The “Dinner Party” at the Fields’ III: Skeletons in the Closet (1990s-2009)

This is the third – and final – part of the compilation of what different sources have said about the story known in Alger Hiss case history as “the dinner party at the Fields” – shorthand for a much-contested story about a meeting between Alger Hiss and Hede Gumperz (Massing) that allegedly took place in the Washington, D.C. apartment of Noel and Herta Field sometime in the mid-1930s. The story was told variously by four different sources – each of whom, like in the famous Kurosawa’s Rashemon movie, told it to different “audiences” at different times: Hede Massing herself; Whittaker Chambers, Hiss’s accuser; Noel Field, an American with a convoluted history of Communist and Soviet espionage associations who spent many years in solitary confinement in Communist Hungary; and Alexander Vassiliev, a former KGB officer and journalist who had access to Soviet intelligence files in the mid-1990s.

Here, we will look at how different interpreters in the last two decades have sifted the evidence and handled the story. First, there was the Hungarian historian Maria Schmidt who gained access to files on Noel Field in the early 1990s and said they indicated that Hiss had been a spy. Then there was Alexander Vassiliev, a former KGB officer and journalist, whose notes on the KGB foreign intelligence documents he saw in mid-1990s were used as the basis for three different books by American authors: Allen Weinstein’s revised version of his 1978 book Perjury (1997); Weinstein’s later book, The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America – the Stalin Era (1999), which he co-authored with Vassiliev; and John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr’s 2009 book, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, they co-authored with Vassiliev. These books must be compared to a draft that Vassiliev himself wrote in 1996, while he was working with Weinstein, entitled The Sources in Washington.

At the end of the day, it is up to the reader to decide what part of the record, if any, is true.

See also Dinner Party” at the Fields’ I: Whittaker Chambers’s and Hede Massing’s Accounts (1939-1948)

Dinner Party” at the Fields’ II: Noel Field’s Account, with additional comments by Hede Massing and others (1948-1954)


Early 1990s, Budapest, Hungary:

Maria Schmidt, a 34-year-old Hungarian historian, gains access to some part of the Noel Field files at the Hungarian Interior Ministry – and finds statements by Field that seem to directly implicate Alger Hiss in espionage.


October 11, 1992:

Maria Schmidt presents her findings in what she termed Noel Field’s 1954 “pre-release interviews” at a seminar sponsored by New York University’s Institute for the Humanities.


October 15, 1992:

In an Op-ed piece in the New York Times, writer Sam Tanenhaus claims that Maria Schmidt’s findings contain “unimpeachable” evidence that will “seal the case against Alger Hiss.”


April 1993, New York:

Sam Tanenhaus publishes the story of Maria Schmidt’s findings in an article in Commentary magazine.


November 8, 1993, New York:

Lawyer Ethan Klingsberg disputes Maria Schmidt’s reading of Noel Field’s Hungarian dossier in an article in the Nation magazine – based upon his reading of the same dossier in Budapest.


1994-1995,  Moscow:

Alexander Vassiliev, a former KGB officer and journalist, gains access to some of the records of the KGB foreign intelligence. He makes handwritten notes and writes draft chapters for what was at the time planned as a Russian-American collaborative book project on the history of Soviet espionage in the United States in the Stalin era.


1997, United States:

American writer Allen Weinstein publishes the second edition of Perjury, his 1978 book about the Hiss-Chambers case – incorporating notes made in 1994 by Alexander Vassiliev, a former KGB officer and journalist, on KGB foreign intelligence files. The revised edition of Weinstein’s Perjury cites a somewhat confusing discussion by Soviet operatives about Alger Hiss approaching Noel Field to recruit him for the Communist cause, and the approach’s aftermath. As cited by Weinstein, the episode looks like a total dating confusion – either through Weinstein’s inaccuracy or through some original confusion at the source. But nobody seems to notice.


1999, United States – The Haunted Wood evidence:

Practically the same account appears in The Haunted Wood – a book by Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev, which is based on Vassiliev’s research in KGB foreign intelligence files. Here too, the narrative is a total dating and factual confusion – due either to Weinstein’s carelessness or to some original confusion at the source. Again, nobody seems to notice.

Most notably, Weinstein and Vassiliev say the “dinner party” episode took place at some time during the winter of 1935-1936 – the same dating that  Hede Massing gave when she broke the story in her December 7, 1948 interview with the FBI. (In her December 8, 1948 testimony to the grand jury, she gave an alternative dating as “the winter of 1934-1935” – and kept to that earlier dating in her testimony at Hiss’ second perjury trial.)

Neither the FBI and the grand jury, in 1948, nor Weinstein, in the 1990s, bothered to check the U.S. State Department records for Noel Field’s itinerary – to see that both dates were impossible. In October 1934, Noel Field sailed for London as secretary for the U.S. delegation to the London Naval Limitation Conference – to return to Washington only sometime in January of 1935. In late November of 1935, he sailed for London again– to spend the period from December 1935 through March of 1936 as technical secretary to the U.S. delegation at the second Naval Limitation Conference. Both in 1934-1935 and in 1935-1936, Herta Field accompanied her husband. 1

Weinstein simply ignored the many inconsistencies in the fragments he cited.


1999, United States – Hiss Case grand jury transcripts unsealed:

In October 1999, the Hiss Case grand jury transcripts are finally unsealed – to reveal Hede Massing’s December 8, 1948 testimony about her “dinner party” story.


Summer 2005, New York:

Jeff Kisseloff, New York writer and managing editor of the Alger Hiss website, obtains Hede Massing’s FBI file in response to his FOIA request. Among the 800+ pages in the file, he discovers a record of Massing’s interview with the FBI agents on December 7, 1948 – the first time that she told her story of her encounter with Alger Hiss at the Fields’ apartment  in Washington, D.C.


2005, Berlin – Der Fall Noel Field published:

A comprehensive compilation of Noel Field documentation from the archives of Hungary and other Eastern and Central European countries is published in Germany – providing easier access to the Noel Field corpus of documentation. 2


May 2007, Hoover Archives, Stanford University, California:

Jeff Kisseloff discoveres a 240-page Russian manuscript in the recently unsealed Allen Weinstein Papers at the Hoover Institution Archives, which I identify as Alexander Vassiliev’s draft of a considerable part of The Haunted Wood.  The manuscript is called The Sources in Washington. At long last, we see a Russian original of the confusing “dinner party” story presented in the second edition of Weinstein’s Perjury and later in The Haunted Wood.

Click here to compare accounts of the so-called “dinner party at the Fields’ ” episode in The Haunted Wood and in Vassiliev’s Sources in Washington draft manuscript.

[In Vassiliev’s account  based on his reading of a file of Laurence Duggan, another State Department official and Noel Field’s friend, the story appears as part of a discussion of security problems which the NKVD “illegal” operatives encountered while cultivating Duggan as a recruitment prospect. In the absence of Vassiliev’s notes on any primary source file (the most logical would have been the personal files of Noel Field or Hede Massing, which Vassiliev apparently did not see), we are left with second-hand sources once or twice removed.

That is, we learn about Noel Field’s alleged encounter with Alger Hiss not from any contemporary account by Field himself, but from an ex post facto account that Hede Massing (at that time still known under the name of Gumperz and referred to as “Redhead”) wrote for her Soviet handlers. We are also dealing with the Soviet New York “illegals”’ reports to Moscow Center or with the Center’s messages to its New York field station – again, mostly sourced to Hede Massing’s account of the events. This makes Vassiliev’s notes on the episode not just a second-hand source (which all Vassiliev’ s notes are, by virtue of being third-party notes and not Xerox copies), but a second-hand source once or even twice removed. To any trained historian, a long transmission line like this is about as reliable as a game of telephone.

In addition to this probably garbled transmission line, a careful content analysis of Vassiliev’s notes on theepisode suggests some confusion – if not deliberate misleading – by the source, that is, “Redhead”, or Hede Massing.

Vassiliev’s Russian account is clear that “Redhead”’s memo was written in April 1936 – based on a story that Noel Field “told her a day before his departure to Europe.” Noel and Herta Field left for the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland around mid-April, 1936, after a brief stay in Washington, D.C. following their return from London around April 1. This provides the time-frame for Vassiliev’s account on “Redhead”’s April 1936 memo. According to it, Field tells to the “Redhead” that Alger Hiss has attempted to solicit from Field “a report on the London conference.” This appeal takes place “about a week before his [Noel’s] departure from Washington.” This could only refer to Field’s departure for the League of Nations in Geneva in April 1936, and not his previous departure for the Second Conference on the Limitation of Naval Armament in London in late November, 1935, because in the same memo Field is reported to say to Hiss “that he had already reported on a conference.” 3

This statement is followed by the “Redhead”’s remark: “When Alger, whom, as you probably remember, I had met through “Ernst”[LINK to “Ernst”] [that is Field]…”

Vassiliev’s account of  “Redhead”’s April 1936 memo provide no leads to the dating of that earlier meeting between the “Redhead” and Hiss. “Redhead”’s wording – “as you probably remember” – does not suggest that the alleged meeting could have happened within the brief time span between Noel Field’s arrival from London around April 1 and his subsequent departure for Geneva.

A tentative dating is suggested in the April 26, 1936 report to Moscow by the “Redhead”’s Soviet handler, Boris Bazarov, that was apparently sent to Moscow along with her memo. Vassiliev quotes Bazarov informing Moscow that “Redhead and Hiss… got exposed to each other more than two months ago” – thus circumstantially dating the meeting some time in February of the same year.

In Vassiliev’s account of the follow-up communiqués between Moscow Center and its New York operatives, the above-mentioned meeting between the “Redhead” and Hiss is referred to as something that had happened a rather long time ago.

In its May 3, 1936, response to “Redhead”’s memo, Moscow Center expressed its puzzlement at “the motives behind ‘Redhead’’s meeting with Hiss,” who by that time appeared under the cover name “Jurist.” Moreover, it was the Center’s understanding that the meeting had taken place after its instruction that “Jurist” was connected with the “neighbors”, that is, Soviet military intelligence, and had to be kept at a distance. For any such “hands off” instruction to be sent, there should have been some previous report from the field operatives, which would then be followed with an inquiry sent to the sister service. All this may have requested more time than Noel Field’s brief stay in Washington in April 1936 would have allowed.

The plot thickens when we read Vassiliev’s account of the response to Moscow’s May 3 communiqué, which was written on May 18 by another “Redhead”’s handler in the United States, Iskhak Akhmerov [emphasis added]:

“‘Redhead’ had met ‘Jurist’ only once throughout all the time of her stay in this country, and this took place in winter. She went to that meeting with c.[omrade] Nord’s knowledge. After you had informed us that he had a contact [“svyaz’] with the neighbors, we did not see him, that is ‘Jurist’….”  4

Since, as we have already seen, the Fields were in London from late November 1935 till the end of March 1936, there could be no meeting at the Field’s apartment – as Hede Massing used to describe her only encounter with Hiss –in the winter of 1935-1936. As to the winter of 1934-1935, on April 26, 1936, Bazarov was apparently referring to a meeting that took place only “more than two months” before that date.

How could the two Soviet “illegal” operatives happen to be so inaccurate in their reporting to Moscow? The reason for their dating disconnect can only be Hede Massing’s fuzzy reporting. According to her testimony to the grand jury on December 8, 1948, Hede Massing came to the United States in October 1933. She “could not exactly establish the date” when she “had met Noel Field” for the first time, hesitating between 1934 and 1935, but Noel Field definitely dated their initial meeting “in the year of 1934.” 5

–  In her April 1936 memo, Massing dated the initial encounter between Hiss and Field as taking place “approximately a week before” Field’s “departure for Europe,” which, as we have ascertained earlier, could only be fot the League of Nations in Geneva. 6 However, Field himself cited different timing for his encounter with Hiss that should have logically preceded the follow up Massing-Hiss meeting.

As discussed in the “Dinner Party” at the Fields’ II (Noel Field’s Account, July 6, 1954, Budapest), Field told his Hungarian interrogators that he first “broke discipline” and revealed himself to Alger Hiss “approximately in the summer of 1935” – and subsequently moved the date two months forward to the fall of the same year. 7 Both dates leave sufficient time for this encounter between Field and Hiss to have taken place before Field sailed for Britain on or just after November 29, but leave no chance of a follow up winter Hiss-Massing meeting. Nor do they explain Massing’s apparent dating of Hiss’s approach to Field as some time in April 1936.

The dating morass gets thicker when we go back to Hede Massing’s own description of the circumstances under which she first heard from Noel Field that a friend of his, Alger Hiss, was “trying to win him” [recruit him for the Soviet cause]. On December 8, 1948, Hede Massing told the grand jury that she could “remember exactly when it was” – meaning “not the date, but the occasion, the situation.” The “occasion” was “on a boat with the Fields on the river… in Washington,” when Field’s wife Herta went swimming while Hede and Noel “had this discussion.” 8 A boat trip and swimming fit with Field’s “summer of 1935” dating and may be O.K. for a nice early fall weekend, too. But this more certain dating is a total disconnect with Hede Massing’s and her Soviet handlers’ reporting in the spring of 1936.

In her testimony at the second Hiss trial (1949-50) and then in her 1951 memoir, This Deception, Hede Massing expanded on her early testimony, adding that she met Hiss on instructions from her Soviet handler, “Boris” (Boris Bazarov) – and dating her meeting with Hiss at Noel Field’s apartment in the fall of 1935. Noel Field had never mentioned any meeting between Hede Massing and Alger Hiss subsequent to the one-on-one encounter he described between himself and Hiss. Moreover, he told his Hungarian interrogators in 1954 that he never told Alger Hiss anything about his Communist contacts, saying, verbatim: “Of course, I did not tell Hiss anything about the Massings.” 9 This, by implication, rules out any subsequent meeting between Hiss and Hede Massing – whether “in the fall,” “in winter” or at any other time.

One may ask if this evidence of Noel Field’s should be dismissed, since it was given while still in solitary confinement and under the duress of a series of 25 interrogations. But this part of Field’s story looks no less – and no more – credible than the other part of his story about “compromising himself” to Hiss. One must either believe his story as a whole – or dismiss it altogether. If we believe Field, then by implication the story of Hede Massing’s encounter with Alger Hiss would be the fruit of the imagination of an exalted and impetuous woman with an obvious inclination to add drama to her stories – a person, as her Soviet handlers described her, “who was unable to educate not only an agent, but [even] herself.” 10 As for the “dinner party” dialogue attributed to Hiss and Massing, which has for decades been part of many accounts of the Alger Hiss case, it is probably best left for history’s dustbin.

At the end of the day, we are left with two stories: one as it appears in Vassiliev’s notes on NKVD intelligence communiqués, at least part of which is contaminated at the source and part possibly garbled in the transmission process; and another as told by a man who had spent more than five years in solitary confinement, under the duress of a long series of interrogations – at pains to prove his alibi against charges of being an American spy. From the standpoint of the analysis of historical sources, both accounts are on too shaky ground for jumping to any conclusions, leaving the case open until there are further disclosures from Soviet intelligence annals.


May, 2009:

The Yale University Press releases  Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, by John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev, based on a second use of Vassiliev’s notes from the mid-1990s. Simultaneously, Vassiliev’ s notebooks with his hand-written notes are posted on the website of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. 11

To Haynes and Klehr, Vassiliev’s American co-authors, Vassiliev‘s “notebooks offer contemporaneous KGB documentation that cor­roborates all of the main elements of the story” that was provided in the late 1940s and early 1950s by Hede Massing, Noel Field  and Whittaker Chambers, whom the two historians term “three participants in this episode” without any qualification. 12 Strictly speaking, only Noel Field was a direct participant, with Hede Massing, who probably never met with Hiss at all, as a second-hand source. As for Chambers, it is difficult to determine the degree of his personal knowledge of the episode in the absence of any independent documentary corroboration,

On careful reading, Vassiliev’s notes are nothing like a “contemporaneous documentation,” as his co-authors would have it, but rather seem to be an ex post facto discussion of certain  earlier reports, mostly sourced to such an unreliable witness as Hede Massing. Haynes and Klehr apparently did not bother to carefully correlate the conflicting pieces of evidence in Vassiliev’s notes themselves, nor to crosscheck them with either the testimony given by Hede Massing in 1949-1950 or with exactly what Noel Field said and wrote in 1954 – not to mention checking Noel Field’s itinerary in 1935 and 1936. As a result, their assertions fall apart upon crosschecking.

If we are to believe Haynes and Klehr, “the material” in Vassiliev’s notebooks offered “new details about Hiss’s relationship with Soviet intelligence.” However, on crosschecking, Vassiliev’s notes have turned out to be not much different from the account that Vassiliev submitted to his first co-author, Allen Weinstein, in 1996, which was the basis for the stories Weinstein told, first, in his revised edition of Perjury (1997), and then, in The Haunted Wood (1999).

Click here to compare the versions of this material as found in Vassiliev’s Yellow Notebook # 2 and in his draft manuscript, The Sources in Washington.

Click here to compare Allen Weinstein’s account of this episode in The Haunted Wood with its appearance in Vassiliev’s Russian manuscript, The Sources in Washington.

Limiting themselves to the plain meaning of Vassiliev’s notes on the reported meeting between Hiss and Field, Haynes and Klehr simply recount the Hiss-Field encounter thus: “Hiss, … approached his friend Noel Field in early 1936” in an attempt “to recruit him for his GRU-linked apparatus.” 13 As ascertained above, Noel Field could not have been approached “in early 1936” for the simple reason that he was continuously in London (except for Christmas, which he spent in Switzerland) until about April 1, 1936. Had they done that easy crosschecking, Haynes and Klehr would not have simply quoted Boris Bazarov writing to Moscow Center on April 26, 1936, that “Redhead and Hiss… got exposed to each other” “more than a couple of months ago” 14 – that is, during the time when Field was continuously in London.

In the same “plain reading” mode, Haynes and Klehr make an awkward attempt to validate Hede Massing’s story of her meeting with Hiss at the Fields’ apartment:

Hede Massing in testimony at the second Hiss trial (1949-50) and in her 1951 memoir related that Boris Bazarov, her KGB superior, in­structed her to meet with Hiss and evaluate him. Massing stated that in the fall of 1935 she met Hiss at Noel Field’s apartment, a meeting con­firmed in Akhmerov’s 1936 report above. She wrote that after dinner she and Hiss bantered about whose apparatus Field would join; neither one admitted which organization employed them. … Whittaker Chambers also testified about the incident at the Hiss trials and in his memoir, stating that Hiss had reported his meeting with Massing (confirming Akhmerov’s prediction to Moscow that Hiss “no doubt informed his superiors about the meeting”)… 15

As indicated above, Akhmerov’s May 18, 1936 report does not “confirm” anything, since it – improbably – dates the Massing-Hiss alleged meeting as “winter.”  As for Chambers, I have not seen anywhere that Chambers “testified about the incident at the Hiss trials.”

