User:RobSmith/Joseph P. Lash

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  • Lash, Joseph P. Dealers and Dreamers: A New Look at the New Deal. New York: Doubleday, 1988. In a chapter entitled Communists and New Dealers Lash discusses Harold Ware, Nathan Witt, Hope Dale Davis, Herbert Fuchs, Michael Straight, Victor Perlo, Edwin S. Smith, and secret Communist groups in AAA and NLRB.
  • Romerstein, Herbert & Eric Breindel (2000), The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America's Traitors, Regnery, pp. 172-173. ISBN 0895262754 [1]
  • A Guide to the Micro film Edition of Federal Bureau of Investigation Confidential Files THE J. EDGAR HOOVER OFFICIAL AND CONFIDENTIAL FILE, Edited by Athan G. Theoharis, UNIVERSITY PUBLICATIONS OF AMERICA [2]
  • Lash, Joseph, 0959Folder 103. February 3, 1943-February 2,1954.113pp.
  • Subjects: Prominent persons; derogatory information; memoranda concerning Lash's alleged relationship with Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt; information related to FBI by U.S. Army personnel; correspondence between Mrs. Roosevelt and Lash; proposed wartime dismemberment of counter intelligence corps (G-2); physical, microphone, and mail surveillance of Lash (who was suspected of Communist affiliations); political matters during the Roosevelt administration.
  • Draper, Theodore. Joseph Lash and the CP. New York Review of Books, 24 March 1994. Discusses the details of whether Joseph Lash, later an anti-Communist liberal, was an official member of the CPUSA or a highly-cooperative fellow traveler in the late 1930s. [3]
  • American Student Union, which included, besides Dr. Neibuhr, Langston Hughes, Freda Kirchwey, J. Raymond Walsh, Alexander Trachtenberg, Celeste Strack, Waldo Frank, Robert M. Lovett, and Joseph Lash. Committee for Boycott Against Japanese Aggression, whose other members included Freda Kirchwey, Joseph Lash, Robert M. Lovett, Professor Henry P. Fairchild, Professor T. A. Bisson, Morris Carnovsky, Lewis Alan Berne.


Lash was a prominent radical leader, who considered himself "a full-time revolutionary." After serving as an officer of the Student League for International Democracy, a Socialist youth organization, he served as executive secretary of the American Student Union (ASU), a coalition of radical youth groups, in 1936-39.[1] In the wake of the Nazi-Soviet pact, 100 ASU chapter leaders in New York passed resolutions approving of the pact and of the Soviet invasion of Finland.[2] Ex-Communist William G. Ryan, a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, testified before the Dies Committee that the ASU was a "front" organization "completely controlled by the Communist party."[3] At the ASU national convention in 1939, an amendment labeling Russia an aggressor was defeated, as was a proposal to put the question to a referendum.[4] Although he denied being a Communist, Lash was a May Day speaker, who left the Socialist party in 1937, a move he wrote about in the official Communist party organ New Masses.


In 1939, Lash and other ASU leaders were summoned to testify before HUAC on Communist influence in student organizations. On the train to Washington, they met First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Mrs. Roosevelt counseled Lash and the others on how to handle themselves before the committee. The First Lady "electrified the Washington press corps by appearing in the hearing room as a gesture of moral support to the witnesses."[5] Lash reportedly mocked the committee chairman, Martin Dies (D-Tex.), singing:

If you see an Un-American lurking far or near,

just alcoholize with Martin Dies and he will disappear.[6]

At first Mrs. Roosevelt sat at the back of the audience knitting. But when Lash began to falter under questioning, the First Lady arose. "She moved to the front of the committee room so that [Dies and committee members] would be more respectful in their questions," according to Roosevelt biographer Blanche Wiesen Cook. "She sort of came to [Lash's] rescue."[7] The First Lady later told one of Mr. Lash's companions that she could not understand why Lash had seemed "so uncertain in his replies" to the committee's questions. After the hearing, Mrs. Roosevelt invited Lash and his comrades to the White House for dinner.[8] Lash began a correspondence with the First Lady,[9] who invited Lash alone to the Roosevelt estate in Hyde Park, N.Y. She once brought the President by to hear Lash's views on American youth.[10]

Attempt to secure a commission

Throughout the duration of the Nazi-Soviet pact, Lash had been an ardent pacifist, fomenting student anti-war strikes and attacking ROTC as "a vast propaganda effort to make the war system... colorful and appealing." Even before the pact, in 1937, Lash had written:

