Saturday, June 08, 2024

Tales from the Attic: Getting started in civil rights

 Note: Some of this was written before the term Negro was replaced by the term black

Sam Smith, 2010 - There was a story that wound its way across the pages of The Idler -  forerunner of the Progressive Review. It was first expressed in a moving fashion in letters written from Mississippi in the summer of 1964 by my college roommate, ex-wrestler and ex-paratrooper Gren Whitman. From Biloxi on August 8, 1964 he wrote:

|||| Fear cannot be described, only felt. I have been frightened many times In my life in varying degrees, in varying circumstances. And courage is not the absence of fear. Fear is the essence of courage. What are your emotions now, driving with us along a lonely highway in rural Mississippi, in an integrated car? It you are frightened, you are with friends, and you are sane. If you are not afraid, you know nothing about Mississippi. You have never heard of the Freedom Rides and how they ended in Jack-son. You have never heard of Herbert Lee and Louis Allen, and countless others. You have not heard of Neshoba County. You have never talked with a Mississippi Negro or a civil rights veteran.

And if your fear has overcome your convictions, you have no business with us. Go home. Our three colored companions are profoundly aware that two whites are in the car with them and what this will mean if we are stopped for any reason. The two of us, likewise, know that though we are white, we become as black as tar once we are known to be CR types. White Mississippians make no distinctions. There is a strange and wonderful and, for you, a new bond between us, compounded of fear, and dedication and brotherhood. . . . 

In January 1966, I got a chance to help plant the seed. The notorious DC Transit wanted to raise its fares and the local chapter of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee had organized to stop it. They urged citizens with cars to drive bus passengers during a one-day boycott. I joined the volunteers. On the morning of January 24, 1966, I hauled myself out of bed, swallowed a cup of coffee, warmed up my '54 Chrysler, and made my way to Sixth and H Streets Northeast, one of the assembly points for volunteer jitneys. A boycott organizer filled my car with three high school girls and a middle-aged and rather fat woman.

If both the fat lady and her husband worked, the five cent fare increase Chalk was seeking would cost them two week's worth of groceries over the course of a year.

I let my passengers off and headed back to Sixth and H. At Florida and New York, I counted five empty or near-empty buses. It wasn't even nine o'clock in the morning and the boycott was working,

"It's beautiful," the man in the slightly frayed brown overcoat said after he told me he was headed for Seventeenth Street. "It's working and it's beautiful. Hey, you see those two there. Let's try and get them."

I pulled over to the right lane by a stop where two men stood.

"Hey man, why spend thirty cents? Get in," my rider called to the pair.

"You headed downtown?"

"Yeah, get in."

"Great. It's working, huh? Great!"

At the delicatessen at Twenty-fourth and Benning, one of the assembly points, a young black who worked with SNCC greeted me: "Been waiting all morning for a car to work from here; said they were going to have one, but they didn't send it. Want a cup of coffee?"


"I'm tired, man. Been up all night down at the office. We got some threats. One bunch said they were going to bomb us, but they didn't."

We got into my car and continued east on Benning. Lots of empty buses.

"We've got to live together, man. You're white and you can't help it. I'm Negro and I can't help it. But we still can get along. That's the way I feel about it." I agreed.

"You ever worked with SNCC before?" "Nope," I said.

'Well, I'll tell you man, you hear a lot of things. But they're a good group. They stick together. You know, like if you get in trouble, you know they're going to be in there with you. If you get threatened they'll have people around you all the time. They stick together. That's good, man."

Later, I picked up a man at a downtown bus stop. The woman in the back seat asked him, "You weren't waiting for a bus, were you?"

"No. I just figured someone would come along and pick me up."

"That's good, 'cause if you were waiting for a bus I was going to bop you upside your head."

We all laughed and the man reassured her again.

