the side of the class enemy — American monopoly
The break with the united front saw the beginning of
the end of the honeymoon in union circles. Communists
had been influential in the CIO, but in 1946 Philip Murray
charged that a "well-organized ancl financed conspiracy"
was trying "to undermine anel even destroy the labor
movement." Slowly but surely Communists ancl Communist-dominated unions began to be expelled from the CIO.
Communist-front groups continued to operate in the
traditionally fertile "intellectual" fields, with considerable
success. In 1948, Foster led the Communists and their
allies into a coalition with the Progressive Party of Henry
Wallace, which polled over a million votes, most of them
in New York City, secondarily in California.
Evidence of Soviet espionage in the United States
mounted steadily after World War II. Americans were
shocked. Although the story of Soviet espionage in Canada
had forewarned the United States, it was clear from the
cases of Gerhart Eisler, Alger Hiss, the atomic spies, and
others, that the United States was unprepared, even after
having had the benefit of Canada's experience.
In 1933, the Soviet Government replaced George Williams, alias Mikhailox, with Gerhart Eisler, alias Edwards,
as coordinator of Comintern policies. According to the
FBI, Eisler "was responsible for anel instrumental in the
determination of American Communist police, and the
control and direction of American Communist operations."
Eisler arrived in the United States in 1941 ostensible as a
refugee. He wrote under the- name of Hans Berger in the
Daily Worker and Political Affairs. Sentence-el to a year in
jail, in June, 1947, for contempt of Congress, Eisler was
found guilty on August 15, 1947, of passport hand.
Released on bail, Eisler slipped aboard the Polish liner
Baton/ and escaped to East Germany, where he became a
propagandist for the Communist regime.
THE ARROGANT ALGER HISS
The Alger Hiss ease- shook the complacency of many
Americans for the first time. On July 31, 1948, Elizabeth
Bentley told the House Committee on Un-American Activities an amazing story of Soxiet espionage, listing many
prominent persons. Whittaker Chambers, called as a witness on August 3, said he had been a Communist between
1934 ancl 1937, with the- assigned task of working with a
Communist spy ring in American government. He named,
as members of the ring, Alger ancl Donald Hiss of the
State Department; Lee Pressman, former CIO general
counsel; Nathan Witt, former secretary of the National
Labor Relations Hoard: John Abt. former Labor Department attorney; Henry Collins of the State Department;
Harry Dexter White, former Assistant Secretary of the
Treasury. By this time Alger Hiss was president of the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Hiss told the Committee on August 5 that, in effect, he
had never been a Communist, and had never known a man
named Whittaker Chambers, even when shown his picture.
Public opinion ancl most of the Committee were so
impressed by his testimony that the case would probably
have been dropped had it not been for certain doubts
entertained by Committee Counsel Robert Stripling and
"ED.'s NOTE: The reader may find it interesting to compare this
account of Browder's dethronement with the report given hy Bella
V. Dodef in her hook, School of Darkness, ev-hieli appeared in eiin-
densed form in Facts Forum News, September, 1956.
Senator Richard Nixon."° The Committee decided to press
Chambers for details of the spy ring and of Hiss, details
he had previously given to Adolph Berle of the State
Department, in 1939.
The Committee then asked Hiss the same questions they
had asked Chambers, and received the same answers.
When the Committee told Hiss he must have known
Chambers, Hiss said he once knew a man named George
Crosley who answered to the description of Chambers.
When confronted by Chambers, Hiss finally admitted he
knew him, but under the name of Crosley, ancl not as a
Communist. He also steadfastly denied all Chambers'
charges. Others in the story — Pressman, Witt, Abt, and
Collins — refused to answer questions of the Committee
on grounds of self-incrimination.
Goaded by the pro-Hiss forces to call Hiss a Communist
or former Communist in public for which he might be
sued, Chambers did so on a radio program, on August 27.
Hiss was sloxv to sue, but when pressed by the Washington
Post ancl other pro-Hiss elements, Hiss' lawyers asked
Chambers to produce any documents he might have which
would establish that he and Hiss were Communists in the
same spy ring (November 17, 1948). Chambers immediately produced a thick envelope containing four pages in
Hiss' handwriting and a great number of typewritten documents which he said had been typed on Hiss' typewriter.
These documents contained excerpts ancl summaries of
scores of confidential ancl secret State Department messages.
The Justice Department, after two weeks of inaction,
was repute-die planning to drop tbe whole case for lack of
evidence. This spurred Senator Nixon ancl Counsel Stripling to go to Chambers, advise him of the turn of events,
ancl ask if he bad any other information. Chambers then
turned over to the Committee the famous "pumpkin
papers" — five rolls of microfilm containing photostat
copies of scores of confidential and secret documents from
the State Department and the Bureau of Standards. The
Committee told the Justice- Department that unless it proceeded with its investigation the Committee would conduct its own.
Hiss was indicted on December 15, 1948. Th first trial
ended in a hung jure'. The- second trial resulted in the-
conviction of Alger Hiss as guilty of perjury in denying
that he had turned over confidential government documents to Whittaker Chambers.
ESPIONAGE ON A GRAND SCALE
What was important was not so much the fact that Hiss
hail been convicted on the technical ground of perjury, as
the fact that wide-scale assaults on American security were
uncovered. The Hiss-Chambers spy ring had been able to
infiltrate into vital positions in government and industry!
four in the State Department; two in the Treasury Department; two in the Bureau of Standards; one in the Aberdeen
arsenal; one- as general counsel of the ICO; two in the
Electric Boat Company; and so on. Hiss was the most
important, due to his key State Department post, his participation in the Yalta Conference, and his leadership at
the UN Conference in San Francisco.
The story of atomic spies is yet another in the annals of
Soviet operations in the United States. The Klaus Fuel*1
••ED.'s NOTE: For a parallel and fuller account of the Hiss Case,
see chapter 6 in the book, Nixon, by Hulpli de Toleelano, published
by Henry Holt and Co., 1956.
Facts Forum News, October, 1956