In 1939, the Christian Front was formed in response to a call by Father Charles Edward Coughlin to oppose the Popular Front, a communist organization. The members of the Christian Front were American Catholics who supported a pro-Nazi agenda. In 1940, the FBI alleged that members of the group were trying to install what they called a “temporary dictatorship” to end the influence of Jews and Communists, who they saw as the same, in the United States.
Charles Gallagher‘s new book Nazis of Copley Square: The Forgotten Story of the Christian Front chronicles the history of the front and how it was ultimately taken down. In this program, co-presented by the Museum and the New York City College of Technology (CUNY), Gallagher and David Kertzer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Paul Dupee Professor of Social Science at Brown University, discuss the book.
Watch the program below.
Recording transcript for "Nazis of Copley Square" Book Talk
This program’s original recording transcript is below. This transcription was created automatically during a live program so may contain inaccurate transcriptions of some words.
Hi everyone my name is Sydney Yaeger, and i'm the public programs coordinator at the museum of Jewish heritage a living memorial to the holocaust i'm honored to introduce today's program about
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Nazis, of Copley Square, the forgotten story of the Christian front by Charles Gallagher. I would also like to thank the New York City College of Technology will be opening an exhibition titled Americans in the holocaust in 2,023 for
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Co-presenting Today's program Today's program, continues our series about Nazis in the United States as anti-semitism. and so I'm now going to hand things over to Keith Mchowski Associate Professor at the Ursula, C.
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Schwaring. Well, thank you so much for that sydney and thank you also for including me and Sydney pointed out i'm participating in this event today, introducing our esteemed speakers as site coordinator
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to Americans in the Holocaust, a traveling exhibition that will be coming to New York City College of Technology, in October, in November of 2,023, and we are very excited about that and our event
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today hosts 2 very We'll be with 2 very prestigious scholars Charles R.
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Gallagher, of the Society of the Jesuits, is an associate professor of history at Boston College, in 2,017.
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He was the William J. Lohenberg Memorial Fellow on America, the Holocaust and the Jews. The Mandel Center for advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington
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Dc. in 2,009. His book, Vatican Secret Diplomacy, Joseph P.
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Hurley and Pope Pius the Twelfth won the American Catholic historical associations.
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John Gilmari Sheafr. He is interested in religion, and we wing movements. The holocaust American Catholicism, Intelligence and Vatican Diplomacy Nazis of Copley Square The Forgotten
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history. The Christian front was published in September by Harvard University Press, and also joining us today is David Kurtzer, who is the Paul Dupe University, Professor of Social Science at Brown University where He's also Professor of Anthropology, and Italian
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studies, and from 2,006 to 2,011 served as provost.
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His book, the Pope and Mussolini was awarded the 2,015 Pulitzer prize for biography, and has been published in 11 languages in 2,005 he was elected to membership in the Academy, of arts.
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And sciences. Professor Kurtzer was among the first scholars, having access to the newly opened Vatican archives for the papacy of the controversial Pope.
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Pious, the twelfth based on research there, as well as an archives in Italy, Germany, France, Britain, and the United States.
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His new book, The Pope at War, Coming out this June, tells the story of Pious, the twelfth relations with relations with Mussolini and Hitler during the Second World War.
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And so, David, I turned it over to you. Thank you, Keith.
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Thank you, Sydney, for organizing this it's a great pleasure to be able to encourage people to in fact. read Charles Gallagher's book that I think generated a great deal of interest and is filled with surprises at least for
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for surreal page Turner, but it's also a kind of a thriller.
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How, and i'll hopefully Charlie will and join us with this. there we are, because i'm very quickly going to turn things over because I have a bunch of questions i'd like to ask and i'm sure might be good to
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begin. Are you giving us a little sense of what the book Covers? So i'll turn things over to you, Trump. Sure, Thank you very much, David, for that kind introduction. also.
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Thank you to Sydney, and to Keith Sydney for all your work, and arranging this and for Keith for your wonderful introduction.
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I'm going to go ahead and share screen and put up some slides
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And hopefully, this slideshow is coming in okay and okay so what I'm gonna do is i'm gonna go through for about 10 min, 15 min on the outside to discuss to mention some of the main themes and discoveries of the
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book First, I'd. like to start off with this this letter that I found that this is where the first chapter starts is with Father Charles Coglan. Many of you may have heard of a radio, a popular radio free some
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Detroit. I found an FBI memorandum of a conversation from 1,935, where Father Coglin called a retired marine. General Smedley Butler, who was the most decorated marine general in
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history, and ask him to lead an army of Christian soldiers south to overthrow the government of Mexico.
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And this was so fantastic to me that I didn't believe the document that I was reading. So I actually called the archivist at Wayne State University that had Father cognitive FBI, file where this was where I drew this
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from from a separate copy of the file I called another archivist, just to reconfirm that this was really going on 100 and And so that's how the book starts and I start the book that way because it brings together.
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A number of different forces. it permissibility for what I call paramilitary anti anti anti-semitism on the part of Catholics. and all of these, all of these forces start in 1935
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for, and they're present until the end of the war in 1945, and I and I I argue that not only do these imp as the as the war progresses particularly in connection to the people in this in this book so he's again he's he's
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looking the Archbishop Pascal Diaz had been arrested by the allegedly Communist Government in Mexico, and thrown in J.
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And Major General Butler was to lead this Christian army south and spring the Archbishop from his jail cell.
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It's rather wild stuff, but things like that keep going this is a photo of Father Coglan on the right. He's speaking in in the United States.
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I believe that's in cleveland and then on the left I and what I argue what's one of the things that I've just that I discovered is that historians have indicated but they' kind of been able to find the
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documentation in 1,938 increasingly anti-semitic Father Coglin was invited to Budapest to a Eucharistic Congress which would have been a pinnacle style a pinnacle kind of meeting
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of of global Catholics for for a spiritual Congress on the Eucharist, where Cardinal Peachlli was to make a very important diplomatic speech. and it's in that speech where cardinal Picelli Uses language about creating a Christian
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front. Carglyn, and he uses it to kind of do that that old style of Paramilitarism, that he that he always wants that he had wanted to do in 19 thirty-f So then it by 1940 his foot soldiers are in place he has a public movement of thousands of of members within that so the
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F. But within that group there are these cells, these kind of secret cells which are paramilitarized, and they
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They start training to carry out a plot to overthrow the government, late 1,939, and in the second week of January of 1,940.
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The FBI, who had put a plant within the organization had to pounce and had to raid the Christian front headquarters.
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And and when we talk about Communists or the Christian front, the code there is that it's Communists are the same as as Jews in the book, and so they start a bombing campaign, and then the Christian front paramilitaries are supposed to then be called out alongside
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the Mit Ctl and the New York State National Guard. The bombing campaign was supposed to happen in New York.
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They were going to fight alongside mit Ctl, and and then coordinate activity with the National Guard and and stop this alleged insurrection by the Communists as Catholics.
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They would be they would be saving the the Christian Republic from the Judeo Communist Judeo Bolshevik menace and become saviors of the day.
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So this is what was going on. they were charged with seditious conspiracy in 1,940, and theft of from us armories you can see they have springfield 19 o 3 rifles that's a us battle weapon
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you. There was a trial in 1,940. The trial!
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The prosecution faltered. in the book, I argue.
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One of the reasons was that the the the State refused to talk about religion at the trial, and I thought that was a a big mistake, because it basically excised the entire motivational force of this group which was called the Christian front and Yet the state decided that religion would not be talked about at the trial, so they secularize the courtroom and in so.
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Doing, I think they So the 17 conspirators from 1,940 walked they were. they got shut down actually because of the publicity of the trial.
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They were exposed. And so, in New York. the the main locus of of the activity was, it was shut down by early 1,940, This is a a little graphic by her block from the library of Congress You can see the capital in the background I put that in because the capital is one
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100 the news today, and there is Father Coglin and the Venus flytrack with a bomb, and the Christian fronters headed towards the capital. after a shutdown in New York it migrates up to
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Boston, mainly because this gentleman, a guy named Herbert Schulz, is assigned to become the Nazi, the German console in Boston.
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He's sent there because Hitler's, former Predecessor as Chancellor of Germany, of the last long-standing Chancellor of the Weimar Republic.
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Heinrich Bruning is teaching political science at Harvard, and becoming and making anti-hitler speeches.
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So Shoals is sent to Boston, and he becomes a very energetic spymaster.
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In Boston. he not only runs an intimidation campaign against brooding, but starts about 12 other spy rings, but his most successful and most enduring and most damaging and most secret in other words, we don't know about this
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until until the this book has been published, was his relationship with this man.
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200 Francis P. Moran, who was a former Catholic seminary, and very well educated, very well theologized, very anti-communist, very anti-british, and extremely anti-semitic, and so
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he through machinations in the church where Moran wants to link himself with with at the local church in Boston, but they assume him.
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They push him away, he falls into the arms of shoals and begins a secret relationship of Nazi espionage in Boston and up and down the East Coast. The which I write about in the book and one of the big Themes
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is, how does Moran is, a catholic going to give himself Moral permission to undertake espionage for Nazi Germany, that's and and that's spelled out in the book too.
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The title gets its name from the headquarters of the Christian Front, Boston, which was a suite of rooms at the Copley Square hotel in downtown Boston.
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One of its most famous residence was a guy named Babe Ruth, who lived there when he played for the Boston Red Sox.
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Now here is scholars in his consulate reading on the day that his of his expulsion he's fighting out. This is July of 1,941.
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He's finding out that he's going to be expelled as console, and the night before he's expelled from the United States.
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He meets. The FBI knows nothing about this relationship. This relationship was entirely secret for the duration of the war.
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This relationship was unknown until last september when this book was published, and it's a rather chilling and disturbing. How effective the relationship was, and how deeply anti-semitic was the impul this is another chilling image of the consulate in Boston Again, the Christian
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front in New York has been pretty much put out of business, but the activity in Boston and in New England is on the uptick, and after the trial membership skyrockets throughout Southern New England and up into even Maine and New
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Hampshire. So this is some graphic some kind of statistical data that you can look at.
