Continues at Part 2.
The date of September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, is remembered as the date the war started. But little is remembered about the date Russia also moved into Poland, on September 16,1939. The nation of Poland was now divided between these two war-time allies.
It is interesting to notice what the responses of the major allied nations were to these two dates. When Germany entered the western portion of Poland, Britain and France declared war on Germany. But when Russia moved into eastern Poland, there was no war declaration by either nation.
The Soviets caused one of the tragic events of history after they occupied their portion of Poland. They captured approximately 10,000 Polish officers and brutally murdered them, most of them meeting their death in Katyn Forest near the Russian town of Smolensk. The traditional story about their deaths was that the officers had been killed by the German army, but now the evidence is clear that the Russians committed this crime. The other victims were taken aboard a barge which was towed out to sea and then sunk.
Even with all of these efforts of the American businessman to construct the German war machine with the full knowledge and approval of President Roosevelt, he kept repeating that the nation would continue its "neutral" position: it would remain out of the war. On September 1, 1939, when the war started, he was asked by a reporter whether America would stay out of the war and Roosevelt replied: "... I believe we can, and every effort will be made by the Administration to do so."
Roosevelt responded by appointing George Marshall, a CFR member, as Chief of Staff of the Army over General Douglas MacArthur, not a member of the CFR, and other senior officers.
Others did not believe Roosevelt's claim that America would remain neutral. On September 12, 1939, Hans Thomson, the German charge d'affaires in Washington, cabled the German government: "... if defeat should threaten the Allies (Great Britain and France), Roosevelt is determined to go to war against Germany, even in the face of the resistance of his own country."
But Germany's war efforts were still dependent on oil resources, and it came from a variety of sources, some external to the German border. Before Rumania was invaded by the Germans, it was selling oil to Germany. Life magazine of February 19, 1940, has a picture of Rumanian oil being loaded into oil tank cars. The picture has a caption under it which reads, in part: "Oil for Germany moves in these tank cars of American Essolube and British Shell out of Creditui Minier yards near Ploesti (Rumania.) Notice that cars are marked for German-American Oil Co. and German Railways, consigned to Hamburg and Wuppertal in Germany. They were sent from Germany to speed up Rumanian oil shipments." This picture was taken after Germany had invaded Austria and Poland, yet American and British oil companies are transporting oil for the German government, (the tank cars in the picture are dearly marked "Essolube," and "Shell").
And other sources supplied oil as well. When the German air force ran short of fuel, this was generously supplied from the great refinery belonging to the Standard Oil Company situated on the island of Aruba via Spanish tankers. This occurred during the war itself, yet these tankers were not sunk by American submarines.
Even with the purchases of oil from non-German sources, the major supplier of oil was still the cartel. The I.G. Farben-Standard Oil cooperation for production of synthetic oil from coal gave the I.G. Farben cartel a monopoly of German gasoline production during World War II. Just under one half of German high octane gasoline in 1945 was produced directly by I.G. Farben, and most of the balance by its affiliated companies.
But as the war in Europe continued, America's leaders were attempting to get America involved, even though the American people didn't want to become part of it Roosevelt, the presidential candidate, was promising the American people that the Roosevelt administration would remain neutral should he be re-elected. Others knew better. One, for instance, was General Hugh Johnson, who said: "I know of no well informed Washington observer who isn't convinced that, if Mr. Roosevelt is elected (in 1940), he will drag us into war at the first opportunity, and that, if none presents itself, he will make one."
Roosevelt had two opportunities to involve America in World War II: Japan was at war with China, and Germany was at war with Great Britain, France and other countries. Both war zones presented plenty of opportunities to involve the American government in the war, and Roosevelt was quick to seize upon the opportunities presented.
His first opportunity came from the war in the Pacific. It was in August, 1940, that the United States broke the Japanese "purple" war-time code. This gave the American government the ability to read and understand all of their recoverable war-time messages. Machines were manufactured to de-code Japan's messages, and they were sent all over the world, but none was sent to Pearl Harbor.
Roosevelt's public efforts to involve America, while ostensibly remaining neutral, started in August, 1940, when the National Guard was voted into Federal service for one year. This was followed in September by the Selective Service Act, also for one year's duration.
But the key to America's early involvement occurred on September 28, 1940, when Japan, Germany and Italy signed the Tripartite Treaty. This treaty required that any of the three nations had to respond by declaring war should any one of the other three be attacked by any of the Allied nations. This meant that should Japan attack the United States, and the United States responded by declaring war against Japan, it would automatically be at war with the other two nations, Germany and Italy.
Roosevelt now knew that war with Japan meant war with Germany. His problem was solved.
He had made secret commitments to Winston Churchill and the English government to become involved in the war against Germany and he knew that the only way he could fulfill his secret commitments to Churchill to get us into the war, without openly dishonoring his pledges to the American people to keep us out, was by provoking Germany or Japan to attack.
Roosevelt moved towards the Pacific theater first, knowing that, if he could provoke Japan to attack America first, America would automatically be at war with Germany as well. He also knew that, should Germany attack America, Japan would have to declare war on America. So Roosevelt attempted to get either nation to attack the United States first. Japan was to get the first opportunity.
