The Brothers is a book by Stephen Kinzer about the life history of John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, men whose lives intersected with the key events of American history to an incredible degree. The detailed chronological biographies in the book do not lend themselves easily to summation, so I will cover only the most essential details to the story.
The family history of The Brothers is deeply Protestant and missionary. It is also deeply providential in the American expansionary sense. Their grandfather, John Watson Foster, as Secretary of State, assisted in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy—the first time The United States inflicted regime change upon a foreign nation. Their ties to intelligence networks were extensive, in the classic human intelligence sense, mostly through Allen with the assistance of their grandfather.
The tutelage of their grandfather early in their life introduced them to the world of the elites and of spies. During their young adulthood they were able to work their way into proximity and participation in great events of the age, such as the Paris Peace Conference with President Wilson, whose confidence they gained:
“One or the other of the Dulles brothers was involved in almost every important matter that came before the peace conference. They gained Wilson’s confidence and met many of the titans who would shape world politics over the next half century. Allie wrote home that the experience was “one of thrilling interest and opportunity” that gave him “a rare chance to get a glimpse into world politics.” For Foster it was that and more: a decisive push toward wealth and power.”
Their careers at the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell were instrumental in tying them to the destiny of the elite of the world. Allen’s hedonistic sexual appetite led him into the darker circles of the elite, such as the famous Le Sphinx club of Paris. It also cost him some opportunities. From the text:
“Allie was preparing for a date on a Friday afternoon—according to one version he was meeting “two blonde and spectacularly buxom Swiss twin sisters who had agreed to a weekend rendezvous at a country inn”—when he received a telephone call from a Russian exile who said he had an urgent message to deliver to the United States, and insisted they meet that night. With his mind focused on the forthcoming weekend, Allie brushed him off. Years afterward he learned that the caller was Lenin, and that the reason Lenin never called back was that the next day he boarded his sealed train to St. Petersburg and set off to change the course of history.”
The Brothers were perennially among the elite. Allen became an advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt, whom he had met in at the Paris Peace Conference. Once again, he was involved with all of the most important national leaders.
“Soon after President Franklin Roosevelt was inaugurated in 1933, he invited Allen and an older veteran of global diplomacy, Norman Davis, who had made a fortune in the Cuban sugar trade, to the White House for a chat. They sat on the rear veranda, overlooking the Washington Monument. Though a private attorney still in his thirties—and a Republican—Allen felt at home advising Roosevelt. His background and upbringing had prepared him to move comfortably in such elevated circles.
“It was almost informal,” he wrote to Clover afterward, “and the President put on no airs.”
At the end of their chat, Roosevelt asked the two men to travel to Europe as his emissaries. They would stop in London to heal a dispute with Britain over issues of disarmament and war reparations, then proceed to Paris for an economic conference. A few days later they departed, and in Europe they held a round of meetings with Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald of Britain, Prime Minister Édouard Daladier of France, and other statesmen. The one they most wanted to meet, though, was the fiery National Socialist leader who had just come to power in Germany.
So it was that on Allen’s fortieth birthday—April 7, 1933—he was riding a train to Berlin on his way to meet Adolf Hitler.
At four o’clock the next afternoon, the two emissaries were ushered into the Reichskanzlei, which sat just across Wilhelmstrasse from the American embassy where Allen had served as a junior diplomat thirteen years before. They were among the first foreign delegations the Führer received. Prime Minister Daladier had told Allen in Paris that Hitler had no clear foreign policy ideas, and their meeting confirmed it. Hitler spoke at length about the injustice of harsh reparations payments and insisted that he favored universal disarmament. He rambled through subjects ranging from the American Civil War to the perfidy of Poland. When Davis asked him about reports of “excesses” against dissidents, Hitler, well briefed on his guests’ role in global finance, replied that he was simply imposing order “to protect the millions in foreign capital that are invested in Germany.””
As an aside, you can see the Boomer Truth Regime in operation here—note how he makes many negative statements about Hitler without actually revealing anything Hitler actually said. “Hitler had no clear foreign policy ideas” and he “rambled.”
Many readers will be familiar with the figure of Hjalmar Schacht. The following passage gives you an idea of Sullivan & Cromwell’s essential role in assisting the economy of the Third Reich, the reasons for it, and how The Brothers were persistently involved the global affairs of the 20th century.
In mid-1931 a consortium of American banks, eager to safeguard their investments in Germany, persuaded the German government to accept a loan of nearly $500 million to prevent default. Foster was their agent. His ties to the German government tightened after Hitler took power at the beginning of 1933 and appointed Foster’s old friend Hjalmar Schacht as minister of economics.
Allen had introduced the two men a decade earlier, when he was a diplomat in Berlin and Foster passed through regularly on Sullivan & Cromwell business. They were immediately drawn to each other. Schacht spoke fluent English and understood the United States well. Like Dulles, he projected an air of brisk authority. He was tall, gaunt, and always erect, with close-cropped hair and high, tight collars. Both men had considered entering the clergy before turning their powerful minds toward more remunerative pursuits. Each admired the culture that had produced the other. Both believed that a resurgent Germany would stand against Bolshevism. Mobilizing American capital to finance its rise was their common interest.
Working with Schacht, Foster helped the National Socialist state find rich sources of financing in the United States for its public agencies, banks, and industries. The two men shaped complex restructurings of German loan obligations at several “debt conferences” in Berlin—conferences that were officially among bankers, but were in fact closely guided by the German and American governments—and came up with new formulas that made it easier for the Germans to borrow money from American banks. Sullivan & Cromwell floated the first American bonds issued by the giant German steelmaker and arms manufacturer Krupp A.G., extended I.G. Farben’s global reach, and fought successfully to block Canada’s effort to restrict the export of steel to German arms makers. According to one history, the firm “represented several provincial governments, some large industrial combines, a number of big American companies with interests in the Reich, and some rich individuals.” By another account it “thrived on its cartels and collusion with the new Nazi regime.” The columnist Drew Pearson gleefully listed the German clients of Sullivan & Cromwell who had contributed money to the Nazis, and described Foster as chief agent for “the banking circles that rescued Adolf Hitler from the financial depths and set up his Nazi party as a going concern.”
The Brothers diverged in their opinions on Hitler. Sullivan & Cromwell were instrumental in restructuring the German economy, and lost fortunes when Germany defaulted on its debt. Allen pushed for the closure of Sullivan & Cromwell operations in Germany. They were closed in 1935, although Foster continued in his positive view of Hitler: