When certain obstructionists become too irritating, label them after suitable buildups as fascist or Nazi or anti-Semitic and used the prestige of anti-fascist and tolerance organisations to discredit them. In the public mind constantly associate those who oppose us with those names which already have a bad smell. The association will after enough repetition become fact in the public mind. Youtube - John Birch Society @1:00:10

It is attributed in the video as "In 1943 the following directive was issued from party headquarters to all communists in the United States" however I have been unable to source this document, if it exists.

It is claimed as false in They Never Said It : A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions wherein the following passage appears on page 18:

Researchers in the Library of Congress have been unable to locate any such 'directive'; nor do specialists in Soviet affairs regard it as authentic.

  • 22
    I'm not sure that we can provide better sources than what you have already found. The quote sounds made up and is only spread by biased, far-right organizations who don't supply sources for it which could be followed up on. On the other hand, you have two professors of history and political science saying that it is almost certainly fake, and a reference to a letter from the Library of Congress which couldn't find such a directive. – tim May 16 at 9:24
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    Agreed with @tim, you're not gonna get a better source than the sources that claim it as bunk. Furthermore, that book was from 1989, and in the 30 years since then no one has ever produced the actual document. The reasoning in the book is also sound. – DenisS May 16 at 19:24
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    1943 would have been a little early to try and harness rabid anti- nazism and anti-anti-semitism in the US, would it not? There were nazi parades in all the US up to 1940. Henry Ford had written 'The International Jew' and wasn't ostracized. – bukwyrm May 16 at 19:42
  • You could/should probably self-answer with the 2nd part of your question. – Fizz May 17 at 1:03
  • @bukwyrm I find your comment extremely persuasive in a way the book was not because you've put forward a logical argument rather than an appeal to authority (Library of Congress, nameless specialists) as unverifiable as the original claim. Also no argumentum ad hominem. I think your comment should be the accepted answer. The 30 years argument put forward by DenisS is logical too. I am convinced. – Andrew May 17 at 4:12

Well, there is some evidence here, although I'm not sure how to interpret it. Still, I haven't found the directive either.

The National Republic, Volumes 30-31 published a relevant article, but unfortunately I can't actually read it freely and have to rely on Google Books snippets. I'm not sure if I'm looking at a section in 30 or 31; 30 was published in (early) 1943 and 31 in (early) 1944, I believe. Significantly, this puts it very, very, very close to the directive's alleged publication (but it doesn't seem to be the official directive publication itself). And it also uses different words than the quote used in the OP and everywhere else I saw (nowhere else seems to have these words):

Associated Good Names With Bad Ones

In Under Cover, Carlson closely follows the Communist Party line which is, in brief:

"In the public eye consistently associate the names of those who oppose us [Communists] with the names of those who already have a bad smell attached to them. This association of names will in time become a 'fact' in the mass mind…. With a suitable build-up, label them as Fascist and use the prestige of these anti-Fascist organizations to discredit them… Embarrass, discredit and degrade our [Communist] critics. Accuse them of being traitors to the war effort and playing Hitler's game. Attach the term [appeaser] to all the press that is unfriendly to us. Our own press is now a real power. We will increase it and at the same time discredit those who oppose us by attaching

And, despite not having a period or end quote, that's the end of the section. It's bizarre.

I followed up to see if there were any answers in Under Cover by "John Roy Carlson" (not his real name; the National Republic lists two of his other aliases: "George Decker" and "Derounian"), but I can't find anything relevant to the quote. I have no idea where they got this quote from, but they included the brackets and (some or all of the) ellipses, which makes it seem like they didn't make it up.

The next piece of evidence comes from Handbook on propaganda for the alert citizen (1953; also only available as Google Books snippets):

The following is a directive issued to Communist Party members in 1943: "When certain obstructionists (to Communism) become too irritating...

This is the same wording that's in the OP, essentially. The author of this book is a man who testified as a "friendly witness" in front of the Legislature of the State California in 1943, Oliver Carlson (not related to the other guy), where this was said about him:

Oliver Carlson testified as an expert on Communist strategy, Communist history, activities and theory, and practical objectives. Mr. Carlson is a writer and a research associate of the University of Chicago in the Department of Political Science.

