One of the most controversial books of recent years, "The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor," by Rear Admiral Robert A. Theobald, USN Ret., has been reviewed for the Union-Star by Vice Admiral W. A. Kitts 3rd, USN Ret. Admiral Kitts, 19 Front St., now is manager of ordnance engineering for the General Electric Co., Schenectady. He was fleet gunnery officer on Admiral Kimmel's staff from the time Admiral Kimmel assumed command of the Pacific Fleet on Feb. 1, 1941, and continued serving in the same capacity under Admiral Nimitz until Sept., 1942. Following other commands in the Pacific combat area Admiral Kitts headed the production division of the Navy Department's Bureau of Ordnance. Subsequently he commanded Task Forces 74 and 16 in China waters, then Task Force 71 and Cruiser Division 3. He holds the Navy Cross, the Legion of Merit and gold stars in lieu of second and third Legion of Merit awards. Admiral Kitts also has the Order 0f the Commander of the British Empire, the Cloud and Banner Medal of the Chinese Government, the Purple Heart and numerous other coveted decorations.
By VICE ADMIRAL W. A. KITTS 3rd, USN, Ret.
Admiral Theobald has written a provocative and challenging book, a book which he, as a participant in the event, a legal adviser and witness in the various investigations, and a lifelong and distinguished student of warfare, was eminently qualified to write.
The author's thesis is that the real secret of Pearl Harbor is that "it was planned that way"; that the Japanese were incited to strike the first blow and that warning was purposely withheld to insure that result. To substantiate this conclusion, arrived at after the painstaking search of a voluminous record, Admiral Theobald marshals a body of evidence of incontestable validity.
On the basis that they were carrying out orders, the author reiterates that he intends no criticism of the military and naval officers who were the principal actors in this drama. The responsibility for the plan to entice the Japanese to their surprise attack is placed solely on the nation's Commander in Chief.
The author is the first to admit that many readers will be reluctant to agree with the main conclusion, which he has reached. Even Admiral Kimmel, the one living, and in the opinion of this reviewer, the completely innocent, victim of this plan states in his foreword that "In my philosophy I can find no reasons which justify the formulation and execution of such a plan." It is characteristic of this great leader that he finds such an idea abhorrent, although he can find no excuse for those who willfully withheld information.
Nevertheless, Admiral Theobald's study remains a challenge. He sets forth convincing evidence of what happened and his conclusions as to why it happened. The challenge rests in accepting his deductions. The evidence is incontrovertible; each reader must reach his own conclusion. If he cannot accept those of Admiral Theobald it appears that he has no more than two alternatives, which the author examines and discards. Some deduction every open-minded reader must make.
In any case, for a period of years the sole blame of Pearl Harbor was borne by the Hawaiian and Fleet commanders. However good the reasons for silence that existed during the ensuing war years, these officers in bearing this burden were as defenseless before their superiors and their countrymen as they were, for lack of adequate warning, before the Japanese onslaught. This is the shame of Pearl Harbor and Admiral Theobald has rendered a great service in the interest of belated justice in bringing the truth to light.
This is the story of the "Washington Contribution" and is as complete and finished a study as is possible with the evidence now available. It is obvious that the evidence is not all in. When it is, it seems probable that Admiral Theobald's thesis will be strengthened rather than weakened. There is more to be written about Pearl Harbor - about the "Hawaiian Scene" as a complement to the "Washington Contribution" - if for no other reason than to demonstrate conclusively that the key, and the only key, to that "day of Infamy" was "the repeated withholding of information" from the commanders in the field. Admiral Theobald is the man to write that book.
An image of the cutting is theobald_kitts_1954.jpg (142K)
Extracted from the cutting, the photograph with the caption "VICE ADMIRAL W. A. KITTS" is on this page: kitts.html (35K)
Also see Pearl Harbor: learning from history