EH 2723PWhen the United States entered World War I in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson breathed a sigh of relief. A passionate progressive and Presbyterian elder committed to using the United States to change the world, Wilson confidently told Congress that American involvement and a potential victory of the Entente (Britain, France, and Russia) would make “the world safe for democracy.” Furthermore, the president confidently predicted, American involvement in the bloody conflict would ensure that this indeed would be “the war to end all wars.” [1]

World War I, of course, did not end war forever. A far more horrible conflict began barely two decades after the ink dried on the Treaty of Versailles. In the moment, however, the war appeared a triumph of Progressivism. The great American democracy triumphed, saving the Old World from itself and apparently proving once for all the superiority of American-style democracy and American capitalism. American liberal democracy, capitalism, and Protestantism, fused into broadly American nationalism since the Civil War, marched triumphantly into the third decade of the twentieth century. Protestant liberals understood that fought and won a “war of righteousness.” They believed that the United States’ duty to enter World War I stemmed from messianic duty. The United States should, in the mind of a prominent Protestant divine, be a “Christ Nation to the other nations of the world.” One Protestant novelist unabashedly declared that the American Army in France was “the army of the liberty-loving world. Its blood is the blood of humanity, the humanity of Jesus.”

Protestant progressives issued these messianic pronouncements throughout the first three years of war. Worldwide enthusiasm for the war at its outset gave way to introspection and them outright horror as the names battlefield dead continued to flood newspapers in Britain. Americans by 1916 knew first-hand accounts of the murderous nature of World War I’s battlefield combat. Still, calls for a triumphant American army, manned by vibrant young American men, continued. The delusion of Protestant progressives appears more senseless when faces with the reality that battle-hardened and seasoned British commanders deemed the battles they fought as not war, but something far worse. The brutality of the trenches left Lord Kitchener, Britain’s Defense Secretary and a veteran soldier, paralyzed with emotion and indecision. Stunned by the gore, Kitchener told King George V and Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, “I don’t know what is to be done.” He added a haunting coda. “This isn’t war.” [2]

troops marchingDespite the bloodshed occurring in Flanders, Americans believed that bloodletting, especially their own, provided a sort of atoning sacrifice for the imperfections of other peoples. The sacrifice of American men would provide both example and salvific force to show Europeans the glories of the American democratic ideal. The American nation, in the minds of Civil War Era theologians like Horace Bushnell, transmuted from a political vehicle for secular liberty into an organism able to affect the will of the Divine. The redemption of the soul, according to Bushnell and other Protestant thinkers such as Theodore Parker, was merely one piece of the elevation of humanity. The will of the divine, according to Bushnell, Parker, and others, was that the rest of the world might be saved from its Pagan or Catholic dissolution and conformed into the American nationalist ideal. That ideal, consciously and subconsciously embraced by millions, stood at the confluence of American capitalism, nationalism, and progressive Protestantism. The hallmarks of American unity after the Civil War became societal salvation not just for Americans, but for all the world’s peoples. The American show of salvific force eventually took the form of 1.3 million American “doughboys.” They landed in France in buoyant spirits. American soldiers, noted one historian of the war, arrived lighthearted, cheerful, and enthusiastic. Dismissive of the realties of war and overconfident, the American soldier’s cockily told their British and French comrades not to worry, for the American Army would “soon settle this.” [3]

Soldiers, both Catholic and Protestant, enlisted en masse in the U.S. Army. But American Catholics in the public sphere notably distanced themselves from the frenzied conflation of messianic religiosity and pro-war sentimentality. Historians have often attributed American Catholics’ more tepid response to World War I to ethnic and religious kinship networks. Irish-Americans obviously struggled to embrace the United Kingdom as the war’s protagonist. American Germans, especially German immigrants of the latter part of the nineteenth century, hailed from the Catholic monarchies of Baden, Bavaria, and Württemberg and communicated with relatives in pre-war and wartime Germany. Yet by the second decade of the Twentieth Century American Catholics worked increasingly diligently to integrate the Church into broader American society. In doing so American bishops earned the ire of their conservative European counterparts who indicted American bishops as creeping liberals. Pope Leo XIII condemned “Americanist” teaching in 1899. American Catholics redoubled their commitment to orthodoxy, but that commitment to orthodoxy accompanied increasingly socially integrated Catholic ethnic populations in American cities. American Catholics became less European, more Catholic, and more American simultaneously. [4]


