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THAT FORGOTTEN

MEXICAN NAZI
NAMED

JOSE
VASCONCELOS
English translation of the article:
Ese olvidado nazi mexicano de nombre
José Vasconcelos
by Hector Orestes Aguilar

Coincidencias y Divergencias
http://www.istor.cide.edu/archivos/num_30/coincidencias.pdf

Translation produced by Roger Ogden, San Diego, Ca
Ese olvidado nazi de nombre José Vasconcelos
Coincidencias y Divergencias

That forgotten Mexican Nazi
named Jose Vasconcelos
by Hector Orestes Aguilar
The Germanophile is actually an Anglophobe. He is perfectly ignorant
of Germany, and reserves his enthusiasm for any country at war with
England [...] Total ignorance of things Germanic does not, however,
exhaust the definition of our Germanophile [...] He is also anti-Semitic
[...] begins or outlines the panegyric of Hitler: that providential man
whose indefatigable speeches preach the extinction of all the charlatans
and demagogues [...] idolizes Hitler, not in spite of the high-altitude
bombs and the blitz invasions, the machine guns, defamation and lies,
but because of those acts and instruments. He is delighted by evil and
atrocity [...] The Hitlerist is always a spiteful man, and a secret, and
sometimes public, worshiper of criminal “vivacity” and cruelty [...] It is
not entirely impossible that Adolf Hitler has some justification: I know
that Germanophiles do not have it.
Jorge Luis Borges, “Definition of a Germanophile”,
El Hogar journal, December 13, 1940.

On Saturday, October 18, 1941, the readers of the Mexican newspaper El popular
woke up to eight column headlines that awaited them, furtive and disturbing, in the
second section of the newspaper: "The Nazi Party in our country". Such was the title
of an extensive note about the speech that Vicente Lombardo Toledano, President
of the Confederation of Workers of Latin America, had delivered the previous day
in the Arena Mexico. The editors of El Popular highlighted the "colossal
proportions of the fascist conspiracy in Mexico" and promised those who followed
the rich reportage a “complete list with names, addresses and activities of members
of the German Hitler party throughout the Republic.”
The legend of a network of National Socialist organizations in Mexico World War
II, long exploited by sensationalist press

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and popularly known as the "Fifth Column", was thus dismantled to assume an
unpredictable reality. Although Lombardo's discourse and his journalistic version
in El popular made reference to all possible links established by the Nazis in our
country, including those to synarchist groups as well as to "Christian" organizations,
to citizens of countries occupied by Germany and to the Spanish, Italian, French and
Japanese fascists. Over the course of years, it has been documented that identifiable
German citizens in Mexico qualified as National Socialists went from being only
seven in 1930 to constitute, at the end of 1939, a considerable community of 366
members of different organizations scattered throughout the republic and in various
social fields.1 In cities such as Mexico City, Monterrey and Puebla; in ports like
Tampico, Veracruz, Mazatlan, La Paz, Guaymas, Acapulco, Manzanillo, Puerto
Angel and Salina Cruz; and in borders such as Nogales, Juarez, Piedras Negras and
Matamoros, those conspirators would have deployed clandestine movements of all
kinds, especially actions of proselytism and propaganda.
Although the blacklist of Lombardo and El Popular was the most exhaustive that
was publicly known and widely distributed in times of war, he omitted one of the
axial episodes of the infiltration of National Socialism into our country: the
publication of Timon magazine, directed by José Vasconcelos in 1940. From then,
either as an involuntary omission in the biographies of the Mexican writer or as a
parenthesis in the histories of national ideas, the strange moment in which a
heterogeneous group of writers, politicians, translators and admirers of Hitler meet
to give birth to the greatest propaganda medium favorable to the III Reich in Latin
America, largely ignoring the reality of Germany and the Germans of that time, it
seems to have been erased from all literary memory and historical record.
CRIME OF AN ESSAY
In the mid-1960s, the American critic and researcher of Jewish origins, Itzhak Bar-
Lewaw Mulstock, gave the Intercontinental Editor the originals

1
Cfr. Jürgen Müller, “El NSDAP en México: historia y percepciones, 1931-1940". On
the website of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Latin America and the
Caribbean, www-tau.ac.il/eial/VI_2/muller.htm

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of a book written directly in Castilian Spanish that would ultimately be printed on
September 30, 1965 and began circulating in 1966: José Vasconcelos, life and
work. Bar-Lewaw had an extensive career but was far from being an expert in
Mexican history. However, he had the prestige of being a doctor in Philosophy
and Letters, professor in the chairs of Iberian-American literature and culture at
the Universities of Kansas, Florida and Chile, and Spanish philology at the Central
University of Ecuador, expert in the works of Jose Marti, Julian del Casal, Jose
Asuncion Silva, Alfonso Reyes and Cesar Vallejo, besides being a persistent
lecturer in universities and cultural centers of almost all the countries of America.
That book, which opens with a conceptual prologue by Salvador Azuela, is a
didactic and light semblance, very different from the monographs, memoirs and
dissertations by other experts in the author of Ulises Críolo. Bar-Lewaw counted
also to his credit, a more academic study entitled, Introducción Crítico-
Biográfica a José Vasconcelos, which appeared a little earlier in Madrid.
Inoffensive, acquiescent and at times very complimentary, both volumes give
account of the criminal political naivety of its author and completely ignored the
National Socialist episode in the public career of his subject. It is perhaps curious -
but inevitable - that he was a good-natured and devoted Jewish literary critic, who
held frequent talks with Vasconcelos during the two last years of his life without
knowing that he was talking to an old hagiographer of Hitler, who eventually
revealed the details of a case, buried in a dead archive with the apparent approval
and complicity of the entire Mexican literary society. Only ten years after the
death of Vasconcelos, which occurred on June 30, 1959, Bar-Lewaw seems to
have found, in circumstances that have not yet been clarified, the clue that led him
to the irrefutable evidence: the copies of the "continental magazine" Timon.
This was the most radical of the publishing ventures of Jose Vasconcelos. Already
during his tenure as Secretary of Public Education, he had published countless
books in runs of millions of copies, Vasconcelos also started the publication of
magazines such as El libro y el pueblo y El Maestro (1921-1923), the first great
organ of the official culture that reached a circulation of 75 thousand copies per
issue and planned as a miscellaneous magazine of

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recreation and light reading. A little later, in 1924, he founded his first political
magazine as a showcase for his personal opposition to the regime, La Antorcha,
an ephemeral publication in which the raw discrepancies between the author of
La Raza Cosmica and the national government became more apparent. All
these editorial tasks already showed a way of conceiving the production of
books and periodicals as if it were the massive dissemination of “readings",
works that were distributed as "catechisms", concentrated teaching collections
or instruments of a propaganda campaign that had as its pretension to reform
or, if possible, transform the public awareness of a country.

It can be assumed that, towards the end of the 1960s, Bar-Lewaw must have
found - perhaps in a newspaper, library or Canadian depository, by then he was
teaching at the University of York, in Toronto - some Timon issues. The
humiliation, the shame and the rancor that his find no doubt produced in him,
they motivated him to conceive a volume edited in extremely precarious
conditions, today unattainable, a fetish of a few private libraries and marked as
if it were a cursed book: La revista Timon y José Vasconcelos.

THE PURIFYING FIRE

Be a "misanthrope" the sweetest name for me and the traits of my
character the bad humor, the harshness, the rudeness, the anger and the
lack of humanity.

If I ever see someone burning in the fire and begging me to save him, I
will extinguish your flames with fish and oil; and if the river,
overflowing from a storm, sweeps away some man and he holds out his
hands and begs me to pull him out, I will push him and I will sink his
head under the waters, so that he cannot float anymore. Thus, they will
receive what they deserve. This law was proposed by Timon, son of
Echecratides of the village of Colito, and the Timon himself has
presented it to the approval of the assembly. All right. Accept that law
and stick to it firmly.

Luciano de Samosata, " Timón o el misántropo"

What Itzhak Bar-Lewaw found was diametrically separated from newspapers,
leaflets, newsletters, bulletins, news cables and flyers that traditionally
constituted the propaganda arsenal of the Mexican right

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and, by the 1940s, the news agencies of the countries that took part in the
Second World War. Timon, it was evident, was destined to circulate in an
environment of readers as wide as possible. In perspective, it can be said that its
projected niche market was the same as that of fashion magazines and sports
magazines. Their presentation was very similar to those of the weekly
publications in vogue for those years in the United States: tabloid format, color
cover, 48 pages printed in offset that used at least three different typographic
families and eight entire advertising plans; as soon as to the distribution of
contents, the fluency of reading was favored with an order based on the balance
between length and density of written materials: an editorial, six fixed sections,
ten guest columnists on average, one series of "cartons of war", political
cartoons, irregular columns of fashion, sports, health, tips for family life, a
literary section and a variable miscellany about cinema, religion, science,
opera, stamp collecting, bull fighting, sculpture and painting. Since the
newspapers of the time cost on average 3 cents. We can say that Timon, by
content, price (50 cents) and periodicity (weekly), was a luxury destined for the
upper middle class.