CLICK HERE to recall how Chambers described the incident in the expanded version of his stories in Witness. (“1952: United States”)

What is important here is that Chambers was clear that he had not heard about Hede Gumperz (Massing) from Alger Hiss. In Chambers’s account, after Alger Hiss “reported” to him “that Noel Field claimed to be connected with “another apparatus,” he queried J. Peters, a CPUSA functionary who at the time served as a liaison with the

Communist so-called “informational groups” in Washington, D.C.:

“It is probably the apparatus of Hede Gumperz” [Hede Massing], he said. I had never heard of Hede Gumperz. I asked who she was. “Oh, you know,” said Peters – a stock answer when no more will be said. …

Chambers was also clear that he had heard about the “dinner party” (which he described as a “supper”) story only from Hede Massing’s testimony at the Hiss second perjury trial – as well as from her This Deception book that was published in 1951. 16

It is difficult to prove (or disprove) that the story Chambers tells here was his own second-hand account of what he had once heard from Alger Hiss. Perhaps it was a simple reiteration of accounts Hede Massing had given earlier, at Hiss’s second perjury trial and in her book, which Chambers saw about a year before his own book, Witness, came out in print. At any rate, a report by Hiss on a meeting with Massing does not seem to be part of Chambers’s story. As for Field, he was clear, in 1954, as we have noted earlier, that back in the 1930s he knew nothing about Chambers, and only learned about him from the newspapers he read in Europe from 1948 to May, 1949, before his arrest.

Among other oddities in Haynes and Klehr’s reading of Vassiliev’s notes on the incident is their discovery of Alger Hiss’s “GRU cover name”:

A Moscow Center annotation on the letter specified Hiss’s cover name, “A. Hiss—‘Jurist,'” and noted that Hiss was an attorney in Washington. Likely “Jurist” was Hiss’s GRU cover name because the KGB had little reason to provide its own for someone who reported to GRU. 17

First, at that point the New York “illegals,” Bazarov and Akhmerov, were not themselves sure if Hiss “reported” to the military neighbors or to the “fraternal” (a cover name for the CPUSA. Second, NKVD foreign intelligence (there was no KGB until 1954) would have had no means of learning a cover name used by their military neighbors (at that time known as the RU, or Intelligence Directorate). Even if the foreign intelligence leadership in Moscow had queried the leadership of the sister service, the only report they would have received would have been whether a certain individual were an agent or, more generally, belonged to their sphere of interest. “Jurist” was definitely a cover name assigned by NKVD operatives for the purpose of their own operational correspondence.

In their effort to prove that all the existing evidence fits together nicely, with no room left for any confusion or uncertainty, Haynes and Klehr simply misread (or misrepresent?) the evidence. We have already seen that the context for Noel Field’s 1954 evidence was a “renewed investigation” into his case on charges of spying for the Americans. True, the investigation began more than a year after Stalin’s death, when the process of rehabilitating the victims of Stalinist terror was underway in the Soviet Union and had spread to Eastern Europe. Still, Noel Field’s interrogation records reveal that he had a grueling experience, often under great emotional pressure: throughout all those months, he was still in solitary confinement and had no contact with the outside world or even with his wife, Herta, who was confined in the same building.

Here is how Field’s Hungarian interrogators themselves described these circumstances – almost four months into the interrogation process:

… On the 15th of June 1954, we began the renewed investigation in the case of Noel H. Field and Herta K. Field and their systematic interrogation. Field is suspected by us of the following offences:

a) … From 1941 to 1947, he had close contact to Allen Dulles and was spying during this time for American intelligence.

b) After the end of the Second World War he was spying in the People’s Republic of Poland and in Czechoslovakia for the Americans. 18

In the course of that investigation, Noel Field was subjected to 25 interrogations and was made to write several detailed personal histories and many memos in answer to his interrogators’ additional questions. Even after 23 interrogations, Hungarian security officers thought “it necessary to employ a cell agent” (that is, a stool pigeon) “to unmask the hostile activities of Noel Field,” who “emphatically denies having been a recruited agent of the American intelligence” and, instead, “emphasizes that he is a Communist and worked for the Communist cause.” 19

Haynes and Klehr’s description of the rehabilitation process is in stark contrast to Hungarian accounts of Field’s continuing psychological ordeal:

After Stalin’s death in early 1953, East European Communist authorities sought to undo the damage done to their regimes by the absurd purge by rehabilitating those falsely accused. Hungarian security police (and later the security authorities of other East European Communist regimes) asked Field, in prison in the Hungarian People’s Republic, to provide an uncoerced, accurate account of his activities to assist not only in his own rehabilitation but also that of those falsely accused in his ear­lier confessions…. The transcripts of his rehabilitation interviews were not made public until the 1990s, … 20

Haynes and Klehr definitely did not take the trouble to read through the hundreds of pages of Noel Field‘s 1954 Hungarian dossier, which, in addition to Hungarian, is available only in German. Instead, they simply concur with Hungarian historian Maria Schmidt:

Field’s secret testimony conformed to Massing’s and Chambers’s testi­mony at the Hiss trials and in their memoirs, as well as the documents quoted in Vassiliev’s notebooks, with the exception that Field in 1954 re­membered Hiss’s approach having been in 1935 while the documents demonstrate that it was early 1936. 21

It is unnecessary to repeat that, rather than “demonstrate” anything, the documents on which Vassiliev took notes regarding the so-called “dinner party at the Fields” story only contribute to the existing confusion.

“Dinner Party” at the Fields’ I: Whittaker Chambers’s and Hede Massing’s Accounts (1939-1948)

“Dinner Party” at the Fields’ II: Noel Field’s Account, with additional comments by Hede Massing and others (1948-1954)







  1. “Designated Secretary of the US Delegation,” October 6, 1934, RG 59, Department of State Decimal File, 1930-1939, 500. A 15 a 5 Personnel/33a, NA, College Park, MD.
  2. Der Fall Noel Field, Schlüsselfigur der Schauprozesse in Osteuropa, Gefängnisjahre 1949-1954. Herausgegeben von Bernd-Rainer Barth und Werner Schweizer, BasisDruck, 2005.
  3. In one of his memos written in 1954 for his Hungarian interrogators, Field described an elaborate scheme that enabled him to “continuously provide reports and documents” on the proceedings at the conference. He also stated that he “wrote a detailed report on the conference” on Christman [1935], when  he spent a few days with Hede Gumperz’ future husband, Paul Massing, in Switzerland. Massing further arranged a courier to receive Field’s reports on the conference from early 1936 until the conference closed its work on March 26. – Noel Field: Geschichte meiner politischen Tätigkeit (The History of my political activities), July 6, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., document 49, p. 396.
  4. Alexander Vassiliev, The Sources in Washington, pp. 14-17,  citing Archival No. 36857, vol.1 (Laurence Duggan file), pp. 22-25; the manuscript was discovered by Jeff Kisseloff in May 2007 in Allen Weinstein Papers, 1948-2000, Collection No, 2204C61 – The Hoover Institution Archives on War, Revolution and Peace, Stanford University. Translation by Svetlana Chervonnaya (2007.) Vassiliev’s somewhat abridged translation of this manuscript is now part of Alexander Vassiliev Papers at the Library of Congress (Manuscript Division).
  5. Hede Massing’s fuzzy dating can be surmised from her statement to the grand jury that she did “not quite know” whether she had met Noel Field when she was handled by Bill,  the “street name” of Iskhak Akhmerov, who arrived in New York in 1934, or when she “was with Boris,” the first name of the “illegal” resident, Boris Bazarov, who arrived in 1935. Hede Massing testimony, December 8, 1948, The Hiss Grand Jury Transcripts, p. IB-13;  “ 1. Verhör von Noel Field, June 15, 1954,” Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., document 28, p. 261.
  6. Alexander Vassiliev, The Sources in Washington, Op. cit., p. 14.
  7. Noel Field: Geschichte meiner politischen Tätigkeit, July 6, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. Cit., document 49, pp. 393-394; 22. Verhör von Noel Field, September, 23, 1954,” Ibid., document 95, pp. 753, 774-775.
  8. Hede Massing testimony to the grand jury, Op. cit., p. bd-12.
  9. Noel Field: Geschichte meiner politischen Tätigkeit, Op. cit., p. 394.
  10. Alexander Vassiliev, The Sources in Washington, Op. cit., p. 24.
  11. http://www.wilsoncenter.org/ topics/docs/ VassilievNotebooks_Web_intro_Final1.pdf
  12. Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, by John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev, Yale University Press, 2009, pp. 1, 9.
  13. Ibid., p. 6.
  14. Ibid., p. 7.
  15. Ibid., p. 9.
  16. Witness, by Whittaker Chambers, Henry Regnery Company (Chicago, 1952), pp. 381-382.
  17. Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, Op. cit., p. 7.
  18. Major Hullay/Laszlo Piros: Bericht in der Sache Noel Field und Ehefrau, October 8, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., doc. 102, p. 915.
  19. Major Hullay: Plan zum Einsatzeines Kammeragenten, September 24, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., doc. 97, p. 784.
  20. SPIES: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, Op. cit., p. 9.
  21. Ibid., p. 9, ft. 13: Noel Field statement of 23 September 1954, Noel Field material, Hungar­ian Historical Institute Archive, cited in Schmidt, “Noel Field,” pp. 229-30.

The “Dinner Party” at the Fields’ II: Noel Field’s Account, comments by Massing and others (1948-1954)

The following timeline is a compilation of what different sources have said about the story known in Alger Hiss case history as “the dinner party at the Fields” – shorthand for a much-contested story about a meeting between Alger Hiss and Hede Gumperz Massing that allegedly took place in the Washington, D.C. apartment of Noel and Herta Field sometime in the mid-1930s. The story was told variously by four different sources — each of whom told it to different “audiences” at different times: Hede Massing herself; Whittaker Chambers, Hiss’s accuser; Noel Field, an American with a convoluted history of Communist and Soviet espionage associations who spent many years in solitary confinement in Communist Hungary; and Alexander Vassiliev, a former KGB officer and journalist who had access to Soviet intelligence files in the mid-1990s.

Here, we will examine what Noel Field had to say between 1948 and 1954 about both Hede Massing and Alger Hiss – and what they said about him. Field was arrested in Prague in May 1949 and imprisoned until November 1954 in Budapest, where he underwent intensive interrogations on suspicion of being an American spy.

At the end of the day, it is up to the reader to decide what part of the record, if any, is true.

See also Dinner Party” at the Fields’ I: Whittaker Chambers’s and Hede Massing’s Accounts (1939-1948)

Dinner Party” at the Fields’ III: Skeletons in the Closet (1990s and 2009)

 

Sept. 9, 1948, Warsaw:

In Warsaw, Noel Field writes a letter to Jacub Berman (a Polish high official responsible for state security), attaching a “brief history” of his party activities. Neither document makes any mention of Alger Hiss. 1

 

October 20, 1948, Prague:

Noel Field writes to Leo Bauer about a report he read in the October 16, 1948 Herald Tribune (Paris edition):

“The House Un-American Activities Committee released a 1.300 page transcript of testimony alleging that two Communist underground networks operated in the United States State Department prior to the war.

“The disclosure was made at a secret session … on August 27 by Whittaker Chambers, … He asserted one Communist underground was headed by Alger Hiss and said the other was Noel Field, … as its head.

“Mr. Chambers testified that the two rings worked independently of each other and said Mr. Hiss found [out] about Mr. Field’s Communist affiliations only by accident.

“Mr. Hiss has filed a libel suit against Mr. Chambers for statements repeated outside the Committee hearing.” 2

 

December 7, 1948, the Massings’ farm, Pennsylvania:

FBI agents interview Hede Massing about Julian Wadleigh[LINK to Wadleigh] when she volunteers “to furnish some additional information concerning Alger Hiss,” which she had not “previously furnished” since, as she says, “her mind was not exactly clear concerning the matter. She felt she now could reconstruct the events with a fair degree of accuracy.”

“After about a year, and possibly in the winter of 1935-1936, NOEL FIELD told HEDE that someone else was also recruiting him to do the same work and he did not know just what to do.  HEDE told NOEL that she would like to meet this person who was trying to recruit him, so they could have it out.  FIELD said he would arrange to have HEDE meet the person.

According to HEDE, approximately a week later, FIELD had a dinner party at his apartment in Washington. HEDE recalls that HERTA FIELD, NOEL’S wife, was present, along with NOEL, herself and ALGER HISS.  She cannot recall whether or not anyone else was present, possibly a few others.  HISS’ wife was not present.

NOEL FIELD told HEDE that HISS was the person who was trying to recruit him. He told her this either before or on the night of the dinner.  HEDE stated that she was impressed by HISS’ good looks, his charm, and his intelligence, and they got along very well.  Immediately after the dinner and at the first moment when HEDE and ALGER HISS could get together, they had a conversation, which, to the best of HEDE’S recollection, is as follows:

ALGER HISS:        “Well, you are the famous girl who is meddling in my affairs.”

HEDE MASSING:  “And you are the man who is meddling in my affairs.”

ALGER HISS:        “What is your apparatus.”

HEDE MASSING:  “I shouldn’t ask that question of you. You shouldn’t ask it of

me.”

(They both laughed at this)

ALGER HISS:       “Well, we’ll fight it out to see who gets NOEL.

HEDE MASSING: “I’ll beat you in this game because I’m a woman.”

After this either HEDE or ALGER said:

“What difference does it make who gets NOEL. We’re both working for the same boss.”

HEDE cannot recall whether she made this statement or whether ALGER made it.  The statement meant to HEDE that they were both working for the same boss, the Communist international movement.  HEDE stated that there was no question in her mind that HISS was working for some branch of Soviet Intelligence or for the Comintern and was trying to recruit FIELD to work with him, and further this branch was in competition with her group headed by “BORIS”. HEDE stated that throughout the evening, she got along very well with ALGER HISS. They seemed to agree on everything.  After the meeting, HEDE returned to New York and reported the results of her meeting with ALGER HISS to her superior, BORIS. BORIS was delighted and slapped HEDE on the back and said, “Good girl”.

He instructed her not to see HISS in the future.  HEDE stated that she never saw ALGER HISS either before or after this one dinner party at NOEL FIELD’S. 3

 

December 8, 1948, New York, Hede Massing’s testimony to the grand jury in the Hiss case:

Hede Massing tells the grand jury in New York essentially the same story [emphasis added].

… Now, did you have an occasion to meet an individual known as Alger Hiss?

A   Yes, I have met him.

Q   When did you meet Alger Hiss?

A   I met Alger Hiss only once. I believe that I met him, and I am not certain, and that is one of the reasons why I didn’t come forward before – – it might have been the winter of 1934-1935, and it might have been the winter of 1935-1936.   I am not certain of that, but it was just one meeting.

A   And then was … then was this dinner arranged between Alger Hiss and the Fields. And one of the reasons why I  haven’t spoken about this before is that it was one of the haziest evenings in my … [she meant to say “life” but was sidetracked] – Im trying to recollect — I don’t even know whether there were any other people invited. I sometimes see the evening as a dinner party at the Fields with other people around, and I sometimes see the evening as a bouffe supper.  I do recall having spoken to Alger alone in the room to the right of the hall at Noel Field’s apartment and I just don’t recall whether there were other people or not. It might have been that it was just we four.  I know that Mrs. Hiss was supposed to come that evening and she did not. That I know.

Q  You mentioned, Mrs. Massing, that you haven’t talked about this before. When did you first talk about this with the FBI, this Hiss Incident?

A   Yesterday.

Q   Yesterday?

A   Yes. And I want to say right here why I didn’t.  There are three reasons for it. One is that — the most essential one is a technical one that held me back. First of all, I had forgotten it for years. And when I first saw the picture of Alger Hiss at the San Francisco conference I thought, “Oh, this is the fellow I met at Field’s.” And then I felt how wonderful that he must have left the service, …

… When Alger Hiss came into this terrific thing now with Chambers, of course I thought about it all the time and I have seen, mean­while, Bill McCarthy, who has almost become a friend of mine, in the FBI service, several times, and there was one evening before I was called to the Un-American Activities Committee where I met Bill McCarthy and was on the verge of telling him about that. This leads to the third reason why I hesitated to speak about it. My husband at present, Paul Massing, knows nothing about my knowing Alger Hiss and I felt that it was very hard for Paul Massing to establish himself in this country. He is not an American citizen yet. … and I just don’t want to jeopardize his chances. … And also I thought, since I don’t know it clearly, since it is so vague, I cannot help very much. … And so I didn’t talk about it. I wanted to speak to Bill McCarthy the evening before I went to the Un-American Activities Committee [when?] Paul Massing arrived and I didn’t get the chance. At the Committee I was not asked. Paul Massing was asked whether he knew Нiss, and he doesn’t and he said no. Would I have been asked, I certainly would have had to speak about it, because I was determined to say what I knew under oath. But I wasn’t asked.

Q When were you before the Committee, what date?

A  There you got me. Last month. But I don’t know when.

q Would you say it was in November, the middle of November?

A   It might have been the end of September.

MR. WHEARTY:    In Washington or New York?

THE WITNESS;    Washington.

[For an explanation of why the story did not come out during the Thomas Committee hearing on September 22, 1948 – see the entry for that date in “Dinner Party” at the Fields’ I.]

A  … I do remember distinctly having had a lot to drink, … I had many drinks there, too. And I had a conversation with Mr. Hiss that ran, аs I remember it, like this — whether it was I or he who said it first “Well, you are meddling in my affairs,” whether it was I or he who said, “Well, no; you are meddling in my affairs.” Whether it was he who said or I who said — and this is the vagueness — “But we are working for the same boss, anyway.” That is the gist of the conversation. I mean, there were many other things, you know, of course, but this is the significant sentence. And it would be much more significant would I know who said it. But it might be that he said it, and it might be that I said it.  And this is one of the reasons. You see, this is all I have and it didn’t seem enough to comment and say yes, I know that Alger Hiss did this and this and that and that. This is the sentence I think was said either by him or by me.

Q   Was there any prior conversation with the Fields, saying you wanted to meet Alger Hiss?

A   Yes. When Noel said that he had this very close friend of his whom he thought whom he considers a man of high ethics and moral standards, a man of Marxian — a trained Marxian, an educated Marxian, a man who is versed in politics, a man whom he admired very greatly, … and he said, “You know, he is trying to … win me as you do, and I am tending to be with him. I know him so much longer than you.” And I said, “Well, why won’t you let me meet this man?”  This was the previous conversation, …

A … As a matter of fact, it was sprung on me very suddenly, and I remember exactly when it was. Not when, not the date, but the occasion, the situation, I was on a boat with the Fields on the river this is in Washington.

Q   The Potomac?

A   Yes.