"You know," the woman in back continued, "there were some of the girls at work who said they were going to ride the bus and they really made me mad. I thought I'd go get a big stick and stand at the bus stop and bop 'em one if they got on Mr. Chalk's buses. Some people just don't know how to cooperate. And you know, you don't have nothing in this world until you get people together. Hey, lookit over there, let's see if that guy's going out northeast."

People stuck together that Monday, I carried seventy-one people, only five of them white. SNCC estimated that DC Transit lost 130,000 to 150,000 fares during the boycott. Two days later, the transit commission, in a unanimous but only temporary decision, denied DC Transit the fare hike. The commission's executive director dryly told reporters that the boycott played no part in the decision. He was probably right. The commission worried about such things as cash dividends, investor's equity, rate of return, depreciated value, and company base. The boycotters worried about a nickel more a ride. And in the end, the commission was to approve the fare hike and then more; a few years later the fare was up to forty cents.

But the boycott was important, anyway. Never had so many Washingtonians done anything so irregular and contrary to official wishes. The assumption that DC residents would passively accept the injustices of their city was shattered. SNCC and the Free DC Movement had laid the groundwork for future action.

After the bus boycott, I wrote a letter to its leader congratulating him and offering to help in the future. Not long after the leader, Marion S. Barry, and his colleague, L. D. Pratt, were sitting in my living room talking about how I could help in SNCC's public relations. I readily agreed; for the first time in my life I had joined a movement.

Three years earlier Barry had quit his $5,500 a-year post teaching chemistry at Knoxville College in Tennessee and joined SNCC. He was the group's first chair. He then showed up in Washington to head the local office. Barry early formed an improbable and ultimately nearly explosive partnership with an erstwhile farm implements manufacturer, salesman, self-styled nutrition expert, and economic theoretician named L. D. Pratt. Barry was lean, black, soft-spoken, self-contained, and given to wearing a straw plantation style hat; Pratt was husky, white, excitable, demonstrative, and covered his baldness with a felt fedora that made him appear a character out of a one-column cut in a forties edition of Time magazine.

Together they designed the boycott and a drive to win self-government for the colony of Washington. Barry and Pratt both worked themselves to the marrow and it was during those months that Barry first gained a long-lingering reputation for always being late for appointments, news conferences, and actions. "I work on CPT-- colored people's time," explained Barry. Part of my job was to stand on the street-corner and convince the press that Marion really would show up if they just waited a bit longer. The reporters would bitch, but since Barry was shaking up the city, they mostly waited anyhow.

Barry's subsequent moves in his drive for passage of right-to-vote legislation in Congress included an effort to get businessmen in downtown stores and along H Street (a black shopping area second only to downtown in commercial importance) to support the movement by displaying its sticker in their windows. Hundreds of orange and black stickers with the slogan "Free DC" below a shattered chain went up in store windows; but the threat of a business boycott led other merchants to cry blackmail, and some of the more traditional civil rights and home rule leaders began to back away from Barry's tough tactics.

In the coming months, Barry and his organization would disrupt the calm of the city with increasing frequency. A number of Free DC supporters were arrested at the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. By the following fall, Barry would have been arrested three times, for failing to "move on," for disorderly conduct, and for holding a Free DC block party without official sanction.

Barry used his arrests to make points. After being arrested for failing to move on at a policeman's order, Barry said, "It is a bad law that gives policemen the sole discretion in such matters. Especially in Washington where the cops are so uneducated and awful. They use the law as a harassing device against Negroes." And he warned, less than two years before the 1968 riot, that the attitude of police might lead to an outbreak of racial violence.

While Barry was on the streets, on the tube, in court, and in jail, his associate, L. D. Pratt, was developing a reputation as the mystery man behind the operation disturbing the tranquility of the colonial capital.  Pratt refused to be interviewed by reporters and, although it was known that he was closely involved in designing the bus boycott, few knew who be was or what he was up to.

The pair belied their public images. In person. Barry, the mortal threat to peace and order, was personally a gentle and quiet individual and Pratt, the mystery man, was, out of range of the press, open and loquacious.

Marion was leading a movement, but it had some of the intensity, closeness and spirit of a rebellion. Barry enlisted into the cause anyone he could find. You would be talking on the phone and a friendly special operator would break in with an "emergency call" and it would be Barry or Pratt or someone else with the latest crisis or plan. There were black cops who had been spiritually seconded to the movement and ministers who served as a link between the radical Barry and the more moderate civil rights movement and friendly reporters who still believed there was an objective difference between justice and injustice,. And through it all was movement, excitement and hope, not even dampened by the thirtieth chorus of "We Shall Overcome" sung in a church hall while waiting for Marion finally to show up.

Pratt described his relationship with Barry this way: "I am the theoretician and Marion is the practitioner. I just give suggestions and he makes the decisions. I re-spect his opinions more than my own."

Barry and Pratt not only upset policemen and government officials; they perturbed the established civil rights and home rule leadership in the city.
It was not just the Free DC's militancy and independence that upset the old leaders. They also were profoundly disturbed by the rise of the black power idea; Coalition co-chairman Channing Phillips stated, "The black nationalist stand of SNCC is inconsistent with the Coalition's philosophy."

Still, while the 20-something Barry was an anathema to the white business leaders and considered a rogue by the local civil rights establishment, as early as 1966 a poll found him ranked fifth by black residents as the person who had done the most for blacks in DC.

In SNCC and elsewhere, the spirit of black nationalism was indeed awakening. Black power had its roots in the deep frustration of the civil rights movement with the progress towards some sustainable form of equality. In 1963, Howard Zinn, then a professor at Spellman College, told a SNCC conference that the ballot box would not give blacks much power. Zinn said SNCC should build up "centers of power outside the official political mechanism."

This was a time when the official symbol of the Alabama Democratic Party included a banner reading "White Supremacy -- For the Right." The SNCC-organized Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party had attempted to be seated at the national Democratic convention and was rebuffed, offered only two non-voting at-large seats to represent not just Mississippi all American blacks. SNCC communications director Julian Bond twice won election to the Georgia legislature, and twice that body refused to seat him. Jerry Demuth, writing in The Idler in October 1966 asked: "After Julian Bond, Atlantic City and the Alabama Democratic Party with its proclamation of white supremacy, what is there except a Black Panther Party?"

The voices of black power of the time were varied. Two months after being replaced as SNCC chair by the more militant Stokely Carmichael, John Lewis explained:

"I support the concept of black power and I have tried repeatedly to articulate it to people in terms they can understand, so that they will know it is for civil rights, not against whites."

The National Committee of Negro Churchmen of the National Council of Churches tried to combine black power and integration in an August 1965 newspaper ad:

"A more equal sharing of power is precisely what is required as the precondition of authentic human interaction. We understand the growing demand of Negro and white youth for a more honest kind of integration: one which increases rather than decreases the capacity of the disinherited to participate with power in all the structures of our common life. Without this capacity to participate with power -- i.e. to have some organized political and economic strength to really influence people with whom one interacts -- integration is not meaningful. For the issue is not one of racial balance but of honest racial interaction."

But this was a hope far from current reality and many more blacks listened to the view of Carmichael: "Integration is an insidious subterfuge for white supremacy." He told a crowd in Greenwood, MS, "We been saying 'freedom' for six years and we ain't got nothing. What we're gonna start saying now is 'Black Power.'"

The most important white at SNCC, L. D. Pratt, continued to play a important role for some time, but his ability to work with Barry declined sharply and, and after receiving physical threats dropped out of the local scene. . .

But before it was over, Barry and Pratt had one more "good shot," as L.D. liked to call them. Hauling an odd assortment of black and white activists off to a weekend retreat, the pair organized a lecture, seminar, and planning sessions to pave the way for a massive push against slum housing. In fact, that's what it was going to be called - PUSH, People United against Slum Housing. It would be no ordinary effort. Barry theorized that the reason slumlords were invulnerable was because protests were usually directed against only a small portion of their holdings. If you could uncover the full economic interests of a slumlord, Including his commercial holdings, you could organize an effective boycott against him.