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There were 4 Federal intelligence agencies surveilling the Christian front, and none of those were able to uncover that Moran was an agent for shoals.
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I only uncovered it because I happened onto an scholars interrogation report that was published in the early My jaw dropped and said, oh, that's interesting. nobody I bet you nobody knew there was a Nazi.
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Ss. Guy running running a Catholic spy out of Boston.
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So that's when I kind of dug into the documentary side 2.
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Then just to cause we have to move on here There's a whole other chapter of British espionage in the United States, operating illegally to force the shutdown of the Christian front by using an unwitting American and
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Francis. she's recruited by a cutout in other words, someone that she does not know an American who's working for British intelligence.
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This woman is very civil rights-minded she's a devout Catholic, and her motivation is, She believes that Catholicism excuse me that anti-semitism on the part of catholics is a sin and so she's kind of
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foreshadowing Vatican, too, and no story. Atante.
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25 years in advance, 225
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And I go into the book about why and how anti-semitism is baked into American or excuse me into Catholic theology, and why these Christian fronters are taking it up. So so readily. These are just some of the couple of the documents I found the declassified documents from britain these are from the
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Uk file from the special operations executive which was Winston Churchill's subversive Warfare unit, and He's being briefed on this operation in Boston where Francis Sweeney is tasked
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with pressuring local police and others to take down Francis Moran.
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So basically this they set up this American Irish Defense Association, which was meant to pick at Christian front meetings to run interference against Moran to advertise Moran and exposed Moran and Finally, what they did was they the plan on on the part of Mi 6
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was to push the local. Please, Commissioner, seen here in the in the bottom of your screen, with the slick back here, Joseph Timilty.
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He was a good friend, was successful in pushing erez agmoni to to detain Moran, but he couldn't arrest Moran because Moran Hadn't committed, mit and then it went underground until not until the end of the
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war, when at the very towards the very end of the war the FBI was able to get an informant inside the cell structure of the Christian front, this informant t one we don't know their identity but I'm.
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Just leaving you with this chilling this chilling remark, That informant T.
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One who was a woman who infiltrated the cell but refused to testify against Moran in a court of law, because she was fearful for her life as a number of other witnesses would would say, also that this is the kind of extermination aside.
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Of Moran coming out and so there's it's it.
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It is. It is Full-blown anti-semitism on the part of these Catholics and their lay leadership.
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And by the end of the war i'm gonna have to end my slides here disturbingly on this note that by the end with Nazi, the Nazi theory that that fomented the the holocaust so i'll leave it there and and turn things back over
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to i'll end my i'll stop my share and return, thank you.
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That's, I think, very helpful and gives people a good sense of the kind of drama that you're uncovering.
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The book, including, as you say, a number made your discovery is about this history, you know, when we think of father, probably to many of our people participating today, they've heard of Father cognitive the famous right wing radio priest from
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Detroit. he had I was in millions I mean huge numbers listened to a Sunday night Weekly Brook has his newspaper had many. I don't know.
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Pens, or hundreds of thousands of subscrib mit mit ctl, and then there's a much larger panumbra around cognitive.
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This militant anti-semitism, and then more generally, the kind of anti-semitism that was seem to pervade the Catholic Church country as well.
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With You say something about You know how you see the extent of anti-semitism in the Catholic Church in the saying, in the thirtys years leading up to the war, and I think this is what was somewhat attractive to me about the project was
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that my previous book had been a biography of a bishop who worked at the Vatican.
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And so these issues about the Holocaust and World War Ii were centered on these elites, who were kind of flying at 30,000 feet.
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This project brought me down to the ground level to the neighborhood level, and what I found was was that what was a working class?
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Catholicism that was attracted to this this gospel of anti-semitism, and that it was broad-based, working class.
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And what it really. What really hit home to me is that
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These are the non roosevelt catholics and those have very rarely been studied that these working class non new deal Catholics have kind of been shoved off to the side by historians.
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For whatever reason, and i'm finding that they're much more broad base.
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And so the Christian front represents a a style of working class Catholicism that was sensitized. 2 what they perceive to be threats from the left. and I think kind of in a larger scale one of my larger projects is to show
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how this doesn't just happen overnight in my view there's a there's a concerted and global anti-anarchist strain on the part of the of the Vatican, and the pope starting in the in the 1880 S.
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In 1881. There's so there's this Anarchism is considered to be a threat from the left, and so, by the time the Bolshevik revolution happens in my view, American Catholics are already sensitized to threats from the
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left. And what's interesting, too, is you still have Fallout by the late 1,900 thirtys from the Anarchist case of Saccoin Vanzetti, which happened in Boston. And so I think you have to Contextualize all of this in terms.
