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[404]

PROCEEDINGS OF THE HART INQUIRY
WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 1944
THIRTY-NINTH DAY
                                                        NAVY DEPARTMENT,
                                                        Washington, D. C. 

The examination met at 2 p. m.

Present:

Admiral Thomas C. Hart, U. S. Navy, Retired, examining officer, and his counsel.

Ship's Clerk Charles 0. Lee, U. S. Naval Reserve, reporter.

The examining officer decided to postpone the reading of the record of proceedings of the thirty-eighth day of the examination until such time as it shall be reported ready, and in the meantime to proceed with the examination.

No witnesses not otherwise connected with the examination were present.

Captain Charles Wellborn, Jr., U. S. Navy, who had previously testified, was called before the examining officer, informed that his oath previously taken was still binding, and stated that he had read over the testimony given by him on the thirty-sixth day of the examination, pronounced it correct, was duly warned, and withdrew.

Vice Admiral Roland Munroe Brainard, U. S. Navy, Retired, who had previously testified, was called before the examining officer, informed that his oath previously taken was still binding, and stated that he had read over the testimony given by him on the thirty-eighth day of the examination, pronounced it correct, was duly warned, and withdrew.

Commander Wesley A. Wright, U. S. Navy, who had previously testified, was called before the examining officer, informed that his oath previously taken was still binding, and stated that he had read over the testimony given by him on the thirty-fifth day of the examination, pronounced it correct, was duly warned, and withdrew.

A witness called by the examining officer entered and was informed of the subject matter of the examination as follows: This is a board acting under a precept by the Secretary of Navy directing the recording of testimony, under oath, concerning the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December '41. A most significant phrase in the precept is "testimony pertinent to the facts surrounding. . .", and so forth. Previous testimony points to the necessity of inquiry into the discussions, conferences, and so forth, between officials in the Navy Department and those of other Executive Departments, as regards keeping in step the Navy's state of preparedness for eventualities with the steps taken by other agencies in the political and economic fields. You are believed to have testimony on that general

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subject and are accordingly called. I will be asking you to testify mainly from facts known to you on or prior to 7 December '41, influenced as little as is practicable by what you may have learned of the various subjects subsequent to that date. That is difficult and I ask you to do your best. You will be given a transcript of your oral testimony for verification, during which, if you find it necessary, you are authorized to submit proposals for changes, omissions, or additions to what you have said. I will act upon such requests when received.

[405]

The witness was duly sworn.

Examined by the examining officer:

1. Q. What is your name, rank, and present station?

A. Rear Admiral R. E. Schuirmann, U. S. Navy, Assistant Chief of Staff, Combat Intelligence; additional duty as Director of Naval Intelligence.

2. Q. What was your station and duties during the calendar year 1941?

A. The calendar year '41, I was Director of the Central Division, Office of Chief of Naval Operations, and as such one of my duties was liaison with the State Department.

3. Q. Please explain, briefly, what those liaison duties with the State Department required of you.

A. The liaison with the State Department was conducted partially by me as questions arose which were of mutual interest to the War and Navy Department. So far as I was able and directed, I acted as go-between between the Navy Department and the State Department on matters which were of mutual concern. There were, necessarily, high level liaison and meetings held at which I was not present.

4. Q. As regards those meetings in which you were directly concerned, were the conferences and goings-between usually at your initiative or by specific directive in each instance?

A. Partially both. I attempted to relieve the Chief of Naval Operations of as much of the burden of liaison with the State Department as I was capable. For example, during the last month or so before Pearl Harbor, while Secretary Hull was conducting his negotiations with Kurusu and Nomura, I would, from time to time, pay a call on him to find out what had occurred in order that I might give the Navy Department fresh information.

5. Q. What official records were kept of interviews, discussions, and conferences, in which you engaged with State Department officials?

A. A "Liaison Committee" consisting of the Chief of Naval Operations, the Chief of Staff, U. S. Army, and the Under Secretary of State was set up while Admiral Leahy was Chief of Naval Operations. This Committee was mainly occupied with questions other than the Far East, but occasionally questions relating to the Far East were discussed. About the middle of May, 1941, the practice of having a stenographer present to record the discussion was commenced; prior to that time I would make notes of the meetings in order to be able to follow up such matters as required action, and I believe one of Mr. Welles' assistants made a precis of the meetings. At times there were "off the record" discussions at these liaison committee meetings. I made notes of some of these "off the record" discussions. Aside from the meetings of the Liaison Committee, Secretary Hull held meetings with various officials of the Navy Department, and I maintained

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liaison with Dr. Hornbeck and Mr. Hamilton of the Far Eastern Division of the State Department by visit and by telephone. I know of no official record of these meetings and discussions. Fragmentary notes of some are in the files of the Central Division as are such records of the Liaison Committee as are in the possession of the Navy Department. It is possible that the State Department representatives may have made notes of some of these meetings and discussions with Secretary Hull and other State Department officials.