From L. D.'s theoretical charts and Marion's discourse, the action moved to strange places like a hall at a Catholic woman's college where volunteers sorted out thousands of paper slips containing important information about DC eviction cases over the past two years, and the basement of the Court of General Sessions, where a friendly judge had permitted the group space to do its research closer to the source material. The little slips of paper slowly built up information concerning slumlords, lawyers, front corporations, and their interconnections. From the long tables in the basement of the Court of General Sessions, the slips went to the Recorder of Deeds office where more volunteers began arduously sifting through official records. The project never got much beyond that. Perhaps it fell of its own weight; the task of organizing all those slips of paper without a computer was staggering, Perhaps the separate directions in which various participants were rapidly going was a factor, In any event, the days of the Free DC Movement were just about over.

And sometime later, I attended a meeting in the basemen to the SNCC office. There were only a handful of whites there. Stokely Carmichael arrived and announced that whites were no longer welcomed in the civil rights movement. My time with SNCC was over

When people would write about Marion Barry years later, they wouldn't mention the good part because they had never seen it. All they saw was the cynical, corroded shell of a man they hadn't known and thought it had been that way all along. Like an old car rusting in a pasture.

As Barry moved into politics, first on the school board, then the city council, then the mayor's office I had moved my support and enthusiasm with him, and without apologies. Once in the top job, however, his weaknesses quickly lost their constraints and whatever greatness Marion might have possessed started to disintegrate.

And yet I still think of the good years. The years in which Barry was one of a handful of people who made self-determination for DC possible, the years in which he was the voice of progress and sanity on the school board and city council. I think of a man who was willing to risk his life for the freedom of others, who was willing to go to jail on the chance it would help others gain a measure of liberty. And like Jack Burden writing of Willie Stark, "I have to believe he was a great man. What happened to his greatness is not the question. Perhaps he spilled it on the ground the way you spill a liquid when the bottle breaks. Perhaps he piled up his greatness and burnt it in one great blaze in the dark like a bonfire and then there wasn't anything but dark and the embers winking. Perhaps he could not tell his greatness from ungreatness and so mixed them together that what was adulterated was lost. But he had it. I must believe that."

On the wall of my office was an autographed bumper sticker from Marion's first campaign for mayor. It read: "Barry -- the way things ought to be."

Our relationship deteriorated during the years he rose to power. But I still remember something he said about me that, given his nature, I still take as a compliment: “Sam’s a cynical cat.”

Thursday, June 06, 2024

The difference between dumb and mean

Sam Smith, 2014 - One thing that I have known hardly anything about are those who use trans to describe their gender or sexuality.  In fact, if I know anyone in these categories I don't know it.

Thus, I was interested when I stumbled upon Piers Morgan interviewing 29 year old transgender advocate Janet Mock who has recently written a memoir, Redefining Realness.  
It seemed to me an informative interview. Others, however, did not see it that way. The Twitter and other responses were so strongly antagonistic towards Morgan that he had Mock back to explain what the problem was.

What fascinated me about some of these responses  was that they seemed a metaphor for what is wrong with our political and cultural discussion these days. It is as though both conservatives and liberals view their viewpoints as fundamentalist theology and if you don't see things their way, you're going to hell. And it's not just about philosophy, it is about using the right language and not making descriptive errors that are considered offensive.  

Mock was, in fact, quite reasonable compared to some of her enthusiasts. At one point there was this exchange: 

Morgan: Why have I been vilified for being transparently supportive of you? I don't get it!

Janet Mock: Being offensive and being kind are not mutually exclusive things. We can be good people but be ignorant. It's about understanding.

But for others there were the purportedly outrageous mistakes that Morgan had made. For example, Robin Abcarian wrote in the LA Times: "Many in the trans community took issue with Morgan's description of Mock as 'a boy until she turned 18' and his focus on how she revealed her gender identity to her boyfriend."