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Of in terms of larger, broad, base threats from the left that were being being put forward in the Catholic press and by the bishops. for after the Bolshevik revolution Mit, and in connection to these these streams of
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thought we look at the church Hierarchy at the time in these terms: Hey, You mentioned Bishop Hurley, who you've written about, and who was arguing in favor for example, of supplying food and and stumps and what not support for the British in the first years of war, before the Us.
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Centered, and God hammered by other bishops in almost unprecedented kind of public fashion of right attacks by one bishop against another.
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So. in terms of something like the Christian front. Did they have any support at that kind of level, the hierarchical level in the church? Yeah.
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So Brooklyn, New York was the first was the epicenter for Christian front activity.
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The Bishop. There Thomas E. Malloy was noted as a Christian front.
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Bishop. but in my research I couldn't find any other notable Christian front, bishops or bishops that have been tagged as Christian front bishops, and that was a little bit weird to me and so as I kept looking at that
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issue what seemed to be happening was that the bishops remained silent about this organization. the bishops never condemned the Christian front publicly, We couldn't get anything out of Spellman in New York 3 We don't hear anything coming out of of even of Boston or
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chicago and what i'm what I think was happening?
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Was that The Christian front itself was not juridically linked to the institutional Catholic Church, and so, consequently, it was viewed by the bishops as extra ecclesiastical and almost kind of schismatic
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Catholics, and so so they're unseemly anti-semitism was something that the the Us. Bishops kind of could could wash their hands of, because, as bureaucrats this organization was not officially connected to the church and they felt what's, the saddest part is they did not feel any moral
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one erez agmoni compulsion to to correct them.
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I think that there was just a an understanding on the part of the b too small, and would wither on the vine. The problem was the group never withered on the vine.
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And it simply wouldn't go away and there's another aspect to to your story. besides the anti-semitic aspect, which is the might say, the Irish an anti- that when we look at the attraction that the nazi side of the war might have
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had it it quite a bit of attraction to the to Irish Irish Americans.
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Many Irish Americans, and that's what part of the when we talk about her loop, father or Bishop Pearl, and so on.
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The the fight within the pirate American Church, hierarchy about the war, early on before us enters good part around that kind of Irish opposition to Britain, and therefore, not being entirely unhappy about the the bombing of
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London and all the rest. So the Catholic community and costing, I take it at the time, is pretty heavily dominated politically by the Irish.
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200. So what role does this play in your story Yeah, so I there's no getting around it.
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It's It's Irish Nationalism that is that is, increasing membership in the Christian front in Boston, now in in Philadelphia.
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Italians are joining the Christian front, and Father Carlin in his newspaper.
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Social justice is quoting Mussolini. but But Boston was considered to be the most cognitive city in the United States by 1,936, and in the 1936 elections.
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It was one of the largest vote getting locals father Coglin's Presidential candidate, and it's. I think it's.
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It is, as you say, kind of a kind of an outgrowth of the of the Irish immigrations of the nineteenth.
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And the twentieth century, bringing that kind of anti-british isolationism you know Isolation is a man.
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Anti anti-british feeling is is quite raw in Boston and the book mentions a number of events that are anti-british and scope that that occur in Boston.
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You know, carried out activity carried out by the it just might remind people who are listening in.
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If you have any questions, we'll turn in a few minutes to questions from participants, but put them in the Q. and A.
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Not the chat that's how i've been instructed so look forward to any questions in the Q.
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And A. I know people are always interested in how you get these documents.
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You mentioned the the Nuremberg trials and software trials of Nazis after the war. But I know that FBI sources were very important to you to see something about any difficulties you had in getting the material you
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needed. So the main difficulty that I had was finding an FBI file on the Christian front case, because the National Archives was convinced that there was none.
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So when I when I visited the National Archives in a college park. you know, about 12 years ago now.
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They insisted that there there was no 100 file for that case, and that the scholars who had written on the case previously
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Had used courtroom documents for their analysis. but I I knew that the the FBI reports are really where the raw data is, and a lot of what's in that file is not going to make it into the courtroom So So I just went digging and I did a deep dive on the
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Internet, and I got into a sub category of a conversation on Reddit, where someone had posted a document connected to the Christian front, and in the upper left-hand corner was written in pencil, what looked to me like an FBI case number because I can identify those now because I i'm used to looking for
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them and so I took that number from reddit and I went back mit Ctl and to Washington from Boston, and and I said to the archivist, I said, is that does this case number match and and the case wasn't called the
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Christian front. it's called proud John t proud the U.S.A. Well, the archivist then said that they wouldn't have any record of it, because all of their all of their index card system.
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At the FBI had been destroyed. so I said to them, before you destroyed your index card catalog.
00:34:25.000 --> 00:34:43.000
Did you make a copy of it? and then this archive said Well, yes, and I said, Well, could you go take this number and check it against the mimeographed copy of the That's when the person came back out of the archives and said we have to keep talking and
00:34:43.000 --> 00:35:01.000
I had to enter into about Erez Agmoni, 3 separate hours of negotiation with the FBI to get that file released, and they were terrific.
00:35:01.000 --> 00:35:20.000
I So it took about 2 years to get to get ultimately released, and then I had to get other files.
