The Murder of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

In April 1945, the end of World War II was finally in sight. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, recently elected to an unprecedented fourth term as president, was at his Warm Springs, Georgia, retreat, sitting for a painting. He reminded the artist that she only had 15 more minutes to work, then complained of a sudden, blinding headache, lost consciousness, and died.

Quite frankly, even someone as suspicious as I would have bought that story, hook, line, and sinker. Roosevelt had been in bad health for years, after a bout with polio left him dependent upon crutches or a wheelchair. The doctors, seeing no real need for an autopsy, decided that it must have been a cerebral hemorrhage.

And so, FDR was buried and Harry S. Truman became president.

People think that conspiracy theories have come into their own only during the Internet age. But within four years of Roosevelt’s demise, a book titled The Strange Death of Franklin D. Roosevelt was published. And while speculation about Roosevelt’s death has remained in the background, over the years it has continued to be one of the most persistent conspiracy theories out there. Even the infamous Colonel X of Oliver Stone’s JFK, L. Fletcher Prouty, has weighed in on the question. So there it is: was Roosevelt murdered or did he die by natural causes?

The fact of the matter is that all presidents accumulate enemies, and a man who succeeded in winning four elections can be assumed to have accumulated far more than most. President Barack Obama is said to average more than 10,000 death threats a year. Even the relatively benign Dwight Eisenhower is reported to have received more than 15,000 such threats annually. And Roosevelt’s views in certain areas were likely to have created even more enemies for him. For instance, he:

  • Opposed using the atomic bomb on Japan
  • Opposed establishing Israel
  • Intended to dismantle the various British colonies scattered across the globe and help them become self-governing nations.

Just those positions alone would have painted a bull’s-eye on him several times over. Yes, FDR had his share of enemies, but could he have been murdered? What do those who buy into this idea hang their hats on?

Mostly, the “evidence” consists of allegations that cannot, today, be proven without exhuming Roosevelt’s body and conducting a full forensic examination. His last breakfast was supposedly laced with cyanide. His body turned black within hours of his death, an alleged result of arsenic poisoning. Although Georgia law demanded an autopsy, as in the case of JFK twenty years later, Roosevelt’s body was whisked out of the state without the legally mandated autopsy by state officials. That’s not an unsubstantiated allegation; that did happen. But that it was done for some nefarious reason is unsubstantiated.

The suspects are fascinating as well. Bill Hanson, in his book Closely Guarded Secrets, lays blame on the Nazis. Colonel Prouty says that Stalin advised presidential son Elliott Roosevelt that the “Churchill gang” had his father murdered, because they were afraid FDR’s postwar plans would destroy British influence around the globe. This was accomplished by a program of poisoning begun at the famous Yalta Conference and perhaps continued at Warm Springs. Emanuel Josephson, author of The Strange Death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, points out that one of Roosevelt’s closest aides, General Edwin Watson, became suddenly ill and died on the return from Yalta, the implication being that he had been poisoned as well. 

It is easy to make these claims, but difficult to back them up at this late date.  That Roosevelt’s body turned black within hours of his death could be indicative of a number of conditions. People with circulatory problems sometimes turn dark very quickly after death. This is hardly conclusive evidence of poisoning. Bill Hanson claims to have spoken to a member of the assassination team, but of course everybody is dead now and substantiating such statements is impossible. 

Was Winston Churchill capable of ordering Roosevelt’s death? Probably. Churchill was a pragmatic politician with a great love for his country. But all existing evidence indicates that the two men shared a warm friendship. Of course, that’s what’s out there for public consumption and the truth could be a different story.  Could be. That’s the pivotal phrase.

Two new theories have been put forward over the last decade. One pair of experts believes that Roosevelt actually died of melanoma, pointing to photographs of the late president with a tell-tale patch of skin discoloration above his eye. Yet another pair of experts postulate that Roosevelt never suffered polio, but rather that his paralysis stemmed from Guillaume-Barre Syndrome, an incurable condition of the nervous system. But the effects of GBS usually clear up in a short while after an attack, which seems at odds with Roosevelt’s long-term paralysis.