He used to be a Communist, though I'm not sure when he switched sides.

The same wording is also found in Soviet Total War, which was "prepared and released by the Committee on Un-American Activities, United States House of Representatives" (1956).

  • Like in bukwyrm's comment: The date and "tolerance orgs", unsourced quote from "Committee of Un-American Activities". The date esp. didn't Stalin direct his comrades to hold still during the war, to cooperate, as the USSR needed help, and war was the mid-wife of revolution anyway? Since it's no earlier to be found but 53, and only from anti-communists, try to look into the history of CPUSA. – LangLangC May 17 at 9:00
  • @LangLangC What about the quote from 1943 or 1944? It’s just so strange because it’s so early and uses different words than the regular quote. But it’s still clearly the same quote or an earlier version thereof. I still don’t really know what to think. – Laurel May 17 at 15:48
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    Note that "Under Cover" is undercover among the American nazis (or maybe what Carlson viewed as such). Your quote is merely an attempt at discrediting Derounian and the book as "being just along that line of the 'directive'", not that it is in there. All we might have with "early date" is affirmation of early date for a tactic of anti-communists (or even straight fascists, who just don't like to be called that outside Italy) – LangLangC May 17 at 16:15
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    As google steals from University of Michigan the digitized books, the full view might have more than the snippet from NR? I think that in full context would be next best to investigate. – LangLangC May 17 at 16:16
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    @LangLangC I believe that Amazon backs up the 1943/1944 date for National Republic too. I have more of the preceding context from the article but not the whole thing, which you can see hidden in the source for this answer, by clicking edit. I could get more if I spent more time on it, but I’m not sure if it’s worthwhile. – Laurel May 17 at 16:30

It seems quite incompatible with recorded history.

The language used, the political connections drawn and most important: the date alawys used in this unsourced propaganda from anti-communists lessen the probability and plausibility severely.

At the centre of World Revolution, Stalin controlled large funds for communists outside the Soviet Union and guided the theoretical and political aims goals and strategies of those depending on Soviet aid for their political work. And Stalin was in the habit of ordering fierce agitation in opposing countries opposing the Soviet Union ,especially in war, but ordering silence and cooperation in countries allied. This is what happened in Germany from 1939–1941, when the communists of the now dissolved KPD lost incentive to oppose Naziism Nazi-Germany was the friend of the worker's paradise, and after Barbarossa when German communists were again instructed to do the utmost in trying to bring down the fascists.

For the communist party in the US:

The party dropped its peace program and demanded American aid for the Soviet Union and American intervention in the war. After Pearl Harbor, the CPUSA endorsed Roosevelt's war policies, called for a quick American invasion of Europe to relieve Nazi pressure on the Soviets, and vehemently denounced any interference with the war effort as treasonous. These policies allowed the rebuilding of many of the Popular Front relationships destroyed during the period of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. The heroic Soviet resistance to the Nazi army also lessened the pervasive anticommunist sentiment of the American public.

Released from prison in 1942 as a symbol of goodwill toward America's Soviet allies, Earl Browder became convinced that the Soviet Union's wartime alliance with the United States and Great Britain was permanent. Emboldened by the dissolution of the Comintern in 1943, Stalin's gesture to his Western allies, Browder dissolved the CPUSA in 1944 and reformed it as the Communist Political Association, intending to make Communists the left wing of the Democratic party. He announced that socialism would not be on the American agenda in the foreseeable future, a step that disconcerted some members of his own party.

Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, and Fridrikh Igorevich Firsov: "The Secret World of American Communism", Yale University Press: New Haven, London, 1995, p 11.

This is of course circumstantial evidence. Especially in light of the chaotic incompetence of the American communists. Whether there was such a directive given out cannot be excluded completely from the above.

