“In the fall of 1971, Schuler, having already started his research, decided to get in touch with people who might have some personal knowledge on the subject…. The alteration and/or destruction of the files was accomplished in a very secretive manner with Grew manipulating it in such a way that each was working independently of the other making it more difficult for any of them to know the whole story of what was going on.
“In 1963-64, Helen Shaffer told Schuler’s wife that she had retyped documents written before Pearl Harbor for Joseph Ballantine which were being rewritten ‘as though from hindsight.’ She had no idea what was going on, she said, as it never occurred to her that files were being altered.…”
In Schuler’s unpublished 1980 memoir, Pearl Harbor Myths and Realities, he further described the behind-the-scenes machinations: “After Pearl Harbor these State Department officials, Mr. Hull’s ‘principal advisors,’ and subordinates working for them, altered and withheld diplomatic documents so as to manipulate the evidence available to the investigative bodies that sat from 1942 thru 1946 to investigate the blame for the disaster. Unlike their military counterparts, these diplomats successfully avoided any intense scrutiny and in so doing saved their careers.…”
These diplomats “dodged the bullet” on blame and allowed for a grave miscarriage of justice that wrongly accused Kimmel and Short of “dereliction of duty,” a charge that would have been rightly served on them, i.e., the diplomats.
Frank and Olive Schuler’s effort to set the record straight was an uphill battle. As Frank recalled in his memoirs, “I began my research in 1970 after which my wife joined to help me, she having worked in the Division of Far Eastern Affairs of the Department of State as well. I am convinced that the cause of the worst military disaster in our history remains unresolved because of the highly successful cover-up by the diplomats involved. What happened can only be reconstructed by someone who was ‘on the scene’ at this time. My wife and I were.”
Early on, Schuler was reaching out to both colleagues and friends to gather information. On October 6, 1973, he penned the following letter to family friend Jeanne Dixon, a well-known astrologist who consulted with President Richard Nixon:
“Dear Jeanne: You have asked me why I felt it was important that the truth about Pearl Harbor be revealed at this time. In the first place, and in my humble judgment, President Nixon has been deceived by his advisors in almost the same fashion that President Roosevelt was deceived with respect to Pearl Harbor.
“If ever there was a time in the history of this nation when Americans need and should be made aware that the Office of the Presidency can, and should be, the ultimate repository of historical truth, it is now!
“In the second place, most of the principals involved in concealing the truth about Pearl Harbor (the destruction, alteration, and rewriting of documents) have passed on. Those left are obviously determined to carry the secret with them to their graves—unless forced to do otherwise. On my part, I am the only one left of officer rank who knew not only what took place but, as well, the men who did it.
“In the third place, and possibly most important of all is the obligation owed to the American people that the true story of why and how Pearl Harbor happened be recorded for posterity.
“Finally, revelation of the true story of Pearl Harbor is a debt owed not only to the memory of those who died there and the thousands who died needlessly thereafter, but to the military services in general, as well as to the memory of Admiral Kimmel and General Short (dear friends of yours I know) who went to their graves with the guilt of Pearl Harbor still upon them.
“As you are aware, I have kept silent on this matter for many years because of my deep seated belief that the truth would eventually come out. Since it has not, and since you told me many years ago that in God’s timing I was to reveal the truth of a great American tragedy, perhaps you will understand better than any of us that the time is now.”
When Frank Schuler died in 1996, his work was unresolved, but he left a trail of clues. Although, as he states, the diplomats involved are long gone, their illicit activities certainly should be recorded for posterity. A new chapter awaits the history books.
This story was published in the Winter 2018 issue of WWII Quarterly.
This article appeared at the Warfare History Network.