Holocaust Studies Institute Asks Powell To Repudiate Gen. Marshall’s Bigotry

News Release
November 12, 2003

Request Comes On Eve Of Secretary Of State Being Honored By George C. Marshall Foundation

On the eve of a dinner at which Secretary of State Colin Powell is slated to receive an award named for Gen. George C. Marshall, a Holocaust Studies institute has asked Powell to repudiate Marshall’s troubling statements and actions regarding Jews and African-Americans during the 1930s and 1940s.

“Despite Marshall’s military leadership during and after World War Two, research has shown that he promoted a speaker who denied German atrocities against Jews in Poland, and that Marshall opposed racial integration of the U.S. army, calling it a ‘Communist’ initiative,” according to Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. “We are asking Secretary Powell to repudiate Marshall’s troubling statements and actions regarding Jews and African-Americans,” Medoff said.

The Washington Post (Nov.12, 2003), reporting on tonight’s George C. Marshall Foundation dinner in Washington, D.C., at which Powell will receive the award, referred to Powell’s “well-known admiration for Marshall.” Powell said “His concept of serving is very much part of my personal code.” Powell has in his office a portrait of Marshall, who served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army during the 1940s before becoming Secretary of State.

Dr. Medoff, of the Wyman Institut, wrote in a letter to Secretary Powell today: “Perhaps you are unaware that General Marshall opposed integration of the army and regarded blacks as inferior; promoted a speaker who denied Nazi atrocities against the Jews; and remained a close personal supporter to General George Moseley even after Moseley delivered a series of anti-Semitic speeches in 1940. We hope that admirers of Marshall will reconsider their assessment of him, in view of these disturbing facts. ”

The Wyman Institute notes that the preeminent expert on the history of racism and anti-Semitism in the U.S. military, Professor Joseph W. Bendersky of Virginia Commonwealth University, has written (in his book ” The ‘Jewish Threat’: Anti-Semitic Politics of the U.S. Army”; Basic Books, 2002) the following regarding Marshall:

Marshall Promoted a Speaker Who Denied Nazi Atrocities:
“At the end of November 1939, a former assistant [U.S.] attaché in Berlin, Major Percy Black, arrived in Washington. Since Black had actually accompanied the German Army into Poland, the War Department anxiously waited to debrief him. Within days, Black delivered a confidential lecture on Germany at the War College. Black deviated from his planned talk to correct the ‘false impression’ about Germany and the war that had been ‘created in the United States in the press’ … ‘There is, among the German people, from top to bottom and among the leaders, a very sincere desire for peace in the West’, since Germany’s real ‘fear’ was Russia. If Britain and France would only sign a peace [agreement] ‘which would not humiliate the German people,’ Germany ‘would turn against Russia within six months.’ With Black suddenly in demand, Marshall [then Deputy Chief of Staff of the army] wanted to send him on ‘a brief tour to several installations’ around the country. However, the uproar caused by Black’s early public statements derailed Marshall’s plans, since Black’s comments upon disembarking in New York contained not the slightest criticism of Germany’s actions. German morale was good, he said: ‘Remember any people who go to war feel their cause is just and that they are being attacked’ … Black discounted stories of Nazi brutality … Traveling with the German army outside Warsaw, he observed that the ‘Polish population was demoralized … and German soldiers rounded up women and children and fed them in soup kitchens.’ Black did ‘not believe any of the atrocity stories.’ To those generals requesting conferences with Black, Marshall responded, ‘[I]t is not advisable to initiate these discussions at the present time.’ The real reason for pulling him off the circuit, Marshall noted ‘confidentially,’ was that ‘Black had made statements to the press that have produced a violent Jewish reaction; so we are not advertising him.’ A month later, Black was quietly sent on the postponed ’rounds of the Divisions.’ Although ‘not to be publicized,’ Marshall wrote, Black … ‘would interest any formal gathering’ regarding Germany.” (Bendersky, pp. 276-278)


Marshall’s Views of African-Americans:
“On the character and use of African-American soldiers, Marshall’s position differed very little from the racial thinking of his colleagues. He referred to a ‘darkey soldier’ and a close friend complained to him about a ‘regular “nigger” town.’ Although sincerely concerned about the training and welfare of African-American soldiers, Marshall advanced their cause solely within the confines of a strict system of separate but equal treatment. Hostile to integrating the army, he warned that such proposals were pushed by the Communists. Marshall’s reservations about the potential of African-American troops stemmed in part from his low estimate of their inherent capacities.” (Bendersky, pp. 309-310)


Marshall’s Close Ties to the Anti-Semitic General Moseley:
In 1938, General George Van Horn Moseley said in a speech that refugee immigrants were ruining America, and future refugees should be granted entry in the future only “with the distinct understanding that they all be sterilized before being permitted to embark. Only that way can we properly protect our future.” (Bendersky, pp. 249-250)
On September 20, 1938, the day of his mandatory retirement, Moseley publicly complained that the government was being manipulated by the “alien element in our midst.” (Bendersky, p.253) “[I]n early 1939 Moseley became overt in his anti-Semitism … [saying in a speech in Philadelphia]: ‘The war now proposed is for the purpose of establishing Jewish hegemony throughout the world’ … In its vehemence, vulgar articulation, and theoretical framework, Moseley’s racism and anti-Semitism were virtually identical to Nazi ideology.'” (Bendersky, p.255)


“Marshall apparently never lost his immense respect and ‘affection’ for Moseley. After Moseley’s ‘sterilizing the refugees’ affair and controversial retirement in 1938, Marshall wrote to him: ‘I know you will leave behind a host of younger men who have a loyal devotion to you for what you have stood for. I am one of that company, and it makes me very sad to think that I cannot serve with you and under you again.’ Through all of Moseley’s infamous years of political Jew-baiting, Marshall neither rebuked nor ignored him. In late 1940, as Moseley’s anti-Semitic crusade reached its peak, Marshall not only kept him informed of army manpower plans but ‘trusted’ him ‘in extreme confidence’ with the real reasons behind articular General Staff appointments. Marshall continued to write substantive responses to Moseley’s’ inquiries until the end of the war.” (Bendersky, p.309)

Professor David S. Wyman notes in his book, Paper Walls: America and the Refugee Crisis 1938-1941 (p.21) that during 1939-1940, anti-Semitic groups in the United States were trying to create a national movement, and at one point believed they had found their leader “in the person of Major General Moseley, who called for Federal armed force to smash the Jewish-Communist conspiracy.

But Moseley’s stock declined when a dramatic appearance before the House Committee on Un-American Activities brought public attention to his ludicrous belief that conspirators were plotting to poison him.”