ORSON WELLES’ ALMANAC: A Nazi in the Pentagon!
In this column, Welles reports on a French collaborationist who had an office in the Pentagon, prefiguring one of the ideas behind the next movie he would soon be directing, The Stranger.
ORSON WELLES' ALMANAC
By Orson Welles - January 26, 1945
This is St. Paula’s and St. Polycarp’s Day, and is auspicious for those born under all signs. This is the anniversary of the surrender of Barcelona to France, and also of Webster’s famous reply to Hayne, “Liberty and union, now and forever, one and inseparable.” (We could use a speech like that about the United Nations.)
“The Gestapo has an office right here in the Pentagon Building!”
This startling report, rendered to a multi-starred official in the War Department by a breathless subordinate turned the great government building into an uproar.
Jacques Lemaigre-Dubreuil, the vegetable oil king of France, while enjoying a favored spot in the Nazi inner-councils, actually occupied an office suite in the Pentagon Building.
Lemaigre’s betrayal of the Allied cause started with the occupation of France, when he became one of the top industrial collaborationists. As the British were being pushed into the sea with sight of his Dunkerque factory, he was busily converting it to war production for the Germans.
After the U.S. entered the war, he came to Washington, without dropping his Nazi contacts, as key man in the Darian-Giraud mission. Assigned an office in the Pentagon Building, Lemaigre became a familiar figure in official circles. He lingered on in Washington, for a powerful man on an “Allied Mission” learns interesting things in our Capital if he knows how to move around.
But he didn’t move quite fast enough. Our intelligence got on to him, he was ousted from the Pentagon, and soon after delicately removed from the U. S.
Before he was caught, however, he’d been very useful to the Nazis. Among other things, he quoted as the price of Darian-Giraud support, Robert Murphy’s agreement that DeGaulle would be excluded from the North African adventure.
But there’s a happy ending to the story. Lemaigre was arrested in France the other day, and faces trial next week.
This is Admiral Mitscher’s and General MacArthur’s birthdays.
Thirty-four years ago today Glenn Curtis made the first successful plane flight from water.
Our staff augurer says to look for a sudden compromise in the Wallace-Jones imbroglio. All signs point to either Fred Vinson or Ed Pauley being made Federal Loan Administrator, with Wallace retaining all other jobs takes from Jones.
Don’t scramble eggs in a frying pan. Use a double boiler.
FEA was trying to hire an employee for overseas work, and the papers were clearing through personnel and civil service very slowly. Inquiry revealed that the man was suspected of revolutionary and communistic tendencies because he belonged to several pro-Negro groups advocating all sorts of equality for our black brothers.
None of the government hacks, who were so upset about the fellow’s affiliation and philosophy of life, had troubled to read his job application, which revealed that: (a) the applicant himself was colored; and (b) the agency wanted to send him to the Negro republic of Liberia.
Said Mississippi’s Senator Bilbo: “You Northerners think we keep the Negro down because we’re afraid he’ll take our place in the sun. That Alabama sun’s hot. What we’re afraid of is he’ll take our place in the shade.”