Whittaker Chambers: The Underground Years

The Underground Years

The story of Whittaker Chambers’s underground years is so well known that it may be called a part of the American national narrative. Initially revealed publicly by Chambers in his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in early August 1948, amended by him in November and December of the same year to include espionage, dramatized in the course of the two Alger Hiss perjury trails of 1949-1950 and consolidated in his autobiography, Witness 1, this narrative has survived to the present day basically intact. Recounted by a succession of American writers (most prominently, in Sam Tanenhaus’s highly acclaimed Whittaker Chambers biography 2), the story seems to have left no room for any new revelations.

Until quite recently, however, Chambers’s espionage story could be verified only by other oral or written reminiscences, including testimony by other defectors from the Communist cause and a few circumstantially related archival records which came to light after the opening of the former Soviet archives in 1992. Moreover, among the latter, no documents which mentioned Chambers by name were discovered.

In 2009, important new evidence has come to light almost simultaneously in the United States and in Russia 3 which is opening a new chapter of the Chambers story. Both sources mention the name Robert Zelnis (phonetically from Russian, Tsel’nis) under circumstances which, on one hand, suggest, that this was a hitherto unknown name Chambers used, but, on the other hand, add to the existing confusion. To begin sorting through the plethora of new information, we have to first take a look at the real man behind the name “Robert Zelnis.”

Who was “Robert Zelnis”?

The name “Robert Zelnis” appears in CP USA files from the late 1920s as an alternative spelling of the name Robert Zelms, one of the party’s founding members. Until early 1930, Zelms had been a functionary in CP District One – and had served as its Organizational Secretary, District Organizer of the International Labor Defense (ILD) and member of the District Executive Committee.

Here is a transcript of an early 1930 document in which Robert Zelms’s name is spelled “Zelnis”:


Org. Sec’y of N.Y.                           BERT MILLER (intellectual)
Agitprop of N.Y.                             BENJAMIN (Intellectual)
District Org. of Calif.                      GARDOS (intellectual)
Org. Sec’y of Calif.                          MARTIN (?)
Org. Sec’y of Boston                      ZELNIS (old functionary)
Bost. Dist. Polbureau:                    5 expelled.
Sub.Dist.Org. of Los Angeles      A.L. SCHAAP (intellectual)
” – ”     New Jersey        GUSSAKOFF (?) 4

Compare Zelnis with Zelms, the spelling which appears in the transcript of the membership form for the CP USA Sixth Convention, which this man filled out in his legible handwriting:

Robert Zelms                                              Male
38 Causeway St. Rm. 203. Boston
Party Functionary
Social Composition                    ___________________
Member of what union                               None at present
When did you join the Party?                   Charter member
To what polit. org. did you                        Russian S.D. Lab. Party 1905
belong before?                                             S.P. of America
Citizen                                                            Yes

Age                                                                 40

Born:                                                               Russia now Latvia
Offic. Party Positions                                   Member of DEC – Bureau Secretariat. – DO of I.L.D.
Times arrested?                                             None
Sentenced ————–
[signed]     Robert Zelms 5

Robert Zelms was recruited into Soviet military intelligence in early 1930. This fact was confirmed in a 1940 affidavit made by another former agent of Soviet military intelligence, one Nicholas Dozenberg:

From the Statement of Nicholas Dozenberg [1940 affidavit], read at the HUAC public session, November 8, 1949:

“…the individuals with whom he [Dozenberg] had become acquainted during this period from 1927 to 1933, in addition to those already mentioned, were Albert Feierabend, a Lettish Communist from Boston; Richard Bassow, agent in charge of military activities in Vienna; and Robert Zelms, Z-e-l-m-s, alias Elmston, whom Dozenberg had recommended for employment with the Soviet military intelligence in foreign countries. 6

According to the scarce information available in Russia, Zelms was sent in the later part of 1930 to Germany, where he became the chief assistant to the “illegalresident of Soviet military intelligence there, Oskar Stigga. After 1934, Zelms worked in Austria — and was reported by his brother to be still there as of late 1937. 7

Zelms’s activities had not escaped the attention of British intelligence:

