James von Brunn, the neo-Nazi accused of killing security guard Stephen Johns in an attack on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on June 10, 2009, corresponded with and visited the home of General Albert C. Wedemeyer, a major figure in the
Von Brunn's meeting with Wedemeyer took place in the spring of 1981 at Wedemeyer’s home, and their correspondence lasted for a year after that, until March, 1982. During this period, in December, 1981, von Brunn was arrested for entering the Federal Reserve Board headquarters in Washington, D.C. armed with guns and a phony bomb, stating that he intended to conduct a "citizen's arrest" of the Fed’s board members for treason. (He was arrested and tried for this and served a six year sentence in a federal prison.) After von Brunn's arrest, Wedemeyer broke off their friendship.
Largely forgotten now, Wedemeyer had at one time been a prominent figure in politics and in the military. Before the U.S. entered World War II, General Albert C. Wedemeyer was the author of the Victory Plan, which served as the basis for U.S. strategy in the war. During the war, Wedemeyer served in a number of key positions in East Asia, rising in 1944 to be commander of the China theater. He later played key roles in two Republican presidential campaigns (those of Robert Taft and Barry Goldwater), and would serve as a key fundraiser for and adviser to Ronald Reagan. He was on the original board of directors for the magazine The National Review and served as an adviser for John Birch Society founder Robert Welch's magazine American Opinion. Wedemeyer also played a major role in framing the debate over “who lost
Wedemeyer met with von Brunn at the general's farm in Boyds,
In June and July of 1981, the two exchanged letters concerning von Brunn's belief that a Zionist conspiracy had taken over the United States in order to "destroy the White Race". Von Brunn wrote to Wedemeyer that he believed that Jews were conspiring to send African-American soldiers to
In January, 1982, one month after his arrest at the Fed Board headquarters, von Brunn sent Wedemeyer a description of the attack in the form of a detailed military mission report which he apparently also sent to a number of other recipients.
In March, 1982, von Brunn sent General Wedemeyer a rambling five-page political manifesto in the form of a memo to his attorney planning a legal defense for the Fed Board attack. Von Brunn justified the attack as an attempted citizen's arrest for various "crimes" he accused the Federal Reserve of having committed. On the back of this memo, von Brunn wrote a handwritten apology to Wedemeyer for an angry outburst, indicating that the two had a conversation around the time of the Fed attack. (Based on this note, it seems possible that von Brunn attempted to contact Wedemeyer after his arrest, was rebuffed by Wedemeyer and grew angry in response.) Von Brunn's note also states his belief that the
Von Brunn’s attempts to continue his correspondence with Wedemeyer were discouraged in a polite letter from Wedemeyer’s secretary in March 1982. This letter stated that Gen. Wedemeyer had "no interest in the matter described in (von Brunn’s) letter", and that he believed that political change should be pursued only by legal means.
The von Brunn / Albert Wedemeyer letters
General Wedemeyer's papers are archived at the Hoover Institution Library at Stanford University. Through the courtesy of the librarians there, I've been able to review five letters exchanged by von Brunn and General Wedemeyer, and von Brunn's 1982 political manifesto.
Dated June 14, 1981; addressed to Gen. Wedemeyer, Boyds,
Von Brunn opens by stating that
"(t)here is no doubt that Zionists have controlled our Executive Branch for many years".
He credits General George S. Brown with having revealed that
"the Zionists control the machinery of the U.S. Government: Congress, Treasury, mass-media, etc."
This undoubtedly refers to a 1974 incident in which General Brown, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed his opposition to the emergency airlift of weapons to Israel during the Yom Kippur War by complaining to a student forum at Duke Law School that Israel had too much influence in the U.S. because Jews "own the banks in this country". (Read here.)
Von Brunn goes on to expresses his certainty that
"(t)he Morgenthau Plan, in spirit, remains in effect."
