Remembering Frederick Charles Ferdinand Weiss
(July 31, 1885–March 1, 1968)
The Talented & Elusive Mister Weiss
Frederick Charles Ferdinand Weiss is one of the more elusive figures of the mid-twentieth-century American Right. The smudgy late-1940s snapshot I’ve scanned here — Fred on a Yorkville doorstep — and then duotoned in an attempt to make it presentable seems to be the only portrait available. That may be symbolic.
60 or more years ago, Fred sometimes popped up in Drew Pearson’s political-gossip columns, usually named alongside H. Keith Thompson and “Ulick Varange” (alias Francis Yockey or Frank Healy), in a purported triumvirate of intellectuals and activists affiliated with the new Socialist Reich Party (SRP) in West Germany in the early 1950s. “Such a flagrant pro-Nazi party” was the SRP, Pearson tells us, “that it was outlawed by the West German government.” Farther down in this March 1954 column, Pearson adds:
Of the three pro-Nazi agents in this country, the best known is Weiss, who masterminds the National Renaissance Party, a group of fanatical anti-Semites with headquarters in Yorkville, N.Y. Weiss is one of [Sen. Joseph] McCarthy’s most ardent admirers, yet at the same time is collaborating with the Communists. He spouts the Communist line on foreign policy, particularly against the European Defense Community, and his fanatical band is known to be infiltrated with Reds.
But after getting our attention with this crazy Nazi-Red-McCarthy outfit on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Pearson doesn’t bother to develop the theme. He leaves us hanging and tells us the FBI are really interested in Yockey.
In reality Pearson has nothing more to tell, and anyway there are alternative tellings of the National Renaissance Party (NRP) saga. About 40 years ago I came across a skinny black-and-white pamphlet by one Joseph Kamp, of New York City and West Palm Beach, Flordia. It was called The “Bigots” Behind the Swastika Spree, and it was evidently intended as a refutation of Drew Pearson’s remarks. It told the story of how the NRP was actually founded and led by a most pathetic young man named James Madole. Madole came from Upstate New York but now lived with his mother in Yorkville, where he put out a newsletter and held meetings and street demonstrations with his ragtag followers. To me it all sounded rather like the Dead End Kids, with knobs on.
Fred Weiss was nowhere in this telling, so far as I recall. Joe Kamp wanted to tell us that this whole National Renaissance Party thing was a fraud, a front, secretly funded and manipulated by a black-ops agent of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. I don’t have that pamphlet anymore, and don’t recall whether this agent was named. But he was evidently one Sanford H. (“Sandy”) Griffith. Sandy Griffith passed money on to the NRP and, according to Joe Kamp, encouraged the kids to draw swastikas on buildings and play at being “Nazis.”
H. Keith Thompson told a similar story about Sandy Griffith in his four-part series in Lyle Stuart’s Exposé magazine around the same time, “I Am an American Fascist.” He tells of how he had been approached by a self-described journalist calling himself Al Sheffer, who wanted to do a “friendly” newspaper article about one of Thompson’s new lobbying organizations, The American Committee for the Advancement of Western Culture.
This newspaper article, headlined “Anglo-Saxon Culture Boosted by Jerseyan,” eventually appeared in the Newark Star-Ledger (March 22, 1953), under the byline of Richard G. Shafer — rather than Al Sheffer — who was an actual staff journalist at the Star-Ledger. Richard G. Shafer had nothing to do with the piece, but he lent out his byline. When H. Keith Thompson wrote about this in Exposé in 1954, he implied that the Sheffer/Shafer alias “Sandy Griffith” was actually an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) operative and provocateur.
But I digress, and now we’re all confused and deep in the weeds. This selfsame Sandy Griffith, suspected of being a mole or ADL operative, was actually a serious person with a public history. He was a middle-aged, once-esteemed foreign correspondent, such as Vincent Sheean or John Gunther; who later became a recruit for William “Intrepid” Stephenson’s British Security Coordination in Rockefeller Center in the early 1940s; and then probably Bill Donovan’s OSS in offices down the hall. Sandy Griffith was neither Jewish nor a random gumshoe. Griffith was a scholar, journalist, and a high-level spy who wanted to keep his hand in long after the war.
I will deal with that at a later date. In the meantime, for your pleasure, check out some clips from H. Keith’s Thompson’s 1954 Exposé series:
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Despite his relative obscurity, Frederick C. F. Weiss was in many ways a more accomplished gentleman than his colleagues F. P. Yockey and H. K. Thompson. This is partly because he was born in 1885 and was thus 30-40 years older than they were. German-born, he’d been an inventor and metallurgical engineer in America before the First World War. When he went back to Germany in 1914, he was an artillery officer.