In October, 1940, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox sent for Admiral J.O. Richardson, Commander-in-Chief of the American fleet in the Pacific. Knox advised him that the President wanted him to establish a patrol of the PacificÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Âa wall of American naval vessels stretched across the western Pacific in such a way as to make it impossible for Japan to reach any of her sources of supply; a blockade of Japan to prevent by force her use of any part of the Pacific Ocean. Richardson protested vigorously. He said that would be an act of war, and besides, we would lose our navy. Of course Roosevelt had to abandon it.
This scene in history poses two rather interesting questions:
Is it possible that Roosevelt did not choose to use his supreme power because he knew that this was indeed an act of war and that he did not want to be identified as the originator of the plan. If Richardson had agreed to Knox's proposal, and Japan had attacked an American naval vessel, Roosevelt could have directly blamed the admiral for allowing the vessel to get into the position of being fired upon by the Japanese Navy in the first place.
Roosevelt wanted a scapegoat and Richardson refused.
It is possible that Roosevelt realized that Richardson now knew about the plan, and since he did not approve, he would be in a position to clearly identify Roosevelt as the source of the idea should the second admiral agree to it.
Roosevelt did not want to jeopardize his carefully constructed image as a "dove" in the question of whether or not America should become involved in the war.
It is important to remember that, in November, 1940, just after this incident, candidate Roosevelt told the American people: "I say to you fathers and mothers, and I will say it again and again and again, your boys will not be sent into foreign wars."
Richardson later appraised his situation at Pearl Harbor and felt that his position was extremely precarious. He visited Roosevelt twice during 1940 to recommend that the fleet be withdrawn to the west coast of America, because:
That meant that the American government had done nothing to shore up the defenses of Pearl Harbor against an offshore attack since the naval manuevers of 1932 discovered just how vulnerable the island was.
Richardson's reluctance to provide Roosevelt's incident for the United States to enter the war, and his concern about the status of the Fleet, led to his being unexpectedly relieved of the Fleet command in January, 1941.
The American Ambassador to Tokyo, Joseph C. Grew, was one of the first to officially discover that Pearl Harbor was the intended target of the Japanese attack, as he corresponded with President Roosevelt's State Department on January 27, 1941: "The Peruvian minister has informed a member of my staff that he had heard from many sources, including a Japanese source, that, in the event of trouble breaking out between the United States and Japan, the Japanese intended to make a surprise attack against Pearl Harbor...."
In March 1941, President Roosevelt was still hoping for an incident involving the United States and Germany, according to Harold Ickes, Roosevelt's Secretary of the Interior. He reported: "At dinner on March 24, he [Roosevelt] remarked that 'things are coming to a head; Germany will be making a blunder soon.' There could be no doubt of the President's scarcely concealed desire that there might be an incident which would justify our declaring a state of war against Germany...."
Roosevelt and Churchill had conspired together to incite an incident to allow America's entry into the war. According to Churchill, The President had said that he would wage war but not declare it, and that he would become more and more provocative. If the Germans did not like it, they could attack American forces.
The United States Navy was taking over the convoy route to Iceland.
The President's orders to these escorts were to attack any U-boat which showed itself, even if it were two or three hundred miles away from the convoy....
Everything was to be done to force "an incident".
Hitler would be faced with the dilemma of either attacking the convoys and dashing with the United States Navy or holding off, thus "giving us victory in the Battle of the Atlantic. It might suit us in six or eight weeks to provoke Hitler by taunting him with this difficult choice."
But Hitler was attempting to avoid a confrontation with the United States. He had told his naval commanders at the end of July  to avoid incidents with the United States while the Eastern campaign [the war against Russia] was still in progress .... A month later these orders were still in force.
Churchill even wrote to Roosevelt after the German ship the Bismarck sank the British ship the Hood, recommending in April, 1941: "... that an American warship should find the Prinz Eugen (the escort to the Bismarck) then draw her fire, 'thus providing the incident for which the United States would be so thankful,' i.e., bring her into the war."
Hitler was not as wise in other matters. He attacked his "ally" Russia on June 22, 1941, even though Germany and Russia had signed a treaty not to declare war on each other.
With this action, the pressure to get the United States involved in the war really accelerated. Roosevelt, on June 24, 1941, told the American people: "Of course we are going to give all the aid that we possibly can to Russia."
And an American program of Lend-Lease began, supplying Russia enormous quantities of war materials, all on credit.
So with Hitler pre-occupied with the war against Russia and refusing to involve himself with the Americans on the open sea, Roosevelt had to turn his attentions back to Japan for the incident he needed.
The next step was to assist other countries, the English and the Dutch, to embargo oil shipments to Japan in an attempt to force them into an incident that would enable the United States to enter the war.
Japan, as a relatively small island, and with no oil industry to speak of, had to look elsewhere for its oil, and this was the reason for the proposed embargo. It was thought that this action would provoke Japan into an incident. Ex-President Herbert Hoover also saw the manipulations leading to war and he warned the United States in August, 1941: "The American people should insistently demand that Congress put a stop to step-by-step projection of the United States into undeclared war... ."
But the Congress wasn't listening.