FOR MANY PEOPLE, WORLD WAR II continued long, long after the shooting. They fought on in the courts, defending their wartime activities. Some were accused war criminals. Some were accused collaborators or traitors. Some had changed sides during the war–some because they had to, some because they wanted to. Some won in court, some lost. Many had a hard time finding lawyers.
With Adolf Hitler dead and Emperor Hirohito somehow forgiven, the two most important defendants were Hermann Goering in Nuremberg and Hideki Tojo in Tokyo. Neither survived long.
By 1965, an estimated 200,000 Germans had been tried at one place or another. France tried 83,000 as collaborators, and even today we occasionally hear about elderly men in legal trouble there. Norway tried an even higher percentage of its populace for similar crimes. Tens of thousands more people were tried in the Far East.
Being rich, well-connected or highly skilled helped smooth the passage into peacetime for some--Coco Chanel, Kirstin Flagstad and Werner von Braun, for example–while many others died in poverty and disgrace. Some killed themselves.
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The Nuremberg show trial of 1946 dealt with 22 high-profile defendants. The world watched and awaited the outcome. After the sentences and hangings of October 1946, news of other war-related trials became more sporadic. Then in 1949 “Axis Sally” and “Tokyo Rose” made big headlines when they were sent to prison.
The American courts in Nuremberg tried 199 people from July 1946 to July '49; 36 were condemned but only 18 were executed; 23 got life, 102 received shorter terms and 38 were acquitted. In the American court at Dachau, 420 Germans were sentenced to die. Meantime, similar trials were going on in the other three occupation zones, and in some other countries.
By 1950 the spotlight was off, although the trials continued. By 1965, more than 20,000 Nazis had been convicted in Allied or German courts. Moreover, 169,292 Germans were tried in the Allied de-Nazification program.
No Allies were tried after the war; obviously, “victor’s justice” applied. It’s interesting that, during the war, Vichy France condemned General Charles de Gaulle in absentia as a traitor. Vichy also tried several former premiers in 1942 for leading France into war unprepared. After the war, de Gaulle and the Free French put the Vichy leaders in the dock. In a way, the French government changed sides twice.
Thus, the collaborators and war criminals herein were on the losing side of World War II. Many were simply arch-conservatives or fascists. Some merely hated Franklin D. Roosevelt and/or Winston Churchill. A consuming hatred of communism brought trouble for Vidkun Quisling, Henri Philippe Petain and others. They maintained they were first and foremost patriots, and perhaps in their own ways they were. Determined that their countries not fall to communism, they embraced Hitler rather than Stalin. Anti-Semitism was often a factor in the European Theatre.
Many of the traitors and collaborators had multinational backgrounds. Perhaps they thought of themselves as citizens of the world. Some of the propaganda broadcasters were likely people in dire need of paychecks.
Many entertainers, writers and artists who weren’t in the military found themselves in post-war trouble. Like most other civilians, they’d had to work to support themselves during the war; their visibility invited public comment.
In Germany, for instance, symphony conductors Wilhelm Furtwangler, Karl Bohm and Herbert von Karajan had to get along with the Nazis if they wanted to work, or perhaps to live. But were they too compliant? Lots of people thought so; after the war they were unwelcome in Allied countries and in the new state of Israel. Holland deported conductor Willem Mengelburg.
Celebrities in Occupied France, which included Paris, had similar problems. Famed concert pianist Alfred Cortot collaborated (but pianist Nicole Henriot Schweitzer was active in the underground). After the war some were accused of collaborating, or perhaps merely of entertaining Nazis. Among those were Maurice Chevalier, Sasha Distel, Danielle Darrieaux, Lucienne Boyer, Arletty, Sasha Guitry, Suzy Solidor and dancers Mistinguett and Sergi Lifar.
New stars who arose during Occupation included Charles Trenet, Simone Signoret, Edith Piaf and Yves Montand.
Controversy centered on French writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Pierre Drieu la Rochelle, Lucien Rebater, Jean Luchaire and, especially, notorious Robert Brasillach. Conversely, James Joyce fled to Switzerland, composer Darius Milhaud to America.
Some writing careers began during the Occupation and some boomed. Albert Camus arrived in Paris and began to make a name for himself during the war. The career of playwright/film-maker Jean Cocteau flourished during the Occupation.
Painter Pablo Picasso rejected chances to go overseas, instead remaining in Occupied France. Painter Maurice de Vlaminck hobnobbed with Nazi bigwig Albert Speer. (Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse fled Paris for Provence, in the Vichy zone. Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas closed up their Parisian apartment and headed for Culoz in Vichy, near Switzerland.)
As noted, being on the winning side made a difference. Many celebrities, such as Marlene Dietrich, fled Germany for America. Many Germans thought she was a traitor.
THE PROPAGANDA BROADCASTERS
Josef Goebbels, Germany’s propaganda minister, was the father of modern public relations. He was always trying “to get his message out.” Among other projects, he sponsored propaganda broadcasts that could be heard on radios throughout Europe. Civilians listened in the British Isles and Allied troops listened as far south as North Africa. Not surprisingly, he hired some Americans and Britons to broadcast in English.
In 1943, with the outcome of World War II still quite uncertain, the U.S. government indicted eight citizens for allegedly broadcasting Nazi propaganda. They were: Jane Anderson, Robert H. Best, Douglas Chandler, Edward Delaney, Constance Drexel, Frederick Kaltenbach, Dr. Max Koischwitz and Ezra Pound.
By 1946–with the war over a year--U.S. authorities were convinced Koischwitz was dead. Five more were in custody. The U.S. held Chandler, Delaney, Drexel and Pound. The Soviets had Kaltenbach.
In February 1946 the Justice Department sent five agents to Europe to look for Anderson and Best, as well as for 20 other Americans suspected of betraying their country by other means than broadcasting.
Anderson and Best were apprehended, as was “Axis Sally.” Oddly, Mildred Gillars, who was “Axis Sally,” was not among those originally charged.
Looking back half a century, it appears that the three high-profile broadcasters, “Tokyo Rose,” “Axis Sally” and “Lord Haw-Haw” received questionable justice. Each could reasonably claim foreign citizenship.
Accurate figures for treason cases are difficult to come by. According to the Associated Press, as of Jan. 12, 1949, the Justice Department reported that 24 people had been indicted for treason. Twelve of those were charged with broadcasting propaganda. Of the 14 people convicted of treason, one had been sentenced to hang. One person, poet Ezra Pound, had been adjudged incompetent. Three cases had been dropped for insufficient evidence. Two people had died before found. The rest of the cases were pending.
Yet the New York Times reported Dec. 21, 1949, that only eight Americans had been convicted of treason. Seven more were awaiting trial, the Times said. By then, “Tokyo Rose” and “Axis Sally” had been convicted, but, obviously, the figures still varied wildly. With statistics unreliable, it’s best merely to consider some of the individual cases, some of them fascinating, indeed.
And when you look back at individual cases, after more than half a century, it’s hard to believe that postwar “justice” wasn’t for sale--somewhere in the process.
ROGUES GALLERY (PLUS PERIPHERAL NOTABLES)
Criminal investigations and trials turned up an array of unusual characters who’d seem at home in an Eric Ambler spy novel. Some are listed below, along with some interesting peripheral players. Not all had legal problems. Nor does inclusion imply that each person was suspected of any disloyalty. (Dictionaries seem to equate “collaborator” with “collaborationist.” Does the latter imply slightly less culpability? I’ve used the terms somewhat interchangeably.)
OTTO ABETZ, German ambassador to France
As a young man, he taught art in a girls school. In 1940 he became Hitler’s top man in Paris, obviously wielding more power than any other ambassador there. Although a suave Francophile, he persecuted Jews at every chance. He fled in 1944. A French military tribunal dealt with him in July 1949, sentencing him to 20 years’ hard labor. He was released in 1954. In 1958 he was driving on the Cologne-Ruhr autobahn when something went wrong with his steering wheel. The crash burned him to death. Perhaps the French had gotten even.
JOHN AMERY, propaganda broadcaster
He was born March 14, 1912, probably in England, to well-off parents. At Harrow, he was so psychopathic he was labeled a “moral imbecile.” He stole whatever he could, brandished knives at teachers and sneaked out at right to hang out in bars.
After he grew up he tried becoming a businessman with predictable results. By 1936, when he declared bankruptcy, he’d accumulated 74 traffic convictions. Starting in 1936 he found work that was more his style: he ran guns for Generalissimo Francisco Franco. He also worked with Italian intelligence, becoming friends with French fascist Jacques Doriot. After the Spanish Civil War, Amery knocked around in Austria, Czechoslovakia and Germany, then settled in France. In November 1942 the Germans recruited him as a propaganda broadcaster.
All of this greatly embarrassed John’s father, Leo Amery, by then British secretary of state for India and Burma. Even worse, John tried to set up the “Legion of St. George” to fight communists for the Germans on the Eastern Front. The legion was to be made up of British POWs.
He later broadcast for the Italians. Partisans captured him in Milan in April 1945 then turned him over to the British. On Nov. 28, 1945, he pleaded guilty to high treason, apparently to save his family from further embarrassment at a trial. He was hanged Dec. 19, 1945.
JANE ANDERSON, propaganda broadcaster
Her story is the most exotic of all the accused broadcasters. Someday someone will compose an opera about her, calling it “The Georgia Peach.” Her background remains sketchy; probably more juicy tidbits await finding.
