Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fear and Loathing in St. Petersburg Part III

Welcome to the third installment in my examination of the curious cast of characters who appeared in and around Florida's St. Petersburg in the years following World War II. With the first installment I gave a brief biography of one such figure, "Count" Anastase "Annie" Vonsiatsky, a White Russian who married a wealthy American woman and become deeply immersed in the pre-WWII fascist underground. Vonsiatsky supposedly abandoned such intrigues after being convicted of sedition and spending several years in prison during WWII, but compelling evidence has emerged that he was still conspiring in the postwar years after relocating to St. Petersburg.

With part two I gave an overview of another notorious figure who had dealings with St. Petersburg, Mafioso Santo Trafficante Jr. Trafficante, a close associate of Meyer Lansky, was one of the most powerful figures in the international drug trade for decades and indeed something of an architect of the market. This Mafioso would also forge close ties with powerful figures within the US intelligence community and was in turn well protected by said patrons for Trafficante never spent a day in prison. While based out of nearby Tampa, Trafficante made heavy use of St. Petersburg as well.

Trafficante Jr.
The first two installments of this series only briefly touched upon St. Petersburg itself, a point that this installment will hopefully rectify. But first a few more points need to be made about Trafifcante. Firstly we come to the rather curious relationship Santo and his father seemed to have forged with a certain Federal Bureau of Narcotics (the predecessor organization to he DEA) agent:
"[George Hunter] White was soon back in the thick of things, meeting with Santo Trafficante, Sr. in Miami on September 3, 1945. Head of a lucrative Havana-based gambling, narcotics, and prostitution empire, Trafficante, Sr., was a close associate of Meyer Lansky. The elder Trafficante, from his Tampa, Florida base, oversaw Lansky's expansive criminal and narcotics operations, as well as operating, with help from his son, Santo Jr., a number of his own lucrative gambling casinos, hotels, and brothels in Cuba...  White's meeting would be the first of many unexplained encounters with the Trafficante's over the next ten years.
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli, pg. 403)
Trafficante Sr.
George Hunter White is one of the most enigmatic figures to navigate the murky waters of the American deep state in the post-WWII years. While officially a mere FBN agent, White found himself knee deep in a host of intrigues in both the pre and post World War II years. He was a golden boy of longtime FBN head Harry Anslinger, who seemingly initiated White into the American deep state.
"... George White, destined years later to become infamous as an operative at the juncture of government and organized crime that one historian has aptly called America's 'deep politics.' A San Francisco reporter known for underworld contacts, White went to work for Aslinger 1935 to help him compete for publicity with his despised rival, Hoover. He had risen rapidly, serving Aslinger's abuse of the still small drug agency as a fiefdom of personal power. Like other FBN agents, he joined the OSS during World War II, became a lieutenant colonel and close associate of  future CIA counterespionage chief James Jesus Angleton. White would be a ranking officer in Operation Underworld, the founding collusion between U.S. intelligence and Meyer Lansky to control the New York docks. By war's end, he was known not only as a principal liaison between the bureaucracy and organized crime figures the government was widely enlisting as sources and operatives, but also as a brutal bully, 'a stone cold alcoholic,' as one account depicted him, who washed down lunch with a fifth of vodka.
"Taking over the FBN Chicago office in 1946, White promptly recruited and thus proceeded to protect as double agent several men  – including Jack Ruby – in a circle implicated in the decisive murder that year of race wire boss James Ragen. By 1948, White was in Rome, working with the new CIA to arrange covert bribes in Italian politics. He was now a rabid Cold Warrior, crossing blurred bureaucratic lines in the convoluted world of covert action, 'part of the "inner circle," ' as Peter Dale Scott wrote, 'who planned and carried out various lethal secret operations.' With a reputation as a swashbuckling, cut-any-corner agent for whom the ends of national security justified the means, he would be a prototype himself for future perversions of federal drug policy, 'a law enforcement official who regularly violated the law,' as a historian put it. In the mounting Red Scare of the time, he would also be a discrete source and confidant to kindred spirits on Capitol Hill, like  McCarran and his fanatical aide Julian Sourwine. White blamed Communist China for the growing heroin traffic into the United States, covering up the actual smuggling by Chang Kai-shek's corrupt but U.S.-allied government  – an eerie prototype for later justifications for the support of right-wing dictatorships and military regimes in other drug-producing countries. When the CIA later experimented with drugs on unwitting victims, it would be zealous, sadistic White who provided the narcotics, hired prostitutes for subjects, then watched through a two-way mirror. 'Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steal, rape and pillage,' White later wrote in reply to a writer's question, 'with the sanction and blessing of the All-Highest?' "
(The Money and the Power, Sally Denton & Roger Morris, pgs. 119-120)
White is most well known in this day and age for his involvement with the notorious Project MK-Ultra, one of several CIA/Pentagon programs involved in behavioral modification experiments, among other things. At the behest of the CIA, White oversaw a series of "safehouses" in New York City and San Francisco in which various drugs, including LSD, were tested on the general populace. Much more information on White's work with MK-Ultra can be found here.

A close associate of George Hunter White was an equally enigmatic figure known as Pierre Lafitte. Lafitte is generally described as a Frenchman, but whether he originated from France or Louisiana is still a mystery. Laffite was recruited into the US intelligence community at a very young age during World War I when he became an operative for General Ralph Van Deman, the so-called "Father of Military Intelligence." More information on Van Deman can be found here.

By the end of the Second World War Lafitte had become a major player in organized crime, with extensive ties amongst the Corsican Mafia. He would later play a key role in bringing down this organization, clearing the way for CIA- approved drug traffickers. During this time he also began his long time relationship with the FBN as a "special operative." It was in this capacity that he assisted White, especially in his work involving MK-Ultra. Lafitte assisted White in establishing the safehouses as well as more "wet" operations.

In A Terrible Mistake the great H.P. Alberelli fingered Lafitte as one of two individuals responsible for the murder of Frank Olson, the biological warfare expert based out of Fort Detrick who died under highly dubious circumstances shortly after he was unwittingly dosed with LSD by the CIA.

Shortly after Olson's death, Lafitte reportedly took a vacation.
"... Prosecutors would also learn that after Olson's death, Lafitte traveled to St. Petersburg, Florida, only about 13 miles from Indian Rocks Beach, where he stayed in a small beachside house owned by Mafia kingpin Santo Trafficante, Jr. While it was never confirmed, it is believed that George White had arranged for Lafitte's hideaway in the Sunshine State."
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Alberelli, pg. 694)
Earlier Alberelli had noted that Lafitte had previously had contact with Trafficante "from his days in Tampa and St. Petersburg..." (pg. 434). Its also interesting to note that Olson's family would retire to the above-mentioned Indian Rocks Beach shortly after Frank's death. But moving along.

Besides the assassination of Frank Olson, St. Petersburg also turns up in another prominent assassination: that of JFK. As noted above, George White had ties to Jack Ruby, and various other connections that are best outlined in Alberelli's A Secret Order. Santo Trafficante himself has also been long linked to the assassination:
"I will not wonder deeply into the quagmire of circumstances surrounding the murder President John F. Kennedy. However, it is worth repeating a few lines in the final report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations: 'The Committee's extensive investigation led to the conclusion that the most likely family bosses of organized crime to participate in such a unilateral assassination plan were Carlos Marcello and Santo Trafficante.'
"Of the many connections between Trafficante and Dallas the most important are his association with Jack Ruby, who visited him in a Havana prison in 1959; his statement to Cuban exile financier Jose Aleman that Kennedy 'is going to be hit'; and his close association with fellow Mafia capo Carlos Marcello. The Cuban exiles, drug racketeers, and the CIA had no shortage of anti-Kennedy motives, which all the more intensified as the three forces gradually welded together."
(The Great Heroin Coup, Henrik Kruger, pgs. 146-147)
Mafioso Carlos Marcello, whose potential links to the JFK assassination were briefly discussed here
As was noted in part two of this series, Trafficante had extensive ties with the Cuban Mafia, whose ranks were swelled with Bay of Pigs veterans. The ties between various Cuban exile groups and the Kennedy assassination has been addressed before here.

