Google+ Followers

Monday, 13 October 2014

The KGB and Martin Luther King

In 1992 Vasili Mitrokhin, a retired senior KGB archivist, provided the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) with six large cases of top-secret material from the KGB's foreign intelligence archive. Some of this material deals with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This includes the claim, from Polish sources, that Clinton Murchison and H. L. Hunt had been involved in the funding of the assassination.

The KGB archives show that the Soviet Union helped fund the publishing the books claiming that Kennedy was killed as a result of a right-wing conspiracy. Some of this money was sent to Carl Marzani (codenamed NORD). Among the books published by Marzani in 1964 was Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy? by the German writer, Joachim Joesten. The KGB also arranged for Mark Lane to receive $1,500 to help his research. However, the document makes it clear that Lane was not told the source of the money. The same person arranged for Lane to receive $500 to help pay for a trip in Europe in 1964. KGB agent, Genrikh Borovik, was also assigned to help Lane with his research for Rush to Judgement (1965).

Probably the most interesting material from this archive concerns the KGB assessment of the relationship between John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Ever since the Soviets started sending agents into the United States they had been encouraging members of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) to become involved in the struggle for civil rights. For example, they enjoyed great success in their propaganda campaign for the Scottsboro Boys in 1931.

The rest of the article can be read here:

http://spartacus-educational.com/spartacus-blogURL41.html


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Simulations in the Classroom

In their book Simulation in the Classroom (Penguin, 1972), John Taylor and Rex Walford argued that an educational simulation has three main components:

(1) Students take roles which are representative of the real world and involve them making decisions in response to their assessment of the situation that they have been placed in.

(2) Students experience simulated consequences which relate to their decisions and their general performance in the simulation.

(3) Students monitor the results of their actions and are encouraged to reflect upon the relationship between their own decisions and the resulting consequences of their actions.

An essential part of a simulation involves the student playing a role of a character in the past. One of the major objectives of the creator of the simulation is to help the student understand the situation of that person. In other words, helping the student develop a sense of empathy.

http://spartacus-educational.com/spartacus-blogURL39.html

Monday, 4 August 2014

War Propaganda Bureau and the First World War

On the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, it might be worth looking at the way the government decided to "sell" the war. In August 1914, the British government discovered that Germany had a Propaganda Agency. David Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was given the task of setting up a British War Propaganda Bureau (WPB). Lloyd George, appointed the successful writer and fellow Liberal MP, Charles Masterman as head of the organization.

On 2nd September, 1914, Masterman invited twenty-five leading British authors to Wellington House, the headquarters of the War Propaganda Bureau, to discuss ways of best promoting Britain's interests during the war. Those who attended the meeting included Arthur Conan Doyle, Arnold Bennett, John Masefield, Ford Madox Ford, William Archer, G. K. Chesterton, Sir Henry Newbolt, John Galsworthy, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Gilbert Parker, G. M. Trevelyan and H. G. Wells.

For the rest of the article see:

http://spartacus-educational.com/spartacus-blogURL35.html

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Google, Bing and Operation Mockingbird. The CIA and Search-Engines

In January 2005, I wrote an article entitled Operation Mockingbird. At that time very little was known about this highly secret Central Intelligence Agency media operation that dated back to 1948 when Frank Wisner was appointed director of the Office of Special Projects. Soon afterwards it was renamed the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). This became the espionage and counter-intelligence branch of the CIA. Wisner was told to create an organization that concentrated on "propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world."

Later that year Wisner established Mockingbird, a program to influence the domestic American media. Wisner recruited Philip Graham, the publisher of the Washington Post, to run the project within the industry. Graham himself recruited others who had worked for military intelligence during the war. This included James Truitt, Russell Wiggins, Phil Geyelin, John Hayes and Alan Barth. Others like Stewart Alsop, Joseph Alsop and James Reston, were recruited from within the Georgetown Set. According to Deborah Davis, the author of Katharine the Great (1979): "By the early 1950s, Wisner 'owned' respected members of the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS and other communications vehicles." 

For the rest of this article see:

http://spartacus-educational.com/




Saturday, 7 June 2014

Is Wikipedia under the control of political extremists?

I was recently carrying out research into the Dewey Commission that took place in April 1937. It is a long forgotten event and when I typed in the words “Dewey Commission” at Google I got a short list of relevant pages. Top of the list was of course Wikipedia. When I read the entry I was deeply shocked. In my opinion it had been written from the prospective of a Joseph Stalin apologist. However, if someone did not know too much about the subject, they would be totally unaware of it. As far as I can see there is not one inaccurate fact on the page. It is the information that the entry leaves out that is important. 

The Wikipedia entry begins: “The Dewey Commission (officially the "Commission of Inquiry into the Charges Made against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Trials") was initiated in March 1937 by the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky. It was named after its chairman, the philosopher John Dewey. Its other members were Carleton Beals, Otto Ruehle, Benjamin Stolberg, and Secretary Suzanne La Follette, Alfred Rosmer, Wendelin Thomas, Edward A. Ross, John Chamberlain, Carlo Tresca, and Francisco Zamora. It was seen by some at the time, as Dewey feared it would be, as a Trotskyist front organization. Following months of investigation, the Dewey Commission made its findings public in New York on September 21, 1937."

Without explaining what Leon Trotsky was accused of in the Moscow Show Trials or the evidence that the Dewey Commission was a “Trotskyist front organization” it immediately goes onto look at the hearings that took place between 10th April to 17th April, 1937.

For the rest of this article see:

http://spartacus-educational.com/spartacus-blogURL29.html

Monday, 14 April 2014

Why we will never discover who killed John F. Kennedy.

I have been a historian for over forty years. I have always been interested in subjects where there is a shortage of evidence. That there is a certain amount of mystery involved. Probably the first research I ever did was into the lives of working people in Britain at the end of the 18th century and the early part of the 19th century. I was drawn to this subject because we knew very little about the way this group saw the world. Most of them were unable to read and write and have left only a small amount of documentary evidence.

During my research I read a book that I found disturbing. The book was by the historian, E. H. Carr. In What Is History? (1961) Carr addresses the problem of the politically motivated historian. He points out that the historian is likely to only write about subjects he/she cares about. In the words of another historian, W. H. B. Court: "History free of all values cannot be written. Indeed, it is a concept almost impossible to understand, for men will scarcely take the trouble to inquire laboriously into something which they set no value upon."

Carr argues that the historian starts off with a theory that needs to be tested by the evidence. The theory will reflect the political views of the historian. Carr makes the important point about the nature of the facts that the historian uses: "The facts are really not at all like fish on the fishmonger's slab. They are like fish swimming about in a vast and sometimes inaccessible ocean; and what the historian catches will depend, partly on chance, but mainly on what part of the ocean he chooses to fish in and what tackle he chooses to use – these two factors being, of course, determined by the kind of fish he wants to catch. By and large, the historian will get the kind of facts he wants. History means interpretation." 

For the rest of the article see:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/spartacus-blogURL26.html

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The KGB planned to groom Michael Straight to become President of the United States.

In 1932 Theodore Maly, a NKVD agent, arrived in London. Two years later he was joined by Arnold Deutsch. Senior MI5 agent, Peter Wright, pointed out that Maly and Deutsch were part of a team of agents based in Europe that included Alexander Orlov, Ignaz Reiss, Richard Sorge, Walter Krivitsky and Leopard Trepper, who were committed to the idea of world revolution: "They were often not Russians at all, although they held Russian citizenship. They were Trotskyist Communists who believed in international Communism and the Comintern. They worked undercover, often at great personal risk, and traveled throughout the world in search of potential recruits. They were the best recruiters and controllers the Russian Intelligence Service ever had. They all knew each other, and between them they recruited and built high-grade spy rings."

The first spy recruited was Kim Philby. Deutsch reported back to his superiors in Moscow that Philby was an excellent agent. "His father... is an ambitious tyrant and wanted to make a great man out of his son. He repressed all his son's desires. That is why he is a very timid and irresolute person. He has a bit of a stammer and this increases his diffidence... However, he handles our money very carefully. He enjoys great love and respect for his seriousness and honesty. He was ready, without questioning, to do anything for us and has shown all his seriousness and diligence working for us."

