Berle List

In historical literature, this term refers to notes taken by Assistant Secretary of State Adolf A. Berle in his meeting with Whittaker Chambers on September 2, 1939. Chambers was brought to Berle by journalist Isaac Don Levine, in an attempt to inform President Roosevelt of the existence of a Communist underground operating within U.S. government agencies. While Chambers talked, Berle took notes in pencil. According to Chambers’s account in Witness, these notes “were what we recapitulated quickly at a late hour after a good many drinks.” 1 A few years later, Berle’s notes – with a series of names, including that of Alger Hiss – wound up with the FBI and became a government exhibit in the second Alger Hiss perjury trial, under the title of “Underground Espionage Agent.”

  1. Whittaker Chambers. Witness. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1952, p. 465.