Henry Ward Beecher

Substantial theological reasons existed to substantiate Catholic unease over the bloody conflict. Catholic conceptions of societal order and the reliance on the observation on sacraments to affect atonement in the life of believer created an intellectual reliance on cultural and social stability to further the Gospel. This distinguished Catholic views of Christian atonement from the moralistic progressivism practiced by Liberal Protestants. The confluence of Protestant moralism and American nationalism guided the culture of the United States for nearly sixty years following the American Civil War. Protestant thinkers accused Catholics of having a sedated approach to societal change. Catholic preoccupation with hierarchy—charged Protestants—kept Catholics from affecting immediate moral change on a societal scale. This nationalism never became an absolute consensus, however, and educated Protestants occasionally turned against the self-actualizing platitudes uttered by celebrity minsters such as Congregationalist Henry Ward Beecher.

James Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore never denied the right of the United States to national defense; he expressed outrage at the sinking of the Lusitania and urged the government to make preparations for war. But Gibbons and other church leaders fell far short of the passion displayed by Protestant clergymen. They publicly hoped Wilson’s war preparations would lead to peace, not to war. Gibbons had little stomach for a messianic conflict. Even after the sinking of a passenger ship in August 1915, he remained unmoved. The sinking, warned Gibbons, “weighed like a feather against the awful calamity of war.” Catholic journalists displayed even more circumspection than Gibbons. The Fortnightly Review featured an article entitled “Why All the Warring Nations Think They Are Right.” The journal hoped the United States might show “fairness toward all nations engaged in the awful struggle. However paradoxical it may sound, they are all in the right.” The Cincinnati Catholic Telegraph spoke with more simplicity and accuracy when it argued that “the diabolical sacrifice of human life” provided more than enough reason for American neutrality and non-involvement. Archbishop John Glennon thundered from his pulpit in Saint Louis’ yet unconsecrated Cathedral Basilica: “Christian civilization has no place for war; and war between Christian nations is a scandal and a crime.” [5]

Glennon and other Catholic divines undoubtedly enjoyed familiarity with Thomas a Kempis’ well-known work of fifteenth century religious devotion, The Imitation of Christ. A popular and well-known Late Medieval Catholic text, Kempis provided a model of Christian discipleship that denied the urgent global and national societal redemption American Protestants seemed intent on actuating. Kempis’ work offers a theoretical conversation between Christ and an anxiety-ridden disciple. “Always attend your own business and watch what you say and do. Direct your every effort to this end, namely, to seek only to please Me and desire nothing other than Me.” Kempis urged the Christian to “judge not rashly the words and deeds of others nor meddle in what does not pertain to you.” [6]

The impulse exemplified by Kempis never gained currency among American Protestant progressives. Unity over war aims only reinforced already rising Protestant ecumenicalism. The Federal Council of Churches, founded in 1908 and patronized by such luminaries as John Rockefeller, provided a platform for progressive Protestantism crusading homilies. Christianity, according to liberal Protestants, needed the experience of war to weed out its tenacious reliance on traditional forms and sacramentalism. An increased social consciousness and social relevance created by experiences of the war would inevitably elevate the Protestant Church in the United States to a better understanding of humanity. Some Protestants, however, warned that the war’s aftermath might mean a downturn in piety. Protestant thinker Samuel McRae feared that Protestant churches could not maintain its passion for righteous action for the war. He proposed activities that created the moral equivalency of war—missions, moral crusades, and political activism—to maintain the heightened sense of righteous obligation.[7]