Pierre Lafitte has also been linked to the assassination.
"It is worth noting that Lafitte turned up in yet another tangle of major, historic proportions during the 1960s. Around the time of the JFK assassination, Lafitte worked for the Reiley Coffee Company and then as a chef for the World Trade Mart, both in New Orleans. William B. Reiley, an avid anti-Communist, owned the Reiley Coffee Company and was closely connected to the McCarthyite and rabid anti-Communist Edward Scannell Butler, who were both close to CIA assistant director Charles Cabell, CIA SRS chief Paul Gaynor, and Agency ARTICHOKE official Morse Allen. Readers may recall that alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald also worked as a maintenance man for the Reiley Coffee Company in the summer of 1963."
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Alberelli, pg. 428)
William B. Reiley
The Reiley Coffee Company and its far right ties have already been discussed here while Morse Allen and Artichoke were noted before here. As Artichoke was a revival program to MK-Ultra, Lafitte's presence in New Orleans during this time is most curious. But moving along.

Another longtime resident of nearby Tampa with links to the Kennedy assassination was Kerry Thornley. Yes dear reader, the same Kerry Thornley who was a counterculture trailblazer, a co-founder of Discordianism and one of the architect of the "zine revolution" of the early 1980s. But before all of this Thornley had been a Marine and briefly served with Lee Harvey Oswald in the late 1950s. Thornley would go on to write two books based upon his experiences with Oswald and at various points would allege that both he and Oswald had been subjected to behavioral modification experiments by Nazi programmers. Much more information of Thornley's claims and his ties (or lack therefore of) to the Kennedy assassination can be found here.

Its also interesting to note that Thornley had established an association with the great Fortean philosopher Robert Anton Wilson, most well known as the author (along with Bob Shea) of the Illuminatus Trilogy. We will come back to Wilson in just a moment, so do keep his friendship with Thornley in mind dear reader.

Before moving along to our last section, there is one final figure who warrants consideration: Count Anastase Vonsiatsky. The great John Bevilaqua has alleged that Vonsiatsky played a key role in the Kennedy assassination in his groundbreaking J.F.K. -The Final Solution. In said work he noted that the city of St. Petersburg had witnessed a fair amount of curious activity both before and after the assassination:
"...  He chose that city for his Southern headquarters because of the nostalgia it invoked in him for his Fatherland, Russia. Both Reverend Oren F. Potito and Joseph A. Milteer were sighted at the St. Petersburg train station within 10-12 hours of the JFK assassination. The Eastern Headquarters of Thurmond's National States' Rights Party, run by Potito of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, who was known to train crack rifle teams was in that city as well for years..."
(J.F.K. -The Final Solution, John Bevilaqua, pg. xxii)
Joseph A. Milteer
Klansman Joseph A Milteer's ties to the Kennedy assassination have been addressed before here. The National States' Rights Party (NSRP) has turned up in A host of intrigues over the years. Most notably, it has been linked to the alleged "Son of Sam" cult (via Frederick W. Cowan, a SUPPOSED member of the cult as well as the NSRP) and the Atlanta child murders. The above-mentioned Church of Jesus Christ Christian was also apparently quite serious about the "armed struggle."
"...  the church of Jesus Christ-Christian, whose reigning dignitary is the Reverend Wesley A. Swift of Lancaster. Three decades ago Swift was part of Gerald L. K. Smith's Christian Nationalist Crusade and a rifle team instructor for a KKK group. He founded his church on the premise that members of the white race are the lost children of Israel. A spellbinding Bible-thumper, Swift has put together a string of 'parishes' in California and a small-station radio network reaching an estimated million listeners. The Reverend Oren Potito of St. Petersburg, Florida, is head of the church's 'Eastern Conference.' Potito, a one-time organizer for the National States Right, was the 1962  campaign manager for retired Admiral John G. Crommelin, running for governor of Alabama, whose stock-in-trade speech is 'The Hidden Force,' exposing the 'Jewish-Communist-Integration Conspiracy.' Potito has openly stated that his church has formed 'guerrilla warfare units' designed to defend the country in the event of a communist take over."
(Power on the Right, William Turner, pgs. 100-101)
Oren Potito
For a time "former" military intelligence officer William Potter Gale was also involved in the Church of Jesus Christ-Christian before breaking away. Gale seems to have been involved in a host of deep intrigues as well, as noted before here. Admiral John Crommelin was a veteran of the Pacific Theater during World War II and thus would have been within the sphere of the radical right wing officers who rallied to Douglas MacArthur (discussed before here). In the postwar years Crommelin became involved with the Ten Million Americans, an organized featuring Lieutenant General George L. Stratemeyer, a member of the bizarre secret society known as the Sovereign Order of Saint John, a Knights of Malta pretender with extensive contacts within the Pentagon and US intelligence community, as noted before here and here. But moving along.

St. Petersburg certainly seems to have attracted a curious mix of far right zealots and underworld figures in the postwar years, a group that includes Anastase Vonsiatsky, Santo Trafficante, Pierre Lafitte, Oren Potito and likely George Hunter White and even Kerry Thornley. But there was one other highly curious figure lurking in St. Petersburg around this time as well, a figure possessing legendary status within conspiracy circles:

James Shelby Downard.

For the uninitiated, Downard is the author (along with the highly controversial Michael A. Hoffman II) of the notorious "King Kill 33" essay that has so infested popular culture. Downard's life and legacy is highly controversial, with much debate circulating around his very existence. He is generally credited with discovering the modern conception of "twilight language" and the closely related "synchro-mysticism."

In point of fact, the first national exposure Downard received came via a tape recording known as Sirius Rising that Fortean researcher William Grimstad dispatched to Kerry Thornley's friend Robert Anton Wilson from St. Petersburg in the mid-1970s. Wilson went on to recount this incident in his classic The Cosmic Trigger Volume I: Final Secrets of the Illuminati:
"As soon as Illuminatus was published in September 1975, people started sending me letters about weird 23's in their own lives... The most interesting of these communications came from an English flying saucer journal, Fortean News, and was forwarded by a Mr. W.N. Grimstad of St. Petersburg, Florida. The context concerns some mediumistic Contactees...
"Mr. W.N. Grimstad, who sent me that clipping about Lear-23-666-333, mentioned in an accompanying letter that Florida anti-Illuminati groups (I assume he means Birchers) are spreading the theory that Illuminatus is a diabolical attempt to confuse the anti-Illuminati forces and that Shea and I are actually high-ranking Illuminati ourselves...
"Later, Mr. Grimstad send me a tape, entitled 'Sirius Rising,' in which he and another conspiracy buff named Downard set forth the most absurd, the most incredible, the most ridiculous Illuminati theory of them all. The only trouble is that, after the weird data that we have already survey, the Grimstad-Downard theory may not sound totally unbelievable to us.
"According to 'Sirius Rising,' the Illuminati are preparing Earth, in an occult manner, for extraterrestrial contact...
"If you want to hear more of the Downard-Grimstad numerological evidence, write to W.N. Grimstad at P.O. Box 14150, St. Petersburg, Florida, and asked how much he wants for the tapes. (He sent me mine free, evidently hope and I would publicize them. See how obliging I am, Mr. Grimstad?) "
(The Cosmic Trigger Volume I, Robert Anton Wilson, pgs. 167-169)
William Grimstad (left) and Michael A. Hoffman II (right)
Reportedly by the mid-1970s Downard, Grimstad and Hoffman were gathering around the Tampa area for a meeting of the minds.
"To escape his perceived Masonic harassment, Downard, in later years, set out across the country in a 1950's Airstream trailer – with a trusty Colt .45 always at his side – armed against those who target him as the 'Pharmakos'; the Freemasonic scapegoat... And although constantly on guard against those who might cause him harm, Downard always seemed to form a circle of friends around himself and the various places he set up shop during the course of his extensive Fortean field research.
"As William Grimstad recalled:
" ' I was working for news publications in the Washington, D.C. area (circa 1974) and had printed a famous photo of Martin Luther King at a civil rights march, arm in arm with Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, at that time professor of Jewish mysticism at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City.
" 'For a subheading on the picture caption, I wrote KABBALAH KONNECTION?, playfully hinting the King might now be branching into the occult... Well, a friend living in the Tampa Bay area of Florida left a copy of that issue in some public place or other, were Shelby Downard apparently walked in soon after. He found the item, was intrigued with my Kabbalah jest and wrote to me in Washington.
" 'Downard's take on the symbolo-esoteric aspects behind that and other apparently mundane current topics was so amazingly original and 'offbeat' that I decided  this was someone I needed to talk to and perhaps interview for a write-up of some kind. So I got in touch with the bud who had left the article and had him contact Shelby to lay groundwork for a meeting... completing the amusing round-robin of synchronicity.
" 'Needless to say, as soon as I could arrange it, I traveled to Florida where Downard was vacationing in his Airstream trailer at New Port Richey, northwest of Tampa. It was there that I taped the extensive interviews out of which I later prepared a multi-hour audio documentary that I titled "Sirius Rising." ' "
"Michael Hoffman: 'I remember sitting in Shelby's Airstream trailer in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1977, along with the great Fortean philosopher William N. Grimstad and Charles Saunders...
" 'Shelby's conversation that day ranged from the occult significance of the Theremin musical instrument to the sorcerous implications of elevators, the relationship he had with an evanescent rabbit named Petey; the sinister connotations of the circus and the mystical topography of the American Southwest, which Mr. Downard knew the way you and I know our backyard.' "
(James Shelby Downard's Mystical War, Adam Gorightly, pgs. 54-55)
Researcher Richard Spence's rundown of Downard's life (which arguably surpasses the mediocre Gorighlty book that is at present the closet thing we have to a proper biography of Downard) turned up compelling evidence that Mr. Downard's association with St Petersburg extended well back beyond the 1970s. He noted:
"Downard’s memoir ends in 1935, but public records yield a few more clues about where he was and what he was doing through and immediately following WWII. The 1942 Chattanooga, TN, City Directory shows J. Shelby Downard as a U.S. Army x-ray technician living at 1005 S. Crest Rd. The only major military installation in the vicinity was nearby Ft. Oglethrope, Georgia, and in 1942 it was home to the 63rd Surgical Hospital. However, just two years later he appears in the St. Petersburg, Florida Directory as a “bacteriologist” and, apparently, a civilian. How did he go from x-ray tech to bacteriologist in such a short time? Moreover, could any of this somehow relate to an earlier connection to Dr. Kramer and the Army hospital in Ft. Thomas?
"But the ‘44 directory includes another, intriguing, detail, the name of a spouse—Ann. This must be a reference to Anne Witwer, a woman Downard claimed to have married in the late 30s and whom he later lamented as “The Great Whore” for her supposed Sex Magic seduction by malevolent Masonic forces. The only other apparent record pertaining to this union is the Florida Divorce Index, which records a 1945 decree issued in 1945 in Pinellas County to James Shelby Downard and unnamed spouse."
It would seem that Downard frequented St. Petersburg as early as the mid-1940s then and was drawn back up until at least the late 1970s. This was shortly before Anastase Vonsiatsky relocated to the city in 1948, but certainly leaves ample opportunities for the paths of either men to have crossed before Vonsiatsky's death in 1965. And herein lies some intriguing possibilities that we shall address in a moment.

But first, the above-quoted Mr. Richard Spence also turned up another intriguing detail concerning one of the claims made by Downard in The Carnivals of Life and Death, his highly controversial biography, this is most pertinent to our present examination:
"... a “friend” of his mother, Col. George H. Bunker. Downard correctly connects Col. Bunker with the Interstate Amiesite Co. a firm that controlled his father’s paving patent. Downard also describes the Colonel as someone “who knew a lot of rich, influential and famous people." This much is certainly true: Bunker was a one-time commander of the American Legion and a collaborator of the FBI which argues that he did indeed have connections in high—and secretive—places."
Downard's alleged "biography"
I have been unable to turn up more on this Colonel George H. Bunker, but his ties to the American Legion and the FBI opens up a very intriguing possibility. Consider:
"... All defense contractors were eventually required by law to conduct industrial-security investigations, under legislation for which both the FBI and the American Legion had helped to lobby. This legislation created work both for veterans and for the Legion itself. During World War II the Legion had built up a network of confidential information contacts, on the model of the so-called vigilantes of the American Protective League during World War I. The key man in this effort, an FBI agent named Lee Pennington Jr., left the Bureau for the Legion in 1953, where he began to develop a massive library of information on alleged subversives. Future Watergate burglar James McCord, in search for subversives in the CIA, made his first contact in the 1950s with Pennington, his library, and Lou Russell of HUAC."
(Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, Peter Dale Scott, pg. 244)
This brings us into the murky netherworld of what is typically referred to as "industrial security." As noted above, it dates back to the First World War when the FBI and military intelligence formed a vast network comprised of corporate security divisions, private detective agencies, the Legion and vigilante groups such as the American Protective League to guard against "subversion" in the nation's factories. After the First Red Scare the network was disbanded in the early 1920s, but was quietly reactivated by the FBI and Army in 1928. The chief architect of this network was the above-mentioned General Ralph Van Deman, who recruited some-time St Petersburg operator Pierre Lafitte into the US intelligence community during WWI. Much more on industrial security can be found here.

General Ralph Van Deman
This Colonel George H. Bunker, as a former head of the Legion and an FBI informant, would certainly constitute a strong candidate for work in industrial security. If Downard was in fact traveling in the circles of industrial security agents, then his relocation to St. Petersburg where Count Vonsiatsky would soon set up shop is most interesting. As I noted before here, it seems likely that various White émigré linked to the bizarre secret society known as the Sovereign Order of Saint John (SOSJ) were used by the FBI and army intelligence during and especially after the first World War I for industrial security.

While I have not been able to conclusively link Vonsiatsky to such circles, as one of the chief White proponents of fascism in America for nearly half a century, it doesn't seem much of a stretch that the Count was aware of such circles. And indeed, the great John Bevilaqua has insisted that Vonsiatsky was associated with the SOSJ in J.F.K. --The Final Solution.

This raises some very interesting possibilities for, as noted before here and here, White émigrés were chiefly responsible for spreading much of the Judeo-Masonic-World Government theories that now obsess so much of modern day conspiracy culture. And as noted before here, these same White émigrés may have also played a key role in shaping British-Israelism into modern day Christian Identity theology (the Church of Jesus Christ-Christian, which Oren Potito was the head of for the eastern United States, was an Identity sect).

What's more, some of these White émigrés may even have been exposed to Ariosophy, a strand of nationalistic Theosophy that was en vogue amongst far right occultists in Germany leading up to and after the First World War. The foundation of Ariosophy is generally credited to the would-be noble Guido von List, who first began to conceive of his Wagnerian vision in the late nineteenth century. Fusing together ancient German paganism and myth, Wagner, Theosophy and a sprinkling of Gnosticism, List devised a vision that deeply appealed to romantic German nationalists in the early twentieth century. How List arrived at this ideology is most interesting:
"List believed he had discovered the remnants of this universal armanist-wotanist dispensation all around his native country. Despite the ravages of many centuries, compounded by Christian obliteration, he claimed to discern the vague outlines and scanty relics of a vast forgotten culture both throughout and beyond the German-settled areas of Austria. He found these relics in material archaeological monuments (tumuli, megaliths, hill-forts and castles on earlier pagan sites); and the local names of woods, rivers, hills and fields, many of which dated from pre-Carolingian times and allegedly recalled the names of gods and goddesses in the Germanic pantheon; and in the many legends, folk-tales and customs through which the common country folk were supposed, albeit unconsciously, to inherit and pass on the pale and distorted reflection of ancient Ario-Germanic religious parables and doctrines. By means of his discoveries in these three areas of local historical and folkloristic research, List sought to convince his readers that the western or 'Austrian' half of the Habsburg empire could look back upon a German pagan and national past of immemorial antiquity."
(The Occult Roots of Nazism, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, pgs. 66-67)
List's use of sacred geometryonomatology and mythology strongly recalls the later concept of "twilight language" advanced by Downard protégé Michael A. Hoffman II. As readers of Downard's writings are well aware, the man was especially obsessed with place names and locations as well as mythology, which he believed constituted a kind of hidden language used by occultists. But to Downard, these occultists were chiefly Jews and Masons, a belief no doubt spurred by propaganda dating back to the various White émigrés whom departed Russia in the wake of the Bolshevik take over.

The same White émigré community to whom Count Anastase Vonsiatsky was a prominent figure within. And the same Count Anastase Vonsiatsky whom relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida, shortly after Downard appeared there.

Is it possible then that Vonsiatsky's path crossed with Downard? Certainly Vonsiatsky possessed the same right-leaning conspiratorial world view that defined Downard and his history and persona likely would have fascinated JSD. What's more, this researcher has been informed by John Bevilaqua, the above-mentioned author of J.F.K --The Final Solution, that when going through Vonsiatsky's papers he found a copy of a Dietrich Eckart book. Eckart was a journalist and philosopher who had an early influence of Adolf Hitler. He also had a keen interest in Ariosophy.

Thus, it is possible that Vonsiatsky was aware of Ariosophy. It in no way indicates that he had knowledge of the more esoteric aspects of the ideology, but his presence in St. Petersburg around the same time Downard arrived there and the later overlap between Listian Ariosophy and twilight language are most suggestive.

And of course there are the reoccurring hints of mind control. Kerry Thornley, located in nearby Tampa, alleged at various points to be the victim of Nazi mind control. Thornley was a friend of Robert Anton Wilson, who introduced the world to James Shelby Downard. Downard himself alleged to have escaped the brainwashing efforts of a Judeo-Masonic cult while some time St. Petersburg operator Pierre Lafitte was actually involved with MK-Ultra as a special assistant to the notorious George Hunter White.

And then here's Vonsiatsky. John Bevilaqua has made some incredible allegations concerning Vonsiatsky's potential role, along with that of fellow White Russian George de Mohrenschildt a mysterious figure from Kennedy assassination lore whom I briefly addressed before here), in such endeavors:
"As a recently discovered side note of perhaps major importance, the following tidbit is offered as likely corroborating evidence of the theisis that is developed herein. George deMohrenschildt apparently used the pseudonym: 'Philip Harbin' during some of his covert operations, including the one in Haiti regarding 'Papa Doc' Duvalier. Innocent enough on the surface, but it was pointed out to me by Joe Knapp that George's wife was born in Harbin, probably when it was still called Manchuoko instead of Manchuria. That would make the deMohrenschildt's identification as probable White Russian Nazi collaborators even more significant. Recall that his cousin, the Baron ConstantineMaydell was arrested and convicted, I believe, during World War II as a Nazi spy. What this implies is absolutely immense. Jeanne deMohrenschildt was born to parents who had been exiled from Czarist Russia and chose to live out their diasporia among like-minded anti-Bolsheviks with strong Czarist backgrounds among the staunchest of the white Russian expatriates where Vonsiatsky set up his headquarters as vojhd or leader the entire White Russian Fascist Organization.
"George de Mohrenschildt would have had to be not only intimately familiar with the Vonsiatsky organization and his operations, but the person himself. In fact, both Baron Constantine de Maydell, George's cousin and the deMohrenschildts would have been direct employees of that sinister organization from the very early days of its existence since it was Vonsiatsky that ran every White Russian expatriate spy in North America, including Canada and Alaska according to Charles Higham in American Swastika.
"Vonsiatsky's connections to both the 'training' and 'launching' of multiple assassins into Bolshevik territory to commit murders or acts of retaliation, retribution and revenge against the administration that was keeping him from returning to his Russian homeland becomes even more significant. In implies that Richard Condon knew whereof he spoke regarding the 'Manchurian' connections described in The Manchurian Candidate, that Condon deliberately inserted Vonsiatsky's persona into the 'Lou Amjac' character in the novel, and that the 'Russian Roulette' and 'Manchurian Candidate' references made by Dick Russell's informant were quite likely to Anastase Vonsiatsky's favorite gambling reference, (cited many times in the guestbook at his Thompson, Connecticut estate) and to the probable site of the 'show and tell' assassination demonstrations described by Condon..."
(J.F.K. --The Final Solution, John Bevilaqua, pg. V)
Thus, there is peculation that Vonsiatsky was a programmer of honest-to-God Manchurian candidates (and indeed, the Count made at least one trip to Manchuria in his capacity as "vojhd" of North American Whites).

Is it possible then that Downard's assertions of an occult organization manipulating his actions are not without merit when stripped of the Jewish-Masonic propaganda? Or was Downard carrying out the objectives that he was programmed for, namely the sowing of disinformation? Or, as some have alleged, was there really no James Shelby Downard at all, but a hoax of some very curious individuals from the St. Petersburg area with a sinister agenda?

It is of course impossible to say with the little information available concerning the strange doings in St. Petersburg during the postwar years. But it is my hope that this series will spur the asking of such questions by a wider audience, for the implications of such possibilities are quite troubling for what quite frequently describes itself as an "alternative media." And with those thoughts I shall wrap up for now. Until next time dear reader.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Fear and Loathing in St. Petersburg Part II

Welcome to the second installment in my examination of the curious cast of characters who flocked to the sleepy Florida city of St. Petersburg in the post-WWII years. Located slightly south of Tampa, St. Petersburg is publicly perceived as a pensioner's paradise but has an underbelly as dark and mysterious as anything in the state of Florida (which, given the Sunshine state's uber city seedy features, is saying something).

During the first installment of this series I chiefly focused upon the bizarre figure of "Count" Anastase "Annie" Vonsiatsky, a White Russian noble-pretender who allegedly played a role in fascist intrigues in the years leading up to WWII. Vonsiatsky operated out of Thompson, Connecticut during the pre-war years, but relocated to St. Petersburg shortly after being released from prison in 1946 (the Count had been convicted of supporting Nazi agents in 1942). The great John Bevilaqua, in his JFK--The Final Solution, has compiled compelling evidence that Vonsiatsky continued to be a major player in the post-WWII fascist underground after he relocated to St. Petersburg in 1948.

With this installment I would like to shift gears a bit and consider one of the more notorious residents of nearby Tampa: Santo Trafficante Jr. For many years Trafficante was the most powerful figure in organized crime and a major architect of the international narcotics market. While based out of Tampa, Trafficante made heavy use of St. Petersburg during his hey day as well. Thus, a run down of such a curious patron is in order. So let us begin.