And I remember that Herta, his wife, went out swimming, and Noel and I had this discussion. And, as a matter of fact, I think … it was something Noel had planned to tell me, obviously, something he wanted to confront me with, … It was an important issue to him; that he had spoken with me … I had never known that Alger Hiss was a friend of Noel’s until then when Noel told me that there is this man whom he regards as such and so, and so forth. …” 4

 

Noel Field, Hungarian dossier, 1948 – 1951:

The most voluminous part of the corpus of documentation in the Noel Field case is the so-called Noel Field Hungarian dossier, 5 deposited at the Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security. This collection has very few pre-1954 documentation left after the destruction of records in the aftermath of the Hungarian events of 1956 (reportedly on the instruction of the Hungarian leader Janus Kadar). Most importantly, there is not a single record of Field’s interrogations in Hungary from 1949 until 1954.

There are no references to Alger Hiss in available Noel Field documents from October 24, 1948 to December 1951. (There are 11 such documents published in German translation in Der Fall Noel Field, documents 4-14, pp. 31-112).

 

June 1949, Geneva, Switzerland:

During the first Hiss perjury trial, a Swiss attorney visited Herta Field in Geneva on behalf of the Hiss defense. Mrs. Field told the attorney that Hiss and Massing had never been in the Fields’ apartment at the same time. Before she could be contacted again by the defense, Herta Field disappeared behind the Iron Curtain.

 

December 1949, New York, Hiss’ second perjury trial:

Hede Massing testifies at the second Hiss perjury trial that:

In 1935 – “in late summer or early fall” – she had attended a small dinner party at the Fields’ home in Washington. There was a second guest, Alger Hiss. Massing has spoken with him privately. She repeated the conversation for the jury’s benefit. “I said to Mr. Hiss, ‘I understand that you are trying to get Noel field away from my organization into yours,’ and he said, ‘So you are the famous girl that is trying to get Noel field away from me.’ And I said, ‘Yes.” And he said, as far as I remember, ‘Well, we will see who is getting to win,’ at which point I said, ‘Well, Mr. Hiss’ – I did not say ‘Mr. Hiss’ – ‘Well, you realize that you are competing with a woman,’ at which either he or I said, the gist of the sentence was, ‘Whoever is going to win we are working for the same boss.’ 6

Defense witness Henricas Rabinavicius, a former OSS member, testified that he had heard Massing give a somewhat different account of her alleged meeting with Hiss at a dinner party in September, 1949, just prior to the second trial. (The dinner party took place in the home of Eugene Lyons, a journalist, who was feeding suggestions from Richard M. Nixon, among others, to prosecutor Thomas Murphy during the trial.)

According to Rabinavicius, at the party, Massing said she was sent to Washington to contact young men in the State Department but that she “carefully concealed” her affiliation so as not to frighten them away. She said she was trying to recruit Field into an anti-fascist organization but that she had learned he was already a member of an organization with a colleague of his in the State Department, Alger Hiss. He said she made no reference to any comment Hiss may have made about the two of them working for the same boss. 7

1951, United States:

Hede Massing publishes her memoir, This Deception, in which she repeats the same story she told at Hiss’s second perjury trial, with some more flowery detail.

1952, United States:

Whittaker Chambers publishes his memoir, Witness, in which he greatly expands his early version of the association between Noel Field and Alger Hiss. Chambers conspicuously sources part of his knowledge to what he heard from Walter Krivitsky in the late 1930s and to Hede Massing’s 1951 book:

… From my first day in Washington, I had heard the name of Laurence Duggan as a likely underground recruit. I also heard constant rumors about Duggan’s great friend, Noel Field, a Harvard man and a Quaker of good family who was in … the West European Division of the State Department. ….

Hiss began an intensive campaign to recruit Field and Duggan. They reached the point of talking very openly to Noel Field. I was afraid to ask just how openly they were talking, for I might have been tempted to urge caution, and in such delicate negotiations much must be left to the tact of the negotiator, in this case Alger Hiss. …

I was soon to learn just how far the two young State Department men had gone. One night Alger reported to me that Noel Field claimed to be connected with “another apparatus.” “Is it possible?” Alger asked me in surprise. “Can there be another apparatus working in Washington?”

I told him that it was quite possible, that it was probably a parallel apparatus.

I asked Peters what he knew about it. “It is probably the apparatus of Hede Gumperz” [Hede Massing], he said. I had never heard of Hede Gumperz. …. Peters urged me to let Noel Field alone. But Alger’s spirit was up. He was determined to recruit Noel Field.

At the second Hiss trial, Hede Massing testified how Noel Field arranged a supper at his house, where Alger and she could meet and discuss which of them was to enlist him. ….

… It was General Walter Krivitsky who first told me that Noel Field had left the State Department on orders from his apparatus to work for Krivitsky, who was then chief of Soviet Military Intelligence in Western Europe.

During the Hiss Case, Noel Field, his wife, his adoped daughter and his brother all disappeared into Soviet-controlled Europe. From this I infer that they had knowledge about Alger Hiss and others  that made it inadvisable to leave the Fields in any part of Europe or the United States where American officials or subpoenas could reach them.

… Hede Massing has told the facts, in so far as she knows them, in This Deception.  8

 

December 17, 1951, Budapest, where Noel Field is imprisoned. All the following entries refer to the period during which Field was in prison in Hungary:

Alger Hiss’s name appears in an innocuous-looking footnote, in a reference on the interrogation of Noel and Herta Field. The record of the interrogation itself is unavailable.

[Footnote] 7:  Field befürchtte, da sein Name im Herbst 1948 im Kontext der Alger-Hiss-Affäre von Whittaker Chambers vor dem HUAC genannt wurde, daß man ihn dort ebenso wie seinen Freund Alger Hiss vorladen bzw. Gegen ermitteln würde (vgl. Dok. 49, bes. S. 508f.). 9

 

August 22, 1952, Budapest:

Alger Hiss’s name is mentioned – again innocuously – in a reference on a Noel Field dossier compiled by Major Szendy for General Kretschmer, Hungarian Interior Ministry, dated Aug. 22, 1952:

… Field confessed …, only now recognizing that he had become a tool for the American intelligence and that he had also handed over other people to the American intelligence. Field emphasized repeatedly, that decades ago, while he was in the USA, he had approached the Communist Party and had cooperated with the Soviet intelligence agencies for a long period of time; he did not know why this connection was cut off. Furthermore, he emphasized that the House Committee on Un-American Activities was investigating him in connection with the case of Alger Hiss. Field stated that he had been trying to clarify his membership in the Communist Party since 1938 (when he travelled to Moscow) and that he was promised, last time in Poland, that this would happen…. 10

 

March 18-22, 1954:

Noel Field did not mention Hiss in a long memo he wrote on March 18-22, 1954, to the Central Committee of the CPSU, in which he described his “political life” and contacts in great detail. In particular, he wrote:

…I have been a loyal, devoted and active communist for more than 20 years and risked my life for the communist party more than once;

2. I have never been, neither directly nor indirectly, neither officially, nor unofficially, a spy or a spy agent and have never worked for the American intelligence or any other hostile secret service or a promotion job. … 11

 

June 15, 1954, Budapest, First Interrogation of Noel Field:

Alger Hiss was briefly mentioned by Field in the course of his first interrogation after the investigation in his case was resumed (probably, following Field’s letter to the Central Committee of CPSU, in which he tried to prove that he was innocent of the charges of espionage on behalf of the USA):

… In the year 1934 (as far as I remember) I got in touch with the German communist[s] Paul Massing and Hede Gumpertz who informed me that they were spying for the Soviet Union. I handed over lots of information to them – orally as well as in writing – about the State Department, … 12

This statement contradicts Hede Massing’s testimony to the grand jury in the Hiss case that, while in the United States, Field refused to pass any information and/or documentation from the Department of State, explaining his refusal as follows:

“… there was nothing of interest for you, and even if there was, it would be impossible for me tо get it, and even if I got it, it would be impossible for me to get it out; and anyway, this is the thing I can’t do, particularly since I do not see that this is going to fight fascism in Germany anyway.”    This was Noel Field’s attitude, which he maintained throughout his time in America. 13

To a question about the Massings, Field replied:

… At first, the Massings didn’t give any evidence about me. … during a trip to the USA in 1946, I met Hede Gumpertz, who informed me that she didn’t work for the Soviet Union anymore. Gumpertz was trying to establish contact with me and frankly asked whether I was working for the Soviet Union, which I denied. In response, she told me that so far she hadn’t revealed to the authorities that she had been in contact with me and was not planning to do so. Later on, I discovered from evidence at the trial against Alger Hiss and from confidential letters of my friends that Hede Gumperz and Paul Massing had revealed my name. At this time, one could hardly call me to account because I hadn’t returned to the USA and besides, there couldn’t be proof against me. 14

 

June 16, 1954, Budapest, Second Interrogation of Noel Field:

During his second interrogation on June 16, 1954, Field was asked about his “political contacts” in Paris and New York, “Eberhard Reiss,” Walter Krivitsky and Hede and Paul Massing; the name Hiss did not appear in the memo on the interrogation (the transcript of the interrogation is missing.) 15

 

June 23, 1954, Budapest:

Hiss’s name is mentioned in Field’s memo, “Professional Activities,” which he wrote for his Hungarian captors on June 23, 1954. Explaining that his State Department colleague, Laurence Duggan, whom he called his “best and almost the only friend,” “was the only one who knew” about “his intentions,” Field added in brackets: “(later Hiss, too).” 16

In the same memo, Field repeatedly mentioned Hiss in connection with his, Field’s, failed efforts to find himself a job. In the first job search episode, from 1939, Hiss sent a telegram to Field in Geneva about “a job offer as a political consultant for the newly designated Governor of the Philippines” [Francis Sayre]. Field wrote that he had later learned that “the matter came to nothing due to the opposition of a certain circle in the State Department.” (In fact, Field was not the only candidate whom Hiss had suggested for the vacancy.)

In early 1948, while in Europe, Field wrote to Hiss and his brother about his (Field’s) prospects to become an Eastern European “representative or reporter” for the Progressive Party of Henry Wallace. In mid-May 1948, Field received an offer from the newly founded National Guardian magazine – “on the recommendation of Hiss,” as far as he remembered. But after he “read in the press about the campaign of the Committee of Un-American Activities against Hiss,” Field got “scared” that he might be pulled into that investigation and wrote to the National Guardian that for the time being he was unable to work for health reasons. 17

 

July 6, 1954, Budapest:

In a memo on “The History of my political activities” that Field wrote for his Hungarian captors on July 6, 1954, he  described a story about his “indiscretion” with Hiss. In a subsection on “Illegal work until membership in the party, 1935-1938, Washington and London,” Field wrote [emphasis added]:

… In one case, my discipline broke down which became my fate years later (1948-1949).

We became friends with Alger Hiss, who was an official at one of those New Deal agencies established by Roosevelt, as well as with his wife Priscilla. During our meetings we mutually discovered that we were both communists. Approximately in the summer of 1935, Alger Hiss tried to recruit me for the Soviet service upon which I made an inexcusable indiscretion by answering that he would be late. Of course, I did not tell him anything about the Massings, however, it was terrible enough. I immediately reported that incident to Hede Gumperz. She blamed me intensely for that. She would not know what her superior, whom I by the way never got to know, would say to that. Some time later, she said to me that the damage I had caused was far worse than I could imagine and that due to that mistake the whole work had to be reorganized. From that time on, the Massings’ attitude towards my possible transfer to the League of Nations changed. Until then, of course, they had put pressure on me to keep working at the State Department. From now on their opposition dissolved. …

…   As I came to know from the press in 1948, Alger Hiss had informed his own illegal contact about our conversation. To our misfortune, not only the Massings had become traitors, but also Whittaker Chambers, the contact of Hiss. During the summer of 1948 Chambers was questioned about me in a secret meeting of the Committee on Un-American Affairs; excerpts from those transcripts were published in October 1948 causing a sensation in the press. 18

In the same memo, Field told about another encounter with Hiss, this time in 1939, which, he explained, followed from his earlier “revealing himself” to Hiss:

… For one or two days, we detoured to Washington [1939] above all to see Alger Hiss. From the press I knew that Krivitsky roamed around in Washington and I had to expect him to expose me. Because Hiss in principle already knew about me, I could inform him without further violating the discipline that I was in danger because of a traitor. I reached agreement with him that, in case he heard about anything, he would send me a warning in a covered way. [Field used a German word, “Decknamen,” meaning “pseudonym” or “a cover name.”] However, I never received such a warning. I do not know how much evidence Krivitsky has given against me. 19

Hiss’s name appears next in Field’s account of the letter that he sent to Leo Bauer in mid-September 1948:

… In Prague (app. in mid-September 1948) Leo Bauer, who spent his holiday in the Tatra Mountains, was waiting for me. … At this time, the press reported intensely about the case of Alger Hiss and I informed Leo Bauer that I also feared complications. … 20

Finally, Field mentioned a letter that he received from Hiss in October, 1948, which he described as “an easing letter” from his friend “who, of course, could not write openly”:

… In November [1948] … Since I was equipped with a new passport and nothing new had come up in the USA (moreover, I had gotten an easing letter from Hiss), nothing would be in the way for a temporary return to Geneva. I travelled in the beginning of December (via Paris). …

… A short letter from Hiss (who of course could not write openly) I interpreted in the same way. [Hiss said] Those who forced me to openly accept the fight and even to file a libel suit, were those who knew the least about my political past. … 21

 

September 1, 1954, Budapest, Herta Field’s memo, “My trip to Germany in 1934”:

Herta Field was also held captive in Communist Hungary from 1949 to 1954, in the same prison house where her husband was being held. She too was interrogated. In the available records of the three interrogations of Herta Field in early August, 1954, Herta was not questioned about her husband’s story of his lack of discretion with Hiss. In one of the memos written for her captors, however, she did provide some background on that episode’s dating confusion. Then, on September 1, 1954, she wrote a memo entitled “My trip to Germany in 1934.”

According to Herta Field’s account, in early October of 1934 she accompanied her husband to London for the Naval Limitation Conference (where he was to serve, first, as secretary of the U.S. delegation and then, starting in November, as technical assistant to the U.S. delegation). According to her, the U.S. delegation arrived in London in early October, 1934. Herta left Noel in London and proceeded to Germany to pay a visit to her family – only to join him sometime in December and then travel to Germany again to be with her family for Christmas. She dated her return to the United States “together with the [U.S.] delegation” “sometime in January 1935.” 22

 

September 23, 1954, Budapest, Noel Field’s 22nd interrogation:

The name of Alger Hiss appears again in the course of Field’s 22nd interrogation, on September 23, 1954. That interrogation centered around Field’s contacts with Soviet intelligence, beginning with his relationship with Hede and Paul Massing. Field mentioned Alger Hiss in his answer to the 14th question of the interrogation – about Field’s attitude to the Massings’ insistence that he should move from the Department of State to the League of Nations:

Did you approve that, or rather, did you agree with that?

I remember that at first they did not approve my decision to leave the State Department, neither they resolutely opposed it. After that incident with Alger Hiss, they also said that I now had to leave the State Department.

What was most important regarding this incident with Alger Hiss?

As far as I remember, in the beginning of 1934, through a mutual acquaintance, I came to know Alger Hiss, who was then employed at the Department of Agriculture. The person concerned had a left oriented attitude and hence between us an intimate friendship developed. During the fall of 1935, Alger Hiss requested me by occasion to work for the Soviet intelligence. I cannot remember exactly what I responded, in any case I let him know that I had already worked in this field.

So you did reveal to Alger Hiss that you were working for the Soviet intelligence?

Yes, that is true.

Later in the interrogation, Field mentioned Hiss in an answer to a question about his contacts during his visit to the United States in the fall of 1937:

Whom of your old friends and acquaintances did you meet in the USA?

During my stay in the USA, I was in Washington where I went to the Department of State to visit some of my former colleagues. Without any doubt, I also met Alger Hiss, but for sure I cannot remember any details. Neither can I remember exactly the names of the employees, whom I visited at the Department of State.

For what purpose did you travel to Washington, particularly, visited the Department of State?

My reasons were merely personal; I wanted to pay a visit of friendship to my former colleagues and best friends Laurence Duggan and Alger Hiss. Besides, I visited relatives including my wife’s sister.

Still later in the same interrogation, after Field named other people to whom he had compromised himself, the name of Alger Hiss reappeared in that context:

Besides Paul Bertz, to whom else did you reveal that you have worked and still work for the Soviet intelligence?

As I have already stated earlier, I disclosed myself to Alger Hiss in 1935.  In 1942, I revealed my secret mission to Maria Weiterer and Paul Merker, and in 1948 in Warsaw to the Indian journalist Jo Silva. …

Why was it neccessary to divulge your secret mission to these persons?

Alger Hiss wanted to recruit me for the Soviet intelligence as well. At that time, I did not find the right answer straight away and thoughtlessly made him understand that I had already been working for the Soviet intelligence.

Nearly at the end of that long and grueling interrogation, in which Noel Field was asked 119 questions chiefly relating to his contacts with Soviet intelligence, he mentioned the name of Alger Hiss one more time:

What consequences did the betrayal of the Massings have on you later?

The Massings had indirectly informed the USC [Unitarian Service Committee, where Field worked for many years] headquarters in Boston that I was a communist and that I had contacts to communists prior to the war. In my opinion, this had also contributed to my discharge from the USC. In 1948 in Warsaw, I learned from the press that Massing was testifying to the HUAC. I do not have any knowledge about the content of this interrogation. I can only assume that it was in connection with the case of Alger Hiss, which was going on at that time.” 23

 

September 24, 1954, Budapest:

After 22 lengthy interrogations and dozens of memos written by Field, his Hungarian interrogators still did not believe him to be a bona fide Communist and an agent of Soviet intelligence – and not a “recruited agent of the American intelligence.” Hence, one of his interrogators, Major Hullay, schemed to “unmask” Field’s “hostile activities” by employing “a cell agent”:

“… He emphatically denies having been a recruited agent of the American intelligence and ever having spied for them or executed secret jobs. He emphasizes that he is a communist and also worked in terms of that.

To unmask the hostile activities of Noel Field it is necessary to employ a cell agent [stool pigeon]. We suggest Dr. Tamas Pasztor as the cell agent [stool pigeon]. … ” 24

 

September 29, 1954, Budapest, 24th Interrogation of Noel Field:

In the 24th interrogation, Noel Field was questioned about his association with Walter Krivitsky, and on that occasion he mentioned the Hiss case and the role of Whittaker Chambers [emphasis added]:

In 1948, I saw the name of Krivitsky in the press. That was during the Alger Hiss case in the USA. At that time a person named Chambers was interrogated as a witness, and he said that in the mid-1930s I was one of Hiss’s communist contacts. In his testimony Chambers also mentioned that the fact that I was a communist became obvious from Krivitsky’s newspaper articles.

What do you know about the articles that Krivitsky wrote after his betrayal?

I do not know anything about that, I learned about it only from Chambers’s statement that Kritivitsky had published articles. It is possible that I had heard something earlier, but I cannot remember it.