The Morgenthau Plan to deindustrialize
Von Brunn then cites F. J. P. Veale's book Return To Barbarism (misspelling the author's name as "Veal") as providing evidence of
"what is in Jews minds regarding
Veale, a former follower of British fascist Oswald Mosley (read here) authored Return To Barbarism to counter revelations of Nazi atrocities with charges that the Allies committed similar, if not worse, crimes against humanity. The book argues that the Nuremberg war crimes trials were unjust and illegal, and criticizes in particular the presence of Jews among the prosecutors. In the 60 years since it was first published, this book has been a favorite of the isolationist far-right and among deniers of the Holocaust. It was lauded by the father of Holocaust denial, Harry Elmer Barnes. Most recently, in 2008, Return to Barbarism reared its head again as one of the sources for Patrick Buchanan's book Churchill, Hitler and the Unneccessary War. (Read reviews here and here.) Veale’s book is currently published by the pro-Nazi group Institute for Historical Review.
Von Brunn next prophisizes that
"(t)hose Germans who escape nuclear holocaust will be subjected to the negro (sic) invasion. One that has been taking place since 1945. The blacks could never have mounted an invasion of Europe on their own, but dressed in American uniforms and encouraged by the military the negros (sic) are helping to destroy the irriplacable (sic) white gene pool. When the gene pool is forever polluted the race is forever destroyed. That's genocide."
At this point, the text goes to all capitals:
"THERE IS NO MORE TIME.
With that, von Brunn;s tone shifts. He thanks General Wedemeyer and his wife for having him at their home, praises Mrs. Wedemeyer's beauty, and bids the general "God bless". In a post-script, von Brunn gives Wedemeyer his son James (Jim) von Brunn's address and phone numbers in
Dated July 3, 1981; addressed to Jim von Brunn,
General Wedemeyer writes that he recieved von Brunn's June 14 letter. He states that he has read Veale's Return to Barbarism and "may other books developing similar ideas". Then, shockingly, he writes
"I have given considerable thought to the project you mentioned and deem it impractical at this particular time and under the conditions described by you. I am in complete accord with the objective, but it would never, in my professional opinion, be accomplished in the manner outlined so dramatically by you."
Wedemeyer then indicates that he would attempt to contact von Brunn's son in
Dated, January 4, 1982.
This letter was apparently sent by von Brunn to several unnamed recipients (all male -- the salutation is "Sir".) It describes in great detail, in a form reminiscent of a report on a military maneuver, his attack on the Federal Reserve Board Headquarers in
"seek(s) to destroy the sovereignty of all Nations of the West in a continuing effort to create One World Usurocratic Dictatorship. HIGH TREASON."
(The term "usurocracy" was coined by poet Ezra Pound and was popularized among the American far-right by Eustace Mullins.)
Dated March 20, 1982; handwritten on the verso of a memo from von Brunn to "Elizabeth Kent, Attorney".
Written three and a half months after von Brunn's arrest at the Federal Reserve, this letter appears to follow an argument between the two men. Von Brunn apologizes to Gen. Wedemeyer for "my behavior towards you", citing stress and von Brunn's dashed hope for "a better rapport with you". He reaffirms his admiration for Wedemeyer.
Turning then to his constant themes, he states that
"the International Bankers" have "tighten(ed) their chains around all of mankind.
France, Europe, Britain- yes, and - have fallen. China is next. Like the CFR (Council on Foreign Relations) and Illuminati, I too believe in One World Gov't -- with an exception -- One World with Western Man uber alles and not at the expense of U.S. sovereignty. America
James von Brunn"
This letter, was handwritten on the back of a copy of a memo von Brunn had apparently written to his attorney, Elizabeth Kent. This memo, which purports to outline his defense for the charges associated with his attack on the Fed Board headquarters, focuses on von Brunn's belief that the Federal Reserve is an instrument of a conspiracy of Jewish bankers under the control of the Rothschilds, Warburgs and Rockefellers to create a "one world usurocracy". Von Brunn implicates in this conspiracy the Council on Foreign Relations, Illuminati, "Bilderbergers" and Trilateral Commission. The memo concludes with a reading list including (among others) works by Francis Parker Yockey, Caroll Quigley, W. Cleon Skousen, Eustace Mullins, and Willis Carto.
Dated March 24, 1982; from “Elaine K. Hill, Secretary to General Wedemeyer” to von Brunn.
Wedemeyer’s secretary writes that Wedemeyer has read von Brunn’s letter and enclosures dated March 20, 1982.
