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Fraud Famine and Fascism - The Hearst Press, Fraud Continues

Douglas Tottle

Despite the Thomas Walker fiasco, Hearst did not give up the famine-genocide campaign - it was part  and parcel of his overall propagation of anti-Soviet, pro-fascist views. While it is beyond the scope of this book to examine in detail the activities of the multi-millionaire press magnate William Randolph Hearst, it can be stated that he was known to millions during the 1930s as "America's No. One Fascist." It is widely known that certain U.S. corporations (for example, Henry Ford), lent money to the Nazis, while a U.S. oil corporation fuelled Franco's army during the Spanish Civil War.1 What is less widely known, however, is that for a period during the 1930s, Hearst employed Italy's fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, paying him almost ten times the amount the latter received in monthly salary while head of the Italian state: "For a long time his [Mussolini's] chief source of income was $1500.00 per week from the Hearst press; early in 1935, however, he gave up writing regular articles because international politics were so delicate that he could not express himself frankly." 2

Hearst was by no means the only extreme right-wing news mogul. George Seldes, veteran correspondent  of the Chicago Tribune and author of the classic Facts and Fascism, warned of the connections  between big business, the press and fascist tendencies in the 1930s and wartime United States:

If the reader thinks of our chain newspaper owners, Hearst, Howard, Patterson and McCormack, as merely four of America's 15,000 publishers, he fails to see the danger to America from an anti-democratic, anti­ American press. These four publishers put out one-fourth of all the newspapers sold daily on our streets, they own forty of the 200 big city papers which make American public opinion, they run nor only the three biggest newspaper chains in the country, but two of the three big news services which supply news to a majority of America's dailies, and because they have always been anti-labor, anti-liberal and anti-democratic even when not openly following the Mussolini and Hitler lines, they constitute what I believe is the greatest force hostile to the general welfare of the common people of America. 3
Many of the most extreme famine-genocide claims from the 1930s emanated from these publishers.

This was not the limit of Hearst's fascist connections. In the late summer of 1934, Hearst visited 
Nazi Germany. In Munich he was joined by a man he knew well, Ernst Hanfstaengel, press officer for the Reich and an intimate adviser of Hitler.4 While at Bad Neuheim, four stormtroopers arrived to inform Hearse that a plane waited to cake him to Hitler, whom he met for discussion. 5 A number of agreements were reportedly reached, one being chat Germany would purchase its foreign news through Hearst's news-gathering agency, the Internacional News Service. The deal was said to have been worth one million marks a year.6 Perhaps such financial considerations served to underline Hearst's own political convictions, revealed in his comment reported in the New York Times: "if Hitler succeeds in pointing the way of  peace and order ... he will have accomplished a measure of good not only for his own people but for  all of humanityy ." 7

Hearst appears to have long been a devout promoter of German state interests. As far back as the First World War: "He opposed loans and shipments of munitions to England and France, and the arming of United States merchantmen. He hired a former Neu· York Times correspondent, William Bayard Hale, and sent him to Germany. Hale was later found to be in the pay of the Germans ... "8

Hearst's wartime news methods were so yellow  that Harper's Weekly, suspecting Hearst was using mythical correspondents to send out fake dispatches, stated as much on October 15, 1915. In October 
1916, the British and French governments banned the Hearst press from the use of cables and mails. 
The Canadian government followed suit the following month, banning Hearst newspapers outright. To be caught with a Hearst newspaper in those  days  carried  a  $5000  fine  or up  to   five  years  imprisonment.9

It was following Hearst's trip to Nazi Germany that the Hearst   press began to promote the theme of "famine-genocide in Ukraine." Prior to this, his papers had at times reflected a different perspective. For example, the October 1, 1934 Herald and Examiner, carried an article by the former French premier, Edouard Herriot, who had recently returned from travelling around Ukraine. Herriot noted: "... the whole campaign on the subject of famine in the Ukraine is currently being waged. While wandering  around  the  Ukraine, I saw  nothing of  the sort."10

Not unrelated to plans for a famine-genocide campaign, was a massive red-scare campaign which had been unleashed in the Hearst press in the lace fall of 1934. To back up his call for legislation requiring teachers to swear loyalty oaths, Hearst assigned "hundreds" of reporters to "expose" radical professors in "a red hunt that smeared many honest liberals ... "11 And, while taking a soft line on Nazi activities in Germany, Hearst launched his press attack portraying alleged "famine, misery, and brutality" in the Soviet Union. 12