In the land mark and groundbreaking The Great Heroin Coup, Henrik Kruger notes:
"Meyer Lansky, the Syndicate's financial wizard and its chairman from around 1947, began building his Cuban empire in the early forties. When free elections chased his close friend and dictator Fulgencio Batista from office in 1944, Lansky also left the island, entrusting his empire to the Trafficante family headed by Santo, Sr. Lansky and Batista settled in Hollywood, Florida, just north of Miami. Before long, Lansky was running an illegal casino empire on the coast, and in 1947 he eliminated Bugsy Siegel and moved into Los Vegas.
"All the while Lansky expanded the narcotics trade founded by Lucky Luciano. The older Mafia dons deemed the trade taboo, so Lansky's wing of the Syndicate cornered the market, with Trafficante's eldest son, Santos, Jr., overseeing the heroin traffic.
"When Florida's illegal casinos were shut down in 1950, Lansky promoted Batista's return to power in Cuba. The drive bore fruit in 1952. With Trafficante, Sr.'s death in 1954, Santo, Jr. became Lansky's right-hand man and manager of his Cuban interests. Until then, he had managed the Sans Souci Casino, a base for running Havana's tourist trade and keeping tabs on heroin shipments from Marseilles to New York via Florida and Cuba.
"Trafficante, Jr. has proven more talented than his father. Extraordinarily intelligent and energetic, he has handled the most acute crises with detached calm. Luciano characterized him as '... a guy who always managed to hug the background, but he is rough and reliable. In fact, he's one of the few guys in the whole country that Meyer Lansky would never tangle with.'
"In no time, Trafficante, Jr. ingratiated himself with dictator Batista, while remaining loyal to Lansky, who appointed him manager of his own Florida interests in addition to those in Cuba. Lansky needed to spend increasing amounts of time in New York, between travels to Los Vegas, Rome, Marseilles, Beirut, and Geneva...
"According to Peter Dale Scott, 'certain U.S. business interests collaborated with the narcotics-linked American Mafia in Cuba --as they did with similar networks in China and later in Vietnam --for the Mafia supplied the necessary local intelligence, cash and muscle against the threat of communist takeover.' As Scott wrote those words in 1973, Cuban-Americans recruited by the CIA were suspected by federal and city authorities to be 'involved in everything from narcotics to extortion rackets and bombings.' The Church committee and other Senate and law enforcement reports would confirm these allegations.
"Again we observe the Cuba/Southeast Asia/CIA triangle, and it's no secret who managed the Cuban side. There Trafficante, Jr. hired the fast-learning natives, while dictator Batista's men made the empire safe for organized crime, often appearing more loyal to Trafficante than Batista himself. In return the Cubans learned the business.
"With Fidel Castro's 1 January 1959 ouster of Batista, Lansky and Trafficante were in trouble. Though they were expelled from their Cuban kingdom, nearly a year elapsed before the Syndicate departed and the casinos were closed. Along with Trafficante and Lansky, half a million Cubans left the island in the years following Castro's takeover...
"Out of the Trafficante-trained corps of Cuban officers, security staffers and politicians, a Cuban Mafia emerged under the mobster's control. It specialized in narcotics, first Latin American cocaine, then Marseilles heroin. With his Cubans Trafficante also grabbed control of La Bolita, the numbers game that took Florida by storm and became a Syndicate gold mine...
"Trafficante settled in Tampa, but continued to run some of his activities from Jimmy Hoffa's Teamster Local 320 in Miami. Trafficante and David Yaras of Sam Giancana's Chicago mob were instrumental in founding Local 320, which, according to the McClellan hearings, was a front for Syndicate narcotics activities.
"After losing his Havana paradise, far-sighted Meyer Lansky used straw men to buy up much of Grand Bahama Island and erected a new gambling center around the city of Nassau. But though Lansky and Trafficante each survived in style, neither they nor the Cuban exiles relinquished hope of a return to Cuba. Moreover, they were not alone in dreaming of overthrowing Castro. The CIA in particular let its imagination run wild to this end. Its covert operations expert, General Edward Lansdale, seriously planned to send a submarine to the shore outside Havana, where it would create an inferno of light. At the same time, Cuba-based agents would warn religious natives of the second coming of Christ and the Savior's distaste for Fidel Castro. However, 'Elimination by Illumination' was shelved in favor of less fantastic suggestions for Castro's assassination. The latter brought together the CIA, Cuban exiles, and the Syndicate in the person of Santo Trafficante.
"In 1960 the CIA asked its contact agent Robert Maheu to contact mobster John Roselli. Roselli introduced Maheu to Trafficante and Sam Giancana, the Chicago capo, and the strange bedfellows arranged an attempt on the life of Castro. The agency had previously stationed an agent on Cuba who was to flash the green light when assassination opportunities arose. He was Frank Angelo Fiorini, a one-time smuggler of weapons to Castro's revolutionary army, to whom Castro had entrusted the liquidation of the gambling casinos. Through the latter assignment Fiorini had made the acquaintance of Trafficante.
"In February 1961 Maheu, Trafficante and Roselli met at Miami's Fountainebleu Hotel. There Maheu gave the hoods untraceable poison capsules for delivery to a Cuban exile connected with the Trafficante mob. Other Cubans were to smuggle them to the island and poison Castro; but the attempt failed. Trafficante engineered more attempts, including one in September 1962, and his organization also provided Cubans for the Bay of Pigs invasion."
(The Great Heroin Coup, Henrik Kruger, pgs. 141-144)
"Frank Angelo Fiorini"
The above-mentioned Frank Angelo Fiorini would go on to change his name to Frank Sturgis. Sturgis is most well remembered in this day and age for the role he played in Watergate as one of the infamous "plumbers." Sturgis was not seemingly the only "plumber" with ties to Trafficante, as we shall see.

At this point, however, it should be noted that Trafficante's dedication to the elimination of Fidel Castro has long been questioned. Compelling evidence has emerged that he was a kind of double agent.
"Santo Trafficante was the indispensable man in the Castro assassination plot, even though he was listed as No. 234 in the FBN's International List book, and even though there were serious doubts about his loyalty. The CIA knew, for example, that during the four months he'd been detained in Cuba, Trafficante had lived in relative luxury while he negotiated the return of seized Mafia assets with Fidel Castro's brother Raoul. The CIA also knew that after his release, Trafficante traveled freely to and from Havana. But the doubts were set aside because he was intimately connected to leaders in the anti-Castro Cuban exile community and could contact secret agents in Cuba. One of the purported secret agents, Juan Orta Cordova, was the director of Fidel Castro's ministerial office in Havana. On the assumption that Orta was willing and able to kill Castro, CIA security Edwards had Trafficante arrange the delivery of MKULTRA poison pills to him. The plan was that Orta would drop the pills in Castro's coffee. But Cuban security officials discovered that Orta was a counterrevolutionary, and a Mafia flunky, and he was fired on 26 January 1961. By the time the pills arrived in February, he was unavailable to do the job.
"Immediately after this plan failed, Trafficante --not the CIA --allegedly devised a second assassination plot in which one of Castro's mistresses, Marita Lorenz, was (like Orta) to administer a lethal dose of MKULTRA poison to the prime minister. This hit, for which Trafficante was to be paid $150,000, was contingent on his business partner, Dr. Manuel Antonio de Varona. Linked with former Cuban president Carlos Prio Socarras, Tony Varona in 1961 headed the Meyer Lansky-financed, CIA-created, avidly anti-Castro political front, the Frente Revolucionario Democratico, in Miami.
"After Trafficante had introduced the various conspirators to one another, CIA officer Jim O'Connell passed a handful of poison pills to mobster Johnny Roselli. On 13 March 1961, Roselii, in the Boom Boom room in Miami's Fountainebleau Hotel, passed them to Varona's son-in-law for delivery to femme fatale, Marita Lorenz. But the Bay of Pigs invasion disrupted that particular scheme and, three months later, in July 1961, Siragusa denounced Trafficante as a double agent. He insisted that Castro had jailed the Mafioso as a ruse, and that Trafficante was in fact working with Castro's agents in the lucrative bolita gambling business in Miami. The implication was that he had sabotaged the CIA's first assassination attempt on Castro, and had probably betrayed the CIA in other ways as well. Trafficante... was never arrested for treason or drug trafficking, and though closely monitored, continued to manage his bolita and narcotics trafficking businesses with impunity.
"How could this be, one might ask? The answer is quite simple: so that Trafficante, and other international drug smugglers and degenerate hoods like Johnny Roselli, could arrange assassinations for the CIA."
(The Strength of the Wolf, Douglas Valentine, pgs. 224-225)
Santo Jr
Trafficante's apparent expertise in assassinations will be quite relevant in a moment. For now, let us briefly consider Trafficante's heyday in the late 1960s through the mid-1970s:
"From 1968 on, Trafficante's Cubans were in effective control of the traffic in heroin and cocaine throughout the United States. The Florida capo's only gangland partner of any significance was the Cotroni family in Montreal.
"Trafficante carried out his business in a cool and collected manner. Never out of line with the national Syndicate, he enjoyed relative anonymity while other, less prominent gangsters wrote their names in history with blood. His organization was so airtight that when narcotics investigators finally realized how big a fish he was, they had to admit he was untouchable. The BNDD tried to nab him in its 1969-70 Operation Eagle, then the most extensive action ever directed against a single narcotics network. The Bureau arrested over 120 traffickers, wholesalers, and pushers, but made no real dent. Within days, well-trained Cubans moved into the vacated slots.
"To the BNDD's surprise, a very large number of those arrested in Operation Eagle were CIA-trained veterans of the Bay of Pigs and Operation 40. Among them were Juan Cesar Restoy, a former Cuban senator under Batista, Allen Eric Rudd-Marrero, a pilot, and Mario Escandar. Their fates were most unusual. Escandar and Restoy, alleged leaders of the narcotics network, were arrested in June 1970 but fled from Miami City Jail in August. Escandar turned himself in, but was released soon afterward when it was established that Attorney General John Mitchell had neglected to sign authorization for the wiretap that incriminated Escandar. He returned to narcotics and was arrested in 1978 for kidnapping, a crime punishable by life, but for which he got only six months...
"Juan Restoy, on the other hand, turned to blackmail. He threatened to expose a close friend of Richard Nixon's as a narcotics trafficker, if not given his freedom and $350,000. Restoy was shot and killed by narcotics agents, as was Rudd-Marrero.
"In late 1970, in the wake of Operation Eagle, Bay of Pigs veteran Guillermo Hernandez-Cartaya set up the World Finance Corporation (WFC), a large company alleged to be a conduit for Trafficante investments and for the income from his narcotics activities. Duney Perez-Alamo, a CIA-trained explosives expert involved with several Cuban exile terrorist groups, was the building manager for the WFC. Juan Romanach, a close Trafficante associate, was a WFC bank director..."
(The Great Heroin Coup, Henrik Kruger, pgs. 147-148)
Hernandez-Cartaya was the alleged founder of World Finance Corporation
Long time students of the CIA's drug trafficking endeavors will no doubt recognize the name World Financial Corporation (WFC). Throughout the 1970s, until its demise in 1978, the WFC was seemingly a go-to financial institution for the laundering of drug money by CIA-approved traffickers. The WFC collapse was also an aspect of the Vatican banking scandal, which the enigmatic Opus Dei played a crucial role in. The Opusians seem to have forged close ties with Mafiosi in Italy, so it would hardly be surprising if their counterparts from overseas were also included. But moving along.