“In 1930-1936, Zelms (as Robert Elmston) was a GRU agent in Europe, reportedly under the cover of the International Trade Press of Chicago.” 8

However, according to Russian investigative files from the late 1930s, Zelms was in Moscow as of January 1938. 9 He escaped the purges and was on record (according to the latest record discovered to date) as residing in Moscow as of late 1946. 10

In late October 1949, in the course of preparations for the second Hiss perjury trial, the Hiss defense was trying to pursue – albeit in vain – some clue that Chambers might have used the name “Robert Zelnis” as one of his many aliases. Here is the transcript of a puzzling Hiss defense document from October 1949:

(Dict. By HR)

Hiss Personal 2395 October 29, 1949

Memorandum re Maxim Lieber

Yesterday I went to the office of Mr. Lieber again.
I told him that in 1937, Chambers’ wife had written in a
letter to a third person that Chambers had been engaged in
educational work for Maxim Lieber and was changing his position
to similar work with the government. I asked Mr. Lieber if
Chambers ever worked for him doing education work or in any
other capacity. He said that Chambers positively had never
worked for him. At my request, Mr. Lieber checked his card
catalogue for the name Robert Zelnis but there was no card for
that name. 11

Robert Zelnis in KGB files

According to one of the draft chapters written in 1996 by former KGB officer and journalist Alexander Vassiliev for his American co-author, Allen Weinstein, in December 1944 the NKGB Washington, D.C. station (“rezidentura”) received an autobiography written by an American with the cover name “Ruble.” (Vassiliev’s drafts became the basis for The Haunted Wood, a highly acclaimed 1999 book on the history of Soviet espionage in America that he co-authored with Weinstein 12). “Ruble” was in fact Harold Glasser, a Keynesian economist and an official of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In his account of Glasser’s autobiography, Vassiliev wrote the following [the text in quotation marks indicates Vassiliev’s verbatim quotes from the document; italics indicate English words written in the Russian document]:

In the history of “Ruble”‘s “special work” [LINK to SPECIAL WORK] there were a few uncertain and troubling moments he described in writing:

“1. In 1933, my name was entered into the list of active workers of an underground worker organization. By chance, I visited one of the meetings of this organization (at that time, I was not a member of that organization). The organization was betrayed by one of the provocateurs, and, probably, my name is known to the FBI.

2. I met “Karl” for the first time in 1937, approximately in the month of May. We were meeting more or less regularly until the fall of 1939. Throughout that period, I was meeting him on average once a month. The meetings lasted for two-three hours. He knew everything about me: my background, my activity, my friends, etc. In the summer or fall of 1939 (although I am not quite certain in the date), “Karl” did not come to the next meeting, and I have not seen him any more.

He had a self-styled successor, who in June 1940 tried to find an approach to me. He called himself “Paul’13, and since I was going abroad, the thing finished up naturally. I have some suspicion in this respect. At that time, the investigation by the FBI secret police [sic in Russian] was underway. I could not get any information on the nature of this investigation, except for a suspicion that the subject of the investigation was my belonging to the Communist Party. …

In 1943, when I turned to the embassy [sic in Russian, obviously the State Department] for a passport, Berle refused to issue it to me, since allegedly an investigation in my respect was still underway. … Under the pressure from Harry White, Berle surrendered and issued me a diplomatic passport. Since then, I have not faced any more obstacles in obtaining a passport.” 14

“Ruble”‘s autobiography was excerpted by Weinstein in The Haunted Wood (p. 266) — but without any mention of Glasser’s story about his meetings with “Karl” from 1937 to 1939. Moreover, Weinstein’s description of Glasser’s “clandestine” activities in the 1930s looks like a misrepresentation of the documentary material provided to him by his Russian co-author:

“… Glasser joined the Treasury Department in 1936 and developed a pattern of clandestine meetings with various Soviet and American operatives that, largely because of Harry Dexter White’s strong support, survived a 1940 FBI background inquiry.” 15

According to Vassiliev’s account of the late 1944 NKGB records,

“Karl”‘s vetting in the indices [“proverka po uchetam”] has revealed that this was a certain Robert Zelnis [phonetically Tsel’nis] who, in fact, used to cooperate with the neighbors, however later refused to work and threatened to betray all the sources he knew to American authorities. “Pa-ul'” also worked with the neighbors. Anatoly Gorsky received an instruction to warn “Ruble” so that in case “Karl” or “Pa-ul'” appeared again, he would not come into contact with them. 16