For the Nazi press in Germany, its Volksdeutsche proteges in other countries, and the Hearst publishing empire in the United States, 1935 was co become the Year of the Ukrainian Famine. One of Hearst's famine­ genocide campaign allies, Dr. Ewald Ammende, described the launching of the Hearst campaign: "On January 5, 1935, William Randolph Hearst broadcast a speech based almost entirely on the account of the [Cardinal] Innitzer Committee ... The entire Hearst press next proceeded co deal with the Russian famine." 13

Violently denigrating Soviet efforts co collectivize and industrialize, and at the same time shielding developments in Nazi Germany, Hearst gave vent to his elitist views on his coast-co-coast network broadcast: "The truth is that government by the proletariat, government by the least capable and least conscientious element of the community - government by the mob, government by tyranny and terrorism ... is the fearful failure that it needs must be and definitely deserves to   be."14

Having said so, Hearst did his utmost co make it so, at least in the imagination of his readers. The man who published uncensored articles by the Nazis Goering and Rosenberg, and the fascist dictator Mussolin i,15 had launched his famine-genocide campaign. By mid-February 1935, Hearst and his mercenary scribblers were ready co go into action. Reports of a "prosperous Soviet Ukraine" were killed, and in their place the faked stories of Thomas Walker  were introduced.

Following the Walker series, Hearst launched his next caper, determined to convince Americans that 
the Soviet Union was a land of utter starvation, genocide and cannibalism. This time he offered the tales of one Harry Lang, editor of the Daily Forward, a Yiddish language publication of the extreme right-wing faction of the Socialist Party. Hearst's choice of Harry Lang made shrewd sense: Lang's socialist past would hopefully provide a more universal facade to his anti-Soviet campaign, the illusion of left-wing  support.

Why would a socialist team up with a multi-millionaire capitalist publisher?

By the early 1920s, following splits between right and left, the Forward had sunk to the status of a right-wing pulp journal. It came co represent the views and interests of a clique tied in with "business union" operators, who resisted violently - with ink, threat and boot - any militancy among the workers they dominated. 16

In a 1926 strike, the Forward resorted to outright strikebreaking against militant unionists, whose demands, if won, would have embarrassed and jeopardized the hold its associates had on their unions:

The Forward wholeheartedly fulfilled its "holy mission." Daily it delivered a barrage of red-baiting against the strike ... The aim of the Communist leadership of the strike, the Forward cried, was co show Stalin "that his American followers had begun co make the revolution." Since the fur workers were not interested in this "revolution," they were being terrorized by the Communists co continue striking. The Forward even "discovered" a mysterious "Room C" in the strike headquarters. There, it narrated, hundreds of fur workers who refused co support the strike were taken and beaten into submission by the "Communist terrorises."

The Forward carried advertisements which urged all furriers who wished "co become financially independent" to apply at certain strikebreaking employment bureaus. The workers angrily ripped into 
shreds copies of the paper ... 17

In 1933, the Forward was even approached by employers to help set up company unions so as to thwart organizing drives by militant unions which would cost them more money in wages and benefits.18 This was the same year that Forward editor, Harry Lang, went to the USSR - the basis of his "horror accounts" of famine-genocide.

Thus, it was a very short political walk from Harry Lang's editorial office at the Forward to Hearst's lie factory, especially with regard to inventions about Russia. Lang and the red-baiting Forward were as eager to defend capitalism as their associated  "union" leaders were determined to maintain their positions as a "labor aristocracy." It is therefore difficult to accept attempts by some historians to pass off Harry Lang's famine­ genocide stories as the  admissions of  a "disillusioned  socialist".