Sometimes, I think we want there to be more to a story than that offered up for the public. We want there to be a mystery. And sometimes there truly is. It is irresponsible to label every conspiracy as false and every conspiracy theorist as a nutcase. As always, I fall back on my vastly abbreviated version of Occam’s Razor—the simplest answer is usually the correct one. In this case, here’s a 63-year-old, paralyzed president with a history of high blood pressure, who served twelve of the toughest years in U.S. history. Even now, having read all of these varied theories, I am inclined to point at a cerebral hemorrhage myself. But the fact is, we’ll never know for certain.

When Tony Hays isn’t traveling the world, teaching students, and adopting puppies, he takes time out to write the Arthurian Mystery series from Tor/Forge.

See all posts by Tony Hays for Criminal Element.


  1. Peter T

    Having recently been re-elected for a fourth term (and therefore politically unassailable) and with WW2 reaching its conclusion, Roosevelt was in a position to prosecute Corporate America for its continuous support of Hitler throughout the war and retrieve the massive profits made by those corporations from their german subsidiaries. Furthermore Henry Morgenthau (FDRs Treasury secretary) proposed to dismantle the remaining German Industry now largely owned by corporate America restricting their ability to continue to make massive profits from Germany as they had ever since FDR’s “New Deal” has made profitability so difficult at home. Through reading this article I found myself wondering whether FDR’s oh so convenient (for the corporations)death was no accident and this then led me to this article. This oldest and most persistent “conspiracy theories” has just been given a continuous connection extending back to the 1929 Wall St. Crash. A major part of FDR’s New Deal was the Glass-Steigal Act which global corporate has spent the best part of 40 years dismantling under the guise of “free market economics” every removal of a tranche of this egislation has seen a boom & bust cycle within a year, the final piece was removed in 2006 ending with a global recession almost identical to 1929. This complete cycle is currently in the process of being repeated.

  2. IQ-Party

    Some facts, digged out by science, must be considered.
    All these happenings must be seen in the context of the Askinasi-attack on Europe to get Europe free op people with the intention to establish there a new Askinasi kingdom. See genocide 1945-1948 in Germany. Both, FDR and Hitler (=Hitler-Rothschild) , were leading members of the Askinasi-Clan. FDR’s minister Morgenthau was a leading member of the Askinasi-Clan. He invented a new murder technology, applied in the Morgenthau-Plan 1945-1948 in Germany, killing at least 10 million people. FDR supported Morgenthau until his death 4/1945.
    It’s not probable, that FDR and Hitler were ennemies. It’s probable, that they were allies. Hitler was the Trojan Horse of FDR and the Askinasi-Clan in Europe.
    Should FDR have been assassinated, then not by Hitler and the Nazis.
    See (Genocides in past and future)

  3. Annie Mack

    Wow! This is the first story I’ve read of your’s in which I disagree! FDR and STALIN faked their own deaths. Anything TRUTHFUL about FDR, JFK, and STALIN is guarded by IRON CLAD COPYRIGHTS! That’s why EVERY BOOK WRITTEN ABOUT THE JFK ASSASSINATION IS BULLSHIT! Those that killed him have a copyright on the WARREN REPORT! I registered my email if you’d like me to elaborate. However, if you wrote this article you must already know!


    Thankyou for this Post; I had recently visited the Berlin Spy Museum, where I was astounded to find a number of high-profile assassinations by poisoning; Yasser-Arafat being a key figure hit by Mossad poisoning.

    FDRs death had the most peculiar timing, and I have been questioning this myself over the past few days. Yes, perhaps Forensics may be able to detect cause of death even today, yet it will not be easy, according to the attached weblink.

    Very recently, a large number of Public Personalities have been dying of heart-attacks; these are very possibly poisoning assassinations also.

  5. Steven Trop

    Besides the timing at the end of the war, you forgot Roosevelt’s acceptance and understanding for the Soviet Union was enough to have him eliminated. He was after all the first Peace-nik. We couldn’t have that.

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