The interrogator then asked four more questions, trying to ascertain what Noel Field knew about Krivitsky’s “anti-Soviet book.” Field had no information to share, but he said instead that he assumed from the information that had reached him in Europe that his “communist activities before the war”— during his time at the State Department — had been “found out,” and that this was the reason for his decision “to settle in Prague.” The interrogator next questioned Field about another defector from the Soviet cause, Whittaker Chambers:

Who was Chambers whom you have mentioned in your previous statement?

I did not know him personally at all. I saw his name for the first time in the press in the summer of 1948, [while I was] in Warsaw. His name was mentioned in the press as someone who was interrogated as a witness in the Alger Hiss case.

My only knowledge about Chambers’s activities was what he said in his statement, in fact, what was reported in the press regarding that. As far as I can remember, the newspaper reports said that Chambers was a communist before the war and as such he was in contact with Alger Hiss and that he served as a contact between the party and Hiss as well.

From the next questions, it appears that the Hungarian interrogator did not know much about “der Alger Hiss-Affäre,” as he called it:

Was there any discussion of Alger Hiss as a man of the Soviet intelligence 25 during the  Alger Hiss affair, particularly, in the testimony of Chambers?

Initially, there was no talk about that; Chambers obviously did not say anything about that, because he did not want to unmask 26

The next series of questions reveal that the interrogator did not know much about Chambers either – or about the ex post facto sources of Field’s knowledge:

Nevertheless, Chambers was a man of the Soviet intelligence?

Seemingly yes, but that was revealed later, in 1949, when the FBI began investigation in this case. 27

How did you learn that Chambers was working for the Soviet intelligence as well?

In the beginning of 1949, the press reported that secret government documents had been found at Chambers’s place and it was concluded that he must have been a man of the Soviet intelligence.

Was this accusation confirmed later on?

I do not know, since I was imprisoned in the meantime and did not have any more opportunity to follow the press reports.  From what I had heard, the legal proceedings were instituted against Alger Hiss and, by contrast, not against Chambers.

In a former statement you have declared that Chambers was the main contact of Hiss. 28 How did you know about that?

Chambers himself stated that he was the contact between Hiss and the party. From what Hiss had told me, he had worked for the Soviet secret intelligence. 29

From that, I surmised that Chambers was Hiss’s main contact on the intelligence line. That was confirmed later: firstly, because secret documents procured by Hiss were discovered at Chambers’s place; secondly, in the aftermath of Chambers’ statement that he knew about the conversation between me and Hiss, in which he [Hiss] tried to recruit me for the intelligence work.

Thus Chambers knew about your contact to the Soviet intelligence as well?

Yes, he knew about that.

Has Chambers become a traitor in your view?

Yes.

What is your opinion based on?

In connection with the betrayal of Chambers, I can only state that he worked for an anti-Soviet newspaper. He also engaged in anti-Soviet propaganda in front of the Un-American Committee. With his statements, he appeared as someone who wanted to unmask the communists working at the government agencies. About those things I did not have any specific knowledge, I only read about that in the newspapers.

At this point the interrogation was interrupted “temporarily.” 30

 

October 5, 1954, Budapest, the 25th interrogation of Noel Field:

Interrogation of Field was not resumed until a week later, on October 5. In what turned out to be Field’s last interrogation, he was again grilled about his past associations with “traitors” from the Soviet cause, Hede and Paul Massing, Walter Krivitsky and Ignacii Reiss (whom Field knew as “Eberhardt Reiss”).

In his third question, the interrogator asked about another “traitor,” Whittaker Chambers, whose name was brought up by Field late in the interrogations [emphasis added]:

Did Chambers become a traitor as well after he heard from Hiss about your work for the Soviet intelligence?

Apparently, yes.

Why do you say, apparently?

In fact, it is not right to say that Chambers has “apparently” become a traitor. Instead, it would be correct to say that he “did become a traitor”.

How do you know that he in fact became a traitor?

I know that from the press and from the published statement protocols of the Un-American [Activities] Committee, which I read in 1948/49 in Geneva.

At this point, the interrogator suddenly went back to charges of Field’s American espionage:

Provide information about compromising reports, which were given from your superior traitorous contacts to the American authorities.

About that, I have no knowledge whatsoever.

The interrogation was getting increasingly hostile, with Field trying to prove that he had been betrayed by Krivitsky and the Massings, while the interrogator grilled him about the substance of his story.

The interrogator then brought up Chambers’s name for the last time, with this question:

All the evidence seems to indicate that, initially Krivitsky, and later the married couple the Massings and Chambers, have betrayed your work for the intelligence. Again, I ask you the question, why didn’t the American authorities take proceedings against you?

Field could not provide a definite answer until the end of the interrogation. 31

 

October 6, 1954, Budapest:

It appears from Field’s Hungarian dossier that his case was finally sealed by a reference sent from Moscow, apparently in response to a Hungarian request. On October 6, Major Hullay, from the Main Investigative Department of the Hungarian Interior Ministry, wrote a Top Secret report, entitled “Field’s connection to the Soviet intelligence agencies.”

The five-page report, which gave a concise account of Noel Field’s revelations “about his connection to the Soviet intelligence agencies,” did not mention anything he had said about his indiscretion to Alger Hiss, whose name appeared only in the footnote to the report, which reads as follows:

Note: Field also unmasked his connection to the Soviet intelligence in 1935 to the American citizen Alger Hiss, and revealed himself to the Indian journalist Jo Silva in 1948 as well.

The married couple Paul and Hede Massing, who recruited the Fields in 1935 for intelligence work, committed betrayal and carried out anti-Soviet propaganda openly. 32

See also “Dinner Party” at the Fields’ I: Whittaker Chambers’s and Hede Massing’s Accounts (1939-1948)

Dinner Party” at the Fields’ III: Skeletons in the Closet (1990s and 2009)

  1. Noel Field an Jakub Berman, Noel Field: Kurze Parteigeschichte, Der Fall Noel Field, Schlüsselfigur der Schauprozesse in Osteuropa, Gefängnisjahre 1949-1954. Herausgegeben von Bernd-Rainer Barth und Werner Schweizer, BasisDruck, 2005., documents 1, 2, pp. 15-17, 18-28; the same documents were discovered in Russian translation in Cominform files, Fund 575, description 1, file 141, pp. 119-125, 133-141, RGASPI.
  2. Noel Field an Leo Bauer, October 10, 1948/Prague, Der Fall Noel Field, doc. 3, p. 28; here and after, English translation from the German by Manfred Putzka, revised by Svetlana Chervonnaya (2006.)
  3. Hede Massing FBI FOIA file (NY 65-14920) – Courtesy of Jeff Kisseloff; emphasis added. For an analysis of Hede Massing’s history and motives, see “Hede Massing’s Story”at http://algerhiss.com/hedemassingstory.html.
  4. Hede Massing’s testimony to the grand jury, December 8, 1948, Alger Hiss Grand Jury transcript, pp. BD 12. Emphasis added.
  5. The term “Noel Field dossier” originally appeared in publications of a Hungarian historian, Maria Schmidt, who in early 1990s was given access to a limited number of Hungarian state security files pertaining to the case of Noel Field. After the whole collection was declassified in 1997, it was studied by a German historian, Berndt-Rainer Barth, who published it in translation to German, along with documentation from the archives of other Central and East European countries, in Der Fall Noel Field, Schlüsselfigur der Schauprozesse in Osteuropa, Gefängnisjahre 1949-1954. Herausgegeben von Bernd-Rainer Barth und Werner Schweizer, BasisDruck, 2005.
  6. Hiss second perjury trial, vol. 2, pp. 1261-1301, Cit., Whittaker Chambers, A Biography, by Sam Tanenhaus, New York: The Modern Library, 1998, p. 420.
  7. Trial record, vol. 2, pp. 2639-2663.
  8. Witness, Op. cit., pp. 381-382.
  9. Major Szendy: Bericht über das Verhör der Fields, December 17, 1951, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. Cit., doc. 14, p. 112.
  10. Major Szendy: Aktennotiz, August 22, 1952, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., doc. 15, p. 128.
  11. Noel Field:  An das Zentralkomitee der KPdSU, March 18-22, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, doc. 19, pp. 145-219; Cit., p. 151.
  12. 1. Verhör von Noel Field, June 15, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., doc. 28, p. 261.
  13. Hede Massing testimony to the grand jury in the Alger Hiss case, Op. cit., p. LB16.
  14. 1. Verhör von Noel Field, Op. cit., p. 261.
  15. 2 Verhor von Noel Field, June 16, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., doc. 29, pp. 263-265. One of the aliases of Nathan Poretsky (known in the West as Ignacii Reiss) was that of a Czech businessman, Hans Eberhardt.
  16. Noel Field: Berufliche Tätigkeit, June 20, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., doc. 34, p. 301.
  17. Ibid., pp. 310, 330, 331.
  18. Noel Field: Geschichte meiner politischen Tätigkeit, July 6, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., doc. 49, pp. 393-394, 395. Emphasis added.
  19. Ibid., p. 422.
  20. Ibid., p. 508.
  21. Ibid., p. 510.
  22. Herta Field: Meine Reisen nach Deutschland 1934, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., doc. 114, pp. 989-899.
  23. 22 Verhör von Noel Field, September 23, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, op. cit., doc. 95, pp. 753; 759, 774, 779.
  24. Major Hullay: Plan zum Einsatz eines Kammeragenten, September 24, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, doc. 97, p. 784; emphasis added.
  25. In German, “ein Mann des sowjetischen Geheimdienstes”.
  26. Verbatim from the German, “enttarnen” himself any further. Field meant that Chambers did not want to add espionage to the charges of which he was accusing himself.
  27. The German, “als daß FBI den Fall untersuchte,” translates, verbatim, as “when the FBI inquired into this case.”
  28. The German is “vorgesetzte Kontaktmann von Hiss.”
  29. The German, “Ich hatte aus den Erzählungen von Hiss erfahren, daß dieser für den sowjeteschen Geheimdienst arbeitet,” means, verbatim, “I heard from the telling of Hiss’s that he worked for the Soviet secret intelligence.”
  30. 24 Verhor von Noel Field, September 29, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., doc. 99, pp. 793-795. Emphasis added.
  31. 25 Verhör von Noel Field, October 5, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., doc. 100, pp. 796-807.
  32. Major Hullay: Fields Verbindung zu sowjetischen Aufklarungsorganen, October 6, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., doc. 101, p. 813.

The “Dinner Party” at the Fields’ I: Whittaker Chambers’s and Hede Massing’s Accounts (1939-1948)

The following timeline is a compilation of what different sources have said about the story known in Alger Hiss case history as “the dinner party at the Fields” – shorthand for a much-contested story about a meeting between Alger Hiss and a Comintern and Soviet intelligence agent Hede Gumperz (later known as Massing) that allegedly took place in the Washington, D.C. apartment of Noel and Herta Field sometime in the mid-1930s. The story was told variously by four different sources — each of whom told it to different “audiences” at different times: Hede Massing herself; Whittaker Chambers, Hiss’s accuser; Noel Field, an American with a convoluted history of Communist and Soviet espionage associations who spent many years in solitary confinement in Communist Hungary; and Alexander Vassiliev, a former KGB officer and journalist who had access to Soviet intelligence files in the mid-1990s.

Here, we will examine what Hede Massing said to the FBI, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), the grand jury in the Alger Hiss Case, the jury at Hiss’s second perjury trial, and in her memoir — as well as what Whittaker Chambers said about her.

At the end of the day, it is up to the reader to decide what part of the record, if any, is true.

Summer 1939, Washington, D.C.:

Former Soviet intelligence operative and defector Walter G. Krivitsky mentions “H. Massing” as a Soviet intelligence liaison in an interview with a representative of the U.S. Department of State on June 28, 1939:

“…

Hand-written notation: See Boris Bazarov, nee “Fred” – “Boris”

H. Massing’s [1 word illegible]

… Boris Spaak or Spak. … 1

Sometime in 1939, probably summer:

Whittaker Chambers meets Walter Krivitsky, according to Chambers’s own recollection; the two exchange their stories and Chambers hears certain names for the first time. 2

September 2, 1939, Washington, D.C.:

Whittaker Chambers visits Assistant Secretary of State Adolf Berle in the company of journalist Isaac Don Levine, in an attempt to inform President Roosevelt of the existence of a Communist underground operating within U.S. government agencies. Berle makes notes about Chambers’s revelations, which come to be known as the Berle List. The section about the State Department says:

STATE

Post—Editorship, Foreign Service Journal. Was in Alexandria

Unit of CP—in “Underground Apparatus”—

Duggan—Laurence—(Member CP??)

(Wadleigh) Wadley—Trade Agreement Section

Lovell—Trade Agreement Section

Communist Shop Group

Elinor Nelson—Laurence Duggan—Julian Wadleigh—

West European Div’n—Field—still in—

(Levine says he is out went into I.E.O.

Then in committee for Repatriation

His leader was Hedda Gompertz. 3

Fast forward to 1952, to Whittaker Chambers’s memoir, Witness:

… In 1939 I gave to … A.A. Berle, the name of Laurence Duggan as someone whom I believed, though I was not certain, to be connected with a Soviet apparatus. …

My belief was based upon two incidents. When Noel Field left for Europe, Alger Hiss asked him if he would not use his great influence with Duggan to recruit him into the special apparatus.

Noel Field replied that, since he was going away, “Duggan would take his place.”

Hiss and I both assumed, therefore, that Duggan was working with the Massing apparatus.

Hede Massing has told the facts, in so far as she knows them, in This Deception.] 4

For a different perspective on Hede Massing’s history and motives, see http://algerhiss.com/hedemassingstory.html

March 20, 1945, Westminster, MD:

Chambers mentions Noel Field’s name in an interview with Ray Murphy, a State Department official:

“… In a special category were Noel Field and Laurence Duggan of the State Department. Field was described as a member at large of the Party. Duggan was not. Neither was connected with the underground and in fact the underground had orders to refrain from contacting them. The special liaison of Field and Duggan was Hetta Gumperts. She is now in the personnel Department of the Toss Shipbuilding Corporation and is married to Paul Massing, a former member of the German Communist Party described by General Krivitsky in his book. Massing is a penologist for the State of Pennsylvania, and they have a farm near Quakertown, PA. He is also known as Karl Billinger. Hetta Gumperts is a Viennese Jewish girl. When Field went to the League of Nations in 1936 he left Duggan in her special care. Gumperts was a Communist International agent. It is understood that Field and Duggan disclosed any information she wanted to know.” 5

August 27, 1948, Washington, D.C.:

At a closed session of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), Chambers testifies about the existence in Washington, D.C. in the 1930s of two Communist underground rings, with one headed by Alger Hiss and the other by Noel Field – working independently of each other. Chambers says that “Hiss found [out] about Mr. Field’s Communist affiliations only by accident.”

“On August 27, 1948, Whittaker Chambers linked Noel Field to his own accusations against Alger Hiss, claiming that Hiss had tried to ‘draw Field in’ to Hiss’s alleged Communist espionage cell, only to discover that Field ‘was already a Communist working in another apparatus.’” 6

September 2, 1948, Washington, D.C.:

The FBI’s Guy Hottel informs FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that HUAC has discovered an association between Alger Hiss and Noel Field.

Later in September, 1948, Washington, D.C.:

Hottel refers Director Hoover to his Sept. 2 letter regarding the association between Hiss and Field, brought to light by HUAC:

“Ref. to my letter dated Sept. 2, 1948, … You will note in the reference letter that LOUIS A. RUSSEL, Investigator for the Committee, had advised that the Committee had become aware of an association between ALGER HISS and NOEL FIELD.” [2 graphs redacted] 7

September 22 (21?), 1948, Washington, DC:

The Thomas Committee questions Paul and Hede Massing regarding an association between Alger Hiss and Noel Field – but the Massings refuse to help the Committee make the link.

September 22, 1948, Washington, D.C.:

FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. receives a teletype from its New York Office with information about the Thomas Committee’s hearings:

“9/22/48 65-9940-108 Teletype-NYC Re: Paul Wilhelm Massing

The Thomas Committee questioned PAUL and HEDE MASSING regarding ALGER HISS and NOEL FIELD. The Committee indicated that HISS had recommended NOEL FIELD for a State Department position around 1940. The Committee apparently was trying to show that HISS knew of FIELD’s activities at the time he recommended him. [Paul?] MASSING was unable to help concerning this. (NOEL FIELD is an American citizen employed by the Unitarian Service Committee. He was recruited by MASSING and acted as a Russian Agent in Europe – later seen in Moscow in 1938. He allegedly misappropriated funds from OSS for Communist purposes.)” 8

To continue reading this timeline, see:

“Dinner Party” at the Fields’ II: Noel Field’s Account, with additional comments by Hede Massing and others (1948-1954)

“Dinner Party” at the Fields’ III: Skeletons in the Closet (1990s and 2009)

  1. Walter G. Krivitsky, FBI File 100-11146, File 2a, pp. 30-31. Retrieved from http://foia.fbi.gov/ krivitsk/krivitsk2a.pdf.
  2. Witness, by Whittaker Chambers, Henry Regnery Company (Chicago, 1952), pp. 459-463.
  3. “The Berle List,” September 2, 1943, Adolf Berle Papers, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Library, {LINK to the list posted on Alger Hiss website} Emphasis added.
  4. Witness, Op. cit., pp. 381-382.
  5. Rev. Father Cronin to Mr. Patrick Coyne, FBI, 10/14-1947, the reference in the enclosed “Memorandum of Conversation, Tuesday, March 20, 1945, Westminster, MD,” FBI Silvermaster File, Vol. 132, Serials 2896-2984, p. 109.
  6. Ethan Klingsberg in The Nation, November 8, 1993. http://algerhiss.com/klings2.html
  7. Hottel to Director, September, 1948, FBI Silvermaster File, Vol. 143, Serials 3551- 3620 x 2, p. 14.
  8. FBI Silvermaster File, Vol. 149, serials 3806 – 3834 (Summary report on Hiss), p. 107.

The Thomas Committee

A common name for the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in 1947-1948, after the name of its chairman, John Parnell Thomas.

Field, Noel Haviland (1904-1970)

Noel Field was a U.S. State Department official from the late 1920s to 1936, who then relocated to Geneva to join the secretariat of the League of Nations, and worked in Europe on U.S. relief missions during World War II. After his detention by Communist authorities in Prague in 1949 as a U.S. spy, Field became the pretext for a series of early Cold War show trials in Hungary, Poland, East Germany and Czechoslovakia.

Noel Field’s story remains one of the most mysterious and controversial stories from the early Cold War period. Despite a significant amount of documentation from the archives of Hungary and other Central and Eastern European countries that has surfaced since the early 1990s, there are still three huge  and significant gaps in the Noel Field corpus of documentation. The most voluminous part of this corpus, the so-called Noel Field Hungarian dossier1 — deposited at the Historical Archives of Hungarian State Security — has very little pre-1954 documentation left; most records were destroyed in the aftermath of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, reportedly on the instructions of Janos Kadar. Most importantly, there is not a single record of the intensive interrogations Field underwent while he was in solitary confinement in Hungary from 1949 until 1954.

