AXIS AGENTS: Safeguard for Viereck

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George Sylvester Viereck, major propagandist and minor poet, was never one to belittle George Sylvester Viereck, in any capacity. In his ponderous, humorless autobiography he ardently paid homage to his own poetasting, awarded himself a few oh-you-kids as a lady-killer. In his Spreading Germs of Hate he elaborately detailed his activities as a German propagandist in World War I. Said he: "There is no infallible safeguard against propaganda"-meaning, of course, when conducted by a clever fellow like George Viereck.

When World War II began, German-born George Viereck again peddled ideology for the Fatherland and profit. A naturalized U.S. citizen, registered in Washington as a German-paid "author and journalist," he had a legal peddler's license, drew down more than $100,000 for lauding Adolf Hitler and excoriating the British. Still confident that there was no "infallible safeguard" against propaganda, he said: "I have always regarded it almost a consecration to interpret the land of my fathers to the land of my children."

But last week clever George Viereck found himself on trial in Washington for not telling his children's Government all about his work for his Fatherland. Witnesses testified that bespectacled, thick-lipped George Viereck had helped write speeches for Congressmen (including Minnesota's late Senator Ernest Lundeen), had mailed them throughout the nation in franked envelopes furnished by Congress man Ham Fish's secretary, George Hill (TIME, Jan. 26).

The jury did not think this work of "consecration" was legitimate work for a U.S. "author and journalist." Found guilty, facing six years in prison and a $3,000 fine, George Viereck had run up against one infallible safeguard he had not reckoned with: jail.