Lang's contributions to Hearst's famine-genocide campaign reached new heights of the macabre. Under such sensationalist headlines as "Soviet Masses Pray at Graves to Die", "Soviet Secret Police Rob Starving", "Guns Force Russian Labor", "Starving Soviet Foes Exiled to Arctic", and "Soviet Torture of Women Told", Lang "bared Soviet horrors":
In the office of a Soviet functionary I saw a poster on the wall which struck my attention. It showed the picture of a mother in distress, with a swollen child at her feet, and over the picture was the inscription: Eating of Dead Children Is Barbarism. The Soviet official explained co me: "... We distributed such posters in hundreds of villages, especially in the Ukraine. We had co." 19
However, Hearst was no more successful with Lang than he had been with Walker. Lang's stories were publicly challenged by Americans who had visited, or worked at, some of the places he "described" in Ukraine. American worker Santo Mirabele wrote:

Harry Lang, you say you were in Kharkov . and saw workers returning from the tractor plant dirty, shabby with babies in their arms because there are no baby carriages. Harry Lang, you are a liar ... didn't you see the baby carriages and the workers' apartments about ten blocks away from the great tractor plant? Don't you know the workers have plenty of facilities to wash and clean before leaving the plant? Didn't you see the kindergarten among the apartments? Didn't you see the same thousands of workers coming back in the night-time to the plant auditorium to hear music and enjoy themselves for a couple of hours?
These are the things I saw in Kharkov in 1932. I am willing to meet Harry Lang on a platform at any 
time - liar and pen prostitute that he is - and let the public  judge who is telling the  truth. 20

Lang was denounced by the Jewish working class movement, and in his own Socialist Party. The 
Socialist Party's National Secretary, Clarence Senior declared:

The Socialist Party of the United States repudiates the attacks upon Soviet Russia now appearing in the Hearst papers. Lang who claims to be a Socialist has not only violently misrepresented the Socialist attitude to Soviet Russia, but has placed himself beneath contempt of all workers by making himself the tool of William Randolph Hearst, the bitter enemy of the labor movement and the principal mouthpiece for American fascism ... 21
Numerous meetings were held within Socialist Party circles on the issue of expelling Lang from the 
party. At one, representing 43 branches of the Workmen's Circle group, I. Laderman stated that he had been in Ukraine at the same time as Harry Lang, and gave the lie to Lang's series in the Hearst press. In mid-May 1935, the Illinois State Socialist Party called for Lang's expulsion, while the New York Socialist Party suspended his membership for a year.22

Even the Forward itself printed a disclaimer: "Lang wrote on his own responsibility." The Forward had to admit that the majority of the numerous protests which it had  received concerning Lang's articles, came from "warm friends of the Forward (who declare) how much they deplore and are aroused by this incident."23

The Nation drew attention to a major motive of Hearst's choice of "witnesses":... the spectacle of a professed Socialist, no matter how renegade, combining forces with the most unscrupulous and reactionary journalist in America in a campaign of  misrepresentation regarding the first Socialist country is bound to be misleading. Hearst knows that his readers are not in a position to judge the accuracy of his charges. And he knows too that his ends can best be served by throwing a smokescreen over the amazing progress which the Soviet Union has made in the past two years. By attempting to discredit communism in distant Russia, he is merely resorting to an easy and dishonest method of attacking radicalism of all varieties in America. 24

 Despite the rejection of Harry Lang, Hearst had not yet exhausted his famine-genocide series. But time was limited - 1935 was not a difficult year like 1932 or the pre-harvest portion of 1933, and Hearst's own correspondent was sending favorable reports of Soviet economic and social progress.25 
However, Hearst was determined to starve the Soviet Union  to death, even  if retroactively.

Following Lang on the list of hired pens was R.H.Sanger, who made his debut in the late April issues of 1935. Initially introduced by the Hearst papers as an "ex-communist," Sanger later admitted that his "communism" consisted of having attended some classes at a socialist night-school while employed at the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce in Washington. To illustrate his stories, a photograph supposedly showing Sanger interviewing a group of Russian workers in Moscow  was included. Critical observers, however, pointed out that the photo was credited to a staff photographer of Hearst's Evenin[!, Journal. None of the photographs showed conditions supporting claims of famine­ genocide.

More "witnesses"  were  trotted out. In May 1935, Hearst celebrated the "coming out" of Andrew Smith, who had just returned from three years in the Soviet Union. Smith wasted little time in selling horror stories to the Hearst press, although his previous correspondence with American friends had not indicated any such state of affairs. Perhaps he needed a fresh  start  in  unemployment-ridden America.