00:35:20.000 --> 00:35:39.000
I had to get the file on shoals released and I had to get the file on Moran released, and I know I remember calling you on some afternoons kind of seeking always a good principle in archives i'm sure many people could myself I have a question having to do with the fact, that you're both
00:35:39.000 --> 00:35:43.000
a a prominent historian, but also a member of the Society of Jesus.
00:35:43.000 --> 00:35:50.000
Cheswick, and you know, this topic of your book could certainly be seen to be embarrassing for the Church.
00:35:50.000 --> 00:35:58.000
And I wonder when you first told some of your colleagues in the Society, you know that this is what you were gonna work on.
00:35:58.000 --> 00:36:03.000
Was there any pushback or to support, or what kind of reaction did you get?
00:36:03.000 --> 00:36:10.000
And then Sub: yeah, So I think that you know i've gotten.
00:36:10.000 --> 00:36:29.000
I've gotten a lot of support from my religious order They see it as a part of my mission to do scholarship here at at Boston College, which was founded by the Jesuits I was influenced in my own historical training
00:36:29.000 --> 00:36:40.000
by a man who was a priest himself, from Senior John Tracy Ellis, who wrote American Catholic History at the Catholic University of America, and he always
00:36:40.000 --> 00:36:59.000
He always talked to me about being about himself as being a historian in service to the Church, and so so I've tried to view my writing of history, my professional work, as in some way in service to the Church and and and John
00:36:59.000 --> 00:37:04.000
Tracy almost, was also keen on keeping it warts at all.
00:37:04.000 --> 00:37:11.000
So so you know, telling the whole story being honest, being objective and then that's what I try to do in the book.
00:37:11.000 --> 00:37:28.000
I can see how, so that I think the main pushback here is that I get into the discussion about the difference between anti-judism and anti-semitism, and I don't use a Catholic source I found a Protestant source the Protestant theologian Paul
00:37:28.000 --> 00:37:46.000
Tillick had the same fear in 1,940 that Catholic anti Judaism could become, as he saw at the seed bed of anti-semitism, and lead to Catholic adoption of racial anti-semitism now the issue for me
00:37:46.000 --> 00:37:54.000
is on this, where I may get Pushed back in the future, Is that currently the Roman Catholic Church is stuck, in my view, 200 with the anti-judaism paradigm.
00:37:54.000 --> 00:38:03.000
They're not willing to admit there's real Catholic, that that morphed yet into real Catholic anti-semitism, racial anti-semitism.
00:38:03.000 --> 00:38:18.000
So this book, my hope, is that this book will throw a lightning bolt into that discussion to have that illuminate the fact that these are devout Catholics who self-identify and are practicing
00:38:18.000 --> 00:38:27.000
catholics and They're off they're they're extremely anti-semitic, and the and they're anti-semitic for Catholic reasons.
00:38:27.000 --> 00:38:33.000
And so that's why, I would like to push that discussion forward.
00:38:33.000 --> 00:38:43.000
Yes, my, I certainly agree with you there, and your reference to we remember this is a statement in 1,998, maybe 298, where
00:38:43.000 --> 00:39:06.000
The Commission on religious relations with the Jews, headed by Colonel Cassidy, have made this distinction kind of, made an official Vatican policy, and the notion that there was a religious anti-dudaism unfortunately but this was just religious in nature and had nothing to do with the kind of modern anti-semitism that could
00:39:06.000 --> 00:39:11.000
have any of us. think this is kind of a self delusion.
00:39:11.000 --> 00:39:26.000
But Well, let me ask you the well, I guess we can start getting into some of the questions that are are beginning to come in one of them, which is, gets it something I was going to whether today in the church you see any
00:39:26.000 --> 00:39:37.000
residues of the kind of beliefs and activities of Christian front and Father cognitive and so on, or whether it's now been extinguished. in.
00:39:37.000 --> 00:39:50.000
Okay, So this is a great question, and I want to reframe the question, because I know the I know the energy behind the question.
00:39:50.000 --> 00:40:03.000
But as a historian, I want to reframe it a bit, and say, Yes, I'll answer Yes, I do see various places, but it's not. They're not in the Catholic church.
00:40:03.000 --> 00:40:08.000
Okay, I think we want to. We We always kind of want to rush to the Is the institution corrupt?
00:40:08.000 --> 00:40:26.000
Keeping in mind. As I said earlier, the Christian front was extra ecclesiastical, and what I see currently are extra ecclesiastical persons and organizations and movements that have resonances.
00:40:26.000 --> 00:40:33.000
Of this Catholic anti-communism which ultimately kind of kind of combined toward anti-judism.
00:40:33.000 --> 00:40:58.000
So. great question. I don't in the Institutional Church today. I do not see anti-semitism kind of as a concern because I think no ordinary Catholics is on firm footing, but there are other extra ecclesiastical groups that call themselves
00:40:58.000 --> 00:41:08.000
Catholic that to me have residences of what the Christian front was doing. And and so that that's where I see it.
00:41:08.000 --> 00:41:19.000
I don't really want to name them right now, because I don't want my email right? Yeah, But I I just just let you be so.
