Mary Bancroft:”Getting ready for war”

Mary Bancroft, who became an American spy against Germany wrote: “At this point, the German propaganda machine shifted into high gear. We were told that ‘Communist mobs’ were running through the streets of Vienna, murdering people. Hitler began shrieking that such an insupportable situation could not be allowed to continue.”

The German propaganda machine consistently created fear in peaceable populus by announcing false incidence of violence and atrocities by made-up dissidents. Then, Hitler’s troops would invade to “protect” the public from these “dangers.” It was a propaganda formula that often worked well. The average person didn’t know who to trust.

Mary Bancroft notes in her journal, March 14, 1938:  “Germany has marched into Austria. This had been expected, but the decision was precipitated by Schuschnigg’s intention to hold a plebecite. So far, however, there has been no bloodshed. —- Yesterday Hitler laid flowers on his parents’ grave at Braunau and , on Saturday night, according to French radio, ‘ The German troops arrived in Vienna at night in inclement weather … Opinion is unanimous that Czechoslovakia will be next. There are even those who are worried about Switzerland.”

Mary Bancroft, through the years leading up to the War, was married to a Swiss businessman who travelled freely, or, as freely as one could travel, throughout Europe on business assignments. This made it easy for Mary Bancroft to accompany him and to report back to Allen Dulles, the head spy, what she was seeing and hearing. Her travel documentation did not reveal that she was an American. It made her look like she was Swiss.

I write of Bancroft history and the history of the Wall Street Journal in my book:  “Observer: The Ronnie Lee and Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan Story, a tale of people, greed, envy, manipulation — even crime”.

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