The American academic was stunned when he noticed that the director of that
"continental magazine", as the subtitle reads placed in the frontispiece of the
editorial page, it was Jose Vasconcelos. The name of the publication was
strange for a magazine of that profile, since others of that kind carried more
explicit, combative or messianic titles, like newspapers of the right, Omega, La
Reacción y El Hombre Libre, or the bulletins Noticias de Guerra and Diario de
la Guerra. The word "Timon" could be associated with the conductor, the
commander, the leadership, or the leader, who is at the command post of a ship.
The editorial of the first issue tried to account for it:

Between the rocks and whirlpools of the present moment, more than any
other time, it is necessary, for the ship of our collective destinies, to have
at the helm one who steers it on the course. But the handling of the
rudder requires knowledge of the route, firmness of the hand and
audacity of the Will. Drive is never enough. No nation is saved, if
intelligence has not illuminated its drive. Where instinct governs,
barbarism rules and the nation becomes a pariah [...]. In all times the
people who prevail are those,

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who rely on a superior doctrine of life [...] The important thing for us
about the international situation, is that the powers are weakening under
whose hegemony we have been suffering for a century and a half. Nor
England will return to what it was; nor will France become the fiefdom
of Popular Fronts and have a fate divided between East or West; nor will
the United States escape from universal change [...] at the moment our
interest lies in the weakening of the Anglo-Saxon world hegemony. Our
requirement for nations in formation is that all the barriers that have
hindered our progress be toppled [...] Behind our failures smiling
poinsettism has risen, more powerful every day. For that reason our
combative effort will no longer be limited to the present and the local
situation, but rather it will rather seek out the root of our evils to light the
purifying fire in it.2

Stunned and clueless, Bar-Lewaw recognized however some twists and
formulations, elements that can be described as very emblematic discursive
pivots of Vasconcelos rhetoric. The opposition between intelligence and
barbarism and expressions such as "Anglo-Saxon world hegemony",
"Poinsettism" and above all "purifying fire" were common and typical of
writings of maturity of Vasconcelos, veteran misanthrope who, judging from
his writings and as Luciano de Samosata asks, heading to the end of his public
life wanted to distinguish itself by its harshness, anger and hostility.

A ROSTER OF THE CONTROVERSY

The first issue of Timon began to circulate on February 22, 1940 to disappear
16 issues later, censored by the Mexican government. Knowing this, Bar-
Lewaw took on the task of locating the entire collection of the journal, to
determine the conditions of its short existence and to compile a selection of
writings and illustrations contained in that series to give form to a book that
would serve, simultaneously, to repair his enormous negligence and to reveal
the seriousness of an episode over which enough dirt has been shoveled with
the intention of never exhuming it again.

2
"Timon” is defined, in the magazine Timon, volume I, number 1, February, 22, 1940,
page 5.

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La revista "Timon" y José Vasconcelos was edited, in a rustic edition of a
thousand copies, by Edimex House, editorial of which there are no major
references at present and of which no title circulates anymore. Printing stopped
in August of 1971, the book is bound in a very poor bluish cardboard and
convincingly conveys the feeling of being a work emerged in secrecy and in
very adverse editorial circumstances. The table of contents lists articles signed
by José Vasconcelos, articles written by him that were published anonymously,
anti-Allies articles, anti-Semitic articles and the various texts that were
manifestly pro-Nazi.

Through that material, especially in the articles with reference to war events; in
the chronicles and war offices; in essays and articles in depth that try to analyze
the development of military actions in Europe, a body of speeches having as a
goal, before the public opinion of this country, to confer acceptability to the
political program and ideology advocating the triumph of Nazi Germany as the
inexorable result of the Second World War. A triumph that would mean, over
any other factor, the only option for Mexico to get rid of the traditional
economic and political domination of the United States.

It is essential to underline it: unlike other profane publications elaborated as
mere pamphlets or as propaganda almanacs directed to the military groups
(with a lot of presence still in the Mexico of 1940), Timon was conceived as a
weekly magazine of disguised political culture under the formula of refined
family publication, a dedicated printed space to the middle-class public, where
anti-imperialist, Germanophile, anti-Semitic, Hispanist and anticommunist
journalists and writers agreed. The payroll of collaborators of the weekly
included former militants of the vasconcelista presidential campaign like
Andrés Henestrosa; to the hispanist Alfonso Junco, author of a biography of
Agustin de Iturbide, creator of literary profiles and physiognomies; to the
Spanish republican refugee Benjamin Jarnes, who translated by delivery for
Timon the novel the narrow door, of Andrew Gide; the chronicler of Hispanic
literary themes Eduardo de Ontanon, biographer of Fray Servando Teresa de
Mier; Rafael Aguayo Spencer, student of the works of Lucas Alaman and
Vasco de Quiroga; the librarian and "bibliophile" David Niño Arce,

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responsible for an unavoidable bibliography of Vasconcelos himself; Jose
Calero, One of the few developers of the magazine who studied at the German
School, who would desist from his pro-Nazism and became a philanthropist in
Poland; the poet, soldier, duelist, political exile and antiquarian Adolfo Leon
Osorio; and, finally, to colorful personalities such as Dr. Atl, Maria Elena Sodi
de Pallares, Teodoro Schumacher and Francis de Miomandre, plus an extensive
list of names that today tell us little or nothing. Among the journalists with the
greatest presence in the right-wing press were Carlos Roel, Antonio Lopez
Estrada, Antonio Islas Bravo and Pedro Zuloaga. A group of loners, stubborn,
intolerant and eccentric. A constellation of supporters of all the causes, and
therefore of none, who found in Timon an unbeatable showcase to express their
contrariness.