the seal of Opus Dei
As noted above, there are indications that Richard Nixon also had ties to Trafficante that may have helped bring down his presidency. The key figure in this regard was the notorious Charles "Bebe" Rebozo.
"Nixon was also compromised through his friendship with Charles 'Bebe' Rebozo, a Cuban American with ties to Santo Trafficante and Mafioso Al Polizzi in Florida. Rebozo allegedly laundered drug money generated by anti-Castro terrorists; and his brother William and William's son were busted on a narcotic charge in March 1969.
"Nixon also maintained ties to organized crime figures. His pardon of James R. 'Jimmy' Hoffa in 1971 earned him the votes of the Teamsters Union and garnered its support for his wage/price freeze and war in Vietnam. But every veteran FBN agent knew that some teamsters provided cover for Mafia drug traffickers. Frank Coppola was godfather to Hoffa's foster son and in return, Hoffa protected Coppola's narcotics receivers in Detriot 'by assigning them to Teamsters Local 985.' Frank Dioguardia, the Mafia Teamster boss busted in the 1965 Nebbia case, provided Trafficante with an office that served as a front for his mob's narcotics activities.
"While in prison Hoffa befriended Carmine Galante, the former narcotics boss of the Bonanno family, and an ally of Santo Trafficante. Galante in the early 1950s set up major smuggling routes out of Cuba and Montreal. In testimony before the Senate Rackets Committee in 1958, Jack Cusack linked Carlos Marcello and Santo Trafficante with Jimmy Hoffa --and gunrunning to Cuba.
"Having served as President Eisenhower's 'action officer' during the planning stages of the CIA's failed Cuban Bay of Pigs invasion, Nixon was certainly aware of Hoffa's activities on behalf of the CIA. Hoffa is said to have been 'the original liaison' between the mob and the CIA in its plots to assassinate Fidel Castro, and to have brought numerous Mafiosi into the conspiracy. It was a criminal conspiracy that forever bound the Mafia, the CIA, and Nixon."
(The Strength of the Pact, Douglas Valentine, pgs. 94-95)

As noted above, Trafficante seems to have had a business relationship with at least one of the Watergate "plumbers": Frank Sturgis. It would seem that one of the most notorious of the plumbers also ran in the same circles as Trafficante's Cuban Mafia.
"Manuel Artime is a perfect example of the CIA's lackadaisical attitude toward the drug smuggling activities of anti-Castro Cubans. After his release from prison in December 1962, Artime's case officer, E. Howard Hunt, placed him in a leadership role in the terrorist Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC) in Miami. Hunt certainly knew that Artime was using drug money to finance his operations in Miami, as did Hunt's bosses, James Angleton, Richard Helms, and Tracy Barnes...
"And indeed, the drug smuggling Cubans were involved in MKULTRA operations by 1963. CIA execution expert Bill Harvey met with Johnny Roselli in June, at the same time that Trafficante's Cuban associate, assassin Tony Varona, visited Artime's CRC offices in New Orleans and Miami. Harvey stayed in touch with Roselli after his exile to Rome, and thus had a open channel to Trafficante and Varona."
(The Strength of the Wolf, Douglas Valentine, pgs. 305-306) 
Tony Varona, a Trafficante associate who forges ties with an exile Cuban group backed by E. Howard Hunt
Trafficante's possible involvement with MK-Ultra will be discussed in the next installment. On the topic of E. Howard Hunt, its also interesting to note that Hunt was a Brown alumni, as was St. Petersburg resident Anastase Vonsiatsky. The curious cast of characters who have found there way to Brown University over the years was discussed in part one of this series. But moving along.

Brown man E. Howard Hunt
Trafficante also seems to have been on good terms with at least one member staple of the far right as well. Consider yet another of the Cuban intrigues Trafficante's associates became involved in:
"In the JM/Wave period a great expansion in China Lobby-Trafficante-Cuban exile-CIA connections occurred. William Pawley financed a mysterious summer 1963 boat raid against Cuba in his own yacht, the Flying Tiger II. Besides Pawley himself, the crew included mafioso John Martino, who had operated roulette wheels in one of Trafficante's Havana casinos; CIA agents code-named Rip, Mike, and Ken; the ubiquitous Rolando Martinez; and a dozen other Cuban exiles led by Eddie Bayo and Eduardo Perez, many of whom eventually disappeared mysteriously. Loren Hall, another former Trafficante casino employee, claimed that both his boss and Sam Giancana had helped plan the raid..."
(The Great Heroin Coup, Henrik Kruger, pg. 146)
William Pawley
William Pawley was a major figure in the far right lobby group known as the American Security Council (ASC). The ASC would quickly forge extensive ties with the Pentagon and the US intelligence community and has been involved in a host of shenanigans spanning multiple decades. This researcher has chronicled the ASC extensively before here.

And it is here that I shall wrap up for now dear readers. Obviously St. Petersburg did not factor in heavily in this installment but with the next I shall get to the really good stuff, namely: St. Petersburg's ties to MK-Ultra, the Kennedy assassination and the conspiratorial right. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Fear and Loathing in St. Petersburg Part I

St. Petersburg, Florida, is a city that rarely concerns the American public at large. If they think about it all, images of smiling senior citizens living out their golden years in a quiet beach community just a little south of Tampa no doubt spring to mind. But St. Pete --as locals call it --has witnessed a curious string of characters biding their time in the largest city Pinellas County has to offer over the years. Indeed, the deep political implications of St. Petersburg, to say nothing of the influence some of the St. Pete crowd have had on conspiracy culture at large --is quite staggering if little noticed.

There is nothing especially noteworthy about St. Petersburg's history prior to the 1940s, in the wake of WWII. The town derived its name from one of its two, co-founders, Peter Demens (born Pyotr Alexeyevitch Dementyev), a Russian immigrant who spent part of his youth in the far more famous St. Petersburg. While Demens was of noble birth and seems to have left Russia under curious circumstances, this hardly constitutes the kind of intrigue behind the founding of numerous other American cities.

Of course, there is the Russian St. Petersburg and its founder, Czar Peter I (typically known in the West as Peter the Great). Peter is generally remembered for his military conquests (he essentially transformed Russia into an empire) and his Westernization of the nation. His crowning achievement was Saint Petersburg, a city founded upon Peter's concept of Westernization. Within some conspiratorial musings, Peter is described as having been initiated into Freemasonry during his historic tour of Western Europe.
"... The reason that Peter's reign presents a problem is that Peter had repudiated the 'myth' of Russia, trading it for great power status and a certain 'acceptance' by the West. Peter's talented biographer, Lindsay Hughes, speculates that, during Peter's historic tour of western Europe, he was initiated into a Masonic sect. Giving the ideology of Masonry, such a view makes sense, in that the gnostic core of technology, at the expense of traditional Christian agrarianism, was a major prop in the Masonic ideal, or pseudo-ideal. That the western Lodges would have seen Peter as a weapon to use against the traditional order is nearly an irresistible conclusion..."
(The Third Rome, Matthew Raphael Johnson, pg. 111) 
a tool of Masonry?
So perhaps St. Petersburg, Florida was conceived as part of an ongoing Masonic agenda within the design and architecture of our nation's cities. But probably not, so let us move along to be more tangible things.

One of the most curious figures to arrive in the aftermath of WWII was "Count" Anastase "Annie" Vonsiatsky. The Count is quite a mysterious figure who crops up in a host of intrigues both before and after WWII. The Count was an enormous man, standing well over six feet tall (the great John Bevilaqua lists him at 6'6), who was fond of wearing military uniforms and swastika arm bands when out on the town. Vonsiatsky also attended Brown University for a time around 1928. Voniatsky would maintain close ties with Brown for the rest of his life, which is most interesting as the University would attract some curious individuals during that item period.

George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party, and Watergate "plumber" E. Howard Hunt both attended Brown in the late 1930s. Another Watergate "plumber", Charles Colson, would make the scene there in the early 1950s. Colson would go on to found the Prison Fellowship and became a close associate of the elitist and intelligence-connected Christian sect variously known as The Family or The Fellowship (of which much more has been written before here). The overlap between the circles these men traveled in as well as their ties to Brown is most interesting, but the ultimate significance of this (or lack therefore of) connection is as yet unknown to this researcher.

from top to bottom: George Lincoln Rockwell, E. Howard Hunt, and Charles Colson; all Brown men, just like Vonsiatsky
On this topic, it is also interesting to note that the legendary weird fiction author HP Lovecraft was a long time resident of Providence, Rhode Island, home of Brown University. While Lovecraft never attended the school he maintained an interest in it throughout his life and may even have worked for it at one point. This would have been during the same time frame as Vonsiatsky became involved with the school. What's more, Providence is 35 miles or so from Thompson, Connecticut, where Vonsiatsky maintained a residence at "Nineteenth Hole" for many years.

 Interestingly, Lovecraft and Vonsiatsky both appear as characters in Richard Lupoff's Marblehead (originally published in a shorter edition under the title Lovecraft's Book), a bizarre homage to Lovecraft that puts the author in the midst of fascist intrigues during the 1920s. Technically this work is a novel, yet it displays an extensive degree of research concerning the pre-WWII fascist underground. But moving along.

A full examination of Vonsiatsky's life is vastly beyond the scope of this present series (the curious reader is advised to pick up a copy of the great John Beviaqua's J.F.K. --The Final Solution for much more information on the Count and the circles he traveled in), but his pre-WWII activity is especially noteworthy as is his background. So let us start with the latter:
"Vonsiatsky (1898-1965) was of White Russian ancestry, born in Warsaw, whose family had a distinguished pedigree in the Czar's army, and who identified with the White Russian struggle against Communism. In the United States, he was an openly-avowed fascist who colluded with Nazi agents in the United States, and was a colleague of Father Coughlin, William Pelley, and the other American Nazis. His background was colorful and exotic, and he attracted a lot of interest from both the Nazi underground as well as from the US government. His estate in northeastern Connecticut was elaborate, filled with Russian and Nazi memorabilia, and served as the headquarters of his own political party organized for the liberation of Russia from Communism.
"Vonsiatsky had married well. After making his way from Crimea in 1920 to Constantinople to recover from war wounds (he had been shot in his back, his arm, and his stomach), he later made his way to Paris where he met the American woman who would become his wife. She was an heiress to the Nabisco fortune and his wealth came largely through her. He sailed to America in the summer of 1921, and by the following year he was married to the heiress, becoming a naturalized American citizen in 1927.
"After a period of relative political inactivity, Vonsiatsky decided that it was time to form a party that would prepare for the day when the Soviet Union would fall and Russia would be free of Bolshevism. He admired the political philosophy represented by Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, and in May 1933 (four months after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany) Vonsiatsky formed the Russian National Revolutionary Labor and Workers Peasants Party of Fascist. The aim seemed to be to gather together all the Russian émigré groups that were proliferating throughout the United States, Latin America, and Europe under one umbrella with Vonsiatsky as its leader. The headquarters of the All Russian National Revolutionary Party, as it was not for short (!), was called the Center and was located at Vonsiatsky's estate.
"The Count's involvement with other fascist organizations is well-known and documented..."
(The Hitler Legacy, Peter Levenda, pgs. 98-99)
Marion Ream, Vonsiatsky's heiress wife, is the woman in the center
Indeed. What's more, it has long been alleged that Vonsiatsky was knee deep in espionage in the years leading up to the Second World War. The chief source for a lot of the accusations against Vonsiatsky was a Ukrainian priest named Alexei Pelypenko. Initially Father Pelypenko had been a dedicated fascist and had collaborated with the Gestapo in South America during the 1930s. But after the Hitler-Stalin pact he became disillusioned with Nazism and was recruited as an informant by the FBI. His infiltration of Vonsiatsky's circle is his most noted act of espionage.
"Vonsiatsky himself welcomed the Ukrainian Father Pelypenko to The Center and they talked for hours concerning the state of the world and the threat of world communism. Pelypenko's bona fides were established early on: he knew what names to drop and what references to make, as he had been, after all, a devoted Nazi for years until the  demoralizing Hitler-Stalin pact. He had worked in South America for the Gestapo, and was considered loyal to the cause. Only the FBI knew otherwise.
"The Count felt comfortable enough to reveal some sensitive information to the priest, including his connection with Dr. Wolfgang Ebell. Ebell was a German national (b. 1899) who served in the German army during World War One and who went to medical school in Freiburg. He became a naturalized American citizen in 1939 after first working for a while in Mexico (1927-1930). He was then based in El Paso, Texas and while there was discovered to be running Nazi agent south of the border. Also involved in the Mexican operation was Gerhardt Wilhelm Kunze, who had  taken over control of the German-American Bund. Kunze was in fact working for Nazi intelligence at the same time he was the Bund's figurehead. In that capacity he was in contact with Japanese agents in Mexico on behalf of the Reich, and to Pelypenko's  surprise he was informed the Kunze was shortly to go to the Pacific coast of Mexico to make contact with Japanese submarines.
"Vonsiatsky bragged that he was also in radio contact with the Nazi consul in San Francisco – Fritz Weidemann – who passed his messages on to Japan and for there to Germany in an effort to avoid the American censors.
"The importance of this information cannot be overstated and, indeed, it formed an essential part of the US government's case against the espionage ring. In one conversation, the German-American Bund and Vonsiatsky's Russian Fascists were all revealed to be working together with the Third Reich and the Empire of Japan in the months and years leading up to America's entry into the war. A spy ring in Mexico being run out of El Paso, Texas was connected with the Nazi consul in San Francisco and Japanese submarines, White Russian émigrés, and American Nazis...
"As it would later transpire, this group of conspirators would also extend to include Father Coughlin himself, as well as the Lutheran minister Kurt Molzahn of Philadelphia, and the head of the Chicago chapter of the Bund, Otto Willumeit. Pelypenko was urged to attend a clandestine meeting of the leading Nazis in Chicago at the Bismarck Hotel (where else?) in June, 1941. The meeting was bugged by the FBI.
"At the meeting – attended by Vonsiatsky, Kunze, Ebell, Willumeit and Molzahn in addition to Pelypenko – it was learned that Kunze was to quit the leadership of the Bund so that he could disappear into Mexico and rendezvous with the Japanese...
"In November, 1941 – only weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor – Kunze was waiting in Texas for the false documents he would need to cross the border into Mexico. The man arranging for the fraudulent paperwork was the Lutheran minister, Molzahn, who use the Lutheran Church's pruning office for this effort...
"Kunze had spent the previous few weeks touring America's west coast, identifying vulnerabilities in her defenses, and liaising with White Russians along the way. Once in Texas, he received the phony documentation and made it across the border into Mexico. He was on his way to be picked up by a German U-boat when FBI agents, posing as Mexican fisherman, arrested him just as the periscope breached the surface.
"Kunze's arrest – coming as it did only months after the attack on Pearl Harbor – was part of a broader sweep of Nazi agents. Molzahn, Willumeit of the Chicago Bund, Wolfgang Ebell of El Paso, and Vonsiatsky himself were all arrested and charged with espionage."
(The Hitler Legacy, Peter Levenda, pgs. 100-104)
the Bismarck
Vonsiatsky was ultimately sentenced to five years in prison in addition to a $5,000 fine in 1942. He ended up serving less than four years, however, and was released on February 26, 1946. Apologists have long depicted the Count as a rather buffoonish figure with delusions of grandeur who was used by prosecutor Thomas J. Dodd (who had his fair share of fascist ties as well) for political book. John J. Stephan, whose The Russian Fascists is about the closet thing we have to a biography of Vonsiatsky, attacked the credibility of Pelypenkos as well. Stephan seems to believe that the bulk of the accusations against Vonsiatsky were due to mistranslations of the Bismark Hotel meeting (which was apparently a mix of several languages), the Count's penchant for greatly embellishing his influence and Pelypenkos' own imagination.