She was born Foster Anderson in Atlanta, Georgia, on Jan. 6, 1893 to Robert “Red” Anderson and the former Ellen Luckie. Ellen was from an old Atlanta family, for which the city’s Luckie Street is named. When Ellen was arraigned for a society murder, a brother took the rap, then fled to South America.
Red soon headed for the Territory of Arizona, leaving Ellen and Foster behind. He became a sheriff, then chief of police in Yuma. After Ellen died about 1903, Foster went to live with grandparents in Demorest, Georgia. She is said to have been expelled from Piedmont Academy there in 1904.
She was sent to Kidd-Key Women’s School, a finishing school in Dallas where she was known as Jane Foss. She’s said to have run away at 16 to be married.
Her first husband, or at least among her first, was Deems Taylor, a composer and broadcaster in New York City. Jane, after living in New York awhile, became a reporter for the London Daily Mail. She first achieved prominence as a war correspondent during World War I, sending gripping accounts of battles to American and British newspapers.
Tall, slender and attractive, she was reportedly the mistress of authors Joseph Conrad and H.G. Wells at various times. Divorcing Taylor in 1918, she returned to New York.
Jane was just beginning. In the next act, she became a countess. She accomplished this by marrying Count Eduardo Cienfuegos, a Spaniard. With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, she again provided notable news coverage. She also began broadcasting for Generalissimo Francisco Franco of the Fascist faction.
The Loyalists captured her in 1938 and sentenced her to death. Interceding, the U.S. State Department won her release. Quickly returning to the U.S., the Countess wrote and lectured on the Spanish Civil War; describing her “tortures” and espousing the cause of Franco, who eventually won the war with Hitler’s help.
She returned to Spain in 1938, then turned up in Germany in 1941 as a broadcaster. Often billed as “a famous Catholic orator,” she proclaimed Hitler the great exponent of “Catholic civilization.” Most of her air time was devoted to “exposes” of “communist domination” of the Roosevelt and Churchill governments. The Germans called her “The Georgia Peach.” The Allies sometimes called her “Lady Haw-Haw.”
Her broadcasts ceased abruptly in April 1942. U.S. authorities believed that the Nazis liked her work but that she probably sought safety from Allied bombing.
She was indicted in absentia in the U.S. in 1943. In December 1945 U.S. newspapers proclaimed her the most sought-after woman in the world. In May 1947 she was arrested in Salzburg, Austria. On Oct. 27, 1947, the Justice Department dropped the charge of treasonable broadcasts because of lack of evidence. She wasn’t released from custody in Salzburg until early December 1947. She then vanished from public view. When and where she died remain a mystery.
Piedmont College introduced a Jane Anderson display at its Arrendale Library in Demorest in 2004. The college called her “one of northeast Georgia’s most infamous personalities.” The college says some historians attribute her fascism to her torture “by the communists.”
(Joseph Deems Taylor lived 1885-1966. He graduated from New York University in 1906 and was a critic for the New York World in 1921-25–some say 1921-32. His operas, The King’s Henchman in 1927 and Peter Ibbetson in 1931, were hits at the Met; no other American composer of his day warranted more performances there. But his music is largely forgotten today. He also was a well-known music authority, commentator, writer and master of ceremonies. Beginning in 1931 he was the commentator for the Met’s radio broadcasts on Saturdays. Then on Sundays he did the same thing for the New York Philharmonic. He was seen and heard in the Disney film Fantasia.)
ARLETTY, French actress
She took a German officer as a lover during the Occupation. This earned her a cell in Fresnes prison for two months after the war. She was let out to film Marcel Carne's Les Enfants du Paradis. The turban she wore in the film probably indicated that her hair had been shaved–the usual treatment for a "horizontale." She lived 1898-1992. (Her given name was Leonie Bathiat.)
NORMAN BAILLIE-STEWART, propaganda broadcaster
He was born Jan. 15, 1909, apparently in England, and graduated from Sandhurst in 1927. Handsome and mustachioed, he was a lieutenant with the Seaforth Highlanders in 1933, when he became embroiled in a juicy spy scandal. He was tried in secret under the Official Secrets Act. Allegedly he’d passed information about armored vehicles and tanks to a German courier named Mary Louise. The case generated big headlines around the world. Sentenced to five years in the Tower of London, he became famous as the “Officer in the Tower.”
Upon release, he tried to settle in Austria; he was deported as an undesirable alien. With the anschluss, he was able to return to Austria. In September 1939 he was recruited as a Nazi propaganda broadcaster. Others in the program included William Joyce and Railton Freeman. He shared an office with the latter. But on Dec. 24, 1939, the management fired him for arguing about scripts. After a period of working as a translator for the German Foreign Ministry, he resumed broadcasting in 1942 as “The Lancer.”