remembrance-day1-313x263American soldiers saved by battlefield doctors and nurses often returned from the war with mutilated bodies and even more mutilated spirits. The American public offered little praise for their sacrifice. Douglas MacArthur lamented that “no one, not even children,” greeted his division’s transport ship when it returned to the United States. MacArthur’s 42nd “Rainbow” Division “marched off the dock, to be scattered to the four winds—a sad, gloomy end of the rainbow.” The sadness and gloom began in earnest for young veterans when they tried to reintegrate into postwar American society. Their struggles for normalcy created an atmosphere of thoughtful reflection, and also powerful resentment. This “Lost Generation” quickly jettisoned their former religious beliefs, seemingly exposed as maniacal naiveté. Long caught up in the heady religious nationalism of the Progressive Era, many returning veterans could no longer stomach to triumphal platitudes pronounced from Protestant pulpits. The American populace at large reevaluated their accepted liberal Protestantism during the 1920s. The most elegant voices from this brooding generation emanated from the quickly developing literati composed of men, often veterans, who shirked off American hopefulness for a more emotionally manageable ennui. [8]

Among the writer-veterans of the 1920s, few earned the enduring fame granted to Ernest Hemingway. Born and reared in the affluent Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Hemingway lived and breathed American religious nationalism. Hemingway later commented on the religiosity of his hometown. “Oak Park’s other name was Saint’s Rest. So many good churches for so many good people to go to, I suppose.” Wealthy and white Protestants of Oak Park brought their children up in the cultural mix of capitalism, liberal Protestantism, and American nationalism. Oak Park, in fact, maintained a reputation for being a “particularly Puritan” suburb that gladly distanced itself from increasingly Catholic Chicago. Smug, self-righteous, and prosperous, Oak Park fed Hemingway and young men his age the nationalist rhetoric of the age. Hemingway, for his part, enthusiastically consumed the protestant nationalism espoused by his minister Dr. William E Barton. A Congregationalist luminary and vocal proponent of American intervention, Barton preached America’s mission to redeem the world. Although not always engaged in the more prosaic forms of liberal Protestant devotion, Hemingway appeared to embrace the exciting ideal of progress and liberation that accompanied Barton’s preaching. At the beginning of 1918, Hemingway volunteered and received an officer’s commission. He arrived in Paris ebullient, cheerful, and confident: a picture manifestation of the American nation. “He is like a wild horse,” a comrade said of Lieutenant Hemingway. “Proud” and “free as all outdoors,” Hemingway quickly learned the stark reality of war.


Hemingway in the hospital

Hemingway fought at the front of the Italian theater. He distinguished himself for his bravery and earned the affection of Italian soldiers. He spent most of his time as an ambulance driver, and on July 8, 1918, a mortar round exploded in front of Hemingway. The mortar killed two other men and critically injured Hemingway. Taken to a field hospital, Hemingway convalesced and his body healed. His mind, and his conception of morality, remained wounded. Scarred by the reality of war, Hemingway rethought his conception of morality he inherited from the Congregationalists of Oak Park, Illinois. Disappointment proved demoralizing for Hemingway. One of his biographers noted that Hemingway seemed “to have genuinely believed all the war propaganda.” Hemingway differed from many veterans in that he did not lose his faith in just causes or even in war. He later volunteered to fight for Spanish Republicans during the Spanish Civil War. But he lost his faith in the American nation he inherited from Bushnell and the progressive Protestant establishment. In losing his belief in the aims of the American nation, he likewise lost his religiosity, so entwined were the two. [9]

Hemingway’s novels, particularly A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls included resentful references to sacrifice and religion. In A Farewell to Arms, the protagonist Frederic Henry’s lover, Catherine Barkley, dies shortly childbirth of hemorrhage. This triggers a diatribe from Henry, clearly an autobiographical image if Hemingway.

