The Challenge to Democracy


By MARTIN DIES, Congressman from Texas Made over a National Broadcasting Company Network from Washington, D. C., September 17, 1939

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. 5, pp. 762-765.

WE are living in a critical period. Fundamental rights which we in America have come to treat as commonplace are seriously threatened throughout the world. Democracy and its principles are everywhere challenged by dictatorships.

An alignment between Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan is a natural development which only mutual suspicion and jealousy can weaken or prevent. In principle these dictatorships are the same, and in practice they become more and more alike with each passing year. Communism, Nazism and Fascism are merely new words for old ideas. They are modern cults of the ancient pagan religion of Statolatry or the worship of the state. This was the religion of the Caesars and of every highly centralized government the world has ever seen.

What we are witnessing throughout the world today isnot only the contest of opposing armies but of conflicting ideas and principles as well. It is a renewal of the age old struggle between those who believe that the government is the servant of the people and those who believe that the people are the servants of the government; between the democratic philosophy which teaches that it is the primary function of government to protect man in the enjoyment of his God-given rights, and the totalitarian philosophy which teaches that it is the duty of the government to support the people and to regiment them under systems of planned economy; between the spiritual concept of man, on the one hand, which teaches that the fundamental rights of each individual come from God and not from governments or majorities, and the materialistic concept, on the other hand, which subordinates the individual to the state and acknowledges no individual rights which the state needs to protect or respect. It is a revival of the ancient feud between those who maintain that man can solve his problems through the state and those who contend that the solution of most problems depends upon the private initiative, energy, virtues, courage and faith of the people under the wise and progressive leadership of the government. Finally, it is a struggle between those who want the government to act as a fair and impartial umpire to administer the rules of the game without favoritism and those who want the government to enter the contest on the side of one class or race.

It is natural that we in America should be interested and partial spectators of the European tragedy and that our sympathy should be with England and France. The fact that we can sympathize with England and France after their disgraceful exhibition of ingratitude and selfishness towards us and their repudiation of an honest debt owing to us is a tribute of American devotion to ideals and democracy.

Of more immediate concern to us, however, are the enemies within our country and the progress here of the same pagan religion which has been so triumphant in Germany, Italy, Russia, and Japan.

The Congress is about to meet to discuss the question of neutrality toward the participants in the European war. But both advocates and opponents of strict neutrality should agree that we should abandon neutrality toward the agents of Hitler and Stalin who are now busy organizing their ideological armies on our own soil—ideological armies which can be turned overnight into armies of sabotage, espionage, and civil war. The foreign agents of Stalin have been pampered long enough in high government circles, in trade unions, and in the camp of so-called liberals. The foreign agents of Hitler have been petted long enough by so-called patriotic groups. It is time for every government body and for every trade union to make a thorough house cleaning of their Browders and Fosters. It is time for every truly patriotic society to rid itself of its Kuhns and Pelleys. There must be no neutrality on American soil when the basic principles of Americanism are at stake. Our problem now is not with resisting the invasion of foreign armies but with driving back the invasion of foreign ideas and their agents. The defense of democracy at home comes first.

For more than a year our Committee on Un-American Activities has been exposing these foreign agents by showing the manner in which they work. For a long time many people, including some of those in authority, have ignored or minimized these startling revelations and, even today, after we have given the country the most convincing and competent evidence of Communist and Fascist growth and influence in this country, a very prominent columnist said a few days ago that she had seen little evidence of subversive or un-American activities and that she did not think that the number of Communists in this country had increased greatlyin the past few years. This statement, which unfortunately represents the views of many officials, was made in spite of the admission of Earl Browder before our Committee that there are 50,000 Communists who belong to trade unions, with twice as many Communists in the C. I. O. as in the A. F. of L., and with hundreds of Communists occupying positions as organizers and officials in trade unions, and that the American Communist Party has enjoyed the greatest growth in its history since 1935; and in spite of competent evidence received by the Committee that half of the forty directors of the C. I. O. are either Communists or have been Communists or follow the Communist line; that the Communist Party in the United States and its members implicitly follow the party line laid down by the Communist International in Moscow; that Communists control, directly and indirectly, a number of front organizations with a total membership of seven or eight million people; that important positions in the government are filled by Communists and their fellow travelers, and that in recent years more than ten million dollars have passed through Communists' hands and have been used in this country to promote Communism. The ravages of cancer are not as visible as is the menace of Communism.

I merely cite this to show the difficulty of arousing our leaders to the seriousness of the situation which confronts us in our own country. We do not have to look across the waters to find enemies of American democracy. We do not have to embark upon foreign expeditions to break a lance in the cause of freedom and democracy. We do not have to travel to other countries to engage the forces and philosophies of dictatorships—their agents are here under our very noses.

For instance, take the German-American Bund. The evidence before our Committee clearly shows that it is the spearhead of the Fascist movement in this country. Around it all the other Fascist and semi-Fascist organizations and groups gravitate. They are the "solar system" of the Bund. We do not have to take the testimony of witnesses like Helen Voorhos, who was at one time the leader of the South Brooklyn Division of the Youth Movement of the Bund, and who stated under oath and from first-hand knowledge that the Bund is a Nazi organization. We can ignore documentary evidence such as the correspondence between the Chicago Bund Post and the official agencies of the Nazi government. We need only take the testimony of Fritz Kuhn himself to convince any fair-minded American that the German-American Bund is a Nazi organization and for all practical purposes is an agency of the German Government. When Fritz Kuhn appeared before our Committee he admitted that he was an admirer of Hitler; that he believed that Hitler had done a great job; that he had written many articles praising the new Germany, and that one of the purposes of the Bund was to bring this viewpoint to the United States.

Section 11 of the Constitution of the German-American Bund sets forth its aims and purposes, as follows:

"To be and remain worthy of our Germanic blood, our German motherland, our German brothers and sisters, and to cultivate our German language, customs and ideals; and to be upstandingly proud of these principles."

Let me read some of Kuhn's testimony given under the questioning of Congressman Starnes:

Mr. Starnes: You carry a statement from Hitler in your yearbook of 1937, do you not?

Mr. Kuhn: Yes.

Mr. Starnes: In which he states in effect that Germany's enemies are your enemies, is that right?

Mr. Kuhn: That is right; they are yours too. Mr. Starnes: Mine too, is that correct?

Mr. Kuhn: Yours too, that is correct. Mr. Starnes: Give us the English translation of that statement by Minister Goebbels in the lower right-hand corner.

Mr. Kuhn: "Your fatherland is Germany. Love it more than anything in words and in accomplishment."

Mr. Starnes; That is, in deeds?

Mr. Kuhn: Deeds.

Mr. Starnes: More in deeds than otherwise, is that right?

Mr. Kuhn: That is right.

Mr. Kuhn admitted that the Bund had cooperated with other organizations and groups, such as the Silver Shirts, the Christian Crusaders, the Knights of the White Camellia, the Christian Mobilizers, and many others which I do not have time to mention now but which I will deal with at a later date.

Thus we find the Bund not only cooperating with certain well known Fascist organizations like the Italian and Ukrainian Fascists but we also find it working with other organizations and groups which strenuously deny that they are Fascist. I am confident that the majority of people in many of these organizations which cooperate with the Bund are not Fascists in the sense that the term is understood abroad. I do believe, however, that they share with the Fascists certain prejudices which make it possible for the Bund to use them to promote the interests of Hitler and Mussolini in the United States. The Fascist-Nazi movements in the United States masquerade as Christian patriots.

In almost every instance, we find the leaders on record as favoring some form of dictatorship while using these organizations as rackets to enrich themselves.

Fritz Kuhn testified that there are about 100,000 members of the Bund and of its sympathizer group. There are about 100 Bund Posts located in 42 States. While there is no way of definitely estimating the total membership of all the organizations and groups which cooperate with the Bund, it is a larger figure than most people realize.

Kuhn's admiration and praise for Hitler are matched by Browder's admiration and praise for Stalin. Kuhn's admitted motherland is Germany; Browder's admitted fatherland is Russia.

Our hearings on Communism began with the testimony of the head of the Communist Party of the United States, Earl Browder. From this authoritative source, our hearings disclosed that in every important respect the Communist Party corresponds to the German-American Bund, as the agency of a foreign power operating on American soil to undermine American institutions. With the drawing together of Hitler and Stalin for aggression in Europe, we may now speak of the principal subversive activities in the United States as the work of the communazis under the leadership of the Kuhn-Browder axis.

Benjamin Gitlow, former high-ranking leader of the Communist Party in this country and one-time member of the Executive Committee of the Communist International in Moscow, occupied the stand for four days and unfolded a story of far-reaching intrigue by Stalin's agents in this country. He testified that large sums of money have been sent here from Moscow regularly. He showed how the Communist Party of the United States and its leaders are the appointed tools of Stalin. He named the numerous official representatives of the Communist International who have been sent to this country from time to time to control every detail of the American Communist Party. He related the story of Communist penetration into the armed forces of the United States. He gave a convincing account of Earl Browder's own connections with the G. P. U.—the dreaded secretservice of fuehrer Stalin. He testified at length on the ways in which the Communists bore from within the trade unions —the C. I. O. in particular—for the purpose of subverting the forces of organized labor to the wishes of the Kremlin. He explained how every fluctuation of policy in the Communist Party of the United States is determined by some interest or whim of the Soviet government and its red Hitler. He explained how practically all the leaders of the Communist Party have traveled in many parts of the world on false passports.

We do not need the truly historic testimony of Benjamin Gitlow, however, in order to convict the Communist Party of being an agent of Stalin. When all of Gitlow's testimony is left out of account, it is enough to take the words of Earl Browder himself to establish incontrovertibly the guilt of the American Communist Party in operating on behalf of Stalin to destroy the cherished institutions of our democracy.

The relationship of the Communist Party of the United States to the Communist International and to Stalin was established beyond any dispute, and this was done in the numerous admissions of the head of the American Communist Party. Browder declared that the members of his American party are "members of the Communist International." He stated further that the Communist Party of the United States is a "section" or an "affiliate" of the Communist International. He spoke of its "organic connection with the world movement, through the Communist International."