Memo: The examining officer has identified the records mentioned by the witness as being contained in file titled "Record of Liaison Meetings and [409] some other special papers", now on file in the Central Division (Op 13) of the Chief of Naval Operations' Office, Navy Department.

6. Q. Did you, yourself, keep any informal memoranda on those discussions, and so forth, of which you have retained possession?

A. I have none in my own possession. I did keep certain memorandum. The only copies of these that I know of are in the files of the Central Division.

7. Q. As regards those discussions between officials of the two Departments, the highest echelons thereof, were you kept informed as to what transpired in the way of exchanging information and effecting agreements concerning matters in the Pacific theatre?

A. I do not believe that I was fully informed as undoubtedly there were matters which were discussed in the Cabinet, and I presume there were matters discussed in Cabinet meetings and meetings between Secretary Knox, Secretary Hull, and Secretary Stimson, which were very closely guarded.

8. Q. Now to go on with your examination, Admiral Schuirmann, I shall ask certain questions which it is convenient to base upon a State Department publication "PEACE AND WAR, 1931-1941", in which events are set forth chronologically and in a form which is suited to our present purposes.

The examining officer produced a copy of the publication titled "PEACE AND WAR, 1931-1941", and it was introduced in evidence as an aid to future readers of this record, copy appended marked "Exhibit 39".

8. Q. (Continued.) In the introduction of Chapter 12, pages 85 and 86, and headed "Principles of U. S. Policy", there is set forth that State, War, and Navy Departments agreed that in view of our military unpreparedness it was inadvisable to resort to drastic economic measures against Japan. Later on in this chapter, it appears that by early 1941 "moral embargoes" were preventing our export to Japan of many strategic commodities. Now at that time, say, January, 1941, was the Navy Department in agreement that the dispositions and war readiness of its forces in the Pacific were such as to justify the risks which, by then, had resulted from those "moral embargoes"?

A. I can not state whether the Navy Department and the State Department were or were not in agreement on these questions, because I presume that the final position of the Navy Department on such a question would be determined and expressed by the Secretary of Navy direct to the President. It is my belief that the Navy Department was consulted on these questions. The reason for this belief is that from time to time, as questions of imposition of embargoes arose,

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I was either asked to ascertain Admiral Stark's views or was present at various meetings, which I cannot place by date, where his opinion on such questions was asked. I do not specifically remember the moral embargo, but I do remember that when the question of limiting imposing embargo on scrap iron and oil was under discussion, that his opinion was asked.

9. Q. Do you recall the Office of Naval Operations, or any part thereof, having been particularly concerned in estimating the Japanese reactions as those so-called "moral embargoes" were imposed?

A. No, not specifically. I believe that Admiral Stark did discuss with the War Plans Division their opinion of what the probable Japanese reaction might be, but I do not know of any formal paper being prepared on such subjects, and the discussions, so far as I remember, were general.

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10. Q. Do you recall hearing discussed within the Navy Department the direct question as to whether our state of war readiness was sufficient to meet the risks that were being taken?

A. I cannot recall specific dates or who was present, but I do remember that the question of the Japanese reaction was discussed and in particular regard to the oil embargo, I remember that whenever the question was raised at meetings where I was present that Admiral Stark expressed the view that the oil embargo on Japan should not be so drastic as to force them to move into the Dutch East Indies in order to obtain oil. His idea was that a total embargo on oil would, of necessity, force them to move South or to collapse.

11. Q. Other than as you have just stated, do you recall any incident, in early 1941, when the State Department was advised by the Navy Department that its measures were out of step with the Navy's state of preparation?

A. No.

12. Q. At that time, early 1941, were the State and Navy Departments in agreement as regards the respective claims on our naval forces as between the Atlantic and Pacific theatres?

A. I do not know, but the question of the disposition of the Fleet between the Atlantic and Pacific was discussed and I believe that such differences as may have existed were reconciled. In other words, so far as I know, there was no open disagreement between the State and Navy Departments as to disposition of the Fleet.

13. Q. There was a considerable transfer of forces from the Pacific to the Atlantic Fleet during the Spring of 1941. Do you recall whether or not that step was taken incident to desires or particular urging on the part of the State Department?