I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice. . . . We had heard them, sometimes standing in the rain almost out of earshot, so that only the shouted words came through, and had read them, on proclamations that were slapped up by billposters over other proclamations, now for a long time, and I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it.

Hemingway extended his anger not only to religious rhetoric, but also to the institutional church as well. A character in For Whom the Bell Tolls casually remarks that people fell away from the Church because the church was in the government and the government had always been rotten. Although spoken by Catholic characters, Hemingway here vents toward the conflation of American nationalism and religiosity so apparent during his childhood. Anselmo, a character in For Whom the Bell Tolls, remarks on the sin of killing and believed that the Church was well-organized for the sin of killing. Although again spoken by a Catholic character, Hemingway’s conflation of the church with killing undoubtedly has its roots in his experience of the failure of American religious nationalism during World War I and not exclusively in his experiences in the Spanish Civil War. [10]

Hemingway represented a broader trend among progressive Protestants. Renamed “mainline” Protestants in popular nomenclature, progressive Protestants redoubled their efforts at societal transformation in the decade following the Great War. Not content to save Europe from despotism, American Protestant progressives began a crusade to help individuals achieve emotional and social self-actualization at the expense of clerical authority, confessionalism and orthodoxy. Such deviations from Protestant orthodoxy met resistance from conservatives and populist “fundamentalist” split American Protestants. One such schism rent Princeton Seminary, the heart and soul of American Presbyterianism. Orthodox Presbyterians, led by J. Gresham Machen, founded Westminster Seminary as an orthodox alternative to Princeton, but the damage had already been done to the social, religious, and numerical prestige of American Presbyterianism, once among the most powerful protestant denominations.

American Catholics firmly confronted similar progressivism in their own ranks following World War I. Monsignor John A. Ryan, a professor at Catholic University with known liberal views on the economy and social justice, gained influence from his participation in the National Catholic Welfare Conference. But Ryan’s views ran into the powerful opposition led by Boston archbishop William Cardinal O’Connell, who viewed Ryan’s liberalism as nothing more than the creeping Americanism reprimanded by Leo XIII a generation earlier. Conservative Catholic bishops ably contained any real deviations from Catholic orthodoxy during the 1920s, because unlike liberal Protestant leaders, they refused to perjure their religious offices by extolling militant nationalism. Conservative cardinals and archbishops made loyal, submissive lay Catholics proud. Catholics emerged from the 1920s happy to “pray, pay, and obey.” Hemingway emerged from the postwar 20s talented, brilliant, individualistic—and angry.[11]

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore


1. John Milton Cooper, Woodrow Wilson: A Biography (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009), 387; John Fea, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? A Historical Introduction (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 38-39.

2. Adam Hochschild, To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), 142.

3. Mitchell G. Klingenberg, ‘“Without the Shedding of blood their can be no remission:”The War Theology of Horace Bushnell and the Meaning of America, 1861 to 1866,’ Connecticut History 51 (Fall, 2012): 147-171; Allan Nevins, Ordeal of the Union: Fruits of Manifest Destiny, 1847-1852 (New York: Scribners, 1947); Jackson Lears, Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America (New York: HarperCollins, 2009), 6-7; John Keegan, The First World War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), 372-375.

4. Jonathan H. Ebel, Faith in the Fight: Religion and the American Soldier in the Great War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), 5.

5. Edward Cuddy, “Pro-Germanism and American Catholicism, 1914-1917,” The Catholic Historical Review 54 (Oct., 1968): 427-454; John Tracy Ellis, The Life of John Cardinal Gibbons (Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Co., 1963), 189; Arline Boucher Tehan and John Tehan, Prince of Democracy: James Cardinal Gibbons (Garden City, NY: Hanover House, 1962), 285.

6. Thomas A Kempis, The Imitation of Christ.

7. Richard M. Gamble, The War For Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, ),

8. Martin Gilbert, The First World War: A Complete History (New York: Henry Holt, 1994), 512, 519.

9. Thomas Putnam, “Hemingway on War and Its Aftermath,” Prologue Magazine 38 (Spring, 2006).

10. Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929); Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940).

11. D.G. Hart, Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America (Philipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing Co., 2003), 58-83; Chester Gillis, Roman Catholicism in America (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 68-72

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15 replies to this post
  1. Excellent piece. Judging by his fiction, I’d say Hemingway indeed lost faith in both causes and institutions. What inspired him, I think, is the fighter who presses on even when betrayed by comrades, leaders, and luck. Hemingway could celebrate the individual fighter while keeping a sharp eye on the foibles and deceptions of those around him.

  2. Thank you. In many ways, World War I seems to be a forgotten war, in need of being remembered and studied, and taken deep into our minds and hearts.

  3. Mike,

    An interesting topic. However, I’m afraid that you chose the wrong subject to illustrate your thesis.

    Hemingway was a lot of things, but he was never religious. His “religion” was a belief in the need to destroy Traditional America. He was active in the same circles as many Comintern and other operators and willing accomplices in the destruction of American culture.

    Hemingway willingly, and knowingly participated in numerous anti-American front organizations set up by the Comintern’s Willi Muenzenberg, and his operators.

    The best example of Hemingway’s deep involvement with the Comintern was his KGB agent friend, Gustavo Duran. Duran, with Hemingway, and other willing accomplices in the US, was able to secure jobs in the US State Department. Hemingway insisted that the US government send Duran down to Cuba where Hemingway played drunken sub patrol games. Hemingway met Duran in the KGB-controlled Spanish Republican Army during the Spanish Civil War.

    Duran was the head of the Spanish Comintern-puppet intelligence service in the sector in which Hemingway spent time. Hemingway fell for Duran, and became his life-long advocate. Anyone who was in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side knew exactly what the Comintern/KGB involvement was. George Orwell lost his appetite for Socialism after his stint with the Comintern side in Spain.

    Hemingway, on the other hand, imbibed the Comintern line and kept it going for the rest of his life.

    An analysis of Duran’s FBI and Army intelligence security file concluded, “Duran was a bad security risk. All evidence submitted indicated that Duran was a Communist agent prior and during WWII, who took orders directly from the Soviet Union. It is unclear whether Duran was either hired with the knowledge that he had a Communist Party background or whether the State Department Loyalty Board simply failed to perform its obligation to properly screen out security risks.”

  4. kentclizbe,

    I intended the term “faith” in the sense of “confidence” rather than religious faith – though it is true Hemingway was not a religious man.

    That said, he wasn’t a communist, either. In For Whom the Bell Tolls, the protagonist sees working with the communists as necessary because of their discipline. Hemingway himself once made this explicit when he said, “I like communists when they’re soldiers but when they’re priests, I hate them.”

    • Mike,

      Thanks for your note, and the clarification on “faith.”

      Note that I did not say that Hemingway was a communist. He was a Willing Accomplice to their destruction of American culture, though.

      The despicable poser was also a recruited KGB agent. But that is not where he did the most damage. His work in the culture war inflicted terrible wounds on American culture.

      His work for the KGB: “Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (Yale University Press), which reveals the Nobel prize-winning novelist was for a while on the KGB’s list of its agents in America. Co-written by John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev, the book is based on notes that Vassiliev, a former KGB officer, made when he was given access in the 90s to Stalin-era intelligence archives in Moscow.

      “Its section on the author’s secret life as a “dilettante spy” draws on his KGB file in saying he was recruited in 1941 before making a trip to China, given the cover name “Argo”, and “repeatedly expressed his desire and willingness to help us” when he met Soviet agents in Havana and London in the 40s. However, he failed to “give us any political information” and was never “verified in practical work”, so contacts with Argo had ceased by the end of the decade.”

      Hemingway, and his reprehensible clique of writers and socialites, were anti-Traditional-America. He belonged to the gang of Willing Accomplices who carried out the destruction of Traditional-American culture, following the plan of the Comintern’s covert influence genius, Willi Muenzenberg.

      Muenzenberg created the formula of front organizations, with lofty, idealistic names that Hemingway and his crowd did public relations for.

      “While in Europe [Hemingway] associated with a group of radical American journalists that included Max Eastman and George Seldes. Eastman, the former editor of the The Masses helped Hemingway get his work published in The Liberator and the New Masses. The American author, Gertrude Stein, who was based in Paris, also promoted Hemingway’s work.”

      Anyone associated with The Masses was anti-Normal-American. It was the “radical” voice of hatred of Normal-America.

      Hemingway, in France, met and idolized the British journalist, Bolitho. Bolitho was deeply involved in the Cominter-inspired operations to destroy Western civilization. Bolitho mentored Heminway, along with the soon-to-be-fantastically-successful KGB covert influence agent, the New York Times’ Walter Duranty. Bolitho was also close to Louise Bryant, John Reed’s wife. They were the Comintern’s American voices from St Petersburg during the Soviet Revolution. Reed was buried in the walls of the Kremlin.

      Hemingway belonged to, and provided support for, multiple Popular Front (Muenzenberg’s cover organizations) groups.

      There is much, much more on Hemingway. I’d urge you to delve into my book, Willing Accomplices, Stephen Koch’s “Double Lives: Stalin, Willi Muenzenberg, and the seduction of the intellectuals,” as well as the Haynes/Klehr book mentioned above.

      Like many of Willing Accomplices, Hemingway’s perfidy must have eaten away at his psyche. Living the good life in capitalism’s bosom, he blew his traitorous head off soon after release from a psych ward where he was committed for “paranoia” about the FBI being after him. Just as Walter Duranty died a miserable drunk, and Dorothy Parker drowned her betrayal in gallons of booze, so was Hemingway sloshed most of the time. Lots of dots to connect. Lots more research to do.

  5. Kent,

    Hemingway was far more tied to the Soviet aparatus far earlier than 1940, but we must always be careful when basing the idea that someone was a spy solely on the basis of the person’s presence on a list of spies made by a spy agency in the Soviet sphere.

    In general, many people who were listed as spies were never really spies, though they might have been fellow travelers or accomplices – they were still independent actors.

    We should gaurd against an anti-communism qhich relies on KGB agents telling the truth.

    Notice the ridiculousness of the implication of Hemingway as a spy based on KGB evidence:

    It means we are to trust the KGB, but not Hemingway.

    I trust Hemingway, which does not mean I have to agree with his opinions, but he is more important than we realize. And more American.

    • Peter,

      A couple of things. You’re right to be skeptical about the motives of the KGB’s “opening” of its files after 1991. However, you’ve got the equation backwards. Every single case they revealed was real, valid, and true. There have been no cases of fake confirmations of KGB recruitments or operations in the revealed files.

      What did happen, however, was a carefully controlled release of only details that made the KGB look good. There are millions of files that were not released. That is the proper area of which to be skeptical.

      Can you name one case that was revealed by the release of KGB files after 1991 that was
      not real?

      Second, please note that my analysis of Hemingway’s deep involvement as a Willing Accomplice in the cultural destruction of Normal-America is not primarily based on the KGB files. My analysis, shared in broad details above, is based on Hemingway’s associations with known KGB officers, communists, Muenzenberg operators, Popular Front organizations and causes, and other Willing Accomplices involved in the destruction of our culture.

      I’d highly recommend a thorough study of the references provided above–especially Koch’s Double Lives.

      And if you’re up to a big dose of disillusionment, look into Hemingway’s likely handler, the Spanish KGB operator Hemingway met in KGB-controlled Spanish territory–Gustavo Duran–another wily operator waiting for his story to be told in full.

      Keep up the good work!


  6. Kent,

    I have not studied KGB files on KGB agents except when necessary, and in such cases I have always approached the matter with scepticism and keeping in mind a simple rule of thumb: the system and the agency were the problem, not the agent, who was often a victim of circumstance. As a rule, I have always supported public disclosure of Communist agents, so that voters in the former Soviet bloc know the truth about potential candidates for office or for government administration.

    That said, I can indeed name several cases that were revealed from files of the former Polish communist security services that were not real.

    I imagine similar cases that were not real exist in all countries of the Soviet bloc.

    Those who make it a passion to read the Communist security files which disclose so much alleged dirt about agent activities must always remember who is writing these files: the Communist secret services themselves. We can never take them at face value – it is one of the methods by which the KGB works: to get its enemies to destroy eachother in a never ending sea of mutual incrimination in the name of “anti-communism” on the basis of what communists themselves wrote about their victims.

    Hemmingway himself wrote about his involvement with Communism. We have a choice: believe our own man of letters or believe his far less astute and philosophically obtuse co-collaborators. If we doubt Hemingway, we let the KGB win.

    • Peter,

      It’s clear that you value the contributions that you believe Hemingway made to our culture. However, don’t let an idealized view of a hero clash with the realities of him.

      If you read Hemingway’s biography with a clear eye, and ignore the hagiographic idolization, you find a nasty, brutish, social climber who went along with the Muenzenberg clique, as the rest of them did, in order to increase his stature and network.

      There is also much that is left out of the published hagiographic biographies. Read his FBI file. His fan-base tried to discredit the reports there, but when read with a clear head, it is horribly damning.

      Hemingway’s relationship with the wily KGB/Comintern intel officer, Gustavo Duran (Hemingway used his Hollywood creds to pressure the State Dept to hire Duran, have him sent to the US Embassy in Cuba, and much more) would be enough to confirm Hemingway’s status as a co-optee of communist intel. But the mass of additional derogatory details is overwhelm.

      There is a huge literature of the KGB files. We’re not talking about Polish files–but the KGB’s central files–to which they provided limited access to a limited number of selected researchers. Combined with the Venona intercepts, and the Mitrokhin files (KGB defector who brought out an archive of files), we have a very solid vetting database.

      None of those revelations has ever been refuted, in any way. Dozens of cases were revealed, or suspected cases confirmed.

      The KGB does not “win” when we examine our culture to identify the bad actors who led double lives, pretending to be loyal Americans, while conspiring to destroy the very culture which provided them sustenance.

      The list of American KGB assets who “admitted nothing, denied everything, and made counter-accusations” is long and disgusting. It is the standard covert action modus operandi–especially for the covert influence operations that involved American cultural icons.

      Walter Duranty (a close friend and co-mentee, of Hemingway’s) employed the same tactics, during his lifetime, when accused of a relationship with Soviet intel/officials. Alger Hiss, Dorothy Parker, and the list goes on and on. “High class” Americans of the finest culture and breeding–yet all, and many, many more collaborated to destroy our culture.

      Though it may be disillusioning, reading Koch’s “Double Lives” is highly recommended. He nails the poseur from Oak Park, and a host of others.

      Then try Willing Accomplices:

      Reality may not be savory, but at least it’s real! Think positive!

  7. Kent,

    When I say “I believe Hemingway”, I do not mean “I believe in the vision of a biographer of Hemingway” – I literally believe Hemingway.

    I believe what he wrote in his books was true.

    Profoundly, amazing, unexpectedly true. To say that it is true does not mean that this truth is savory (it is actually quite tragic), but it is real.

    I believe it precisely because when forced to chose between a man of moral conscience and between KGB operatives, I believe in Hemingway and not in the KGB.

    • Peter,

      Again, I’m not suggesting you “believe the KGB.”

      Believe the story of Hemingway’s life.

      Believe the pattern of associations, communications, actions, and deeds that Hemingway left as evidence of his perfidy.

      Hemingway was deeply involved in the Muenzenberg covert influence operation.

      The key to such an operation is the exact issue you’re stuck on–the operation relies on its agents to LIE, LIE, LIE. They never say what they truly believe.

      The Muenzenberg Creed, which has come to us, not through the KGB’s files, but from the proud and loving remembrances of his widow was simple and direct:

      “You claim to be an independent-minded idealist.
      You don’t really understand politics, but you think the little guy is getting a lousy break.
      You believe in open-mindedness.
      You are shocked, frightened by what is going on right here in our own country.
      You’re frightened by the racism, by the oppression of the workingman.
      You think the Russians are trying a great human experiment, and you hope it works.
      You believe in peace.
      You yearn for international understanding.
      You hate fascism.
      You think the capitalist system is corrupt.”

      The corollaries were: You are NEVER associated with communism or socialism; you never mention Stalin.

      All of the points of the creed are turned back against Traditional America. There is no need to be directly accusative, or critical, indirect and faux-caring work the best in such an operation.

      The 3 point counter-intelligence test, for identifying Willing Accomplices, Americans who cooperated with Muenzenberg’s operation, is:

      Did the subject:

      1. Ever live under the control of the KGB? Visiting Russia was the most common event for this to happen. The KGB had absolute control in other places as well–“Republican Spain” was 100% KGB-controlled.
      2. Espouse the Muenzenberg Creed after the period of KGB control?
      3. Did his situation materially improve after being under KGB control?

      The answers for Hemingway are three “yes.” This is as good as CI evidence gets.

      Again, this is CI analysis–NOT KGB reports.

      Taking this analysis, along with Hemingway’s associations, actions, and other issues, and then adding in the KGB’s files, and, unfortunately, you have a rotten actor.

      Clearly you are enamored of Hemingway. There is surely a spark and flashes of good in his writing. But he was a nasty, vicious, vile, cheating, traitor. Denying that doesn’t make it go away. He did the right thing for his legacy by ending his own pyschological suffering. If he hadn’t, it’s likely that the true story would have come out.

      Sort of like those who admire Bill Cosby. Maybe he had some funny bits, or inspiring acting. But it’s pretty clear that he is/was a nasty, vicious, lying serial rapist.

      Or Lance Armstrong. He may have won bike races, but he was also a lying, vicious, cheating drug-user.

      Gotta be careful whom you choose as a hero. And it might be good to deal with reality instead of a Politically Correct Progressive media-constructed fiction.

      You really should read Koch’s book. It will open your eyes to much that you appear to be missing.

      All the best.

  8. Kent,
    I respect your knowledge and experience, and am not questioning it. I am merely noting that there is one directive impossible for the KGB to instruct its’ agents to follow:

    “be a great writer”

    Art and culture are more ppwerful than the KGB, and when they have important truths to teach us, they endure – whether or not the KGB censored them…or promoted them.

    • Peter,

      And I you.

      You’re describing the fundamentals of good espionage tradecraft–beginning with targetting.

      You’re absolutely right–the KGB did not need to instruct its agents to be good writers.

      That’s why Muenzenberg targeted the writing community. He was able to skim the cream of the crop.

      You really, really, really must read Koch’s “Double Lives.” And then my “Willing Accomplices.”

      Without the background contained in those works, we’re carrying on a dual-tracked conversation–on parallel lines, but not intersecting!

      Please do take the time to read Koch’s book. It will shake the foundations of your assumptions–but it is real and the truth. The truth shall set you free!

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. I have no doubt that Hemingway was influenced by the liberal, nationalistic Protestantism of his roots. However, I agree with Kent that ultimately he succumbed to the moral cowardice and idiocy that produced many a stooge for communism. Hemingway was a knowing stooge who assisted the international communist enterprise. The fact that he was a stellar and unique prose stylist does not mitigate his very despicable record as a political man.

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