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Memorandum for General Miles
July 24, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
I am being pressed by members of the House to give more definite information, particularly as relates to Latin-America, or the threats against our interests at the present time, which constitute the degree of imperilment of the Nation to which I have been referring, and the reasons for the declaration of a National Emergency.1
Will you please have someone go to work quickly on the preparation for, either release to the press, or more probably better, for the information of various legislators—who can use it in speeches—of such information as we can disclose without harm to our cause. Have in mind what has leaked out; my references to Brazil in Executive Session yesterday have partially leaked out to our great disadvantage. Whether we can make further reference to that or not, I do not know.2
I suggest that your people put in parentheses, for me to pass on, such things as possibly might be said but they or you doubt the advisability of disclosing.
You will have to work fast on this, and I put no limits as to the subject matter of hemisphere or the nations concerned.3
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. In the House Military Affairs Committee hearings on July 22, Charles H. Elston, Republican from Ohio, asked Marshall to publicize the danger to United States security posed by Axis nation activities in Latin America. Marshall replied that the War Department had commented publicly on Axis propaganda efforts in Latin America. The chief of staff refused to discuss publicly other Axis activities. (House Military Affairs Committee, Providing for the National Defense by Removing Restrictions on Numbers and Length of Service of Draftees, Hearings [Washington: GPO, 1941], pp. 31-32.)
In executive session before the House Military Affairs Committee on July 23, however, Marshall informed the committee that: Brazilian President Vargas could barely contain Axis activities in his nation; Pan American Airways was upgrading airfields for United States Army use; Axis nations had efficiently and thoroughly organized propaganda agencies throughout South America; the War Department arranged to have Britain allow German munitions shipments into Brazil because the United States could not supply the Latin Americans; and the War Department refused to allow the installation of Axis-controlled governments in Venezuela or Colombia because of their proximity to the Panama Canal. (Matthew B. Ridgway Memorandum for Colonel Heard, July 24, 1941, NA/RG 165 [WPD, 4224].)
2. An Associated Press story reported that Marshall had warned the House Military Affairs committee about possible Nazi uprisings in Brazil, Bolivia, and Colombia. (New York Times, July 24, 1941, p. 9.)
3. No reply from Miles has been found by the editors.
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 576-577.