Whittaker Chambers’s “Russian End,” 1936-1938

When Chambers was asked in early December 1948, during the grand jury hearings in the Hiss-Chambers case, about the Soviet contact to whom he had delivered copies or summaries of documents from late 1936 to early 1938, Chambers said that at that time he knew the man only as “Peter.” In late 1938, however, the Soviet defector Walter Krivitsky identified that contact to Chambers as “Colonel Bykov.” 17

In the summer of 1939, Krivitsky provided a description of “Colonel Boris Bykov” in an interview at the U.S. Department of State. Here is the memo on the pertinent portion of that interview, as it appears in the Walter Krivitsky FBI file [punctuation from the original]:

John Edgar Hoover to Legal Attaché, London, England, April 28, 1948

Reference is made to your letter of March 15, 1948, entitled, “Karl Nebenfuhr, with aliases; Espionage – R” in which you request a detailed report of information given by Walter G. Krivitsky when interviewed by the U.S. Department of State.

On June 28, 1939, General Krivitsky was interviewed by a representative of the U.S. Department of State in connection with the investigation of a fraudulent passport conspiracy which was carried out under the direction of Adolph A. Rubens. Isaac Don Levine, who had collaborated with Krivitsky in the latter’s published articles, participated in the interview.

For your information, there is set forth hereinafter a verbatim report of the pertinent portion of that interview:


Another person very active in the Soviet intelligence work in this country, who is not here, is a man said to be Colonel Boris Bykov or Bykoff, or Bukov or Bukoff. He is probably in charge of the extermination of Krivitsky. He is said to be a small person with very odd red-brown eyes, red hair and red eye-brows. He came to this country in the summer of 1936 from France, also probably first class on the NORMANDIE. He received a visa in Paris in the spring of 1936 on either a German or Polish passport….” [18. Walter G. Krivitsky, FBI File 100-11146, File 2a, p. 18. Retrieved from http://foia.fbi.gov/krivitsk/krivitsk2a.pdf.]]

In his autobiography, Witness, written in 1952, Chambers described the Russian whom he knew only as “Peter” as a rather odd figure who did not speak any English in the autumn of 1936:

“It came at the end of a weeping autumn day. …

He was standing at the curb with his back to the traffic, staring steadily at the sidewalk. … He looked like a short, sturdy needle-trades worker who has been dressed by a tailor … His hair was red and his reddish brown eyes peered resentfully from under ginger-colored eyelashes. …

We charged towards Sixth Avenue much too fast to waste breath on words. On Sixth Avenue the stranger halted a cab practically by throwing himself in front of it. As the driver waited for directions, my companion growled in German: “Tell him, ‘Drive on, drive on!'” After a block, my companion muttered: “Tell him, ‘Stop! Stop!'” … Eventually we made our way to Columbus Circle. …

That was the beginning of my acquaintance with Colonel Boris Bykov, …

At that time, I did not know that his real name was Boris Bykov or that he was a pathological coward … Those facts, and Bykov’s name, I was to learn two years later from General Walter Krivitsky….

… I asked Bykov what I should call him. … ‘Call me Peter.’ …” [19. Witness, by Whittaker Chambers, Op. Cit., pp. 406-407.]]

Some details in Chamber’s description clearly conform to a depiction of his Russian contact that was provided to the FBI on December 10, 1948 by Julian Henry Wadleigh, who confessed to the FBI on that day that from early 1936 to March 1938 he had passed State Department documents to two men, one of whom was Chambers. On December 11, Wadleigh’s statement to the FBI was read to the grand jury which was then investigating espionage allegations in the Hiss-Chambers case. Here is how Wadleigh described his Russian contact, whom he said he knew only as “Sascha”:

I now recall that late in 1937 at one of my meetings with Chambers, he introduced me to an individual who was probably in his middle 40’s, of medium height and rather stocky build and whose right arm, or most of it, was missing. He had a pointed nose and perhaps reddish or reddish brown hair. Chambers characterized this individual as the boss of the outfit. This individual, I recall, spoke with an accent, probably Russian. This character talked to me in a rather severe fatherly manner. He told me that the people in Moscow thought that I must be in a position to deliver much more than I had actually delivered.

