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HISTORY

The Day The FBI Declared A Secret War Against Einstein and Monroe

In 1933, the rise of fascism in Germany meant that Jewish families, artists, and intellectuals were not safe anymore. A young Albert Einstein escaped from Germany after obtaining a scholarship from Princeton University to continue his research. The physicist was welcomed in the US as a rock star, as he was already famous for his Theory of Relativity. At the same time, a young girl named Norma Jeane Mortenson based in LA helplessly stood by a mother consumed by depression. Ultimately, she would have to leave her behind and live with a couple of strangers. She would never see her again.

The end of the war in 1945 split an already devastated world into two factions based on their social-economical system: socialism and capitalism. Paranoia invaded the Western world, especially the US, which sought to persecute those who were thought to be communists. Movies, television, music, and every media were used to promote the American Way of Life and fight against the “evilness” of the Soviet Union. The Cold War left no one unscathed, and it pursued anyone who could be remotely linked to the left-wing.

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If the House Un-American Activities Committee detected a political speech that incited the transformation of society, workers’ emancipation, or social equality, it investigated those responsible and subpoenaed them. Declarations, songs, films, TV shows, writers, actors, scientists, everything, and everyone were under surveillance.

Edgar Hoover, founder of the FBI, and Joseph McCarthy, senator, and promoter of the Committee, spread this paranoia in their attempt to “clean” the country from communism. In order to carry out its assignment, the FBI assembled an espionage network that has prevailed through the decades.

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Orson Welles, Charles Chaplin, Howard Fast, and other prominent intellectuals and actors were subpoenaed by the Committee. Many men and women defended their rights to have a different political ideology. Others like Frank Sinatra denied every accusation but stood silent to avoid having their career boycotted by the government. 

However, the fact that Albert Einstein, the most important physicist in the world, and Marilyn Monroe, the most beautiful woman of the Twentieth Century were also secretly delved into by the FBI, speaks volumes about the state of things during this period.

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Marilyn Monroe and Albert Einstein crossed paths more than once, but their interactions were superficial. Nevertheless, Hoover classified the German theorist and the Hollywood actress as Soviet spies. The FBI director was convinced Einstein was a communist agitator whose plan consisted of taking over Hollywood and filling it with other socialists.

Hoover’s obsession with Monroe and Einstein reached a critical peak when he assigned a small group of agents to follow the physicist. They had to document Einstein’s every move and even rummage through his garbage to prove he was linked to the Soviet Union.

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Albert’s article “Why Socialism?”  explains the downside of capitalism and the upside of communism, and so sparked Hoover’s paranoia. On the other hand, Monroe, who was more than a pretty face, was under the scrutiny of the FBI. Her trip to Mexico, to visit her friend Frederick Vanderbilt Field put her on the Blacklists of the Bureau.

FBI’s secret files were released to the public in 2013. More than 1,500 pages were revealed, showing how these two prominent figures were cataloged as communist agents. Monroe was described as a seductive woman with the power to turn trustworthy American men into socialists; all of Marilyn’s friends were also under the watchful eye of the Bureau, and even her husband, Arthur Miller, was accused of being the leader of the Communist Party.

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FBI’s files also stated that Albert Einstein was developing a secret machine to control and read minds, as well as a laser weapon to destroy the world. These fantastical accusations were based on the testimony of a witness who allegedly spent time in a Mental Institution after being exposed to Einstein’s machine.

The paranoia in the US persisted for years, and it not only affected its citizens but also spelled the exile of some of the most important creative art representatives. The committee that scrutinized people’s lives also created Blacklists that prevented Hollywood directors, writers, and intellectuals from working in their industry. Those who refused to cooperate were indicted for contempt and sent to prison.

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