“It is his view that one should in every case resort to existing legal means to accomplish objectives in any field of endeavor," in spite of opposition to "developments at home and abroad which are not to his liking…”
Background of General Albert C. Wedemeyer
Albert Coady Wedemeyer, who graduated from West Point in 1919, was the only U.S. Army officer to attend and graduate from
Upon Wedemeyer’s return to the
Wedemeyer's private papers confirm his isolationism and its underlying motivation. Historian Joseph W. Bendersky reviewed Wedemeyer's personal notes and his correspondence with Truman Smith from the late 1940s, some of which concerned these years. He found that Wedemeyer wrote to Smith that "the British, Zionists and Communists" were to blame for the United States involvement in World War II. Wedemeyer also wrote that President Roosevelt's Jewish advisers (Samuel I. Rosenman, Felix Frankfurter and Henry Morgenthau, Jr.) "did everything possible to spread venom and hatred against the Nazis and to arouse Roosevelt against the Germans". He went to blame Roosevelt's manipulation of events with "much help from the Jews" for United States entry into the war. Wedemeyer also wrote that he saw Jews as responsible for creating and spreading communism. (Jewish Threat, pp. 274-5)
In 1940, under General Marshall’s orders, Wedemeyer drafted the so-called “Victory Program” which planned U.S. strategy if it entered the war. In one of the most notorious leaks of classified material in
During World War II and in the years after, General Wedemeyer was closely associated with General Douglas MacArthur. In spite of Wedemeyer's knowledge of the German military, and perhaps because of his sympathies with it, he was assigned not to the European Theater, but to Burma. With MacArthur's support, Wedemeyer reached the peak of his power in 1944, replacing General Joseph Stillwell as U.S. commander of the China Theater. Wedemeyer simultaneously served as chief of staff to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the Chinese Nationalist leader.After the war's end, Wedemeyer led the Office of Plans and Operations, where he had first risen to prominence 10 years earlier. In this capacity, he toured Germany with an eye toward planning the defense of Western Europe against the Soviets, dealing with the issue of "displaced persons" and stabilizing Germany politically. During this tour, he complained to General Eisenhower that journalists covering his tour were "communist sympathizers", specifically singling out Jewish reporters. Wedemeyer's view of Jews as communist subversives within the U.S. military, which he had held since at least the 1930s, were influenced at that time by cosnpiracy theories promoted by an intelligence officer by the name of Col. Frederick S. Doll. Doll had become convinced that Jewish intelligence officers and reporters formed a pro-communist fifth column, specifically focusing his suspicions on a fellow G-2 officer named Col. Fred Herzberg, whom he knew to be an advocate for the civil rights of blacks in the military. Based on this, Doll concocted a vast communist conspiracy in which other like-minded officers, such as Gen. Wedemeyer, believed. Wedemeyer became involved in a movement to protect Col. Doll from disciplinary action with regard to his spurious charges against Herzberg, and worked to promote Doll's broader allegations.
In September, 1947, Gen. Wedemeyer issued a plan to assist the Chinese Nationalists, the so-called Wedemeyer Report. This plan advocated for a massive
In 1948, Wedemeyer issued several reports opposing U.S. support for the creation of the State of Israel, including a memo to the Secretary of the Army. (That memo advised the Secretary of the Army to withhold the attached report from the National Security Council until the Secretary of State requested he do so. This may have reflected Wedemeyer's view of the relative sympathies for Israel within those agencies.) These reports, which wer marked "Top Secret", stated that the creation of Israel would endanger the U.S. security.
After Mao's vistory in China, the American right coalesced around the idea of assigning domestic blame for the communist victory. Journalist Joseph Alsop, who was a close friend of Wedemeyer’s, published a series of articles in the Saturday Evening Post under the title "Why We Lost China", based in part on Wedemeyer's contention that, by failing to execute his plan, the
After retiring from the military in 1951, General Wedemeyer played a prominent role in right-wing and Republican politics. He served in Sen. Robert Taft’s 1952 presidential campaign as national chairman of the Citizens for Taft Committee, as one of Taft's most prominent advisors on foreign and military affairs, and as a major campaign fundraiser and organizer. Taft and Wedemeyer advocated a foreign policy which combined two irreconcilable ideas then popular on the right: isolationism and anti-communism. At their 1952 national convention, the Republicans chose instead the pragmatism of Dwight Eisenhower.