Stephan also suggests that Pelypenkos immigration status (he was fighting deportation at the time of Vonsiatsky's trial) played a role in his narrative. But Pelypenkos was hardly the only informant who ended up interned during this timeframe --numerous Japanese-Americans who collaborated with the Army and FBI were later imprisoned as well. And certainly the FBI seems to have put credence in Pelypenkos' work, at one point even dispatching men to South America to eliminate an assassin the priest had warned them of. But moving along.

As for St. Petersburg, Vonsiatsky seems to have become enamored with it shortly after his release from prison. Vonsiatsky first seems to have become aware of the city when his older sister Natasha and her husband Lev Beck Mamedov (a former Muslim converted to Orthodoxy who hailed from Central Asia and had been an officer in the Czarist army prior to the Bolshevik Revolution) relocated there shortly after the war.
"Late in 1947, Lev and Natasha Mamedov closed down the Russian Bear and moved to St. Petersburg Florida. Both were attracted by the climate and, as Natasha admitted, by the name. While visiting the Mamedovs early in 1948, Alex encountered a restaurant hostess from North Carolina named  Edith Priscilla Royster. Priscilla, five feet seven inches tall, and 133 pounds, was a well-endowed beauty with auburn hair and gray eyes. The difference in their ages (she was twenty-four, he was just short of fifty) exceeded that between Alex and Marion but did not prevent their acquaintance from blossoming into intimacy. He nicknamed her 'Sweetsky.' She called him – probably in all innocence – 'Natsiya.'
"That autumn, Alex brought Priscilla north and lodged her not far from Nineteenth Hole at Webster, Massachusetts (the scene of Fritz Kuhn's 1939 'putsch'). Before long, Thompson tongues were waiting about 'that redhead from Webster', but Marion maintained a stiff upper lip. Perhaps she savored the irony that both her first and second husbands had taken mistresses name Priscilla.
"The eternal triangle lost its geographical cohesiveness late in 1949 when Priscilla  discovered that she was pregnant. Alex promptly moved her back to St. Petersburg, where, on July 2, 1950,  she gave birth to a boy: Andre Anastase Vonsiatsky. Little Andre inherited more than his grandfather's first name. His forehead bore a birthmark where, Alex said, Colonel Andrei Nikolaevich have been shot forty years earlier."
(The Russian Fascists, John J. Stephan, pgs. 357-358)
Vonsiatsky had largely abandoned his political efforts, at least publically, after his release from prison. But upon his move to St. Petersburg he began to once again make his voice heard.
"Although he spent his twilight years in a city known as a mecca for the elderly, Alex was anything but sedentary. He always had some project in the works and was ever vigilant for any opportunity to make a grande geste. In 1949, he garnered publicity by challenging the professional cardplayer Oswald Jacoby to a $5,000 canasta match (it never took place). Two years later, he was written up in St. Petersburg Independent for having entertained Prince and Princess Dadiani, Georgian royalty related to Grand Duchess Leonida Bagration, wife of tsarist pretender Grand Duke Vladimir (son of the late St. Briac tsar, Grand Duke Cyril). In 1956, standing on a pier, Vonsiatsky  lectured at the crew of a docked Soviet vessel. Asked by the St. Petersburg Independent whether he thought that he was making an impression, Alex showed that he still retained his old touch: 'They pretended not to listen, but I've seen crewmen applaud me silently through the portholes.'
"In 1953, Vonsiatsky unveiled his most ambitious postwar enterprise: The Tsar Nicholas II Museum of St. Petersburg. 'Museum' sounded a bit grandiose for a few mementos from Nineteenth Hole's Military Room exhibited in a small house on the 5th Avenue North, but Vonsiatsky was never one to deny himself a little exaggeration. The museum's opening was timed to coincide with the two hundred and fifeith anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg by Tsar Peter the Great, and to Alex's delight, the local press gave the affair good coverage. In the place of honor hung a portrait of Nicholas II, which purportedly had once graced the walls of the Imperial Russian Embassy in Paris. Also displayed were papier-mâché regimental epaulettes cut out and painted in their original colors, portraits of aristocrats and generals, and a framed letter from the last tsar to his military cadets. Aligned on racks stood forty-five antiquated Remington and the Westinghouse rifles, the same weapons that had decorated the military room at Nineteenth Hole two decades earlier.
"Vonsiasky also took up the pen in St. Petersburg. A voracious reader of anything about Russia, he contributed articles on historical and religious subjects to émigré newspapers and journals such as Novaya Zarya, Nashe Vremya, and Bich ('Whip'). Occasionally, his letters, including one comparing the NKVD to the Gestapo, were published in the St. Petersburg Independent. Now an ardent monarchist, Vonsiatsky never alluded to having once been a self-proclaimed fascist vozhd."
(The Russian Fascists, John J. Stephan, pgs. 359-360)
Grand Duke Vladimir
Or at least publically, as compelling evidence has emerged that Vonsiatsky remained deeply involved with the post-WWII Fascist International. This will be briefly addressed in part two, but before wrapping up here, its interesting to note Vonsiatsjy's meeting with relations of Grand Duke Vladimir. Vladimir's father, Grand Duke Cyril, had been the figurehead of a mysterious secret society called the Sovereign Order of Saint John (SOSJ). Claiming ties to the historic Knights of Malta (though the organization was not, in theory, aligned with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta), the SOSJ would become deeply involved with the US military and intelligence community by the 1950s. Much more information on the SOSJ can be found here, here and here.

At the time of the meeting with Vladimir's relatives, the Grand Duke had succeeded his father as head of the SOSJ. This was at the same time its ties to the US intelligence community were being cemented. And here we see Vladimir's relations meeting with one of the most prominent pre-WWII fascist despite his alleged "retirement." But more on that during the next installment. Until then dear readers do please stay tuned.