Britons called him “Lord Haw-Haw,” but only briefly. William Joyce was more maddeningly successful, taking that title.
After the war, the American army found Baillie-Stewart in what newspapers called the “luxury mountain hideout” of Altausse, an Austrian resort. He was turned over to the British, who tried him again for treason. This time he contended he was an Austrian citizen, and therefore couldn't commit treason against England. The court ruled, however, that changes of citizenship during wartime are invalid. Convicted once more, he again was given only five years. He served his time in Parkhurst prison. After his release May 10, 1949, he lived quietly in Raheny, Ireland. On June 7, 1966, he collapsed and died on a street in the village of Artane near Dublin. Again, he made big headlines.
KLAUS BARBIE, Gestapo official
He was born in the German village of Bad Godesberg in 1913. After joining the Nazi party in 1932, he soon was an SS leader. He held posts in Holland and in Dijon, France, then in November 1942 the Germans overran Vichy, which included Lyon. Assigned there, he became notorious as “the Butcher of Lyon.” Among the thousands he tortured and killed were Jean Moulin and other Resistance fighters.
After the war he was tried and condemned in absentia. But he’d found new work, for U.S. counterintelligence, which kept him from trial. Ultimately he was resettled in Bolivia under the name Klaus Altman. In 1983 he was extradited to France amid great furor. In 1987 he was sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 1991.
SIMON de BEAUVOIR, French writer
She and lover Jean-Paul Sartre were widely derided as collaborationist writers. A noted feminist scholar, she became editor of a scholarly journal extolling Vichyite views of French culture and history.
CHARLES BEDEAUX, businessman
He was born in France. After his family moved to the U.S., he became an American citizen. He devised an efficiency system for factories. It increased productivity, of course, but did so through anti-unionism and simply forcing workers to work faster. Union members called him the “speed-up king.”
After making a fortune, he opted to return to France, where he was welcomed into high society. In 1937 the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson used his French chateau–just one of his villas--for their wedding.
Besides espousing the fascist line, he curried favor with high-ranking Nazis in Occupied France. He represented several French industrialists in their dealings with the Vichy government and German occupation officials.
In 1942 he went to North Africa to further his plan for a Saharan pipeline from Dakar to Algiers that was to supply the Germans with vegetable oil. The Nazi high command gave him papers for his travels and he traveled under the auspices of the Trans-Africa Company, a German outfit.
Operation Torch, the Allied landings in Africa, caught him in Algiers, where he could have been arrested as a traitor. But U.S. officials hesitated. Among his friends were some of Eisenhower’s staffers. Finally, French authorities locked him up. The OSS eventually convinced officials in Washington to get him indicted for treason. Oddly, FBI agents tried to destroy the documents that provided evidence against him.
Federal agents loaded him on a plane and flew him back to the U.S. Upon reaching Miami, the agents said he’d committed suicide by taking poison. The OSS didn’t buy that; the spooks suspected that “U.S. interests” had killed him to keep him from testifying. (His name is sometimes given as “Bidaux,” or other variations.)
ROBERT HENRY BEST, broadcaster
He was born April 16, 1896 in Sumter, South Carolina, son of a Methodist minister. After graduating from Wofford College in 1917 he joined the Coast Artillery that October. He was commissioned in 1918 and stayed in the Army until 1920.
In 1922 he got his passport, went to Europe and worked there as a journalist for 15 years, mostly for United Press. Frustrated perhaps with second-rate pay and UP’s inferior status, he fell in with questionable women and perhaps drugs. He also came to admire Hitler. In 1940 and ‘41, according to U.S. officials, he rejected several chances to return home. After the declaration of war in December 1941 he was interned as an enemy American. While awaiting exchange, he wrote U.S. officials that he’d been granted permission to remain in Germany. Soon he was broadcasting for the Nazis as “Mr. Guess-Who.”
He condemned U.S. entry into the war as a “sell-out” to communism and international Jewry. As a news commentator he assailed the “venality” of Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin. He referred to the New Deal as the “Jew Deal” and sometimes shouted such things as: “Down with the kikes!”
U.S. authorities taped him saying: “I am thankful an all-wise providence gave Hitler to Germany at such a critical time . . . in time to save Europe and America and Great Britain from Bolshevism. . . . If anyone had ever treated you as Roosevelt treated the Japanese previous to Pearl Harbor, you would have done just what the sons of Nippon did. . . With the so-called government bonds Morgenthau and Roosevelt are palming off . . . holders will not be able to buy a square yard of wallpaper 10 years from now unless a miracle happens to save our country . . .”
He was sentenced to life imprisonment for broadcasting for the Nazis. He died in prison in 1952.