The investigator who was reading Wadleigh’s statement to the grand jurors interrupted his reading to ask Wadleigh:

“Q When you met this one-armed man, were no names mentioned?

A I think he was referred to as Sascha.

Q Sascha?

A Sascha.

Q Was the name Bykov used?

A No; just Sascha.
… I assume that it was … the standard procedure in that organization, that the name of the source was known to the agent, the name of the agent was not known to the source. Now, Harold and Carl were agents; I was the source.” 18

Almost 60 years later, Krivitsky’s identification of the man whom Chambers knew only as “Peter,” as “Colonel Boris Bykov,” or “Bykoff,” or “Bukov,” or “Bukoff,” was apparently corroborated when the notes which Alexander Vassiliev made from an MGB foreign intelligence document from the late 1940s surfaced in the United States in 2005. In Vassiliev’s notes on a list of failures suffered by Soviet intelligence in the period from 1938 to 1948, as a result of several defections of its agents (the document has since 2005 become known as the “Gorsky list“), the name Bukov appeared immediately after Chambers – followed by the names of nineteen others who, in view of the document’s title, appeared to be members of Chambers’s group:

Failures in the USA (1938-48)

“Karl’s” Group

1. Karl – Whittaker Chambers, former editor-in-chief of the “Time” magazine. Traitor.

2. Jerome – Barna Bukov (Altman), our former cadre employee. Currently in the USSR. …19

The first – and most obvious – problem with the appearance of Bukov on Gorsky’s list is the first name, “Barna,” which does not make any sense. To a non-Russian eye, it may seem, on the surface, to be a Russian rendition of some Hebrew name, which might have been Bukov’s given name. True, after the Russian Bolshevik revolution of October 1917, many Jews changed their Hebrew names to Russian names, mostly as a matter of convenience, and commonly assumed the closest-sounding Russian equivalent. However, using a Hebrew given name for anyone who had switched to a Russian name would sound derogatory 20– and, as we would say today, politically incorrect (particularly in the case of Communist Party functionaries, government officials and military officers). “Barna” (Bar-nah) looks particularly derogatory because it is not a full name – but might be a short form of Bernard or Yebarna, or, more improbably, of Barnabas (in Russian, spelled and pronounced as Var-na-vah). 21

However, the problems with the “Barna Bukov” entry do not end here.

As it turned out, the FBI first learned of the name “Col. Boris Bykov” from an article in the Saturday Evening Post, dated August 5, 1939, which Walter Krivitsky wrote with Isaac Don Levine .. Since that time, the Bureau had been keeping a “reference” file on “Colonel Boris Bykov” which was finally released to Jeff Kisseloff under the Freedom of Information Act in March 2009. This is what the first entry in the file says about “Colonel Bykov”:

K.R. McIntire, Memorandum for Mr. E. A. Tamm, August 3, 1939
Re: Sergei BASSOFF
There appears in the Saturday Evening Post for August 5, 1939, an article written by W.G. Krivitsky styled “My Flight From Stalin.”
On page 80 Krivitsky points out that on Tuesday, March 7, 1938, he was having a lunch in company with one of the editors of a New York labor paper in a restaurant on 42nd Street, New York City, in the vicinity of Times Square; …
… Krivitsky continues as follows:
“…Knowing the ways of Stalin, I had no doubt that he had entrusted the job of organizing the hunt for me on this side of the Atlantic to Col. Boris Bykov. I knew that he was in charge of the Soviet military intelligence in the United States, as he had been assigned to America as far back as the summer of 1936. …” 22

In the early 1950s, the FBI managed to obtain more evidence about the Russian who used to introduce himself as “Peter.” While pursuing the leads provided by Chambers, as well as those in another Soviet espionage case which appears in the FBI files as the Witczak Case, the agents at the FBI’s Los Angeles Office managed to obtain a confession from one Lester Marx Huettig. Huettig admitted that in 1936-1937 he had turned over to the Soviets, through intermediaries, “papers from Remington Arms Company” in Connecticut, including his “notes or plans of factory methods and perhaps some blueprints.” 23

