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War of words

Page 5 of 7

Continued from page 4

Putzell said the muckraking columnist and radio commentator Drew Pearson was used as Roosevelt's main media mouthpiece, while movie directors such as John Ford were commissioned to make patriotic films. German expatriate actress Marlene Dietrich was used for Allied radio broadcasts aimed at German troops, just as the English-speaking radio personality known as Tokyo Rose was used by Japan to both entertain and taunt American troops.

    Drew Pearson Drew Pearson was President Roosevelt's main media mouthpiece. (1937 AP file photo)

One OSS memo mentions Donovan's idea to make a movie about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but the records indicate he didn't care much for the rough cut he screened in 1943. He sent it back for some unspecified revisions.

"We improvised from day one," said Putzell, who attended Harvard with Donovan and joined his New York law firm. "Donovan had to create something out of whole cloth."

Putzell said one of the most dazzling executions of lies came from Barbara Lauwers, a Czechoslovakian OSS agent who planted articles and spread leaflets meant to convince Czech and Slovak conscripts to desert the German army. "We got 600 soldiers coming through the lines in one night," Putzell said.

Barbara Lauwers later became, by marriage, Barbara Podoski, the Bronze Medal winner for "Operation Sauerkraut."

Donovan believed so strongly in the power of propaganda that he turned up in Allied-occupied China in the closing days of the Pacific war, where the OSS based its morale campaign directed at Japan. When Donovan appeared, Elizabeth McIntosh was sitting at her desk with her colleague, Jane Smith-Hutton, blithely blowing up condoms.

Because there were no balloons available in which to insert leaflets, the Morale Operations agents had to improvise, not expecting the country's first chief of central intelligence to walk through the door and find them sitting behind desks cluttered with inflated prophylactics. Smith-Hutton stammered out some red-faced explanation, but Donovan didn't seem to get it, recalls McIntosh. "Carry on," he said.

McIntosh had been a reporter for the Scripps Howard news service who happened to be posted in Hawaii. Her goal was to work overseas, particularly in Japan, and she lived with a Japanese family in Hawaii in order to learn the language. Then came Pearl Harbor.

McIntosh was among the creative types that the OSS sought out for its Morale Operations unit. Posted first in New Delhi and then China, she and her colleagues worked in tandem with OSS guerrilla units in Japanese-occupied Burma, where the Burma Road was a key supply line of the Pacific theater.

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