JFK’s Journal for Sale: Reveals Shocking Secrets

Some controversial passages in a diary written by former American President John F. Kennedy have recently come to light. The diary’s shocking entries were made public by the owner of the book, Deirdre Henderson. She is hoping to auction off the historically important journal.

For those interested in bidding for this piece of presidential history, the journal is set to be auctioned off through RR Auctions in Boston on April 26 of this year.

Henderson herself is also an impressive piece of living history. She served as JFK’s research assistant while he was a Senator in Massachusetts. He gave her the journal to help her understand him and his views on the world when she worked for him.

He was known as the smiling boy from Massachusetts – a war hero, and the first Catholic President of the United States of America. What people do not know about John Fitzgerald Kennedy, is that he thought infamous German Dictator Adolf Hitler, was the stuff of legends.

Lieutenant (junior grade) Kennedy (standing at right) with his PT-109 crew, 1943
Lieutenant (junior grade) Kennedy (standing at right) with his PT-109 crew, 1943

After a visit to Germany in 1945, the 28-year-old upcoming son of the former American Ambassador to Britain wrote precisely that in his journal. During WWII he had served on a pontoon boat. When he wrote in his diary, Kennedy was sitting in the decimated former residence of the Fuhrer, known as the Eagle’s Nest, in Germany’s Bavarian mountains. Writing as a war correspondent for the Hearst newspaper group, Kennedy wrote that, in his belief, Hitler would be less hated and more admired as time went on.

The future President then went on to write about how he admired Hitler’s ambition for his country. Kennedy was also interested in the myths and mysteries surrounding the legendary evil leader.

The diary includes numerous observations from his tour as a war correspondent, including one particularly desolate passage, which describes the bombed-out streets of Berlin.

Not all of the entries in the book are about Germany however. One from 1946 explains his belief that, during his first run for Congress, he would be “murdered at the polls.”  It was a likely outcome due to interference by those in Boston who did not like him. It directly goes against a later entry, which states that in his mind, Kennedy believed the best politician was one not concerned overly with the consequences of every act in political consciousness. The book is filled with such observations – including one to remember the recently deceased president – and Kennedy family friend – FDR’s belief that, politicians and policies should be kept apart.

Kennedy on his navy patrol boat, the PT-109, 1943
Kennedy on his navy patrol boat, the PT-109, 1943

The diary is not entirely filled with political aspirations. The very first page, in fact, shows JFK lamenting on those friends he lost during WWII and the millions who died with them. There is not any specific passage that Henderson believes to be important; even seventy years after its creation and over fifty since the murder of its author.

Henderson says that the document, despite how it may appear, should not be taken as support for Hitler or the Nazi cause on the part of the future president. Instead, of interest are the mysteries and actions surrounding a charismatic and essential figure on the world stage at the time.

The researcher continued to defend her former employer, by bringing up his war service record in both the European and Pacific theatres. The future president had made an effort to serve, by having his politically well-connected father get his Addison’s disease overlooked by doctors. She also states that JFK understood Hitler on a political and personal level. The president realized that what made the Nazi Fuhrer so dangerous, was his ambition and the drive that resulted from it.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE