Today marks 74 years since the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a war crime against a country with no declaration of war. The purpose of the bombing was to take out enough of the US Naval forces to prevent the US from entering WWII and hindering the Japanese plans for immediate conquest.
|Pearl Harbor--image from here|
I wrote about Pearl Harbor in 2011, on the 70th anniversary. But there are some other details I’d like to share today.
Back when we were homeschooling, we had a history text that included a section called “The Planned Invasion of the Americas,” taken from True Stories from the Files of the FBI, by W. Cleon Skousen[i] This section align with information in Wikipedia, so it’s probably known, but it is more obscure than some other big stories of the war.
You may recognize the name W. Cleon Skousen from his book The 5000-Year Leap, or possibly The Naked Communist, Fantastic Victory, or The Real Benjamin Franklin. I may have mentioned that he was a friend of my dad. The families grew up together around San Bernardino, California, so I’ve been familiar with his works all my life. I’m going to quote a couple of pages from this piece by Skousen:
The Nazi-Fascist teaching of “Divide and Conquer” followed the same pattern in every territory marked for conquest. While Quislings tore down Norway’s defenses and the Lavals were hard at work undermining France, the same “softening-up” process was underway in America. The Americas, however, awoke in time, and they were the only continents of the world where Axis bombs did not fall or Axis boots did not tread. But the enemy planned it otherwise.
There was never a time in modern history when the entire Western Hemisphere stood in greater danger form foreign invasion than during the critical period of 1941 and 1942. It is only 1,685 miles from Natal, Brazil, to Dakar, North Africa—no further than a railroad trip from Boston, Massachusetts, to Omaha, Nebraska. At one time in those long anxious months when America was unprepared, German troops were ready at Dakar, waiting the right moment to drive the Nazi knife into Brazil.
The Reich considered a direct attack on American defenses in the Caribbean. German and Japanese planes were to attack the Panama Canal, Colombian seaports and exposed overland pipelines. A fleet of 1,000 huge submarines was to carry Nazi troops into Colombia and Venezuela. A boat was to be sunk in a narrow channel in Dutch Guiana—thereby cutting off 60 percent of a mineral necessary to United States industries. Brazil had over 200,000 Japanese. They were reported to be arming. Germans laid plans to smash transportation if Chile broke with the Axis.
The strike in the Bolivian tin mines was traced to a German consul. Slowdowns, fires, and destructive devices slowed the workers on United States bases in Brazil.
The situation had all the elements known in the Axis code of warfare as the preparation for a surprise attack.
|book cover from Amazon.com|
At 1:25 PM, Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Honolulu Office of the FBI called headquarters at Washington, DC. It was 7:55 AM in Hawaii. Japanese bombers were blasting Pearl Harbor!
Their first call sparked into action the nation-wise war plans of the FBI. While bombs were still falling on the main United Sates Pacific fleet, every FBI office from Juneau, Alaska, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, was alerted. Within one hour every FBI employee in each of the field offices was stationed at his post of duty and knew his job. FBI manpower combined with more than 150,000 law enforcement officers to crack down at the slightest sabotage gesture or attempted uprisings of enemy fifth columns.
In the communications center of the FBI, two officials, following FBI war plans worked out in advance, dictated directly to operators the vital messages going out at the same time to all continental field offices over the Bureau’s teletype network. Nineteen different messages flashed out in rapid succession and each Special Agent in Charge passed on to cooperating police the latest security orders.
All Japanese known to be dangerous were immediately apprehended. Japanese known to be dangerous were immediately apprehended Japanese were taken off planes. Communications in and out of the United States were stopped. Press services to occupied China and Japan were cut off. Protective guards were established at the Japanese, German and Italian Embassies in Washington at their consulates throughout the country. Their mail and telephone services were discontinued, their funds were frozen.
On the day following Pearl Harbor 1,771 dangerous enemy aliens had been arrested and delivered to the US Immigration and Naturalization Service for detention. As formal declarations of war were announced, large-scale arrests of German and Italian aliens—all known or suspected to be dangerous—were made. The whole operation moved along according to plan. In all, over 16,000 arrests were made by the FBI.
Since the aliens considered “dangerous” were apprehended in a calm and orderly manner, the fears of honest, patriotic aliens were quieted. They saw that there would be none of the so-called “witch hunting” remembered from the last war.[ii]
Vicious rumors which flew thick and fast over Hawaii and later spread to the mainland were also quashed by prompt investigations. Official FBI announcements that the “latest stories” were “pure rumor and not real” did much to calm jittery nerves. Public fear was further prevented by a vigorous “Tell it to the FBI” campaign.
Thus, the Axis fifth column was smashed before it could go into action. The panicky fear of it that gripped many Americans in the black days following Pearl Harbor soon disappeared.
Effect of “Pearl Harbor” in South America
The shock of the Japanese sneak-attack on Pearl Harbor was registered immediately in South American countries. It made them suddenly alert to the prospects of similar attacks.
For more than two years the FBI had found that enemy spying in the United States tied in closely with Axis activities among sister republics to the south. When advised of the information revealed by FBI investigations in the United States, South American countries enthusiastically agreed to cooperate. Many republics asked for FBI liaison agents to work with their own police and intelligence forces. Others sent intelligence officers to train at FBI schools.
The FBI and the law enforcement agencies of the South American countries exchanged information on all matters of mutual interest. In this way an effective Pan-American intelligence force was successfully raised up against the destructive fifth column activities of the Axis spy and sabotage rings in South America.
Altogether, more than 7,000 Axis operators and sympathizers in South America have been expelled, interned or removed far inland where they are harmless. More than 250 spies and saboteurs have been exposed and neutralized. Twenty-nine secret short-wave radio stations used principally to transmit information about the United States to Germany have been eliminated. Potentially dangerous Axis nationals have been brought under observation.
Such victories have played a major role in the defense of the Western Hemisphere. The massing of German troops at Dakar, the Japanese plans to attack Alaska, to smash through to the West Coast, to bomb the Panama Canal and spread destruction in American war plants—all these were dreams of the enemy. But they failed because the enemies’ spy network in the Americas was smashed.
On a day like this, in times like this, we should consider what the world would look like if America had been a “paper tiger” as WWII enemies had believed. What is the US had thrown up its hands after that tragic attack and said, “We surrender”? What if plans to occupy South and then Central America, and move into mainland America had been successful?
It's hard to imagine the negative effects on the world if Americans had not awoken to the peril to civilization and fought to preserve our precious freedom.
[i] I believe the book is a compilation of stories, printed in book form after the author’s death; his wife is listed as author, and his son as editor, who also wrote the forward. The information about the book on Amazon.com says it was written under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover and was used for some time in FBI training. The history text I used was compiled by Skousen’s daughter and her husband, and frequently quotes from Skousen’s writings.
[ii] This was written contemporaneously, so it predates the time of the Japanese internment camps, which were an unfortunate response to fear during the war.