A. I do not know, but I do know that the State Department generally favored the retention in the Pacific of the greater portion of the United States Fleet.

14. Q. During the late Winter and Spring of 1941, was the security of the Fleet against surprise attack whole in Pearl Harbor the subject of representations by the Navy to the State Department?

A. None that I made.

15. Q. Admiral, I show you a file of correspondence between Navy and War Department, beginning with the Navy Department's letter of 24 January 1941, concerning the unreadiness of Army forces, Oahu, to defend Pearl Harbor against the Japanese attack. Do you recall

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whether or not the State Department was cognizant of the situation as therein set forth and, if so, please give its reaction.

A. I'm positive that the State Department did not see this correspondence, and it is my belief that they were not fully informed of the conditions portrayed in this correspondence, although, from various discussions, they were, I believe, fairly well informed of the lack of certain equipment and personnel shortages in the Army and Navy generally.

The letter of the Secretary of Navy, dated 24 January 1941 together with the answer of the Secretary of War thereto, dated 7 February 1941, were introduced in evidence by the examining officer.

Note: Because of the secret nature of the documents, they were returned to the Secret-Confidential Files of the Chief of Naval Operations' Office, [408] Navy Department. A description of the documents introduced in evidence is appended marked "Exhibit 40".

16. Q. Then so far as you recall, that deficiency in the defenses of Oahu was never a factor in the conference and negotiations between State Department and Navy; is that correct?

A. I presume that that factor was taken into account by those who were given final advice on steps to be taken in the line of sanctions and embargoes.

17. Q. On pages 121 and 122 of "PEACE AND WAR", it is set forth that, after the Japanese had begun their full seizure of Indo-China, our Executive Order froze their credits and virtually stopped all of our trade with Japan. Do you recall if the Navy Department was consulted before that step was taken on approximately 26 July 1941?

A. I do not know, but I believe that it was, and the reason I say I do not know is because I know of no record to which I can point showing that this was done. However, I do remember that during that period this question was taken up by the State Department with the Navy Department.

18. Q. Do you recall any representation by the Navy Department to the State Department concerning the Navy's readiness in the Pacific as balanced against the risks of that action on 26 July 1941?

A. No.

19. Q. What to you seemed to be the prevalent state of mind in Naval Operations concerning the magnitude of such risk?

A. I can only speak from my own state of mind, which was necessarily influenced by those with whom I had contact. My state of mind was that the Japanese would go their own way in China, Indo-China, and perhaps Malaya, and put the onus of using force to stop them on the United States in the hopes that the divided opinion, political opinion, in the United States between the isolationists and those who favored United States' entrance into the war, to prevent or delay the United States from taking effective measures of force against Japan. Hence, that the United States retained the initiative to a large degree in determining the date of a war with Japan.

20. Q. At that time, late July, 1941, was the relative importance of the Pacific Theatre as against the Atlantic Theatre reexamined and, in consequence, were any new representations made to the State De-

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partment concerning the distribution of naval forces or of the security of our forces based in Hawaii?

A. Not that I know of.

21. Q. The State Department paper (PEACE AND WAR) contains no mention of the extensive changes which were made in the Japanese Cabinet in mid-October, 1941. However, the Navy Department's dispatch of 16 October, which is Exhibit 6 in this record, indicates that the Navy Department considered that Cabinet change as highly important. Do you recall any discussions, conferences, between the State and Navy Departments concerning the bearing of the Cabinet change upon our situation in the Pacific?

A. I remember that the meaning of this Cabinet change was discussed with the State Department and I believe that the Navy Department received from the State Department a memorandum of the State Department's Far Eastern Division's estimate of meaning of the shift in Cabinet. I do not know whether he submitted it, or not, but, in previous cases of Cabinet shift, the State Department did inform the Navy Department of Ambassador Grew's estimate at [409] its meeting, and I believe that the State Department did transmit to the Navy Department Ambassador Grew's views. I believe that Exhibit 6 was the Navy Department's estimate, arrived at independently of the State Department. The reason for this belief is that, to the best of my knowledge, the State Department did not take as serious a view of this Cabinet shift.

22. Q. Then is it correct to say that you did not gain from the State Department any impression that the Cabinet change was an ominous portent?

A. My recollection of the impression I gained from the State Department was that they regarded the shift as more or less a reshuffling among the leaders who had long been in power and, although they regarded it as not beneficial to the United States, they did not attach to it the same degree of importance as expressed in the Exhibit.

23. Q. The document, "PEACE AND WAR", page 135, shows that on 3 November '41, Ambassador Grew pointed out to the State Department that war in the Far East was not likely to be averted by imposition of commercial embargoes. Do you recall any discussions or representations made to or by the Navy Department concerning such a view, subsequent to that date?