00:41:19.000 --> 00:41:25.000
I'm keeping my eye on them right I just remind people ask your questions in the Q. and A.
00:41:25.000 --> 00:41:40.000
Not the chat, please, if you have them the Well, another question that was asked was about whether these Christian front groups had any relations with other Neo-nazi or fashionist groups in the United States that Aren't necessarily
00:41:40.000 --> 00:41:47.000
Catholic, or where they pretty much define themselves as just Catholic activities. Yeah.
00:41:47.000 --> 00:42:04.000
So another great question. there are again there are kind of fascist, and kind of religiously and catholic oriented groups popping up all over in the 1930 s you've got the you got the blue
00:42:04.000 --> 00:42:17.000
shirts, and this other group, called the Irish Christian Front, in the late 1,900 thirtys in Ireland,
00:42:17.000 --> 00:42:23.000
In the United States. They they're not linking up in my view.
00:42:23.000 --> 00:42:36.000
It's because Father coglin is a megalomaniac, and he doesn't want to relinquish any he doesn't want to collaborate with anyone else. He wants to own the Catholic side of the
00:42:36.000 --> 00:42:57.000
Street , Now, what I found in my research recently is that there are Protestant mit ctl and fringe organizations that are also working with Nazi intelligence that's that's a very interesting they also say well,
00:42:57.000 --> 00:43:19.000
we're really on the catholic side of the street so I think it's just a kind of the force of of of cognitive ego that won't admit him allow him to to let in any other
00:43:19.000 --> 00:43:27.000
you know, normal for him to want to link up with people like Charles Lindbergh and the America first committee.
00:43:27.000 --> 00:43:39.000
But he never went in and did that. the one of the stories you tell in the book is the kind of corruption of the Post and Police department.
00:43:39.000 --> 00:43:45.000
So. I wonder, did that have I don't recall in your book?
00:43:45.000 --> 00:43:55.000
Maybe you did get into this the question of whether this is it all linked to a Mit Ctl and to a right-wing kind of Catholic presence?
00:43:55.000 --> 00:44:01.000
Irish Catholic, presumably presence in the police department. So kind of as a personal note.
00:44:01.000 --> 00:44:09.000
Before I became a Jesuit priest I was a police officer, so so this was kind of sensitive to me.
00:44:09.000 --> 00:44:18.000
You know the Boston police was was back and forth. On this they had a an office called the Radical Squad.
00:44:18.000 --> 00:44:30.000
The they violated the Fourth Amendment all over the place, doing breaking and entering and stealing things out of the Christian Front headquarters.
00:44:30.000 --> 00:44:51.000
But what I did find in my research was that the the German Console Shoals was quite solicitous of the Boston police, and that in 1,939, as all of this was coming to a head the consulate at Chestnut Street where we saw the Photo of the Nazi Flag flying there was
00:44:51.000 --> 00:45:07.000
There was a bomb threat there, and and the and the and scholars was able to parlay that into sympathy for him as a foreign diplomat with the Boston police department and So he he began a more
00:45:07.000 --> 00:45:14.000
kind of vigorous outreach with the Boston Police Department in terms of his own safety.
00:45:14.000 --> 00:45:30.000
We're also bombs that here on Chestnut Hill, not far from where i'm sitting. so he was able to use the Communist foil to gain sympathy for Nazi views or for his what he would consider German
00:45:30.000 --> 00:45:37.000
views within the within the Irish Catholics on the on the police Department in Boston.
00:45:37.000 --> 00:45:45.000
And then they were also the the police were also sympathetic to the anti-british impulse. We've had.
00:45:45.000 --> 00:45:56.000
A couple of people have asked about clarification verification of the distinction between anti-judism and anti-semitism.
00:45:56.000 --> 00:46:03.000
And you know I I alluded to the we remember statement So yeah, if you have something ahead.
00:46:03.000 --> 00:46:31.000
But something. i've also been interested in and written about the mit mit ctl, and census voters in the Church have been guilty of a religious anti-judaism, based on the crucifixion and so on and being condemned by God
00:46:31.000 --> 00:46:35.000
to wander the earth and poverty, and so forth, and misery.
00:46:35.000 --> 00:46:47.000
But that has nothing to do with modern anti-semitism, which began in the 1,800 eightys, and had, unrelated left as well as right kind of origins.
00:46:47.000 --> 00:46:58.000
But I think, what many scholars really have realized, and certain members of the Church is that this is a kind of wish. It were true kind of story.
00:46:58.000 --> 00:47:18.000
That fact the the kind of political, social, and even racial, and characterization of Jews that we talk about with modern anti-semitism was very much shared by publications of the Church and sermons, by Church people and so forth.
00:47:18.000 --> 00:47:30.000
So. but So this remains a kind of point of tension between, in a way, the organized Jewish community and the Vatican.
00:47:30.000 --> 00:47:34.000
Right now. the holocaust was obviously had many causes.
00:47:34.000 --> 00:47:44.000
This was by no means the only cause. but I can factor, was the long demonization of choose as it is representing real dangers to the healthy Christian community.