For the rest of the 1950s, Wedemeyer was active as a public speaker, an author for a number of conservative publications and as a board member of several right wing organizations. In 1951, Wedemeyer had been chosen by
In 1954, Wedemeyer was chosen by General Wood to serve on the board of the group “For America”, which he intended to be a “right wing also helped lead H.L. Hunt's “LIFE LINE”, which was essentially Facts Forum under another name, running a similar program of public meetings and producing a daily radio program. “LIFE LINE” (whose name was spelled in all capitals as per Hunt’s instructions) ran Strom Thurmond’s 1954 write-in campaign for the U.S. Senate.
also helped lead H.L. Hunt's “LIFE LINE”, which was essentially Facts Forum under another name, running a similar program of public meetings and producing a daily radio program. “LIFE LINE” (whose name was spelled in all capitals as per Hunt’s instructions) ran Strom Thurmond’s 1954 write-in campaign for the U.S. Senate.
Wedemeyer served on the board of directors of William F. Buckley's National Review, starting with magazine's founding in 1955. In 1957, Wedemeyer published a memoir cum political manifesto entitled Wedemeyer Reports which spent several months on the bestsellers list. He served as an adviser to John Birch Society's magazine American Opinion, but distanced himself from the group in 1961 after Robert Welch's letters accusing President Eisenhower of being a communist agent became public. Welch refused to renounce these statements when asked about them by the press. Wedemeyer, with an eye toward mainstream acceptance, called this "reckless". Wedemeyer also served on the boards of the American Security Council and Free Cuba Radio. In 1960, Wedemeyer announced that he had filed his candidacy for the Republican nomination for congressman, but he dropped out of the race before the primary.
Wedemeyer's support for a Barry Goldwater presidency started early. In 1959, Wedemeyer became a leader of Pat Manion's "Draft Goldwater" movement, heading a group called Americans for Goldwater. (Others in the group included Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, Robert Welch, Brent Bozell, Herbert Kohler, J.F. Schlafly, Dan Smoot and actors Joel McCrea and Adolphe Menjou.) Goldwater, recognizing that Nixon would inevitably win the nomination, decided not the run in 1960, but the campaign preparations, good publicity, and, most importantly, the mailing lists generated by the group would give the 1964 Goldwater a head start.
Wedemeyer (along with Pat Manion) would play an important role in convincing Goldwater to seek the 1964 Republican nomination, and went on to help lead the fundraising for the campaign as part of Goldwater's Committee of 100. He vacationed with Goldwater in the summer of 1964; Wedemeyer sponsored Goldwater’s attendance at the Bohemian Grove , and hosted Goldwater for several days on Wedemeyer's yacht off the
After Goldwater's disastrous loss in the 1964 election, Wedemeyer worked behind the scenes in Republican politics. In late 1964, he joined with William F. Buckley, William Rusher and others associated with the National Review to form the American Conservative Union (“ACU”), another group modeled on the
In the mid to late 1960s, Wedemeyer headed the American Economic Foundation, which raised funds for conservative candidacies such as Ronald Reagan’s 1966 campaign for governor of
After the 1960s, Wedemeyer faded from public view, his isolationism and far-right views having largely fallen into disfavor within the Republican establishment. But the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency gave him one more moment in the limelight. First, President Reagan named Wedemeyer an informal military advisor, a largely honorary position. Then, in March, 1985, Wedemeyer was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan in a ceremony at the White House, along with such celebrity honorees as Frank Sinatra, Count Basie and Jacques Cousteau.
Bendersky, Joseph W.; The "Jewish Threat"; The Anti-Semitic Politics of the U.S. Army (Basic Books, 2000)
Cook, Fred J., "The Ultras", The Nation, June 23, 1962.
Epstein, Benjamin R. and Forster, Arnold; The Radical Right; Report on the John Birch Society and Its Allies (Random House, 1967)
Goldberg, Robert Alan; Barry Goldwater
Lichtman, Allan J.; White Protestant Nation (Atlantic, 2008)
Perlstein, Rick; Before the Flood: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus
Wedemeyer, Albert C.; Wedemeyer Reports!
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Gen. Wedemeyer co-founded the John Birch Society and served on its Board of Directors. In fact, his formal role with the group was limited to his serving as an adviser for its magazine American Opinion. Thanks to those who contacted me to correct the record.