Browder admitted that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union is held to be the "model party" for the Communist Party of the United States, as well as the "model party" for all the other affiliates of the Communist International. In his own words, "the Bolshevik Party is a model for the entire International Communist Movement."

He said that he had frequently described the Soviet Union as the "Workers Fatherland." He said that if the United States should ever become involved in a war against the Soviet Union, he would try to turn that war into a civil war against the American Government.

Browder confessed that he had traveled abroad on false passports.

Under extensive questioning by the Committee's Director of Research, Dr. J. B. Matthews, he conceded that the decisions of the Communist International are obligatory upon the American Communist Party. He further stated that in all the twenty years of the history of his Party, there has not been a single occasion on which the Communist Party here has disagreed with the decisions of the Communist International. Those decisions are so binding, he said, that disagreement with them would mean automatically the expulsion of the party which disagreed.

Browder boasted of the leadership of Stalin and Dimitroff in the affairs of the American Communist Party.

The Communist Party of the United States is now engaged, by the instructions of its highest governing body, in an intensive study of the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In the words of Browder himself, this history of a foreign political party is "an invaluable guide to the mastering of the problems of American history." The International Publishers has just published 100,000 copies of the history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and these have been distributed through the direct assistance of the American Communist Party to its members and sympathizers.

Browder made it clear that no member of the Communist Party of the United States would dare to condemn the recently signed Soviet-Nazi Pact. His pitiful efforts to defend this new alliance between Stalin and Hitler, as an aid to Poland, are refuted for all intelligent Americans by the tragicevents now transpiring in Europe. The signing of that Pact in the face of all the anti-Nazi agitation of Stalin and Browder in recent years shows the depths of cynicism to which the materialistic philosophy of communism sinks.

Earl Browder described as "transmission belts" the numerous front organizations which the Communist Party set up for the purpose of drawing millions of Americans into the sphere of influence of his party. The Communist Party itself is the powerhouse of subversive influence, but its card-holding membership is relatively small, and without numerous "transmission belts" it would never be able to distribute its subversive influence to significant numbers of our population. Among the countless "transmission belts," Browder named the International Labor Defense, the International Workers Order, the American Student Union, the American Youth Congress, the National Negro Congress, the Southern Conference for Human Welfare, the Consumers National Federation, and the American League for Peace and Democracy. These and many others are the "solar system" of the Communist Party. The laudable "paper objectives" of these organizations are devices for the transmission of Communist Party influence to large sections of our people. Well meaning Americans who reject the teachings of Communism, but who support the program of the Communist Party through their membership in these "transmission belt" organizations, can no longer be in doubt regarding the real nature of these movements. The head of the American Communist Party has spoken. It is now time for those many gullible citizens, politicians and labor leaders who have served to advance the purposes of Stalin's propaganda machine in this country to clarify their position—to accept the responsibility for participation in Communist un-American activities or to sever their connections with Stalin, Dimitroff, and Browder.

Through the testimony of the treasurer of the Communist Party, through the testimony of the treasurer of the New York State Communist Party—Earl Browder's brother—and through the investigation of our Committee's own accountant who had studied the bank records, it was established that the various units or branches of the Communist Party in this country collect the sum of $2,000,000 annually to carry on their propaganda and activities here. This sum is in addition to other millions which are collected by the numerous "frontorganizations" under the control of the Communist Party. It is no laughing matter when a subversive movement, bound by the dictates of a foreign government, has at its disposal millions of dollars for its campaign of destroying American institutions. Subversive and un-American activities have definitely entered the realm of "big business." Our Committee's appropriation of $100,000 is a paltry sum beside the expenditures of Stalin's propaganda machine in this country. The Communist Party of the United States is now engaged in a financial drive under the slogan "dimes for democracy." Characteristically, this slogan is a gross deception. The real truth which underlies this deception is that the agent of a foreign principal is collecting millions for the establishment of a dictatorship in the United States.

Earl Browder admitted without hesitation that he had written that "the principles upon which a Soviet America would be organized would be the same, in every respect, as those which guided the Soviet Union."

The Fascist movement in the United States is not as old or as well organized as the Communist movement. The Communists have developed more able leaders and more clever and effective strategy.

Already our Committee has brought to light enough of the facts on the subversive work of the Kuhn-Browder axis in this country to justify our federal government in proceeding to prosecute the leaders of this un-American axis for the violation of several of our statutes. The people of this country are more solidly behind the work of our Committee than ever before. The letters we receive daily and the editorials which are appearing in all the leading newspapers from coast to coast attest this fact. I am convinced that the American people expect their government to take prompt and effective action at home to defend democracy against the Kuhn-Browder combination, and against the unprecedented avalanche of inspired and subsidized war propaganda with which we are being swamped through every possible medium of communication. There is no doubt in my mind that the greatest contribution we can make to the cause of freedom and democracy at home and abroad is to stay out of Europe's war which can only result, so far as we are concerned, in bankruptcy, prolonged depression and ultimate dictatorship.

With God's help we must, we will remain free.