As for the Russian archives, the miscellaneous “Noel Field” records that I have discovered there since 2005 are those that found their way into the Cominform, as well as into personal files from other sources, some of them  Hungarian. Although I have repeatedly seen references to a “Noel H. Field” personal file, no such file has thus far been discovered in the two publicly accessible archives holding the records of the Comintern, the Cominform and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR. My efforts to discover a KGB investigative file on Noel Field dating from the late 1940s to the early 1950s have thus far failed. An official response to my request for these records from the KGB successor agency, the FSB, said: “the Central Archive of the FSB of Russia is not in possession of information in respect of Field, H. Noel.” 2 This suggests that the Russian investigative records and reports from the late 1940s and early 1950s might also have been destroyed, probably again after 1956.

Neither has there been any access to Noel Field’s NKVD foreign intelligence personal file, which is reportedly held at the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, the SVR. Therefore, we have no ability to crosscheck the veracity of the stories that Field told in 1948, in a desperate attempt to ascertain his “party situation” (which he described as “an issue of life and death”). Similarly, it is difficult to check the veracity of the stories that Field told his Hungarian interrogators in 1954.

Except for the records of the U.S. Department of State from the 1930s, the U.S.-held records in re Noel Field are scarce.  Conspicuously, there are no records to shed light on the details of the relationship between Noel Field and Allen Dulles during World War II — and, most importantly, to prove or disapprove the allegations made in a 1974 book that Field’s arrest in Prague, in 1949, had been in some covert way set up by Dulles as part of a strategy to undermine the Stalinist regimes of Central and Eastern Europe.

Given this incomplete corpus of documentation, any telling of Noel Field’s life story will be non-definitive and, at this point, based mostly on the accounts which Field himself gave in 1946 and in 1948, while still free in Europe — as well as on the accounts he gave after five and a half years of solitary confinement. The latter accounts  exist as transcripts of 25 high-pressure sessions with Hungarian interrogators in 1954, when Field’s case was re-opened after Stalin’s death, and as a number of lengthy personal narratives which he wrote in between various interrogations.

Noel Field was born in London on January 23, 1904 to an established Quaker family. His American-born father, a well-known biologist named Herbert Haviland Field, was a director of an international scientific bibliographic institute in Zurich, Switzerland, which was a vast, encyclopedic enterprise in zoology. His mother, Nina Foote, was a British-born journalist, a Quaker who turned Communist in the 1930s. Field grew up in a home with strong traditions of pacifism, egalitarianism, humanitarian service and assistance to the victims of persecution. Schooled in Zurich from a young age, he took part in pacifist and charitable organizations. As an adolescent in Switzerland, he met his German-born future wife, Herta Katharina Vieser, with whom he would not part for the rest of his life.

Noel and Herta Field in 1925

After the death of Field’s father in 1921, his mother took Noel, his brother Hermann and two sisters to the United States. Herta Vieser followed Noel Field to America, where the two later got married. Noel Field studied political science at Harvard and obtained a Ph.D. from there in 1926. On September 1 of that year, he enrolled at the Foreign Service School in Washington, D.C., and in spring 1927, he became an employee of the Western European Affairs division of the Department of State. In 1930, he was promoted to senior economic adviser at that division. 3

Field was an internationalist who was disappointed that the United States had not joined the League of Nations, a fact which resulted in America’s declining international responsibility. At the Department of State, he was primarily occupied with the affairs of the League of Nations. His major field was limitation of armaments and disarmament. In late 1929, he helped to prepare draft papers for the First London Conference on Naval Disarmament – and then went to London to take part in the conference (January 21-April 22, 1930). In subsequent years, his work was closely connected with international disarmament discussions aimed at lightening the burden of large armies and navies, beginning with the General Disarmament Conference which opened in Geneva in 1932 and continued until 1935. Field served as Secretary of the U.S. delegation at its session, which began in June 1934. 4 On October 6, 1934, he was designated Secretary of the U.S. delegation to the London Naval Disarmament Conference, which opened on October 23, 1934. 5 In November 1935, Field was appointed Technical Assistant to the U.S. Delegation at the London Naval Disarmament Conference, which opened on December 9, 1935 and closed on March 25, 1936. 6

Meanwhile, at the Department of State, Field was considered a prospective head of the German branch. He chose instead to leave the State Department for a job at the League of Nations. In April 1936, soon after his return to Washington, D.C. from the London conference, Field joined the League of Nations in Geneva as a delegate in the disarmament division (the group focusing on demobilization) of its Secretariat. The Fields settled at villa La Chotte in Vandoeuvres, near Geneva. A few months later, Field prepared a memorandum on “Prospects respecting a resumption of disarmament activities of the League.” 7

Field was deeply moved by the civil war in Spain – and, particularly, by the impact of German Nazi and Italian fascist assistance deployed against Spain’s democratically elected government. In early 1939, he accepted a position with the League of Nations’s Intergovernmental Committee to oversee the repatriation of foreign nationals who had taken part in the Spanish civil war. 8 In the following months, Field saved many lives, often at great risk to his own, providing humanitarian assistance amidst the havoc of the war. Frustrated by the League of Nations’s inability to prevent the defeat of the Republican forces in Spain, as well as by the German aggression, he resigned from the League in October 1940.

By that time, Field had several years of service to the Communist cause behind him. Years later, he would place the beginning of his radicalization in 1927 – under the impact of the landmark Sacco and Vanzetti case (Italian immigrants who were accused and convicted of murder during a 1920 armed robbery) — when he began moving “leftward” from his former position as a self-described “pacifist idealist.” Field placed what he called “the first non-firm ties with the Communist Party of the USA” in “1932-1934,” when he “performed occasional unorganized work,” including writing for the Communist press under a pseudonym. 9

In that period Field befriended another State Department official, Laurence Duggan, whom he later described as his “best and almost only friend.” Duggan was the only colleague at the Department of State with whom Field “shared his views and intentions”; Duggan also supported Field “on some operations, for instance, in the organization of support for [Henri] Barbusse” during the 1933 tour of the French writer in the United States. 10

Noel Field’s motives “stemmed from his conviction,” rooted in President Roosevelt’s decision to grant diplomatic recognition to the USSR, “that the United States and the Soviet Union had a common mission to save the world from the abyss into which [the] capitalism and imperialism of the European powers were driving it.” Ultimately, according to historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., “the depression and the rise of fascism set his Quaker idealism in a communist mold.”  11

Years later, in statements to his Hungarian captors, Field would cite 1934 as the beginning of what he termed his “organized work.” In his own words, this was “re-orientation into special work in favor of M. [Moscow]” According to Field’s account, “in 1934 (perhaps even in 1933)” he met an “American journalist Kendall Foss, who had recently returned from Moscow.” At his home, he subsequently met “Hede Gumperz, an émigré from Germany,” and “probably also her husband Paul Massing,” a German Communist and social scientist who had recently been rescued from a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. Hede Gumperz told Field that she and her husband were working for the Communist cause – helping the Soviet Union in its stand against the forces of imperialism and fascism. Field joined the enterprise – and was ordered “to cease all party contacts in the USA.” According to Field, he “handed over lots of information… – orally as well as in writing – about the State Department, but also about the London Naval Conference.” Field also introduced his close friend Laurence Duggan to Hede Gumperz. 12

In the mid-1930s, again according to Field’s written statements while in solitary confinement in Hungary in 1954, he met another young New Dealer, Alger Hiss, and his wife Priscilla. At least as traceable through surviving Hungarian records, the confusing story that then emerged was the first statement Field ever made suggesting that Hiss had also been involved in working with the Soviets; it appeared for the first time in a memo Field wrote after the second in a series of 25 often hostile interrogations, to which he was subjected after the investigation into the charges against him of American espionage had been reopened. Desperate to establish his 20 years of continuous loyalty to the USSR as a way of demonstrating that he could not have been an agent of U.S. intelligence, Field repeatedly told stories of how he had over the years “compromised himself” 13 by revealing his “work for the Soviet intelligence” to a few “outsiders.”

As Field told his interrogators, he first “broke discipline” “approximately in the summer of 1935” (two months later, Field would change the date to the fall of 1935) by confiding to Hiss that he (Field) was working for a Communist cause. According to Field’s first account, Hiss “tried to recruit” him “for the Soviet service,” or, as he said two months later, in his 22nd interrogation, “Hiss requested” him “by occasion to work for the Soviet intelligence.” Field said that he had immediately reported his indiscretion to his contact, Hede Gumperz, who would tell him later that the damage he had caused by his lack of caution was “much greater” than he could imagine, and that “the whole work had to be reorganized.”

When researchers in the early 1990s began gaining access to Hungarian security records, some authors cited this story of Field’s as a kind of “offstage corroboration” of Hiss’s espionage. Compounding the confusion, Field before his incarceration had written Hiss a letter, praising him as “an embodiment of the best Oliver Wendell Holmes tradition and as a man of unusual integrity.” 14

To learn more, click:

1)  The English translation of exactly what Noel Field wrote and said to his Hungarian interrogators in mid-1954 as proof that he had been an agent of the Soviet and not the U.S. intelligence – as well as the clues Field left to his possible sources.

2)  What Hede Gumperz (soon to become Hede Massing) first told the FBI, on December 7, 1948 (for the first time, after two years of talks with the Bureau) – and subsequently told the grand jury in the Hiss-Chambers case.

3)  How this story appears in the notes former KGB officer and journalist, Alexander Vassiliev, took in the mid-1990s on the NKVD file on Laurence Duggan.

By the mid-1930s, Hede Gumperz and Paul Massing were, in fact, agents of the Soviet NKVD foreign intelligence (the INO), and Hede Gumperz was serving as a spotter, recruiter and courier for its “illegal resident in New York, Boris Bazarov. Here is how Field himself described his “organized work” years later, during his interrogations in Hungary:

In the winter of 1935/36, when I attended one of the last sessions of the London Naval Conference, Paul Massing also stayed for some time in London and he continuously received reports and documents from me, which he copied. I think his headquarters was in Paris. On Christmas, I spent a few days with Massing in Switzerland (Arosa), where I wrote a detailed report about the conference.

During that time, Massing began to involve other members of my family into the work. My brother Hermann and his then wife, Jean Clark (later Liebermann) were living as exchange students in Zurich at that time. In 1934, they stayed in the Soviet Union and returned as enthusiastic Communists. I introduced them to Massing and in the beginning of 1936 on his order Jean came to London as a courier to receive my reports. Either at the same time or a little later, after my move to Geneva, even my mother, who was visiting my brother, was used by Massing for his work, especially for courier services. Likewise, my mother had travelled to the Soviet Union and returned as a Communist, too. 15

According to historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., “Field wanted to help [the] Communist cause but had scruples about spying on his own government” – and presumably solved the ethical issue by taking a position at the League of Nations. 16

In the Geneva of 1936, Communism and the Soviet Union were the order of the day among left-wing and intellectual circles. The Fields soon joined these circles – and made lifelong friendships. A few months after they arrived in Geneva, their contact from Washington, D.C. days, Hede Gumperz, made an appearance at their home. Some time later, she brought a friend, whom she called “der Dicke” and introduced as the Czech citizen “Eberhardt Reiss.” In fact, “der Dicke” was the INO resident in Europe, Nathan Poretsky (known in the West as Ignacii Reiss.) In January 1937, Hede brought another visitor to the Fields’ home, this time the INO resident Walter Krivitsky. 17

In late summer 1937, Krivitsky came to Geneva again to tell Field that “der Dicke” was a traitor to the Communist cause and that dozens of comrades were in danger. Field was quickly summoned to Paris, where he met with a Russian whom he later described as “a man with the Lenin order”. This Russian asked Field to go back to Geneva and stay on the alert for any appearance of “der Dicke” – and to warn his new contact, “a nice young Russian” whom Field knew as “Max.” “Der Dicke” did not appear, and in early September, Field learned from the Swiss newspapers about the assassination of the Soviet defector, Ignacy Reiss, in Switzerland. 18 It wouldn’t be long before Field learned of another betrayal, this time by Krivitsky. Following the assassination of Reiss on September 4, 1937, and the defection of Krivitsky the next month, Field’s contact with Soviet intelligence was, to use his own words, “temporarily terminated due to the fact that the contact had been betrayed.” 19

In the summer of 1938, the Fields traveled to Moscow as tourists, hoping “to clarify their membership in the Communist Party.” Here is how Field himself described the purpose of that trip in September 1948:

Summer of 1938:  A trip to M.[oscow] My application and application of my wife for the admittance into the party (American) with length of party membership since 1936; the application did not reach the American section of the Comintern; the American party had not been informed about it. 20

In 1954, Field would expand on this story for his Hungarian interrogators. He said that, in Moscow, he and Herta had lived in the brand-new “New Moscow” hotel right across from the Kremlin – and met with Noel’s contact from Paris, whom he remembered only as “a man with the Lenin order.” (This man was  probably Sergey Shpiegelglas – at that time  acting head of the INO.) Another “Soviet comrade” the Fields met with was “Peter,” as well as his wife, “Natasha.” (“Peter” appears to have been the Soviet intelligence officer Vassily Zarubin and Natasha – his wife, Elizaveta Zarubina.) “Peter” turned to the American section of the ECCIto ascertain the Fields’ party status. 21

Earlier, when he was in Warsaw back in 1948, Field had written, rather pathetically:

Since 1936, I have been a responsible comrade, even during the period of isolation. In all situations, I acted and worked as a comrade. 22

As to his contacts with the Soviet intelligence, here is what Field himself said on the subject to his Hungarian interrogators in 1954:

Finally, I like to emphasize, although it may go without saying, that I consider my illegal work at that time as a work for the party and not as spying. I acted as a Communist and did not betray my people. I made this point clear to the Soviet comrades during my visit to Moscow, and they totally agreed. This was also the reason why my wife and I did not join the Soviet Communist Party, which was offered to us, although we understood it to be an honor; instead, we joined the American party.

In 1954, Field described the period from the summer of 1938 to the spring of 1941 as his “political interregnum.” 23

In Geneva, even after he lost contact with Soviet intelligence following the defections of Reiss and then Krivitsky, Field continued to be a “responsible comrade.” By his own account, he provided information to Vladimir Sokolin, a Soviet diplomat who became Vice Secretary General of the League of Nations in early 1937. Suggesting to Joseph Stalin that he appoint Sokolin to the United Nations, Narcom Maxim Litvinov had written, in late 1936: “… in the apparatus of the League there is a considerable layer of rather radical and pacifist individuals, who are looking to the USSR as a bulwark of peace and are ready to provide to us all kinds of service. It is necessary to use these people and supervise them….” 24 Noel Field fits as one of those “radical and pacifist individuals” who required supervision. 25

In early 1939, Field was appointed to the Intergovernmental Committee on Political Refugees 26 By that time, he had already committed himself to rescuing refugees from Spain. In May of the same year, the Fields traveled to the United States on leave. According to State Department files, in early June Noel Field gave a sworn affidavit for the Dies Committee[LINK to Dies Committee] of the House of Representatives, in which he denied “radical activities.” 27

In 1940, Field retired from the League of Nations, shortly after the expulsion of the Soviet Union following the beginning of the Soviet-Finnish war of 1939-1940. From 1941 to 1947, he worked as head of the American Society of Assistance of the Unitarian Service Committee (USC). Formed in May 1940 as a standing committee of the American Unitarian Association, the committee had a mission to provide humanitarian assistance to displaced persons in occupied countries. It opened an office in Lisbon, Portugal in June of the same year. In spring 1941, Field became its French Director, stationed at the Lisbon Mission’s affiliate in Marseilles. Noel and Herta Field were again saving the lives of innumerable refugees – including European Jews and anti-Nazi political leaders – from war-torn Europe.

In November 1942, faced with the threat of Nazi occupation of the whole of France, the Fields fled to Geneva. There, in late 1942 or early 1943, Field was appointed European Director of the Rescue Mission of the Unitarian Service Committee. According to Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., in that position “he did courageous work rescuing anti-Nazi (especially Communist) refugees.” 28 Throughout that time, Field considered himself a “responsible comrade.” Here is what he wrote in 1948 about his “particular party work since 1941”:

In spring 1941, in the city of Marseilles, I worked with the Society of Refugee Assistance; [it was] Jules Humbert-Droz who recommended me to the Party structures. 29  After that time, and until my discharge in the fall of 1947, I worked [providing] contact with important 30 comrades (French, German, Spanish, Hungarian, Italian, Austrian, Polish and Czech comrades.) My major task was to provide assistance to the cadres through USC (material assistance, medical assistance, escape from the camps or across the borders, accommodation at safe flats, etc.) For some time I was a liaison 31 between party groups in occupied France and Switzerland, … particularly for the German party. After the war, I mostly concentrated my work on repatriation of cadres to liberated countries – including Italy, Austria, Hungary and Germany. 32

In 1943, Field  crossed paths with Allen Dulles, who had arrived in Bern in 1942 as mission head of  the U.S. wartime central intelligence agency, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS.) Dulles was, in fact, an old acquaintance of Field’s. When Dulles “had first entered the intelligence game as a young diplomat in Switzerland during the First World War, he met Herbert Haviland Field, an American zoologist and Quaker living in Zurich. Dulles worked with him on intelligence matters and became acquainted with his family, including young Noel.” 33 Dulles and Field also knew each other “from the interwar period when both were involved in disarmament matters for the State Department.” 34

The story of the World War II-period relationship between Noel Field and Allen Dulles is still puzzling and uncertain, and many questions about Field’s relationship with the OSS’s Bern office are left unanswered by the available documents from that period. The only thing that they establish with certainty is that “Field worked intimately with Dulles on relief and refugee matters.” 35 There have been unsubstantiated allegations that “many of these files dealing with Field and the Unitarians have been sanitized.” Moreover the CIA allegedly “cleared the boxes of cables and letters between Dulles and Field from the Unitarian Service Committee files stored at Harvard.” 36

For Allen Dulles, Field’s contacts among the leadership of European Communist Parties provided an opportunity to obtain information from behind the front lines, including from the territories occupied by Germany, as well as a pool of potential agents across Europe. Through Field, Dulles began to obtain first-rate intelligence information from Communist sources in Nazi Germany and the occupied territories, which was badly needed by the Allies. 37 Discussing Dulles’s decision “to use his old friend’s Communist contacts,” Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. wrote that “an intelligence chief in Switzerland who failed to make use of Field would have been delinquent. The Communists were an important part of the anti-Nazi resistance. It was Dulles’s job to collect intelligence from every source.” 38

In December 1944, Field reportedly suggested to Dulles a plan for the OSS “to subsidize a group of German ‘anti-fascist’ refugees in France so that they could set up a Comité de l’Allemagne Libre Pour l’Ouest (CALPO) – to conduct political ‘reeducation’ in prisoner-of-war camps and recruit agents to be dropped in Germany for espionage and sabotage.” According to Schlesinger, in  February 1945 “Field arrived in Paris with a message from Allen Dulles,” who was submitting Field’s project for consideration by the OSS office in Paris. Schlesinger and his colleagues “found a tallish, stooped man, cultivated and courteous in appearance, soft-spoken but intense in manner.”

To Schlesinger and his colleague Albert E. Jolis from the OSS Secret Intelligence (SI) Branch, who talked with Field in Paris, “Field’s CALPO was obviously the extension to Western Europe of the Soviet-controlled Free Germany Committee set up in Moscow in 1943 behind a façade of captured German officers.” In Field’s list of potential recruits, Schlesinger and Jolis saw “a strong Communist flavor” – and they “both strongly recommended against the project.” But by that time, as Schlesinger would learn only later, CALPO was already “in touch” with OSS’s Special Operations Branch (SO) and its Special intelligence Branch (SI), which were “in urgent need of agents to drop into Germany” – and, like Dulles and OSS head William Donovan, were “ready to work with anybody who might help win the war.” 39

At the end of the war, Field helped Hungarian Communists – with American funds – to return to Hungary, and aided other Eastern European Communist émigrés as well. After the war, he provided humanitarian aid to the Eastern European countries, particularly Hungary, where the Unitarian Service Committee opened an office.

In the winter of 1945-1946, Noel and Herta Field traveled to the United States and Mexico. Later, Field would write that on his visit to New York, he tried to ascertain his and his wife’s “party situation” from Max Bedacht (a member of the Politburo of the CPUSA), “who promised that he would try to clear up this matter.” On the same trip, Field learned that “three people he worked with from 1935 to 1938 [had] turned traitors.” They were Walter Krivitsky, who committed suicide in 1941, and Hede and Paul Massing, who, as Field wrote, “at that time kept silent about me for personal reasons.” 40 Field did not specify how he had learned that the Massings had “turned traitors.” Neither is it clear from Hede Massing’s account to the FBI: “In 1945, Hede saw the Fields in New York and deduced from their behavior that both were still in espionage apparatus and weren’t going to come out. … Hede felt relieved of personal responsibility to them.” 41

In any case, a few months after Field returned to Switzerland in the fall of 1946, he confided in Edgar Woog, the political secretary of the Swiss Party of Labor (a socialist party founded in 1944 by some of the leading members of the Swiss Communist Party that was banned in 1940):

In the fall of 1946, … Woog met Field again, and in the course of the conversation Field said that he had great personal difficulties: it looked likely that he would not be able to return to America, since American leadership of the organization of assistance – the Unitarian Service Committee – plans to launch an investigation of him, since he had assisted Communists. It is also possible that he would lose his current job. This would also mean a serious financial problem for him. He did not know what to do: he did not want to return to America, since he was afraid that he would be prosecuted. He stated that he planned to go somewhere in South-Eastern Europe. 42

Meanwhile, in the United States Hede Massing began confessing to the FBI – and implicating Noel Field. The Bureau tipped off the Unitarian Service Committee, which, first, cut the funds for Field’s operation, and next, in October 1947, fired Field from the USC “on political reasons.” 43 Unemployed and suspected of being a Soviet spy in the United States, Field hoped to find work as a correspondent “for the progressive American press.” Concerned that his American sojourn permit for Europe would expire by the end of 1948, Field accepted an invitation to go to Prague, Czechoslovakia in April of that year.

In May 1948, Field undertook “an educational trip to Poland in preparation for work as a correspondent for the progressive American press.” 44

Noel and Herta in Warsaw, 1948

In Warsaw, Field received an offer from the newly founded American liberal magazine, the National Guardian, to become its reporter on East European affairs. As far as Field could recall in 1954, he was recommended to the National Guardian – a magazine connected with the movement behind Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party bid for presidency in that year’s presidential elections —  by his friend from the 1930s, Alger Hiss. (In the far more definite recollection of two of the Guardian’s editors, Field was instead suggested for the job by a left-wing British MP named Konni Zilliacis). 45

In August, while still in Warsaw, Field learned from the Western press about the public hearings of the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities, in which Whittaker Chambers, a Time magazine editor and self-described former Communist, accused Hiss of being a secret Communist. “Scared” that he could “be pulled into” what would later be known as the Hiss-Chambers case, Field hurried to write to the National Guardian that he “would temporarily not be able to work due to health reasons.” 46

Now Field felt trapped in Eastern Europe and destined to remain there: in a sense, the Iron Curtain fell behind his back. Under a great shadow in the United States, he felt he was lacking the necessary Communist credentials to begin a new life behind the Iron Curtain. In desperation, he wrote a passionate letter on September 9, 1948 to Jacub Berman, the Polish Politburo member in charge of security apparatus, asking him to help clarify his own and his wife’s Communist Party status with Berman’s “Soviet colleagues.”

Click here to have a look at the Russian translation of Field’s letter to Berman, which found its way to the Foreign Commission of the VCP (b) in early March, 1950.

Even through the multiple veils of a triple translation (I am using the 1950 Russian translation of the Hungarian translation of Field’s original letter to Berman, which he wrote in French), Field’s voice comes through, sounding wretched. He explained that, for him and his wife, settling the problem of their party status “is a question of life and death”: “After all those hardships I have suffered remaining outside of the party and without taking part in the work of the party, for us being outside of the party is a matter of life.” And then: “… in the absence of the party card I have already faced difficulties during my stay in Poland. This has been painful to me because I feel exceptional love for the People’s Poland and admire its achievements and goals. I am aware that until my problem is resolved, the difficulties and obstacles, which I have faced in Poland and in other countries will increase. I think that this is an unbearable situation for a Communist.” To his letter, Field attached a seven-page reference on the history of his “party activity,” written in German, which, as he explained, he knew better than French. 47

Within one day, Field left Warsaw for Prague – to apply for a resident permit in Czechoslovakia in the hope of obtaining a lecturing job at the University of Prague. While in Prague, Field continued to follow the press reports on the U.S. investigations in the evolving Hiss-Chambers case. In October, a letter he received from Alger Hiss temporarily relieved his fears. But in early December he learned from the U.S. papers that Chambers had produced a cache of copies of State Department documents as proof of Hiss’s espionage.

Meanwhile, in Prague, Field himself fell under the surveillance of Czech security (known as the StB). The Communist officials whom he had once helped during the war now refused to see him: in the heated atmosphere of late 1948, just talking to an American meant danger. As Igor Lukes, professor of international relations and history at Boston University, wrote after scrutinizing the former Communist archives in Prague:  “Noel either did not understand the situation or he felt he had nowhere else to go.” The Czechs, for their part, “had heard from Budapest of his contacts with Allen Dulles and they were ready to close in on him.” But “when the StB sat down to interrogate Noel Field regarding his contacts with the OSS, he surprised them: he identified himself as an officer of Soviet intelligence. The StB were taken aback by this news, and they decided to let him go. At the end of 1948, Noel left Prague for Paris.”

Meanwhile, old Communists began to get arrested in Budapest and, under pressure, admitted that they had been American spies. One of those arrested, Tibor Szönyi, mentioned that during the war he had carried letters between Noel Field and Allen Dulles. The Hungarians demanded that the Czechs arrest Noel Field and hand him over to Budapest. The StB located Field in Czechoslovakia and trapped him, requesting that he go back to Prague. On May 11, 1949, Field was arrested in Prague and disappeared behind the Iron Curtain. Desperate to find her husband, Herta Field, who had stayed behind in Switzerland, came to Prague on August 4, 1949 – only to be driven by the StB to the Hungarian border on August 27, 1949. By that time, Field’s younger brother, Hermann Field, had followed Herta and Noel into the abyss – he was arrested at the Warsaw airport and taken to a secret prison outside Warsaw. 48

Meanwhile, in Budapest, Noel Field was secretly interrogated – in order to knock out of him “confessions” to be used in the first in a series of political show trials in Eastern Europe. This trial would become known as the Rajk trial, after the chief defendant, Laslo Rajk – a lifelong Communist and top party theoretician who had been Hungary’s all-powerful Interior Minister and later its Foreign Minister. According to the official Hungarian version of the trial, known as the “Blue Book” during World War II, “on the order of Allan [sic] Dulles, the head of the American spy organization, OSS in Switzerland, recruited a spy-cell from among the Hungarian Trotskyites, residing there.” According to the indictment, in Switzerland Tibor Szönyi had “found connection to Noel H. Field, one of the leaders of the American intelligence service, then with Field’s superior, Allan Dulles, the European head of the USA intelligence organization, Office of Strategic Service [sic] (OSS). Field’s specialty was to recruit spies from so called ‘leftist’ elements, and he ran Swiss emigrant spy-cells recruited from among different nationalities”. 49

Noel Field was not tried, nor did he appear as a witness in the Rajk trial or subsequent trials. However, a mere association with Field, or even a brief crossing of paths, became a death sentence for dozens and a curse for hundreds of Communist officials in Eastern European countries. Reading through personal files from the period retained as part of the Comintern collection in Moscow, or through Cominform files, you are stunned by the implications of the mere appearance of Noel Field’s name.

We will never know exactly what Noel Field told his interrogators and/or torturers in the months preceding the Rajk trial and in the subsequent period, when his naming of names facilitated the staging of show trials and purges in Czechoslovakia and other Eastern European nations. As I have said, most Hungarian records from 1949 to 1953 pertaining to Noel Field were destroyed in the aftermath of the 1956 rebellion in Hungary. The surviving Hungarian records from before 1954 are few and do not include any records of interrogations of Noel Field. The only glimpse we have into this picture comes from a Polish account of the interrogation of Noel Field on August 27, 1949 by Józef Światło, then an officer of the Polish state security. The Russian-held records, although filling in some of the gaps, appear to have been sanitized too, probably during the same period. In any case, the tragic fallout from Noel Field’s wartime activities in France and Switzerland has been estimated to be “five hundred people from all parts of the world dragged through the mire,” with “the names of 12,600 people … included in criminal and intelligence registries.” 50

Budapest house where Noel and Herta Field were kept in solitary confinement.

After their disappearance behind the Iron Curtain, Noel and Herta Field were kept in solitary confinement in Budapest, with no idea of each other’s fate.

A year after Stalin’s death, Noel Field wrote a letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (by that time renamed the CPSU). This letter appears to have been retained only in Hungarian records. (My thorough search for any trace of it in the Soviet Central Committee’s records at the Russian State Archive of Contemporary History (RGANI) ended in failure.) In a section of that lengthy document, which Field sub-titled “2. Fundamental Explanations, Analysis and Self-Criticism,” he pledged two things. First, that he “had been a loyal, devoted and active communist for more than 20 years, who risked his life for the Communist Party more than once.” Second, that he “had never been, neither directly nor indirectly, neither officially nor unofficially, a spy or a spy agent and have never worked for the American intelligence or any other hostile secret service.” 51

According to the Hungarian records, on June 15, 1954 the “investigation in the case of Noel H. Field and Herta K. Field” was renewed, and their “systematic interrogation” began. Here is how the two Hungarian security officers who were responsible for the enterprise summarized the charges at the start of the renewed investigation:

… Field is suspected by us of the following offences:

a) … From 1941 to 1947, he had close contact to Allen Dulles and was spying during this time for the American intelligence.

b) After the end of World War II, he was spying in the People’s Republic of Poland and in Czechoslovakia for the Americans. 52

From June 15 to October 4, 1954, Noel Field went through 25 grueling interrogations and wrote 41 lengthy memos and “explanations.” For her part, Herta Field went through three interrogations in early August of 1954 and wrote 11 detailed memos. After 23 interrogations, when Field “emphatically denied having been a recruited agent of the American intelligence and … emphasized that he was a communist,” his interrogators were still scheming to “unmask his hostile activities” by “employing a cell agent” in the person of one Dr. Tamas Pasztor. 53

According to the Hungarian files, the factor that finally sealed Field’s case was an undated reference (“spravka”) sent from Moscow some time in late September 1954. Here is what it said, in part:

… since the end of 1947 Noel Field hasn’t had a regular workplace. In 1948, he was staying in Poland and Czechoslovakia for a long time, where he created an impression that he was an American Communist journalist being chased by reactionary circles.

At the end of 1935, when Noel Field was working at the State Department, he was involved  in the work of the Soviet intelligence. The foundation for his recruitment was his displayed sympathy for the Soviet Union. Field stayed in touch with [the] Soviet intelligence until the year 1937.

When he left the Soviet Union for Switzerland, he was retained as an agent. After we had received the message in 1942 that Field would stay in Geneva and work as a manager for the USC Europe there, a new attempt was made to contact him in spring. However, at the end of a long talk with the person from the NKVD, Noel Field and his wife announced that the password, which had been given to them in those days, would be out-dated and was no longer plausible and that the five years without any contact had led them to commit on another line. Noel Field refused to speak about the commitment and to whom it was given. After that, all connections to him were broken. 54

On October 6, 1954, Hungarian state security finally concluded that “although in contact with Dulles, Field was not an American spy and his pro-Communist activities and contacts have been proven.” The reference went on to say that since “the Fields did not want to return to America for fear of charges of un-American activities,” they “would like to settle in a country of People’s Democracy.” 55

In November 1954, Noel was finally reunited with Herta. The first question he asked his beloved wife, after  years of separation, was reportedly: “Have you remained faithful to the Party?” 56 Noel and Herta Field were granted political asylum and settled in Budapest. Till the end, they did not condemn the Communist regime that had subjected them to torture and years of misery. Field entitled the last article he wrote in Budapest, for the American magazine Mainstream, “Hitching Our Wagon to a Star.” 57

Tomb of Noel Haviland Field in the Farkasréti Cemetery, Budapest; photo by Nemkovethem, September 2008.

Noel Field died in 1970, his wife Herta in 1980.

The first – and thus far, the only – book-length story about  Noel Field, The Red Pawn, by the American journalist Flora Lewis, was published in 1965. The second book dealing with Field’s story, Operation Splinter Factor, by British journalist Stewart Steven, was published in 1978. Steven suggests that Noel Field was “set up” by his old friend Allen Dulles, through Józef Światło, Dulles’s agent at the Polish state security agency, in order to create havoc in the Soviet bloc and light a fuse that might cause its eventual disintegration. In 1987, Steven’s account was circumstantially corroborated in a book by the FBI spy hunter, Robert Lamphere, who wrote that “Field had worked for Donovan and the OSS, but we knew he had also been an agent of the KGB, and had spied for Walter Krivitsky …, and it had been suggested that the CIA added to KGB suspicions in a rather clever way.” It is difficult to say whether Lamphere was relying here on his own knowledge or simply referring to Steven’s book. 58

In the absence of any definitive corroboration, click here to have a look at a fascinating early 1950 note from Józef Światło to the Hungarian party head, Matias Racosi that founds its way into the Cominform records in Moscow.

In 1997, Field’s story became the subject of a documentary by Swiss film producer Werner Schweizer, Noel Field – Der Erfundene Spion (Noel Field, the Invented Spy.) In 2005, a comprehensive compilation of Noel Field documents from Hungarian and other Central and Eastern European archives was published in Germany. 59 Still, a complete story of Noel Field’s life is yet to be written.

  1. The term “Noel Field dossier” originally appeared in publications of the Hungarian historian, Maria Schmidt, who was given access in the early 1990s to a limited number of Hungarian state security files pertaining to the case of Noel Field. After the whole collection was declassified in 1997, it was studied by a German historian, Berndt-Rainer Barth, who published it in a German translation, along with documentation from the archives of other Central and Eastern European countries, in Der Fall Noel Field, Schlüsselfigur der Schauprozesse in Osteuropa, Gefängnisjahre 1949-1954. Herausgegeben von Bernd-Rainer Barth und Werner Schweizer, BasisDruck, 2005.
  2. The Central Archive of the FSB of Russia to S.A. Chervonnaya, August 3, 2007, № 10/A-3499.
  3. “Dispatch, from March 7, 1950” (referenced to “File: H. Noel Field,” which has not been discovered), Fund 575 (Cominform records), description 1, file 141, p. 143, RGASPI; Le camarade américain, by Alain Campiotti, LeTemps Suisse, retrieved from http://www.letemps.ch/Page/Uuid/3ca455a4-e34e-11dd-b87c-1c3fffea55dc/Le_camarade_am%C3%A9ricain. See also, Show Trials: Stalinist Purges in Eastern Europe, 1948-1954, by George H. Hodos, NY: Praeger, 1987, p. 26.
  4. Wilbur J. Carr to Noel Field, June 6, 1934, RG 59, Department of State Decimal File, 1930-1939, 500. A 15 a 4 Personnel/1349; General Disarmament Conference, Geneva, Personnel (attached is Noel Field’s salary check for July 1 to 15, 1934); Ibid., 500. A 15 a 4 Personnel/1383National Archives, College Park, MD.
  5. “Designated Secretary of the US Delegation,” October 6, 1934, Ibid., 500. A 15 a 5 Personnel/33a; League of Nations Chronology at  http://www.indiana.edu/~league/1934.htm
  6. State Department cable to American Embassy, London, November 23, 1935, Ibid, 500.A 15 a 5  Personnel/77; Naval Disarmament Conference, 1935. Personnel. Leave of absence authorized for, November 29, 1935, 500. A 15 a 5 Personnel/91c; Davis to Secretary of State, January 17, 1936, 500. A15A5 First Committee/29.
  7. Le camarade américain, Op. cit.; League of Nations. Committee No 3. Disarmament. Prospects respecting a resumption of disarmament activities of the League. Memorandum prepared by [Noel Field], dated June 22, 1936. Ibid., 500.C 1113/72 Confidential File.
  8. “Acceptance of a position with the Intergovernmental Committee by Mr. Field, February 28, 1939,” Ibid., 840.48 Refugees/11443a; “Conditions in Spanish refugee camps in France, March 14, 1939,” Refugees/1505, 852.48/415.
  9. “Brief ‘party activity’ of Noel H. Field,” attachment to “Noel H. Field letter to [Jacub] Berman, Warsaw, September 9, 1948,” Fund 575, description 1, file 141, p. 137, RGASPI, Moscow; translation by Svetlana Chervonnaya from the Russian 1950 translation of the Hungarian translation of Field’s original, which was written in German.
  10. Noel Field’s Memo, “Professional Activities,” June 23, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., document 34, p. 301; English translation from German by Manfred Putzka, revised by Svetlana Chervonnaya (2006.)
  11. Triple Play by Stalin, by Karel Kaplan in: Noel Field, Revelations of Karel Kaplan, Reports on Noel Field and the Rosenbergs, CIA FOIA, Release 4/11/86, Case N F-1985-00171 (Archives of the Czech CP Central Committee, Files from the Interior Ministry, 372/z82.); A Life in the Twentieth Century: Innocent Beginnings, 1917-1950, by Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Mariner Books, 2002, pp. 334-335.
  12. “Brief ‘party activity’ of Noel H. Field,” Op. cit. p. 137; Noel Field, Memo “The History of my political activities,” July 6, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., document 49, p. 390; “The First Interrogation of Noel Field, June 15, 1954,” Ibid., document 28, p. 261.
  13. Field used a German phrase, “dekonspiriert habe,” which, like the Russian word, “konspiratsija”, literally means “depriving himself of his cover.”
  14. Noel Field, Memo “The History of my political activities, July 6, 1954,” Der Fall Noel Field, Op. Cit., document 49, pp. 393-394; “22nd Interrogation of Noel Field, September, 23, 1954,” Ibid., document 95, pp. 753, 774-775; Noel Field to Alger Hiss, November 9, 1948, personal letter.
  15. Noel Field, Memo “The History of my political activities,” July 6, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., document 49, p. 396.
  16.  A Life in the Twentieth Century, Op. cit., p. 335.
  17. Ibid., pp. 398-399; Noel Field Interrogation # 25, October, 5, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. Cit., document 100, p. 796.
  18. Ibid., pp. 399-401.
  19. Brief “party activity” of Noel H. Field, Op. cit., p. 137.
  20. Ibid., pp. 137-138.
  21. Noel Field, Memo “The History of my political activities,” July 6, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., pp. 403-406.
  22. Brief “party activity” of Noel H. Field, Op. cit., p. 140. A translator at the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party used the Soviet term “soznatel’nyi,” verbatim “conscientious,” which in Soviet parlance meant “responsible.”
  23. Noel Field’s Memo “The History of my political activities,” July 6, 1954, Op. cit., p. 398, p. 406.
  24. M.M. Litvinov to J.V. Stalin, December 29, 1936, Fund 05 (The Office of Litvinov), description 16, P. 1, file 114 (“The letters of Narcom M.M. Litvinov to the Central Committee of VCP (b)”), p. 349.
  25. Noel Field briefly described how he provided information to Vladimir Sokolin in one of his memos, written in 1954, during his last round of interrogations in Hungary. Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., p. 415.
  26. RG 59, The State Department Decimal File, 1930-1939, 840.48 Refugees/11443a, February 18, 1939, NA, College Park, MD.
  27. Telegram to the Department of State from Noel Field, April 21, 1939, Ibid., 500. C 113/176; Noel Field’s sworn affidavit, June 8, 1939, 811.00 N/441.
  28. A Life in the Twentieth Century, Op. cit., p. 335.
  29. The Russian translator used the word “organy,” which in Soviet parlance described NKVD, party and government agencies. Jules Humbert-Droz was a founding member of the Communist Party of Switzerland, which had gone underground after it was banned in 1940.
  30. The Russian translator used the Soviet term “otvetctvennyi,” verbatim “responsible,” which is better translated as “important.”
  31. The translator used a Russian term, “svyaznoi,” which in Communist Party and intelligence parlance described an agent-courier.
  32. Brief “party activity” of H. Noel Field, Op. cit., p. 139.
  33. A Life in the Twentieth Century, Op. cit., p. 334.
  34. From Hitler’s Doorstep: The Wartime Intelligence Reports of Allen Dulles, 1942-1945, University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996, p. 167.
  35. Ibidem.
  36. A Certain Arrogance, by George Michael Evica, Xlibris Corporation, 2006, p. 134.
  37. Operation Splinter Factor, by Stewart Steven, Lippincott (Philadelphia), 1974, cited from its Russian translation, Stiven, Stuart, Operatsija “Raskol,” Moscow: “EKSMO,” 2003, pp. 138-144.
  38. A Life in the Twentieth Century, Op. cit., p. 335.
  39. Operation Splinter Factor, Op. cit., p. 145; A Life in the Twentieth Century, Op. cit. p. 335.
  40. Brief “party activity” of H. Noel Field, Op. cit., p. 139; a reference to Field’s story about approaching Max Bedacht appears in the latter’s Comintern personal file, Fund 495, description 261, file 34, p. 3, RGASPI, Moscow.
  41. The FBI-KGB War: A Special Agent’s Story, by Robert J. Lamphere and Tom Shachtman, New York: Random House, 1986, pp. 56-57.
  42. N. Pukhlov to V.G. Grigoryan, March 16, 1950, enclosing the “record of the conversation of Hungarian chargé d’affaires in Switzerland with Woog, one of the leaders of the Swiss Party of Labor.” The record was provided to the representative of the Central Committee of VCP (b) earlier that month in Budapest by the head of the Hungarian party, Matyas Racosi. Fund 575, description 1, file 181, p. 207, RGASPI, Moscow.
  43. The FBI-KGB War, Op. cit., pp. 49-59; Brief “party activity” of H. Noel Field, Op. cit., p. 139.
  44. Brief “party activity” of H. Noel Field, Op. cit., p. 136; Noel Field, Revelations of Karel Kaplan, Op. cit.
  45. Something to Guard: The Stormy Life of the National Guardian, 1948-1967, by Cedric Belfrage and James Aronson (two of the magazine’s three co-founders), New York: Columbia University Press, 1978, p. 91.
  46. Noel Field’s Memo, “Professional Activities,” June 23, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., document 34, p. 331.
  47. The letter of Noel H. Field to [Jacub] Berman, Warsaw, September 9, 1948; Brief “party activity” of H. Noel Field, Fund 575, description 1, file 141, pp. 133-134, 136-142, RGASPI, Moscow.
  48. Cit., “Rudolf Slansky: His Trials and Trial,” by Igor Lukes, pp. 24-25, a working paper posted at:  http://www.wilsoncenter.org/topics/pubs/WP50IL.pdf; Show Trials: Stalinist Purges in Eastern Europe, 1948-1954, Op. cit., pp., 168–169.
  49. “Reconstruction reconsidered: an examination of police philology. The case of László Rajk,” by I. Rév, Psychology Study, 2009, N 3 (5), retrieved from http://psystudy.ru/index.php/eng/2009n3-5e/165-rev5e.html; the article is in English.
  50. Show Trials: Stalinist Purges in Eastern Europe, 1948-1954, Op. cit., pp. 168-169.
  51. Noel Field to the Central Committee of CPSU, March 18-22, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., document 19, p. 151.
  52. Major Hullay/Laszlo Piros:“Bericht in der Sache Noel Field und Ehefrau,“ October 8, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., document 102, p. 815.
  53. Major Hullay: Plan zum Einsatz eines Kammeragenten, September 24, 1954, Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., document 97, p. 784.
  54. Soviet reference on Noel Field (Spravka na Noel’ya Filda, original in Russian), Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit., document 96, p. 782.
  55. Major Hullay/Laszlo Piros: Bericht in der Sache Noel Field und Ehefrau, October 6, 1954, Ibid., pp. 815-816.
  56. Noel Field – Der Erfundene Spion (Noel Field – A Fictious Spy), (TV), IMDB, produced by Werner Schweizer, 1997.
  57. Noel Field, “Hitching Our Wagon to a Star,” Mainstream, January 1961.
  58. The Red Pawn: The Story of Noel Field, by Flora Lewis, Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1965; Operation Splinter Factor, by Stewart Steven, Op. cit.; The FBI-KGB War, A Special Agent’s Story, by Robert J. Lamphere and Tom Shachtman, Op. cit., p. 291.
  59. Noel Field – Der Erfundene Spion, Op. cit.; Der Fall Noel Field, Op. cit.

Cominform/Joseph Svyatlo cable to Matias Racosi/March 6, 1950

 

1950 note from Józef Światło to the Hungarian party head, Matias Racosi



Cominform/Noel H. Field to Jacob Berman/September 9, 1948 [pages 1, 2]

Russian translation of Noel Field’s letter to Jacub Berman, which found its way to the Foreign Commission of the VCP (b) in early March, 1950:

 

Leonard

A KGB cover name that appears in the notes on KGB foreign intelligence files from the late 1940s and early 1950s taken in the early 1990s by Alexander Vassiliev, a former KGB officer and journalist, during his research for a Russian-American collaborative book project. This cover name is identified in Vassiliev’s notes as standing for Alger Hiss. It looks like a ” communication pseudonym” assigned for the purpose of operational correspondence about investigations  of espionage charges in the United States. 

Alexander Vassiliev’s Notes: Two Views from the 1990s

“Dinner Party” at the Fields’: A Comparison between Alexander Vassiliev’s Draft Chapters,

The Sources in Washington, and Allen Weinstein’s Rewrite in The Haunted Wood.

 

The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America — the Stalin Era, by Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev (Random House, 1999), pp. 14-19, citing Archival No. 36857, vol.1, Laurence Duggan’s file.

Alexander Vassiliev, The Sources in Washington, Russian draft manuscript discovered in 2007 in Allen Weinstein’s Papers at the Hoover Institution’s Archive, pp. 14-19, citing Archival No. 36857, vol.1; Laurence Duggan file. Translation by Svetlana Chervonnaya (2007).


p. 14

The sympathies of Washington intellectuals towards the Soviet Union, CPUSA strength [in mid-1930s – S.Ch.], undoubtedly created favorable opportunities for the work of the NKVD and military intelligence. However, there was a reverse side of the coin: the sources of different residencies and “non-disclosed” [“neglasnye” – an opposite of “glasnyi,” which reminds one of Gorbachev’s “Glasnost”] Communists who were providing information for the leadership of the CPUSA [and were] active in the same operational field, often came in contact not only in their official capacity, but also in intelligence work, which resulted in mutual disclosure [“rasshifrovka,” verbatim for decryption].

p. 5

In April 1936, however, an encounter occurred involving Noel Field (code-named “Ernst” at that time) that, a decade later, would affect gravely both his life and Dougan’s. The story emerged in a memorandum that month from Hedda Gumperz to her superiors concerning her efforts with Field. She informed them that a week before the latter’s departure for Europe to attend a London conference representing State, he was approached by another New Deal friend, Alger Hiss, then completing an assignment at the Justice Department and scheduled to join State that fall: “Alger let him know that he was a Communist [Gumperz memo continued], that he was connected with an organization working for the Soviet Union and that he knew [Field] also had connections but he was afraid they were not solid enough, and probably, his knowledge was being used in a wrong way. Then he directly proposed that [Field] give him an account of the London conference”.

Field described himself and Hiss, according to Gumperz’s memo, as “close friends”, hence Field’s willingness to discuss the subject of espionage. (Gumperz used Alger Hiss’s actual name in her memo because she obviously did not know  his code name). Noel Field told Hiss that he was already reporting to his own Soviet NKVD contacts on the conference. Hiss was then a member of a Soviet military intelligence (or GRU) network headed by Harold (“Hal”) Ware, a group that had been energetic in recruiting new “believers” – especially friends – into its work. Hiss was not dissuaded by Noel Field’s initial refusal to cooperate. Gumperz’s memo chronicled Field’s account of the subsequent discussion, which at times seemed almost like a polite debate over joining competing college fraternities: Alger kept insisting on the report, and [Field] was forced to tell him that he needed to consult his “connections”.

In the next couple of days, after having thought it over, Alger said that he no longer insisted on the report. But he wanted [Field] to talk to Larry and Helen [Duggan] about him and let them know who he was and give him [Alger] access to them. [Field] again mentioned that he had contacted Helen and Larry. However, Alger insisted that he talk to them again, which [Field] ended up doing. [Field] talked to Larry about Alger and, of course, about having told him “about the current situation” and that “their main task at the time was to defend the Soviet Union” and that “they both needed to use their favorable positions to help in this respect”. Larry became upset and frightened and announced that he needed some time before he would make the final step; he still hoped to do his normal job, he wanted to reorganize his department, try to achieve some results in that area, etc.

Evidently, according to [Field], he did not make any promises, nor did he encourage Alger in any sort of activity, but politely stepped back. Alger asked [Field] several other questions; for example, what kind of personality he had, and if [Field] would like to contact him. He also asked [Field] to help him to get to the State Department. Apparently, [Field] satisfied this request.

When I pointed out to [Field] his terrible discipline and the danger he put to himself into by connecting these three people, he did not seem to understand it. He thought that just because “Alger was the first to open his cards, there was no reason for him to keep a secret”.

Besides, Alger announced that he was doing it for “us” and because of the fact that he lived in Washington, D.C…and finally, [since] I was going to go out of the country for a while, he thought it would be a good idea to establish contact between us.

(Referenced to Arch.# 36857, Vol. 1, p.23)

pp. 14-16

In April 1936, “Redhead” wrote the following memo: “Our friend “Ernst” [LINK to Ernst] reported to me on the day prior to his departure for Europe the following story, about which he himself would  report to our friends while abroad.

Approximately a week before his departure from Washington, Alger Hiss had approached him. Alger told him that he was a Communist, that he was connected with an organization working for the Soviet Union, and that he knew that “Ernst” also had connections, although he feared that they were not solid enough, [and] that his knowledge was being used inappropriately. Then he straightforwardly suggested that “Ernst” provide a report on the London conference.

According to “Ernest,” since they were close friends he did not refuse to talk to him about this topic, but told Alger that he had already made a report on the conference.







When Alger, whom, as you may perhaps remember, I met through “Ernst,” insisted that he would still like to receive this report, “Ernst” stated that he would have to contact his “connections” and ask for their advice.

In a day, having thought it over, Alger said that he would not insist upon the receipt of this report, but that he would have to ask “Ernst” to talk to Larry and Helen about him, to tell them who he was and to give him (Alger) access to them. “Ernst” again said that he had already established contact with Larry and Helen, but Alger insisted that, this notwithstanding, “Ernest” should talk to them again, which “Ernst” did. He talked to Larry about Alger and, of course, about himself, having told him “in what situation they found themselves” and “that the major task at present was the defense of the Soviet Union,” etc., [and] that each of them should use his favorable situation for the purpose of providing assistance in this respect.” Larry seemed distraught, frightened, and said that he had not gone that far, that it would take some time before he would be able to take this final step, that he still hoped to do certain work in the normal way, to reorganize his department, to try to achieve some results in this respect, etc. It is obvious, according to “Ernst”’s own account, that he has not made any promises, had not encouraged Alger [to take] any action, but, more likely, has politely stepped back. Alger also asked “Ernst” a whole series of other questions, for instance, who would be his successor, [and] whether “Ernst” would like to establish contact with him. He also asked him to help him get into the Department of State, which “Ernst” obviously has done.

When I pointed out to “Ernst” what a terrible breach of discipline he had committed, how he had jeopardized the advisability of his [own] use and all [our] work by connecting these three people, he seemed not to understand anything. He assumed that “since Alger was the first to show his cards, he had no reason to keep it all  secret;” besides, since Alger said that “he was doing this for ‘us,’ and since he lived in Washington and for this reason could not meet Larry more often than I myself [could], and, finally, since I was going to leave the country for some time, he thought that it would be best  to establish contact between them.” (Ibid., p. 23).

pp. 6-7

Since Hedda Gumperz was then trying to cultivate both Laurence and Helen Duggan as well as Noel Field for her NKVD cohort, she was deeply troubled by this apparently causal interlocking of agents from two completely distinct networks (supposedly unfamiliar with each other). Alger Hiss, assigned the code name “Lawyer”, had assumed the self-appointed and unwelcome role of recruiter of fellow officials such as Field and Duggan. Gumperz had at once informed her soviet superior, an “illegal” station chief named Boris Bazarov, who had the unpleasant task of notifying Moscow (in an April 26, 1936, dispatch) that the whole Gumperz-Duggan-Field-Hiss situation had become something of an unseemly tag team match among agents, actual and potential:

The result has been that, in fact, [Field] and Hiss have been openly identified to [Laurence Duggan]. Apparently [Duggan] also understands clearly [Gumperz’s] nature. And [Gumperz] and Hiss several months ago identified themselves to each other. Helen Boyd, [Duggan’s] wife, who I think that after this story we should not speed up the cultivation of [Duggan] and his wife. Apparently, besides us, the persistent Hiss will continue his initiative in this direction. In a day or two, [Duggan’s] wife will come to New York, where [Gumperz] wil have a friendly meeting with her. At [Field’s] departure from Washington, Helen expressed a great wish to meet [Gumperz] again. Perhaps Helen will tell [Gumperz] about her husband’s feelings.

[Reference to Arch.#36857, Vol.1, pp. 22-25]









p. 16

Informing Moscow about this unpleasant story on April 26 1936, Bazarov wrote: “The result was that ‘17’ and Hiss have, in fact, been openly disclosed [‘rasshifrovany’, verbatim ‘deciphered’] before ‘19’. ‘19’ probably clearly understands ‘Redhead’’s nature. And ‘Redhead’ and Hiss have disclosed  themselves [revealed their true nature – S.Ch.] to each other more than two months ago. “Helen Boyd – the wife of ‘19’, who was present at almost all these meetings and conversations, is undoubtedly also aware of all this business and now knows as much as ‘19th’ himself… “I think that after this incident we should not force the cultivation of ‘19’ and his wife. It is possible that besides us, the persistent Hiss will continue his initiative in that direction. The wife of ‘“19th’ is coming to New York one of these days. ‘Redhead’ will meet her here in a purely friendly way. On the departure of ‘17th’ from Washington, Helen expressed a great desire to see ‘Redhead’ again. It is possible that Helen will tell ‘Redhead’ about her husband’s mood.” (Ibid., p. 22)

p. 7

NKVD Moscow pressed for continuing efforts to bring the Duggans on board, however, and a May 3, 1936, cable responding to Bazarov complained about Gumperz’s handling of the situation (unfairly since Gumperz, too, had protested Hiss’s having crossed over to other networks in search of recruits): “We do not understand [Gumperz’s] motives in having met with [Hiss]. As we understand, this occurred after our instruction that [Hiss] was ‘the neighbors’ man’ [working with military intelligence], and that one should leave him alone. Such experiments [as Gumperz’s meeting] may lead to undesirable results.”

Moscow instructed Bazarov to be certain that none of his agents undertook similar meetings across jurisdictional boundaries “without your knowledge”, especially not Hedda Gumperz, “knowing that her drawbacks include impetuousness”. As for “how to untangle” the interwoven agents, Moscow was similarly practical:

[Field] left [for Europe], which isolates him to a certain degree, and [Hiss] will gradually forget about him. As for how to save [Duggan] and his wife [completing their agent recruitment], [Duggan] may be of interest to us, taking into account his status in “Surrogate” [the State Department]; his wife, also, taking into <p. 8> account her connections. Therefore, we believe it necessary to smooth over skillfully the present situation and to draw both of them away from [Hiss]. As an extreme measure, [Duggan] could tell [Hiss] that “he is helping the local compatriots [the American Communist Party] and that the latter suggested that he not get in contact with anyone else.” It is our fault, however, that [Field], who is already our agent, has been left in [Gumperz’s] charge, a person who is unable to educate either an agent or even herself.