Weiss came back to America in 1930, if my records are correct. By the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, he was occupying himself with a comfortable old man’s avocations: buying and selling real estate (mainly in Westchester County and Orange County, New York), promoting political causes, reading newspapers, and writing pamphlets, some of which are rather grandiose-sounding (Quo Vadis, America?; Will They Bury Us?; Without Ullstein, No Einstein; Hang on and Pray). Some of the Yockey essay-pamphlets of the era, in particular The World in Flames and What Is Behind the Hanging of the Eleven Jews in Prague? (both 1952, and reprinted in a recent collection) have always struck me as having a touch of hysteria behind them. Where does Yockey end and Weiss begin?
Francis Parker Yockey supposedly hid out in Weiss’ suburban and country houses when visiting the New York area during the 1950s. And it’s certainly probable that he helped Weiss edit some of those Le Blanc Publications pamphlets. Somewhere or other, H. Keith Thompson remarked that Weiss could not write clearly and convincingly, and Yockey’s hand is obvious in much of the better output. But I until recently I doubted that Yockey was the main author of any of them. At best Yockey cleaned them up.
What changed my mind was reading, or rereading, such things as Yockey’s Introduction to the German edition of The Enemy of Europe, which Yockey signed Frederick C. F. Weiss (included, in English, in the 2022 edition), but to my mind is purely Yockey. And then there’s Hang on and Pray, Weiss’ jokey mid-1950s takedown of Arnold Toynbee’s interminable and convoluted A Study of History, but which seems to be often largely Yockeyan in phraseology. I won’t go into that now, but will in a later essay.
Furthermore, there are promotional blurbs from Le Blanc Publications that seem to have no Yockey in them at all. Their humorous come-on is more like that of Tiffany Thayer’s Fortean Society magazines of the 1940s and ‘50s: wry, comical, sometimes strained; a kind of knock-down bang-zoom mockery of conventional belief.
Nihilistic? Yes, if you wish.
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 Drew Pearson, “Washington Merry-Go-Round,” March 31, 1954. The saga of the SRP is the background to Yockey’s The Enemy of Europe, and is discussed in the Foreword and Introduction to the Centennial edition published in 2022.
 Joseph P. Kamp, The “Bigots” Behind the Swastika Spree. New York, 1960. When Francis P. Yockey was arrested in San Francisco, Drew Pearson’s column quoted his 1954 column about Thompson, Yockey, Weiss, and the National Renaissance Party. Kamp’s pamphlet presumably was a rebuttal to that.
 FBI informants’ notes from the 1950s might incline one to suspect Weiss was some kind of mole or provocateur, not an awful lot different from Sandy Griffith. Some samples from the files:
[INFORMANT REDACTED] stated in December 1953 that WEISS is a German alien who resides at a farm in Middletown, New York. He stated that WEISS is a senile man who loves to write but he is unable to get anyone to publish his writings. Because of this, WEISS has constantly donated money to MADOLE as MADOLE would print anything and everything which Weiss prepared in the “National Renaissance Bulletin.”
[INFORMANT REDACTED] advised on December 3, 1956, that FREDERICK WEISS had recently printed an article entitled, “Who Cares?” which is anti-Semitic, anti-alien, and anti-Negro.
[INFORMANT REDACTED] advised that he has known Mr. and Mrs. CHARLES FREDERICK WEISS [sic], both of Mt. Hope, Middletown, New York, since 1945 and he advised that they owned and operated the Le Blanc Publications of the above address. He advised that this press has published many phamphlets [sic] which he considers un-American . . . He stated that in his discussions with them, he has learned that they are both active in the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League.
[INFORMANT REDACTED] advised on March 16, 1958, that JAMES H. MADOLE operates the NRP and was formerly associated with FREDERICK WEISS in this party. Informant stated that the above pair had a falling out about three years ago when MADOLE charged that information regarding the NRP he had given WEISS for safekeeping appeared in the publication entitled “Cross-Currents,” published by the Anti-Defamation League.
 H. K. Thompson found Weiss and wife rather repellent, and thought their country house in Middletown, New York filthy and disgusting. H. K. also had a low regard for the Weiss literary expression in English. (Martin A. Lee, The Beast Awakens, 1997.)
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