Of course, if you belong to a subculture representing roughly 3% of the overall population it is not likely that the other 97% will be as well informed as you would like them to be. This doesn't mean they're mean, just ignorant.  The best approach in this situation is not scold or berate but to explain. I've frequently been in political positions supported by not much more than 3%,  so I have some sense of the problem.

Further, as a reporter, I know that asking dumb questions can be a good way of getting better explanations from people. And how an interviewee felt about something such as their gender back when they were a teenager is not irrelevant. It helps to tell the story. 

But today's liberal culture seems to have developed an almost gated approach to acceptable attitudes, values, details and even questions that can quickly put the untrained and uninformed in harm's way.

I grew up as one of six children so I learned early that this doesn't work too well. And along the way some things reinforced this view. I remember, for example, flying to my son's New England university next to a man from North Carolina whose son was on the same campus. I asked him how his son was liking Brown and he responded with something like, "Well he's never had to deal with those liberal types before. but he's learning."

I had never thought about the difference between someone like that man's son and mine. The southern teen had not chosen his upbringing  but apparently now had chosen another course, suggesting that he was looking in new places. How much harder that could be, I thought, than what my own son faced.

I also think about Martin Luther King's advice to his staff that they should remember that, if successful, the people they were fighting today would some day be their friends.

And I am reminded of my Puerto Rican nephew who, as an ESPN sportscaster some years back, had to do play by play broadcasts heard in all Latin American countries. One of the problems: carefully avoiding slang that might be acceptable in one  country but not in another.
Diversity is not as simple as it may seem. For example, using the right language is probably not at the top of the list of things that will subdue the brutality now experienced by many of in the trans community. The wrong language of the mean is not the cause of their problems, but a reflection of it. Treat people nice and your language will follow.

And it is strange that those who talk so much about diversity can close the door so quickly on one of the consequences of that diversity: namely, the more diverse our relationships are, the harder it is to know enough about others, the feelings and language they prefer, and what annoys them. Given all the humans raised throughout history in a monoculture, is it really odd that some the stories of a multicultural America are not known by everyone?

And it is an America where things can change pretty fast.  As I was writing this piece,  Facebook came out with a list of over 50 gender and sexual terms folks can use on its pages to describe themselves, such as agender,  androgyne/androgynous,  bigender,  cis,  gender fluid, gender nonconforming, gender questioning, gender variant, genderqueer, intersex, male to female/mtf, neither,  rneutrois, non-binary, pangender, transgender, trans man, trans woman, trans female, trans male,  trans person, and two-spirit.

Meanwhile, some words we don't understand well at all. We have already paid quite a price by not making an adequate distinction between the ignorant and the mean. Groups that were once more pro-liberal have drifted to the right.  And while we always have had fundamentalist Christians in America, but there was a time when we called many of them New Deal Democrats.

To live successfully in a diverse culture we have to learn how to inform, convince, and convert rather than scold and condemn. And we  have to value reciprocal liberty.  Remember that liberals, for example, only comprise a bloc about seven times the size of the trans population.

So when Pierce Morgan doesn't say the right thing, help him, don't ball him out.

Tales from the Attic


Our most notorious party 

I quit 


Five years of failure

What's a humanities?

My brief career as a poet

How to keep people going to a museum


The hooligan navy at sea

The hooligan navy in St. Louis


A different cop story

A Capitol Police story from a happier time


Love of trains 


Capitol Hill in the 1960s

Covering the Capital in the 1960s & 1970s 

Getting started in civil rights

DC Links

Big Sky

Rappahanock County 

Returning to DC  

Graduation speech


Capitol Hill in the 1960s

Covering DC in the 1960s & 1970s

Getting started in journalism

Radio news in the 1950s

Learning from Texas liberals

Mark Russell, Sid Yudain and your editor

How I almost went to work for the National Enquirer

Fifty years of journalism

A restaurant review

Driving an Isetta

Smackdown with Bill O'Reilly

A Labor Day admission



A 50th Harvard college reunion report

Pumping iron

Propert attire

Places I owned for awhile


Playing with George James

Music, my hidden college major 


Learning an American story

My introduction to politics

 My brief moments with the Kennedy story

Eugene McCarthy: Notes on a napkin

If Trump was a drug

A preface to change 


Mr first home


Jackson Elementary School 

My first murder

Growing up part Jewish

Things my father never told me


Learning sailboat racing

A teen age journalist

Reaching teenhood in Philly

Dowsing with Henry Gross

Learning from the Quakers

Anthropology: Learning about people

Boy Scouts and mature voices

Magna Cum Probation 

Adams A-36

60 Years ago: Harvard and me

Fixing the bells of St. Paul

The forgotten war that I remember

A 50th Harvard college reunion report

How I became a suspect


Why bad words aren't the problem

My short career as a poet

The missing predicate in my life



Tales from the Attic: Things my father never told me

 Sam Smith - After World War II broke out, my father, who had worked for the New Deal from almost the beginning and was then over 40, went to work for the Foreign Economic Administration in Dakar, buying things West Africa needed and buying from West Africa things the military needed such as fats and oils. Richard Saltonstall in a chapter on my father in Pilgrimages, wrote that he "conducted extremely high-level and sensitive business missions for the government, including the purchase of the fuel oil that got Patton's tanks rolling again across Germany." In a letter of recommendation in 1945, the Army's Adjutant General, James Ulio, said my father  had purchased $20 million in commodities for the U.S. Army, the equivalent about about  $240 million in 2010. Among them: 90,000 Swiss watches.

Lawrence Smith also carried a noncombatant certificate which said that if captured he was to be treated as a field grade officer (major to colonel).

Nearly a quarter century after my father's death, I was tinkering with an old family desk that I knew had several hidden compartments. A piece of wood suddenly moved and I found myself staring at a small cache of typewritten letters between my parents in the last year of the war.

On March 2, 1945 my father wrote my mother from Bern. He described catching an 8:29 am train to Zurich: "There I talked three hours to the head, or one of the heads, of the Swiss National Bank, named Mr. Hirs and then took the train back here."


Tuesday I go to Paris probably - if so with the Currie Mission on their train. I come back in a day or two. No gestapo follows me, except possible the Swiss, for they have a wonderful one.

Then on March 14:

Paris is cold and damp. We left in two 2 1/2 ton six wheel trucks and a jeep with six soldiers, all with guns to protect the load on the way back. . . German tanks and trucks burned up, and turned over off the road, wooden repairs to iron and steel bridges, German prisoners marching off to work, a warning by an MP that two German parachutists had dropped, a railroad locomotive off the bridge and beside the road. . . factories and oil plants destroyed. . .

Author's father on the way from Paris to Bern in March 1945. At his right is his driver carrying a pistol. He wrote home: “We had six tommy guns and plenty of ammunition.”

The photo of my father and the soldiers continued to puzzle me, especially since it was accompanied by another showing a Swiss moving van backed up to one of the Army trucks. Then in 2009, I was having some art appraised and in the course of a conversation with the appraiser's assistant, who also happened to be a member of an OSS history group. I recounted the story of my father's strange journey and other WWII materials I had found. She said, "It sounds like he might have been part of Operation Safehaven."

She took my materials to an OSS history group meeting and came back with a note from one of its oldest members: "It appears that Mr. Smith was indeed a member of the Safehaven mission."

My father had never used the phrase, there had never been a hint of any connection with OSS, but the more I investigated, the more it seemed that I had discovered something deliberately hidden all these years.

Operation Safehaven was a secret World War II project aimed at recovering stolen and hoarded Nazi gold, art and other valuables.  In the course of my research I came across an OSS summary stating that Safehaven's purpose was "above all, to deny Germany the capacity to start another war." A CIA report calls this purpose its "overriding goal."

The Safehaven operation was started by the Foreign Economic Administration, for which my father was working. But, while inventing the project, the FEA soon found itself over its head and called on the OSS for help. In classic government tradition the two agencies apparently alternately cooperated and competed. The State and Treasury departments' involvement helped to make it even more complicated.

The Currie Mission, with which my father was also involved in some manner, was headed by Laughlin Currie, head of the Foreign Economic Administration. According to one account, "In early 1945, Currie headed a tripartite (U.S., British, and French) mission to Bern to persuade the Swiss to freeze Nazi bank balances and stop further shipments of German supplies through Switzerland to the Italian front."

That was the trip my father had taken. The Currie Mission, according to the National Holocaust Museum, reached an agreement with Switzerland to stop cloaking enemy assets, gold purchases from Germany, assist in the restoration of looted property, and conduct a census of German assets in Switzerland. It adds that Switzerland "reneged on commitments."

Two weeks earlier, my father had "talked three hours to the head, or one of the heads, of the Swiss National Bank, named Mr. Hirs." Mr. Hirs, it turns out, was only the deputy head, of whom David Sanger of the NY Times would write decades later:

When the war ended, the Swiss offered a series of backtracking explanations of their behavior [with Nazi loot] . . When bank records or intelligence reports surfaced, it turned to legalistic defenses, arguing that under the rules of occupation the Nazis had clear title to anything they looted from central banks.

Lengthy negotiations were held in Washington over this prickly subject. A particularly duplicitous deputy head of the Swiss National Bank, Alfred Hirs, blurted out to the Americans, ''Do you want to take 500 million Swiss francs of gold'' -- worth roughly $1.25 billion today -- ''and ruin my bank?'' It was a telling moment, because until his outburst the Swiss had not acknowledged holding anywhere near that much looted gold.

The record of my father's role in all this remains blurred. He was a serious art collector and art was one of the things the Nazi had looted. He had also held a high position in the Justice Department so he was used to keeping his mouth shut.

In fact, according to one news account, Operation Safehaven didn't even become publicly known until the mid-nineties, two decades after my father's death.

In 1997, Stuart Eizenstat compiled a report for the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence. In it, citing two countries in which my father operated, he wrote;

The overriding goal of Safehaven was to make it impossible for Germany to start another war. Its immediate goals were to force those neutrals trading with Nazi Germany into compliance with the regulations imposed by the Allied economic blockade and to identify the points of clandestine German economic penetration. . .

It is quite clear that Safehaven planners had a good idea of what they wanted to achieve, but it also is apparent that they did not have the slightest idea of how to do it. Although it was evident from the outset that Safehaven would be primarily an intelligence-gathering problem, it does not appear to have occurred to anyone to consult the intelligence services, which were excluded from the planning and implementation of Safehaven until the end of November 1944. Bureaucratic rivalries predominated. Indeed, Safehaven was nearly destroyed by internecine quarrels among the FEA, State, and Treasury, each of which wanted to control the program and to exclude the other two from any participation. 

The decision was finally taken to invite the formal participation of the OSS. Once the OSS was brought into the Safehaven fold, all the advantages of a centralized intelligence organization were brought to bear. . .

In Nazi Europe, neutral Switzerland carried out business as usual, providing the international banking channels that facilitated the transfer of gold, currencies, and commodities between nations. Always heavily dependent on Swiss cooperation to pay for imports, the Reich became even more so as the ultimate defeat of the National Socialist regime became obvious and neutrals grew more wary of cooperating with the Axis belligerents. . .

In this critical situation, the Swiss banks acted as clearinghouses whereby German gold--much of which was looted from occupied countries--could be converted to a more suitable medium of exchange. An intercepted Swiss diplomatic cable shows how, allegedly without inquiring as to its origin, the Swiss National Bank helped the German Reichsbank convert some $15 million in (probably) looted Dutch gold into liquid assets. . .