is important that that just to know that these these movements can happen. right, so i think that we probably just have time for one last question. i'm just sort of on your on your statement about why it's
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important, dr. austell estrella luna also ask why do you think this history was forgotten or buried? so the catholics wanted to shove it under the rug because from about 1860 to 1940. the whole impulse within american catholicism was to prove their patriotism. and so when you have a group of catholics, charged with trying to overthrow the government. that becomes something very serious to to the official church. the other interesting point is the way which the national security apparatus worked with the church hierarchy and worked with the judicial system to try to see that. play out. and and so and so there's
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there's it's it's a story of kind of catholic triumphalism a story of a kind of a hand in hand situation between how the fbi is going to deal with this this group and how the fbi is going to interact with the higher echelons of of roman catholicism and the fbi didn't want to and and president roosevelt also. didn't want to lose the catholic vote. and so there's that too going on. so how far was the roosevelt administration in a prosecute these folks? well, it was a tricky dance, you know. yeah, well like i think politics is unfortunately often a tricky dance including today. well, thank you very much. i think this was a really fascinating conversation and it's a wonderful book. i i realized that we had over 30 questions, so we only got to a
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faction of those we will pass those on to you ask later in the program, but i want to thank everyone for joining us and thank yand that lecture in histy
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begins now. so welcome to our lecture today on the growth of cities in the early american republic a period of american history that i'm fascinated by and i'm really excited to share with all of you today. and as we've already discussed in this class, we know that the early american republic which were roughly defining as the period between the end of the american revolution and the election of andrew jackson was a period of possibilities and of problems. it was a time in american history when many of the big questions about what the nation would


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