A. No.

24. Q. Do you recall any discussions or representations at any time during the latter half of 1941 concerning that particular view of the situation as expressed by Ambassador Grew?

A. No, no formal representation of the State Department, and unless there was some informal representation, which there may have been, I believe the Navy Department was generally in accord with that view that sanctions would not prevent the outbreak of war.

25. Q. Was there any striking of a balance as between that view and the previously expressed view that sanctions would increase the risk of war with Japan?

A. None that I know.

26. Q. On page 137 first paragraph of "PEACE AND WAR", mention is made of the withdrawal of the last armed forces of the United States from China in connection with proposals made to the Japanese

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by our State Department concerning the withdrawal of their forces from China and Indo-China. Please state what you know of the background of the Navy Department's action in actually directing the withdrawal of our Marines and gunboats from Chinese territory and waters.

A. I remember this proposal but the United States and British armed forces from China were withdrawn principally because they were in jeopardy and not because of a desire to withdraw our forces as an example to the Japanese. Naturally, the suggestion to the Japanese that they undertake to withdrawn all their military, naval, air, and police forces from China and from Indo-China was probably based on desire to capitalize on this action in diplomatic course. The question of withdrawal of our gunboats and Marines from China had been under discussion for since sometime during 1940. Various recommendations were received from the Commander-in-Chief, Asiatic Fleet, and the question was taken up with the State Department at various times during the year 1941. The difficulty in reaching a decision was because of a number of factors, such as the effect on the Chinese of our withdrawal, i. e., would it appear to them that we were abandoning China to its fate; the question of the effect on the Japanese, principally whether the Japanese would regard it as withdrawing from China in fear of the Japanese or whether they would regard [410] it as a step preparatory to clearing the decks for action. As the situation became more tense and upon receipt of Admiral Hart's letter of August 28, 1941, which was transmitted to the State Department on October 3, '41, the question was discussed many times with the State Department. Failing to reach an agreement with the State Department, I prepared a memorandum, dated November 4, 1941, which Secretary Knox approved, suggesting a plan for withdrawing from Shanghai, and on 8 November, the Chief of Naval Operations sent a confidential message to the Commander-in-Chief, Asiatic, stating that the President had approved the withdrawal of Marines from China except those required for communication and custodial duties, and subject to State and Navy making a plan for orderly withdrawal whereby announcement would be made by Washington in order that civilians, nationals, and others might have prior notice. November 14, the President announced the decision to withdraw the Marines from Shanghai, and that withdrawal would begin shortly.

27. Q. What was the date of receipt of the Commander-in-Chief, Asiatic Fleet's letter of 28 August, in which he recommended the withdrawal?

A. It was received September 12, 1941.

Note: The examining officer identified the letter mentioned by the witness in the foregoing two answers as being one from Commander-in-Chief, Asiatic Fleet to the Chief of Naval Operations, dated 28 August 1941, Subject: Withdrawal of U. S. Naval Forces from China; classification "Secret"; and now on file in the Secret-Confidential File Room of the Office of Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department.

28. Q. Between that date and 14 November, which you have just testified was the date of the action upon the recommendation, what were the principal features of disagreement which caused so much delay in action?

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A. A lack of agreement as to the effect on the Japanese and the Chinese of the withdrawal, and a certain lack of agreement as to the urgency of withdrawal.

29. Q. Did the Navy Department take the position that the withdrawal should be made, or not?

A. I am not certain. There was, within the Navy Department, a certain lack of agreement as to whether or not the withdrawal should be made and in order to get a definite decision I instigated the memorandum previously referred to of November 4, '41. At that time, there was a general agreement that the withdrawal should be made. In the State Department, I discussed this question mainly with Dr. Hornbeck. His view was that we should allow sufficient time to again notify the civilians in China to get out and that the Marines should not be completely evacuated until the civilians had been given one last chance to get out. Previous to November 4, the Navy Department had not taken a firm stand on whether or not evacuation should be made.

30. Q. Between the aforesaid dates, 12 September and sometime in the first half of November, was the State Department in opposition to the removal of the forces from China or were they inclined to acquiesce?

A. They were generally in opposition. They were in opposition as to the removal, at least we were unable to get a definite answer as to whether or not they would agree to the Marines coming out.

31. Q. The purpose of bringing in this incident is to inquire whether or not there were disagreements to the disposition of forces in the Pacific. Do you recall any other incidents during 1941 in which there was pronounced disagreement between the State Department and Navy Department as to the location and [411] disposition of forces in the Pacific theatre?