No doubt remembering how they'd burned their fingers in the previous series, the Hearst papers now 
reproduced alleged supportive documentation of Smith's stay: his entitled vacation papers. Those who knew Russian, though, pointed out that Smith's discharge certificate read "discharged for loafing,"  not "discharged for vacation." 26

The Nation further discredited Smith's claims, exposing serious inconsistencies and "falsifications" in Smith's "budget" described in the Hearst press.27 Smith's stories were also denounced as lies by an American worker with whom Smith had worked in the Soviet Union and whom he had named as a key witness to his allegations. Carl Blaha not only called Smith a liar, but gave a detailed and much different account of actual working and living conditions  which he and Smith  had experienced.  28

The "testimony" of Andrew Smith was not limited to   allegations of famine-genocide. As late as 1949 he collaborated as a prosecution witness for the Cold War House Committee on Un-American  Activities.   29

Another informer for the McCarthy-era House Committee was a certain Fred Beal, who had fled to the Soviet Union in 1930 to avoid a 20- year   jail  sentence  resulting  from  the  Gastonia  strike.30   Beal returned incognito to the U.S. for six months, and then returned to the Soviet Union voluntarily. Upon his final return to the United States in 1933, Beal, the unemployable fugitive in the midst of economic depression, was by 1934 preparing to sell out for money and hope of a reduced jail sentence.

In June 1935, articles by Beal appeared in Harry Lang's Forward, others followed in the Hearst 
press. According to one newspaper, which published excerpts of Beal's earlier correspondence which 
contradicted his claims in the Hearst press, Beal's articles were "coached" during May 1934. 31

Beal's accounts in the Hearst press were disputed by fellow American workers, among them an auto 
worker,]. Wolynec, who had worked at the Kharkov tractor plant from 1931 to 1935. Wolynec, who was not a communist party member, had known Beal in Ukraine for two years. He challenged Beal's reports of overheard conversations, revealing that Beal could notspeak Russian [or Ukrainian).32 Wolynec cited an earlier booklet by Beal, entitled Foreign Workers in a Soviet Tractor Plant, in which Beal had given descriptions completely contradicting those he later wrote for the Hearst press. Just a 
short time before he himself returned co the United States, Beal wrote in this booklet:
It would not be true to say that all the foreigners have been satisfied with life in the Soviet Union. Most of them came with honest intentions, but there were also a few who expected something for nothing. They were of course, disappointed and quickly returned. But most of those who go back tell the truth of the situation here.33
 Beal was not one of  the latter.

Following his rehabilitation in the Hearst press, Beal was allowed to serve only a token of his 
original jail sentence. His autobiography - Proletarian Journey - appeared in 1937, a classic in 
yellow journalism used as a weapon  in the famine-genocide campaign  to this  day.

In this book, Beal presents slanderous "samples" of Americans who had volunteered to assist in Soviet industrialization. Beal's supposed dialogue with a Black woman, who he alleges was "picked 
off the streets" to fill a Comintern quota of Black Americans to work in the USSR, clearly shows his racist and sexist mentality. In response to his question about her past union membership, Beal's caricature replies:
No, suh, I don't belong to no union. Deys have no union in mah business. Ah once worked in a shire factory and de people dere, dey made me join de union, but ah's quit. Why man, Ah wouldn't work in no factory. Ah gees more money from my gennemen friends.34
To this invention Beal adds a male American worker as lecher and rapist. 35 Elsewhere, he has one of his characters claim: "These Moscow broads are a dirty bunch, they never take a bath."36 Of course the book would not be complete without a description of a land ravaged by famine­ genocide:
... I took the train from our little station of Lossevo, and rode for two hours to Chekuyev. From this place, we walked for several miles. We met not a living soul. We came upon a dead horse and a dead man upon the side of the road. The horse still lay harnessed to the wagon. The man was still holding the reins in his lifeless, stiff hands. Both had died from starvation ... 37
 One may well ask why a train would bother stopping at a place where nobody was left alive for miles around, or how a man and his horse had expired simultaneously. Significantly, although Proletarian Journey is well illustrated with Beal's photos from the USSR, none even remotely indicate conditions of famine-genocide and the hardship described in his book or his earlier articles in the Hearst press.

Defending his articles in the Hearst press, Beal writes in his autobiography: "the Hearst papers are read largely by the working masses, and have always had a distinct bias in favor of labor." 38 Rare indeed was the person who, even for a price, would suggest that the Hearst press was a friend of labor.

Nonetheless, Beal earns himself a special place in right-wing history books by claiming to have had an audience with Petrovsky, President of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic, who allegedly told him that millions were dying.39 Contemporary anti-communist Sovietologists such as Robert Conquest and Dana Dalrymple cite Beal on this question; but, as we have seen, Beal cannot be considered a reliable source.