In 1943 Wolfgang Leonhard, a young German attending a Communist International (Comintern)school for foreign Communists near Ufa, a city 750 miles east of Moscow, received an unusual assignment. The Comintern's archives had been transferred to Ufa when the Nazi army was threatening Moscow, and Leonhard was among a group of students given the task of putting the chaotic archives into order. His assignment was to organize the records of the American Communist party. In his memoir written in 1958, a decade after his break with communism, Leonhard noted:

The Communist Party of the U.S.A. was readily conceded first place for chaos and confusion. The sacks belonging to my American comrades contained not only whole bundles of Party documents which had simply been stuffed in without even a file-cover being put round them, but also the remains of cinema advertisements, old numbers of the New York Times, broken pencils and every kind of rubbish that had not the slightest connection with the archives…
There were so many things that I would have liked to have read – protocols of sessions of the Central Committee, struggles with the factions, justifications for the expulsions of leading Party officials-but unfortunately there was not the slightest possibility. I had to open the sacks, put the material in folders, and write on the outside "Trade Union" or "Miscellaneous" or "Party 1921–1923''at the pace of a Stakhanov. With every day that passed, we were urged more and more often to pay less attention to accuracy than to speed.'

ibid, p 4.

But this remote possibility of a subaltern faction giving out this order from the claim, or something resembling it, doesn't alter the fact the the date of 1943, the wording, the strategy outlined and the attribution "communist headquarters" are not plausible.

As this area of investigation was of the highest interest for American anti-communists, some form of evidence should surely be found. What committees and the FBI did find looked like this:

In addition to its investigation of alleged Japanese subversion, the Committee connected the Japanese problem to the ubiquitous Communist menace. Basing its conclusions largely on the editorial policy of the Communist newspaper, The People's Daily World, the Committee summarized the Communist Party line in 1942:

All Communists are ordered to minimize the Japanese danger. All large military efforts in the United States must be directed to Europe. Our immediate task is the defeat of Hitler and the protection of the Soviet Union. Smear anyone who advocates major activities against Japan at the present time. Our historic course with Japan will be determined at the conclusion of the war with Germany. Meanwhile our traditional role as the champion of racial equality must be maintained.26

Fn 26: Second Report, p 60 (Fully cited as: California Legislature, Report: Joint Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities in California. With the report for 1948, substitute "Senate" for "Joint" Fact-Finding Committee. Henceforth to be cited as First Report, Second Report, etc. The reports noted above are: First Report (1943); Second Report (1945); Eleventh Report (1961); Twelfth Report (1963); Thirteenth Report (1965); and Thirteenth Report Supplement (1966).

Robert L. Pritchard: "California Un-American Activities Investigations: Subversion on the Right?", California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. 49, No. 4 (Dec., 1970), pp. 309-327. (jstor)

Note the date and that it is again an interpretation done by an interested side. Some of these reports are on archive org, and they use the word "smear" a lot. Often it seems as if the meaning has changed.

Apart from the assertion in They Never Said It that

Researchers in the Library of Congress have been unable to locate any such 'directive'; nor do specialists in Soviet affairs regard it as authentic.

We also have to include prosecutors under the Smith act and federal agents to those who were looking to find exactly that kind of evidence:

The FBI had compiled a list of 200,000 persons in its Communist Index; since the CPUSA had only around 32,000 members in 1950, the FBI explained the disparity by asserting that for every official Party member, there were ten persons who were loyal to the CPUSA and ready to carry out its orders.

And this relative amount of infiltration became ever greater, when the CPUSA membership was down to 5000 at the end of the fifties:

Following orders from the Kremlin, Hoover explained, Levison was guiding Dr. King, thus affecting the course of the civil rights movement. In a hearing, he described the party in the United States as “a Trojan Horse of rigidly disciplined fanatics unalterably committed to bring this free nation under the yoke of international communism.” He may well have been jousting with his boss, for the attorney general had recently said that the American Communist party “couldn’t be more feeble and less of a threat, and besides its membership consists largely of FBI agents.” Kennedy had been horrified to discover that Hoover had assigned over one thousand agents to internal security, merely a dozen to organized crime
Curt Gentry: "J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets", W. W. Norton & Company, 2001.

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