American youth does not intend to lay down its life in shell holes around Shanghai or Timbuktu. The program of the American Student Union states that 'we will not support any war which the United States Government may undertake' for we recognize that such a war would be imperialist in character.[11]

But following the breakdown of the Nazi-Soviet pact, Lash tried to get a commission in the U.S. Naval Reserve, with the backing of Mrs. Roosevelt. When he was turned down, the First Lady intervened on his behalf, asking the attorney general "if it would be possible for you to run down for me through the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Colonel Donovan's Naval Inspectors and the Dies Committee, what they really have on Joe Lash."[12] After Pearl Harbor, Lash was drafted into the Army.

Eleanor Roosevelt was responsible for involving Lash in FDR's presidential campaign of 1940 as the director of the Democratic National Committee's Youth Committee. In time Lash became one of the First Lady's most trusted advisers.[13] In the early 1940's, the extraordinary relationship between Lash and Mrs. Roosevelt led to rumors that the two were romantically involved.[14] Washington Post columnist Westbrook Pegler was apparently referring to Lash and his wife, the former Mrs. Gertrude Wenzel Pratt, when he wrote in 1942 of an acquaintance of the First Lady:

formerly was a fair haired boy of the Communist Front, married a young campus cutie who has been infected with the Moscow principles and celebrated her marriage with a piece in a Muscovite paper, entitled "My Father was a Liar" was divorced, and now, at the age of 32, is held up to the American people by Mrs. Roosevelt as a person fit for leadership of American youth. He, also, is on Mrs. Roosevelt's private payroll, the money for which is derived from the commercialization of the Presidential office.[15]

Mrs. Roosevelt responded by asking the FBI to investigate Pegler for "sedition."[16]

G-2 surveillance

In a 1943 Federal Bureau of Investigation memorandum, George C. Burton, Chief of the Liaison Section of the FBI's Division V (National Defense),[17] reported to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that Colonel John T. Bissell, Chief of the Counter Intelligence Group of the War Department's Military Intelligence Division[18] relayed to him a report from Colonel Leslie R. Forney, Chief of the Military Intelligence Service's Counterintelligence Group,[19] that pursuant to surveillance of Lash, the Counterintelligence Group had bugged Lash's room and obtained a recording made one night when Lash and Mrs. Roosevelt shared adjoining rooms at a Chicago hotel.

Gen. Bissell relayed to Burton a report from Col. Forney that news of this recording had leaked to the White House. Forney and General George V. Strong, Assistant Chief of Staff for G-2[20] (Army Intelligence),[21] were summoned to report to the White House "with the complete records of this matter" at approximately 10:00 p.m. They were received by the President, Thomas E. Watson, Executive Officer of the Division of Plans and Policies, and top FDR adviser Harry Hopkins—whom Ishkak Akhmerov (the leading NKVD illegal in the United States)[22] identified as "the most important of all Soviet war-time agents in the United States,"[23] according to Oleg Gordievsky, the highest-ranking KGB officer ever to defect.[24]

According to Bissell, Forney and Strong played the recording: "This recording indicated quite clearly that Mrs. Roosevelt and Lash engaged in sexual intercourse during their stay in the hotel room."

Forney advised Bissell that after this record was played Mrs. Roosevelt was called into the conference and was confronted with the information and this resulted in a terrific fight between the President and Mrs. Roosevelt. At approximately 5:00 a.m. the next morning the President called for General [H.H. "Hap"] Arnold, Chief of the Army Air Corps, and upon his arrival at the conference ordered him to have Lash outside the United States and on his way to a combat post within ten hours.

