Elizabeth (Dilling) Kirkpatrick, was born in Chicago, Illinois, on 19th April, 1894. Her father, Dr. L. Kirkpatrick, was a physician. She attended a Catholic girls' school before studying music at the University of Chicago. She failed to graduate and married Albert Dilling, an engineer, in 1918.
Elizabeth Dilling had two children, Kirkpatrick and Elizabeth Jane. In 1931 they visited the Soviet Union. Dilling later recalled: "Our family trip to Red Russia in 1931 started my dedication to anti-Communism. We were taken behind the scenes by friends working for the Soviet Government and saw deplorable conditions, first hand. We were appalled, not only at the forced labor, the squalid crowded living quarters, the breadline ration card workers' stores, the mothers pushing wheelbarrows and the begging children of the State nurseries besieging us. The open virulent anti-Christ campaign, everywhere, was a shock. In public places were the tirades by loud speaker, in Russian (our friends translated). Atheist cartoons representing Christ as a villain, a drunk, the object of a cannibalistic orgy (Holy Communion); as an oppressor of labor; again as trash being dumped from a wheelbarrow by the Soviet Five-Year-Plan - these lurid cartoons filled the big bulletin boards in the churches our Soviet guides took us to visit." When she returned to America she went on a lecture tour where she expressed her hostility to communism.
In 1934 Dilling published The Red Network: A Who's Who of Radicalism for Patriots (1934). This included attacks on several well-known figures on the left. For example she said of Jane Addams: "Greatly beloved because of her kindly intentions toward the poor, Jane Addams has been able to do more probably than any other living woman to popularize pacifism and to introduce radicalism into colleges, settlements, and respectable circles. The influence of her radical proteges, who consider Hull House their home center, reaches out all over the world. One knowing of her consistent aid of the Red movement can only marvel at the smooth and charming way she at the same time disguises this aid." Other people smeared by Dilling included Albert Einstein who she pointed out was "married to Russian" and had his property confiscated by the Nazis because he was a communist (this was untrue). Franz Boas, Sigmund Freud and Mahatma Gandhi, were also accused of being communists.
Her next book was an attack on President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal entitled The Roosevelt Red Record and Its Background (1936). Dilling argued that officials in Roosevelt's administration were associated with members of the American Communist Party. She also claimed that Eleanor Roosevelt was a "socialist sympathizer and associate, pacifist". During this period she became associated with Father Charles Coughlin.
Dilling joined forces with Robert E. Wood, John T. Flynn, Charles A. Lindbergh, Burton K. Wheeler, Robert R. McCormick, Hugh Johnson, Robert LaFollette Jr., Amos Pinchot, Hamilton Stuyvesan Fish, Harry Elmer Barnes and Gerald Nye to form the America First Committee (AFC) in September 1940. The AFC had four main principles: (1) The United States must build an impregnable defense for America; (2) No foreign power, nor group of powers, can successfully attack a prepared America; (3) American democracy can be preserved only by keeping out of the European War; (4) "Aid short of war" weakens national defense at home and threatens to involve America in war abroad.
Dilling's writing became increasingly anti-Semitic. In The Octopus (1940), which she wrote under the pseudonym Rev. Frank Woodruff Johnson, she attacked the Jewish Anti-Defamation League and linked Jews to communism. She was also active in two other anti-Semitic organisations, Mothers' Peace Movement and We the Mothers Mobilize for America.
After the Pearl Harbor attack, Dilling was indicted, along with 28 others, under the The Alien Registration Act (also known as the Smith Act) that made it illegal for anyone in the United States to advocate, abet, or teach the desirability of overthrowing the government. The defendants were accused of holding pro-fascist views. Attempts were made to prove they were Nazi propaganda agents by demonstrating the similarity between their statements and enemy propaganda. The case finally ended in a mistrial after the death of the presiding judge, Edward C. Eicher. As a result of protests led by Roger Baldwin of the American Civil Liberties Union, Dilling and in December 1946 the government withdrew the charges.
In the 1950s, Dilling was a contributor to several anti-Semitic journals. This included Common Sense , edited by Conde McGinley. She supported McGinley when he was successfully sued for libel by by Rabbi Joachim Prinz in 1955. Her son, Kirkpatrick Dilling, was one of his defence attorneys. The jury awarded Prinz $30,000, agreeing that the publication was lying when it falsely claimed that he was "expelled in 1937 from Germany for revolutionary communistic activities". Her second husband,
Jeremiah Stokes, shared her political views and was the co-author with Dilling of The Plot Against Christianity (1964). It included the following passage: "Marxism, Socialism, or Communism in practice are nothing but state-capitalism and rule by a privileged minority, exercising despotic and total control over a majority having virtually no property or legal rights. As is discussed elsewhere herein, Talmudic Judaism is the progenitor of modem Communism and Marxist collectivism as it is now applied to a billion or more of the world’s population. Only through thorough understanding of the ideology from which this collectivism originates, and those who dominate and propagate it, can the rest of the world hope to escape the same fate. Communism - Socialism was originated by Jews and has been dominated by them from the beginning."
Elizabeth Dilling died on 26th May, 1966.