The main objective of this conspiracy was to recruit people who had the potential to reach positions of power in politics or the intelligence services. Arnold Deutsch asked Philby to recommended some of his Cambridge University contemporaries as potential agents. Philby suggested Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess. By the end of 1934, with Philby's help, Deutsch had recruited both of them, telling them, like he had with Philby, to distance themselves from communist friends. Philby and Burgess actually joined right-wing political organizations such Anglo-German Fellowship. Deutsch and Maly knew that is was in these organizations where British intelligence recruited agents. Deutsch later recruited Anthony Blunt.

The rest of the article can be read here:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/spartacus-blogURL25.html

Friday, 14 March 2014

The Allied Plot to Kill Lenin

A lot of energy is used by researchers to persuade the authorities to release classified documents concerning the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Is it possible that the CIA and the FBI hold documents that will provide evidence that will reveal the real killers of Kennedy? If they had existed, which I think is unlikely, would they not have been destroyed? 

I have recently been investigating a case where the British, French and American intelligence agencies joined together in a conspiracy to assassinate Lenin in August 1918. It is nearly 100 years ago that this event took place and although we know virtually the whole story now, it is not because of the release of official documents. 

In 1993 Gordon Brook-Shepherd decided that he would investigate the case. The former intelligence officer worked as a journalist for the Daily Telegraph and was in a good position to discover what had happened as he was trusted by the British establishment. After all, all the people concerned were long dead and the basic outline of the conspiracy had been revealed in 1931 when the wife of one of the agents involved in the conspiracy published an account based on the diaries of her husband, Sidney Reilly, who had been executed in 1925 by the Russian Secret Police (Cheka) for his part in the assassination attempt. In the next couple of years, two other British agents involved in the plot, Robert Bruce Lockhart and George Alexander Hill, published their accounts of the conspiracy. However, the British government refused to release MI6 files that would have confirmed the story. 

Brook-Shepherd had a meeting with an unnamed government minister, who had been a close friend for many years. He later recalled that "over several lengthy sessions, I was briefed on everything that had survived in our closed archives on the subject I was dealing with". Eventually he was allowed to see the official documents held by the British intelligence services. He became suspicious when he could not find one reference to Ernest Boyce, the MI6 station chief in Moscow in the summer of 1918 when the conspiracy took place. Brook-Shepherd writes about finding a file headed "Anti-Bolshevik Activities in Russia" but when opened he found it to be completely empty. He eventually reached the conclusion that every document relating to the assassination plot had been destroyed.

For the rest of this post see: 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Winston Churchill and Chemical Warfare

In April 1915 the German Army used chlorine gas cylinders against the French Army at Ypres. Chlorine gas destroyed the respiratory organs of its victims and this led to a slow death by asphyxiation. General William Robertson recommended Brigadier General Charles Howard Foulkes to General John French as the best man to organise the retaliation. Foulkes accepted the post and on 25th September, 1915, the British Army launched its first gas attack.

Brigadier General Foulkes eventually received the title of General Officer Commanding the Special Brigade responsible for Chemical Warfare and Director of Gas Services. He worked closely with scientists working at the governmental laboratories at Porton Down near Salisbury. His biographer, John Bourne, has argued: "Despite Foulkes' energy, the ingenuity of his men and the consumption of expensive resources, gas was ultimately disappointing as a weapon, despite its terrifying reputation." 

In July 1917, David Lloyd George appointed Winston Churchill as Minister of Munitions and for the rest of the war, he was in charge of the production of tanks, aeroplanes, guns and shells. Clive Ponting, the author of Churchill (1994) has argued: "The technology in which Churchill placed greatest faith though was chemical warfare, which had first been used by the Germans in 1915. It was at this time that Churchill developed what was to prove a life-long enthusiasm for the widespread use of this form of warfare."

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PRchurchill.htm 

For the rest of the posting see:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/spartacus-blog.html

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Pete Seeger and the Media

Pete Seeger received some very complimentary obituaries in the American press this week. They only briefly mentioned his blacklisting and definitely did not say anything about their role in the destruction of his career in the early 1950s. 

Seeger's parents encouraged him to question authority at an early age. His father, Charles Louis Seeger, was a musicologist who taught at Berkeley University, lost his job when he opposed United States involvement in the First World War. Seeger told his dean that Germany and England were both imperialist powers, and as far as he was concerned, they could fight each other to a stalemate. 

Seeger's first concert performance was on 3rd March 1940. It was a benefit for California migrant workers. Other singers on the show included Josh White, Woody Guthrie, Burl Ives, Molly Jackson and Huddie Leadbelly. Six moths later joined together with Guthrie, Lee Hayes, Pete Hawes and Millard Lampell to form the Almanac Singers. They specialized in songs advocating an anti-war, anti-racism and pro-union philosophy. Not the sort of material that was liked by the mainstream press. 

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAseeger.htm 


For the rest of the article see:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/spartacus-blog.html


Friday, 17 January 2014

Should history teachers use Blackadder in the classroom?

In an article on the teaching of the First World War in The Daily Mail on 2nd January, 2014, Michael Gove wrote: “Our understanding of the war has been overlaid by misunderstandings, and misrepresentations which reflect an, at best, ambiguous attitude to this country and, at worst, an unhappy compulsion on the part of some to denigrate virtues such as patriotism, honour and courage. The conflict has, for many, been seen through the fictional prism of dramas such as Oh! What a Lovely War, The Monocled Mutineer and Blackadder, as a misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite. Even to this day there are Left-wing academics all too happy to feed those myths.”


Gove then goes on to argue: "The First World War may have been a uniquely horrific war, but it was also plainly a just war. The ruthless social Darwinism of the German elites, the pitiless approach they took to occupation, their aggressively expansionist war aims and their scorn for the international order all made resistance more than justified.”

The Education Secretary says it is time to listen to historians such as Margaret Macmillan who has “demonstrated how those who fought were not dupes but conscious believers in king and country, committed to defending the western liberal order”.

Gove then goes on to attack Professor Sir Richard Evans, the Cambridge historian by claiming that he has argued that “the men who enlisted in 1914 may have thought they were fighting for civilisation, for a better world, a war to end all wars, a war to defend freedom: they were wrong”. Just to make sure that The Daily Mail readers will support his argument about Evans, he points out that he also writes for The Guardian

For the rest of the article see:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/spartacus-blog.html

Monday, 6 January 2014

Solomon Northup, Wikipedia and the 12 Years a Slave film.

In an article in yesterday's Guardian, the British director, Steve McQueen, of Oscar-tipped drama 12 Years a Slave, criticised Hollywood for a historical paucity of movies on slavery. The film is based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup. McQueen argues the industry has largely ignored the subject of slavery. The article quotes an interview given by McQueen to Sky News: "The second world war lasted five years and there are hundreds and hundreds of films about the second world war and the Holocaust. Slavery lasted 400 years and there are less than 20 films. We have to redress that balance and look at that time in history."

The same is true of websites in the USA. Do a search at Google for "Solomon Northup" and see what you get. At the top you will get his Wikipedia entry. In its early days Google attempted to give you the best page at the top of its searches. With its reliance of "domain authority"the situation has changed. If Wikipedia has produced a page on a subject, it will appear at the top of any search. Google has a domain authority of 100. Whereas the Guardian has a score of only 96 (American newspapers are rated higher as this is Google's plan to allow its country to dominate mass communications). Even our top universities like Cambridge and Oxford only have domain authority ratings of 94. 

The Wikipedia entry is fairly detailed account of his life (this has been increased dramatically since the release of 12 Years a Slave). My problem with the entry for Solomon Northup is that it makes no attempt to capture what it was like to a slave in the United States. There is no excuse for this as Northup produced a magnificent memoir of his experiences.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USASnorthup.htm

For the rest of the article see:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/spartacus-blog.html