Fifty years later, "witnesses" such as Beal, Walker, Lang, Smith and others continue to play their original role on the campaign stage. In fact, the 1930s campaign is having a bigger impact a half-century later. References to 1930s newspaper accounts lend a certain superficial credibility to current famine-genocideallegations. What was recognized in the 30s as politically-motivated sensationalism has been transformed in the 1980s into primary evidence. Examples of fraud and contradictions exposed at the time are conveniently forgotten. The notorious right-wing character of the Hearst press is rarely remembered. By noting these features of the 1930s campaign and the selective memory of those who use the Hearst press in propagating the genocide thesis, one gains a further insight into the character of today's famine-genocide campaign.

1. The U.S. oil company Texaco fuelled Franco's fascist armies in Spain. See Peter Elscob, Condor 
Leiion, New York, Ballantine Books, 1973, p. 82. For further information on American corporate 
collaboration with the Nazis (including during World War II), see Charles Higham, Tradini with 
the Enemy: An Expose of the Nazi-American Money Plot, 1939-1949, New York, Delacorte Press, 
2. John Gunther, Inside Europe, New York, Harper Bros., 1936, p. 179.
3. George Seldes, Facts and Fascism, New York, In Fact, 1943, p. 210.
4. W.A. Swanberg, Citizen Hearst: A Biography of William Randolph Hearst, New York, Charles 
Scribner's Sons, 1961, p. 443.
5. Ibid., p. 444.
6. Daily Worker, February 13, 1935.
7. New York Times, August 23, 1934. Hearst's pro-Nazi views were not limited to the 1930s. The day 
after Hitler's army invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the New York Journal American, in sympathy 
with the Nazis, advised Europeans [even after fascist occupation] co unite in face of 
expanding communism!
8. Swanberg, p. 299. 9. Ibid., p. 301.
10. Similarly, the Boston Sunday Advertiser, October 1, 1934.
11. Swanberg, p. 471; see also pp. 468-469, and New York Times, December 24, 1934, Social Frontier, 
April 24, 1935.
12. Swanberg, pp. 469-470.
13. Ewald Ammende, Human Life in RuJJia, Cleveland,John T. Zubal, 1984, pp. 274-275.
14. Swanberg, p. 470.
15. Hearst's New York American, for example, featured articles by the top Nazi Alfred Rosenberg 
("Now is the Time for Ocher Nations to Meet Germany's Desire' for Peace"), Hermann Goering ("Reich 
Training Youth to Build Up Airforce, But Not For War"), and fascist dictator Benito Mussolini 
("Italy Glories in Militarism, Say Duce; Pacifists the Worse Enemies of Peace"). See George Seldes, 
Facts and Fascism, p. 227.
16. Philip Foner, The Fur and Leather Workers Union, Newark, Nordan Press, 1950, pp. 106-107.
17. Ibid., pp. 194-195.
18. Ibid., p. 439.
19. See New York Evening Journal, April 17, 18, 20, 22, 23 and April 15, 1935 respectively. Lang's 
cannibalism tales live on in such books as The Soviet Revolution 1917-1939 by Raphael Abramovicch, 
New York, International Universities Press, 1962 (p. 345).
20. Daily Worker, May 21, 1935.
21. Socialist Call, April 1935.
22. Daily Worker, April 23 and May 16, 1935.
23. Forward, April 18, 1935.
24. The Nation, May 8, 1935.
25. See The Nation, March 13, 1935.
26. The Nation, June 26, 1935. See also Daily Worker, June 8, 1935.
27. The Nation, June 26, 1935.
28. Daily Worker, June 8, 1935.
29. Harvey Klehr, The Heyday of American Communism: The DepreJJion Decade, New York, Basic Books, 
1984, p. 440.
30. Globe and Mail, March 23, 1947.
31. Daily Worker,July 12-15, 1935. 32. Ibid., July 20, 1935.
33. Fred Beal, Foreign Workers in a Soviet Tractor Plant, 1933, pp. 49-50.
34. Fred Beal, Proletarian Journey, New York, Hilman-Curl, 1937, p. 247.
Published in England as Word from Nowhere.
35. Ibid., p. 280.
36. Ibid., p. 279.
37. Ibid., p. 305.
38. Ibid., p. 350.
39. Ibid., p. 310.

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