A fascinating 1941 persuasive map by the Constitutional Education League, designed to expose the pervasive and oft-hidden influence of Communists, Nazis and fascists in American politics and culture. Note: This description is borrowed with permission from the work of PJ Mode, with only occasional edits and additions.
This large map of the United States purports to show how the Communists—allegedly in league with the Nazis and various Fascist organizations—had established a pervasive, nationwide “Fifth Column” that “Menaces America on a Thousand Fronts.” Separate symbols are used to denote the locations of Communist Central, District and Section Headquarters, as well as Communist Workers’ Schools, Training Camps and Literature Centers. Markers show the locations of similar operations of the Nazis, German Bund and Fascists (including “Native Fascists”). The country is divided to show the separate Communist District Boundaries and Nazi Department Boundaries. The text on the face of the map asserts that the Fifth Column has “penetrated” the U.S. Army, Navy, National Guard and Defense Industries. What matters on this map is not the specific geographic location of any individual group, but their sheer pervasiveness and scope, surely enough to strike fear into any patriotic American.
The verso contains a “Roll of Dishonor” listing over 100 of “the more important Communist, Nazi, Fascist and native totalitarian groups” and various “united front” and “fellow-traveler” affiliates. This list is based on “Government investigations; on sworn testimony and records of the Dies [i.e., House Un-American Activities] Committee and other Legislative inquiries, and on extensive data and secret documents in the files of the Constitutional Education League, Inc.,” the publisher of this map. In addition to a handful of expected Communist and Socialist organizations, the list is dominated by scores of national, state and local labor groups, including Auto Workers, Clothing Workers, Electrical Workers, Hotel Workers, Mine Workers, Teachers, Ladies Garment Workers and Transport Workers. The CIO is singled out as “a revolutionary movement—the creature and industrial arm of the Communist Party.”
Despite the suggestion that the Communists, Nazis and Fascists were conspiring to bring down America, the fundamental thrust of the map is anti-Communist. That was the core mission of the Constitutional Education League, founded in 1919 during the original Red Scare. And the text on the verso is principally devoted to attacking the Communists, the “heart and brain of the Red Fifth Column in America,” “a foreign conspiracy masked as a political party . . . whose intrigues stagger the imagination and whose power and influence has made itself felt in almost every phase of our national life.” On the other hand, “Hitler’s Nazis” are described simply as “Brown Bolsheviks” (a characterization that both Hitler and the Soviets would certainly have disputed), and the Fascists are said to be concerned primarily not with imposing their will on this country, but on securing aid for their causes abroad. Those on the “Roll of Dishonor” share a “collective goal . . . they would undermine our Government, destroy it, and set up in its place a new system of society based upon the collective concepts of Karl Marx.”
The quote at the top right of the map from Chairman Martin Dies confirms the basic focus on attacking the Communists. Referring to the German invasion of Russia on June 22, 1941, Dies ignores the fracturing of the alleged “Fifth Column.” Instead, he asserts that “The influence of the Communist Party in America will increase tremendously as a result of the break between Hitler and Stalin” because the “gullible and fellow travelers in America who aided the Communist cause before the [Molotov-von Ribbentrop Pact in 1939] may be expected to resume their activities in behalf of Moscow.” (It seems likely that this map was prepared for publication before the German invasion of Russia and published shortly thereafter. There are many dates in the text on the map and verso, none later than July 7, 1941.)
Joseph P. Kamp was a long-time officer of the Constitutional Education League and author of numerous pamphlets associating the American labor movement with Communism. (One of these, “Join the CIO and Help Build a Soviet America,” is advertised on the verso.) Apart from this map, he had a well-known record of pro-Nazi activities before the U.S. entered World War II, as well as anti-Semitic views. After the war, he attempted to link President Eisenhower to the “communist conspiracy.” In July 1942 the Constitutional Education League was indicted, along with 28 individuals and a number of other organizations and publications, on charges of sedition, specifically, of seeking to undermine the morale and foster mutiny among U.S. armed forces. In 1944 it was subpoenaed for information about its donors, but Kamp refused to comply. For this he was convicted of contempt in 1950 and sentenced to four months in prison.
Cloyd Gill was for many years an editor and associate of William Randolph Hearst; he was fervently anti-labor and anti-Communist. In 1936, Gill promised favorable coverage by Hearst papers and radio stations nationwide if the American Legion would suppress an “Americanism” pamphlet prepared by one its Commanders, on the ground that it gave excessive emphasis to freedom of speech. He was also one of the organizers of the Asheville Conference, “Christian Americanism against Atheistic Communism,” which collapsed in the summer of 1936 amid charges of anti-semitism. In 1941, the Anti-Defamation League reported that Gill had been fired from the Hearst organization for “extreme bigotry” and was writing pro-German, pro-Japanese, anti-democratic propaganda. For another anti-Communist map see his Wake Up America—Repel the Grave Diggers of Capitalism. It is worth noting, however, that his views were more nuanced than those of some of his compatriots on the right; for example, in his The Jew as My Neighbor he argues against Charles Lindbergh’s anti-Semitism and Nazi sympathies.
OCLC 62688344 (six institutional holdings as of February 2018). Persuasive Maps: The PJ Mode Collection, #2294 (not yet posted). For ease of reading I have omitted PJ’s extensive footnotes, but these can be provided on request.
Minor fold separations, wear and soiling, and a small stain to lower right of map (affecting title panel on verso).