Lester Huettig’s name was recognizable behind the garbled language in Vassiliev’s notes on the above-mentioned “Gorsky’s list”:

16. 115th – Lester Hutm, former employee of the Frankford Arsenal

This identification was facilitated by another garbled name in Vassiliev’s notes:

11. 116th – Harry Azizov, former employee of a steel-smelting company in Chicago 24

Huettig identified a certain Morris Asimow as an individual who in late 1935 or early 1936 introduced him to one William Edward Crane, who in early 1949 admitted his involvement in espionage with Whittaker Chambers… and others.” 25 In Witness, Chambers described Crane (whom he did not identify by his real name) as a “contact man” with “another wing” of “Colonel Bykov”‘s station, who “operated out of New York City and … [was] concerned chiefly with technical intelligence.” According to what Chambers heard from Crane, “it [the station] numbered among its active sources: the head of an experimental laboratory of a big steel company; a man strategically connected with a well-known arms company; and a former ballistic expert at the War Department. Presumably there were others.” Chambers wrote that he “learned the identities of these sources from an underground Communist known by the pseudonyms of “Keith” and “Pete.” He said that “‘Keith’ had been Colonel Bykov’s contact man with them.” 26

The FBI investigation identified Morris Asimow as an individual who in the late 1930s “furnished information … which had been obtained from the Carnegie Steel Company of Chicago.” 27 Hence, the “Harry Azizov” moniker obviously stood for Morris Asimow.

Here is what Lester Huettig told the FBI agents in Los Angeles in February 1950 about a Russian whom he met some time in 1937:

During the interview of February 15, HUETTIG said that after several meetings with CRANE it was apparent to him, HUETTIG, that CRANE knew nothing about industrial processes and he told CRANE, that if he possibly could, to introduce him to someone who knew something about the industrial methods and processes. Thereafter, CRANE introduced HUETTIG to an individual who, according to CRANE, was CRANE’s boss and who was a Russian. HUETTIG said he could not recall this man’s name, but when asked if the man’s name was PETER, he said that he recalled that that was correct. He does not know where this meeting took place, but recalls that PETER was obviously acquainted with industrial techniques. And from his inquiries HUETTIG definitely knew he was interested in military information. He said PETER was interested in new developments at the plant and on one occasion asked HUETTIG for information concerning the Garand Rifle, which was then in the testing stages. …

HUETTIG described PETER as follows:
Age                  40 to 50
Height              5’8” to 5’10”
Weight             Does not recall, but trim figure
Hair                   Does not recall
Eyes                 Does not recall

HUETTIG said there was nothing unusual about PETER’s features, that he looked like an average American businessman, spoke good English with a slight accent and could speak German. Upon inquiry HUETTIG said that he recalls that PETER had a pretty high forehead and said he cannot recall definitely that PETER had red hair, but after agents had asked whether PETER had red hair, he said he has some recollection that PETER did actually have red hair. He described PETER as being cultured, well-poised and gentlemanly and with a preciseness of methods of doing things which gave HUETTIG the impression he had been an army man. …”

Huettig’s description did not fit the description provided by Chambers, Krivitsky and Wadleigh – except for Huettig’s reluctant admission, after prodding, that he had “some recollection” that “Peter did actually have red hair.” “Peter,” as described by Huettig, was obviously much older, taller, trimmer, spoke good English, and was “gentlemanly” and “well-poised.” These details, along with one more (“a pretty high forehead”), pointed to another Red Army “illegal” in the United States, Arthur Adams, whom the FBI had, by that time, been investigating for several years. Notwithstanding the obvious mismatch, FBI agents hurried to conclude:

From the description furnished by HUETTIG and from information furnished by CRANE to the effect that he had introduced HUETTIG to PETER, it seems probable that the PETER whom HUETTIG knew is the man who used the name of PETER and who has been identified as Colonel BORIS BYKOV, a Russian espionage agent, who operated in New York at this time.