In addition, according to Burton's memo, Bissell said he subsequently learned "The President had ordered that anybody who knew anything about this case should be immediately relieved of his duties and sent to the South Pacific for action against the Japs until they were killed."[25]

Shortly thereafter, Bissell replace Strong as Assistant Chief of Staff for G-2.[26] FOIA 19:47, 1 June 2010 (EDT)


  1. David E. Pitt, "Joseph P. Lash Is Dead; Reporter and Biographer," The New York Times, August 30, 1987
  2. "A Communist 'Front'," (Williamsport, Pa.) Gazette and Bulletin, January 10, 1940, p. 6
  3. "American Youth Congress labelled 'Communist Front'," The Victoria Advocate, November 29, 1938, p. 1
  4. "A Communist 'Front'," (Williamsport, Pa.) Gazette and Bulletin, January 10, 1940, p. 6
  5. David E. Pitt, "Joseph P. Lash Is Dead; Reporter and Biographer," The New York Times, August 30, 1987
  6. Janon Fisher, "Did Army Tape Eleanor Roosevelt Having an Affair?,", January 31, 2000
  7. Janon Fisher, "Did Army Tape Eleanor Roosevelt Having an Affair?,", January 31, 2000
  8. David E. Pitt, "Joseph P. Lash Is Dead; Reporter and Biographer," The New York Times, August 30, 1987
  9. Janon Fisher, "Did Army Tape Eleanor Roosevelt Having an Affair?,", January 31, 2000
  10. David E. Pitt, "Joseph P. Lash Is Dead; Reporter and Biographer," The New York Times, August 30, 1987
  11. "National Defense: Lash to the Mast?" Time, November 24, 1941
  12. Joseph P. Lash, Love, Eleanor: Eleanor Roosevelt and Her Friends (Doubleday, 1982), ISBN 038517053X, p. 370
  13. Joseph Lash (1909-1987, Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, Hyde Park, NY (National Park Service)
  14. David E. Pitt, "Joseph P. Lash Is Dead; Reporter and Biographer," The New York Times, August 30, 1987
  15. Westbrook Pegler, "Fair Enough: Mrs. Roosevelt's Public Life," The Washington Post, February 12, 1942 (Eleanor Roosevelt, PBS)
  16. David Witwer, "Westbrook Pegler, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the FBI: A History of Infamous Enmities and Unlikely Collaborations" Journalism History, Vol. 34, Issue 4 (Winter 2009)
  17. Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI (Turner Publishing Company, 1998) ISBN 1563114739, p. 108
  18. Testimony of John T. Bissell, Room 2C637 Pentagon Building, Washington, DC, 14 September 1944, p. 2, Part I of Pearl Harbor Investigation conducted by Colonel Carter W. Clarke, Testimony and findings concerning handling of certain top secret documents, Top Secret. Reprinted as Joint Committee Exhibit No. 147, Pearl Harbor Attack, Part 34: Proceedings of Clarke Investigation, Hearings Before the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack, Congress of the United States, (United States Government Printing Office, 1946), p. 8 (PDF p. 30)
  19. Frank J. Rafalko, ed., Vol. 2, Ch. 1: Counterintelligence in World War II, p. 31 (PDF p. 32), in A Counterintelligence Reader: An American Revolution Into the New Millennium (Office of the National Intelligence Executive)
  20. Thaddeus Holt, The Deceivers: Allied Military Deception in the Second World War (Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2007) ISBN 1602391424, p. 250
  21. U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, G2
  22. Douglas O. Linder, The VENONA Files and the Alger Hiss Case, The Alger Hiss Trials, 1949-50, Famous Trials (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, 2010)
  23. Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky, KGB: The Inside Story of Its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev (New York: Harpercollins, 1990) ISBN 0060166053, p. 287
  24. Peter B. Niblo, Influence: The Soviet Task Leading to Pearl Harbor, the Iron Curtain, and the Cold War (Oakland, Ore.: Elderberry Press, 2002) ISBN 1930859147, p. 65
  25. J. Edgar Hoover, Official & Confidential File, #102. Cf. M. Stanton Evans, Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies (New York: Crown Forum, 2007), ISBN 978-1-4000-8105-9, p. 82; Kevin Dowling, "FBI files claim Franklin Roosevelt sent soldier to die in jealous rage," The Scotsman, February 2, 2000; "Wife's Alleged Affair Irked FDR, United Press International (Reading Eagle, April 23, 1982, p. 54); "Army Agents Bugged Eleanor's Room?" Associated Press (Daytona Beach Morning Journal, March 11, 1982, p. 15A)
  26. John F. Kreis, ed., Piercing the Fog: Intelligence and Army Air Forces Operations in World War II (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1996) ISBN 1428914056, p. 357. Cf. Frank J. Rafalko, ed., Vol. 2, Ch. 1: Counterintelligence in World War II, p. 34 (PDF p. 35), in A Counterintelligence Reader: An American Revolution Into the New Millennium (Office of the National Intelligence Executive)