00:47:44.000 --> 00:47:47.000
But, Charlie, maybe you want to add something to that.
00:47:47.000 --> 00:48:05.000
No, I I I think that what my book is trying to show is that this dynamic that you're talking about in this This insidiousness of of racial anti-semitism is happening at the ground, level at the neighborhood level at the street
00:48:05.000 --> 00:48:15.000
level, and i'm not sure that's really been documented in this way before you mentioned in your book the Christian front.
00:48:15.000 --> 00:48:21.000
Hasn't been well studied before given how dramatic a topic it is.
00:48:21.000 --> 00:48:30.000
How would you account for the relevant failure of historians to look into this history? Yeah. Well, there are a number of different reasons.
00:48:30.000 --> 00:48:45.000
The first is that what I kept running up against for years and years was the There's no their their thesis, and that what I mean by that is even as an undergrad I've mentioned this elsewhere, I tried to write a 10 page research paper
00:48:45.000 --> 00:49:05.000
on and my professor said, Well, they didn't do anything they didn't they didn't detonate any bombs they didn't shoot any bullets, so nothing happened so he dis mit ctl and my research paper that held true my experience with talking to other professors that held true in the profession like up until
00:49:05.000 --> 00:49:14.000
2 when I started really writing the book. another publisher turned it down Precisely because there's there's no there there.
00:49:14.000 --> 00:49:31.000
Issue secondly, there. when you wanted to study the right wing as an academic 10 and 15 years ago you were looked upon with suspicion.
00:49:31.000 --> 00:49:51.000
Because The problem was a if you if you study these or extreme organizations in an academic way, you may be giving them credibility. and be the suspicion is you know what's this person really in it for you know is is there a glorification.
00:49:51.000 --> 00:49:57.000
Quot about wanting to do this. and this is what scholars were kind of dealing with, You know.
00:49:57.000 --> 00:50:18.000
I saw. When I looked at this group I saw a religion. I saw paramilitarism. I saw anti-semitism, and I saw Roman Catholics right in the middle, and to me this case was something about telling us something about
00:50:18.000 --> 00:50:24.000
ourselves as Catholics as Americans for Christian Jewish relations.
00:50:24.000 --> 00:50:38.000
And then the other part is Everything was secret, the the the last 3 quarters of the book no one has known about for 85 years.
00:50:38.000 --> 00:50:45.000
No one has known about the the Nazi intelligence, the Ss intelligence that was taking place with Moran.
00:50:45.000 --> 00:50:52.000
No one has known about Mi. 6 as operation in Boston no one has known about. For example, the Russians show up at the end.
00:50:52.000 --> 00:50:58.000
There's a Russian 2 intel operation in South Boston. No one knew about it.
00:50:58.000 --> 00:51:17.000
It was all so it was also to be kept secret and and so that's the other reason why I don't think anybody know about it, because you know frankly, these spies were really i've been working in these newly open Vatican archives for world war Ii, and also in fascist archives and state archives in
00:51:17.000 --> 00:51:24.000
Rome, and your Mussolini was kind of counting on American Catholics to keep the U. S.
00:51:24.000 --> 00:51:32.000
As the war, and was constantly sending his ambassador to the Holy Sea to hopefully get the poke to play ball.
00:51:32.000 --> 00:51:41.000
There Mit was, both on the Irish and the Italian for different Italian, Americans, and Irish Americans, for for some of different reasons.
00:51:41.000 --> 00:51:50.000
Obviously the Italian Americans in general, although there had always been critics, but the great majority of the Italian American population had seen Muslim as a great figure.
00:51:50.000 --> 00:51:55.000
I only would turn against him once un centers the war.
00:51:55.000 --> 00:52:13.000
But before that late thirtys, and even into the early fortys, the Italian Americans are see at least by Mussolini, as as a hope of hope to keep the us out of the war, which we desperately wanted to do, and What was his best way
00:52:13.000 --> 00:52:28.000
of have you see the relationship in the church of the time of Tally, where but the Italians and Italian Americans and Irish Americans have been the 2 main politically powerful groups in the Catholic Church and How do this play in's attitudes toward joining World War
00:52:28.000 --> 00:52:49.000
Ii: Yeah, So American, they're the Italians. certainly retained their nationalism or a nationalist kind of spirit really up until almost almost pearl harbor.
00:52:49.000 --> 00:53:13.000
And so to the allies and and I think the you know that that really it really this Irish and Italian situation was, was, as you say, kind of geopolitical, and I i'm not I think that needs more attention in fact, by
00:53:13.000 --> 00:53:24.000
histor. We can read about that in your in your coming out in June. Okay, and maybe you can interview me in a few months we'll turn the tables.
00:53:24.000 --> 00:53:38.000
You you made a reference, maybe, when you're talking about the the Congress in 1,938 with Cardinal Picelli. I hadn't realized Father Conklin had been invited to it to but this brings up
00:53:38.000 --> 00:53:43.000
the potential. How these as transnational histories? are you know among historians.