Huettig further described his relationship with PETER:

HUETTIG said that … after meeting PETER he had two or three subsequent meetings with PETER; that his meetings with PETER were months apart, and he believed PETER would call him on the telephone in Connecticut when he wanted to see him. … all of his meetings with PETER were in New York … he never learned PETER’s true name or his identity, where he lived or anything about his personal or professional background. He added that PETER never mentioned to him that he was legitimately in this country as a Soviet official. 28

During his first interview, Huettig said that “his last contact with PETER was in the middle of 1938.” However, during the second interview he said:

… he now recalls that his last meeting with PETER was in the spring of 1938, that he and PETER took a walk in the park located in the Bronx and that PETER told him that everything had changed and it was now impossible for HUETTIG to go to Russia, and that PETER himself was going away and would not see HUETTIG any more. 29

If not for Wadleigh’s confused description of his meetings with “Peter,” the case of “Colonel Boris Bykov” would have finally been closed – particularly in view of the firm dating of the U.S. postings of Bukov and Adams, now finally available on the Russian side:

  • Arthur Adams: from December 1935 through spring 1938 (Adams’s first U.S. posting)
  • Boris Bukov: from late 1936 through mid-1939

Until more documentation is available, we are left with the possibility that Adams and Bukov both used the name “Peter” as one of their “street names.”

Moreover, this sharing of the pseudonym “Peter” by Adams and Bukov is far from the only such case in this complicated story. During his second interview, Huettig further puzzled the FBI agents with his description of “an individual whom he knew as ‘Carl'” – by that time a pseudonym firmly identified as one used by Whittaker Chambers:

During the interview conducted on February 15, 1960, HUETTIG … related that on two or three occasions when he went to meet PETER, PETER was accompanied by another individual whose name HUETTIG said might have been CARL, although he said he was not definite on this point. He said he gathered the impression that CARL was a sort of “handyman” for PETER and that CARL during these meetings said very little. He described CARL as follows:

Age:              25 to 35 (in 1937-38)
Height:         About 6′
Weight:        About 185
Hair:              Does not recall
Eyes:             Does not recall
Face:             Muscular, that is, not fat or flabby
Clothes:        Normal American type
Speech:         Spoke English well
Peculiarities: Recalls none

He said he does not know whether CARL was a photographer or anything else concerning CARL’s background, occupation or activities. However, he then added that it is possible that on some occasion he furnished material to CARL inasmuch as he has a recollection that on one or two occasions CARL returned material to him the following morning or even several hours after he had obtained it. HUETTIG did not know if this individual spelled his name CARL or KARL, but in this report the spelling CARL is being used. 30

The FBI agents surmised that Huettig’s “Carl” or “Karl” might be another man named by Chambers; however, Huettig had not identified his photo as the man he used to meet:

With regard to the identity of the unknown individual whom HUETTIG knew as CARL, it was thought possible that CARL might be identical with DAVID VERNON ZIMMERMAN, alias David Carpenter, who was stated by Whittaker CHAMBERS to have been a member of an espionage organization in New York City during this period and who was known by the alias of Carl. A photograph of DAVID ZIMMERMAN was exhibited to HUETTIG who stated that DAVID ZIMMERMAN was not identical with the man he knew as CARL.

Perplexed, the agents dug deeper into Chambers’s arsenal:

It will be recalled that WHITTAKER CHAMBERS has stated that in about 1932 he dealt with a Soviet espionage agent who used the name of HERBERT, alias CARL. A description of this individual closely resembles the description furnished by HUETTIG of the individual he knew as CARL. … 31

However, “Herbert” was one of the street names used by the Red Army intelligence officer Vladimir Efimovich Gorev, whose posting in the United States as an “illegal” resident apparently lasted from January 1930 to May 1933. As we now know, it was Gorev who initially recruited Chambers into the Soviet service; however, this event had nothing to do with the man Huettig described as his occasional contact in 1937 – “Carl” or “Karl.”

One possible clue has recently appeared in the publications of a Russian military writer and chronicler of the GRU named Vladimir Lota. Describing the reaction of “Achill” (Adams’s operational pseudonym during his second U.S. posting, from 1939 to 1945) to a citation which he received from Moscow Center in July 1944, Lota wrote:

“Achill” was pleasantly surprised. He recalled 1937, when he also dispatched to the Center several dozen documents he received from agent “Karl” on the system of radio ammunition of the U.S. Army. To study those documents, on August 10, 1938, following an order of the Narcom of Defense C. Voroshilov, a special commission was established with the primary purpose of analyzing the American experience and its implementation in the practice of the Red Army….