THE IMPENETRABLE SPIDER WEB

Hitler, although he has absolute power, is a thousand leagues from
Caesarism. The force does not come to Hitler from the barracks, but
from the free one that inspired his cacumen. Hitler does not owe his
power to the troops, nor to the battalions, but to his own speeches that
won him power in democratic competition with all the other bosses and
aspiring bosses that developed post-war Germany. Hitler represents, in
short, an idea, the German idea, so often humiliated in the past by the
militarism of the French and by the perfidy of the English.
Jose Vasconcelos, "La inteligencia se impone."
Timon, no. 16, June 8, 1940

Where did the resources come from to finance the costs of a publication of this
magnitudes, with such a broad group of collaborators and with a supposed
continental scope? The prices of the subscriptions, of the advertising insertions
and of the color ads were expensive for the time, without a doubt. A
subscription for six months cost 12 pesos; one eighth of a page, 50; a page in
color with two inks 500 and one in four inks, 800. The back issues cost a peso.
Even if three quarters of the magazine had been devoted to advertising, the
income obtained would not have sufficed to pay the administrative staff, the
offices, the paper, the printing, and the group of regular collaborators, without
discounting the salaries that Vasconcelos had paid himself and his

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manager, the Cuban, Cesar Calvo, accrued respectively for the management
editorial and administrative coordination of its publication. Unless I have noted
that various German businessmen and merchants identified as notorious
National Socialist militants in the capital, such as Alfred Auer (domiciled in the
Roma neighborhood and a dealer of the Blaupunkt Company), subsidized the
weekly with the purchase of advertising space, Bar-Lewaw could not find clear
evidence that Jose Vasconcelos was a paid agent by the Nazis. However, he
had no doubt that the writer and his magazine were instruments of the
propaganda machinery of the Third Reich in Mexico.

The academic could not penetrate the intermingled spider's web his case study
for only one reason: he did not have access to the file that establishes the
irrefutable link between Vasconcelos, Timon and the funds that the German
Embassy destined to the war of propaganda against the allied countries. The
Today famous confidential report “El nazismo in Mexico”, which is deposited
in the General Archive of the Nation,3 provides evidence that the National
Socialist propaganda apparatus had deployed direct actions on several fronts. In
the section dedicated to "Propaganda intended for Mexicans", subsection 'Own
Publications', the hasty and hesitant editors noted that

We know of three proofs of publications published by the German
Legation or the Nazi secret service: the first one was a very vulgar anti-
Semitic leaf called "Defensa" [...] The second publication is a Spanish
edition of the German newspaper of Mexico, which began to appear at
the beginning of the current war. [...] The third and at the same time
more skillful publication of this nature is the new magazine "Timon"
whose director is José Vasconcelos and whose "manager" (but
unofficially acting director) is the Cuban, César Calvo. The newspaper
dedicates 80% of its space to propagate the German position. In the
initial issue, photographs of a fraternal tête-à-tête are published between
Vasconcelos and Dietrich.4 The presentation of the

3
"Nazismo en México", file 704.1 / 174-1, report of inspectors PS-10 and PS-24 dated of
May 23, 1940. Documentary group: Administrative File Lázaro Cárdenas. AGN.
4
It refers to number 12 of Timón, of May 11, 1940, p. 2. "Dietrich" is Arthur Dietrich,
former Ortsgruppenleiter of the National German Socialist Workers Party in Mexico,
press attaché of the German Embassy and the most important agent in everything
concerning propaganda, espionage and sabotage in the country (note by Hector Orestes
Aguilar).

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the magazine is excellent, and after Hoy it is the most expensive in
Mexico. Not yet has no circulation or worthwhile advertisements, so it's
almost totally paid for the German legation. Cesar Calvo has publicly
said that the magazine "Timon" has all the money it needs for a long
time. Companion Rubio has known that the German legation has agreed
to pay the cost of the magazine for six months, to get it on the right
track.

That illusory track would soon be derailed. Three days after the entrance of the
Wehrmacht in Paris, on June 15, 1940, Calvo was arrested and Timon
confiscated forever by the Ministry of the Interior. With the exception of Itzhak
Bar-Lewaw, nobody has rigorously explored the incendiary and disturbing
pages of that magazine. You have to go back to them with the conviction that
they guard the secret of the enigmatic, transitory conversion to National
Socialism of that great writer who was Jose Vasconcelos.

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