00:53:43.000 --> 00:53:50.000
So how would you look at the Christian front groups? that you're studying here in a transnational perspective?
00:53:50.000 --> 00:53:56.000
Would you see other examples in other countries that particularly apt and did they have to?
00:53:56.000 --> 00:54:12.000
They have any kind of contact one with the other. Yeah. So I am seeing a great deal of politically rightest groups that are in contact with German intelligence.
00:54:12.000 --> 00:54:22.000
They, they do not seem to be religiously based as the as the Christian front movement.
00:54:22.000 --> 00:54:30.000
So I think in that sense, the the work of the Nazi intelligence with the Christian front is unique.
00:54:30.000 --> 00:54:54.000
It's also unexpected, because nazism considered itself to be anti-christian, and was persecuting the Church in Europe at the same time that it was entering into relationships with Moran and and so that's the the the big question of this book is about moral permissibility how do these catholics.
00:54:54.000 --> 00:55:12.000
Reconcile their with with a person that is known to be close friend of Heinrich. Himmler. a high ranking Ss officer who happens to be in Boston. i'm really interested in that calculus from not just a normal position but
00:55:12.000 --> 00:55:35.000
from. So I think that as far as I can tell other than mit Ctl and other than the the Protestant group which was known as the American Nationalist Confederation, which doesn' Catholic group that was linked
00:55:35.000 --> 00:55:51.000
to be the most effective that the religious group that the Nazis are working with seems to pay the the most dividends from an espionage perspective.
00:55:51.000 --> 00:55:58.000
Yeah, I mean, I think you make a good point about the distinction between Italy and Germany.
00:55:58.000 --> 00:56:16.000
That's for the most part It the Italian fascist regime was seen as a ally of the church, and having made the conquered on, later entreat and Mit Ctl and perhaps
00:56:16.000 --> 00:56:25.000
anti-christian the well let's since we have very little time left, I want to leave a minute for Sunday to come back.
00:56:25.000 --> 00:56:30.000
But Just to think about the current situation current tensions within the Catholic Church.
00:56:30.000 --> 00:56:48.000
Shall we, who do discuss these a little bit earlier? But you know I Because of my book, I I checked Twitter everyone, so I put Pisa Twelfth in there, and half of the tweets. sometimes ?
00:56:48.000 --> 00:56:51.000
Only a bunch of Freemasons or public Pope Francis
00:56:51.000 --> 00:57:08.000
So I want to Clearly there's tension today, in the church. I you know, wouldn't give demographic weight to one side versus the other tensions within the church.
00:57:08.000 --> 00:57:22.000
I can. I can see the preliminary outlines of that forming around the issue of communism and anti-communism.
00:57:22.000 --> 00:57:27.000
So I do see that happening with this book it's just in its infancy.
00:57:27.000 --> 00:57:33.000
But I think I think for the catholics it's lining up
00:57:33.000 --> 00:57:40.000
It's lining up along the fault lines of the culture war Frankly, it's it's about
00:57:40.000 --> 00:57:50.000
It's about pro collectivism, global global communism and global anti-communism.
00:57:50.000 --> 00:57:55.000
And there are Catholic leaders, Catholic groupings in both areas.
00:57:55.000 --> 00:58:09.000
And so for this book. it's it's very early on that. but I do see it kind of breaking down that way. But for me the book is more about religion itself. 100 and I see I see aunt catholic anti-semitism.
00:58:09.000 --> 00:58:15.000
As a as a religious problem, and I see I see holograph studies as having theologically valued.
00:58:15.000 --> 00:58:30.000
So that's where I wanted to write the book I hope the a lot of people read it, I know. those who have been reading it and been Very excited by it. So thank you it's been great Let me turn things tacticity to wrap things up
00:58:30.000 --> 00:59:00.000
for Now I want to thank you both. so much this has been such an interesting conversation, and I know I personally have learned a lot by listening to both. Everything we do at the museum is made possible through donor support to those of you watching.
Learn More About Charles E. Coughlin
In 1939, the Christian Front was formed in response to a call by Father Charles Edward Coughlin to oppose the Popular Front, a communist organization. Coughlin was very influential in the 1930s, with his radio broadcasts reaching millions of people in the United States every week. Learn more about him from the USHMM.
Learn About the German American Bund
Like the Christian Front, the German American Bund was another pro-Nazi organization operating in the United States. In 1939, 20,000 Nazi supporters attended a rally organized by the Bund at Madison Square Garden. When Academy Award-nominated documentarian Marshall Curry stumbled upon footage of the rally, he was shocked—and driven to create his short film A Night at the Garden (nominated for Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject). In this Museum program, Curry discusses his film with Professor Rebecca Kobrin.
Explore the Story of Camp Siegfried
One of the Bund’s most notable activities was running summer camps across the nation that were similar to Hitler Youth Camps. Camp Siegfried was located in Yaphank, New York and attracted numerous visitors. The camp even had its own train on the Long Island Railroad, the “Siegfried Special.” Learn more about Camp Siegfried in this Museum program.