Discussing Adams’s final months in the United States, when he came under heavy surveillance from the FBI, Lota provided what looks like a further clue:

“… Adams understood that that November [1944] afternoon was the final day in his intelligence work, …

The following weeks and months of Arthur Adams’s stay in the USA were a severe test. The agents of counterintelligence … were trying to develop evidence of his belonging to foreign intelligence. But there was no such evidence. Contacts with Kemp, with agents “Karl” and “Esculap” were not spotted by the counterintelligence. …” 32

It looks as though Arthur Adams had an agent, “Karl” – as of 1937 and probably during his second American posting – whose identity is thus far unknown. The FBI occasionally came across some clues in Lester Huettig’s early 1950 description; however, it seems likely that the Bureau was more concerned with substantiating Chambers’s stories than with pursuing uncertain leads.

Watch for alerts on this website to read the continuation of Chambers’s dossier.

  1. Witness, by Whittaker Chambers, Henry Regnery Company (Chicago, 1952)
  2. Whittaker Chambers. A Biography. By Sam Tanenhaus. The Modern Library, New York, 1997.
  3. Alexander Vassiliev’s Notebooks, posted by the Cold War International History Project, Woodrow Wilson Center (http://www.wilsoncenter.org; a reference on agent “Sotyi” in: “Nash chelovek v Vashingtone” – Mikhail Boltunov, Razvedchiki, izmenivshie mir, Moskva: Algoritm, 2009, s. 109. (“Our Man in Washington,” in Intelligence Officers Who Changed the World, by Mikhail Boltunov. Moscow: Algorythm, 2009, p. 109.
  4. The Comintern [LINK to COMINTERN] Archives, the records of the Communist Party USA, Fund 515, Description 1, File 2054 (515-1-2054), “Materials of CCC CP USA, lists of expelled, 1930,” p. 25, RGASPI, Moscow.
  5. 515-1-1598, “Membership forms, CP USA 6th Convention,” p. 35, RGASPI, Moscow.
  6. Statement of Nicholas Dozenberg [1940 affidavit], read at the HUAC public session, Nov. 8, 1949, in Hearings Regarding Communist Espionage. Hearings before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, 81st Congress, First session, November 8, December 2, 1949, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington: 1951, p. 3541.
  7. “Arvid Yakovlevich Zelms,” investigative file, Fund 10035, Description 1, File P-24630, p. 8. Courtesy of Widwud Straus, head, volunteer research association, “The Letts in Russia,” June, 2008; Zelma Janovna Nabel’ [Oskar Stigga’s widow] to K.E. Voroshilov, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, to comrade Rudenko, the Procurator General of the USSR, December 16, 1954, Cit., “Dorogoi nash tovarisch Stalin!”… i drugie tovarischi. Obraschenija rodstvennikov repressirovannykh komandirov Krasnoi Armii k rukovoditeljam strany. Sostavitel’ N.S. Cherushev. Moskva: “Zvenja,” 2001, s. 252. (“Our Dear Comrade Stalin!”… and other comrades. The Appeals of the Relatives of the Purged Red Army Commanders to the Leadership of the Nation. Compiled by N.S. Cherushev. Moscow: Zvenja, 2001, p. 252.)
  8. Untitled and undated letter from MI6 to J.A. Cimperman, legal attaché, US Embassy in London, in reply to Cimperman’s letter No. 2619 of the 13th January 1949. In MI5/MI6 Case File, Intelligence Records on the Wostwag, KV2/1655, National Archives, U.K. [Courtesy of PRO Research by Nigel Linsan Colley, Oct 2005 – January 2007.
  9. “Bertha Indrikovna Ron’sala” investigative file, Fund 10035, Description 1, File P-21889, p. 8, GARF, Moscow. Courtesy of Widwud Straus, head of the volunteer research association The Letts in Russia, June 2008.
  10. Zelma Janovna Nabel’ to K.E. Voroshilov, Op. Cit.
  11. Memorandum re Maxim Lieber, October 29, 1949. Hiss Defense Files, Hiss Personal 2395. Courtesy of Jeff Kisseloff, March 2009.
  12. The Haunted Wood. Soviet Espionage in America – the Stalin Era, by Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev, New York: Random House, 1999.
  13. The name is spelled in Russian as a German name, Pa-ul’.
  14. Vassiliev sourced this part of “Ruble”‘s autobiography to KGB File 43072, v. 1, p. 50. In Alexander Vassiliev, The Sources in Washington, p. 226 of a 240-page Russian manuscript in the Allen Weinstein Papers, 1948-2000, Collection No. 2204C61 – The Hoover Institution Archives on War, Revolution and Peace, Stanford University. Discovered in May 2007 by Jeff Kisseloff. Cited in my verbatim translation from the Russian.
  15. The Haunted Wood, Op. Cit., p. 266. Footnote to the same File 43072, vol. 1, pp. 49-50, cited by Vassiliev in Sources in Washington.
  16. The Sources in Washington, Op. Cit., p. 227; sourced by Vassiliev to the same File 43072, vol. 1, p. 26.
  17. From the testimony of Whittaker Chambers in the Transcripts of Grand Jury Testimony in the Alger Hiss Case, December 7, 1948, pp. 3593-3594.
  18. Wadleigh’s December 10, 1948 signed statement read to the grand jury in the Alger Hiss case on December 11 – Transcript of Grand Jury Testimony in the Alger Hiss Case. Testimony of Julian Wadleigh, December 11, 1948, pp. 4065-4078; Wadleigh’s description of the Russian, ibid., p. 4073; Wadleigh’s statement to the jury that he knew the Russian only as “Sascha,” ibid., p. 4075.
  19. Alexander Vassiliev’s notes on “A. Gorsky’s report – to Savchenko S.R. 23 December, [19]49.” Alexander Vassiliev, Black Notebook, pp. 77-79. http://wilsoncenter.org
  20. Such common Hebrew names as Chaim, Chaya, Sarah, etc. were used in everyday life as derogatory remarks and as a deliberate offense.
  21. “Barna” (or any name it might be part of) does not appear among any common Russian lists of Jewish first names; the closest-sounding names are Barak (Baraq) and Baruch (Baruwk) (http://www.bait-talmud.ru/jewish_men_names.html; http://toldot.ru/names_masc_names.php.) Nor does it appear in an extensive list of English-language Hebrew names with almost 800 entries. (http://www.20000-names.com/male_hebrew_names_02.htm)
  22. “Colonel Boris Bykov” FBI FOIA reference file, PDF, p. 1. Courtesy of Jeff Kisseloff, March 17, 2009.
  23. FBI early 1950 reference on Los Angeles file 100-8789 and Bureau File 100-16579, in FBI “Col. Boris Bykov” reference file, released in March 2009 to Jeff Kisseloff through the Freedom of Information Act, PDF, pp. 21-22.
  24. Notes on “‘Karl'”s group” list in Alexander Vassiliev’s notes on “A. Gorsky’s report – to Savchenko S.R., Ibidem.
  25. SAC, Los Angeles to Director, FBI, February 25, 1949, in FBI FOIA “Col. Boris Bykov” file, PDF p. 3.
  26. Witness, by Whittaker Chambers, Op. Cit., p. 29.
  27. SAC, Los Angeles to Director, FBI, 1/9/50, ibid., PDF p. 16.
  28. FBI Los Angeles early 1950 reference on interviews with Lester Mark Huettig, ibid., pp. 3-5, PDF pp. 22-24.
  29. Ibid., p. 7, PDF p. 26.
  30. Ibid., p. 5, PDF p. 24.
  31. Ibid., p. 5, PDF p. 24, p. 8, PDF p. 27.
  32. Vladimir Lota. Tainye operatsii Vtoroi mirovoi voiny. Kniga o voennoi razvedke, 1944 god. Moskva, Molodaja gvardija, 2006, ss. 123, 129. (Secret Operations of the Second World War. The Book on Military Intelligence, 1944, by Vladimir Lota. Moscow: Young Guard, 2006, pp. 123, 129.