[Reference to Arch.# 36857, Vol.1, p.24]

pp. 16-17

Naturally, the Center did not like the whole story, however, it thought that the cultivation of “19th” should be continued. On May 3, 1936, the Center wrote:

“We do not understand the motives behind ‘Redhead’’s meeting with ‘Jurist’. As we understand, this took place after our instructions that ‘Jurist’ was the neighbors’ [LINK to “neighbors”] man, and that he should be kept at a distance. Such experiments may produce unfavorable results.


We strongly suggest that you establish a procedure whereby none of your people will take any steps without your knowledge. This is especially true in the case of ‘Redhead,’ in view of her drawbacks, which are evident in her impulsiveness [outbursts]. The question now is how to get out of this tangled web. ‘17’ has left, and this isolates him to some extent, and ‘Jurist’ will gradually forget about him.

“Now, on how to save ‘19’ and his wife. ‘19’ may be of interest, considering his position at the ‘Surrogate,’(15); his wife as  well, considering her connections. To refuse to cultivate them is taking the path of least resistance. Hence, we think it is necessary to cleverly smooth the resulting situation and steer them both away from ‘Jurist.’ “As a last resort, ‘19’ might say that he ‘was assisting the local compatriots, and that the latter have suggested that he not contact anyone else.’ “It is our fault that ‘17,’ who had already been our agent, was left in the custody of ‘Redhead,’ who is unable to educate not only an agent, but [even] herself.” (Ibid., p. 24.)

[Vassiliev’s footnote (15) is illegible. “Surrogate” was an earlier name for the Department of State. In the 1940s, it was called “Bank.”]

p. 8

Another Soviet operative then active in washington, Itzhak Akhmerov, responded to Moscow’s May 3 instructions with his own account of the background of the Gumperz-Hiss meeting that troubled NKVD officials at home. His version was milder than Bazarov’s. Akhmerov shed light on Soviet intelligence’s sudden embarrassment of American agent riches, a recent bonanza of antifascist romantics that at times caused different networks to stumble across one another:

[Gumperz] met with [Hiss] only once during her stay in this country [Gumperz herself had left for Europe by then], and it was last winter. She went to this meeting with Comrade [Bazarov’s] consent. After you informed us that he had a liaison with the neighbors, we did not meet with [Hiss].… [However, Hiss], after meeting [Gumperz] at the flat of [Noel Field] and his conversation with her, undoubtedly informed his command about this meeting. By an accidental coincidence, a brother organization’s worker connected with [Hiss] knew [Gumperz] well.…

This brother worker, whom we know as “Peter”, …




at one of his rare meetings with [Gumperz] told the latter: “You in Washington came across my guy [Hiss]… You better not lay your hands on him, etc…”

[Reference to Arch.# 36857, Vol.1, p. 25.]

p. 17

The circumstances of the meeting between “Redhead” and “Jurist” were ascertained by Iskhak Akhmerov in his letter from 18 May, 1936:




‘Redhead’ had met ‘Jurist’ only once during the entire time of her stay in this country, and this took place in winter. She went to that meeting with c.[omrade] Nord’s knowledge. After you had informed us that [‘Jurist’] has a contact [“svyaz’] with the neighbors, we did not see him, that is ‘Jurist’…. After his meeting with ‘Redhead’ in the apartment of our ‘17th’ and a conversation with her, ‘Jurist’ no doubt informed his superiors about this meeting. By coincidence, a worker from a fraternal organization, who is connected with ‘Jurist,’ had known ‘Redhead’ well since the time when the latter was connected with the fraternal line. We sometimes, in case of urgent need, turn to this fraternal worker [bratskij rabotnik], who is known to us as ‘Peter,’ for  assistance, approaching him through ‘Redhead.’ This ‘Peter’ is that very fraternal worker about whom I reported to you orally back at home. In case of need we resort to the assistance of this ‘Peter,’ solely in cases concerning certificates of naturalization.

“This is the same ‘Peter’ who, during one of his rare meetings with ‘Redhead,’ told her: ‘If in Washington you have come across my guy (meaning ‘Jurist’), you had better not lay your hand on him, etc….’ Probably ‘Peter,’ when urging ‘Jurist,’ in his turn, not to develop contact with ‘Redhead,’, did it in a clumsy way, so that ‘Jurist’ more or less understood the nature of  ‘Redhead.’” (Ibid., p. 25).



Alexander Vassiliev’s Notes, Venona and Laurence Duggan – A Comparison

Venona Decryptions in the Context of Alexander Vassiliev’s Notes on Laurence Duggan’s File


Alexander Vassiliev’s notes on Laurence Duggan‘s file, Archival No. 36857, Alexander Vassiliev, Yellow Notebook #2, pp. 1-39, posted on the website of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Cold War International History Project, http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm? topic_id= 1409&fuseaction=topics.documents&group_id=511603

Laurence Duggan identified behind Venona decryptions from 1943 and 1944, Venona – dated documents, http://www.nsa.gov/public_info/declass/venona/dated.shtml



p.202 Letter from Mer dated 4.2.1943

“As you know, he is not a fellowcountryman [zemlyak”/ compatriot] or a paid probationer. He is a very decent and progressive American. He has always helped us, and acknowledges that we are the vanguard of progressive mankind. He has never taken a single cent from us. Our personal friendship has also played a major part in our liaison. …

… p.203 Shared ideology and personal friendship are the mainsprings of our connection with Frank. Because of his personal qualities — he is an exceptionally honorable man— he could never imagine that we might put pressure on him, exploiting the work he did for us in the past. If this thought had ever seriously occurred to him, he would have long since rid himself of us. Any hint on our part (regardless of how delicately or diplomatically we put it) about the fact that he is firmly connected with us

p.204 and that, having agreed to work for us, he took upon himself a certain obligation, would make it clear to him which way the wind was blowing. …

p.205 …

… So far, I have only one method of working with him: serious politico-educational influence; instilling in him the thought that, in helping us, he is helping the very best of humanity; expressing our sincere gratitude; persistently appealing to his conscience to help us more actively; and developing our personal friendship. I hope we can win him over with this method. …

[Archival No. 36857, Yellow Notebook #2, p. 32.]


[There are no notes on pages 206-218 in Archival No. 36857.]


p.219 Report on 19 [undated, written in Moscow Center – S.Ch.]

Negative factors:

1) “Because he occupies a high government post, has a family, and is constantly in a non-left and reactionary environment, the source is losing his party feeling, on the basis of which we had begun working with him.”

p.220 He succumbs to the influence of Trotskyites and anti-Soviets.

2) Vacillation on issues of USSR’s domestic and foreign policies, Trotskyite tendencies.

3) He is known for his liberalism and for his connection to the embassy. Known to: 1. “Raymond”; 2. Krivitsky (possibly); 3. “Nikolay” – enemy of the people; 4. it is possible that the traitor “Nord” betrayed 19 to foreign intelligence.

4) He tried to break off his connection 6 times.

p.222 It is essential that “Mer” get 19 to meet with him more frequently and that he devote more energy to 19’s ideological education.

[Yellow Notebook #2, p. 33]



[There are no notes of any meeting between Laurence Duggan and a Soviet contact around the date of the Venona decryption dated May 29, 1943. – S.Ch.]]

Venona New York to Moscow #812, May 29, 1943:

“19”[ii] 1 reports that “KAPITAN” [iii] and “KABAN” [iv], during conversations in the “COUNTRY” [STRANA] [v]”, invited “19” to join them and ZAMESTITEL’[v] openly told “KABAN”

[10 groups unrecovered]

second front against GERMANY this year. KABAN considers that, if a second front should prove to be unsuccessful, then this [3 groups unrecovered 2 harm to Russian interests and [6 groups unrecovered]. He considers it more advantageous and effective to weaken GERMANY by bombing and to use this time for “[4 groups unrecovered] political crisis so that there may be no doubt that a second front next year will prove successful.”

ZAMESTITEL’ and

[14 groups unrecovered]

“19” thinks that “KAPITAN” is not informing ZAMESTITEL’ of important military decisions and that therefore ZAMESTITEL’ may not have exact knowledge of [1 group unrecovered] with the opening of a second front against GERMANY and its postponement from this year to next year. 19 says that ZAMESTITEL’ personally is an ardent supporter of a second front at this time and considers postponement

– 2 –

[15 groups unrecovered]

can shed blood

[13 groups unrecovered]

recently shipping between the USA and

[40 groups unrecovered]

The “COUNTRY” hardly [9 groups unrecovered] “insufficient reason for delaying a second front.”

No. 443                                                                                                            MER [vii]


Footnotes:

[ii]     19             :      Unidentified cover designation.

[vi] ZAMESTITEL’:  i.e. Deputy – therefore possibly Henry Agard WALLACE, who was ROOSEVELT’s Deputy (Vice President) at this time: later he is referred to by the covername LOTsMAN.

[hand-written notation] More likely to be Harry Hopkins?


[There are no notes of any meeting between Laurence Duggan and a Soviet contact around the date of the Venona decryption dated June 28, 1943. – S.Ch.]]

Venona, KGB New York to Moscow #916, June 28, 1943:

Duggan was “presumably” identified behind “Fr” in a mostly non-decrypted communique from June 28, 1944, which mentioned some non-decrypted information from a source who was identified as “Frank” with some degree of certainty, as well as some non-decrypted remarks of FR…’s.


[There are no notes of any meeting between Laurence Duggan and  a Soviet contact around the date of the Venona decryption dated June 30, 1943. – S.Ch.]]

Venona, KGB New York to Moscow #1025, June 30, 1943:

[Part I]   TO VIKTOR [LINK to “Viktor”] [i].

FRENK [ii] reports the following:

1.  In the near future the “COUNTRY [STRANA]” [iii] and the “ISLAND [OSTROV]” [iv] will land strong forces in ITALY and on her islands with the aim of seizing the whole of ITALY. The forces will be landed simultaneously at various points

[52 groups unrecovered]

… In all [B% probability % 3 they [1 group unrecovered] for military operations [in] [a] NORWAY this winter.

[17 groups unrecovered]

[D but] did not say [D% anything] of the kind.  [4 groups unrecovered] beginning in the winter Anglo-American forces will launch a military operation [in] [a] NORWAY.


[There is almost a yearlong gap in the Venona decryptions and an even longer gap in Vassiliev’s notes on Laurence Duggan’s file. This gap is partially filled with the report below, which was discovered in Russian diplomatic files. Its “very well informed source” was most likely Duggan (in view of his relationship with Sumner Welles.) The original report, which Moscow Center received from its U.S. station, does not appear among the Venona decryptions, nor in Vassiliev’s notes on Duggan’s file. The report is a typical example of the circulation of intelligence reports during World War II. – S.Ch.]

USSR                                                     [stamp]

People’s Commissariat                           NKID TOP SECRET

of State Security                             Dep. of Am.[erican] countries

1st Directorate                                       Entr. № 969

18 September 1943                                24/IX 1943

№ 1/3/6169

NKID USSR

To Comr. Dekanozov

Hereby report to you the information received from the USA on 28/VIII-43:

In the opinion of our very well informed source, the resignation of Welles is an unfavorable development [‘factor’] for Soviet-American relations. Although Welles has never been a friend of the USSR, he, nevertheless, had realistically estimated its role and tried to improve relations between the USA and the USSR and was an advocate of concluding an agreement on political issues without waiting for the end of the war.

HULL represents the old reactionary trend. This is a cunning politician, who enjoys decisive influence among Southern Democrats. He is an opponent of concluding an agreement prior to final formulation [‘oformlenije’] of American public opinion. Has always been hostile to the Soviet Union. A supporter of restoring pre-war status quo in the Baltics and in the Balkans. 4

In view of the coming presidential elections, ROOSEVELT could not ignore HULL’s role and preferred to keep [preserve] him despite his [Roosevelt’s] friendship with WELLES.

The source supposes that in case WELLES is sent to Moscow as Roosevelt’s representative for negotiations, the State Department would surely sabotage his activity.

[signed]  Head,

1st Directorate NKGB of the USSR                                        /FITIN


[There are no notes of any meeting between Laurence Duggan and a Soviet contact around the date of the Venona decryption dated May 24, 1944. – S.Ch.]]

Venona, KGB New York to Moscow, #744, 746, May 24, 1944 (Laurence Duggan was tentatively identified by the Venona translators behind “F”:

[Part I]   [C% Reference your no. 1729[a]. FR. …[ii]

[22 groups unrecovered]

[18 groups unrecovered]

[Part II]

that the leaders intend to attack

[43 groups unrecoverable]

[D% with] the ISLANDERS [iii], Near-Eastern, European, post-war, trade, and oil questions. The creation of an oil commission of representatives of the COUNTRY [v] [and] the ISLAND [OSTROV][v] for deciding world oil questions. [2 groups unrecovered] oil conference our participation.

KAPITAN[vi] is badly afraid of the possibility of China’s withdrawal from the war. LOTsMAN’s[vii] main task is to persuade China to see the war through and to strengthen friendship with the COUNTRY. LOTsMAN in conversation with F.[viii] gave him to understand that he would be nominated for the election.

They are afraid for KAPITAN’s health – after more than a month’s leave he has once more gone on leave.

No. 463                                MAJ [ix]

25 May

Notes: …

[ii] FR…..: Probably should read FRENK, i.e. FRANK, Laurence DUGGAN.

[vii] LOTsMAN: i.e. CHANNEL-PILOT, Henry A. WALLACE.

[viii] F.: Probably refers to FRANK, …

p. 229 Report by “Albert” dated 10.7.44

Prince’s  resignation came as a surprise to me. I did not expect him to quit his job in that division altogether. He spoke to me quite often about his difficulties and his situation there. His situation became especially shaky after his chief superior’s deputy was forced to leave the department. As you know, many years ago this deputy brought Prince into the department, and he was thought of as his man (protégé). Recently, Prince informed me that the chief superior hates the deputy who resigned because of his polit. activities in the press and his speeches, which criticize the director’s division as well as his political views.”

[Archival No. 36857, Yellow Notebook #2, p. 34]



p.228 20.7.44 May reported from NY that 19 has tendered his resignation from the SD, supposedly for personal reasons. Ovakimian’s resolution: “It is strange that we are learning about this after the fact.” 21.7.44

[Archival No. 36857, Yellow Notebook #2, p. 33]


Venona, KGB New York to Moscow #1015, July 22, 1944:

– 2 –

FRANK [FRENK][ix] will resign from the BANK [BANK] [x] allegedly “for personal reasons”. Details and prospects for the future are being looked into.

Notes:

[ix]  FRENK:  possibly Laurence DUGGAN.



p.232 19 has become assistant diplomatic adviser to the UNRRA.

[Archival No. 36857, Yellow Notebook #2, p. 34]



Venona, KGB New York to Moscow #1114, August 4, 1944:

1. FRENK’s MOVE FROM THE BANK (STATE DEPT) TO THE SHELTER (UNRRA), MER

FRENK[ii] has been appointed [2 groups unrecovered] Assistant Diplopmatic Adviser of the SHELTER[PRIYuT][iii]. The former ambassador[iv] of the COUNTRY[STRANA][v] to RIO[vi] now occupies his previous post.

MER[vii] [4 groups unrecovered] [B% residency did not know] about this change. According to MER, FRENK, even before this, was announcing that his position in the BANK[viii] was precarious, but, since MER confronted him with the question of keeping [2 groups unrecovered] about leaving the BANK, F. [ii] in our hearing never [9 groups unrecovered] F.’s potential.

No 619                               MAJ[xi]

Footnotes:

[ii]  FRENK, F.:  i.e. Laurence Duggan, Director of Office of American Republic Affairs, U.S. State Department, to 19 July 1944, Assistant Diplomatic Adviser to UNRRA July 1944-1946.




Venona, KGB New York to Moscow #1251, September 2, 1944:

In accordance with our telegram no. 403 [a] we are advising you of the new cover-names: … Among the new cover-names introduced by you there are disadvantageous ones which we propose to replace as follows: … ShERVUD – KNYaZ’[xx], …

No. 700                                        MAJ[xxiv]

Notes: …

[xx] ShERVUD – KNYaZ’: i.e. SHERWOOD – PRINCE, Laurence DUGGAN.


[There are no notes of any meeting between Laurence Duggan and a Soviet contact around the date of the Venona decryption dated November 18, 1944. – S.Ch.]]

Venona, KGB New York to Moscow #1613, November 18, 1944:

In mid-October AL’BERT[ii] tried to get in touch with KNYaZ’[iii]. The latter’s wife stated that KNYaZ’ had left for the PROVINCES [iv] and would return after Christmas. At one time KNYaZ’ was compelled to resign because of the dismissal of LUN’s[v] former deputy on the grounds of organizational and political disagreement.

As a result of the election, LUN’’s dismissal and the appointment of LOTsMAN[vi] in his place are not ruled out. Inasmuch as KNYaZ’ is friendly with LOTsMAN [1 group unrecovered] he could count on a leading post in the BANK[vii].


[There are no notes on any discussion of using Laurence Duggan in the capacity which is suggested in the Venona decryption of the cable from November 21, 1944. Neither are there any notes on any meeting between Duggan and a Soviet contact around the date of this Venona decryption.

“Albert” was not identified as Iskhak Abdulovich Akhmerov by the time the Venona operation was officially closed (1980). The identification of “Art” as Helen Koral also looks like a much later addition, most probably, in or after 2005. – S.Ch.]]

Venona, KGB New York to Moscow # 1636, November 21, 1944:

– 4 –

4. From your telegram[v] I conclude that the decision to use ARTEM[vi] in ALBERT’s[vii] line of work has not been rescinded by you. [1 group unrecovered] after thorough checking (which is being carried out at the moment on KNYAZ’s’[viii] instructions) [2 groups unrecovered] we will put him in touch with ART[ix] and will thus create a second, as it were reserve line of communication with AL’BERT.

MAJ[xi]

Note: …

[v] Presumably NEW YORK’s No. 1393 of 3rd October

1944 (3/NBF/T95).

[vi] ARTEM: Possible either G.N. OGLOBLIN or M.N. KhVOSTOV.

[viii] KNYaZ’: i.e. “PRINCE”: possibly Laurence DUGGAN.

[ix] ART: Probably Helen KORAL.

There are no notes on file pages 233-245. The next note — after the brief note that “19 has become assistant diplomatic adviser to the UNRRA,” which may be dated as early August 1944 — refers to a memo on Duggan’s article in the December 1947 issue of America magazine:

p.246 “Prince’s” article in the magazine “America,” No. 12, 1947 “The international exchange of students and academic workers” …

[Archival No. 36857, Yellow Notebook #2, p. 34.]



  1. Here and after, the Roman numerals and occasional letters in brackets indicate the translators’ footnotes in Venona documents.
  2. Here and after, this means the number of cryptonyms which have not been decrypted.
  3. In Venona decryptions, A%, B%, C%, D% indicate the level of presumed certainty in the decryption. In this case, a B (second from top) level of certainty refers to the word “probability.”
  4. Underlined in the document.