Dorothy Thompson

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Dorothy Thomson

Dorothy Thompson (July 9, 1893January 30, 1961) was an American journalist, radio broadcaster, and political commentator. She was an outspoken opponent of Hitler and a suspected British agent. After the war she became a staunch anti-Zionist and a spokesperson for the Palestinian cause.

Contents

Family and early life

Thompson was born in Lancaster, New York and was the eldest of three children of Peter Thompson, a Methodist minister born in Durham, England. Her mother, Margret Grierson Thompson, also from England[1] died when Dorothy was eight. Margret Thompson died from the aftereffects of a botched abortion induced by Dorothy’s grandmother.[2]

Dorothy Thompson grew up in the Buffalo, New York area living in six small nearby towns before the age of fifteen. After her father remarried Dorothy was sent to Chicago to live with two aunts. Here she attended the Lewis Institute prep school.

She graduated from Syracuse University in 1914. After graduation she tried to become a teacher but failed the English language section on the state teacher’s exam.[3] For the next three years she became a full-time activist for the women’s suffrage movement.

Journalism

In 1920 she covered a London conference on Zionism attended by Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis and future justice Felix Frankfurter for the International News Service.[4]

In 1925 she became the first woman to head an overseas news bureau in Europe. She interview several important people at the time including Trotsky, Ataturk, and Freud.

Back in Amereica she published a newspaper column three times a week called "On the Record". It also had wide readership in Great Britain. The column began in March 1936 and ended in 1958. She would continue to write a monthly column for the Ladies’ Home Journal, started in 1937 which lasted until her death in 1961.

Hitler and the Second World War

In 1931 she arranged an exclusive interview with Hitler describing him as a inconsequential "Little Man" and published an article in Cosmopolitan and later issued it as a booklet titled I Saw Hitler![5] Within two years Hitler was in power to the embarrassment of Thompson. She was later banned from reporting in Germany becoming the first western correspondent to be expelled from the Third Reich. This only enhanced her reputation in the United States.

Thompson became obsessed with Hitler and later advocated immediate American involvement in the war. From 1938 to 1940 an estimated three-fifths of her columns were devoted to Hitler and the perceived dangers of fascism.[6] She once labeled the isolationist American First Committee "Vichy Fascists."[7]

She attended the German American Bund rally at Madison Square Garden in 1939 and began to heckle the speakers. Making a nuisance of herself, she had to be removed by security.(photo) [8] That same year she reviewed Mein Kampf for the Book of the Month Club condemning Hitler and National Socialism. However in the review she gave conditional support to Germany’s eugenics program of sterilization of the unfit.[9]

In 1942 she gave a series of propaganda talks in German sent via shortwave to German audiences.[10]

As the war progressed she opposed the call for unconditional surrender and the enactment of the Morgenthau Plan--which was a Jewish scheme for the total deindustrialization of Germany making it a dependent agrarian state. When the war ended she also opposed the Nuremberg Trials.[11]

Anglo-American Union

Dorothy Thompson favored an Anglo-American Union consisting of the United States, Great Britain and the Dominions. The idea was originally proposed in the book Union Now as a plan for democracies to defeat Germany and her allies.[12] Thompson met regularly with British intelligence officials.[13]

Zionist viewpoints

Thompson had been supportive of Zionism since 1920 when she first reported on the Zionist conference in London. During her career she had always been close to Zionist Jews.[14] In 1944 she spoke at a Zionist rally held at Madison Square Garden.[15] Some Jews considered her to be the leading non-Jewish protagonist for Israel and a Zionist homeland.[16] However she changed her position after Jewish terrorists bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on July 22, 1946.

She later became a staunch anti-Zionist and opposed the creation of the state of Israel. For this act of conscience, the Jewish influenced New York Post dropped her column. At the time the editor of the Post was Ted Thackeray, a supporter of the Jewish terrorist group Etzel.[17] Other papers under Jewish pressure also dropped her column. Jews began to see Thompson as an enemy, equating her anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.[18]

Four years later she founded the pro-Arab organization American Friends of the Middle East.[19] She became a supporter of Egypt’s new leader Gamal Abdel Nasser and wrote the introduction to his book.[20]

Politics

Thompson was politically liberal and usually supported the liberal candidates of the Republican Party. She described her column a voice of "liberal conservatism." However in 1940 she backed Roosevelt thinking he would go to war with Germany.

In the 1950s she remained largely silent on the issue of civil rights for Blacks.[21]

Marriages and relationships

Dorothy Thompson was married three times. She married her first husband a Hungarian speaking Jew, Joseph Bard, in 1921. They were divorced in 1927. She once commented that Bard's "talent for treachery" might be a Jewish trait which lead to her fears of becoming an antisemite.[22]

Her second husband was the famed author and chronic alcoholic Sinclair Lewis. They were married in 1928 and had one son Michael Lewis, born in 1930. The separated in 1937 and divorced in 1941.[23]

She married her third husband, Maxim Kopf, a Czech painter in 1943. The marriage lasted until Kopf's death in 1958.[24]

Dorothy Thompson had male lovers and lesbian affairs with a number of women.

Later years

After her newspaper column ended in 1957 she began her memoirs, however she never reached past her childhood and college years.[25] Dorothy Thompson died in Lisbon, Portugal while visiting her former daughter-in-law and grandsons.

Popular culture

In the 1942 film Woman of the Year actress Katherine Hepburn plays an international reporter for a New York newspaper who’s character was based upon Dorothy Thompson.

Quote

  • Jews are like everybody else but more so.[26]

Works

  • The New Russia (1928)
  • I Saw Hitler! (1932) 36 pages
  • Dorothy Thompson's Political Guide: A Study of American Liberalism and Its Relationship to Modern Totalitarian States (1938)
  • Europe cries to Germany (1939) 4 pages

Video


Dorothy Thompson introduces 1950 documentary on Palestinian refugees.

See also

Notes

  1. Hard news: women in broadcast journalism, By David H. Hosley, Gayle K. Yamada, page 29
  2. Letter to the World: Seven women who shaped the American century, By Susan Ware, page 49
  3. Letter to the World: Seven women who shaped the American century, By Susan Ware, page 50
  4. Political commentators in the United States in the 20th century, By Dan D. Nimmo, Chevelle Newsome, page 359
  5. Political commentators in the United States in the 20th century, By Dan D. Nimmo, Chevelle Newsome, page 361
  6. Letter to the World: Seven women who shaped the American century, By Susan Ware, page 57
  7. The Betrayal of the American Right, By Murray N. Rothbard, page 41
  8. Women in communication: a biographical sourcebook, By Nancy Signorielli, page 411
  9. The Death of the West, By Patrick J. Buchanan, page 114
  10. Notable American women: the modern period : a biographical dictionary, Volume 4, By Barbara Sicherman, Carol Hurd Green, page 685
  11. Journalism's Roving Eye: A History of American Foreign Reporting, By John Maxwell Hamilton, page 275
  12. "Anglo-American Union Advocated", The Advertiser (Australia), 31 October 1940, page 12
  13. Book review: Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939–1944
  14. Meyer Weisgal ... so far: an autobiography, By Meyer Wolfe Weisgal, page 199
  15. Rabbi Outcast: Elmer Berger and American Jewish Anti-Zionism, By Jack Ross, page 110
  16. Meyer Weisgal ... so far: an autobiography, By Meyer Wolfe Weisgal, page 197
  17. Meyer Weisgal ... so far: an autobiography, By Meyer Wolfe Weisgal, page 198
  18. Harry Emerson Fosdick: preacher, pastor, prophet, By Robert Moats Miller, page 192
  19. A to Z of American Women Writers, By Carol Kort, page 325
  20. Meyer Weisgal ... so far: an autobiography, By Meyer Wolfe Weisgal, page 199
  21. Letter to the World: Seven women who shaped the American century, By Susan Ware, page 80
  22. Notable American women: the modern period : a biographical dictionary, Volume 4, By Barbara Sicherman, Carol Hurd Green, page 684
  23. Letter to the World: Seven women who shaped the American century, By Susan Ware, page 56
  24. Hard news: women in broadcast journalism, By David H. Hosley, Gayle K. Yamada, page 33
  25. Letter to the World: Seven women who shaped the American century, By Susan Ware, page 81
  26. Dorothy Thompson: A Legend in her Time, page 328

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