A. No, sir, not to my knowledge.

32. Q. On page 113 of "PEACE AND WAR", there is set forth with considerable prominence a report that in case of trouble with the United States, Japan planned a surprise mass attack on Pearl Harbor. Do you note in this document any other "information" entry in which Japanese military intentions were so specifically reported and where a locale for aggression against us was thus narrowed down?

A. No.

33. Q. If that report, by Ambassador Grew of 27 January '41, was transmitted to the Navy Department, what discussions went on concerning it and what evaluation of the contained information transpired between officials of the State and Navy Departments, or of the latter only?

A. The report was transmitted-the telegram containing the substance of the report was transmitted to the Navy Department. There was no discussion of it within the Navy Department or with the State Department, so far as I know, as the report was given a low valuation as it was repeated to a member of Ambassador Grew's Staff by the diplomatic representative of one of the South American Powers and appeared to be hearsay information which was not substantiated.

34. Q. You have testified that you are now the Director of Naval Intelligence, and so forth. In that capacity. and with the ability which that background gives you, please elaborate your answer to

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the previous question to further explain the respective evaluation of that dispatch in comparison with the considerable mass of other information which must have been available.

A. The great mass of information available tended to show that the Japanese would move into Indo-China and to the southard. There was always reports that Japan would seize a favorable opportunity to attack Russia. It so happens that this report subsequently proved correct, but the report, in itself, would be given scant attention when there was nothing to substantiate it.

35. Q. Do you know if our Ambassador to Japan, or any of his Assistants, placed a particularly high evaluation upon that particular piece of information?

A. No; it was transmitted merely as a report received and without evaluation by the Ambassador or any of his Staff.

36. Q. In the light of your former close relations with officials of the State Department, can you explain why this dispatch is given so much prominence in "PEACE AND WAR"?

A. No, I am unable to explain the prominence given to this dispatch and until I searched the file, I did not remember that such a dispatch had been received.

37. Q. On about 27 November '41, what particular information did the Navy Department receive from the State Department concerning the breakdown of negotiations with Nomura and Kurusu?

A. I do not remember the specific information received, but the Navy Department was kept fully informed of the progress of the negotiations.

38. Q. I show you the Navy Department's dispatch of 27 November '41, Exhibit 8 in this record. Was the information concerning which you have just testified, the basis of this dispatch?

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A. I believe it was.

39. Q. Did the State Department keep the Navy fully advised as to the state of negotiations for the following ten days?

A. Yes.

40. Q. During that period, was the State Department's estimate of the situation vis-a-vis Japan as conveyed to the Navy Department in accord with the statements contained on page 138 of "PEACE AND WAR"?

A. I was not present at any meeting that I recall where the Secretary expressed the element of surprise so strongly or if at all, or the probability of attack at various points. However, the particular meetings which he mentioned, I do not recall and do not know if I was present. I cannot make any positive statement that he did not make such a statement. However, on Wednesday or Thursday before Pearl Harbor, Secretary Hull phoned me, saying in effect, "I know you Navy fellows are always ahead of me but I want you to know that I don't seem to be able to do anything more with these Japanese and they are liable to run loose like a mad dog and bite anyone." I assured him that a war warning had been sent out. I reported the conversation to Admiral Stark.

41. Q. Admiral, in view of the opinion that's been expressed by some witnesses that the armed forces of the United States would have been in much better position to repel attacks at a somewhat later date than 7 December, can you say whether or not any consider-

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ation was given to a policy of trying to play for more time in the negotiations with Japan?

A. I remember that, in general, Admiral Stark and General Marshall expressed the view that time played in favor of the United States, that is, any time that was gained in the outbreak of hostilities was to our benefit. The question of prolonging conversations with Kurusu and Nomura arose and the Navy Department again expressed the opinion that any time gained was for our benefit.

42. Q. Do you feel that the State Department cooperated in every way that it could to meet this desire on the part of the Army and Navy?

A. Secretary Hull had in mind some sort of modus vivendi which would be for a period of, say, three to six months, during which the United States and Japan would have opportunity to adjust their differences, but I have no reason to believe that this proposal ever reached the Japanese.

The examining officer did not desire to further examine this witness.

The examining officer informed the witness that he was privileged to make any further statement covering anything relating to the subject matter of the examination which he thought should be a matter of record in connection therewith, which had not been fully brought out by the previous questioning.

The witness stated that he had nothing further to say.

The witness was duly warned and withdrew.

The examination then, at 4:15 p. m., was adjourned to await the call of the examining officer.


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